Are We Reviewers or Critics
- If you’re reading this, you’re likely interested in submitting a song for review. We are honored that you would be interested in our opinion. The contact form below will allow you to submit music for review.
What Is The Purpose of Song and Album Reviews
For over 30 years Worship Leader magazine, which is now WorshipLeader.com, has been a resource to the prayer leaders of the Church. We’ve focused on theological understanding, technical know-how and tools, best practices, providing a forum for tough questions, growing and training teams, and searching out music that would inform, transform, and inspire congregations at worship or just worshippers seeking a closer relationship with Jesus. Our song and album reviews serve as a guide taking readers through the increasingly crowded Christian Music offerings. Below we’ve laid out how our reviews of worship songs and albums serve our community.
What We Review
We’re focused on platforming songs that edify the Body of Christ in new and unique ways. A large part of our emphasis is on helping the worship leader curate the worship service. Having a catchy hook, good beat, and a singable melody is NOT enough. All those things are potentially good, but Worship Leader has a calling to point toward spirit and truth.
John 4:23 (ESV) – But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
Additionally, with the increasing popularity of streaming worship music and the ever-expanding category that this style of music “fits into,” (or doesn’t) we’ve expanded our reviews to also encompass music that may be for a personal devotional setting, a car ride, or even background music at your next dinner party. Basically, no matter the style, if the music points back to Jesus and we feel the Christian Church would benefit from knowing the music exists we’ll review it.
The Specifics Of Our Reviews
- Product Quality – It must be a quality recording for us to take the time to review it.
- Style Diversity – We listen to the song, and ask, “Can it be adapted? Does it have the lyrical strength to be arranged to fit a multitude of congregational settings? Or is it not for the congregational setting?”
- Is it fresh and refreshing? Does it form the singer/listener in the image of Christ? Does it encourage, teach, confront, explore, or illuminate?
- Worship Function – (In the classical sense, everything that takes place in the service of worship is worship) We will identify if the songs serve a function as sermon support, call to worship, communion, offering, altar call, final blessing, litany, spoken word, or any of myriad service elements, and additional situations/sacraments. Is this music appropriate for personal devotions, congregational singing, special music in a service, or more focused on edifying your life outside a church service?
- Lyrical Poetry & Accessibility – We are here to discover songs that offer praise and worship in a new and unique way. Are they congregationally accessible? Or are they more for individual listening?
- Biblically Faithful – We make sure the lyrical content is doctrinally sound and identify any scripture references that may be of note.
Who Are Our Reviewers
We choose our reviewers for their understanding and exposure to music and the church. They represent both their personal view and a studied understanding of different musical styles and approaches. They are always focused on the viability of the music for the Church audience we serve.
We encourage you to read our reviewer’s bios where you’ll learn their connection to worship music, the church, and more about their musical preferences.
Why We Won’t Review It
The first reason is time. Given the amount of music published daily and the limited staff we have, we aren’t physically able to review all music that is submitted. We do tend to favor “professional” submissions, meaning music that is professionally produced by a reputable record label or church. That doesn’t mean we only review songs and albums on recording contracts. We love finding independent artists that have a song to share that the Church needs to hear.
Another reason we wouldn’t review something is if we felt there was nothing to say about a song or an album that was helpful or useful. As reviewer Christopher Watson said, “are we reviewers or critics?” We are very much reviewers and don’t feel the need to criticize a piece of art that someone put their heart and soul into. Negative reviews to show off our ability to carve up bad ideation, theology, craft, or production isn’t our jam.
Lastly, we won’t review anything that causes theological confusion or contains hate within the lyrics.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely interested in submitting a song and we are honored that you would about our opinion. The contact form below will allow you to submit music for review.
BONUS – fill out the form will also add your music into the mix for our upcoming relaunch of Song Discovery!
A Word Of Encouragement
Whether we review your music or not is irrelevant to the calling that God has placed on your life and to the importance of your contribution to the Kingdom of God. Submit to him daily and listen to his voice and if he’s saying, “write more music,” then don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your calling.
Romans 12:2 (NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Special thanks to Christopher Watson and Andrea Hunter for their contributions to this article.
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Joshua Swanson is the Editor-in-Chief of Worship Leader. He's also the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Authentic Media, Worship Leader's parent company, and the former CEO and Co-founder of the creative agency GTMA. His proudest achievement is his marriage to Rachael Joy and partnering with her in founding New Hope Children. As a performer and speaker, he’s appeared on TV networks like ABC, NBC, Lifetime, and Hallmark. His companies have worked with major brands like Sprint, Pokemon Go (he was also in a Pokemon movie), Pepsi, The Latin Grammys, the Billboard Awards, Corona and over 75 national developers. He’s narrated over a hundred audiobooks and was awarded Best YA Voice twice. His companies have been Inc. 5000 three different times.