Michael W. Smith

The First Decade: 1983-1993 [Reunion]

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When Michael W. Smith made a move for a secular audience, he didn't seem to alienate his core contemporary Christian fan base as much as peer Amy Grant did, and the reason might be that he takes the spoonful-of-sugar tack when spreading his message: He seamlessly creates pop music with messages that sometimes subtly and sometimes not-so-subtly hark back to God. On "Go West Young Man" he could just as easily be referring to Israel as California as he advises to go west when evil tempts you east; on "Old Enough to Know" he urges a young girl to abstain, which is certainly a Christian way of thinking, but it also applies to any teenager in the world; "Rocketown" could be Sodom as well as a seedy part of any town; and his biggest Top 40 hit, "A Place in This World," could refer to simply fitting in or finding God. Much of contemporary Christian music is better pop than most pop, and Smith leads the pack with enviable hooks, production, vocals, and A-list co-writers like Grant, Diane Warren, and Wayne Fitzpatrick. Though it includes some cuts that rely too much on synthesizer-driven production ("Emily," "Friends"), this greatest-hits package is testament to his strengths and his success at spreading the word of God to both Christian and secular audiences.

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