Release Date: August 30th 2019
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Everything (TobyMac)
- Who You Say I Am (Hillsong Worship)
- Haven’t Seen It Yet (Danny Gokey)
- Trust in You (Lauren Daigle)
- Build My Life (Pat Barrett)
- Is He Worthy? (Chris Tomlin)
- Dead Man Walking (Jeremy Camp)
- Red Letters (Crowder)
- You Know My Name (feat. Jimi Cravity) (Tasha Cobbs Leonard)
- Reckless Love (Cory Asbury)
- YOUR NAME IS POWER (Rend Collective)
- Changed (Jordan Feliz)
- Greater Things (Mack Brock)
- Fighting For Me (Riley Clemmons)
- Another in the Fire (Live) (UNITED)
I think I have to make this sad but nevertheless real assumption. WOW Hits 2020 is not happening. There, I said it. Not that that assumption and statement out loud was any easier. In fact, with WOW Hits no longer in production (I can assume this because it is early September 2019 and no announcement of WOW Hits has been made!), it is indeed a sad day for Christian music. Sure, in the eyes of production, marketing, the advent of Spotify, youtube and everything else, WOW Hits slowly but surely became redundant. The DVD’s were phased out of production with WOW Hits 2012 being the last DVD to release. And after that, I assumed it was only time for WOW Hits CD to discontinue. But here we are in September, and with WOW Hits being not in circulation, becoming more and more a reality for me, I feel a little sad. Throughout my teenage years and into university, I grew up with WOW Hits. It was in fact one of the main ways that I branched out of my own CCM comfort zone into other styles of music under the Christian umbrella. Not only was the WOW Series a big part of my own life, I’m sure this series was also helping people not in the Western world- in places like China, Africa and some other parts of Asia, where youtube is banned and Christianity of all sorts is outlawed. So for WOW Hits to disappear, and with no official statement saying that it was not going to come back for another year, seems a little baffling, but all in all, saddening, not for me (I do have spotify and can play various other playlists of current Christian music tunes), but for the people who now don’t have access to the latest Christian music, for whatever reason. But never fear, right? Because right now, we’ve found another decent alternative in SOZO Playlists: Top Christian Hits! Surely this new album release should satisfy your itches for new music- a one stop shop for all charting CCM music throughout the year, right?
Hear the sarcasm dripping in my voice? Yes? No? Let me put it this way- WOW Hits is miles, miles better than what is in its place. First of all, SOZO Playlists is only 15 songs long, compared to WOW Hits that had 33 in earlier editions and 39 in later ones. And so to widdle down until the best 15 songs, is merely impossible. Sure, this compilation is only from people who have signed to Capitol CMG and do not include artists from other labels like Provident, Fair Trade or WORD, but nevertheless, this 15-track listing should reflect the latest and current radio hits that Capitol CMG has to offer, right? On first glance, and if we just scan the track listing, we see the things that album executives have right- ‘Everything’ (TobyMac), ‘Haven’t Seen It Yet’ (Danny Gokey), ‘Is He Worthy’ (Chris Tomlin), ‘Dead Man Walking’ (Jeremy Camp), ‘Your Name is Power’ (Rend Collective), ‘Red Letters’ (Crowder) and ‘Fighting For Me’ (Riley Clemmons) have all charted within the last year or so, and are all deserving on this compilation. ‘You Know My Name’ by Tasha Cobbs Leonard…well, this is the first time I’ve heard that song. Maybe it’s because it’s a gospel song and I’m not in the know of anything gospel, but it seemed odd and weird for such a song like this to be present on a compilation that housed mostly CCM artists. Nevertheless, upon first glance, the album looks good- if only WORD and Provident undertake their own compilation of songs released throughout the year, into the future. Maybe an album from Provident or Word, cataloguing chart-topping songs throughout 2019, in October/November?
SOZO Playlists: Top Christian Hits features a collection of all the best songs of the year from today’s top artists. With over 2 million fans across streaming services, SOZO Playlists is a trusted brand and market-leader specializing in expertly curated playlist collections safe for the whole family. Now you can have this expertise with SOZO Playlists: Top Christian Hits, a compilation inviting music fans everywhere to enjoy hit songs of the year from top selling Christian artists such as Lauren Daigle, TobyMac, Chris Tomlin, Jeremy Camp, Danny Gokey, and many more! With 15 tracks for the low price of $9.99, you’re sure to find new favorites among great songs such as “Trust In You,” “Reckless Love,” “Who You Say I Am,” “Build My Life,” and “Haven’t Seen It Yet.” This above is the logline about the new compilation. Never does it say that it is replacing WOW Hits compilations, but…if you put 2 and 2 together, you can figure it out. Yet this bold assertion that this collection contains, and I quote ‘the best songs of the year from today’s top artists’ is a little bit of a stretch if you ask me. With all the songs that are timely and fitting for this compilation, there are songs that just…well, aren’t. ‘Trust in You’ by Lauren Daigle is very, very good, but the song released in 2015 and was already on WOW Hits 2017. Where is ‘You Say’ on SOZO Playlists: Top Christian Hits? Same can be said about ‘Who You Say I Am’- a great song, but already on WOW Hits 2019? Maybe ‘King of Kings’ should’ve been more timely? Then you have ‘Another in the Fire’- a song that, by all purposes, is probably a good song in it’s own right- but never a single. A promotional one maybe, but if we’re really going to place the ‘best of the best’ on such a compilation, I’d rather pick ‘Good Grace’ instead. Then you have only 2 representatives of Centricity Music (Lauren Daigle and Jordan Feliz) and no one else (where is ‘Reason’ by Unspoken, ‘Somebody Loves You’ by Plumb, ‘How Can I Be Silent’ by Caitie Hurst or even ‘I’m Gonna Let It Go’ by Jason Gray?). Add to the list artists from Capitol CMG which are just not present (The Young Escape, Social Club Misfits, Passion, Sean Curran and Cody Carnes) and you wonder who is really, really, making these compilation lists. Maybe, just maybe, compilations should just be abandoned entirely, and we as fans of CCM and music in general can make our own playlists on Spotify to our hearts content. Maybe that will solve all issues right?
I’ve said this once and I will say this again- WOW Hits was never a perfect brand, and neither is this new compilation series either. But sometimes in order to break through and prove that this compilation series is worthy enough to take notice, then hard decisions have to be made- starting with swapping out ‘Trust in You’ with ‘You Say’, right away. Regardless of the faults, this new compilation is sure to get us buzzing, I certainly have. Then again, this new compilation is never going to make me forget WOW Hits, nor should it. Ah well, time to discover new artists within CCM a different way. Maybe I’ll just go on to my ‘Release Radar’ page on Spotify then. Regardless of opinion, the songs are good, the bold decisions of songs by Rend Collective, Riley Clemmons, Danny Gokey and Jeremy Camp are good. But if you want to have a one-stop shop for all things Christian music related for the year 2019, then this album is not it. Maybe you will have more luck on Spotify sifting through. Nevertheless, the album has been made. Will I buy it? Probably not. Will other people who are not in the Western world? Yes they will. So let us give people and listeners what the statement on the press release for this album professes- the best of the best.
Are you going to listen to this compilation both now and into the future? Why or why not? Missing WOW Hits as much as I have? How much of the now-defunct series has influenced your life thus far? Thank you WOW Hits for the many many years, here’s hoping SOZO Playlists continue from where WOW Hits left off with as much anticipation and wonder. Well done WOW Hits for all the memories- SOZO Playlists– let’s make some new ones!
3 songs to listen to: Your Name is Power, Is He Worthy, Red Letters
RIYL: WOW Hits, WOW Worship, Bethel Music, Hillsong, Jesus Culture