10. Rebecca St. James
Like most Christian guys growing up in the 90's, I had a crush on Rebecca Jean Smallbone (strangely enough, that is her birth-name). I remember thinking that we'd probably meet at a concert and fall in love. Well, I got married on the last day of 2008 (and, apparently, Rebecca got married in April of 2011), so that love story is over. But she can still stay on the list for now.
9. Michael W. Smith
If I had made this top 10 list 15-20 years ago, Michael W. Smith may have been number 1. But, as they say, timing is everything. I liked Michael W. Smith back then because I could sing in a way that sounded a lot like him and his songs were often fun. He's fallen down the list b/c the majority of his lyrics aren't as strong as some of my favorites. I actually like him better as a worship leader nowadays.
8. Robin Mark
I'm not as big a fan of some of the real hip worship leaders as a lot of people are, but I do really like Robin Mark's stuff. I find that he consistently writes songs that lead me into worship and for that he definitely deserves to be on this list. I haven't gone out of my way to listen to all his stuff, so there's real potential that he could move closer to the medal positions.
7. Third Day
There was definitely a time when Third Day was my favorite Christian band. They are a high quality band. I think they did a good job of sounding as good as secular music while still having rich Christian lyrics. What hurts Third Day in my rankings is just the fact that they put out so much stuff that I just feel a lot of it is sub-par. I haven't listened to them in a long time. Maybe if I do they'll make a comeback?
6. Phillips, Craig and Dean
They might be modalists, but PC&D are certaintly gifted song-writers and singers. I love a lot of their songs. I haven't listend to their more recent praise-song stuff, but they were awful good at writing story songs and/or hammering home a powerful biblical truth. I should probably re-listen to them again soon.
5. Derek Webb
I am not sure about Derek Webb. He used to be in the band Caedmon's Call, but then went solo. I absolutely loved one of his free CD's (he does all sorts of interesting things to share his music). What I like about Derek is that his songs, unlike a lot of Christian music, are trying to say something substantial. His songs, in other words, can be convicting... and that's a valuable thing. I might not always agree with everything he sings, but I want to hear it.
4. Caedmon's Call
I rank Caedmon's Call ahead of Derek Webb based mostly on quantity. Yes, they seem to be pretty strong Calvinists, but I freely decide to like their music anyways. They have a good combination of fun songs and theological songs. They also have a great ability to put Scriptural phrases and images to music. It's nice to hear different lead vocalists while listening to a CD (although I definitely prefer the main leads in this group to the less frequent leads).
3. Steven Curtis Chapman
I'm giving SCC a medal spot for a combination of quality and quantity. He's not super theological like Derek Webb, Caedmon's Call, or even PC&D.... but actually he's written a lot of practical theology. SCC has helped me grieve, love my wife, etc. That's powerful stuff. He's also had fun doing it, which is a big plus in my book.
2. Michael Card
There's a pretty good gap between the top 2 and the rest of this list. I love Michael Card's music. I really enjoy how he has music for different books/sections of the Bible. Rich lyrics combine with an impressive vocal range. I was about to go see him in concert (in Lockport, no less), but decided to propose to Katie instead. Maybe I'll see him in the future, but I'll definitely be listening in the meantime.
1. The Waiting
It was not hard for me to select my number 1 all time favorite Christian music. It comes from the band The Waiting. Who? Not very many people have heard of this band, but I just loved almost every song they put out. I heard them in concert multiple times, but I'm not much of a concert guy. I have 4 CD's in my possession. The first 2 are incredible. The last 2 are very good. There are even rumors of a new CD (after a decade plus off?). I can't imagine them losing their #1 spot. It'd take a ton.