Scouting The 2012 Dove Awards - Part 2
Members of the NRT staff chime in about their picks for the 2012 Dove Awards, as well as who they think will walk away with the awards.

The Oscars have come and gone, and so what awards show can you obsess about now? The Dove Awards, of course!

That's right, the Gospel Music Association's annual honoring of Christian music's best is just around the corner--Thursday, April 19 at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. NRT will have more coverage leading up to the awards including commentary, wrap ups and professional photos as we get ready to report backstage from Christian music's biggest night!

This week, we continue our series of roundtable opinions regarding the various award categories. NRT Founder Kevin McNeese, Senior Editor Marcus Hathcock, Lead Contributor Kevin Davis and Staff Contributors Sarah Fine and Mary Burklin all weigh in on who should win and who will win in each category.

For this week's edition, we focus on the popular Song of the Year categories: Rap/Hip-Hop Recorded Song of the Year, Rock Recorded Song of the Year, Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the YearPop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Yearand Worship Song of the Year.

Feel free to weigh in with your own predictions by posting comments below and click here for more coverage of this year's awards.


Who Should Win

Kevin McNeese: "Hallelujah" by Lecrae
No other artist took hip hop further this past year than Lecrae. Many artists before him paved the way, but Lecrae will be known to bring the genre to the mainstream masses, and of the two songs nominated, "Hallelujah" should be the one to win.

Marcus Hathcock: "Please Don't Let Me Go" by Group 1 Crew
This is a great category, but unfortunately, there are far too few nominees, and some noticeable omissions. Obviously Lecrae is going to be on this list, but I was hoping to see FLAME's "Surrender" on there, or something by Shonlock's fantastic Never Odd Or Even album. I was also sort of confused by these nominations, as these aren't really strong performances by these great artists. Given the nominations, though, I'm going to go with Group 1 Crew's catchy and pleading "Please Don't Let Me Go"--easily the best song in this crop.

Sarah Fine: "Please Don't Let Me Go" by Group 1 Crew
I was hoping to see more of an eclectic group in this category, since last year’s contenders were so strong and 2011 proved to be a monumental year for the genre. However, my vote goes to Group 1 Crew in 2012. They’ve leaped some major hurdles in the last 12 months--including the departure of founding member, Pablo Villatoro--but through it all, they’ve never lost their stride. “Please Don’t Let Me Go” has proven to be one of their strongest songs off of their latest project, Outta Space Love. After a daunting year, taking home a win would be a huge validation for this seasoned duo.
Kevin Davis: "Hallelujah" by Lecrae
Great song and of the nominated songs, probably the best choice.
Mary Burklin: "Riot" by Tedashii
All the songs in this category are strong, although I do find it odd that two of the nominated songs in a relatively sparse listing are by the same artist. Although each song is powerful in its own right, ultimately I have to put my support behind newer artist Tedashii. The intense energy behind his song “Riot” easily qualifies him for this award.

Who Will Win

Kevin McNeese: "Please Don't Let Me Go" by Group 1 Crew 
I'm a little confused about the lack of selection here as this genre has continued to explode this past year. With Lecrae leading the way, this category should be exploding with options. Anytime an artist gets multiple nominations in a category is a bad sign as it typically splits the vote, and Tedashi got high praise but my guess is name recognition will win out here, awarding Group 1 Crew the win for a great song off a fantastic album. 

Marcus Hathcock: "Please Don't Let Me Go" by Group 1 Crew
It's too bad some of Lecrae's better Overdose songs (like "Battle Song", "Chase That" or "Strung Out") weren't nominated, because I'd give him the edge, as he's clearly the best in the biz. But Group 1 Crew is nothing to sneeze at, either, and their familiarity, pop appeal and strongest offering in this category will earn them the nod. 

Sarah Fine: "Please Don't Let Me Go" by Group 1 Crew
Lecrae has twice the chance of winning in this category--having two songs nominated off his highly acclaimed Overdose remix project. Still, when it comes to the Dove Awards, familiarity tends to take seniority. Group 1 Crew surprisingly walked away with a handful awards last year, making their chances of winning this year easier than most.
Kevin Davis: "Hallelujah" by Lecrae
After getting shut out of last year’s awards, it’s time to make it right. This song is the best choice although he’s against himself with "The Overdose” and previous winner in this category Group 1 Crew. I’m voting Lecrae.
Mary Burklin: "Hallelujah" by Lecrae It’s hard to pass up Lecrae, especially with a song this strong. This is probably the track on the list that has had the most overall exposure.
Who Should Win

Kevin McNeese: "Your Love Is A Mystery" by Hawk Nelson
This may be the final nomination for the guys under the vocal leadership of Jason Dunn. The band has yet to announce plans in the post-Jason era (he's leaving next month to pursue a solo career). This is a sentimental nod to a group that has consistently produced some amazingly fun rock anthems over the years. 

Marcus Hathcock - "Dark Horses" by Switchfoot
How can you vote for anyone but Switchfoot? Although "Dark Horses" isn't one of the most "spiritual" songs on Vice Verses, it still has a great message, inspired by the courage and determination of the "down-and-out" homeless kids of the San Diego area. Oh, and it really rocks. By the way, RED and Skillet have strong entries here, too, but the widespread appeal of "Dark Horses" and its extra catchy hook are unbeatable in my opinion.

Sarah Fine - "Dark Horses" by Switchfoot

2011 brought us one of the strongest albums of Switchfoot’s career with Vice Verses. The album’s phenomenal first single, the rock tune “Dark Horses” has gone on to become a massive success on both a professional level, as well as the impact it’s made on fans. It’s up against some heavy competition, but I think after working hard on this project for several years (it was recorded at the same time as their “Hello Hurricane” album) pulling a win would be well deserved.

Kevin Davis: "Faceless" by RED
Great song by RED and my personal rock anthem. Worthy of the award. I’ve recently heard most of these songs performed live, and “Faceless” sounded even better live than I could have imagined. Great list of nominees.

Mary Burklin: "Invisible" by Disciple
This is a category where I honestly love every single song nominated (even though the inclusion of songs from some albums already quite well-worn is a bit disappointing). In the end I have to go with the one that has seen the most consistent plays for me-- there’s something about the urgency and raw  intensity of “Invisible” that’s both encouraging and refreshing. “Faceless” by RED and “Dark Horses” by Switchfoot tie for close second for me in this category.

Who Will Win

Kevin McNeese: "Dark Horses" by Switchfoot
No other song on the list achieved the radio success of Switchfoot's amazing anthem that took them to late night shows, multiple sports venues and mainsteam and Christian rock stations. The word anthem may be overused in describing music, but I can't think of a better word at the moment.

Marcus Hathcock: "Dark Horses" by Switchfoot
When I first heard this inspirational, hard rockin' track, I knew it'd find its way onto ESPN during the college football season. I was right. The high-octane song resonates across the board with its message of people having worth despite the labels of society. Switchfoot wins.

Sarah Fine: "Dark Horses" by Switchfoot

I‘d also love to see either Red or Disciple take this win home, but let‘s face it, “Dark Horses” dominated radio and media--Christian and secular alike--in the latter half of last year. If anyone has the clear advantage, it’s Switchfoot.

Kevin Davis: "Dark Horses" by Switchfoot  
Switchfoot is on a roll, deservedly won in this category two years ago with “Mess Of Me.” Hard to deny the momentum Switchfoot is riding  for this award, which would also be a fine selection.

Mary Burklin: "Dark Horses" by Switchfoot
Besides the fact that this is one of the most recent songs on this list, it’s also become an increasingly well-known anthem. The Switchfoot guys brought an incredibly strong album to the table in 2011, and this track is a good representative of that accomplishment.


Who Should Win

Kevin McNeese: "Born Again" by Newsboys
I'm with the rest of the staff on this one (as you'll see below). "Born Again" should have easily been nominated (and should have won as well) last year. But here we are, with the nomination that should have been. Maybe some paperwork got lost and that's why we also got an Expanded Edition? Conspiracy theories abound. In any event, the song still resonates and is one of the best songs from a group that reinvented themselves. 

Marcus Hathcock: "Crazy Love" by Hawk Nelson
This was a toss-up for me between this awesome, inspired Hawk Nelson tune and the career-redefining "Born Again" by Newsboys, but utimately, I had to lean Hawk because I can't in good conscience recommend a song that doesn't really fit within the nomination timeframe. Inspired by the earth-shattering book of the same name by Francis Chan, this song is a pop/rock anthem that motivates believers along the same lines as "Shine" and "Jesus Freak."

Sarah Fine: "Born Again" by Newsboys

Color me confused. While I’m impressed with all of the songs in this category, Newsboys' “Born Again” not only should have been nominated last year, but won. (The song qualified for a nomination in November of 2010.) It’s a frustrating position to be in from a fan's perspective, because while you want a song to win, you can’t help but argue that its competitors deserve it too, even more so since they're much more recent. Regardless, after yet another incredibly successful year and a shocking snub in 2011, this award should go Newsboys in my book.

Kevin Davis: "Slumber" by NEEDTOBREATHE
An amazing song from my all-time favorite album The Reckoning. Tough competition in this category and great choices. Finally “Born Again” by Newsboys has been nominated. For the life of me, I’m not sure why it wasn’t nominated last year.

Mary Burklin: "Slumber" by NEEDTOBREATHE
NEEDTOBREATHE hit the charts hard this year, both in Christian and mainstream formats. This song is a highlight of an album that has incredible momentum and direction as it tackles grace head-on with beautifully raw tracks perfect for singing along. This band can write, and I'd love to see that recognized. “Lucy” by Skillet is a close runner-up for me in this category.

Who Will Win

Kevin McNeese: "Born Again" by Newsboys
I think enough people agree that an opportunity was missed last year with nominating the Newsboys for their incredible album. Maybe their special edition allowed them back in the fold and hopefully we'll right a wrong here.

Marcus Hathcock:  "Born Again" by Newsboys 
I think voters will realize that they blew it by not including this song last year, and although it seems a little late to plug them in this year, look for Newsboys to come away with the win. The song is well-deserving of this award; the timing is just unfortunate. 

Sarah Fine: "Born Again" by Newsboys
This is a strong list of contenders, Hawk Nelson’s “Crazy Love” being some pretty fierce competition, but if any song made the most impact and deserves it, Newsboys have this in the bag. Better late than never, right?
Kevin Davis: "Lucy" by Skillet
Personally I’m not sure how this vote will go, NEEDTOBREATHE has won this award two years in a row, “Born Again” by Newsboys is nominated a year too late, and although “Lucy” is originally from 2009, the song gives me chills every time I hear it so that’s my vote.
Mary Burklin: "Born Again" by Newsboys
Even though this is an older song, I think it has the best shot at capturing the majority of the votes, largely due to the fact that half the other bands on the list are crossover bands who historically have not had much weight here. Although Skillet may have a chance, so far in their decade-and-a-half career the GMA has only acknowledged them with an award once, and that trend will be hard to break. As one of the most-played rock songs for the past few years from one of the biggest names on the stage, Newsboys could easily take this one home.


Who Should Win

Kevin McNeese: Natalie Grant "Alive"
For me, this category is a smaller version of the Song Of The Year list. Really, it's the same contenders with the exception of MIKESCHAIR. Although I love "Someone Worth Dying For," if the song is good enough for my vote for the largest category, it's good enough for the smaller one. 

Marcus Hathcock: "Hold Me" by Jamie Grace
We're talking pop music here, folks, and if you look at the list--which omits quite a few worthy nominations, if you ask me--there's really only one song that fits the bill. It's Jamie Grace's addictive "Hold Me." 

Sarah Fine: "Hold Me" by Jamie Grace
It’s been a number of years since CCM has seen such a strong debut from a female vocalist, especially when her first single skyrocketed in every way imaginable. This last year has been a rollercoaster of success for Jamie Grace, from releasing her first full length album to being nominated for a Grammy, all due in part to “Hold Me,” her hit breakout song with tobyMac, and a song which I believe deserves to be recognized with this award after having such a huge impact on all of it’s listeners over the course of 2011.
Kevin Davis: "Blessings" by Laura Story Pretty much a perfect CCM song. This is almost always the toughest category. Great choices and all five of the songs are also up for Song of the Year. Arguably, “Hold Me” by Jamie-Grace is more of a “pop” song and I also nominated “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray, “Suitcases” by Dara Maclean and “This Is The Stuff” by Francesca Battistelli--which are also perfect pop songs.
Mary Burklin: "Someone Worth Dying For" by MIKESCHAIR
I choose this song primarily because I feel it’s a message a lot of people have needed to hear and have really responded to. Capturing a feeling that connects to a lot of people takes skill.

Who Will Win

Kevin McNeese: "Blessings" by Laura Story
I don't see voters passing up Laura on this smaller list, and even with the list expanded for the "Song of the Year," Laura Story should have a few wins from the night, including one from this category.

Marcus Hathcock: "Blessings" by Laura Story
If the voters leaned more towards the contemporary end of this category--which I think they will--Christian music's prohibitive favorite for Song of the Year also will walk away with this award. Like Kevin Davis, I'm smelling a near-sweep by Laura Story.

Sarah Fine: "Hold Me" by Jamie Grace
I’m going out on a limb by saying this, but I think the GMA would be blind not to award this honor to Jamie Grace in 2012. The crazy success of this song alone should make it an instant winner. Still, they have been known to shock us once or twice in the past.
Kevin Davis: "Blessings" by Laura Story This song has some of the best lyrics I've ever heard in any song. I'm moved by Laura's transparency and confessional challenges to believers in this incredible song. I’m pretty sure Laura’s sweeping in every category.
Mary Burklin: "Hold Me" by Jamie Grace
If she doesn’t take home the award for Song of the Year, she probably will win this category. This song has the widest appeal of all of nominees, though both Laura Story and Natalie Grant are also quite likely to take this one home.


Who Should Win

Kevin McNeese: "Hosanna" by Brooke Fraisier
"Our God," "Revelation Song," "Mighty To Save" and "How Great Is Our God" are the winners from the past four years. All are songs sung every week in churches all across America. From this list, "Hosanna" is the most Sunday Morning of them all, but as Sarah will mention below, it's old. Like five years old? So I'm not sure where this one is coming from and I'm not sure if voters care? In the list of past winners, this one fits in pretty nicely.

Marcus Hathcock: "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant  
This is a fantastic song, unfortunately competing against some powerhouse tracks in other categories. But this song deserves a Dove award, and it deserves it in this category. This is the category that makes the most sense for this song, anyway. 

Sarah Fine: "Hosanna" by Brooke Frasier
This is yet another nomination that frustrates me. “Hosanna” is almost five years old, penned originally for Hillsong Live’s Saviour King project back in 2007. While it has gained far more exposure in recent years with Selah’s popular cover, it almost seems unfair that such an incredible song didn’t get nominated when it rightfully should have, especially since it’s now up against heavyweights like Casting Crowns and Natalie Grant. Do I think it has the potential to win? Absolutely. Will it? That’s another story.
Kevin Davis: "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant  
Finally a category where this song can win and it’s not against "Blessings" by Laura Story. Amazing song for the Church and I love how the song written by Krissy Nordhoff and Michael Neale proclaims the Name of Jesus. In a strange twist, the song is against “Hosanna” by Hillsong UNITED (2007), “Beautiful Things” by Gungor (2010), and “Glorious Day” as recorded by Casting Crowns, originally recorded by Todd Agnew in 2007.
Mary Burklin: "Beautiful Things" by Gungor
Although I do find it odd that this song was nominated two years in a row in very different categories, I still find this to be the strongest song both musically and lyrically in this category. Giving Gungor a nod in this category would be a good way to recognize their innovative and beautiful work.

Who Will Win

Kevin McNeese: "Hosanna" by Brooke Fraisier 
Christian music fans are eclectic. In our sub-culture of music, we have every genre to choose from. But one thing most of us have in common is Sunday Mornings. From this list of worshipful songs, only one continues the history with voters: awarding Sunday Morning songs. Even though it's not new to most of us, it should easily win in this category.

Marcus Hathcock: "Beautiful Things" by Gungor
I love Gungor. They produced my No. 1 album of 2011. But I couldn't say they "should win" because "Beautiful Things" is older than the past year. It's a great song, but it shouldn't win now just because the GMA is finally seeing that Gungor is worth some attention, as they're taking David Crowder*Band's mantle as the industry's most innovative worship band. The song has just gained traction in the past year, so when it wins, few fans will be disappointed. 

Sarah Fine: "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant
The husband/wife team of Gungor taking home this win would be an astronomical victory for the rising new worship movement going on in CCM, but if any song has achieved more commercial success that would bring it obvious attention, it’s Natalie Grant’s “Your Great Name.”
Kevin Davis: "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant
It is my vote, and the other songs are all amazing, however they don’t fit the timeframe in my opinion. I personally nominated “Manifesto” by The City Harmonic, “At Your Name (Yahweh, Yahweh)” by Phil Wickham, “Waiting Here For You” by Christy Nockels and “Always” by Kristian Stanfill along with “Your Great Name.”
Mary Burklin: "Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)" by Casting Crowns
A lot of the worship heavyweights are absent this year, which clears the way for a group who would usually be less likely to be recognized in this category. For overall reach and achievement, I feel like this song is quite likely to be chosen.

Stay tuned for Part 3 coming soon covering the 2012 nominees for Rock Album of the Year, Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year, Inspirational Album of the Year, Praise/Worship Album of the Year, Long Form Music Video of the Year, and Best Recorded Music Packaging. is kept running through a number of incredible volunteers who are passionate about Christian music. They write, edit, produce and pray that NRT continues to reach the world with the incredible message of Jesus Christ. If you are interested in joining our staff and contributing to what we are doing here at NRT, please send an email to We would love to hear from you!

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