In their second post this week, 33 1/3 authors Will Stockton and D. Gilson list their top 10 dc Talk songs, and why they’ve declared them the best of the best.
Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) is derivate, sure. It feeds off mainstream styles. But for adolescents, especially, that’s why it works. Without question, dc Talk was the most important CCM band of the 1990s. Their five albums – their self-titled debut (1989), Nu Thang (1990), Free at Last (1992), Jesus Freak (1995), and Supernatural (1998) – soundtracked our faith as white suburban teens, as well as our nascent sexuality as gay men. For the uninitiated, we count down our favorite songs in the catalog.
10. “Luv is a Verb” (Free at Last): The song to help you get “d- d- down with the dc Talk.” Learn about God and Grammar. An expansive notion of love indeed: unconditional, sacrificial, universal. Think CCM is all fire-and-brimstone or anti-communist fear-mongering? It’s gospel, funk, rap. Eighties pop with a civil rights mission.
9. “Supernatural” (Supernatural): The title track from their final album. (Say it isn’t so!) A hefty, swirling pop-rocker with such queer gems for Jesus as “ I can see You coming / You’re not so far away / ‘Cause I can feel Your power / Surging through the whole of me.”
8. “What if I Stumble?” (Jesus Freak): What if I don’t belong on this pedestal? What if I stray from my Christian ways on all the days between Sundays? On the playlist for our loss of faith. But we should have known when we saw Toby Mac’s picture in our issues of Breakaway: we would stumble for him.
7. “Walls” (Nu Thang): Otherwise known as “Rhythm Nation” remixed. A screed against segregation in the secular world and the church. “We’re all in the same crew, we’re singin’ one song.” As far as white raps for racial unity go, a slam jam.
6. “Nu Thang” (Nu Thang): As in, what God is doing in our lives. A throwaway lyric, perhaps, but worth it all for this cover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MUVNuD3MiU
5. “Between You and Me” (Jesus Freak): I hurt you, bro, and I’m sorry. I’ve listened to a lot of Savage Garden and Babyface lately, and I know how to make it right.
4. “Minds Eye” (Jesus Freak): A propulsive and sweeping deep cut about evidence for things unseen. For all those who feel like God might not exist. “Can you catch the wind / Can you see the breeze?” Solid apologetics for high schoolers.
3. “Colored People” (Jesus Freak): Not as racist as it sounds! The boys celebrate differences in skin tone as the colors of a divinely created “kaleidoscope.” Racism is a sin. Repent. Come together. Stop cringing and surrender to the earworm.
2. “Jesus Freak” (Jesus Freak): The CCM version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which isn’t an insult. Here are the youth. Entertain them. Feeling alienated? Freaky? So did John the Baptist. Own it.
1. “In the Light” (Jesus Freak): Will fell in love to this song, albeit to another boy, which certainly wasn’t the boys’ intention. Will wanted to be in the light as he was in the light. dc Talk reworks Charlie Peacock’s South African rhythm on Pearl Jam’s acoustic guitar to produce this worship band classic. Will’s hands want to raise to the ceiling as he writes this.