In our special WE LOVE CHRISTIAN MUSIC AWARDS editorial series, members of the NRT staff have a back-and-forth discussion about this year's nominees.
For Part 8 of our series, NRT's John Hisel and Micah Garnett discuss the wide range of nominees for Collaboration of the Year and make their picks to win the award.
Collaborations have become an increasingly important part of the music industry, and their ability to showcase diverse creative talent and stretch boundaries mean that they are always something to look forward to. This year, we've narrowed the category down to five deserving songs from several different genres. If you had to pick one song to take home the award, John, which one would you choose?
It's pretty tough, because they are honestly five pretty good songs. You have all kinds of cool stuff throughout the five: some big names, different styles, a collab between three different artists. But in the end, I have a hard time not going with "I'll Find You" by Lecrae and Tori Kelly. What are your thoughts on which song will win?
"I'll Find You" is a fantastic song that has done an incredible job breaking through to the mainstream. It's a personal favorite of mine, but I would argue that the collab between Branan Murphy and Koryn Hawthorne should win. The vibe of the song, the chemistry between Branan and Koryn and the show-stopping rap during the bridge make it one of the top songs of the year for me. I do think that "All The Wrong Things" is an underdog against such other mainstays as Switchfoot and Lecrae though. What are your thoughts on the song?
I actually really like that song, even though it's not generally my speed. I wrote down in my notes right away that the rap in the middle really sets it off and takes it to another level. I also absolutely love the feel on Koryn's verse; just the way it drops into her vocals and the bare percussion behind it on the first half really grabs me. I had a little bit of a hard time with it because I can't decide if the subject matter is ambiguous or not. As in, talking to God or another person at times. But that rap in the middle is so good.
I actually wasn't clear before: I think "Party In The Hills" is the best song, but that "I'll Find You" will win, purely because of the star power and the worthy cause it's attached too. Also, 23 million YouTube views doesn't hurt! I am a huge Switchfoot fan, so it speaks to how good these other songs are that "Shine Like Gold" isn't number one for me.
I had the honor of reviewing Steven Malcom's debut album earlier this year, so "Party In The Hills" holds a special place in my heart (and playlist). I don't think it's the best song on his album, but it crosses genres so well and is just a fun song to jam to. Hollyn is always a blast to listen to, and I love how Malcolm isn't afraid to show his sense of humor. The fact that the song also shows up on Hollyn's album is a testament to how good the collaboration is.
I had heard "Party In The Hills" a fair amount, and when I went through to listen to these, I just couldn't get away from the hook that Hollyn sings. Even when I wanted it to go away, it just wouldn't. I think Mineo's verse is pretty creative too.
What do you think of "Shine Like Gold" and "Right On Time?" I felt like "Right On Time" by Aaron Cole was decent song, but Toby's part is what gets it the nomination.
Full transparency: TobyMac was my favorite artist growing up. Fifteen years after Momentum, he hasn't lost a step. I absolutely love his verse on "Right On Time." It could make even the most introverted of us want to bob their head and tap their feet. The video, which came out in late September, already has over one million views on YouTube, so I wouldn't be surprised if this one pulled off an upset. Never underestimate the star presence of TobyMac. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of the collaborations between Cole and Mac.
Switching gears, do you think that Switchfoot's and Lifehouse's collab "Shine Like Gold" will have an increased chance of winning due to the major impact the song had after Hurricane Harvey? The song alone raised over $54,000 in its first week. That's no small feat.
I second your sentiments about Toby. I just can't believe that the best/most well-known rapper in Christian music is a white guy in his 50s! It really shows how talented he is.
I do think that "Shine Like Gold" has a chance because of what you mentioned. It takes a special brand and talent to record something like that and get it released in the middle of a tour, and it speaks to how big those 2 bands are that it reached that far and raised that much so quickly. I am the biggest Switchfoot proponent in the world, but I'd say it's a ways from the top of their catalog. It is pretty cool to hear Jason Wade sing a Switchfoot verse though. Also, it could be the last recording we hear from Switchfoot for awhile, so that is significant.
That is huge, and I think that will have an impact on voting. Hopefully Switchfoot fans show up to support the guys. Their impact on the music industry has been tremendous, and it would be a great honor to earn this award this year.
If I had to pick who will win, I definitely think it comes down to either Switchfoot or Lecrae based on how large their fanbases are. I do think Lecrae has the edge due to how much ground "I'll Find You" has covered this year. What's your final prediction? Are you sticking to that as well?
I am in the same boat as you. I think Lecrae has the edge because of the sheer popularity of that song, and I think Tori Kelly's visibility has risen lately, too. Switchfoot has been around for so long, though, that their fans could come out in force. I think "Party In The Hills" has a change because of the 3 collaborators and because I feel like I've heard the song everywhere lately.
Do you agree with John and Micah? Vote for Best Collaboration and 23 other categories now through Jan. 26, 2018, at weloveawards.com! Your votes determine the winners, and you can vote as often and as much as you want!
Assembled from the four corners of North America and many other corners in between, the NRTeam is comprised of staffers whose energy is equally dispersed towards loving music and writing about the music they love.
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