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WoW Worship [Aqua]

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Apr
WoW Worship [Aqua]
Sounds like … the biggest names in Christian pop/rock performing originals and covers of today's most popular praise songsAt a glance … though there's a lot of filler on the aqua edition, this generous set does feature an accurate sampling of today's best modern worship, including some nice new recordingsTrack ListingDisc One

Sometimes by Step—Rich Mullins & Bebo Norman
Beautiful One—By the Tree
How Great Is Our God—Chris Tomlin
In Christ Alone—Natalie Grant
Blessed Be Your Name—Tree63
You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)—Michael W. Smith
He Reigns—Newsboys
Here I Am to Worship—Sonicflood
Famous One—Building 429
Holy Is the Lord—Bethany Dillon
Who Am I—Casting Crowns
Be Glorified—Tim Hughes
The Heart of Worship—Matt Redman
No One Like You—BarlowGirl
You Are Good—Israel and New Breed
Yesterday, Today and Forever—Vicky Beeching
King of Glory—Josh Bates

Disc Two

O Praise Him (All This for a King)—David Crowder Band
Angus Dei—Third Day
Grace Flows Down—Passion Band
Let It Rise—Big Daddy Weave
Forever (alternate ending)—Rebecca St. James
Wonderful Maker—Jeremy Camp
Friend of God—Phillips, Craig & Dean
All Who Are Thirsty—Kutless
Wonderful, Merciful Savior—Selah
My Glorious—Delirious
Days of Elijah—Twila Paris
El Shaddai—Amy Grant
Worthy Is the Lamb—Hillsong
Alive Forever, Amen—Warren Barfield
Falling—Pocket Full of Rocks

With so many other WoW compilations and worship collections in recent years, it's easy to overlook that there hasn't been a WoW Worship release since 2004's red edition. But time off may be just what this typically annual series needed after shifting focus away from sampling the latest worship music of the church (i.e., the first three WoW Worship collections), gravitating towards fluffy, predictable artist-driven recordings of the usual praise songs (i.e., the last two).

Providing more than two-and-a-half hours of music, this aqua set is a step in the right direction. No surprise that recent songs from popular worship artists like Chris Tomlin and David Crowder Band are featured, while covers from Tree63, BarlowGirl, and By the Tree match or surpass the originals. Credit the collection for also including strong contributions from esteemed worship leaders like Israel Houghton, Twila Paris, and Travis Cottrell ("Alive Forever, Amen," excellently performed by Warren Barfield).

The album's seven exclusive recordings sound less hastily recorded and more thoughtful this time. Bethany Dillon and Big Daddy Weave give predictable-but-good performances, but better are a programmed pop version of "Forever" from Rebecca St. James reminiscent of her earlier work, a stirring rendition of "In Christ Alone" by Natalie Grant combining inspirational pop with modern rock, and a powerhouse cover of "Indescribable" elevated by Avalon's near-bombastic pop vocals. The track receiving the most attention, however, is a new remix of Rich Mullins' "Sometimes by Step" that now also features Bebo Norman. Say what you will about duets with the dearly departed—the two voices sound terrific together.

But the album still suffers from too much filler. Though some tracks are understandably included despite overlap with similar collections (two songs here were featured on the red edition), it's hard to justify five-year-old recordings from Delirious and Third Day when both have more current material to offer. And insipid covers by Sonicflood and Building 429 waste space that could be better used to promote the worthy efforts of Paul Baloche, Jason Morant, or Desperation Band. Despite its inherent promotion of artists over songs, this aqua edition remains an adequate representation of today's best modern worship music.

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