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Wow Hits 2003 
Artist: Various Artists 
Label: EMI
Length: 32/132:08 (on two discs)

The title of this album begs a question: Is this a summary of last year’s CCM radio hits or it is a prediction of what the hits will be in the year 2003?  If the former is true, change the title.  If the latter, we have a larger problem in the CCM world ­ if certain songs or groups are anointed as hitmakers before they are released (and we all know that would never happen ; ) ), then how does anyone new or original break into this business?

Wow Hits 2003 is CCM’s version of the NOW series.  Thirty-two songs on two discs are supplied here.  The “Blue” disc is aimed at the adult contemporary market.  The standouts here are “I Have Been There” (Mark Schultz), “Who You Are” (Caedmon’s Call), “Holy is Your Name” (City on a Hill), and the Amy Grant medley of “It is Well With My Soul/The River’s Gonna Keep On Rolling”.  Less noteworthy and already overplayed songs include Point of Grace’s “We Will Never Walk Alone”, “I’m All Yours” by Rachel Lampa, and “I Don’t Want to Go” (Avalon).

The “Silver” disc is the youth/rock/urban disc.  The rock songs fare much better here ­ “Come Together” by Third Day leads off, with “It Is You” (Newsboys) coming a little later. “I Need You” by Jars of Clay is a nice addition, and “Ocean Floor” (Audio Adrenaline) somehow manages to combine the sounds of Oasis and Bryan Adams without becoming cheesy.  Jennifer Knapp’s “Say Won’t You Say” is well done as well.  The bonus track, “Turn” by the Paul Colman Trio, is in the Newsboys/DC Talk vein.

There is a lot of kiddie pop of the second disc ­ Jump5, Plus One, Joy Williams, Stacie Orrico, TrueVibe, and Out of Eden are all here.  Surprisingly, “Irene” by TobyMac fails to resonate with the listener either.  However, the nadir is reached by Souljaz, with their Latin/rap/R & B tune “All Around the World,” which is only tolerable because of its lyrics.

This is a typical “hits” album ­ some songs are great, some aren’t.  They have all received widespread radio play and publicity.  If you are a fan of CCM radio, there is a lot here for you.  If not, pass this one by, and pick up the latest samplers from Paste Music.

Brian A. Smith
15 December 2002



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