In 2002, our favorite animated vegetables made their debut in Christian rock music with their cover of Relient K's "Breakdown," while the band performed the theme for "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything." Since then, Christian artists have covered some of VeggieTales' classic tunes, but never have the Veggie voices returned the favor... that is, until this Fall's release of Christian Hit Music.
Christian Hit Music assembles fifteen Christian pop, rock, contemporary, pop/punk, and even hip hop tunes onto one disc for a healthy dose of vegetable fun. Each track features different or all of the VeggieTales characters on it, and four select songs even feature the original artists' voices as well. The record gets off to a bumpy start with a cover of Audio Adrenaline's 1993 smash hit, "Big House." The band remains a personal favorite so the idea of them dueting with VeggieTales is exciting, but anyone who knows Audio Adrenaline knows what exactly makes up this particular collaboration. With vocalist Mark Stuart having since essentially lost the smooth and signature pipes he first sung "Big House" with in the early nineties, this recording is merely those originally recorded vocals with our Veggie friends added in. It's kind of a disappointment knowing the band had nothing to do with this recording. The next collaboration is a fun treatment of Newsboys' "Shine," which features Larry The Cucumber hamming it up with the band's original. Steven Curtis Chapman sings the majority of his appearance on "Dive," but the highlight is an additional little exchange between Chapman and a few of the characters. But surprisingly, the best of the artist/Veggie mixes is when Jr. Asparagus duets with Christian music veteran Amy Grant for her classic, "Baby Baby." The vocals are clearly re-recorded recently and feature interaction between the two - even clarifying the meaning of the song with it having been originally written by Amy for her daughter.
The rest of the disc is a series of hits and misses - or just ultimately renditions that work better than others. One of the most fun and entertaining cuts is a rocking cover of Switchfoot's "Meant To Live," performed by none other than the French peas. Although the vocals are mixed a bit too low, there's nothing quite like hearing a serious rock song sung by tiny voices with a French accent. Mr. Lunt sings a humorous and moody version of Jars Of Clay's "Flood," complete with an accordian solo by Pa Grape (much to Lunt's discontent). Larry and Lunt share the TobyMac original, "Made To Love," while Larry tackles an infectiously enjoyable romp through Relient K's "Sadie Hawkins Dance." Finally, the equally adorable and amusing rendition of Michael W. Smith's "Place In This World," sung by Jr. Asparagus, serves as a nice little finale for the project. The rest of the tracks just don't seem to cut it as well as the aforementioned ones. Giving Mr. Lunt the reigns for dc Talk's cover of Charlie Peacock's "In The Light" doesn't seem to fit, while Larry's take on Chris Rice's "Smellin' Coffee" is just okay. The most unsual song choice for the album, however, is probably MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine," which features Jr. Asparagus on vocals for the tender worship song. It's difficult to take anything any of the characters sing all too seriously, and hearing Jr. sing "I Can Only Imagine" may be cute, but it seems a bit silly for such a song that isn't.
All in all, Christian Hit Music is a fun project for fans of VeggieTales and Christian music. It's as much a novelty for music fans - although most likely more so - as the 2004 VeggieTales song tribute from CCM artists, Veggie Rocks!. Just four tracks of artists singing with the Veggies is a bit of a tease, especially the interactive collaboration between Grant and Jr, and it would have been great to hear more of that. While the tracklist could have been trimmed for a stronger song selection, there are enough hit Christian songs out there for the potential for more releases, and here's to hoping we see more fun and creative Children's releases like this one in the near future.- Review date: 11/7/07, written by John DiBiase
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