Previously: WOW 1999.
“Hey, uh, Mallory, this seems to be the second power-ranking of a decades-old compilation album of Christian Contemporary hits you’ve written up in the same week. How many of these are you planning on doing?” Well, the only other one I had besides these two was WOW 1998, so don’t worry overmuch.
2000 was an intense year for CCM, and it’s largely because that’s the year (well; technically it was 1999, but it was late 1999) DC Talk released their last studio album, Supernatural. There was a Greatest Hits album or two down the road, but this was the beginning of the end of something. It’s hard to overstate the hugeness of DC Talk on the CCM landscape at the time. They were U2 and Nirvana all rolled into one.
There are plenty of cases to be made for why CCM declined so precipitously after the boom years of the 90s: the end of the worship wars, the rise of streaming, the sale of most Christian labels to secular groups. And although you can still find a Christian rock station in almost every town, there’s not the same widespread cultural impact. There was a time in the late 90s when Switchfoot was on secular radio, P.O.D. videos were running on TRL, Sixpence None the Richer had a hit single attached to one of the most successful teen movies of the decade, and Jars of Clay made albums that went gold. It was inarguably, a different time!
One final thing to consider; namely, that most Christian rock is bad music. It…probably is? Music written for ideological reasons is often inferior to music written for the purpose of creative expression for, well, obvious reasons. The explosion of CCM in the late 1970s started a tradition of generally copying secular trends and pasting devout lyrics into them that has rightly given CCM a lousy name. But is it worse than, say, Sublime?
I don’t know, guys. All I know is that when I rewatched the video for Audio Adrenaline’s “Get Down” to prepare for arranging this list, I wanted to get down. And I did.
Discs one and two
1. “No One Loves Me Like You” – Jars of Clay
2. “Thankful” – Caedmon’s Call
3. “Gravity” – Delirious?
4. “I Want To Know You (In The Secret)” – Sonicflood
5. “One Of These Days” – FFH
6. “Get Down” – Audio Adrenaline
7. “New Way To Be Human” – Switchfoot
8. “Stranded” – Plumb (this was prominently featured in the trailer for Jason Bigg’s Loser! Can you imagine that kind of broad cultural reach for a Christian band now?)
9. “A Little More” – Jennifer Knapp
10. “Love Liberty Disco” – Newsboys
It feels very weird to knock DC Talk out of the top ten. But Consume Me, while period-appropriately shot like a short-film version of The Matrix is simultaneously creepier and more forgettable than most of their more enduring hits. I also feel very confident – although I have no idea why – in declaring “I’ve Always Loved You” by Third Day to be the “Wonderwall” of the Christian world. I have a great deal of affection for Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Speechless,” but it belongs to a squarer, mid-90s tradition than the heavily eyelinered pop-punk Christian rockers of the late 90s.
11. “I’ve Always Loved You” – Third Day
12. “Speechless” – Steven Curtis Chapman
13. “Consume Me” – dc Talk
14. “River” – Out of Eden
15. “Always And Forever” – Raze (Think S Club Seven or rave kids for Jesus)
16. “Show You Love” – Jaci Velasquez
17. “Waiting Room” – LaRue (Imagine if Jimmy Eat World were a pair of Christian siblings)
18. “It’s Alright (Send Me)” – Winans Phase 2
19. “Revive Us” – Anointed
20. “Takes A Little Time” – Amy Grant
“Basic Instructions” is borderline unlistenable. It’s an O.A.R.-style jam session about the Rapture. Most of the rest of these (“I Will Be Your Friend” is a notable exception) aren’t bad, exactly, so much as forgettable; the kind of song you would expect to hear at the funeral of someone you didn’t think much of.
21. “Omega” – Rebecca St. James (Starts with wind chimes, pauses for a spoken word interlude. It’s not awful, but those realities cannot be denied.)
22.”Away From You” – The O.C. Supertones (A YouTube commenter said it best: “it has a reggae flavor twisted up in a Holy spiritual epitaph”)
23. “Breathe” – Sixpence None the Richer
24. “For The Glory Of Your Name” – Michelle Tumes
24. “Can’t Live A Day” – Avalon
25. “Saving Grace” – Point of Grace (Point of Grace is the statistically average Christian band; the musical equivalent of 7th Heaven)
26. “Run To You” – Twila Paris
27. “The Rumor Weed Song” – The W’s (Look, I love the W’s perhaps more than a single person should, but even I’m not going to try to defend this as anything more than a song about an evil plant for a children’s cartoon series)
28. “I Am” – Jill Phillips
29. “Cartoons” – Chris Rice (THE VERY DEFINITION OF INSIDE BASEBALL)
30. “Friend Of Mine (Columbine)” – Jonathan & Stephen Cohen (Yes, it is a song about Columbine High School)
31. “I Will Follow Christ” – Clay Crosse
32. “I Will Be Your Friend” – Michael W. Smith
33. “Basic Instructions” – Burlap To Cashmere
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.