In a short 3 and a half months, the annual WOW Hits project will be released both in physical and digital form, and while we all can agree that no collection of the top 39 Christian songs of the year will fully encompass every song worthy of recognition, we can all try, sit back and make our own fantasy lists, of songs we reckon should be included in the compilation, and other tracks that we deem to miss out, for whatever reason. Earlier in the year, we released a prediction to you all, and a few months down the track, we’ve decided to disclose another predicted list- some tracks the same and others different. While I must admit there’s probably no perfect list, WOW Hits does have some traction within the CCM community, and is a great way to start if you are looking for something new, different and interesting to listen to if you are a fan like me of all things CCM.
WOW Hits has always had its critics, its compliments and everything else in between. Earlier this year, they released their first ever remix album- one that I reckon was a bold and smart move by the brand. And when September 2015 rolls around, we will see which songs throughout the year WOW reckons ought to be placed on a CD to be listened to again and again by millions around the world. Want to check out my 2 cents worth? Read on and find out.
1. Jesus Loves Me (Chris Tomlin)
One of my favourite songs on Chris’s album Love Ran Red, this melody speaks about how Jesus loves us as we are, and has an incredible take on the children’s song of the same name. A melody that has been given a lot of airplay throughout the year, Chris’s hit is almost a shoe-in (though I wouldn’t be opposed to a song like “At the Cross” or “Greater” sneaking through).
2. Broken Together (Casting Crowns)
A song about being real, honest and vulnerable in a marriage, this piano only track is a song that has broken down the boundaries between loved ones and has been the catalyst for healing around the world. The current single by Casting Crowns is by far one of my favourite tracks from Thrive, and one who’s omission, if that’s what WOW does, will be one that is the most shocking of all.
3. Come As You Are (Crowder)
Again other song that has become a standout amongst lovers of DC*B, Crowder and everyone else who loves experimental worship music, it is the solemn and reflective lines that Crowder sings about us coming home to the father like a prodigal son that will resonate with listeners the most. Expect this song to fit right into WOW Hits 2016, and quite possibly be one of my favourites on this compilation.
4. Good Fight (Unspoken)
A bolter on last year’s WOW Hits 2015, Unspoken’s current single is more of a motivational one, a song that encourages us to fight the good fight of life and to never give up, always knowing to let ‘…your light shine, cause I’m never gonna leave you, always gonna see you through to the other side…’ Surely these 4 men of God deserve a place on this annual compilation of today’s best?
5. Flawless (MercyMe)
What can I say about this song? Great message of us being flawless in Christ, and a song that is my favourite track from Welcome to the New. Personally one of my favourite bands ever, MercyMe has created one of their most honest and vulnerable songs ever. Can I hear a spot in WOW Hits 2016 anybody?
6. Prodigal (Sidewalk Prophets)
With big drums and an electronic sound the band has never experimented with before, Sidewalk Prophets is by far, from listening to this song alone, one of the most improved CCM bands lyrically and musically this past year. One of the most catchiest songs I’ve ever heard from the band, “Prodigal” is the first single from their new album Something Different releasing August 28th. On WOW Hits 2016? I reckon so. Listen and make a judgement for yourself.
7. Day One (Matthew West)
Just like how songs like My Own Little World, History, Something to Say, Hello My Name Is and Do Something were all instrumental in terms of us discovering our identity in Christ, so to is Matthew West’s new single, “Day One”. As Christians we are reminded everyday through God’s Word and the people around us that we have a daily choice- and a personal one- to start over and have a clean slate. This song is a daily reminder of that. And a worthy inclusion in WOW Hits 2016 (though if it’s a song like “Live Forever”, “Grace Wins” or “World Changers”, I’d be ok with that as well).
8. Do Life Big (Jamie Grace)
Doing life big- what does that really mean? Living life to the fullest? Doing the best we can, knowing all full well that we are fully loved by Christ and our family? Discovering that our purpose is to share Christ and his love to those around us? Jamie Grace encourages us all to this purpose in her single, one that will be a nice addition to the collection of 39 songs. What do you think?
9. Soul On Fire (Third Day)
Who doesn’t love this gospel, southern rock, country, CCM and rock inspired quartet? Third Day have been around almost as long as me, and their hit single “Soul on Fire” is just as good as their first song “Consuming Fire” all those years ago.
10. The Unmaking (Nichole Nordeman)
After a break of a number of years, Nichole Nordeman is back with a new song “The Unmaking” and a new album slated to release sometime this year. A welcomed addition to WOW Hits 2016 after many years absent? I think so, I hope so. Check out the lyric video below and see if you have the same persuasions as me.
11. Nothing Better (Jon Guerra)
After releasing his first solo EP Glass last year, Jon released his full-length album Nothing Better in April 2015. His current single speaks about how there’s nothing better than God’s love for us. With his ingenious music video also debuting this year too, expect Jon and his music to make a continual impact in months to come. In my predicted list of WOW Hits 2016? Definitely. In the official list? No idea!
12. One More Step (Lindsay McCaul)
Arguably one of the most underrated female singer-songwriters currently in the CCM industry, Lindsay’s first single ‘Empty Handed’ from her new album One More Step was surely missed from WOW Hits 2015. Surely WOW corrects this and places in her current single ‘One More Step’ onto the compilation? Listen to the song below and here’s hoping this awesome songwriter makes an appearance on a WOW Hits- preferably WOW Hits 2016!
13. Glow in the Dark (Jason Gray)
A man with a stutter when he speaks. Yet a man with a plethora of songs to sing and no stutter when he’s placed in front of a microphone and a guitar. This new song “Glow in the Dark” is a testament to that- as Jason relays to us about how we as Christians all ought to shine in the dark and realise that it is our light and love that draws people to Christ. A shoe-in on WOW Hits 2016? Possibly, maybe. Hear this song via the facebook link and wait 3 months to find out.
14. First (Lauren Daigle)
After winning worship song of the year for “How Can It Be” at the K-Love Fan Awards, it’d be almost criminal to not include Lauren on WOW Hits 2016. Her current single “First”? Or her previous single “How Can It Be”? Any is ok, but timeliness is always key on compilations. I vote for “First”- listen to the song below and make a judgement yourself.
15. He Knows My Name (Francesca Battistelli)
Who can forget Francesca? May I say I reckon she’d be the next Natalie Grant or Rebecca St. James? Or maybe she already is? Her new song “He Knows My Name” is a great testament to her poignancy, delivering a song that encourages us that Christ knows us and that no other person or event ought to define what He says about us. Releasing a 12 minute music video at the beginning of the year, to say that Francesca is not included on a WOW Hits is to almost declare the album not to be bought by fans- ever. Check out the video below and see if you have the same assessment.
16. From the Day (I Am They) (BONUS)
The pop-folk group of 6 worship band with musical leanings to Rend Collective, Crowder or Hillsong have released one of the best albums of the year, in my opinion by a debut label artist. “From The Day” encompasses hand claps, gang vocals and a rich harmonious sound to convey the theme of us declaring God’s worth from the day he saved us til we meet with Him again in heaven. Do you reckon the song should be placed on 2015’s best?
BONUS Tracks only on the Deluxe Edition: On Fire (Sanctus Real), It is Well (Matt Redman), Touch the Sky (Hillsong UNITED)
To have tracks on the deluxe edition that are not on the standard album version is an interesting choice- nevertheless, anything to drive up sales from a business point of view can’t be a bad thing. Besides- more songs, right? 39 instead of 33? With three songs extra on each album, I reckon songs like these ones aforementioned are worthy enough to be included, don’t you reckon? Listen to the songs to find out.
1. Beyond Me (TobyMac)
Yes, I know that TobyMac has transitioned himself from a rap artist to a pop artist, yet, isn’t he still relevant as ever? His new song “Beyond Me” reminds us all that some things are just unexplainable and are beyond us- but not beyond God. A simple song that stands at a touch over three minutes, will this be on WOW Hits 2016? Sure, it’s TobyMac! As cliche as this song could be, the artist will be there, whether it’s this song or another.
2. Impossible (Building 429)
With the band releasing their new album in September 2015, it’s almost a natural progression to place their new song on a compilation- to create buzz and anticipation. Their new song “Impossible” champions the fact that there’s nothing impossible for God. Listen to the song and let us know what you think of it.
3. For Those Who Can’t Speak (Tenth Avenue North)
Including a song that has rap parts in it on a compilation that celebrates for the most part CCM? You better believe it. Tenth Avenue North, collaborating with KB and Derek Minor, deliver to us For Those Who Can’t Speak, a song written to raise awareness for all the slaves around the world. If this song is included (and not ‘Stars in the Night’, their AC/Inspo single currently), the WOW brand has made a huge step in the embrace of other Christian genres than radio formats.
4. Brother (Needtobreathe) (feat. Gavin DeGraw)
Gavin DeGraw on a WOW Hits Christian music compilation? Really? Well ‘Brother’, a song by needtobreathe about us helping the less fortunate out during times of trouble, is a song quite possibly one that’ll make it’s way onto the WOW Hits compilation. Once famous for the One Tree Hill theme song, Gavin’s collaboration on needtobreathe’s hit is sure to spark some debate- nevertheless ‘Brother’ ought to be placed on WOW Hits 2016- one of my favourites from the South Carolina band since ‘Lay Em Down’ in 2009.
5. That Was Then, This is Now (Josh Wilson)
Josh has been quiet of late. Now with a new song and a new album releasing in August (or is it late July?), That Was Then, This is Now is certainly going to be revolutionary that as we discover our past ought not to define us in what we believe about ourselves. Since “Pushing Back the Dark” was omitted from last year’s WOW Hits, should WOW make the same mistake with this song? I think not!
6. Exhale (Plumb)
The title track from her new album, Plumb has delivered a powerful poignant punch of truth- that as we breathe in and out, we are breathing God’s love, that we don’t exist for ourselves but to share God’s love with others. Then again if Plumb’s other poignant single “Lord I’m Ready Now” is on the compilation instead, that’ll still be ok. Check out the videos of both songs below, and see which one you reckon WOW will pick to represent Plumb on the new album.
7. Drops in the Ocean (Hawk Nelson)
Call it what you like, but the transformation of the band from pop-punk to just pop-worship is an ingenious one. Still as heartfelt as ever, the band’s new song “Drops in the Ocean” discusses about how we as Christians need only to look at the drops in the ocean to believe and understand the lengths Christ went for us to be reconciled to him. On WOW Hits 2016 or will it be “Faithful” from their 2013 album Made? Only a few months time will tell.
8. Shoulders (for KING AND COUNTRY)
My favourite song from Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong, we are all encouraged to bring our burdens to God so that He can carry them on His shoulders. If this ingenious and emotive video alone does not convince you that this song must be on WOW Hits 2016, I don’t know what will.
9. Cast My Cares (Finding Favour)
This country/CCM/rock band from Georgia’s new song speaks about casting our cares on God. Jamie Grace is the sole representation of Gotee Records on WOW Hits compilations of late. Will Finding Favour make 2? Listen to the video, discuss in the comments and here’s hoping the WOW brand takes a few risks in the future.
10. This is Living (feat. Lecrae) (Hillsong Young and Free)
Lecrae on WOW Hits? Will that even happen? I hope so. Hillsong Y&F has released a great song about living life to the fullest, and with the addition of Lecrae, the song is even better. The song is definitely on my own predicted list, here’s hoping this also translates to the official one in a few months time.
11. Messengers (feat. for KING AND COUNTRY) (Lecrae)
And here is where I place my bold claim- Messengers has been receiving a lot of airplay recently- maybe this is the song that could place rap on the map of WOW Hits in the future. Check out the song below and see if you reckon this song should be on this year’s best.
12. The Maker (Chris August)
The title track and single from his April album is a clear reminder to listeners of his music that ‘I love the maker and the maker loves me’. A down to earth track from a down to earth guy (from what I’ve seen in interviews), The Maker is by far one of Chris August’s best tracks I’ve heard ever. On disc 2? Or disc 1? Or absent from the compilation all together?
13. Through All Of It (Colton Dixon)
This piano only track is by far one of Colton’s most honest and emotive songs I’ve ever heard ever. Speaking about how Christ is there through all the triumphs, hurt, pain and everything else, it will again be almost criminal to not include this emotive radio hit from this compilation. Listen to this song and see if you agree with me.
14. When We Come Alive (Switchfoot)
You gotta have Switchfoot on WOW Hits right? Nothing else said. Their new song When We Come Alive ought to be included, or will it be Let it Out? or nothing at all? Who knows. Just hear the tracks and be sure to check out the official list come August time.
15. Sky Spills Over (Michael W. Smith)
Michael on a rock disc? Stranger things have happened. His new song is rock-y enough. What do you all think? A song that is one of the most musically creative of all his songs on his new album Sovereign, ‘Sky Spills Over’ is at least deserving of an inclusion on WOW Hits 2016- whether it’s on disc 1 or 2 is still a mystery.
16. Wake Up (NF) (BONUS)
Another rap artist on WOW Hits? Here’s hoping. NF is one of the most honest rap artist I’ve heard since Lecrae and his new song ‘Wake Up’ is indeed a wake-up call, that we can still roam through life rich, poor, happy or sad and still wonder if this life is enough. Should WOW Hits be bold and place NF on a compilation? They did for “All I Have” (Pro-FITT remix) so why not this one?
17. Who I Am (Blanca) (BONUS)
I know Blanca has been part of Group 1 Crew for a while, but technically she is a new artist- her first album as a solo artist released in May 2015. This three minute track, though short, is still heartfelt, as she discusses her identity in Christ. On WOW Hits 2016? Maybe yes, maybe not. Check the video and see if you want to include this song on your fantasy WOW Hits 2016 lists.
BONUS Tracks only on the Deluxe Edition: Behold Our God (Brandon Heath), Love Was Stronger (Audio Adrenaline), Living Word (Jeremy Camp)
Songs that sadly missed out (of my list)- Fearless (Mia Fieldes), What Love Means (Everfound), Even So Come (Passion), Warrior (Steven Curtis Chapman), We Are Alive (Fireflight), You Light Me Up (Kevin Max), Storyteller (Morgan Harper Nichols), Where The Light Is (Dan Bremnes), Because He Lives (Matt Maher)
So there you have it, my proposed list for WOW Hits 2016. Which songs do you reckon will be added to WOW Hits 2016? Sound off in the comments.