Category Archives: Features

Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 13: Jordan Smith

Do you think a song is just great because it is? Because of the original artist’s recording, maybe the song stands tall on its own. Or maybe a song is just good simply because of the number of covers that have been recorded of aforementioned track. And once we’ve figured out that the song it good, maybe even awesome, then should the song promote the message inside or the original artist, or shudder to think the cover artist? Perhaps the cover version is just as good or maybe even better than the original, and in that case- well the ‘newer’ artist is just simply lucky and blessed to have their stardom fast-tracked by covering such a well known and timeless sung. What about artists who cover several songs and then showcase their voice that way? Does any of you know what I’m subtly alluding to? Of course I’m speaking about singing competitions and how covers of famous songs gone by essentially can propel a literal nobody to global stardom. How do any of these guys thrust into the spotlight deal with the instant pressure? Well judging from the calibre of the small sample size that is only two studio albums and one Christmas album- up and coming powerful vocalist Jordan Smith has handled the pressure quite well. And no doubt he will be, if not already, influential in his own right, as he inspires and encourages us all to live life to the fullest, and to in turn provide light and hope to others who need it.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 12: Marc Martel

We’re an odd bunch, us humans. Searching for meaning, searching for purpose, searching for identity in a wide variety of places. We think we’re content even if subconsciously we realise that we aren’t, and we all have our own weird and wonderful habits that make us all unique to each other. But what I reckon is the most quirkiest of quirks of all in the human race- and one might want to disagree with me on this, but maybe you all won’t- and that is that we are all seemingly obsessed to find again, or at least try to recreate what is lost. Think about it for a moment. We don’t like change, we like to stay in the comfortable. And the best example of us trying to control every aspect of our lives is when death comes knocking at our door. Yes the proverbial and literal monster that comes like a thief in the night when no one is watching nor listening. One minute you’re here and the next poof you’re gone, and no one remembers you. So I guess I can understand why we as humans would like to be remembered after we’re gone, or even still try to live as long as we can without the deterioration of the human mind.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 11: Echosmith

Up until now in my section of this blog series called Momentous Mondays, I have, and this is probably unintentional; written about and explored the discography of artists that, though are still somewhat finding their feet and not as established as others whom Jon is writing about in his list; are nonetheless seasoned in terms of years. As in maybe aside from Alessia Cara (from my memory, Alessia released her debut before she turned 20!), the other 9 artists I’ve talked about thus far had to do the hard yards and toiled for quite some time before their big break. Not that I’ve had any reason to avoid artists who are young and thrust into the spotlight for whatever reason- I actually reckon that some artists who are in the spotlight from a young age are mature and are wise beyond their years; but I reckon generally speaking artists who have been around for a while yet who are just making their mark now, are maybe slightly more humble and more mature. Yet an artist who has popped up recently on my Spotify playlist who I reckon will be a force to be reckoned with is the up and coming band Echosmith– and they fit in the category of Alessia Cara- they’ve been around for 12 years and lead singer Sydney is only just 22 years old!

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 38: DELIRIOUS?

I don’t think you can utter the words ‘praise and worship’ without uttering the word ‘Delirious?’ in the same sentence. There, I said it. Yes, this is my bold assertion. No it’s not Hillsong or even Chris Tomlin (both these two have been influential and instrumental in the praise and worship movement), nor is it Paul Baloche or even Tim Hughes. The founding ‘father’ if you will, of praise and worship music, even a founding father of ‘modern CCM’, would have to be Delirious?. Yes, the 5 piece British outfit who impacted the world stage back during the 1990s and the 2000s. Yes, that same Delirious? Then, again…maybe I’m a little bias, right? I mean after all, Delirious?, alongside Carman, has shaped my years in my own tastes of music as I grew up, and taught me all there was to know in my formative years about Christianity…so I guess this statement of Delirious? being one of the pioneers of the modern praise and worship movement, can be a bit of a stretch, right? Maybe, maybe I am just tapping into a little bit of nostalgia for a little. Maybe I am further off the mark than I’ve ever been, and Delirious? aren’t the founding ‘fathers’ as I assumed they were. Nevertheless, Delirious? (headed by Martin Smith as lead singer, Stu G. as guitarist, Stew Smith (and later Paul Evans) on drums, Jon Thatcher on bass and Tim Jupp on keys) has been with me on this journey of life and the mark they have had on Christian music, and maybe even to a broader extent, mainstream music; cannot be denied. Even during their tenure of 17 years as a band, the quintet have given to us songs of healing and hope, of poignancy and power- put it this way: had the band not exist, how would the worship landscape and the ability to create worship and praise music, how would that have changed? Would we have more free expressions of worship, people discovering new ways of delivering praise to our Father who certainly deserves such glory and honour? If Delirious? wasn’t as successful as they were, if their songs didn’t touch as many people as it did, frankly, I don’t think we’d be where we are today. Frankly, in all honesty, we ought not to give thanks for bands and artists like Chris Tomlin and Hillsong for paving the way of CCM and worship music (they very much indeed continued along the way), but rather, in my bold opinion, Delirious? by far ought to be congratulated- taking risks and daring to grab the chance of singing something bold and powerful, it is only when artists travel outside the box, like Delirious?, that they can be influential to music and society. Yes, it has been 11 years since the band played their last concert, and 12 years since their latest album. But also yes, the band has shaped CCM like I’m sure we’ve never seen before. Delirious? will forever be my favourite group/band, ever. It is in the impact of the songs on the people that I can safely say that this British band from Southampton, England, carried with it an ability to put worship into song in a way that I don’t think anyone has come before them, and I don’t think anyone would come after, as well (though I do think veteran CCM/worship singer/songwriter Jason Ingram comes close!).

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 10: Zach Williams

I’ve been thinking about a weighty concept of late. I’m not sure what it is that prompted me to dwell on such a heavy topic, but…here goes. So; if the only way to empathise with someone is to imagine yourself in their shoes, well howabout I ask you all to close your eyes for a moment. Now let’s imagine. Let’s conduct a little hypothetical exercise, and put ourselves in the shoes of a murderer or a liar or a cheater. Is that a bit of a stretch? Yes? Ok, so now howabout we imagine ourselves to be…someone who’s a bit less evil-y. Maybe someone who is prideful, lustful, egocentric, narcissistic or the littlest bit envious. Now then…let us imagine that we are at the end of our rope, wanting to change, wanting to become a better person, if not for ourselves then for our family and friends. Yet we do not know how to change. Do you think such a person realistically exists? Someone on the cusp of changing for the better, but not there yet? If we’ve been brought up a certain way, and then find out we don’t like the way we’ve lived previously, can we change? Even if we have the capacity to, does making a complete 180 degree change make sense, and is the cost of losing our worldly relationships worth it, or too great? The world may say that what you are right now, and what you’ve grown up as, is what you are for eternity, and there is no room or margin for alteration; as in there is nothing in the world that can make you, or persuade you to change your behaviour, or change the reason for your behaviour. But is that really the case? Can a person who has made bad choices really change for the better? Can they be an inspiration to others and provide hope and encouragement, even when they still struggle with their demons and their better judgement?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 37: BACKSTREET BOYS

Up unto now with my blog series, I’ve written about a fair amount of artists that have influenced the scope of music today, and with the music I’ve been immersed in, I’m reminded that music comes in all shapes and sizes, and that music can touch the heart of people in many different ways. Artists like Delta Goodrem, Lifehouse, Switchfoot, Shania Twain, Ed Sheeran, Rascal Flatts, Phil Collins, Sara Bareilles and Train (to name a few of the many, many artists I’ve delved into last year), have all stretched me as a person, as I’m reminded that, to be blunt, God can speak through many different avenues, and that a song doesn’t have to utter the word ‘Jesus’ for it to be impactful in today’s generation. I’ve written pages and paragraphs, written about this song and that, written about what I believe the songs mean for the artist, written about what I believe the songs mean for me personally, written about why I believe this particular artist is influential for a certain generation in society…I’ve written about a lot of things. I’ve been reminded that different styles and genres and the fact that we have them is a tremendous gift, that one person can connect with a certain style of music, and someone else can be impacted by another, is the beauty of music itself.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 36: TINA ARENA

‘…there is too much visibility. You become the focus of everything and everyone and it’s not healthy. It’s not healthy and it’s not natural. It makes me feel for those around me…you see people literally gravitating towards you and everything else is a blur. That makes me very uncomfortable. I think I got disconnected after being on the road for so long and having weathered so many different trials and tribulations during that time and journey. I spent years going on and off planes in different countries in different time zones … 14- to 15-hour days for two to three weeks in a row. At a certain point your brain is fried, which is what happened to me…it’s one of the loneliest existences around, actually … on the outside [that person] seems to be living an extraordinary journey. The way they are living privately in a lot of cases is completely different. It was very lonely…’

It is in this quote that I have realised that being a musician, or even just being in the public eye for whatever reason, is a lonely journey, and one that often changes you, at times for the better, and other times, for the ‘not-so-better’. It is also in this quote that I am reminded that people’s expectations of you isn’t necessarily how you should act on a 24-7 basis. In fact, the more people expect you to live and exist on a higher standard or plane, because of the publicity of who you are and what you do, the more you often realise that to live on such a high go-go-go mentality is often folly and foolishness. Enter in Tina Arena, Australian artist and arguably one of the most influential and impactful Australian musicians/singer-songwriters ever. And I really mean ever. A generation before artists like Delta Goodrem, Jessica Mauboy, Dami Im and Guy Sebastian, Tina’s music has been on the Aussie airwaves for as long as even I can remember (for me as I delved into Tina’s discography, I realised I heard many of the songs before, just didn’t realise that the songs were attributed to her!). Considered to be an artist that has stood the test of time- from her debut album in 1990s, all the way till now where she’s still making music; we have been blessed and honoured to welcome Tina into our homes with uplifting, compelling and often confronting music for all this time. While Australians in a general sense still have a ways to go when competing in terms of music and the impactful nature of it on a global scale, Aussie artists like Tina, alongside others like Delta, Jessica, Guy, Dami, even icons recognised so well in Australia (Johnny Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Keith Urban, Kasey Chambers, Missy Higgins and Human Nature, to name a few) have all made music on a holistic global scale, much more interesting over the years. Australians have a different way of delivering and presenting music, I’ve felt- maybe because I’ve grown up in Australia and I’m a little biased, but whatever the case, there seems to be a little more honesty and transparency in music produced and recorded by Australians, and Tina’s music is no different. Maybe I’m reading too much into what I am seeing, but nevertheless, what I can say is that Tina’s music on a whole has surprised me in a good way over the last week or so. In the business since the 1990s, Tina still has a lot more to give, and is a great inspiration for young aspiring musicians who want to make a difference in Australian media and around the world as well.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF THE NEXT 5-10 YEARS – WEEK 9: MATTHEW WEST

Do you think that it’s possible for an artist who has been around for a long time, who has had a ton of hits, and who has inspired and encouraged the hearts of many, to be only considered an influential artist- not now but 5-10 years into the future? Do you think that’s possible? Can an artist simply fly by relatively under the radar for quite a long while, unnoticed by the general public but then miraculously garner widespread and exponential acclaim and recognition, for whatever reason? Some may say no, and simply put, the artist I’m speaking about today has had plenty of hits and has been around since the turn of the century. Thus, you might tend to agree with most readers and listeners of music out there- that whom I am writing about should in fact be whom Jon is writing about instead. However I reckon this artist doesn’t fit in Jon’s category, and if you think about it, fits quite nicely in and amongst other artists like Tori Kelly, Lauren Daigle, Jess Glynne, Maren Morris, NF, Marc Martel, Colony House and Shawn Mendes to name a few. It might take convincing, maybe even convincing to the length of this entire blog, and maybe even longer than that; but Matthew West is sure to be an artist on everyone’s lips, if not by the time you finish reading this blog, then definitely by Valentine’s Day this year, when his brand new album Brand New releases. Are you sceptical? I mean, if Tenth Avenue North and For King and Country are present on Jon’s list, then surely Matthew’s discography deserves a place on “Most 100 Influential Artists of All Time” as opposed to ‘potentially being influential in the future’? Well to sway your scepticalness, read on- and to directly answer this question of why Matthew is in one list, while Tenth Avenue North and for KING & COUNTRY in another; let me first ask you all a question.

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BEST OF 2019- PART 9: TOP 15 ANTICIPATED ALBUMS OF 2020

I know I say this every year, but this time I mean it. 2019 was the year that we were presented with the most hard hitting and poignant songs, as well as the most inspirational albums in recent memory. From songs like “Almost Home” (MercyMe), “Greater Than All My Regrets” (Tenth Avenue North), “Head Above Water” (Avril Lavigne), “The God Who Stays” (Matthew West), “Fear No Mor” (Building 429), “I Don’t Care” (Ed Sheeran), “Sucker” (Jonas Brothers), “If I Can’t Have You” (Shawn Mendes), “Miracle” (Tauren Wells), “Lose You To Love Me” (Selena Gomez), “AMEN” (Micah Tyler), “Unstoppable God” (Sanctus Real), “Rescue Story” (Zach Williams) and “Goodness Of God” (Bethel Music); to albums like No Shame (Tenth Avenue North), Head Above Water (Avril Lavigne), Spectrum (Westlife), People (UNITED), Native Tongue (Switchfoot), Ocean (Lady Antebellum), No. 6 Collaborations Project (Ed Sheeran), UNITED (newsboys), Out Of My Hands (Mallary Hope), Unstoppable God (Sanctus Real), Rescue Story (Zach Williams), Reason (Unspoken), Victory (Bethel Music), GIRL (Maren Morris), Haven’t Seen It Yet (Danny Gokey) and the highly controversial Jesus Is King (Kanye West) – this year had it all. Sweeping ballads, head banging rockers, introspective tear-jerkers and just plain fun pop tunes to dance to. And now that it is nearing 2020, it’s that time again in our best of series. To talk about our most anticipated albums for the upcoming year ahead in 2020. So now without further ado, let me list 15 albums that will release within the next twelve months, of which I am anticipating. So which albums are you looking forward to?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 35: CARMAN

I turned 30 last week. Gee…whizz. That’s a big loaded statement to start off my next blog post. Yes, I did turn the big proverbial 3 0 on last week Monday, and after a big long break of just over a month between the last previous blog (Week 34 was for KING AND COUNTRY published online in mid-November) and now, I’ve managed to catch up on a very much needed time of rest, relaxation, and just generally working hard at my work as a café owner and operator. I’ve learnt to slow down a little during my time away, and to remind myself that though this year has been great as I’ve explored a vast myriad of music at my fingertips quite literally (you can search on Youtube for any musical content you wish!); my life wasn’t just music. Over this month when I wasn’t immersing myself into this particular artist and that, I found out how much time I was undertaking the discovery of new artists throughout the year. I was letting this blog series take control of my life, not necessarily consciously, but nevertheless, that’s what I was doing. To put it bluntly, I found a little of my identity in my blog post series this past year. Which isn’t that good. Still, here I am back, and ready to get into yet another year of exploring artists that I believe have made a mark on today’s music culture, amongst people, and shaped music in general. One such artist that I’m about to delve into at the moment, is 1990s and 2000s CCM legend, Carman!

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