Friday Fives: The Top Five Most Dominant Contemporary Christian Albums in History

Years ago I was in the broadcasting industry and I remember attending a conference in which the topic of the discussion was, what makes an album (now an ancient concept) truly classic or dominant? Some argued that it should be total album sales, plain and simple. Others said that the measure was the number of hit songs from the particular album.

I felt the most compelling argument for a truly classic or dominant album was the number of weeks the album spent at number one, specifically, number one on the Billboard Magazine charts. Billboard still is the most widely published and recognized music industry publication. When an album is consistently at the top of the sales/playlist charts repeatedly, it has the kind of staying power that implies dominance. It means that listeners are not being impacted by just one or two “hits”, specifically, but by the album as a whole.

So, what if we applied those parameters to Contemporary Christian albums? Which would be the most dominant going back to the birth of Contemporary Christian genre in the late 60’s? That’s the topic of this week’s Friday Fives.

Before beginning, it’s important to note that, for many, the concept of an album is fading. As Internet-based music expands and, specifically, as sources such as iTunes, Spotify and Pandora dominate, the concept of purchasing and listening to a 10 or 12-song set as it was formed into an an album by its producers is becoming more and more foreign. So the days of an album as an entity may be over. Still…

The Top 5 most dominant Christian albums in history.

#5: Switchfoot/The Beautiful Letdown

Weeks at #1: 38
Years on Billboard Charts: 2004-2005
Quick Note: Ranked #195 on Billboard’s Hot 200 Albums of the Decade. Not Christian albums, but albums overall.
Noteworthy Songs: Meant to Live, This is Your Life, Dare You to Move


#4: DC Talk/Free At Last

Weeks at #1: 38
Years on Billboard Charts: 1993-1994
Quick Note: Won the Grammy for Best Rock Gospel Album in 1993.
Noteworthy Songs: Jesus is Just Alright, Lean on Me, Luv is a Verb, The Hardway 

#3: Amy Grant/Straight Ahead

Weeks at #1: 61
Years on Billboard Charts: 1984-1985
Quick Note: This is considered by many to be the first true “Contemporary Christian crossover” album since it was the first Christian album to appear on the Billboard (secular) pop album chart.
Noteworthy Songs: Thy Word, Jehovah, Doubly Good to You, Angels 

#2: Sandi Patti/Morning Like This

Weeks at #1: 68
Years on Billboard Charts: 1986-1988
Quick Note: Won a 1987 Grammy for Best Gospel Performance, for “Morning Like This”
Noteworthy Songs: Hosanna, Let There Be Praise, Was it a Morning Like This 

#1: Amy Grant/Age to Age

Weeks at #1: 85
Years on Billboard Charts: 1982-1984
Quick Note: In fairness to modern music, the days when one album could last in the top slot on the Billboard chart for almost two years are likely over. The music industry, the competitive landscape (especially for Christian music) and consumer buying as mentioned above are just too different than they were in 1982, or even 1992 or 2002. Still, Age to Age deserves its place with such works as Keith Green’s For Him Who Has Ears to Hear, DC Talk’s Jesus FreakKirk Franklin’s The Nu Nation Project and the others on this list as a truly dominant Christian album

Noteworthy Songs: El Shaddai, Sing Your Praise to the Lord, In A Little While