March Gladness: Greatest CCM Songs of the 90s First Round

CCM 90s

It’s time the high point of contemporary Christian music met the high point of college basketball. What better way to decide the best CCM song of the 90s than through a March Madness bracket?

Oh, you say you can think of dozens of better ways? Well, not during March you can’t. Brackets are the only way we can solve debates.

Using some of the same selection committee that produced the top 25 Christian songs of the last 25 years, we chose 32 songs for four regions—Pop, Silly, Rock and Worship.

Welcome to March Gladness! (Yes, it is a horrible pun, but it came from a CCM compilation CD, so it fits.)

Here’s the initial bracket: some strong top seeds in each region, but a lot of sleepers that could make deep runs.

March Gladness CCM song 90s first round

The biggest snubs of the field—the first two out—were Amy Grant and Third Day. Both are fantastic CCM artists, but the committee determined that Grant’s best CCM work was in the 80s and Third Day’s biggest hits happened after 2000.

But let’s move on to those who did make it and see each bracket closer up.

The first round ends next Monday night, so vote early and often to help your favorite advance. The Sweet Sixteen starts next Tuesday.


No. 1 seed Michael W. Smith’s Friends Are Friends Forever is a clear favorite to make it all the way, but it’s first round opponent is no slouch: Hope to Carry On by Caedmon’s Call and Rich Mullins.

The classic 4/5 matchup pits Twila Paris’ early 90s smash hit God Is In Control against supergroup Avalon’s Testify to Love.

Speaking of supergroups, Point of Grace’s Keep the Candle Burning has the 3 seed and a first round game against Jaci Velasquez’ God So Loved.

Finally, Steven Curtis Chapman is ready to saddle up his horses into the second round with The Great Adventure, but first he has to get past Crystal Lewis’ People Get Ready … Jesus is Coming.


The favorite in this bracket has to be the most beloved Silly Song of all-time The Hairbrush Song, but first it has to get past another of Larry the Cucumber’s classics: Love My Lips.

Newsboys’ song highlighting the most important meal of the day and it’s absence from hell, Breakfast, takes on the Silly Song that launched a movie: Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything.

Food shows up again as Love Songs with Mr. Lunt’s His Cheeseburger faces off against Audio Adrenaline’s The Houseplant Song.

No silly song bracket would be complete without Chris Rice’s Cartoon Song, but every 90s youth event started off with Big House.


Is there any doubt about the top seed here? The W’s The Devil is Bad has the unenviable task of taking on DC Talk’s Jesus Freak.

An intriguing match up sees Jennifer Knapp’s 5 seeded Undo Me takes on 4 seed Shine from Newsboys.

The next two songs have no problem telling you what to do. Kirk Franklin and God’s Property say Stomp, while Audio Adrenaline wants you to Get Down.

Ska was big in the 90s, including in CCM and the O.C. Supertones were the biggest with their hit Little Man. But it faces Jars of Clay potentially unstoppable Flood.


Is there a more 90s worship song than 1 seed Awesome God? Could it be Heart of Worship?

Lord, I Lift Your Name on High: go ahead and do the hand motions. You know you know them. I may not be able to pronounce Darlene Zschech, but I still know all the words to Shout to the Lord.

We love exotic sounding songs but with really simply lyrics, so 3 seed Agnus Dei was a 90s favorite. But we also loved I Could Sing of Your Love Forever.

No song exploded like Mercy Me’s I Can Only Imagine, so it could make a deep tournament run, but it has to get past Open the Eyes of My Heart first.

The first round ends next Monday night, so vote early and often to help your favorite advance. The Sweet Sixteen starts next Tuesday.

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Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.