In our special 8TH ANNUAL WE LOVE CHRISTIAN MUSIC AWARDS editorial series, members of the NRT staff have a back-and-forth discussion about this year's nominees. In Part 2 of our series, NRT Contributors Jake Frederick and Ryan Adams talk about the Rock categories in this year's awards: Rock Song of the Year and The Amp Award (Rock/Alternative Album of the Year).
Jake: Ryan, as the resident NRT rock dude, you've been keeping an eye on what's been happening in Christian Rock. Reporting on it, even. (If you haven't read the Rock Report, pause this, and head over there and give it a quick read.) What do you think about the nominees for the Amp Award and Rock Song of the Year?
Ryan: Thanks, Jake. There have been some real solid releases this year--especially with Rockfest Records showing up this year. They have signed on great artists and helped make a significant impact on this year's awards. It is also nice to see a couple independent artists rocking it with the best as well.
Jake: Rockfest is definitely representing this year. What I find interesting is that most of the nominees from both of these categories are industry veterans. Random Hero is the newest artist out of the batch. And they've been around for a few years now. It's almost like being at least a decade old is one of the qualifications for the award. (It's not, just to note.)
Ryan: That is an interesting observation. They also are not the only ones from Rockfest Records deserving of an award either, just to clarify. Their crew is talented throughout. And, I love seeing long-time rockers still deserving of their nominations, not showing signs of slowing down.
Jake: Let's talk about The Amp Award first. I think the group that surprised me the most was Random Hero. Even though I've been listening to these guys for a few years now after I heard them at a festival, it took me a few weeks to listen to their new album, Tension. I guess I didn't know what I was missing. It brought in some flavors I haven't heard in a while. Skillet and Disciple had some high expectations. And, I think that they hit those expectations.
Ryan: Two primary factors stand out to me with great albums. Either they have a consistent, strong sound, or they are successfully experimental and try new things. I agree with you on Random Hero. Their signing on with Rockfest Records brought out the best of them. Seventh Day Slumber and Skillet had expectations. And, like you mentioned, they met those expectations well.
Manafest has tended to experiment with his style, but retains his signature rap and rock blend. He delivered a satisfying and impressive creation with his new album, This Is Not The End. Disciple's new album Love Letter Kill Shot was an example of a successful experimental album. This never pleases everyone. Yet, I love some of their new sounds, lyrical styles, and even some vocal surprises.
Jake: I really can't argue with any of the nominees. All of them are solid. My only hope is that there will be a few newbies on the list next year.
Ryan: I agree. Some more upcoming artists would be great to see rise to the top. Fans will have a fun time deciding who to vote for.
Jake: For the Rock Song Of The Year, I'm a little bias in this area. But, I'd like to see what you think about this list.
Ryan: I hope we do not have a similar bias, then. There is a great variety in these nominees--both musically and lyrically. You have an anthem from Skillet ("Legendary"), a war cry from Seventh Day Slumber ("Alive Again"), a concept-based song from Red ("The Evening Hate"), an experimental song that includes guest vocals from Disciple ("Panic Room"), and a theologically-sound metal song from Demon Hunter ("On My Side"). I personally appreciate seeing Demon Hunter in the nominees. They have a loyal fanbase. But, they also have an often-overlooked aspect about them because they do not tour much and are generally a quiet band on social media. I think there really is something for everyone in this nominee list.
Jake: You're definitely right, there. I think that the Rock Song of the Year award is going to come down to the preference of rock. I think it's like a product finder you see for an online retailer: Are you a Metal kind of person? Hard rock? Melodic? Lyrics? Your song is...
Ryan: It kind of is. Similarly to those product finders, the fans have other categories to "shop" in and choose their favorites as well. My personal pick ends up being "Panic Room" by Disciple, even though I gave Demon Hunter that shout-out. The song is very musically creative and lyrically vulnerable. Even to the point of bringing in guest vocals (Andrew Schwab of Project 86), which is unheard of for Disciple, who added extra power the song. Kevin Young is one of the most passionate artists I have ever seen and listened to.
Jake: I am going to be unashamed in my pick: "Legendary" by Skillet. Part of it is getting to meet the band for a podcast episode, but the anthem in there is undeniable. As soon as the intro starts, you're waiting for that first power cord to hit and that guitar lead is so distinct. I know what's going to happen, but I'm super pumped every time I hear it. I think it will be one of the iconic songs of the year overall. This is the only choice for this award. Everything else is wrong.
Ryan: "Legendary" is a very pumped-up song. It has most waves across stadiums as well. Although, that is quite the bold statement. We will see if the fans agree with you there, Jake.
Jake: I'm honestly a little disappointed. I thought I'd get a little more pushback from you. No defense for your pick? Seriously though, each of these songs belongs here and has a good shot at taking the award.
Ryan: They definitely deserve their nominations. I'm excited to see which songs and albums have made an impact on their fans.
Jake: For sure. The good thing about this is that we don't have to make the decision. It's up to the voters now.
Ryan: I couldn't agree with you more. Let the voters decide their favorites, not us.
NOTE: Voting is now open through Friday, January 31, 2020 at WeLoveAwards.com. Winners will be announced during our Facebook Live broadcast from Visible Music College's Memphis campus on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.
Jake is a longtime fan of Christian music, Jesus Freak Cruiser, a techie, and a softball player. He lives in Texas with his wife and daughter. Ryan Adams grew up in Boise, Idaho for most of his life. He fell in love with rock and metal music through his high school best friend. He currently lives in Ohio and loves sharing his passion of music with NewReleaseToday.
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