Provident Label Group
Release Date: March 18th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- God’s Not Dead (Newsboys)
- Overcomer (Mandisa)
- Free to be Me (Francesca Battistelli)
- I Can Only Imagine (MercyMe)
- Who Am I (Casting Crowns)
- Testify to Love (Avalon)
- How Great is Our God (Chris Tomlin)
- Above All (Michael W. Smith)
- Cry Out to Jesus (Third Day)
- Redeemed (Big Daddy Weave)
- Hello, My Name Is (Matthew West)
- The Basics of Life (4Him)
- On My Knees (Jaci Velasquez)
- Held (Natalie Grant)
- Keep the Candle Burning (Point of Grace)
- Me Without You (TobyMac)
- Big House (Audio Adrenaline)
- Fix My Eyes (for KING AND COUNTRY)
- Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) (UNITED)
- There Will Be a Day (Jeremy Camp)
- By Your Side (Tenth Avenue North)
- Give Me Your Eyes (Brandon Heath)
- Jesus Freak (dc Talk)
- Dive (Steven Curtis Chapman)
- Redeemer (Nicole C. Mullen)
- Dare You to Move (Switchfoot)
- Flood (Jars of Clay)
- How He Loves (David Crowder Band)
- El Shaddai (Amy Grant)
- Blessings (Laura Story)
The WOW brand is by far the most talked about brand of music within the Christian industry. Entering into the frame 20 years ago with WOW 1996, a compilation certain to raise a few eyebrows and cause a fair amount of stir with their claim for giving and delivering a set of songs that have been the best performing in terms of radio sales throughout that given year; WOW has continued to give listeners a sample of songs that have continued to be popular in both radio and in people’s homes throughout the years. With WOW Hits, WOW Worship, WOW Gospel, WOW #1s, not to mention the one off WOW Trivia Game and a whole bunch of WOW DVD’s; WOW is a brand known to many of avid Christian music fans like myself, and has a fair amount of critics (myself included).
Known for decisions that are both timely and not so at once, we are indeed given another compilation to discuss and talk about before the end of the year when WOW Hits 2017 rolls around. WOW has been around for 20 years, and what better way than celebrating that fact? Why not have another WOW compilation, with WOW Hits- 20th Anniversary Edition? While this review seems a little redundant (with the advent of Spotify and Pandora, and the ability to create your own ‘WOW’ playlists), what we will capture in these next few paragraphs is the fact that WOW celebrates sameness, and while on the whole this album is great if you want to introduce Christian music to your neighbour who may not know who bands like MercyMe or Casting Crowns are; what the brand fails to deliver is a compilation that actually spans the 20 years that the album title suggests- more so it is a WOW Hits album that showcases the last few years, with a token 5-6 song titles from way back, with not much representation for the years inbetween.
While this is not necessarily a bashing session about how poorly chosen these songs are for the new WOW compilation, what I will say is this- for an album that states the fact that these songs are songs that have charted throughout the last 20 years, the choices need to reflect that statement. With WOW being around for that amount of time, surely these 30 songs need to be chosen with that in mind? To have these songs span the 20 years? Don’t get me wrong, when we glance through the tracklist we have some great songs. Songs like “How Great is Our God” (Chris Tomlin), “Dare You to Move” (Switchfoot), “Blessings” (Laura Story), “Fix My Eyes” (for KING AND COUNTRY), “Oceans” (UNITED) and “Hello My Name Is” (Matthew West) have all seen success over the years, and are all deserving of making the 20th anniversary compilation. Older tracks like “Jesus Freak” (dc Talk), “Keep the Candle Burning” (Point of Grace), “Dive” (Steven Curtis Chapman), “Redeemer” (Nicole C. Mullen), “On My Knees” (Jaci Velasquez), “The Basics of Life” (4Him), “Who Am I” (Casting Crowns), “I Can Only Imagine” (MercyMe) and “Testify to Love” (Avalon) bring back heavy nostalgia for myself (and I’m sure many others) and all seem to be great inclusions on this compilation, yet with these tracks slotted in and amongst more recent favourites, these songs seemingly feel out of date and lost in the compilation where only these songs that I’ve just mentioned are the only tracks on the album pre-2005.
While the album is great if you want to play it in your car and get great nostalgia from older bands and be reminded of the newer material on radio currently, there seems to be a gap. Not much coverage and representation from the actual 2000s, just late 1990s/early 2000s, and mid 2010s, and not much else. When you realise the artists that could’ve been on this album yet weren’t (Sanctus Real, Stellar Kart, Delirious?, Nichole Nordeman, The Afters, Krystal Meyers, BarlowGirl, Andrew Peterson, Lincoln Brewster, needtobreathe, Britt Nicole, ZoeGirl, Bethany Dillon, Building 429, Ginny Owens, Rebecca St. James, Joy Williams, Plus One, Rachael Lampa, Superchick), you realise that this album track list isn’t as representative of the 20 years as it suggests. And why always pick “Jesus Freak” by dc Talk all the time if you want a representation from the trio? Why not “Coloured People”, “Between You and Me” or “Since I Met You”? I’m sure “Big House” is a great song in and of itself, but why not place on songs like “Ocean Floor” or “Hands and Feet” instead? These songs, I’m sure are just as popular, maybe even more so, than the 1993 hit!
Anyway, enough griping from me. I’m sure this album will serve its purpose, just not with people like me that can be heavily critical of the song choices. There’s nothing wrong with the songs themselves, just the fact that certain years within these 20 years, and certain artists, are bypassed, for no apparent reason at all. Nevertheless, this is the WOW Hits track listing they are going with, and I’m sure we’ll continue to talk about this album up until the WOW Hits 2017 track listing is unveiled. Til then, comment below on what you reckon your ideal WOW Hits 20th anniversary tracklisting ought to be, and which songs over the last 20 years has impacted your faith the most.
5 songs to listen to: God’s Not Dead, Who Am I, Fix My Eyes, How Great is Our God, Dare You To Move
RIYL: Newsboys, Chris Tomlin, Natalie Grant, for KING AND COUNTRY