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Written by Stryper's lead singer Michael Sweet, "Honestly" was the only song by a Christian Metal band ever to crack the Top-40. While the group did take a more secular approach to their songs a few years later, the To Hell with the Devil era Stryper was overtly Christian in their music. "Honestly" can be viewed as a song about human friendship, but all of Sweet's compositions at that time also touched on the love of God. In our 2011 interview with Michael Sweet, he told us: "We just wanted to serve God, and we just said, Lord, we just want to be used. We want to be different. We want to go out and reach these kids."
"Honestly" fit right in on MTV and pop playlists, and most people had no idea that Stryper was a Christian band. They had the requisite long hair and spandex, and their sound wasn't all that different from many other hair bands, but Poison and Skid Row weren't throwing Bibles from the stage. Despite their sincere and creative efforts to spread the Word, Stryper still ran into resistance from some church leaders - Jerry Fallwell called them "A wolf in sheep's clothing." Michael Sweet told us: "We took some serious flack and heat just for the look, the appearance, the sound. But we have a calling upon our life, and that calling is between Michael, Robert, Oz, Tim, and God. It's not between the four of us and CCM community, or the church. If God tells us to do something, we're going to go and do it. If He tells us to go play a bar, we're going to go play that bar. If He tells us to go play with Slayer, we're going to go play with Slayer."
Ballads by Metal bands were just starting to come into vogue when Stryper released this song. And as Sweet explains, they were one of the first: "We were doing ballads back before there were power ballads. When I say that, I mean the '80s power ballads, the metal power ballads. We were stepping out, we were playing all these clubs with Ratt and all these bands, and they never did any ballads, ever. We were adding ballads to our set. And then power ballads in the '80s became very popular. I remember people wondering if we had just kind of jumped on the bandwagon and the fact is, we were always doing ballads."
Sweet wrote this song on the piano, which is how he writes most of his slow songs. When it comes to writing these ballads, he told us: "I have that side of me. Call it a sensitive side or whatever it is, I just have this side that I really like to write ballads. Because ballads, even though it's not the edgy heavy stuff, there's something to be said for a ballad, because it's really an emotional roller coaster. It dynamically comes down and you can really focus on the lyric and the emotion of the vocal. And it's very touchy. There's nothing like a great ballad. It can really move you, and I thought it was very important to have that."
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