Skillet and Needtobreathe break big: Are bad times good news for Christian rock?

This is a big week for religious-minded rock with two Christian bands making their mark on the album charts. South Carolina quartet NEEDTOBREATHE (who hail from the fabulously-named town of Possum Kingdom) hit the number 20 spot with their third collection, The Outsiders. More impressively, and harder-rockingly, Memphis outift Skillet placed second, behind Colbie Caillat, with their latest CD, Awake.

The big question: Does the success of these Christian rockers say something about the problems that are facing America at present? Skillet singer John Cooper clearly thinks so. On the band’s website he is quoted as saying that, “We’re living in crazy times right now between the news that seems to get crazier every day and all the uncertainly throughout society in general. Everything we sing about on this album is something someone can relate to, and if anything, the songs will let you know you’re not alone.”

What do you think of the tracks by Skillet and and NEEDTOBREATHE embedded below? Do you agree that people are turning to Christian rock in these difficult times? Or are the chart placings by the two bands just a coincidental blip?

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Comments (43 total) Add your comment
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  • Paco

    I am a person that is strongly against organized religion, yet I LOOOOOOVEEEEEE Skillet so their music reaches ppl even outside of their own christian audience. Their songs are very, very good. I listen to their last cd “Comatose” all the time. Im happy to hear that their new cd is being successful.

  • David M

    I guess this is on the heels of bands like Switchfoot, who proved that you can be uplifting without spiritual name-checking, and still reach a wide audience. Christian music used to be largely terrible (where as now it is only partly terrible,) but even American Idol has used a MercyMe song in a montage, so it’s more successful than many people would like to admit…

  • Ethan

    Skillet’s success is not sudden but simply overdue. 2004’s Collide was a hard-rock sensation and 2006’s Comatose fashioned anthem after anthem for people to chant at their spectacular live show (check out Skillet’s Awake and Alive Tour starting soon), so it was only a matter of time before people tapped into Skillet’s keen pop sensibility that also isn’t afraid to rock!

  • Carrie

    I fell for Needtobreathe earlier this summer when I saw them open for David Cook. I’d believe that has more to do with their chart success with The Outsiders than the fact that they are a Christian band. That and they make great music. Three songs into their set, I’d bought their first two CD’s and pre-ordered The Outsiders.

  • Tim

    Skillet should have been hugely popular seven or eight years ago, but they weren’t. Their songs the past several years have been relatable to a HUGE number of people – Christian and non-Christian alike – by simply dealing with real-world issues in their songs. That is why Skillet has been so successful. Their success is not a blip on the radar. Needtobreathe has some of the same qualities as Skillet, but for an audience that prefers a softer sound than what Skillet provides.

  • JJ

    I think people just turn to the bands cause they are good. Neither one’s success should be surprising as both have steadily been building a mainstream fanbase over the past few years. This is just reflecting that said fanbase is getting bigger.

    I don’t think the tough times have anything to do with it. This is good music. So who cares if the artists are Christian?

  • Joe Sawyer

    I don’t know much about Skillet, but I can say that I have never thought of needtobreathe as a “Christian” band – at least not anymore than one would consider U2 such a band. I hear the questions and thoughts in their lyrics, but I think that just adds to the overall appeal of this band that has been building for quite a few years – considering they have been building fans through their live shows since I first found out about them after the release of their record The Heat a few years ago. I think I might agree with some of the comments above – just great bands finally coming to the forefront.

  • LeaRR

    Amazing music is amazing music. Genre really doesn’t matter – I wish we wouldn’t pigeonhole music like we do. I think artists write and perform music that means something to them – if someone is angry and depressed or happy and giddy then that sentiment flows through to their music. If someone has a strong faith based upbringing, then you’ll see that in their music – whether they’re a “Christian” band or not. I’ve been following NEEDTOBREATHE for a few years now and they deserve every bit of attention they’re getting right now. Their cds are great but you can’t really fully appreciate these guys until you see them in concert – so if NEEDTOBREATHE is anywhere near you GO SEE THEM!

  • Joe in Philly

    It means real artists aren’t selling CDs. If they were, the Christian CDs would be much, much lower on the charts. That, or I guess fans of Christian acts don’t illegally download that genre.

    • lukus

      I know you may feel that way but you should stop and actually listen to the skillet’s awake album. You might change your mind in refering to them as real artists.

      • Chloie

        Agreed lukus. Not trying to start anything here but Joe, you should listen to Skillet before making such a questionable remark about their reality. Skillet is much more real then more then half the music played on radios. Unlike most, they use real instruments and they sing about stuff very relatable to the everyday person, Christian or not.

        And if your right about the downloading (which I don’t think you are because the downloading results is actually pretty high), I still think that says alot about the band and it’s fans. People love them enough to spend good money on their album rather then just quickly downloading it without much thought like most people are doing with bands lately. A bands success is greatly determined by the amount of albums they sell. I could have easily downloaded Skillets new album but I’d much rather pay for their music and help them stay successful then to just cheaply download it on my comp. Many people feel that way! We not only love Skillets music, but we care about the band and how successful they are.

        Again, my opinion. I just wanted to make that point.

  • Lesslie Stanford

    Skillet is amazing. I saw them in concert a couple of weekends ago and it was off the hook. I just got the new CD Awake and was very happy with it. Comatose was amazing and Awake hits about the same scale of amazingness.


    With music in general being saturated with lewd, vulgar and lyrically ridiculous songs, I believe people are looking for actual music played by actual musicians that actually have meaning in the real world and real word problems. Skillet delivers that in spades.

  • April

    Skillet is a group of phenomenal musicians. They are very talented and their music crosses genre lines easily because they send a message of hope. Skillet’s new single “Monster” has recently been featured on NFL’s opening montage and WWE’s programming as well.
    It’s simple, their message is timeless and easy to relate to regardless of religious affiliation. I consider myself a Christ follower, more than a Christian. I love Skillet and I think this level of success is LONG OVERDUE!!

  • Kel

    I caught Needtobreathe as an opening act for David Cook this summer. Absolutely LOVED their music from the very first song! Bought the CD and listened to it in the car all the way home from the venue that night. I was actually surprised to find out later that they had been slotted as a Christian band. Personally I think they are just a Fantastic band. Just caught a live performance in Ohio last night and they put on an absolutely stellar live show. The new Outsiders CD is a keeper, and if you have the chance to see Needtobreathe live, do it and enjoy!

  • Chloie

    Whether people are turning toward Christian music because of hard times or just because they like the sound, I’m glad it’s getting more popular! I’ve been a pretty major fan of Christian music for a while now, especially Skillet and I always felt that it should be more popular. It’s 1000000x better then alot of the stuff they play on radios now-a-days in both sound and lyrics. It’s been a long overdue popularity!

    I’ve never heard needtobreathe but Skillet I can vouch for as an amazing band. They have it all! Incredible sound, beautiful lyrics, a uniqueness that so many bands lately are sorely lacking, and are just all around amazing. Whether you’re christian or not, I think Skillet is a band that anyone/everyone can relate to. They don’t bible thump, they sing about God & Jesus in a way that you can tell what they are singing about while they still remain subtle and then they sing about problems that everyday people have to deal with. Especially now!

    Christian or not, they are the band to listen too!

  • VR

    I’ve seen Needtobreathe live twice now & I really love them! I didn’t realize they were a Christian rock band till I did a little research after the first show. I am not a religious person, but I like their lyrics & think their lead singer, Bear Rinehart, has an amazing voice! They are also incredibly energetic on stage. So, like someone else said, good music is good music. Please check them out if you haven’t!

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