I’m a big music guy. I can’t play anything besides the piano worth a lick, and I’m still learning a lot about that. Music has been a big part of my college experience simply because I listen to it so much and particular songs have had an impact on my life as I’ve progressed through. So I picked four songs from 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 each to help tell the story of my college experience. Some have had a serious impact, while others are just fun ones that I enjoyed.
Note: The year is based on release date. It’d be tough for me to remember exactly when I heard each of these for the first time, so I’ll narrow it down this way.
- “Forgiven and Loved (Acoustic Version)” – Jimmy Needham – Nightlights
- “Grace Amazing” – Jimmy Needham feat. Trip Lee – Nightlights
- “Better” – Jess Ray – Jess Ray & The Rag Tag Army
- “King of All Days” – Hillsong United – Across the Earth: Tear Down the Walls
I didn’t hear the first three until after that year, but all three were released that year. The two from Jimmy Needham are two of my favorite songs of all-time. The original “Forgiven and Loved” is on an album that was released a couple years before, but the acoustic version really displays Needham’s soul side. “Grace Amazing” pairs one of my favorite singers with one of my favorite rappers, so you can’t go wrong there. “Better” is maybe the best selection from an incredible album. I could have chosen any of four or five songs from that record. I actually heard “King of All Days” the first or second time I went to a service at the church I attended freshman year; it’s probably one of my favorite worship songs that Hillsong has done.
Honorable Mention: “Forgiven” by Sanctus Real, “I See the Light” from Tangled soundtrack by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, “The Invasion (Hero)” by Trip Lee feat. Jai
- “Mercy and Grace” – Shai Linne feat. Timothy Brindle – The Attributes of God
- “Give Me Faith” – Elevation Worship – For the Honor
- “The Space Between Us” – Shawn McDonald – Closer
- “Blessings” – Laura Story – Blessings
Shai Linne’s The Attributes of God album ranks as one of my top 3 Christian rap albums of all-time alongside Trip Lee’s The Good Life and, well, maybe it’s just 2, there’s too many to pick from. So my favorite song from that album deserves to be here. Elevation Worship killed it with “Give Me Faith,” a beautiful praise song with exclamations for faith to believe God’s promises and trust Him with everything. Shawn McDonald’s Closer album is a great one from this year, and “The Space Between Us” was personally relatable to me during that summer. And I can remember one night in particular where “Blessings” was particularly impactful to me that fall.
Honorable Mention: “Where Your Heart Is Prevailing” by Great Awakening, “The Glory of God (Not to Us)” by Shai Linne, “Something Real” by Shawn McDonald
- “Anchor” – Beautiful Eulogy feat. Josh Garrels – Satellite Kite
- “The Struggle” – Tenth Avenue North – The Struggle
- “I’m Good” – Trip Lee feat. Lecrae – The Good Life
- “No Regrets” – Lecrae feat. Suzy Rock – Church Clothes
2012 introduced me to Beautiful Eulogy, perhaps the best rap group out there (competing with Social Club for that title). Their first album was incredible, with “Anchor” being the pinnacle of their excellence. Tenth Avenue North’s The Struggle album was one of my favorites from that year, with the title track as an incredibly-relatable song to bust out singing to. I mentioned The Good Life earlier – I could have picked any of three or four songs; “I’m Good” just happens to be my favorite. And “No Regrets” was a constant in my car stereo that summer and beyond.
Honorable Mention: “Hello” by KB feat. Suzy Rock, “Demons” by Imagine Dragons, “Until I Pass Out” by Uncle Reece
- “Never Giving Up” – Alex Faith feat. Social Club – ATLast
- “Faith to Believe” – Shane & Shane – Bring Your Nothing
- “Shallow” – Andy Mineo feat. Swoope – Heroes for Sale
- “BC” – SPZRKT (feat. Marz) – Lucid Dream
Many, many great albums this year. Heroes for Sale, ATLast and Bring Your Nothing top the list for me, while Ben Rector, Beautiful Eulogy and Flame also produced incredible records. “Never Giving Up” is the highlight for me, featuring those rowdy boys from Social Club a bit subdued this time around. “Faith to Believe” is a similar song to Elevation Worship’s “Give Me Faith,” yet in the Shane & Shane style, which I love. “Shallow” is an incredibly relatable song for any single guy, while “BC” delivers with two great voices singing about the changes Christ brings to lives.
Honorable Mention: “If You Can Hear Me” by Ben Rector, “Headphones” by Black Knight, “All In” by Flame feat. KB
- “Doubts” – KB – 100 EP
- “Awkward, Pt. 2” – Social Club feat. ABIV – Misfits 2
- “All We Got” – Andy Mineo feat. Dmitri McDowell – Never Land
- “Wanna” – Christon Gray feat. Jgivens – School of Roses
Not much to this year yet, with many big albums yet to come. But I love what KB did with his EP, particularly the track “Doubts.” Well done both lyrically and production-wise. Social Club’s Misfits 2 has a few gems, but none better than this ode to awkwardness in attraction. People gushed over Andy Mineo’s Never Land, and “All We Got” is a beautiful guitar-driven track contemplating how God’s love is all we have for sure, and all we need. Christon Gray’s School of Roses solidified his place in my mind as my favorite vocalist, and “Wanna” is a perfect mash-up of his singing and writing abilities.
Honorable Mention: “Undefeated” by KB feat. Derek Minor, “Problem” by Chad Jones feat. Propaganda & Canon, “Beautiful Times” by Owl City feat. Lindsey Stirling
Check out the Spotify playlist at the bottom: