This entry dates back about four and a half years ago, but I don’t think I ever posted it. I think it’s still kind of fun. I’m told people used to like what I wrote, you know, when I wrote. Maybe I’ll be inspired to do more… enjoy.

Quite honestly, as I’m typing this up, I haven’t the slightest idea what (or how many) songs will be on the upcoming release, WOW HITS 2013. I just saw it was coming out soon and thought, as I have many times over the years, “If only I could pick the songs for the WOW Hits Collections.” (I suspect you’ve had similar thoughts.) In the interest of full disclosure (aside from not looking at the track list), I’ve stopped taking notice of the annual (or more frequent) releases of this series. I remember the very first edition and I believe I was a faithful consumer through 2001 or 2002, but I’ve not purchased an installment in quite some time. Further, my awareness of what is and isn’t a radio single remains very limited. I have listened to more Christian radio in the last few years than most of the rest of my life, but more as background noise to drown out the sounds of my car falling apart as I drive to and from sporting or musical events with the littles.

And finally, I am pretty sure the official list has some label-related restrictions, but I don’t pay the closest attention to who holds ownership rights over which label, either, so I’ve opened it up to all releases. All that to say, I’m probably not coming from the same place as the folks who compiled the official WOW Hits 2013 album. And I’m not knocking them, or their choices, I’m just explaining that I anticipate a bit of disparity between my list and theirs.

So how did I come up with my choices? I’m glad you asked. First, I went back about a year from now and scoured through the list of releases between 9/1/11 and today. In some cases, I looked a few weeks ahead, but mostly, I stuck to that date range. I then jotted down a list of the artists with albums that released during that time period that stuck out for one reason or another. (This list ended up around 75 artists.) From there, I listened to a good bit of music from these albums to winnow things down even further until I came up with 33 artists that made sense. (In the case of a tie, I had the littles wear the album cover as a mask and arm wrestle.) (Not really, though.) All that left me with a raw list, which I then sorted, ordered, and justified below. Simple.

The “goal” of a compilation like this is to be all things to all people. Of the 30 or so songs chosen, you want to have at least 4-5 songs that will reach each listener demographic. You’ll have some “fringe” songs (like rap *gasp* or hard rock *gasp*) and some “sleepers” (ballads, etc.), but the bulk of the album needs to fall somewhere in the middle. I say that so that you understand this isn’t a list of the “best” songs of the year or anything, this is a playlist that would make for a reasonably tolerable radio station (depending on the on-air personalities).

Okay, enough talk. Off we go.

DISC ONE: THE LIGHTER SHADE OF ORANGE
01. Samestate – King: Starting off with a newer band and some rock energy with a strong hint of worship.
02. Newworldson – Learning to Be the Light: There’s a lot to like about NWS. This is/was a single, but I still like it.
03. MercyMe – Take the Time: MercyMe put together a solid release this time around. Love the duet here.
04. TobyMac – Speak Life: Toby always brings it. This song highlights his deft sense of rhythm and musical style.
05. Britt Nicole – Look Like Love: Catchy, pop with a few quirks thrown in here and there to make it charming.
06. Owl City – Gold: This song, like many Owl City songs, simply make you smile and sing along.
07. Remedy Drive – Resuscitate Me: Nice guitar throughout.
08. Rush of Fools – A Civil War: I like the composition here and it’s a good message overall.
09. Sara Groves – Eyes on the Prize: What playlist is complete without Sara Groves? Soothing, haunting, poignant.
10. Andrew Peterson – Day by Day: Rounding out the mellow with a melodic story.
11. Third Day – Kicking and Screaming: Third Day brings a legit rock album to the table.
12. The Rocket Summer – Prove It: Always impressive and infectious.
13. Thousand Foot Krutch – The End Is Where We Begin: Sneak attack of a rawk track. Not too hard, just right.
14. Luminate – Never Give Up: A really compelling track from a group that grows on you.
15. Brandon Heath – Diamond: Poppy and a little bit country. Can’t go wrong with Brandon Heath.
16. Rend Collective Experiment – Praise Like Fireworks: The first of the “bonus” songs. Doesn’t quite fit, but it’s fun.
17. Sixpence None the Richer – Failure: So difficult to transition into or out of a Sixpence song. But you want to hear it, so you might as well end the “first disc” with it.

DISC TWO: THE DARKER SHADE OF ORANGE
18. Rhett Walker Band – Brother: Another beautiful duet that highlights a strong debut from Rhett Walker.
19. Group 1 Crew – Not the End of Me: Fun, high-energy track that helps you keep your focus on things beyond this world.
20. Chris August – Unashamed of You: This will probably never be a single, but it’s the most fun to be had on a solid album.
21. Karyn Williams – Waiting in the Rain: You have to have some piano here and this is a classic Amy-esque ballad.
22. Jimmy Needham – If I Ever Needed Grace: Very humble and powerful song, which exemplifies why I like Jimmy.
23. Rachael Lampa – Human (ft. Jonny Lang): Rachael’s vocals atop Jonny Lang’s guitar work. An audible “Woah!”
24. KJ-52 – So Far Apart: Hard to pass on Facemelt, but I’m a sucker for juxtaposed hooks and raps.
25. Switchfoot – Where I Belong: I know, it’s too long for a single, but it’s so incredibly compelling.
26. Tenth Avenue North – Strangers Here: Continuing the theme from Switchfoot. Also quite a compelling listen.
27. Matthew West – My Name Is: Wah-Oh-Ay-Oh-Ay-Oh-Oh!
28. Big Daddy Weave – Overwhelmed: This song sounds bigger than it is. For that, I like it more than I do.
29. Mark Schultz – It Is Well: Something of a departure from the piano-laden ballads we expect. Still Mark Schultz.
30. Smokie Norful – Run ‘Til I Finish: I could listen to Smokie Norful sing for days. I’m also partial to the theme.
31. Lecrae – Walk With Me: Grimy, grungy, and real. This is my favorite from the best(?) hip hop album of the year.
32. House of Heroes – Stay: House of Heroes has had better days, but this song (and album) is still worth noting.
33. Sidewalk Prophets – Keep Making Me: Much of this album doesn’t stand out, but this song has a great message.
34. David Crowder Band – Because He Lives: It’s hard to pluck a song from DC*B’s swan song, but this is about the best way to close any album.

So that’s that. 34 songs is a lot to pick and that doesn’t even include the artists, albums, and songs I trimmed off to get to these. But, I’m sure I missed some. What 5 songs would you have included instead? Comment on the blog.