Of all the Billboard offerings I've covered in Who Charted — which is most of them, excluding major eccentrics like the Hot Norwegian Skiffle 100 — there are none I'm more excited to revisit than the Christian Songs chart. The stakes are so much higher: these tracks are heaven-sent, coursing with the power to save souls and change lives. Each is like an infallible new scripture just waiting to be interpreted by an unworthy man. With all due humility, I offer myself as your holy conduit.
1_"MOVE," MERCYME | When last we visited MercyMe, I picked them as the big winners on the 2010 Jeez charts for their towering Cheeto of song, "All of Creation." This time, they've given up the grandeur for low-rent handclappy Maroon 5 dance-rock, and it's a terrible move. This song blows so mightily, in fact, that I'd summarily reject their God if they'd even bothered to mention Him. But nope; it's Christian rock in lameness only.
2_"COURAGEOUS," CASTING CROWNS | These guys tend toward vaguely militant clarion calls to Christian uprising, which might prove a tad too alarming for mainstream crossover success. And it's a damn shame, because their flavorless, high-budget arena rock might otherwise have widespread appeal to tasteless idiots of every faith.
3_"STRONG ENOUGH," MATTHEW WEST | After the worrying intensity of Casting Crowns, this one is a relief: a nice-looking guy singing a nice song about the Big Guy's power to help people improve themselves. It's your standard CCM fare, albeit a good few notches more charismatic than most. Matthew West won't be hitting 8.0s in Pitchfork anytime soon, but don't be too surprised if you catch him making a run at the mainstream.
4_"THE WAY," JEREMY CAMP | This, on the other hand, has nothing to offer the nonbeliever. I know it must be difficult to convey the Lord's majesty in song, so I beg for the strength to forgive this doofus for sucking so bad. I wanted my spirits lifted, but "The Way" is nothing but dumpy and miserable. All the brow-furrowing God glumness makes our savior seem like a major drag — actual undoctored sample lyric: "All creation cried out with longing/With groans only You could comprehend." Groans is right. (The only mark in the win column is fantasizing that Jeremy is Jesse's brother.)
5_"TURN AROUND," MATT MAHER | Not only is it perfectly workmanlike country-rock with a pleasing little slide guitar lead, it also offers an easy-to-follow formula for redemption: "If you're looking for a savior, all you gotta do is turn around." Yeah? Stupid me, all this time I've been turning off the lights and saying "Candyman" in the mirror. I'll have to start giving the Matt Maher method a shot; I gave my desk chair a good swivel, but no dice this time.
6_"MY HOPE IS IN YOU," AARON SHUST | By far the catchiest, best-produced and most uplifting track of the evening. If you guys dig Jesus, don't sleep on Aaron Shust, cause this cat is totally on point with his grace game. This shit has GMA Dove Award written all over it. I'll admit I'm grading this on a curve because Christian rock has the natural disadvantage of almost always sucking a lot, so don't bother if you're not already into the Lord (because, in that case, you could be listening to something other than sincere piano ballads).