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P.O.D. SHUCKS THE DOVES

P.O.D. is just about the biggest thing in Christian music right now. Their recent disc, as you well know, was recently certified double-platinum. They were nominated for a Grammy in a non-Christian category. They're all over MTV like Tyronn Lue on Allen Iverson in last year's NBA Finals. But all this, it seems, isn't good enough.

The group, though nominated for three Dove Awards (including in the prized "Artist of the Year" category), again boycotted the awards ceremony (they ditched the show last year as well, despite several nominations). Their absence on April 25 was a cavernous one, and there appears to be no excuse for it.

Maybe there's some bad blood between the band and the Gospel Music Association (the organization that hands out the awards) that I don't understand. In a recent interview with Nashville's Tennesean, P.O.D. lead singer Sonny Sandoval called the nominations political, saying "It's like the same people that banned us, now they're in their little office and they're like, 'Our goal is to help them break into the mainstream.' No, it's not. Let's be honest with ourselves, that's not your heart's intention. You're just selling records. Whatever link you have to this, it looks good on your plate."

We should also note that P.O.D. has gone to extravagant lengths to distance themselves from the Christian music industry. They want to be known as Christians who make music. Not Christian musicians. But forgoing the Doves is taking that policy to foolish extremes.

"Look at someone like Lauryn Hill," said Sandoval. "She'll get up there and she'll tell you what she believes in or what her faith is about.

"Look at what she accomplished, and you don't see her doing the GMAs."

True. But it should be pointed out that Ms. Hill has more talent in her little finger than P.O.D. possesses collectively, and has likely accomplished more as a twenty-something than this group will achieve in a lifetime. Hill has sold millions (in this case more than three, as P.O.D. has), both as a solo artist and as an integral part of the hibernating Fugees. She can do can do more with an acoustic guitar and her voice than P.O.D. can do with a Steve Forbes-like budget and all of the resources that Atlantic Records has to provide. There's really no comparison.

The real motivation here seems to be fame and fortune, something P.O.D. seems unable to get enough of. The group wasn't really a breakout success until late last year, when they released a record (Satellite) that some would say is watered down and commercial. You didn't see them in Rolling Stone or inside the Spin "Top 40" in the Tooth and Nail days. Distancing themselves from the Christian scene will help endear themselves to cautious non-Christian buyers, and ultimately result in greater exposure and more records sold. It's about the Franklins.

But the real sting here is that P.O.D. refuses to recognize their roots. While quick to brag about flashing "the big SD" and rocking "the masses," the group seems to have forgotten the fans who got them where they are today. Roughly 500, 000 copies of Satellite have been sold through Christian bookstores alone. The ratio was much higher for 1999's The Fundamental Elements of Southtown and all records before that. Refusing to recognize their Christian fans and the industry that discovered them is nothing more than biting the hand that has fed the success that they now enjoy.

Closing Statements...
I expect that Sonny and the boys will some day rue this time they've spent in the spotlight. There will come a day when the reviews are less favourable and OzzFest will stop calling. Christian fans are generally more forgiving than the listening public at large (there's a reason why Michael W. Smith still has a career after several premature mid-life crises and attempts to breach the mainstream). But they can only be stretched so far. There will likely come a day when P.O.D. comes crawling back. They might find themselves unwelcome.
- Ben Forrest
May 2002
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