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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

WoW Hits 2008

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Oct
  • COMMENTS
WoW Hits 2008
Sounds like … samples of the best-known artists in Christian pop/rock, including Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Hawk Nelson, MercyMe, tobyMac, BarlowGirl, Third Day, Mark Harris, and Rush of Fools.At a glance … for a collection intending to assembles the year's best, WoW Hits 2008 comes across as sorely outdated, resorting to older hits and filler material when there is newer material to draw from in most cases.Track Listing

Disc One

Made to Worship—Chris Tomlin
Mountain of God—Third Day
Hold Fast—MercyMe
Praise You in This Storm—Casting Crowns
Undo—Rush of Fools
Awaken—Natalie Grant
Find Your Wings—Mark Harris
By His Wounds—Glory Revealed
Every Time I Breathe—Big Daddy Weave
Walking Her Home—Mark Schultz
Over My Head—Brian Littrell
Come to the Cross—Michael W. Smith
Give It All Away—Aaron Shust
Bless the Broken Road—Selah
History—Matthew West
Set the World on Fire—Britt Nicole
Still Calls Me Son—John Waller

Disc Two:

Made to Love—tobyMac
I Need You to Love Me—BarlowGirl
Something Beautiful—newsboys
Me and Jesus—Stellar Kart
The Show—Hawk Nelson
Forgiven—Relient K
What It Means—Jeremy Camp
Nothing Left to Lose—Mat Kearney
Only the World—Mandisa
Don't Give Up—Sanctus Real
Breathe Into Me—Red
Stand in the Rain—Superchic[k]
Work—Jars of Clay
Tears of the Saints—Leeland
I Believe—Building 429
What If—PureNRG

Confession: for the first time I can remember, I've struggled with nominating Songs of the Year for the 2008 Gospel Music Awards. Sure, there's a good sense of what will be nominated—Rush of Fools' "Undo" and Casting Crowns' "East to West," for example, seem pretty safe bets, but I still wanted to consider radio hits I may have overlooked. So I turned to WoW Hits 2008 for fresh ideas … and came away disappointed.

Which isn't to say that there aren't good songs to be found here; some truly deserve a place on a compilation that advertises "30 of the year's top Christian artists and hits." The aforementioned "Undo," Relient K's "Forgiven," and tobyMac's "Made to Love" are all legitimate 2007 hits, while "Work" and "Tears of the Saints" represent continued momentum for Jars of Clay and Leeland, respectively. Even Michael W. Smith's "Come to the Cross" is a reasonable inclusion, though "How to Say Goodbye" is more deserving—no doubt it's already planned for WoW Hits 2009.

Such exceptions aside, the majority of this collection is well past its freshness expiration. "Praise You in This Storm" certainly warrants inclusion on a WoW collection, but not two years after Casting Crowns' Lifesong album released, especially when they have a newer hit song and album. Moreover, the songs was a nominee at the 2007 Gospel Music Awards, which is also true of Chris Tomlin's "Made to Worship," Mark Harris' "Find Your Wings," Red's "Breathe Into Me," and even Mat Kearney's "Nothing Left to Lose"—which means they were getting radio play well before October 2006.

Those aren't the oldest songs on the album either. How to justify including BarlowGirl's "I Need You to Love Me" or Aaron Shust's "Give It All Away" when both artists released newer albums and radio singles months ago? Why include songs by Matthew West and Natalie Grant that released on albums in the first half of early 2005? And how many of these songs are really hits anyway? Does radio play equal hit status? Ever get the feeling some artists are included either for past glories or as Spackle to fill space in the absence of breakout hits? You can only include Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin once on the album, after all.

This isn't a slight against the songs or artists themselves, but the collection as a whole. It compromises timeliness, and at this rate, it won't be long before the series gets further behind in properly representing the current state of Christian music—or perhaps that's more telling than intended? More than any of its predecessors, WoW Hits 2008 is guilty of marketing yesterday's hits today as tomorrow's music.

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