Review of Amy Grants’ “Icon” Album
Amy Grant needs no introduction. Depending on how you look at it, she could either be Contemporary Christian music's (CCM) Apostle Paul or Judas Iscariot. She was essentially the first CCM artist to have secured two Billboard Hot 100 number one hits "The Next Time I Fall (with Peter Cetera)" and "Baby Baby." She is the only CCM artist to have a five time platinum album (selling over five million copies). And she's the only artist to be able to still have a #1 record on Billboard's Christian chart since 1979 (Incidentally her first Christian #1 record was 1979's "Father Eyes" and her most recent was 2009's duet with Matthew West "Give This Christmas Away"). Many of her fans see her as CCM's Apostle Paul. Just like the Apostle Paul took the Gospel to the unreached Gentile heathens, Grant took her music to the hinterland of pop music exposing them to Christ. On the other hand, there are others who threw stones her way, seeing her as a modern day Judas who sold out her Gospel roots for greater wealth and fame. Regardless of how you view Grant, she's left an indelible mark on both the secular and the religious markets. To help celebrate her iconic status in music, A&M Records has released a compilation collection of her hits simply entitled "Icon."
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"Icon" is Grant's third compilation collection. Unlike her previous two, "Icon" does not contain any previously unreleased songs or remixes or live cuts. Further, it encapsulates a smaller sliver of Grants' career. All the songs here are garnered from Grant's heyday (1991 to 2003) when she was the reigning queen of the pop charts. Therefore out of the 11 cuts: four of them were lifted from her most successful "Hearts in Motion" (1991), one from "House of Love" (1994), four from "Behind the Eyes" (1998) and two from "Simple Things" (2003). The compilers behind this opus obviously spared very little thought in putting together this CD. Instead of creatively selecting the tracks to be included, the songs that made it onto the disc are the most commercially successful singles. Thus, some of Grants more contemplative and Christian songs are not represented here. Yet, for those who would want to take a nostalgic stroll through the nineties, there's much to enjoy here.
The ball that started Grant rolling onto the red carpet of pop music was her 1991 blockbuster "Heart in Motion." An album that sold over 5 million copies, "Heart in Motion" was set in motion with the #1 hit "Baby Baby." Inspired by her six-month old daughter Millie, "Baby Baby" is a piece of infectiously catchy pop that has a melody that cleaves on to you at first listen. Basking in the flurries of love is "Every Heartbeat." Rounding off the "Heart in Motion" album are two adult contemporary ballads "I Will Remember You" and "That's What Love Is." The former was revived after 9/11 and has since brought healing to many victims of the tragedy. Surprisingly, from her double platinum "House of Love" only the title cut is represented here. "House of Love" bears all the right check marks: gorgeous melody, a grooving flow and the perfect blend of voices between Grant and later her husband Vince Gill.
1998's "Behind the Eyes" is Grant's most secular album where the notion of Jesus is only hinted but never mentioned. "I Will be Your Friend" hints on Christ's friendship though on a cursory level it is more a song addressing human relationships. And the record is also darker in theme evidenced by the bluesy heartbreak of "Cry a River." Closing off "Icon" are two tracks from her most adult contemporary "Simple Things." The title cut "Simple Things" is a breezy fun lighthearted anthem about not taking the 'simple things" in life for granted. While "Happy" is as fluffy as the title suggests. Though not representative of her artistic (and spiritual) best, "Icon" does capture Grant at her commercial best with most of her biggest hits here.
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