Act Two. What Makes Popular Christian Music “Popular”? A Comparison Between Current US-American Contemporary Christian Music and German Popular Christian Music Using the Examples of Lauren Daigle and Koenige & Priester

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Reinhard Kopanski


The article discusses the question “What makes Popular Christian Music ‘popular’?” by applying different (competing) concepts of the term “popular” so as to showcase by which criteria Popular Christian Music (labelled as Contemporary Christian Music by the US music industry) can be described as “popular”. Thereby, the article compares both Anglo-American and German-language Christian songs by means of close reading using the examples of the German band Koenige & Priester [Kings & Priests] and US singer Lauren Daigle. Through the presented exemplary analyses, I argue that Christian music uses strategies of popularization comparable to secular popular music. The difference to secular music comes from the fact that the Christian message is a central genre marker of Popular Christian Music, leading me to suggest that the popularity (in the sense of reaching a large audience apart from religious/evangelistic circles) essentially depends on the polysemic properties of the lyrics.

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Author Biography

Reinhard Kopanski, University of Siegen

Reinhard Kopanski, born 1978, is research associate at the University of Siegen at the professorial chair of popular music and gender studies. His research interests include music and politics, music and technology as well as music and religion. He recently completed his Ph.D. in musicology; his thesis is planned for publication in 2021 as the monograph Bezugnahmen auf den Nationalsozialismus in der populären Musik. Lesarten zu Laibach, Death In June, Feindflug, Rammstein und Marduk (References to National Socialism in Popular Music. Readings of Laibach, Death In June, Feindflug, Rammstein and Marduk). He has contributed articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Metal Music Studies and Samples, as well as for the online version of the German academic music encyclopaedia Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG). His professional experiences include pedagogical work as a lecturer in Bonn and Cologne, as well as doing freelance work in the field of audio production