Songs are the bedrock of K-LOVE, and in turn, they also provide the infrastructure for the K-LOVE Fan Awards. Each year, fans cast their vote for their favorites and then gather in Nashville to celebrate the biggest songs in Christian music. However, the power of each song extends far beyond a nomination or a shiny trophy. Proof of each song’s immense impact can be seen in the raised hands and the smiling faces that fill the audience, as well as heard in the passionate merger of voices as attendees sing along to every word. Annually, Song of the Year nominees are comprised of the hits that defined the previous 12 months, and winning this coveted category is simply an indication of the far-reaching influence of that particular single. On a deeper level, these songs each hold meaningful origin stories and soundtrack significant moments in the lives of listeners. All of the songs we’ve chosen to showcase in the list below are Song of the Year winners, with the exception of “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),” which ruled the “Billboard” charts for a history-making 61 weeks and was awarded the first Worship Song of the Year trophy. (The only other Christian song to best it, thus far, is @Lauren Daigle’s “You Say,” which logged an unmatched 132 non-consecutive weeks at the summit.) Here are the Top 10 songs — as voted on by fans — that helped shape the first decade of the K-LOVE Fan Awards.
“Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave (2013)
@Big Daddy Weave frontman Mike Weaver was in his garage — his self-appointed “man cave” — when God began convicting the award-winning singer of his true identity in Christ. Written as a reminder to himself, as much as anyone, of the way his Heavenly Father sees him, “Redeemed” won Song of the Year honors at the inaugural K-LOVE Fan Awards in 2013. God used this very song to transform the life of innumerable listeners, including @Zach Williams, who would go on to later tour with Big Daddy Weave and win this same award in 2021.
“Overcomer” by Mandisa (2014)
@Mandisa’s “Overcomer” became a triumphant anthem of hope for anyone in the midst of a battle. Serving as the title-cut of her GRAMMY®-winning fourth studio album, “Overcomer” was penned for the “American Idol” alum’s close friend, Keisha, who at the time, was fighting breast cancer while pregnant. The song’s official music video premiered on “Good Morning America” and featured a lineup of real-life overcomers, including cancer survivors Robin Roberts and Scott Hamilton and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords.
“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by UNITED (2014)
One of the biggest songs of the past decade, @UNITED’s “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” received the first Worship Song of the Year award when the category debuted in 2014. The collective also closed out the evening, performing the record-breaking smash live on the K-LOVE Fan Awards stage. The impact of the single is unfathomable considering it has literally traveled around the globe and is still being sung in churches around the world a decade after its initial release. “We are just church kids from Australia, who love the church and believe in the church,” the group’s @Joel Houston shared during UNITED’s acceptance speech. “And as songwriters, we like to set sail and believe God to breathe on a song, and God breathed on ‘Oceans’ more than we could ever have asked or imagined.”
“We Believe” by Newsboys (2015)
When @Newsboys won the K-LOVE Fan Award for Song of the Year in 2015, the group’s @Michael Tait admitted he wished he had written the single penned by Richie Fike, Matt Hooper and Travis Ryan. “This song, it’s moved a nation, and every night we sing it, I get choked up,” he said, adding that it was one of the last recordings he played for his mom before she passed away. The foundational declaration of belief morphed into a far-reaching anthem when it accompanied blockbuster hit “God’s Not Dead,” which earned Film/TV Impact honors at the 2014 K-LOVE Fan Awards and multiplied into a popular multi-movie franchise.
“Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin (2016)
When four-time K-LOVE Fan Award winner @Chris Tomlin first heard “Good, Good Father” his oldest daughters were only 4 and 1, but the song immediately resonated with the new dad. His wife actually introduced him to the soaring ballad after she heard it at a conference in Atlanta. Originally recorded by Housefires and written by singer/songwriter @Pat Barrett and @Maverick City Music co-founder Tony Brown, the track served as the lead single from Tomlin’s 11th studio album, “Never Lose Sight.” It quickly become one of the biggest songs in the now father of three’s catalog, thanks to the perspective found in the lyrics that remind us God is a loving, kind Father, and we are sons and daughters of the Most High King.
“Priceless” by for KING & COUNTRY (2017)
If there’s a common thread that runs through any of the Song of the Year winners over the past 10 years, it’s a through line of identity — helping us figure out who God is and who we are in Him, one song at a time. “Priceless” undoubtedly falls in that category. From day one, @for KING & COUNTRY has always intentionally advocated for women at their concerts, reminding them of their worth and urging the gentlemen in the audience to treat the women in their lives with high regard. The duo gave their long-held “honor and respect” mantra a theme song when they wrote “Priceless” for their sophomore set, “RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG.” Moreover, the award-winning single also soundtracked the brothers’ first original feature film of the same name that tackled the horrific epidemic of human trafficking.
“Even If” by MercyMe (2018)
@MercyMe frontman Bart Millard penned “Even If” after wrestling with an unanswered prayer. For years, he asked God to take away his son’s ongoing battle with diabetes, but to this day, Sam still struggles with the disease. While nothing could ever match the impact of the band’s early hit, “I Can Only Imagine,” “Even If” might run a close second. There are few people who can’t identify with Millard’s vulnerable confession and the raw anguish of a father, evident in his vocal delivery. Incidentally, MercyMe swept the 2018 K-LOVE Fan Awards. Not only did they win Song of the Year for “Even If,” but fans also voted them Group/Duo of the Year and Artist of the Year. Moreover, “I Can Only Imagine” took home the Film/TV Impact award.
“God Only Knows” by for KING & COUNTRY (2019)
@for KING & COUNTRY earned a surprise win in 2019 when “God Only Knows” was named Song of the Year among a group of heavy-hitting contenders that included Lauren Daigle's monster hit, “You Say.” Daigle still got her due that year as fans voted the beloved songstress Female Artist of the Year and Artist of the Year. Meanwhile, the unexpected Song of the Year win by for KING & COUNTRY was fueled by fans’ unrivaled love for the outfit — the most awarded in K-LOVE Fan Awards history — and the message behind “God Only Knows,” a song that widely resonated with those who struggle with anxiety and depression. The 16-time K-LOVE Fan Award winners released countless iterations of the track — the most notable version being their collaboration with Dolly Parton. Furthermore, the duo opened the 2019 K-LOVE Fan Awards with a dynamic performance of the chart-topper.
“There Was Jesus” by Zach Williams, feat. Dolly Parton (2021)
Speaking of Dolly Parton… There were a few years where she really had her moment in Christian music. While the legendary artist never made it to the K-LOVE Fan Awards stage, she did invite @Zach Williams to perform the K-LOVE Fan Award-winning “There Was Jesus” with her on the CMA Awards. Aside from the outstanding addition of Parton to the song, the timeless-sounding hit felt like a balm for the heart of every weary sojourner. Beautifully written, the country-laced selection soundtracks the good news of every sinner’s redemption story: “In the waiting, in the searching, in the healing and the hurting, like a blessing buried in the broken pieces. Every minute, every moment, where I’ve been and where I’m going. Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it, there was Jesus.”
“For God Is With Us” by for KING & COUNTRY (2022)
Winning Song of the Year honors for a third time in 2022, @for KING & COUNTRY added another trophy to their collection thanks to the simple, yet profound, message of “For God Is With Us” from the group’s latest LP, “What Are We Waiting For?” Originally intended to be a Christmas song, the band of brothers reworked it to allow the entire story of the Gospel to unfold across their three-minute masterpiece. When the Fan Awards took place that year, the single was still relatively new to radio, but fans proved they were already connecting with the mid-tempo track on a deeper level. Eventually, for KING & COUNTRY cooked up an additional version with Lady A’s @Hillary Scott, which earned all three of them a GRAMMY® nod.
Find out who will take home the golden ‘K’ for Song of the Year at the 2023 K-LOVE Fan Awards. The full weekend of fan-centric festivities will take place May 26-28, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. For more information, visit klovefanawards.com.