Monday, November 24, 2014

#95 STRONG GOD - by the Vertical Church Band

*Andy Note: A new blog feature, Andy's Extras, is now online. Just click the tab above.

Last time on the countdown, I ask you a simple question: If you could only buy the music of one worship artist, who would you buy right now? Furthermore, I told you that the next song on the list would by MY choice if I could only buy one CD right now. So, did you figure out who it is? C'mon, take a guess. Here's a hint: it's right at the top of the page.

So, did you guess the Vertical Church Band? If so, then you'd be... WRONG! Gotcha! I know what you're thinking, you're thinking, "What?? Has Andy gone completely mad? He made us think one thing, and then went a whole different direction. This has to be a bigger twist than the end of The Usual Suspects. Man, is my mind blown. Andy keeping us on our toes is why I keep coming back to this blog. You Da Man, Andy!".

All right, I'm pretty sure no one's thinking that. So, here's the deal. I'm going to use the Vertical Church Band video for this song at the bottom, but the real artist who is my favorite right now is Vertical's front-person, Meredith Andrews. There isn't anyone in worship music right now who I'd believe would deliver an entire album of great music more than Meredith Andrews (runner-up - the Jennie Crawford Ugandan Worship Experience). 

Meredith Andrews Fun Fact: Her two children are named Maverick and Remington. 
Maverick is cool, I guess, but Remington - ugh. Why didn't she just name him 'Beat me up, push my face in a puddle, and take my lunch money', because the end result is going to be the same. 

ASIDE: Hey, why don't parents just name their kids normal names? Steve's a good name. How about Todd? True story: I have a cousin whose name is Brik. Yep, his dad (Mike, by the way), named him Brik. So what does Brik do, he goes even further and names HIS kid Wraith. (I'm not even kidding about this). My guess is this will get even worse, I mean, what does Wraith name his kid, Shotgun Motorcycle Heartpunch?  

The song Strong God was co-written by Meredith Andrews and Desperation Band's Jon Egan, and was released in 2013, which is problematic because I specifically said that worship songs needed the element of time to be considered the best of 'all-time'. But, since I already sort of broke this rule with Forever by Kari Jobe, I figure 'In for a penny, in for some poundcake'.

Back to Meredith. Her latest album, Worth It All, was released in January 2013, and it is, in a word, dense. I just have an 8 GB iPod, so I have to pick and choose which songs go on it, as opposed to just throwing whole albums on it, since it's not big enough. I'm looking at the song list for Worth It All, and I can tell you that I have 9 of the 11 songs from the album on my iPod. That's like 50%, if my math is correct.

So, you may ask, how is it that I have 9 out of 11 songs from an album, but I've never heard the other two songs. That's a funny story actually, and here I'm defining 'funny' as not funny at all and pretty uninteresting. It all started when I had to take the ferry to McAlisterville and I was wearing an onion on my belt...

I have TONS of good music in my iTunes, so usually while I'm working on the computer I like to listen to internet radio or Pandora so that I can listen to music that I don't really know. At one time, my favorite station was Praise FM. If I heard a song I liked, I'd write it down and go get it later.

Well, for a time there, almost every good song I'd look up and write down turned out to be by Meredith Andrews, who I barely knew at the time. Seems the reason was that Praise FM was hosting a concert with Meredith Andrews and was playing her non-stop. So each time I heard a new good song, I'd go get it. I just kept getting all the songs one at a time as I heard them. And that's the thrilling story of how I have 9 out of 11 songs off Worth It All, but I've never heard the other two.

NOTE ON PRAISE FM: When you listen to Praise FM in iTunes, the title and artist of the song DO NOT come up in your iTunes. If you want to know who's singing, you have to go to the Praise FM web site and look it up. Really Praise FM??? In this day and age you can't get iTunes to list the song that's playing? C'mon. I mean, what am I, Charles Ingalls here, having to send Half-pint down to the river for clean water? Get it together, Praise FM.

For me, Meredith Andrews hits the sweet spot of worship songs that sort of sound like pop songs, as I mentioned in this post about Natalie Grant's Awaken. Unlike Natalie Grant, however, Meredith Andrews has some serious worship chops. Fronting a big-time worship outfit like Vertical is not a task to be taken up by some wannabe pop princess. (Perhaps she could find someone named Remington to play tamborine. - Gosh, I hope Meredith Andrews never reads this).

I had a guy build this shelf for my cats. This is what it looks like if you walk by my house.

Another great thing about Meredith Andrews, she has the very rare ability to make her studio stuff sound BETTER than the live versions of stuff. Do you guys remember when Darlene Zschech starting coming out with her solo stuff. Some of it was nice and pretty decent, but all in all it missed the oomph that you get with the full Hillsong orchestration and 10,000 people in a live setting. 

As I mentioned, I'm using Vertical Church's live version of Strong God for my blog here, because it's more visually appealing for you guys than 6 minutes of Meredith's album cover; but on my iPod I have the Worth It All studio version, because I like it better. It's not easy to take a live church version of a song into the studio and make it better, but Meredith Andrews seems to do it all the time.

I'm also pretty excited because if you do the 'Christian Artist Release Date' math, Meredith should be coming out with a new CD pretty soon, since her last one was almost two years ago. Alas, my excitement is tempered somewhat when I found out that she released a Christmas EP last fall.

Unfortunately, when an artist releases Christmas album, it usually means that they've jumped the shark and their career is over. (exception that proves the rule: Amy Grant). Not many people know this, but in the autumn of 1969, The Beatles co-released a Christmas album called Yoko Does Jesus, which of course flopped tremendously. The Beatles broke up a few months later.

We can only hope this curse doesn't come up and bite Kim Walker-Smith in the butt. Actually, I'm guessing we should hope that nothing bites Kim Walker-Smith in the butt, that would be painful. Unless it's a hamster, that would probably be kinda cute. Although, don't hamsters have rabies? I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere. You know what, if you have a hamster, flush him down the toilet, just to be safe.

Oh Great! Now I'm gonna be on the 6:00 News. I can see the anchor opening the segment with "Is the Internet Harming Our Kids", and then he goes on to tell the story of little 6 year old Timmy, who flushed the beloved family Hamster 'Captain Furball' down the toilet because of something he read on the Internet. Eh, at least his parents named him 'Timmy' instead of 'Filing Cabinet'.

Wow, that was long, I think I broke a record here. Well, here's the video for the song. I award bonus points to Vertical Church because their logo looks like a patch that Tom Cruise might have been awarded in the movie Top Gun. Hey, wait a sec, maybe that's why Meredith Andrews named her kid Maverick. It all makes sense now.

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