Regarding this year’s selection process for the best Christian Music Albums of 2002, I think I can speak for all six panelists by saying that it was a trickier process than expected. There was no shortage in excellent music this year, as reflected by the huge list of nominations; we brought close to 50 to the table, and we could have easily presented a lot more! You can click on the panelists? names anywhere in this feature to view their individual lists and note all the different albums that were considered; clicking on the album images will take you directly to Musicforce.com to listen to sound clips and buy the album. Despite the varying tastes and opinions, twelve albums rose to the top to make the final list. Additionally, the top three of those twelve blew away the competition, and the top two ranked within a whisker of each other
The following writers contributed to the 2002 music panel:
- Andy Argyrakis, freelance music critic and writer for ChristianityToday.com Music.
- Russ Breimeier, lead music critic and co-director of ChristianityToday.com Music.
- Michael Herman, writer and co-director of ChristianityToday.com Music.
- Todd Hertz, assistant online editor and entertainment writer for Christianity Today.
- Mark Moring, music editor for Campus Life magazine.
- Amy Tatum, assistant editor of Today’s Christian Woman.
It’s with great pleasure that we present to you ChristianityToday.com Music?s Top 12 picks for Best Christian Music Albums of 2002
Andy: ” … the Newsboys’ best album to date … Not many bands a decade and a half into their career can continue to evolve with as much ease as the Newsboys, all while maintaining their position as a thriving force in Christian music.”Russ: ” … the band’s best work since 1996’s
Andy: ” … much more accessible and down to earth than their debut … Moments of plain old fun and excitement are appropriately balanced out with tactful presentations of spiritual truths in a culturally relevant manner.”Todd:“
PsalmsShane Barnard & Shane Everett Inpop
It’s worth mentioning that this album was independently released in April 2001. However, it was only widely distributed beginning June 2002. We also suspect that most critics did not fairly consider Psalms for their 2001 best-of lists because it was an independent release at the time.Mike: ” … catchy and insightful songwriting … I can’t say enough good things about this one without repeating myself – it’s simply one of the year’s very best.”Russ: ” … the musicianship is excellent … Shane and Shane have succeeded spectacularly, effortlessly combining worship, Scripture, and art.”
Todd: ” … I haven’t found another album this year whose lyrics relate more to me. Denison Marrs isn’t only talented with the pen – the tight musicianship is top notch.”Russ: “Their lyrics are vivid, poetic, and meaningful … undoubtedly one of the best modern rock bands in
Russ: ” … the most authentic, original, and catchy Christian hip-hop project of the year … This stuff actually is better than the majority of mainstream hip-hop acts.”Todd: “Along with other strong releases from Christian rappers this year … GRITS proves again that rap can light up the party and be relevant. In fact, this solid work by GRITS shows that hip-hop is truly an art form.”
Myself When I Am RealBebo Norman EssentialAmy: “With beautiful acoustic guitars, this mixture of folksy, contemplative songs and unpretentious pop creates a warm, thoughtful atmosphere. Definitely [Bebo’s] most intimate, expressive album to date … “Mike: “The worshipful radio hit “Great Light of the World” is one of his best songs ever, and is reason in itself to pick up this album – but just for you, Mr. Norman has graciously sweetened the deal with eleven other folk-pop gems.”
Andy:” … [Jars of Clay couches] their messages amidst a sea of metaphoric poetry and a lush combination of guitar strums and effective orchestration.”Russ: “These guys have always been good, but they’ve hit their stride with [
Russ: “I applaud the efforts of artists such as Lifehouse, who have successfully brought songs that are inspired by Christian faith to the attention of millions … What fascinates me about Lifehouse is how much more meaningful their songs become after repeated listens … the band members are taking a significant step forward as musicians and songwriters.”Mike:” … this album was created with a level of excellence that is rare … each song offers something of hope and value to the listener who has ears to hear what [Lifehouse is] really trying to say.”
Sparrow / Dreamworks
Amy: “This album is refreshingly honest about our emotions and the realities of life in this world … These thought-provoking lyrics and rich melodies are rare in Christian music, and I think The Normals deserve huge acclaim for venturing out into uncharted waters.”Russ: ” … the passion of a U2 ballad, the creativity of a Peter Gabriel production, the sophistication of a Sting album, and the thoughtful faith-based songwriting of Caedmon’s Call …
Todd: “Daily Planet’s
Mark: “Great singer/songwriters have a knack for making the listener say, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I was trying to say! I wish I could’ve put it like that!’ Sara not only does that, but takes it a step further, digging even deeper into your soul and making you say, ‘Wow, I didn’t even know that’s what I wanted to say!'”Todd: “It’s obvious that the former English teacher’s strength lies in relating to those listening and putting her thoughts into words … On this inspirational piano and guitar-based folk project, Groves shows that she is one of the most gifted songwriters and storytellers in music today.”Russ: “You can appreciate every track like a work of literature, stimulating the mind and touching the heart after several repeat listens. To me, Sara epitomizes what it means to be a “Christian artist,” balancing songs of love to her husband and son with songs of praise to God, and songs that question faith with songs that offer the answer.”Andy: ” … Groves has not only matched but surpassed [her] quality label debut with her latest ethereal masterpiece … If you’re looking for thought-provoking sentiments, moving balladry, and crystalline vocals, they’re ‘all right here.'”Amy: “Sara’s artistic flair and propensity toward being reflective have made her one of this year’s greatest singer/songwriters.
“Mike: “This album secured itself in this list upon my first listen to the unmastered version of this gem … Let that speak for the power of Sara’s songwriting.”
Mike: “Their fourth studio project masterfully accomplishes the daunting task of discussing some of the most difficult things in life in surprisingly beautiful and effective ways … All thirteen tracks work together to make the most satisfying and complete album of 2002. “Andy: “The fact that Sixpence is willing to offer up praise while subsequently trudging through the muck of earthly frustrations only complements their instrumental ingenuity. It’s a winning recipe several years in the making that will leave listeners at various points in their faith walk divinely content.”Russ: ” … the best work Sixpence None the Richer has ever done … a masterpiece … Sixpence seems truly comfortable with their abilities, expanding their musical palette to vary with Matt and Leigh’s poetic lyrics.”Todd: ” … the songwriting is the strong suit on this follow-up to [their] self-titled 1998 breakthrough … Albums as stirring, deep, polished, and pretty as this don’t come around often.”Mark: “One of Christian music’s most intelligent and creative bands … Leigh Nash’s ethereal voice, never better, lilts over and under and through the melodies … There’s not a weak point on the album.”Amy: “After a five-year stint without a record, Sixpence definitely used their time to sharpen their writing skills and perfect the lush acoustic rock songs that appear on
Awakening — GershBy Surprise — Joy WilliamsCity on a Hill: Sing Alleluia — Various ArtistsCollaborations — KJ-52The Fault Is History — SouljahzHi-Fi Revival — The O.C. SupertonesLast One Picked — Superchic[k]Legacy … Hymns & Faith — Amy GrantO2 — TonéxRipley County Blues — Glenn KaiserWorship God — Rebecca St. JamesWoven & Spun — Nichole Nordeman