Release Date: January 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Various Artists– Sounds Of Hits 2020 (Koorong)
- Unspoken – Reason
- For King & Country – Burn The Ships
- Rend Collective – Your Name Is Power
- Elevation Worship – Won’t Stop Now
- Chris Tomlin – Nobody Loves Me Like You
- Tobymac – Edge Of My Seat (Thunderbird Remix)
- Casting Crowns – Start Right Here
- Love & The Outcome – You Got This
- Phil Wickham – Till I Found You
- Jordan Feliz – Faith
- Pat Barrett – Better
- Newsboys – Greatness Of Our God
- Zach Williams – Survivor
- Jeremy Camp – Dead Man Walking
- We Are Messengers – Power
- Passion – Follow You Anywhere
- Francesca Battistelli – Defender (feat. Steffany Gretzinger)
- Mercyme – Best News Ever
- Crowder – Let It Rain (Is There Anybody?) [feat. Mandisa]
- The Afters – I Will Fear No More
- Big Daddy Weave – Alive
- Tauren Wells – Known
- Sanctus Real – Confidence
- Riley Clemmons – Fighting For Me
- Stars Go Dim – It’s Gonna Get Better
Back in the day, in the mid-2000’s when I started to expand my horizons in Christian music (because in the 90s and the early 2000’s I was only heavily invested in Carman and Delirious?); I branched out into artists like Newsboys, Third Day, MercyMe, Casting Crowns, Rebecca St James, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, David Crowder*Band and others. But not before I received a CD in the mail in 2003, titled WOW Hits 2004. Since then I’ve loved the annual compilation double disc, which promoted 30 (and later on 33, and 39) of the year’s biggest Christian hits. Sure some hits were timely and others not for various reasons, while other tracks deemed possibly more worthy were overlooked…but overall the compilation series was a pretty good one. Considering you only had 30-40 tracks to work with, this was the best that could have been offered to die-hard CCM fans and the casual CCM listener. To tell you the truth, some of my favourite artists were discovered by me first from a WOW Hits CD. Through WOW Hits, I’ve discovered artists like Sanctus Real, Skillet, The Afters, Hawk Nelson, Relient K, Stellar Kart, BarlowGirl, Leeland, Superchick and Mark Schultz to name a few- and hence my relationship with God deepened from me listening to a wider range of CCM artists.
But sadly last year, WOW Hits quietly disbanded. WOW Hits 2019 was the last WOW Hits album to be made. In the past, we’ve critiqued the many, many yearly editions of WOW Hits albums (with Jon also reviewing the compilation project SOZO Playlists: Top Christian Hits last year); yet for all its faults, WOW Hits did a whole lot of things right. So with the disappearance of one yearly compilation, does SOZO take its place? Perhaps, but just this year, another release was unveiled that was exclusive to Australia. Sounds Of Hits 2020 is only available in Koorong, Australia. With 25 songs, is this compilation (which is a step up from SOZO Playlists, as it encompasses most labels as opposed to just Capitol CMG) the next WOW Hits, at least for Australia?
At first glance, all of these songs are pretty timely, with a wide array of artists encompassed within the 25. Songs like “Greatness Of Our God” (Newsboys), “Reason” (Unspoken), “Alive” (Big Daddy Weave), “Survivor” (Zach Williams), “YOUR NAME IS POWER” (Rend Collective), “Dead Man Walking” (Jeremy Camp), “Fighting For Me” (Riley Clemmons), “Defender” (Francesca Battistelli), “Best News Ever” (MercyMe), “Nobody Loves Me Like You” (Chris Tomlin) and “Known” (Tauren Wells) would have all been present on a potential WOW Hits 2020, and are therefore timely songs and each inspiring and powerful in their own right; while tracks from We Are Messengers (“Power”), for KING & COUNTRY (“Burn The Ships”), The Afters (“Fear No More”) and Jordan Feliz (“Faith”) are all overall impressive bolters- as “Maybe It’s Ok”, “God Only Knows”, “Well Done” and “Changed” were all shoe-ins for a possible WOW Hits 2020 CD instead of the aforementioned four. It’s not an unwelcomed change, as the more current songs on an album like this the better; however it’s criminal not to include “God Only Knows”, no matter how epically awesome “Burn The Ships” is. Passion, Crowder, Pat Barrett, Elevation Worship, TobyMac and Love & The Outcome all contribute songs of varying timeliness (of which all of these songs are good, but just indifferent to me in terms of my enjoyment, while Sanctus Real’s “Confidence”, which is indeed a pretty old song in that it released a couple of years ago, is still is nice surprise given that these guys are now an independent band with their albums only being distributed through Provident Label Group.
There are a couple of shockers on this album with Stars Go Dim and Casting Crowns both offering songs which aren’t singles at all- “It’s Gonna Get Better” and “Start Right Here” respectively; while my favourite song on this album and this compilation’s crowning achievement was the inclusion of Phil Wickham’s “Till I Found You”, one of my favourite songs from 2018’s Living Hope. And given that this track list was only 25 songs long, there was apparently no room for tracks like “Scars” (I Am They), “Native Tongue” (Switchfoot), “Anchor” (Skillet), “Forever On Your Side” (needtobreathe), “You Say” (Lauren Daigle), “Every Good Thing” (Y&F), “Good Grace” (UNITED), “King Of Kings” (Hillsong Worship), “Greater Than All My Regrets” (Tenth Avenue North), “The God Who Stays” (Matthew West), “Yes I Will” (Vertical Worship), “Freedom” (Jesus Culture), “Haven’t Seen It Yet” (Danny Gokey), “Me” (Mallary Hope), “Stand In Your Love” (Bethel Music) “Gold” (Apollo LTD), and “Church” (Cochren And Co.).
While that hurts me to the bone that this track list wasn’t longer so that these songs could have been included…well this album is infinitely better than SOZO Playlists: Top Christian Hits. Perhaps Australia is going to route of how WOW Hits 1 in 2008 was structured, and maybe there’s another instalment of Sounds Of Hits 2020 releasing later on in 2020. And perhaps the next stage is to release this album on Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon globally for the world to see and hear. But whatever the case though, instead of griping and wishing for certain selections and other certain un-selections; let us instead be grateful and thankful for hopefully a new series of Christian Hits compilations. Is this series- if there is another in the pipeline- comparable to WOW Hits? Maybe. Ask me again in 5 years’ time!
3 songs to listen to: Burn The Ships, Till I Found You, Alive
RIYL: Matthew West, Tenth Avenue North, Sidewalk Prophets, Third Day, Skillet, Switchfoot