On the strength of the splash that Lauren Daigle made with her long-anticipated new album, Look Up Child and its first single, “You Say,” the singer-songwriter is Billboard’s Top Christian Artist for 2018. She is also the top female Christian artist, while Look Up Child crowns the year-end Top Christian Albums recap.
Billboard’s year-end music recaps are based on chart performance during the charts dated Dec. 2, 2017, to Nov. 17, 2018. Data registered before or after a title’s chart run is not considered in these standings. That methodology detail, and the December-to-November time period, account for some of the differences between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Nielsen Music.
“If there is anything I have learned in this life, it is that nothing is ever guaranteed,” Daigle told Billboard after hearing the news of her achievement. “We have to take in each moment as one of a kind and refuse the habit of taking things for granted. Upon making the record [Look Up Child], I could only hope and have faith that this music and it’s message would carry beyond what I have seen before. I’m so honored and grateful for the response of so many and reflect often on the beauty of Look Up Child’s impact. Thank you to all who have continued to carry this album through the year.”
Child, which was released on Sept. 7, is the third studio album for the 27-year-old Daigle, from Lafayette, Louisiana, following her wildly successful first set, 2015’s How Can it Be, which topped Top Christian Albums for 12 weeks. (How Can it Be ranks as 2018’s No. 4 Top Christian Album.) Plus, the holiday album Behold: A Christmas Collection, her second LP, debuted atop the Dec. 31, 2016 dated list, and has logged five weeks at No. 1. (It too is on the 2018 year-end Top Christian Albums roundup, at No. 27.)
Daigle made history in 2018, when on the Sept. 22-dated lists, she reigned on all five of Billboard’s main weekly Christian charts simultaneously, marking the first time that any artist has achieved the fivefold feat.
That week Daigle dominated Top Christian Albums with Look Up Child, which launched at No. 1, while the set’s lead single “You Say” was tops on Hot Christian Songs, Christian Airplay, Christian Streaming Songs and Christian Digital Song Sales. The tune finishes 2018 at No. 2 on the year-end Hot Christian Songs chart.
Cory Asbury is Top Male Christian Artist, ‘Reckless’ Top Christian Song: The top male Christian artist of 2018 as well as the top new Christian artist, is Cory Asbury of Bethel Music. His hit “Reckless Love” is also the biggest tune this year on Hot Christian Songs.
The 33-year-old singer-songwriter and worship leader, Asbury has been part of the Bethel collective since 2015 and leads worship regularly at their flagship church in Redding, California.
Asbury’s solo project Reckless Love marked the artist’s first appearance on Top Christian Albums when it arrived atop the Feb. 1 dated tally. It finishes 2018 at No. 11 on the Top Christian Albums recap.
Reckless’ lead single, its title-track, hit No. 1 on Hot Christian Songs on March 3, ruling the chart for 18 weeks. Over on Christian Airplay it rose to the summit on April 14 for its first of a 13-week reign, and closes 2018 as the year-end No. 1 Christian Airplay Songs title.
“Reckless” ranks as the No. 3 title for the year on Christian Streaming Songs and the only song in the top five that was released in 2018. Skillet’s monster hit from 2009, “Monster” is No. 1 and Hillsong Worship’s 2017 smash “What a Beautiful Name” is No. 2.
‘Imagine’ That: MercyMe is Top Christian Duo/Group: Meanwhile, the top Christian duo/group of 2018 is the veteran band MercyMe. Among all artists the group ranks at No. 2.
MercyMe’s performance was sparked by the release of the surprise hit movie, I Can Only Imagine. The movie, which takes its name from the hit MercyMe song, focused on MercyMe frontman Bart Millard, who is portrayed onscreen by J. Michael Finley, with Dennis Quaid as his father.
The film helped catapult the original version of the song, “I Can Only Imagine,” written by Millard and originally released in 1999, to No. 1 on Hot Christian Songs while the update, “I Can Only Imagine (The Movie Session)” peaked at No. 16.
“I Can Only Imagine” is the No. 9 song on the year-end Hot Christian Songs chart, while another MercyMe track, “Grace Got You,” sits at No. 6.
“Grace Got You” reached No. 3 on the weekly Hot Christian Songs tally, and led Christian Airplay.
Tasha Cobbs Leonard is Top Gospel Artist: Meanwhile the Top Gospel Artist for 2018 is Tasha Cobbs Leonard, who also ranks as the leading woman this year.
Recorded live at Passion City Church in Atlanta, Cobbs Leonard’s fourth leader on the weekly Top Gospel Albums chart.
Cobbs Leonard’s performance was helped by hip-hop superstar Nicki Minaj, who is featured on Cobbs Leonard’s “I’m Getting Ready.” It debuted at No. 1 on the Sept. 16, 2017-dated Hot Gospel Songs, then remaining on the chart until Sept. 8 this year. It finishes 2018 as the No. 9 title on the Hot Gospel Songs year-end chart.
The collaboration also ends up at No. 7 on the Gospel Airplay Songs recap.
Travis Green Leads Gents of Gospel: 2018’s top male gospel artist is Travis Greene, whose hit “You Waited” led Gospel Airplay for nine frames after reaching the apex on Nov. 11, 2017. The R&B leaning ballad also reached No. 2 on Hot Gospel Songs (Nov. 11, 2017) and ranks as the No. 5 tune on the year-end Hot Gospel Songs recap.
Greene also places a pair of albums in the year-end Top Gospel Albums tally, as The Hill and Crossover: Live From Music City rank at Nos. 6 and 7, respectively.
Concurrently, Greene was featured on two notable songs in 2018: Elevation Collective’s “Do it Again,” featuring Greene and Kierra Sheard reached No. 14 on both Hot Gospel Songs (Feb. 24) and Christian Airplay (Sept. 15).
Israel Houghton’s “Promise Keeper” featuring Greene, peaked at No. 24 on Hot Country Songs and No. 28 on Gospel Airplay, hitting peaks on both tallies on Sept. 22.
Koryn Hawthorne Finishes 2018 as Top New Gospel Artist: The top new gospel artist of 2018 is Koryn Hawthorne, who also ranks as the overall No. 2 gospel artist of the year.
Hawthorne, who will turn 21-years-old on Dec. 26, struck gold this year with her hit single “Won’t He Do It,” which first reached the Hot Gospel Songs summit on March 3, becoming Hawthorne’s second No. 1. As a finalist on the eighth season of NBC’s The Voice, she first led with “How Great Thou Art,” which she performed on the show in 2015.
“Won’t He” is 2018’s No. 1 track on both Hot Gospel Songs and Gospel Airplay. Co-penned by Hawthorne, “Won’t He” spent most of the 2018 chart year at No. 1 on the weekly Hot Gospel Songs chart. In its 26th week at No. 1, the track became the longest-running No. 1 by a woman in the tally’s history, surpassing Tamela Mann’s 25 week reign with “Take Me to the King.”
Finally, the top gospel duo/group of 2018 is Anthony Brown & group therAPY. The act’s single “I Got That,” climbed to No. 4 on Hot Gospel Songs this year (Oct. 20) and No. 8 on Gospel Airplay (Nov. 10), its fifth top 10 on both surveys. The track closes 2018 as the No. 6 title on the year-end Hot Gospel Songs list.