Last year's WOW Hits 2005 compilation, as those who read my review of it would know, was a relatively weak representation of what the best of CCM has to offer. Ever since WOW became refocused as a strictly "Hits" compilation, it's merely been a retread of what was popular on the radio the year before. WOW Hits 2006 follows this bittersweet trend.
Accepting WOW Hits 2006 for what its intended to be is the first step in coping with its track selections. Basically, if you're not a fan of Adult Contemporary or Contemporary Pop, you're more than likely going to wince through most of the songs and become rather jaded towards the CCM industry. For example, the Gold Disc opens with the now-aged "Voice Of Truth." While it won a Dove Award this year, it's not as new as "Lifesong," Casting Crown's current hit single which released the same day as, say, Audio Adrenaline's "King" which is also on this disc. The mix that follows are mostly songs from CD's released within the past two years, including MercyMe's "Homesick," Steven Curtis Chapman's "Much Of You," Smitty's "Healing Rain," and Third Day's "You Are Mine." The first disc is of course not a total loss, as the more unique pop songs from Third Day, AudioA, SCC, Newsboys, and Chapman are this disc's highlights. But I can't fail to mention songs from the always reliable Bebo Norman and Nichole Nordeman. The disc ends with a plug for newcomer Robbie Seay Band, with their song "Better Days."
The Bronze Disc is a little more promising, opening appropriately with the popular "Take You Back" from Jeremy Camp, which made quite an impression on rock radio. "Mirror" is a old song from BarlowGirl and is followed by the incredibly catchy radio hit "Hide" from Joy Williams. WOW wisely and ever so shrewdly picked TobyMac's collaboration with his former bandmates of DC Talk, "Atmosphere (Remix)," for the list as well, following it with the recently successful "God Will Lift Up Your Head" from Jars Of Clay's hymns project Redemption Songs. Much of the remainder of the disc's assortment is a pretty fair pop/rock assortment, including ZOEgirl, Relient K, David Crowder*Band, Superchic[k], and newcomers The Afters, Inhabited, and Krystal Meyers. The list isn't perfect and makes one wonder why some artists found their way to the list and others are missed (Why is Relient K present but not Switchfoot? Why not a newer song from BarlowGirl?). In fact, one glance at the track list of the Bronze Disc will make one wonder why the inconsistency of some of the more alternative rock choices being mingled with the pop radio crowd.
WOW Hits 2006 is a solid collection of CCM's pop radio hits, but once again a so-so or decent-at-best example of what the Christian music industry has to offer. Thankfully the X compilations help fill in the gaps, along with Gotee Records' Hip Hope. Fans of Christian contemporary radio will certainly want to grab WOW Hits 2006 if they're not already tired of most of the songs that have been spun over and over. If you know someone who likes the lighter side of what Christian music may have to offer, this would be a good way to introduce it to them, but if you think they might be more interested in more alternative or rock music, X2005 is much more up their alley.- Review date: 10/2/05, written by John DiBiase
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