Thursday, May 29, 2008

Top 10 Christian CD's that will rock your socks.

I have a feeling blogs were born for top 10 lists just to get discussions started. This top 10 is about the Christian CD's that are amazing and have helped progress the Christian music scene. They "rock my socks" so to speak. Like all top tens I am ranking them on artistic merits, not whether I have listened to the CD in the last 5 years. Now clearly I don't listen to absolutely every Christian artist, so really you are learning more about me than about the music. But hey, it's fun!

I am rating them based on their musical presentation(can we sing along?), spirituality of the CD (powerful message?) and creativity of the music(not just the same 3 chords). Here is what I came to.

#1 Matt Maher - "Welcome to Life"
High Scores in: Music, Spirituality and Creativity.

I can hear someone saying "Big surprise, the Catholic picked the Catholic." Well, it's not my fault he's Catholic, but I sure am glad he is. I can't say enough about this CD. The depth of the lyrics are ridiculous. The versatility of each song makes each one a candidate to be sung at Church. The variety and creativity of the songs rivals the Beatles, and that's not an overstatement. This album reminds me of "Revolver" without Ringo singing a track. "Welcome to Life" starts the musical journey and takes you all the way to the cross with "Lead Me Home." It is a masterpiece.

>#2 David Crowder Band - "Illuminate"
High Scores in: Music, Creativity and Spirituality

When I started listening to Christian music I always had the same question, "Is this CD going to be all lyrics/boring music or creative music but lacking lyrics?" This album was a revelation to me. Right away this felt like the CD I had always been looking for. It sounded like an alternative album. I could sing to it like a pop album, and it certainly had lyrical depth. History might only remember it for "O Praise Him" but I know it to have been a milestone in Praise and Worship and Christian music as a whole.

#3 David Crowder Band - "A Collision"
High Scores in: Creativity, Spirituality, Music

If "Illuminate" opened my eyes, "A Collision" blew my mind. This album is also a journey, but like no journey a Christian CD had taken me on before. It has pop hooks, country, old Christian hymns and guitar riffs to fall in love with. For me, part of the spirituality of the album was to open myself to the variety of music it presented. "You Are My Joy" combines music and energy in such a way I haven't seen replicated. It is certainly a journey worth listening to all the way through.

#4 Jars of Clay - Self Titled
High Scores in: Spirituality, Music

The first Christian CD I bought and still one of the best. Before, I didn't know any Christian music outside of Church. This album taught me the power of Christian lyrics set to music I could identify with. "Flood" made secular radio, but to me this CD is epitimized by "Worlds Apart." To me this is a conversion moment caught on record and is one of my favorite songs for its emotion and honesty.

#5 DC Talk - "Jesus Freak"
High Scores in: Music, Spirituality

10 years ago this might have been #1. But it still stands the test of time for its variety and quality. "Jesus Freak" was the alternative album by DC Talk, but really only a handful of songs were truly rock. The rest of the songs were really pop songs that had killer lyrics. Songs like "What if I Stumble" and "In the Light" are songs that each Christian can relate to. Most of all, these were high quality songs and performers. In fact, if I could have one band get back together and cut an album it would be DC Talk. One of my top 5 concerts too.

#6 Chris Tomlin - "Arriving"
High Scores in: Spirituality, Music

Check out this song list: "Indescribable," "Holy is the Lord," "How Great is Our God," and "Your Grace is Enough." These are the first 4 tracks on this disc. Check out praise and worship binders across the country and most of them will have all 4. Now, Tomlin didn't write all these songs, but that's ok. He brought them to a wider audience, and for that I am thankful.

#7 Matt Maher - "Overflow"
High Scores in" Spirituality, Music

Maybe in a couple of years I will replace this with "Empty and Beautiful." But for now "Overflow" has its place on my list. When I first listened to this disc I wasn't thrilled. But over time the depth of its lyrics and the power of the melodies dug in. One of those CD's that "feels like home" when I listen to it. "Ressurection Day" could be the best Easter song. Ever.

#8 Third Day - "Offerings"
High Scores in: Spirituality

Praise and Worship music has a special place in my heart, as it does in the hearts of Christians all over. This was a landmark album in the sense that a major Christian Rock group took the time to cut an all worship album. Sure, they had been playing these songs for while, but putting these songs on an album showed the trend Christian music was moving towards. This album is more than a trend, it is qualtiy P&W rock up and down the song list. The first song "King of Glory" is all you need to hear to know the quality of the disc.

#9 Casting Crowns - "Lifesong"
High Scores in: Spirituality

By the time Casting Crowns hit the scene Christian Music and Praise and Worship had exploded. Everyone was making P&W albums, but it was starting to sound a little tired. Casting Crowns brought a simple, fresh view to the music scene. The songs sing of situations we can all relate to. The title track "Lifesong" simply sings of us each singing our praises to God through our lives.

#10 Relient K - "Two Lefts Don't Make a Right, But Three Do"
High Scores in: Creativity

This is my "say what?" choice. The lyrics aren't overly Christian, although the song "Getting Into You" is a great song of prayer. This CD is fun, creative and totally catchy. I find myself singing it hours after I listen to it. Great innocent fun and worthy of a mention.

There is my list. My regrets to influential artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W Smith and Mercy Me. Please comment and let me know how you agree/disagree!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Mark this blog up as "more creative/weird music I like." Last week I was introduced to the music of Mika, who has great popularity in Europe but hasn't caught on with Americans. Lots of things to be impressed with. Most of all his vocal range is amazing. Add on that he writes his own songs and its hard not to be a fan. He can be compared to a pop combination of Freddie Mercury and the Beatles but often with a dance groove.

This is the video for Mika's song "Grace Kelly." It is about how many artists change who they are for record companies. The video itself is nonsense, really. But the vocal range will impress you and the tune will be stuck in your head. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Man Utd vs Chelsea

Most Americans don't realize the sheer depth of soccer the world has to offer. So let me catch you up on a situation that I can't imagine ever happening again. (note: as an Arsenal fan this pains me to blog about)

First, the English Premier league. The standings read Man Utd and Chelsea tied at 81 points with 2 games to go. Last week they faced off with Chelsea pulling off a great victory scoring a PK in the waning minutes to even the standings. Both have lower table opponents remaining. It should be noted there is no playoff, this is a winner take all regular season. Prediction: both teams should win out, so Man Utd will be crowned champions on goal differential for the 9th time in 13 seasons.

Now to the big one: The UEFA Champions League. This is what drew me to European soccer. They take the top 2-4 teams from all the European leagues and play a tournament. You take all these styles of football and clash them together and greatness happens. In the 50+ year history there has never been an all English final...until May 21st when Man Utd and Chelsea face off. Man Utd is in their third final having last won the cup in '99. Chelsea is in their first final but has been on the doorstep the last few years. I encourage you to watch it at 1:30pm on Wed May 21st on ESPN, you will see a sporting event like no other.

Players to watch:
Man Utd: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)He is creative, he is explosive, and he knows how to finish and set up the assist. He makes other players better. He could be world footballer of the year. I hate his guts.

Chelsea: Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)He will do anything to get the ball in the net. He is strong, always in position and can finish when even given a half a chance. And if he doesn't score, well you can bet he is on the ground getting the PK call. He always rises to the occasion. I hate his guts.

Prediction: Pain. Seriously, as an Arsenal fan I just wish the stadium would blow up on gameday (game is being played in Moscow) This would be like the Yankees and Cubs playing in the world series for a Cards fan. It makes me sick. I think it will come down to 1 moment of brilliance where a superstar makes his pressence known. So I will choose Chelsea and will predict 2-1 victory with goals from Essien and the game winner from Drogba.

And because I can't stand Arsenal being out of it, here is a Nike ad that makes me proud to be a Gunner. One of these years Arsenal will mature together and we will win trophies for years to come.