Category Archives: Features

BEST OF 2020- PART 7: TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2020 [JULY-DEC]

Hey everyone… guess what! It’s March 2021, and slowly coming up to April. And I’ve just found out that we haven’t uploaded our top 20 albums of the second half of 2020 yet! Shame on us! Anyway… it’s time to rectify this issue right away! So without further ado, let me present to you all our favourite 20 albums as a site for the period of July-December 2020! Impacting and inspiring songs are special, but whole album near-masterpieces? They’re even more special!  So sit back, be inspired, and let these full length projects minister to you during this time of uncertainty!

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TOP 10 ___: 2020 ALBUMS WE NEVER REVIEWED!

Last year around this time, we delved into 20 2019 albums we never reviewed (due to life getting in the way), including albums from NF (The Search), Sarah Kroger (Bloom), and Tori Kelly (Inspired By True Events) to name a few. Now, the time has arrived for us to list 15 albums we never reviewed, which released in 2020. So…check out these 15 albums. Just because they weren’t reviewed, doesn’t mean that they can’t resonate with all of you. And… which albums did you wish we reviewed?

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 38: Chris Stapleton

Have you ever had a dream where you thought it was simply that? Just a fanciful dream? An idea, probably not fully formed, a lofty vision that you thought was so very far off in the distance, a target you could never reach… but would be nice to dwell upon said idea anyway, maybe just to pass the time? Have you ever had thoughts about the future, and immediately dismissed them, simply because they were too big, or too grandiose, or too complicated; and you were too ‘fill in the blank’? Too young, old, fat, thin, short, tall, arrogant, calculative, shy, reserved… whatever you want to place in there… have you ever had a dream ‘die’ even before it was birthed; simply because you never got passed the first hurdle of starting, and you listened to the lies of the devil? If the answer to all of those is ‘yes’, then boy do I have good news for you! And this news is that you aren’t too ‘____’ to achieve your dreams. Because if you were, then all of us are too _____ in any particular aspect of our character. Just as we can’t please everybody one hundred percent of the time (because we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that someone will be ticked off and unimpressed by… I don’t know, our eye colour or hair colour or some other feature!), let us remember that all we need to do is our best, and better our previous efforts. As long as we’re running in our own race, and we don’t look to the left or look to the right (and hence we’ll fall down because our eyes won’t be straight ahead!); then I reckon we’ll be ok in life. As long as we ask for help from family, friends and acquaintances, and don’t even attempt to try to struggle to do life on our own; then I think we’ll be alright. And as long as we give everything our best shot, and leave nothing left in reserve, then I reckon we’ll be alright. As long as we know that God has our life in the palm of His hands, and as long as we know of and believe His love and faithfulness, then I’d say we’ll be alright.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 76: JACKIE EVANCHO

The last two years of me blogging about different artists have been some of the most enriching in my own life, in a musical sense. I’ve explored music that I would otherwise not have ventured in; and have found myself enjoying music that I would otherwise have thought was ‘worldly’, to put it in a blunt way. Because to be frank, prior to 2019 (whence in started my blog series), I was primarily listening to CCM- which isn’t a bad thing at all. I was enjoying the music I was listening to, and appreciating artists like Chris Tomlin, Matthew West, Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys, Francesca Battistelli, Natalie Grant, Third Day, for KING AND COUNTRY, Michael W. Smith, Tenth Avenue North, Carman, Rebecca St. James, and Casting Crowns, to name a few of many CCM artists I was listening to, prior to 2019. And yet, looking back on it now, CCM is just once slice of this pie called music, and while there are a few genres that I wouldn’t intentionally seek out and listen to- hard rock, screamo, and rap would be the genres I wouldn’t prefer to  hear, if I did have a preference; I have to understand this very fact that I have learnt these last couple of years or so- that God can use whatever music He chooses for us to gain a better understanding about ourselves, God and everything else in between. And if that is through CCM, then great. If it’s through pop, country, music from musicals, rock, if it’s from the ‘mainstream’ circle that can seem to be ‘off-limits’ to a lot of young people ‘raised’ within the Christian faith…then great, too! I mean it. If God can speak through Balaam’s donkey in the Bible, then speaking through country music, or though pop music of today, isn’t out of the realms of possibility for God to undertake. And with that frame of mind, I was able to enjoy a lot of music within the last 2 years that I would never, in a million years, have listened to, had it not been for this ‘musical experiment’. Artists like Josh Groban, Train, Ronan Keating, Martina McBride, The Corrs, Bryan Adams, Rascal Flatts, Backstreet Boys, Pentatonix, Keith Urban, Hanson, Colbie Caillat, Goo Goo Dolls, Little Big Town, Missy Higgins, Sugarland, SEAL, Coldplay and John Farnham, are all fast becoming some of the standout artists I’ve encountered over the last couple of years, and once again, I’m amazed about how impactful a lot of the music I’ve heard this last few years, and how God has used a lot of ‘mainstream’ music to shatter my own expectations of what ‘mainstream’ music should sound like and be, and how God can even use the unlikeliest of sources (a mainstream song) to convey His love for His creation. Music is a gift, and God uses music full-stop, for our good and His glory. And so, after 75 blog posts about a myriad of music artists that I’ve firmly believed have made a tremendous mark on music history, and have impacted people around the world over time, I’ve decided to take a leap into a musical genre unknown for the most part. Opera/music from musicals, wasn’t necessarily my go-to music initially, but ever since loving The Greatest Showman and enjoying thoroughly the soundtrack of it, I saw musicals and opera in a new way, that I was to broaden my own horizons about how music should be and how I was prejudiced against opera, for what reason, I don’t know. I did tackle opera a little, and songs from musicals in the discussion of artist Josh Groban, in a blog I undertook way back a couple of years ago, writing it in March 2019. And here I am in March 2021, and what better way to basically celebrate my very own anniversary of venturing-out ‘musically’, than to delve into yet another vocally powerful artist who has shattered people’s expectations over the last 10 years. Being one of the world’s most impactful within the operatic pop/musical category for the better part of the 2010s decade, I’ve taken it one step further than Josh Groban, and have tackled an artist that even I didn’t think I was going to delve into- Jackie Evancho, child singer and all-round impactful artist, who has, in my opinion, revolutionised opera, pop and people’s appreciation of musicals, since her ascension to fame in 2011 when Jackie came second in the 2010 season of America’s Got Talent.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 75: COLDPLAY

It’s been quite a journey, this blog series. Since starting this venture in February 2019, I decided to embark one what someone from the outside (who doesn’t know me at all) would consider to be a fruitless task of folly- to delve into and discover 100 artists (and then a further 50 iconic ones) that have shaped music as it is today, and to discuss various songs and how they’ve shaped my own life as well…well, that’s an exuberant feat in and of itself, right? Surely, it can’t be done, right? Well, 2 years later and onto blog #75, it’s been quite an experience, and to be honest, I even thought that I wouldn’t even last as much as I did. I set out to try to attain something that even I may have initially thought at the time, was too lofty, and yet, decided to embark anyway. What has resulted from the years of 2019, 2020 and now 2021, has been one of the most enriching experiences when it comes to music, as I’m reminded that God can and does use the music that is the most unexpected, for Him to reveal things about ourselves and Himself along the way. Since starting to widen my own appreciation for music that isn’t explicitly ‘Christian’ from 2019 onward, I’ve discovered a world that is very much expanse, unique, and in some ways, still within the scope of being God-inspired, as a lot of the artists I’ve unearthed over the last 2 years, have been challenging us all, myself included, of what it means to have good music, to have inspirational music, to have God Himself move through music that isn’t necessarily read in a certain way…and then everything else in between. Artists like Switchfoot, Skillet, Train, Sara Bareilles, Delta Goodrem, Lifehouse, Hanson, John Mayer, Lecrae, Lady A, Rascal Flatts, Daughtry, Jason Mraz, Seal, Alanis Morrisette, the Goo Goo Dolls, John Farnham, Delirious?, Chris Tomlin, Phil Collins and Shania Twain are just some of the many, many artists I allowed myself to be acquainted with over the last couple of years, and during that time, my love for music, both CCM and mainstream and everything else, began to expand and grow. Some people may think that I may be a heretic for listening to mainstream music, if I am a Bible-believing Christian, but herein lies the point, that I’ve stressed all throughout my 2 years of musical exploration. That God can and does speak through the unexpected, the things in your life that you wouldn’t necessarily have thought. And that includes mainstream music. And without further ado, now off to blog #75, to dive deep into the discography of one of Britain’s most accomplished, well-known, and hard-hitting bands, that I’ve come across ever since U2…Coldplay.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 37: Lewis Capaldi

2020 and 2021 so far… has been a bit of a downer. COVID-19, the bushfires, the floods, the storming of Capitol Hill, Louie Giglio’s ‘white blessing’ gaffe, the accusations of rape by Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins… there’s plenty of things ‘wrong’ that this past year has been and will be remembered for. Yet for all of its shortcomings, this past period has nonetheless graced us with many opportunities. The opportunity to be still, to step back, to slow down, to dwell upon the past and our future, and to reconnect on a soul level with family, friends, acquaintances. The opportunity to reassess our priorities in life and the opportunity to immerse ourselves in media (movies, music, TV shows) that we would never have even considered prior to 2020, that God can and does speak through even if He may not on the surface. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, I myself have been blessed and inspired by music and movies that I would not have even considered watching or listening to even a couple of years ago- and I’m sure many of you all feel the same way as well. That’s not to negate the severity of everything that has occurred on a national and a global scale throughout this time, but as we all can attest and agree upon; God does indeed use a bad situation and turn around the effects and result for His glory and our good.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 74: JON FOREMAN + SWITCHFOOT PT 2

It’s been about a couple of years since blog #2 in this Top 100 Influential Artists blog series that I embarked upon. Why I signify blog #2 is of a fair amount of importance, let me remind you. It was the blog about Switchfoot, and was in fact, a blog where I highlighted many songs by this San Diego quintet that have shaped music history and the lives of people over the years- songs like ‘Meant to Live’, ‘Dare You To Move’, ‘Stars’, ‘Oh Gravity’, ‘Mess of Me’, ‘Love Alone is Worth the Fight’ and ‘Restless’ are just many, many songs by a band that have had an influence in both the Christian music industry, and the mainstream as well. It was the first blog post after the first, which was Michael W. Smith, an artist that will always be sentimental to me, because it was the artist that in fact started off this whole journey of thinking about music and the impact, influence and power of artists, songs, and their discography on not only people’s lives, but throughout history as well. And here I am 2 years later or so, ready to commence on blog #74. And what better way to speak and discuss about something and someone totally from left field, that it is, to introduce the topic of discussion in this post…Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot (see blog post #2).

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 36: Dua Lipa

Steve Jobs. Oprah Winfrey. Chris Gardner. Matthew West. Saroo Brierley. Michael Edwards. Michelle Payne. Mark Hall. Bill Gates. Steven Spielberg. Walt Disney. What do all of these people have in common? On the surface, you’d say nothing much. But then if you look a bit deeper, you’d find a common thread that binds these people together for all time. Can you figure out what it is?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 73: SEAL

Sometimes I wonder about all the detrimental and harmful effects that social media, the internet, youtube, smartphones, iPhones, Androids, PlayStations, Nintendo, even the home theatre system and streaming juggernauts like Disney +, Netflix, Hulu, Stan, Foxtel and Amazon Prime; have all had on the society of today. Or better still, how much we rely on all of these aforementioned technological advances, to better our lives, when in fact, its actually making us rely much more on the technical and less reliable and less connected in an overall sense, when trying to connect face to face. There I said it. Controversial thought and opinion. Yes, the advent of advancements like Youtube, streaming services, smartphones, google, Facebook, Twitter and yes, even Disney +, have all changed the landscape of society now, but with all of it, has made us realise this very one thing- that behind all of the façade of trying to enjoy what is on offer to us, we are just people trying to not admit to ourselves, that we are suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out), and even realising that what we consume on a daily basis, be it youtube, Disney +, iPhones and the like, are just masking what we feel deep down inside of our very souls, that we are lonely, and want human connection more so than anything else!

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 72: JASON MRAZ

It’s always been a fear of mine that whatever I write about will never be good enough. Maybe that’s just a fear that was unfounded, or based in things of the past, maybe I was trying to get good at being good at writing when all throughout high school, I wasn’t. But whatever the case, I’ve found that at numerous points throughout my blog post series, I’d get this idea, or this thought in my head, that what I’m writing doesn’t make sense, or it is just mere folly, for what I’m discussing about and who I’m delving into and trying to analyse for that given week within the series. So lemme back track a little bit. I’ve always loved writing. I think when I was younger (a teenager), my brother and I started writing a ‘book’ if you will, a series of passages and pages about our lives. I think I have that file on my computer somewhere, but from where it stands, I think it’s about a couple of hundred pages long. I still haven’t revisited that in a long time, but herein lies the point. I’ve found that every time I’ve written something that is substantial in length, it’s not necessarily because I have a lot to say about whatever I’m writing about. You can probably check through all my blog posts up until now, and you can probably realise that the Switchfoot post that I wrote about in week #2, and the post about Sugarland that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago…my writing style hasn’t really changed between the two, even though they were two years apart. What has changed was the length of these posts, and maybe sometimes, unfortunately so, because re-reading some of my later posts, I realised that I was writing more than what was needed. I would write and write and write, not necessarily because I have a ton to say, but because I’d write, to prove to…my parents, myself, to my brother, to people on the internet, to my old teachers at school, I guess to prove to people that I could write long, that I could write good, that I was good enough to be writing. Because I reckon it all went back to when I was in Year 7 in high school. I was in English, and I can remember that we’d all have to do a creative writing piece, 1 per term (there were four terms in 1 year back then). When it was time to submit this, my teacher would more often than not, read out a person’s work, and this work that we’d all hear, would either be really good, mediocre, or even terrible. There was one term where my creative writing piece was read out. I don’t know what I wrote about, nor can I even remember if people even knew that it was my piece of work that was being read out. But suffice to say, the English teacher read my stuff, and then they stopped in the middle, put the paper down, and said to the class in no uncertain terms, ‘now this is an example of how not to write’. I felt small from that moment on, and after that point in Year 7 onwards…I was never good at English. I loved it, don’t get me wrong. But maybe at a subconscious level, if the teacher said that I wasn’t good, in Year 7… then maybe I wasn’t good? Looking back on it now, I know now that reading aloud was not the way to go if the teacher wanted to correct someone. But analysing my writing skills now, and delving into the question of ‘why I write longer and longer blog posts as each week progresses’….I think it’s unfortunately because of this moment where I was basically told ‘I wasn’t good enough’, that with every passing blog post, I felt the need to write more and more, to prove to myself, and maybe to prove to my family, that I was capable, and that I still had these skills in me. that I was good.

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