A few weeks back, we looked at ten albums that are celebrating their twentieth anniversary this year and now we're looking at another ten. 1999 was an incredible year for Christian music as the effects of dc Talk's Jesus Freak in 1995 continued to impact the entire industry. For the next decade, Christian music would morph from it's Jesus Movement roots, to a massive money-making industry as mainstream record and entertainment companies invested resources to break some of the biggest bands ever in Christian music.
Twenty years ago saw debuts from artists like Sonicflood, Chevelle and Bebo Norman and also found bands in the middle of their creative best. Jars Of Clay, Newsboys, Switchfoot, Audio Adrenaline, Steven Curtis Chapman and Third Day released albums that remain some of their best albums to date.
If you were listening to music in 1999, this two-part article should take you right back to a year packed with some great albums. And if you're younger, or newer to the Christian music scene, take some time to revisit these new classics. They are all worth your ear and together, capture one incredible year in Christian music history.
11. Steven Curtis Chapman - Speechless (Released June 3, 1999)
Known as one of his most successful albums to date, Steven Curtis Chapman's ninth album, Speechless, continues to hold up two decades later. Showcasing many of Steven's biggest hits such as "Fingerprints of God," "Speechless" and "Great Expectations." My childhood favorite, "Dive," was recently re-recorded and went to No. 1 at Bluegrass radio making it his 49th No. 1 hit! From the opening track to the final notes, the storytelling and messages showcased throughout the album still resonates greatly with many listeners. Steven Curtis Chapman has always been one of my favorite artists and Speechless shows off his amazing writing and vocal strength making it one of Steven's best albums yet. –Bradden Ford
12. Out Of Eden - No Turning Back (Released June 15, 2019)
If you have been around CCM/Urban Gospel for a while then you know Out of Eden. This is a group that Gotee Records took a chance on and they made quite a buzz and an impression on youth and youth adults. However, when No Turning Back came out, I was in awe! This was the coming of age album for Out of Eden. This album delved farther in the Urban/R&B genre for Out of Eden and showcased more of their maturity and versatility. How is THIS album twenty years old now?! Songs like the pumping (yet encouraging), "Tomorrow" and the banger "Lookin' for Love" were ones that could be played at youth group meetings to get the crowd hype. Yet, there were so many other gems on the album and they have actually aged very well. "Window" is on my workout list while "Here's My Heart" is still as smooth as ever. These ladies broke racial barriers in the CCM industry and then begin to make headway in the Gospel music industry. Go ahead and listen to No Turning Back and be reminded (or introduced) to the fact that Out of Eden were the truth! –Dwayne Lacy
13. P.O.D. - Fundamental Elements of Southtown (August 17, 1999)
Listening to this album 20 years, it reminds me how young I once was. This is the album that made P.O.D a big influence to the Nu Metal scene that took place in the early 2000s. Every song is a great song to play if you enjoy bands like Papa Roach and Limp Bizkit. The song "Southtown" remains one of P.O.D's top songs to date. I would definitely recommend this album to anyone. –Brendan Burke
14. Third Day - Time (August 24, 1999)
This is the album that hooked me on Third Day. I loved the self-titled debut, especially "Love Song" and "Thief," but Time is on my list of top 10 best Christian albums ever. Third Day pioneered the Christian Southern Rock genre and influenced DecembeRadio, Big Daddy Weave and NEEDTOBREATHE. The opening track "I've Always Loved You" is a fantastic song about God's love, and gets the album rolling along with "Believe" and the rocking "Sky Falls Down" and "Don't Say Goodbye," both written by guitarist Mark Lee, who won a Dove Award for song of the year with "Sky Falls Down." My favorite song ever by Third Day is "Your Love Oh Lord" based on Psalm 36 and just enhances this excellent album. –Kevin McNeese
15. Audio Adrenaline - Underdog (August 26, 1999)
Audio Adrenaline returned as the band we knew and loved with this release. Returning to the roots of Audio A. Underdog took the listener through rock, latin, dance, R&B, soul, and even rockabilly while surfing over twelve amazing songs. Being the first record totally produced by the band, they had some fun with this one. You have your signature hit ("Get Down"), your touching ballad ("Hands and Feet") your popular remake, even if it is your own song ("DC-10") and your make-no-sense-but-hey-it's-fun-song ("The Houseplant Song"). It was all the good makings for an excellent album from a band that's greatly missed on the scene today. –Kevin McNeese
16. Bebo Norman - Ten Thousand Days (September 24, 1999) [KM]
Bebo is easily one of my favorite male vocalists of all time and it was a sad day when he announced his retirement from music in 2013. This was Bebo's debut album on Essential Records, founded and signed by Cliff Young of Caedmon's Call, and started a 14-year career that produced nine full-length albums. Few artists can carry a track with just vocals and acoustic guitar, but Bebo does it beautifully here with just light production and additional instrumentation. His songs are timeless, his messages are biblically solid and poetic and the album is just as strong today as it was twenty years ago. –Kevin McNeese
17. Bleach - Bleach (October 21, 1999)
Bleach's 1999 self-titled album (affectionately known in my house as 'the couch cd') marked a change and maturation in the band's sound that would define it until it's eventual hiatus in 2005. It was a bold move after an established style brought a string of hits from 1996-98 including 'Perfect Family,' 'Epidermis Girl,' and of course 'Super Good Feeling,' but the more straight-ahead rock sound combined with less processed vocals brought the band new fans as well as some eventual mainstream success. Of particular note on Bleach are four straight ahead rockers to open the record ('Heartbeat,' 'Straight Shooter,' 'Once Again Here We Are,' 'Race') that announced the new direction in no uncertain terms, and heartfelt ballad 'What Will Your Anthem Be,' one of the final songs the band played at their farewell show. Songs from this record could be heard up and down any Bleach show even during later album cycles, and it's honest writing and polished rock sound hold up 20 years later. –John Hisel
18. Jars of Clay - If I Left the Zoo (November 9, 1999)
Two albums in, Jars of Clay had established themselves as one of the most artistic presences in Christian music. With the "honeymoon phase" officially behind them, Jars set out to do something different. With their most stripped down approach yet, the JoC boys crafted an acoustic-driven album that produced classic hits such as "Unforgetful You" as well as other fan favorites such as "Can't Erase It" and "Collide." While not as accessible as some of their other offerings, it grows on you with subsequent listens and still holds up well all these years later. Hindsight hasn't landed this one near the top of many "Best Jars of Clay Album" lists. Nonetheless, it serves as a thoughtful milestone in the career of one of Christian music's most fascinating musical acts. –Jonathan Francesco
19. Newsboys - Love Liberty Disco (November 16, 1999)
Many people may have forgotten that in 1999, the Newsboys did a disco throwback album. Say what? While this one often gets lost in the shuffle of the commercial success the band saw during the Furler era, it offers some toe-tapping goodness to make even the most cynical listeners want to hit the dancefloor. "Beautiful Sound" still found its way to some radio success but the album's real gem is the title track. Filled with enough energy to power an 80's Travolta musical, this throwback track is a unique and sadly overlooked change of pace for our favorite Aussies. If you missed this one back in the day, the United era makes a great excuse to revisit it. –Jonathan Francesco
20. Michael W. Smith - This Is Your Time (November 23, 1999)
The Columbine High School shooting tragedy provided the backstory for the title track of Michael W. Smith's fourteenth studio album. That song would come to be one of Michael's most gut-retching moving tracks as he told the story of shooting victim Cassie Bernall who was killed for answering "yes" to the question, "Do you believe in God?" The album provides some great late 90s pop in the form of "Worth It All," "Hey You It's Me" and "Reach Out To Me," along with popular ballad "I Will Be Your Friend" and the album would serve as the final foray into the pop world until 2005's Healing Rain which ushered in his next decade focused on worship. Michael is still going strong today wrapping up his busiest year in decades releasing two new records last year along with a Children's book and multiple tours. There's still plenty of worship and songwriting coming out of one of Christian music's most iconic artists. –Kevin McNeese
The NRT editorial staff is scattered across the United States and Canada, unified by our love for Christian music and editorial excellence.
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