Top Christian Songs (Billboard) – June 19 2010

After nine weeks in a row, MercyMe finally loses a bit of steam and the #1 ranking to another artist who knows what it’s like to be at #1. tobyMAC takes control of the Billboard Christian Songs chart with “Get Back Up,” the second single off his new CD, Tonight. Since the title track also went to #1, this marks the first time in recent memory that a Christian artist has gone to #1 with two singles off that CD. (Casting Crowns can repeat that feat if If We’ve Ever Needed You reaches the top, but that track’s been moving slower than any of its previous singles, so I’m not too optimistic about its chances. The Top 10 remains the same except for Neworldson, which tumbles out of the top 10, giving way to new entry Hold Us Together by Matt Maher. This is Maher’s first Top 10 single; though he is arguably best known for Your Grace Is Enough in 2008, his best showing on the Christian Songs chart is the #12 peak of Alive Again.

The highest (and only) new entry on Billboard’s Christian Songs chart is Starfield’s Rediscover You, new at #49. That track is fantastic, mind you, and deserves to be heard; I told y’all about it in March 2010!

1. (2) Get Back Up tobyMac

2. (1) All of Creation MercyMe

3. (3) Our God Chris Tomlin

4. (4) Before the Morning Josh Wilson

5. (5) What Faith Can Do Kutless

6. (6) Forgiven Sanctus Real

7. (7) Healing Begins Tenth Avenue North

8. (9) Better Than A Hallelujah Amy Grant

9. (10) Beautiful Beautiful Francesca Battistelli

10. (12) Hold Us Together Matt Maher

Newsboys, “Born Again”

Pop-rock band Newsboys is one of the most successful Contemporary Christian acts of the past two decades. Since its birth in 1985, Newsboys has crafted its own unique CCM sound, which has paid off handsomely in the form of more than a dozen CDs, at least four #1 Christian radio hits, and sales of more than two million albums. Of course, very few bands survive 25 years with some element of stability, and the roster of Newsboys has changed throughout the years. The latest incarnation of Newsboys features former dc TALK member Michael Tait doing lead vocals, and Born Again is probably most apropos given this new personnel change. Born Again is the most-added song at Christian AC this week, with six stations adding the track to their regular rotation, and from the looks of it, Born Again is easily gearing up to become Newsboys’ latest hit.

BORN AGAIN Lyrics
Newsboys

I found myself? looking into the mirror
Knew I wasn’t who I wanted to be
I was living life the way that I wanted
But my eyes reminded me I’m not free
Believed a lie so everything that I know
Says I gotta go, tired of going solo
But I’m never gonna go there again

(Chorus):

This is what it is
This is who I am
This is where I finally take my stand
I didn’t wanna fall
But I don’t have to crawl
I met? the one with two scarred hands
Giving Him the best of
Everything that’s left of
The life inside this man
I’ve been born again

I see ya walking like you’re living in fear
Having trouble even looking at me
Wishing they would give you more than words
Sick of people telling how it should be
What’d ya download? Where’d ya get your info?
You saw that I’m sure
Now you’re? in the inload (?)
Gonna tell you what I believe

This is what it is
This is who I am
This is where I finally take my stand
I didn’t wanna fall
But I don’t have to crawl
I met? the one with two scarred hands
Giving Him the best of
Everything that’s left of
The life inside this man
I’ve been born again

We are the ones He called by name
I’m never gonna look back
There go, there go the guilt and shame
Said I’m never? gonna look back
This is who I am

This is what it is
This is who I am
This is where I finally take my stand
I didn’t wanna fall
But I don’t have to crawl
I met? the one with two scarred hands
Giving Him the best of
Everything that’s left of
The life inside this man
I’ve been born again

What’s going on with GannsDeen.com?

I received some feedback – three emails count as “some” feedback – from readers of GannsDeen.com asking what was going on with the website. “Why,” asked one, “don’t you blog about yourself and your life anymore? The website is GannsDeen.com, not NewChristianMusic.com.” (That URL, by the way, forwards to HearItFirst.com, which is an awesome website.) Another says, “I know you love music, but your (sic) at your best when you write about politics.” Yet another asks, “Miss the funk and misadventures. When are you coming back?”

So let’s address these feedback, shall we? I’m not “coming back” because I was never gone. lol I realize that, yes, I haven’t been posting much about myself lately, and there’s a good reason for that. I don’t think people really care specifically about what goes on in my life. It’s God, Caths, Nate & Nicki, work, and ministry. While this suits me just fine, I don’t get too many blog-worthy experiences because of the nature of my job and the routine of my work. I usually interface with the same people; while I do graphic design, print, video, & web, I can’t really blog about the content of it or the thought process because it “spoils” the product before it launches at the church in the Philippines where I work. That’s pretty much it. So, there are few “misadventures,” as one commenter puts it, because, well, there aren’t many.

I appreciate the kind words regarding my posts on politics. The truth of the matter as regards why I don’t blog about politics is this: I get very passionate when I write about something, then a few hours after I post it, I usually end up regretting posting it. Politics is such a dirty, negative game, and that’s not who I am. So while it does afford me a chance to occasionally make a commentary on the nation’s woes – or successes, to be fair – it just stresses me out, especially when someone comes in and disagrees with me. I fight a lot on my political blog posts, and it’s not worth the negative energy. (As regards my environmental posts, well, I’m not saying much about that because I’ve arrived at a point where I feel that actions are worth a lot more than words, so while I will occasionally post about environmental issues and events, I’d rather focus on putting my money and effort where my mouth is and actually do something for the environment. More on that in a future post.)

Which brings me to music, specifically Christian music. I’m sorry, guys, but Christian music is really where my heart is. It brings me joy. It really does. It gives me an outlet to worship God, to extol Him, to sing His virtues, to jump and thank Him for His goodness. Sure, there are so many other websites out there that give you new Christian music, but end of day, I’m not looking to compete with those websites. This isn’t a contest, and I’m not in it for the hits or the money. (Lord knows I’ve never been paid to promote a song on GannsDeen.com.)

So what am I out for? Well, Filipino-Christians don’t have much access to new Christian music, and that’s where I’d like to come in. GannsDeen.com is not an online Christian songhits magazine, but if you’re Christian and you like Christian music, then you may like GannsDeen.com. A new Christian song every day. That’s all I promise. God can speak to us through music, and I know that there are songs out there that deserve to be heard because God wants to speak to us through those very songs. I’m not in full-time music ministry, but one doesn’t have to be, to be of service to the Christian community. And that’s what I want to be. I’m looking to introduce however few readers I have to the new music that’s coming out, and giving them my thoughts on the song, and access to the song, whether it’s a video on YouTube or an mp3 that I bought off iTunes. (Thanks, happysammy! God is working through you!)

In Victory, there are certain people we know we can turn to for particular areas. You want blog entries on how to raise a family in God’s way, you go to PaoloPunzalan.com or Larry Uy.com. You want blog entries on how to handle your finances, you go to RandellTiongson.com or ChinkeeTan.com. Want to learn how to plant a church? Dennis Sy.com‘s a great resource. Want to learn about motherhood? Visit Thammie Sy.com or Jenn Punzalan.com. Right now, Victory doesn’t have a regular worship pastor blogging. I don’t claim to be that pastor, nor do I want to be, but in the absence of such, if I can provide worship resources, information, or materials to our community and the Filipino-Christian community in general, that would be terrific. That’s the goal. I love worship, and I want to share that joy with others.

If you’d like to interface with me on a personal level, there’s always Facebook. But I’d like the GannsDeen.com legacy to be that of a worship resource, because I worship the one true God He’s has been so good to me, despite the fact that I’ve screwed up more often than I care to count, despite the truth that even if I’m not worth a nanosecond of His time, He loves me unceasingly, unabashedly, shamelessly. Why else would I have a beautiful wife who puts up with my crap, two incredible children who bring me so much joy, a job I love, with people with whom I love doing it. To give something back to Him and the spiritual family I have as a result of His goodness comes naturally, and I hope you’ll forgive me for this latest shift, because it really is where my heart is.

Worship: An Affair of the Heart

A church-friend of mine posed this question to me on Formspring: What if you are just a back up singer for how many months already in a worship team,and there are newbies who became part of the worship team, but they are the ones who are already leading the worship team? Is the back up singer not improving?

Now, I am not in a position of worship leadership, so I don’t have any real right to answer her question. Having said that, all I could logically do would be to answer what I believed to be fair and right from experience. (Furthermore, I sent an email to the Music Ministry director of Victory Fort, to get her thoughts on the matter. We’ll see what she has to say if and when she replies. I also have some worship resources at home, but I’ll have to browse through them another time.)

Speaking from experience, it took more than a year from my entering the Music Ministry as a member of Victory’s choir before I was invited to back up at the main service, and I served as backup singer there for more than two years. I never became a full-fledged worship leader at Victory Fort, and I never – NEVER – had a problem with that.

Yes, there may be people who join the Music Ministry sooner than others, and are soon given greater responsibility in leading. Is this an indication that the person is a “better” worshiper, or that her/his fellow backup singers have not improved? I don’t think so. Just because a backup singer doesn’t lead doesn’t mean s/he isn’t improving. Personally, I LOVE BACKING UP! I would rather backup than lead! I love harmonizing with my fellow backups. I love it when the voices blend perfectly with the musicians’ chords… there’s a lot less pressure when you’re backing up, and focusing on God is, at least IMHO, easier when you’re not the worship leader. One can choose to look at “rising up the ladder” as one way of gauging her/his improvement in her/his music ministry service, or one can choose to look at it another way: that in her/his being backup, s/he is contributing to the overall worship experience in a way the worship leader cannot. Everyone on the Worship Team is just as important as the worship leader.

I trust God’s wisdom and grace is upon the Music Ministry director to discern whether someone is ready to lead, and because they are in a position of church leadership, I always respect their decision.

More than anything, honestly, for me, worship is all about the heart. A musical and lyrical offering of praise and worship to a deserving God. It is an honor and privilege to be a member of a worship team, to stand up there and sing praise to God with the musical gifts with which He has blessed us. If our desire is to worship Him, whether we do it as a backup vocalist, a musician, or worship leader, any capacity becomes irrelevant because we are satisfied basking in God’s presence and giving Him the abundance of praise that is due Him. I would be satisfied being a “career backup” if that is what God wants for me. (And right now, the Music Ministry is NOT my season, so you can imagine how this tears me up inside. I accept it, though.)

If Ira, or anyone else, can relate to this question, let me encourage you with this: God put you in the position you are now, because you’re doing what no one else can do better, and contributing in a way that God feels is best for you. If and when the time comes that God determines He would like you to serve in a worship leader capacity, He will make it happen. Meanwhile, you are a blessing in your own unique, beautiful way as a son or daughter of God, and your church is privileged to have you.

Calling other worship leaders out there. Have you ever encountered this kind of question? How would you answer it?

No Other Name, “Lead You to the Cross”

Debut Contemporary Christian group No Other Name – that’s gonna be hell to search engine optimize for – has come up with its new EP, Lead You to the Cross, bannered by radio single The Only One. Airtight countrified harmonies aside, No Other Name‘s strongest suit may very well be well-crafted songs that speak of the urgency to bring the message of the Gospel out to as many people as possible. The group certainly walks the talk: its most recent blog entry on its official website talks about a scheduled mission trip to Nicaragua from June 26 to July 3. Not all Christian groups readily work on the Great Commission, so this is a great opportunity for No Other Name to reach out to as many people for Jesus as it can.

Back to the music. Sam, Chad, and Laura, the members of No Other Name, may have sent The Only One to Christian AC, but the EP’s title track, Lead You to the Cross, is picking up steam at Soft AC/Inspo. Curb Records’ Christian leanings aside, I have to give credit to No Other Name for taking a stand to sing about the Great Commission. That bravery is paying off: Lead You to the Cross is one of the five most-added tracks this week at Soft AC/Inspo. Its accompanying video, shot in Dubai, underscores the group’s determination to go forth and make disciples of all nations. It is inspiring, it is challenging, and it is a refreshing awakener to many of us who are satisfied with being Sunday Christians. Christians need to hear this song.

(Apologies, by the way, for the sketchy album art; I couldn’t find an EP cover with higher quality.)

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Chris August, “Starry Night”

Contemporary Christian singer/songwriter Chris August’s new single, Starry Night, may very well be one of the bigger hits of the 2010 Christian charts. For one thing, August packs some pretty solid secular influences, including Ryan Cabrera, John Mayer, Boyz II Men, Anthony Hamilton, Brian McKnight, and, one of my personal favorites, Gavin DeGraw. For another thing, August is signed with Word Records, whose solid reputation for sending artists to the Top 10 in the Christian AC charts is the stuff of legend. (Well, Sparrow is still my favorite label, but whatevs.

For another thing, Starry Night‘s memorable melody and distinct lyrical progression will easily make it a favorite in many worship setups. Starry Night is already gaining solid support at Soft AC/Inspo radio, garnering the third-highest increase in total radio play; it is also in a three-way tie for third most-added at Christian AC. This bodes well for August, who’s been making music since 2004. Give Chris August’s Starry Night a listen and see if you agree with me.

STARRY NIGHT Lyrics
Chris August

From the birds that sing in the tallest trees
to the human life of you and me
From the desert sands to the place we stand
He’s God of all, He is everything

Whoa

I’m giving my life to the only One who makes the moon reflect the sun
Every starry night
That was His design
I’m giving my life to the only Son Who was and is and yet to come
Let the praises ring
‘Cause He is everything

From the autumn leaves that will ride the breeze
To the faith it takes to pray and sing
From the painted sky to my plank-filled eye
He is God of all
He is everything
He is everything
Whoa

I’m giving my life to the only One who makes the moon reflect the sun
Every starry night
That was His design
I’m giving my life to the only Son Who was and is and yet to come
Let the praises ring
‘Cause He is everything
He is everything

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
I believe, oh

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
I believe


I’m giving my life to the only one who makes the moon reflect the sun
Yeah
I’m giving my life to the only Son Who was and is and yet to come
Yeah

I’m giving my life to the only One who makes the moon reflect the sun
Every starry night
That was His design
I’m giving my life to the only Son Who was and is and yet to come
And the angels
He is heavenly
So let the praises ring
‘Cause He is everything

Ganns’ Top 10 – June 5 2010

Well, this is a surprise! I knew Super Junior’s Bonamana wouldn’t have enough legs to stand on for one more week at the top – hey, three weeks is no small pickins on my chart – so the question remained as to who would replace the track. The most likely replacement seemed to be Charice’s Pyramid, which had shown steady growth headed towards this week. Or perhaps the Idina Menzel-led Glee Cast with I Dreamed a Dream, which was last week’s highest debut.

At the end of the week, when all the smoke cleared, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Josh Wilson’s Before the Morning had edged out Great Are You Lord by Phillips, Craig, & Dean for the #1 spot. In doing so, Wilson becomes the first solo Christian artist to top the chart this year, and only the second Contemporary Christian artist to go to #1, after Ashmont Hill, who debuted at #1 last May 8 with Show My Love. The rest of the year? All K-Pop singles. Methinks there’s a shift in the breeze.

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Top Christian Songs (Billboard) – June 12 2010

The apparently unstoppable juggernaut continues: MercyMe makes it nine weeks in a row for its single, All of Creation, off the CD The Generous Mr. Lovewell. Hot on the band’s heels, though, is Chris Tomlin, whose Our God continues its rise to #1; this week, it jumps three notches to #3. Francesca Battistellie scores the only new single in the Top 10 this week, an 11-10 hopscotch for Beautiful Beautiful. The highest new entry on the Christian AC chart this week is FFH’s Undone, new at #28. Also new in the Top 50 are Kerri Roberts’ No Matter What (#28) (told you so!), and Jonny Diaz’s Waiting Room (told you so again!).

1. (1) All of Creation MercyMe

2. (2) Get Back Up tobyMac

3. (6) Our God Chris Tomlin

4. (3) Before the Morning Josh Wilson

5. (4) What Faith Can Do Kutless

6. (5) Forgiven Sanctus Real

7. (9) Healing Begins Tenth Avenue North

8. (7) There is a Way newworldson

9. (10) Better Than A Hallelujah Amy Grant

10. (11) Beautiful Beautiful Francesca Battistelli