Band names are some of the keenest indicators of trends in modern culture. “Deathcab for Cutie,” “Blink 182” “The strokes”. They have often been adroitly plucked cultural phrases introduced with prodigious timing. But I sometimes see a dichotomy in the names of christian bands and secular ones.
The names of christian bands are rarely as creative and culturally innovative as secular names but the ones that I know carry a purpose in them. “Jars of Clay,” “Tree 63,” “Third Day,” “Casting Crowns”.
I could not find the meaning of Blink, or of 182, and I’m guessing it was cool because it was unique and random (initiating the wave of number named bands), but the 63 of Tree63 refers to Psalm 63 which talks about praise during hard times. A name devoted to a purpose larger than making themselves look trendy.
I think the name “Deathcab for Cutie” is hilarious. It was taken from a title of a parody song in 1967, who got the phrase from a pulp fiction magazine who got it from a book discussing British pop culture. The name is a keenly distilled term of historical British culture whose revival was ingeniously timed. But a comment on culture is just funny and clever. We like it a lot, because it’s creative and trend-making and it tells others we are culturally adept when we use it, but I don’t yet know a greater purpose in it than flexing the muscles of their own creative expression. It has the power to move hearts, but moving a heart without an ultimately purposeful direction, is that power spent in vain?
Jars of Clay comes from 2 Corinthians 4 which talks about the treasure of the gospel being hidden in insignificant vessels such as people. Casting crowns also points to God instead of themselves. In Revelations 24 elders cast their crowns before their king, continuously glorifying him and his purposes forever. Though Christian band names are rarely as trend-making as secular ones, many of them have chosen to name and sing their songs for an ultimate purpose outside of themselves. It is art that can move hearts.
And it is art to move hearts toward something.