Release Date: April 22nd 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Write Your Story (Francesca Battistelli)
- American Noise (AC Radio Edit) (Skillet)
- King of My Heart (Radio Version) (Love & The Outcome)
- Unashamed of You (Radio Version) (Chris August)
- Open Up the Heavens (Meredith Andrews)
- Overwhelmed (Big Daddy Weave)
- Keep Making Me (Sidewalk Prophets)
- Our Only Hope (Dara Maclean)
- Satisfied (About a Mile)
- Hope is What We Crave (Radio Mix) (for KING AND COUNTRY)
- God of the Impossible (Alternate Mix) (Everfound)
- We Fall Apart (Radio Edit) (We As Human)
For a long time, WOW Hits albums have given listeners a snapshot of hits on CCM radio in any given year. Showing us songs that have either been popular amongst listeners and record labels, and thus give us a relatively accurate portrayal of the year in Christian music, another compilation has decided to release annual album releases, not necessarily as a competition to WOW Hits, but rather a unique snapshot of songs charted on radio by artists signed to Word Entertainment. Titled New & #1 Radio Hits of 2014 (the annual compilation’s debut album was titled New & #1 Radio Hits of 2013), we see 12 songs that have been popular this year so far. Maybe WOW Hits needs to be abandoned in favour of this new Words Records compilation, along with new singles albums by both Capitol CMG and Provident Label Group? Regardless, with artists like Love & The Outcome, Everfound, Skillet, for KING AND COUNTRY, About a Mile, Dara Maclean, Big Daddy Weave and Chris August; this is a perfect gift for anyone who loves artists on Word Records and wants to hear new music that is both reflective, upbeat, fun and enjoyable all at once.
A twelve song album, the artists and songs represented on this compilation are artists you would expect to see on WOW Hits or Worship. To see these songs on a 12 song compilation, you wonder whether this new annual album release is actually going to supersede WOW Hits, or even be in competition with it. Nevertheless, if you are a fan of Word Label Group, then most, if not all, of your favourite artists are here. Francesca Battistelli, arguably one of CCM’s most popular female artists, showcases her powerful hit “Write Your Story”, which speaks about us surrendering to God and allowing Him to write His own story in our hearts and lives, while husband and wife duo Love & The Outcome deliver their current radio hit “King of My Heart”, a song about surrendering our whole selves to Jesus (and timely hit, compared to the slightly dated “He Is With Us” on WOW Hits 2015). Skillet’s AC remixed “American Noise”(with lighter acoustics and a more radio friendly feel) brings in harder-rock fans, while now-trio (previously a quartet) Everfound re-record “God of the Impossible” with acoustics, a quickened beat and layered vocals, especially for this new compilation.
Throughout the rest of the album, we get a glimpse into the songs that performed on radio during 2014 for Word Records- Chris August’s new version of “Unashamed of You” is a nice welcome, while hard rockers We as Human are featured with their radio friendly “We Fall Apart”, a different, unique and powerful way to end the 12 song album. Meredith Andrews, Dara Maclean, Big Daddy Weave, Sidewalk Prophets and for KING AND COUNTRY also show us great songs that have graced the radio airwaves within the last year (at the time this compilation album released, the studio version of “Fix My Eyes” wasn’t recorded, though I’m sure it would’ve been added if compilation was made later), yet it is About a Mile’s “Satisfied” that is a welcomed surprise.
A song that is, not only one of my favourites on this compilation, but also on WOW Hits 2015 (in which About a Mile is a bonus artist on disc 2) and About a Mile’s self-titled debut album, “Satisfied” encourages us all to be only satisfied with Christ as we seek after Him in everything that we do. The trio have enhanced both this compilation as much as their own studio album with “Satisfied”, as we hear a song that is arguably one of my favourites from a new artist this year so far (alongside Lauren Daigle’s “How Can it Be” and Dan Bremnes’s “Beautiful”).
With the advent of this new Word Records compilation, is that the writing on the wall for any upcoming WOW Hits compilations? Not necessarily. With WOW Hits albums still selling well, despite some dubious song choices and decisions, the executives and powers that be need to implement some changes if they want to increase the listeners to the annual double album. Til then, check out New & #1 Radio Hits of 2014, which is a better indication of top songs of 2014 from artists on Word Label Group (except the omission of artists like Switchfoot, Veridia, Family Force 5 and needtobreathe, with “Love Alone is Worth the Fight”, “Disconnected”, “Let it Be Love” and “The Heart” respectively). Regardless, this 12 track album is nevertheless a great way to listen to new music, and maybe, just maybe, force WOW Hits to have a look at their own song selection process for future WOW Hits albums. Maybe 3 or 4 single disc WOW albums in 2015, released throughout the year?
3 songs to listen to: King of My Heart, God of the Impossible, Satisfied
RIYL: Meredith Andrews, Francesca Battistelli, Skillet, Everfound