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This tiny burst of protean "charm" achieves full flower in the footage that follows. Addicted to Jesus, post-commercial, consists of seven songs; three are recorded live in concert, the others feature MTV-style sets and storylines. Displaying the kind of eclectic
virtuosity generally seen only in really good high school cover bands, Carman tackles six musical genres in less than 45 minutes: two rap songs, a rockabilly/gospel number, a heavy metal anthem, a Charlie Daniels-style country narrative, a romantic ballad, and even a novelty dance song.
Carman never explicitly says why he chooses this
chameleon-like approach, but the reason for it is obvious enough: like a pedophile who keeps his cupboard stocked
with a dozen different kinds of candy, Carman wants, in his effort to attract young people to the Word of God, to appeal to any possible convert in the audience. It's a nice,
'90s style, cover-your-demographics approach to the procurement of new names for the database, but it
makes you wonder about Carman's conviction; if he can don and doff these disparate musical styles with such
slippery ease, what about his other passions and beliefs? Sure, he's a Christian now, but what about five years from now? Will he drop it all in favor of some more profitable trend? Performers who use one name only seem to
specialize in transformation--Cher, Madonna, the artist formerly known as Prince. Carman, who perhaps
dropped his surname to erase a tinge of Roman Catholicism that might have put off his Christian audience, appears
to fit right in with this list.
What's most surprising about Addicted to Jesus, however, is not that the intentions of its creator are slightly suspicious. Indeed, the tawdry parade of Jim Bakkers, Jimmy Swaggerts, and lesser-known evangelical fakes
have prepared us to expect the worst from the Christian clergy. The thing that caught me off-guard was how
well Carman performs his various songs. In the same way that he personally simulates the appearance and charisma
of a real mainstream celebrity (he could easily pass for Sylvester Stallone’s brother, say), Carman's
songs are almost exact replicas of standard MTV or VH-1 fare.