Selecting the best music of the year can produce interesting — and confusing — results.

Looking over last weekend’s Grammy Award winners and the recent nominations for the Gospel Music Association's Dove awards, we learn the following:

One song can make a big difference. Evidence: Michael W. Smith.Smitty garnered eight Dove nominations — based primarily on “Healing Rain,” a tremendous song about God’s healing gifts. However, the CD “Healing Rain” has been criticized as a throwback to Smith’s work in the 1980s. By the way, his work was ignored by the Grammy folks.

Oldies can be goodies. Evidence: Switchfoot.The rock group received five Dove nominations and frontman Jonathan Foreman received another two, primarily for work on the exceptional disc “Beautiful Letdown.” The disc made a big impact on the mainstream market with several hit singles that were released in 2004. I guess we can overlook the fact that Switchfoot took home three Doves last year — for work on the same CD.

Newcomers are OK. Evidence: Casting Crowns.Rockers Casting Crowns and their frontman Mark Hall could take home 10 Doves. However, they aren’t the only unfamiliar names on the list of Dove nominees. Singer Bethany Dillon is vying for Female Vocalist of the Year and rock groups Day of Fire, Barlow Girl and Hawk Nelson received nominations in hotly contested categories.

Hip-hop’s here. Evidence: “Welcome To Diverse City,” by tobyMac, and the compilation disc “Holy Hip Hop: Taking The Gospel To The Streets.”Both discs were nominated for the Grammy for Best Rock Gospel Album. They didn’t win but they were there. However, it does irk me that the Grammy folks nominated a compilation disc instead of a specific act, such as Grits, which gave us the strong “Dichotomy A” and quickly followed with “Dichotomy B.”

For the record, the Grammy for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album went to Steven Curtis Chapman’s “All Things New” and the award for Best Rock Gospel Album went to “Wire,” by Third Day. Both were solid choices.

The Dove Awards ceremony will be held April 13 in Nashville, Tenn.

Disc tip

A year after receiving the Dove for Best New Artist, Jeremy Camp can consider himself established.

On the heels of the release of his third CD, “Restored,” Camp has been nominated for three Doves, including Male Vocalist of the Year, and has just been named Favorite Artist and Favorite Male Artist by readers of CCM magazine.

Camp’s new disc is aptly titled, reflecting not only a spiritual journey of restoration but also his own life story since the release of his debut disc, “Stay.” Camp’s reputation for insightful, hard-hitting songs was built on “Stay,” which was heavily influenced by the death of his first wife from cancer. Since his debut, he has married Adrienne Liesching, the former lead singer of the Benjamin Gate, and become a father.

The new disc is filled with praise and a feeling of peace. It opens with the title track, a rocker featuring Camp’s throaty vocals describing the healing of a broken soul. Camp offers a few other assertive tracks, such as “Lay Down My Pride,” but most of the disc consists of more melodic and contemplative songs. Many of the tracks — “Take You Back” and “Even When” — examine God’s willingness to reconcile with those who had rejected him or made big mistakes.

Overall, “Restored” offers a different and deeper look at life and at Jeremy Camp. It’s a view well worth taking in.

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Today's Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry. It appears on the Religion page.

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