2020 has been quite a year, hasn't it? 2000 seems like a lifetime away, but for many, 20 years can be a lifetime. Every year, Christmas brings with it the renewed promise brought by Christ's birth. As we head toward another Christmas, we close out this year's retrospective of albums turning 20 in 2020 with a special look at popular Christmas singles and albums that are also turning 20 this year.
Joy Williams - "2000 Decembers Ago"
Before she achieved mainstream success as part of The Civil Wars, Joy Williams enjoyed a moderately successful run in the Christian music industry. Two of her Christmas songs are modern classics. While perhaps better known for "Here With Us," "2000 Decembers Ago" is no less passionate. With a haunting hook and a truly emotional delivery, Williams belts out one of the top original Christmas tunes of our generation. Featured on the rare compilation A Christmas Reunion, the song is a bit of a rarity, but still enjoys some love from radio stations every Christmas season. This could be one of the best Christmas songs turning 20 that you've never heard.
Faith Hill - "Where Are You Christmas?"
Jim Carrey's How The Grinch Stole Christmas film from 2000 is beloved by many and derided by others. One thing it is noted for is that it gave the debut of the popular "Where Are You Christmas?" song. Faith Hill's country roots have periodically been imbued with faith. This Christmas ballad of longing might not be the most blatant homage to the Birth of Christ, but it's depiction of longing for the joy that Christmas brings has perhaps never been as relevant as it is in 2020. For those who love this now iconic song, celebrate its 20th birthday with a fresh listen.
Avalon - Joy: A Christmas Collection
Anyone familiar with Christian radio in the late 90s and early 2000s will remember Avalon. They had hit after hit and boasted the popular sounds of the era. With all four members contributing to vocals, they regularly provided fresh and varied hits that captivated fans. Their 2000 Christmas project offered a lot of unexpected listening treats. There are covers of lesser-done songs like David Meece's "We Are The Reason," Celine Dion's "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day," or Mariah Carey's other Christmas original "Jesus Born On This Day." (Which should be just as popular as the one everyone and their mother covers every holiday season.) Renditions of popular carols round out the collection, as well as the hopeful "Light A Candle."
Yolanda Adams - Christmas With Yolanda Adams
This would be the first Christmas album from Gospel singer Yolanda Adams. Filled with her take on popular Christmas standards as well as original "Born This Day," the album proved to satisfy fans and notched solid positions on several Billboard Christian and Mainstream sales charts.
Crystal Lewis - Holiday! A Collection of Christmas Classics
Crystal Lewis was one of the big names of Contemporary Christian Music in the 90s and 2000s. This was the first of her two Christmas albums and gifted fans a relaxed jazzy style of their holiday favorites. Whether it is classic carols like "What Child Is This" or more modern holiday fare like "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," Lewis' signature vocals offer a unique and festive feeling that should give fans a good excuse to revisit this as it turns 20.
Newsong - "The Christmas Shoes"
This is the one. The most polarizing song in Christmas music history. Maybe you love its emotional story of selfless love. Maybe you hate its blatant emotional manipulation. Maybe you just hate things that make you cry at Christmas. One thing you can't deny, though, is the immense success of this song. Newsong was relatively popular in their own right in the Christian music industry, and their annual presence on their Winter Jam Tour Spectacular has kept their ministry alive decades longer than many of their fellow bands from the 80s and 90s. But perhaps nothing defines their success as much as this song. Even to this day, secular radio stations play this song alongside classics from Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey.
This schmaltzy ballad about how a little boy's odd gift choice for his dying mother inspires a guy missing the point of the season to have an epiphany is heard in secular venues around the country every year. Not to mention the success of the book and film series associated with the song.
Whatever you think of this song, its impact on the mainstream these past 20 years is undeniably commendable.
Fun fact: Despite this commercial success, the song wasn't given a certification by the Recording Industry Association of America until this past summer, when the song was officially Certified Gold.
J.J. Francesco is a longtime contributor to the NRT Staff. He's published the novel 'Because of Austin' and regularly seeks new ways to engage faith, life, and community.
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