Jesus Christ Pose

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"Jesus Christ Pose"
Single by Soundgarden
from the album Badmotorfinger
B-side"Stray Cat Blues" / "Into the Void (Sealth)" / "Somewhere"
RecordedMarch–April 1991
Producer(s)Terry Date, Soundgarden
Soundgarden singles chronology
"Room a Thousand Years Wide"
"Jesus Christ Pose"
Music video
"Jesus Christ Pose" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Jesus Christ Pose" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden, released in 1991 as the first single from the band's third studio album, Badmotorfinger (1991). The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides.

Origin and recording[edit]

"Jesus Christ Pose" features lyrics written by frontman Chris Cornell and music co-written by Cornell, drummer Matt Cameron, bassist Ben Shepherd, and guitarist Kim Thayil. Some see the song as defining the "essence" of Soundgarden, as it is credited to all four band members. Cameron said, "As soon as I played this pattern everyone dove right in, and within an hour we had the guts of the song. The approach we took on this one was pure assault of the senses. Canadians dance to this song."[3]

According to a Rolling Stone interview, Kim Thayil explained the origin of this song:

[It] was definitely a jam at rehearsal. I think Ben was just jamming up this loud and blurry, detuned bass line flopping around there. And Matt starts making it precise and coherent; Matt's drum part is insane – it's so fast and coordinated. And I picked up my guitar, thinking, "What the hell are they doing?" It took me a while to figure out what's going on rhythmically and where to punctuate the one, so what I start hearing is that swirling, kamikaze bat [guitar] sound at the beginning. And that was a groove. Then I revisit the feedback and beneath-the-bridge guitar squeals that I used to do in '84 and '85. I did that mostly out of necessity because I really didn't understand what it was Ben and Matt were playing; it was just too fast and involved. Eventually, Matt and Ben lost each other, so we recorded it. Chris takes it home. We loved the groove, the action and dynamic of it. So Chris takes a recording home and works lyrics and around the lyrics finds a chorus. So he writes a couple other sections to help flesh out the arrangement dynamic and give room for the vocals. He brought that to rehearsal and we're like, "Holy shit, this crazy, insane car wreck is now a song."[4]


"Jesus Christ Pose" was performed in drop D tuning and is in 4/4 time. Regarding the song, Thayil said, "The song's groove reminds me of helicopter blades. I bent the strings at the beginning and end of the song."[5]


The band explained that the lyrics for "Jesus Christ Pose" concern the exploitation of religion for personal benefit. The song is a criticism of how public figures use religion (particularly the image of Jesus Christ) to portray themselves as being "better" than others, or as "martyrs". Chris Cornell specifically mentioned Jane's Addiction's frontman Perry Farrell[6] as an influence on the song, explaining, "It became fashionable to be the sort of persecuted-deity guy."[7] In an interview with Spin magazine in 1992, Cornell explained the term "Jesus Christ Pose":

You just see it a lot with really beautiful people, or famous people, exploiting that symbol as to imply that they're either a deity or persecuted somehow by their public. So it's pretty much a song that is nonreligious but expressing being irritated by seeing that. It's not that I would ever be offended by what someone would do with that symbol.[8]

Release and reception[edit]

"Jesus Christ Pose" was released as a single in 1991 in various versions with the previously unreleased B-sides "Stray Cat Blues" and "Into the Void (Sealth)". Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in the United Kingdom.

Greg Prato of AllMusic said, "In addition to Cornell's biting lyrics and vocals, the rest of the band helped fuel unquestionably one of Soundgarden's most vicious and venomous rockers. Breakneck guitar riffs do battle with sledgehammer drumming for most of the song's five minute and 50 seconds."[9] Gina Arnold of Entertainment Weekly stated, "On songs like the cynical 'Jesus Christ Pose' ... Soundgarden sound a hell of a lot smarter than their peers, who seldom get beyond extolling booze, girls, and cars."[10]

The song is featured on the soundtrack for the 1994 film, S.F.W. "Jesus Christ Pose" is available as downloadable content for the Rock Band series as a master track.[11]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Jesus Christ Pose" was directed by Eric Zimmerman, who would later direct the music video for "Rusty Cage".[12] The video's intro includes words similar to John 3:16; "And God So Loved Soundgarden He Gave Them His Only Song". The video features the band members wandering around a desert interspersed with various images of crosses, cyborgs, a crucified girl, a crucified skeleton and even cruciform vegetables crucified in a human form. Thayil said, "A lot was chosen by the director Eric Zimmerman, and we checked it out and decided what we liked and didn't like."[12] Cornell said, "It was a pretty unanimous decision by the band to have a woman being crucified in the video ... As a visual, it's powerful and it's also challenging to people, because women basically have been persecuted since before recorded history, and it would almost make more sense than seeing a man on it." He also added, "There's upside down crosses and right-side up ones. But there's certainly no blatant direction as far as religious conviction in the video."[12]

Thayil said that the video was one of the few Soundgarden videos the band was satisfied with.[13] He stated that "on the "Jesus Christ Pose" video we did a lot of experimenting at different kinda fun, cool things. I guess it seems fun to me because I didn't end up getting disappointed by it."[14] The video was released in October 1991.[15]


"Jesus Christ Pose" garnered attention when MTV banned its corresponding music video in 1991—it has not been shown by the channel in its entirety since. Many listeners were outraged by the song and its video, perceiving it as anti-Christian. The band actually received death threats about it on a UK tour in the early 1990s.[16]

Thayil on the "Jesus Christ Pose" music video and controversy:

That was our first single from Badmotorfinger, but it never got any airplay because of the references to Jesus. And MTV wouldn't play the video because they didn't like the idea of a girl on the cross. There are no guitars in the video at all. There's not even a picture of a guitar in the video. It's like this hard, rock-fast, punk-metal video that has no instruments in the whole thing. And it's a six minute video![5]

Cornell stated:

The way [MTV's] programming works is like a commercial radio station, the shorter the video, the more videos they can play, and—they figured I guess that in the normal hours people watch videos they're not going to want to watch something for six minutes.[17]

Live performances[edit]

A live performance of "Jesus Christ Pose" can be found on the "Black Hole Sun" single and the compilation album Telephantasm. A performance of the song is also included on the Motorvision home video release.

Track listing[edit]

Promotional CD (US) and 12" vinyl (UK)

  1. "Jesus Christ Pose" (Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell, Ben Shepherd, Kim Thayil) – 5:51

12" vinyl (UK)

  1. "Jesus Christ Pose" (Cameron, Cornell, Shepherd, Thayil) – 5:51
  2. "Stray Cat Blues" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) – 4:46

12" vinyl (UK), CD (UK), and 12" vinyl (UK)

  1. "Jesus Christ Pose" (Cameron, Cornell, Shepherd, Thayil) – 5:51
  2. "Stray Cat Blues" (Jagger, Richards) – 4:46
  3. "Into the Void (Sealth)" (Chief Sealth, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward) – 6:37
  4. "Somewhere" (Shepherd) – 4:21

Promotional 7" vinyl (US) and promotional 12" vinyl (US)

  1. "Jesus Christ Pose" (Cameron, Cornell, Shepherd, Thayil) – 5:51
  2. "Drawing Flies" (Cameron, Cornell) – 2:25

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1992) Position
UK Singles (OCC)[18] 30


The information regarding accolades attributed to "Jesus Christ Pose" is adapted in part from Acclaimed Music.[19]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Kerrang! United Kingdom "100 Greatest Singles of All Time"[20] 2002 95
Kerrang! United Kingdom "666 Songs You Must Own (Grunge)"[21] 2004 2
Q United Kingdom "The Ultimate Music Collection"[22] 2005 *

* denotes an unordered list


  1. ^ Ostroff, Joshua. "Nine Inch Nails Is The Best Band Of The 90s (And The 2000s, Too)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  2. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo (November 2, 2017). "Chris Cornell Albums Ranked". Loudwire. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  3. ^ Peiken, Matt. "Soundgarden's Matt Cameron: Breaking New Ground". Modern Drummer. June 1994.
  4. ^ "Soundgarden's 'Badmotorfinger' at 25: Kim Thayil Looks Back". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Gilbert, Jeff. "Primecuts: Kim Thayil". Guitar School. May 1994.
  6. ^ Jesus Christ Pose. Chris Cuffaro. February 18, 2012.
  7. ^ "Interview with Chris Cornell". Request. October 1994.
  8. ^ Magnuson, Ann. "Sub Zep?". Spin. February 1992.
  9. ^ Prato, Greg. "Jesus Christ Pose > Review". AllMusic. Retrieved on May 19, 2008.
  10. ^ Arnold, Gina. "Badmotorfinger". Entertainment Weekly. September 27, 1991. Retrieved on October 28, 2008.
  11. ^ "DLC Credits". Archived from the original on January 13, 2008. Retrieved February 8, 2008.
  12. ^ a b c Soundgarden Rail Against the "Jesus Christ Pose" in New and Gripping Video. Levine Schneider Public Relations. October 30, 1991.
  13. ^ Maloof, Rich. "Kim Thayil of Soundgarden: Down on the Upbeat". Guitar Magazine. July 1996.
  14. ^ Thayil, Kim. "Soundgarden Television Interview". rage. ABC1.
  15. ^ "Soundgarden music videos". Music Video Database. Archived from the original on June 2, 2008. Retrieved February 22, 2008.
  16. ^ "I Don't Care About Performing for 20,000!". Raw. September 15, 1993.
  17. ^ Cornell, Chris. "Interview with Chris Cornell". bFM, New Zealand. January 16, 1997.
  18. ^ "Soundgarden: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  19. ^ ""Jesus Christ Pose" accolades". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  20. ^ "100 Greatest Singles of All Time". Kerrang!. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  21. ^ "666 Songs You Must Own (Grunge)". Kerrang!. Retrieved May 6, 2008.
  22. ^ "The Ultimate Music Collection". Q. Retrieved May 6, 2008.

External links[edit]