The Year in Gospel: Lecrae Dominates, Christian Rap/Hip-Hop Policy Revised
Jamie Grace's long-running hit single "Beautiful Day" finishes 2014 as the year's No. 1 Hot Gospel Song. That chart-topping finish was encouraged by its handsome 20-week run at No. 1 atop the weekly multi-metric Hot Gospel Songs chart. (For good measure, the song also hit No. 3 on the weekly Hot Christian Songs tally in January.)
Women account for almost half of the artists in the top 10 on Hot Gospel Songs Artists list for the year -- Tamela Mann ranks at No. 4, Tasha Cobbs ranks at No. 5, while Michelle Williams ranks at No. 10. "Beautiful Day" is also the No. 1 Gospel Digital Songs title—it topped that chart for 13 cumulative weeks.
Mann's runaway hits "I Can Only Imagine" and "Take Me to the King" also bring the artist top honors on the Gospel Streaming Songs Artists recap. "King" topped that survey for 50 cumulative weeks during the chart year, while "Imagine" peaked at No. 6 during a 34-week chart run. The latter title is the year's No. 1 Gospel Airplay hit (13 weeks at No. 1), and Mann additionally crowns the Gospel Airplay Artists recap.
Lecrae Leads as Top Gospel Artist: Due to a string of eight top 10 entries on Hot Gospel Songs (including three No. 1s) and a well-received album in Anomaly, Christian rap/hip-hop artist Lecrae is the No. 1 Gospel Artist for the year, the top Hot Gospel Songs Artist, the No. 1 Gospel Albums Artist, and the No. 1 Gospel Digital Songs Artist. Anomaly similarly leads the Gospel Albums list for the year.
Lecrae beats out Hezekiah Walker, Mann, Grace and Cobbs, who round out the top five on the year-end Top Gospel Artists tally, respectively.
Ricky Dillard & New G takes top honors on the year-end Top Gospel Artist–Duo/Group recap. They also rank at No. 9 on the overall tally. The group has spent 25 weeks at No. 1 on the weekly Gospel Airplay chart with "Amazing," its first leader in six tries on that tally.
Ch-ch-changes: 2014 is the final year that most Christian rap/hip-hop songs and albums, like Lecrae's releases, will be broadly eligible for Billboard's Gospel charts. After soliciting feedback from the industry throughout the year, Billboard has discontinued categorizing most Christian rap and hip-hop titles for our Gospel Albums, Gospel Digital Songs, Hot Gospel Songs and Gospel Streaming charts (effective with charts dated Dec. 6 and coinciding with the start of the 2015 Billboard chart year). Since Nielsen Music, the Christian Music Trade Assn. (CMTA) and Billboard converted our Christian retail charts to point-of-sale data in 1995, most Christian Rap/Hip-Hop titles have been eligible for both Christian and Gospel album charts -- and eventually, both digital genre charts, streaming lists and hybrid sales/airplay/streaming charts. In an ongoing quest to make all of our charts a more meaningful and accurate reflection of the respective markets and consumers they represent, the industry urged us to reconsider eligibility for those titles on our Gospel charts, and we agree that our Christian charts are the most appropriate place for these songs and albums to compete. All Christian rap/hip-hop titles will continue to be categorized for Christian Albums, Christian Digital Songs, Christian Streaming Songs and the multi-metric Hot Christian Songs charts. Billboard remains open to considering certain albums and songs by Christian rap/hip-hop artists for our Gospel lists when genre-specific drivers (style, radio airplay, touring, collaborative works or other connective factors) are involved.