Previously: WOW 2000.
I don’t know if I’ll ever quite get over the style evolution DC Talk went through in the relatively brief period between 1989 and 1995. In six years they went through more musical eras than most bands do in their entire careers – from golden-age-style hip-hop to rap-rock to grunge.
For a secular analogy, try imagining a world where Nirvana released Nevermind, Appetite For Destruction, and Black Sunday, all before Bill Clinton won a second term. (CCM was a small world at the time. You’ll have to trust me on this comparison.)
In honor of Jesus Freak‘s twentieth anniversary (“Has it really been twenty years? God, I feel so old!” Yes, well; time passes), and in honor of the fact that, in retrospect, the title track was clearly a Christian ripoff of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” here is a forced ranking of every track:
11. “Like It, Love It, Need It”
This is maybe the most obvious Nirvana ripoff of them all. You can’t rhyme “they don’t seem to care-oh” with “drowning in despair-oh” while using your Kurt Cobain voice. You can’t do it. It’s immoral, and I’ve never even owned a Nirvana album, and am thus impartial.
10. “Colored People”
You guys. This feels like airing our dirty laundry in front of the seculars, and I’m embarrassed to do it, because there’s a huge part of me that feels very affectionate toward this song. One thing I will say: Michael Tait, Kevin Max, and Toby Mac are genuinely talented vocalists. But this song…I can’t defend it. It starts off with “Pardon me, sir, your epidermis is showing” and it just gets worse from there. It’s every white person who has ever loudly proclaimed that she “just doesn’t SEE color” at a public zoning meeting, in a song.
THEIR HEARTS ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE, GUYS.
…but they do use the phrase “skin kaleidoscope.”
9. “Jesus Freak”
I hate to put the title track so low, but these are some of the worst rap verses of all time.
I saw a man with a tat on his big fat belly
It wiggled around like marmalade jelly
It took me a while to catch what it said
Cause I had to match the rhythm of his belly with my head
‘Jesus Saves’ is what it raved in a typical tattoo green
Defend that in the comments if you wish. I can’t. TATTOOS AREN’T GREEN.
8. “Mrs. Morgan”
Mrs. Morgan is, I think, the only one of those great spoken interstitials they used so much in Free At Last, so I have a lot of fondness for it. It adds nothing, but still.
7. “Day By Day”
Did the world need an alternative update of a song from Godspell? We got one. Consider it a mulligan.
6.”So Help Me God”
5. “What Have We Become?”
DC Talk is always better when they’re cheesy and earnest than when they decide to go in for social commentary. Great falsetto, though.
4. “Mind’s Eye”
YES, just let this one FLOW THROUGH YOU, put your HANDS UP, you are at Agape Music Fest and you are having a fucking BLAST.
3. “Between You and Me”
This delivers a solid shot of nostalgic pleasure to the frontal lobes of my brain. The laundromat setting! The bowling shirts! Kevin Max’s UPSETTINGLY BLUE EYES!
2. “What If I Stumble?”
It’s not not cheesy, but it’s so sincere. These men have the sincerest voices I have ever heard in my life. Plus the harmonies are solid.
1. “In the Light”
I will defend this song to my death. Somehow during the creation of this list I have lost all shame and am just fucking jamming out to this uncritically. I ENCOURAGE YOU TO JOIN ME, HOWEVER BRIEFLY, IN MY MIND’S EYE.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.