WoW Hits 2008
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 Oct
- 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
- 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.