The one-word song title conveys a certain sense of bravado. It is an artist’s way of saying, “Out of all the words in the English language, I’ve found the very core. The black-hole singularity. The optimus prime.” How did a certain Mr. Nelson solidify himself as a musical genius? He changed his name to one word (Prince) and produced the (technically) one-word-titled 1999. How did U2 take over Live Aid and become a worldwide phenomenon? I can answer in one word: “Bad.” How did they follow that up? With another one-word title: “One!” Here, then, are some of the most important one-word song titles in contemporary Christian music history.
10. P.O.D., “Boom “
Now that’s how to use a single-word title. Boom! Enough said. P.O.D.’s anthem spent ten weeks on Billboard’s alternative chart in 2002.
9. Third Day, “Thief”
Was there ever a song better suited for Mac Powell’s vocal? Set to haunting piano, this Easter song really does convey its heart through the title.
8. Steven Curtis Chapman, “Dive”
“Dive”, from the one-word titled Speechless, released in 1999? Of course it was a mega-hit! I’ll bet you have that bouncy synth running through your ears right now.
7. NEEDTOBREATHE (feat. Gavin DeGraw), “Brother “
Listen to the intro for this song from the band’s excellent Live From The Woods to get a full sense of its importance to the legacy of NEEDTOBREATHE. And if you have a brother, drop him a line of encouragement.
6. Lecrae, “Killa”
By 2010’s Rehab, Lecrae had entered the mainstream consciousness and become the rare hip-hop artist to crack the CHR genre. “Killa” established the album’s strong theme, and gets bonus points for being a one-word song title that’s even shorter than the word it represents.
[Author’s Note: Let’s pause this list right here in the middle to give an antithetical shout-out to David Crowder*Band, who so eschewed the unity of this list that they created a song entitled: “(Repeat/return) Or When The Seventh Angel Sounded His Trumpet, And There Were Loud Voices in Heaven, Which Said: ‘The Kingdom of the World Has Become the Kingdom of Our Lord and of His Christ, and He Will Reign Forever and ever, Etc…’. Don’t you think for a second that “Undignified” makes up for this in any way, Mr. Crowder.]
5. Rich Mullins, “Creed”
Christian music’s revered bard left this statement of faith on his masterpiece, A Liturgy, A Legacy, & A Ragamuffin Band. Setting the Apostles’ Creed to hammered dulcimer? Sounds just like Rich.
4. God’s Property & Kirk Franklin, “Stomp”
G.P. are you wit’ me? This was the punch in the gut for “those that think that gospel music has gone too far.” Never has a one-word single title worked so well in the song itself. It makes me wanna—wait for it for just a beat—stomp!
3. Newsboys, “Shine”
The song that topped our recent Newsboys ranking is the only bonafide classic that can claim to name-drop Oprah and rhyme “ballet” with “happy.”
2. Jars of Clay, “Flood”
Jars exploded onto the national scene with this driving deluge, on an album that deserves extra credit on this list for its other notables: “Liquid,” “Sinking,” “He,” and “Blind.”
1. Michael W. Smith, “Friends”
There is a strict line of demarcation formed by the very first line of this classic. Walk into any multi-generational church setting and sing, “Packing up the dreams God planted” and you’ll see three groups form right away: one (the youngest) will offer blank stares, one will groan, and the last will wave their hands near their face as if to fan away tears of heartfelt recognition. That’s the sort of emotion that earns Smitty the coveted No. 1 spot.