In order to attempt to cover every angle of the year-end list industry, today’s spotlight lands on Christian Music Today, the online music outlet of the print mag Christianity Today, which has offered up a top-12 list of what the edit staff sees as the year’s best Christian albums for a few years. (Note that the site makes a distinction between these albums and the best “worship” albums, which are collected on a separate list that includes discs by Chris Tomlin, Lincoln Brewster, and Charlie Hall.)
THE GOOD: Switchfoot singer Jon Foreman collection of four EPs covering the seasons was probably the most interesting Christian music project, and he rightfully deserves his No. 2 slot on the list. It’s nice to see Kirk Franklin on the list (No. 7), although the copy’s contention that this album is his first in years worth recognizing is a bit puzzling (hello, Hero?), as is the disc’s status as the only selection from the gospel side of things. Personal favorite the Myriad also got a mention, although 11th seems far too low to this admittedly biased observer. Anberlin’s New Surrender (No. 5) would have probably been my choice for No. 1 based on the site’s criteria, which included some sort of “Is it Christian enough?” test that Anberlin’s previous material didn’t apparently clear. Oddly, the band’s newly holy disc is its first for a secular label.
THE BAD:This category could probably just be replaced with an extra large “WHAAA?” section in this list’s case. While there’s nothing incredibly suspect, there are a few rather dodgy choices, beginning with the list-topping Brooke Fraser. While whoever wrote up the copy spends a fair amount of time justifying Albertine‘s eligibility for this year’s list (the disc was a 2006 release in Fraser’s home of Australia), no one seemed to notice that it just isn’t very good, milking a sound more reminiscent of the Lilith Fair era than anything groundbreaking or particularly modern.
THE WHAAA?: Like Pitchfork, there’s some disconnect between the site’s reviews and the year-end list, with several 4 1/2 star reviewed discs not making the cut. There was room for the hot mess of scattered influences that’s the NewWorldSon disc (not good at all), the somewhat dull punk pop of Children 18:3, and the dated sounds of DecembeRadio, but not for previously recommended discs by Sandra McCracken, Emery, The Classic Crime, or even the five-star Joel Willoughby? Maybe those discs weren’t Christian enough.
1. Brooke Fraser, Albertine
2. Jon Foreman,Fall — Winter — Spring — Summer EPs
3. NewWorldSon, Salvation Station
4. Downhere, Ending Is Beginning
5. Anberlin, New Surrender
6. House of Heroes, The End Is Not the End
7. Kirk Franklin, The Fight of My Life
8. Cindy Morgan, Beautiful Bird
9. Ben Shive, The Ill-Tempered Klavier
10. DecembeRadio, Satisfied
11. The Myriad, With Arrows, With Poise
12. Children 18:3, s/t
The Best Christian Albums of 2008 [Christian Music Today]