Mainstream Christian music has long been in a bit of a slump. The oversaturation of vanilla worship music is still a problem and I do not see things changing any time soon. Why? Worship music is easy to write, it sells, and due to its nature, throwing any sort of criticism at it is frowned upon by the community at large. Like it or not, it’s here to stay. But did anything good come out of mainstream CCM this year? Was there something worth celebrating? Here are A Diverse Sound’s top ten Christian hits of 2018.
10. Switchfoot: “Native Tongue”
It’s been a little over two decades since Switchfoot’s humble beginning and somehow they still manage to create top-notch surf/rock tunes. “Native Tongue” is the band’s latest single from their upcoming album of the same name. It’s a gritty rocker that recalls some of the stylings and production choices of Vice Verses so fans of the band’s harder edge should be getting excited.
9. Toby Mac: “The Elements”
Gotta hand it to Ol-T’mac. Despite being well over two decades into his music career he still manages to surprise his fans. The title track off his latest record is a hip/hop anthem that’s sure to get the adrenaline pumping.
8. For King and Country: “Amen”
Although the Australian duo’s latest album was somewhat of a letdown, “Amen” continues to shine in a sea of mediocrity. The choir led chorus carries a majesty that continues to echo in the ears of those listening long after.
7. Riley Clemmons: “Better For It”
Have to give a shoutout to one of CCM’s more promising pop artists. “Better For It” is a bop of a song that proves once again that when it comes to pop music things can never be too sweet.
6. Tenth Avenue North: “Covenant”
While not technically released as a single, I cannot let this list pass without mentioning something off Tenth Ave’s latest project. “Covenant” is a lush, 80s inspired gem that sings of the importance of marriage and perseverance.
5. Lauren Daigle: “You Say”
Since the release of our next pick, Daigle has become one of the most talked about artists of the year. Despite some recent controversy, Look Up Child and its lead single, “You Say,” provide a fresh turn from the tired, cliched pop of mainstream CCM.
4. Rend Collective: “Life is Beautiful”
Rend Collective’s latest project, Good News, gave fans of Christian music a healthy dose of joy and wonder this year. “Life is Beautiful” is a wonderful snapshot of the band’s infectious and radiant sound. If you need something to lift the spirits “Life is Beautiful” offers the perfect remedy.
3. Twenty-One Pilots: “My Blood”
Trench has proven to be quite the grower since its release. What kept me coming back wasn’t the intensity of “Jumpsuit” or “Levitate” but the ear-worm of a chorus delivered by the record’s fourth single, “My Blood.” Managing to mirror the vibe and soul of the duo’s biggest single while giving listeners its own spark is a commendable achievement.
2. Needtobreathe: “Forever On Your Side”
This is the Needtobreathe I love. “Forever On Your Side” is a song brimming with soul and overflowing with joy, love, and fellowship. This is the sound of a band rediscovering who they are and what it means to live and jam together. After a period of experimentation, it’s good to hear the boys are proud to be themselves again.
1. Andrew Peterson: “Is He Worthy?”
There was never a doubt that Andrew Peterson would release the best Christian song of 2018. “Is He Worthy?” the lead single off of Peterson’s masterful Resurrection Letters Vol.1 is one of the most majestic sounding pieces of music CCM has seen in years. As a devoted Christian myself, CCM rarely incites a genuine reaction in me. I don’t tear up at a Hillsong or Elevation Worship Song, for example, because inciting an emotional reaction always seems to be the objective. It comes across as forced, and CCM’s manufactured, falsely positive sheen is just not what Christianity is about. “Is He Worthy?” is something truly special. Its question and answer structure, combined with its angelic chorus and beautiful conclusion, has brought me to tears on multiple occasions. It is one of those songs that reminds me again, with its own words, just how wonderful our Lord and Saviour is and for that it can hold no other position than No. 1.