Christian Music Makeover Pt. 4

The reply to my last email to Brian Mayes, the man behind Christian Music Makeover, was rather shorter than I expected:

Hi James,

Thanks for all of your interest. Check out the site when it launches in
January – I believe all of your questions will be answered.

Merry Christmas.

I was disappointed with this response, to say the least. The interest these blog entries have generated suggests I’m not the only one with deep concerns about this initiative. It may be that as Brian says, the yet-to-be-launched website will answer my questions, but it’s a shame that conversation couldn’t continue.

So I guess with the conversation apparently at an end, this is the appropriate forum to respond to some of the comments in Brian’s last email (quoted in full here).

He may be right that I overstated my argument against reality TV music shows. But at the same time, while Kelly Clarkson has demonstrated a knack for performing an above average pop song, none of the winners mentioned has yet demonstrated that they have anything particularly novel to bring to the music world, anything that seeks (to quote my last email to Brian) “to create for the sake of fostering conversation or producing something beautiful.” All of this, however, missed my original point that the press release that triggered all this refers only to “the physical” and “the spiritual”, not “the artistic”.

My core concern remains that the concept of a ‘spiritual makeover’ smacks of a dangerously thin theology. It may be that the show and its website will better unpack this theology than a short press release can, but that does not free those writing press releases of all responsibility. Spirituality is an intensely personal thing that reaches to the core of a person’s being, something that we explore and express in community. It is not a commodity to be flaunted, or to be “made over” in public. The press release indicated that the producers of this show think otherwise, and I’m beginning to find it hard to find words for how sad that is.

As to watching the show, that’s one thing I know I won’t be doing. I took some time yesterday to listen to Daniel’s Window (they offer some tracks through their site) and had to stop the player midway through each song. The tracks feature on that website are a sure demonstration of the CCM industry’s ability to take a few ideas that worked well when initially tried, mash them together, and coat them in sugar while surgically removing personality. Not recommended.

The previous sections of this conversation are here, here and here.


  1. Nice try James – you gave the guy a fair hearing. Which is more than I’d bother to do – after being punched in the face a thousand times by the same person, you stop believing when they say they won’t hit you this time.

    The percentage of music generated within the CCM machine that is worth listening to is so infinitisimally small that the chances of a band who not only have to tick the CCM boxes but the right boxes for a TV show being any good are smaller than those of GWB not making a royal arse-up of whatever war he blunders into next.

    The band are unlistenable shit. The show will be unwatchable excrement, no doubt lapped up by the no-brain spoon-fed emotional retards, who have been so starved of artistic substance that the real thing causes them pain. Like giving rich food to the starving, for a show like this to be of any value in any objective sense, it’d have to miss its target audience by miles.

    But, who really gives a flying ****, anyway? It’s CCM – so wouldn’t have registered on my radar unless you’d mentioned it here…

    Anyone up for joining the international church of messianic taoists? ;o)

    love and kisses


  2. James

    I’m also a bit annoyed that the conversation didn’t continue, though I don’t blame Brian for backing down – it would be hard to be open to a critic at this vulnerable time of launching the show. Saying that the show would answer your questions might be a little silly though – it sounds a bit like “we won’t truely know what this explosive device does until we set it off, then our questions will be answered. Ok, everyone, cover your ears!” …. something like that… maybe.

    Let’s keep talking about the show ourselves, right here!

  3. Hey, another sad thing – I just went to the very very exciting makeover website that tells me to be ready for Jan. 1st…. well it’s the 2nd and the website still does nothing, just a big red screen with words that does nothing – is this part of the marketing plan?

  4. I like your comments on American Idol, and I think that even from a secular perspective there’s far too much emphasis on technical performance over and above creativity–from the perspective of marketing and sales, it’s better to be able to play crappy songs exceptionally than to play meaningful songs well. That’s really unfortunate.

    I wouldn’t count on hearing from Brian again; he’s got too much at stake in the makeover’s success to take any criticisms seriously.

  5. I’m actually very excited about Christan Music Makeover. In the last few weeks, we’ve had plenty of info in American Christian Music Journal and most of it (not all) came from Bryan. He’s been very forthcoming about project and it’s very exciting.