WOW Hits 2009
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Sep
- Every Man - Casting Crowns
- God With Us - MercyMe
- Call My Name - Third Day
- Jesus Messiah - Chris Tomlin
- Let It Fade - Jeremy Camp
- You Are Everything - Matthew West
- Cinderella - Steven Curtis Chapman
- How You Live (Turn Up The Music) - Point of Grace
- Mighty To Save (Live) - Michael W. Smith
- All Because of Jesus - Fee
- Set The World On Fire - Britt Nicole
- Your Grace Is Enough - Matt Maher
- Song of Hope - Robbie Seay Band
- In Better Hands - Natalie Grant
- Sound of Your Name - Above The Golden State
- Everything Glorious - David Crowder Band
- This Is Home - Switchfoot
- Friend Like That - Hawk Nelson
- The Best Thing - Relient K
- Love Is Here - Tenth Avenue North
- Washed by The Water - NeedToBreathe
- Give Me Your Eyes - Brandon Heath
- I'm Letting Go - Francesca Battistelli
- Lose My Soul - tobyMac
- Jesus Loves You - Stellar Kart
- Count Me In - Leeland
- Unbreakable - Fireflight
- Already Over - Red
- All Along - Remedy Drive
- Sleeping In - Nevertheless
Well, that didn't take long. Last April, the masterminds behind the best-selling WOW series decided to revamp it by releasing three single-disc collections over a year's time, starting with WOW Hits 1, rather than the annual double-disc collection. Apparently, the idea bombed since WOW Hits 2009 has released in October right on schedule without missing a beat. Perhaps consumers weren't prepared to buy a WOW album in April so soon after the last October release, or maybe they were just too smart to recognize that three singles discs costs more than one double-disc set.
Still, one thing that WOW Hits 1 got right was its inclination toward timely hits. The WOW series has long struggled with this, but overall, WOW Hits 2009 does a reasonable job of compiling the biggest hits from Christian radio over the last year. In fact, a quick glance over the first disc's first seven tracks gives you a pretty good idea of what the Song of the Year nominees will likely be at the next Dove Awards in April 2009—MercyMe, Third Day, Chris Tomlin, and Steven Curtis Chapman for sure.
Also, Brandon Heath's "Give Me Your Eyes," NeedToBreathe's "Washed by the Water", and Natalie Grant's "In Better Hands," among others, are all recent hits that certainly deserve to be included. And admittedly, Michael W. Smith's live version of Hillsong's "Mighty to Save" is bound to get plenty of airplay in the months ahead.
Conversely, some tracks are late to the party. Point of Grace's "How You Live" earned Cindy Morgan a Dove for songwriting at the 2008 Dove Awards. Tenth Avenue North's "Love Is Here" was certainly a hit early in 2008, but it seems overkill to include it here after featuring it on the WOW Hits 1 collection six months earlier—an apparent sign of how badly that disc sold. And as usual, there are questionable inclusions of new artists on a compilation like this. Francesca Battistelli's "I'm Letting Go" certainly belongs here, but why is Remedy Drive's "All Along" included over their single "Daylight?" Should Matt Maher be included for a song popularized by Chris Tomlin in 2004? Was Fee's "All Because of Jesus" that big a hit? Should they, along with Above the Golden State and Nevertheless, really be included over mainstays like Sara Groves, Bebo Norman, Sanctus Real, Group 1 Crew, and Lincoln Brewster?
WOW Hits is back (though it never really left) and as usual, it offers a reasonable snapshot of the year's biggest songs to the uninitiated. However, as usual, it's an incomplete picture, favoring the most popular artists, and therefore the most promoted—not to be confused with the best the Christian industry has to offer.