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WoW 2001

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2000 1 Jan
WoW 2001

As I said in a recent review, there are right and wrong ways to do greatest hits compilations. The same is true for movie soundtracks and various artists compilations. Meeting the objective of the compilation is imperative, whether or not it compiles a particular artist's hits, collects the top hits of a given year, or simply presents a good collection of songs associated with a movie.

WoW 2001 is the sixth in the hugely successful annual WoW series (not including the WoW Gospel, WoW Worship, WoW Gold, and WoW '90s albums). As much as I've enjoyed the WoW projects in the past, I've disliked the idea of presenting "The Year's 30 Top Christian Artists." The word artists gives the record labels freedom to put anything on the album. I won't cite specific examples, but sometimes the labels will put an artist's "future hit" on WoW to avoid putting the "current hit" on it. That way, the record labels avoid hurting sales of the album in which that song appears. Smart business? I suppose, but it's a little disingenuous to exclude the song that made a given artist one of the year's best. Also, sometimes the record labels will attempt to break one of their new artists by including them on WoW, even though they aren't a proven top artist yet.

Enough griping. WoW 2001 gets it right by turning over a new leaf for the 21st century — the title now reads "The Year's 30 Top Christian Artists and Hits." I suspect this was probably done because this has been a year filled with new artists, and therefore we've heard a lot of hit songs from artists who have yet to prove themselves as consistent successes. Thank goodness they actually put the hit song for which some of these new artists are famous for rather than a "future hit." The result is a collection of songs that reads and sounds like the Christian Hit Radio and Christian Adult Contemporary Radio playlists, which is how the WoW albums should be.

This may well be the best WoW collection yet, partly because of inclusions of big hits from last year that finally made it to WoW this year. Just to name some of the biggest hits on the album (click on "Listen" above for a full track listing): "Dive" by Steven Curtis Chapman, "This Is Your Time" by Michael W. Smith, "Unforgetful You" by Jars of Clay, and "Hands and Feet" by Audio Adrenaline. The majority of the album is filled with hits that have recently or are currently getting radioplay: "Live For You" by Rachael Lampa, "Written On My Heart" by Plus One, "This Good Day" by Fernando Ortega, "I Am the Way" by Mark Schultz, "The Only One" by Caedmon's Call, and "God of Wonders" from City On a Hill to name a few.

There are, of course, a few exceptions, but not many compared to previous WoW albums. They included the future Jaci Velasquez hit "Crystal Clear" rather than proven hit "Center of Your Love," as well as Rebecca St. James' "Reborn" rather than "Don't Worry," and Third Day's "King of Love" rather than "Your Love, Oh Lord," or any number of hits from the Time album. Probably the oddest inclusion is "America" from the new Passion album One Day: Live — why not save that for WoW Worship? Some inclusions like this would have been better served by including other relatively new but proven artists like Switchfoot, The Normals, or possibly Kendall Payne.

Regardless, with a handful of tracks raising questions of inclusion, the majority of WoW 2001 is right on and more accurate in representing the year's top hits than any past WoW album. As if you needed any ringing endorsement to go pick up this collection!