Various Artists

Dove Hits 2003

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DOVE HITS 2003 collects tracks that were nominated for 2003 Dove Awards, which are Contemporary Christian music's equivalent of the secular record industry's annual Grammy Awards. Consequently, the disc is an excellent sampling of the most popular and acclaimed recordings from the year in question, with the addition of several bonus tracks and a "We Are The World"-style all-star recording of Michael W. Smith's classic song "Friends." The latter track, which apparently has become something of a standard at high school graduation ceremonies, was chosen in honor of legend Smith's 20th year in the Christian music recording industry.

The rest of the album tends toward a distinctly modern sound, with many of the tracks sounding virtually indistinguishable from secular Top 40 radio. Particular standouts are the always-rockin' Third Day, which has been called "the Christian Lynyrd Skynyrd" (but, with its sharp pop sensibility is actually closer to .38 Special) and former DC Talk front man tobyMac (a.k.a. Toby McKeehan) who comes off like the bizarro world Eminem, spewing positive messages rather than smug sensationalism.

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