Grading This Week’s Top Gospel Songs

Below, just as we have the rock and latin-pop charts, this week we grade the top ten songs on Billboard’s Gospel chart.

1. Earnest Pugh, “I Need Your Glory”

He hit the high note.
Best YouTube Comment: “Who ever disliked this can kick rocks with an open-toed shoe.” —Hotstud06
Grade: B-

2. Isaac Carree, “In The Middle”

Zapp vocoders, Prince synths, and stacked handclaps make this upbeat gospel hit something you can drive, chill, pray, or run laps to. Do your dance now.
Best YouTube Comment: “LOVE IT, DO UR DANCE IN THE MIDDLE OF IT” —Joibell10
Grade: A+

3. Donald Lawrence & Co., “Spiritual”

Religious music that makes you want to have sex. Funky Bill Withers-y Wurlitzer organ parts and multiple front-people in different parts feels like a field of cartoon flowers singing. At five minutes in, the human voices shift into pure endorphins.
Best YouTube Comment: “This song is cold I love it” —mrstilmon86
Grade: A

4. Yolanda Adams, “Be Still”

Fans of the Smooth Jazz Chart may enjoy this one. Unfortunately for Yolanda, water drips now always make me think about the Satanic Majesties late-night request line classic “Sex in the Kitchen,” by R. Kelly.
Best YouTube Comment: “Sort of old school sound; very relaxing to the mind, body, and soul.” —music4ify
Grade: C+ (“Sex in the Kitchen”: A+++)

5. Kirk Franklin, “I Smile”

Kirk addresses the haters who want to know where their jobs and homes and dreams went. This is such a simple video concept (various interesting human faces against colorful backgrounds) and it works so well. Making a recession-themed video that is both wildly entertaining and cheap is a smart look. This is more than a little bit Broadway in the pre-chorus. Jill Scott crying with a mohawk! Kirk Franklin is correct, though: Smiling is free.
Best YouTube Comment: “KIRK FRANKLIN HAS ON LIP GLOSS!!!!! NO DENYING !!!!” —prettyboy11411
Grade: A-

6. James Fortune & FIYA, “Still Able”

I couldn’t stop singing “We Are the World” in my head.
Best YouTube Comment: “I love this song thank god for song .” —6525marquise
Grade: D

7. Marvin Sapp, “He Has His Hands On You”

All the people who call Drake “soft” should be forced to listen to actual “soft” music. I could curl up in this and take a nap. I might.
Best YouTube Comment: “I just really listened to the song a week ago and it really broke me down. you took the words right out of my mouth. God is not Good. Chicken is Good but God is Amazing” —oldschoolday
Grade: B

8. Maurette Brown Clark, “I Hear The Sound (Of Victory)”

Kind of a little Doobie Brothers jam.
Best YouTube Comment: “A lot of people have been talking about the lack of the name Jesus in a lot of songs. I truly believe these days people are looking for ways to overcome their circumstances. These songs about victory, overcoming, saying yes, are all instrumental in getting people closer to that place of learning where this victory comes from. Listen to the message and take from it what God wants you to have! Just because it doesn’t say Jesus, doesn’t mean it’s not useful!” —vcj2011
Grade: A-

9. VaShawn Mitchell, “Nobody Greater”

Maybe I’m just excited about Thanksgiving but I am really loving the songs in this week’s category. I want to make a punishingly eclectic mix of all the best songs from the 2011 Grading the Charts so far. This is an epic spiritual anthem with notes of jazz fusion, wind chimes, and John Legend. The chorus has been stuck in my head.
Best YouTube Comment: “I’m not religious at all, but this is a good song i’m not gonna lie…” —GeorgeMoore81
Grade: A

10. Kim Burrell, “Sweeter”

Breezy island quiet storm recalling Sade and Antônio Carlos Jobim, with N.E.R.D. synth stabs. A tropical tiki room silk electric fantasia led by charismatic vacationer Kim Burrell in a remake of the remake of Swept Away.
Best YouTube Comment: “She can wear what the heck she wants.” —Keoshia311
Grade: B+

Filed Under: Grading the Charts, Music

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert