Since the inception of this blog, I’ve been doing these little top-11 countdowns. They’ve actually grown to be not so “little,” as my first top-11 Hillsong United countdown remains my most viewed post of all-time. Christian music is one of my many “things,” and I’m beyond thrilled of the increased quality in recent years. Tenth Avenue North represents just one brilliant piece of that musical pie.
Tenth Avenue North came onto the music scene a few years ago, and I’ve loved their stuff from the very beginning. Their songs are so blunt and real; they don’t sugarcoat. They get this thing called life, and it’s beautiful.
As of this posting, Tenth Avenue North has released three studio albums: Over and Underneath, The Light Meets the Dark, and most recently The Struggle. With so many solid songs, it was hard to pare this list down to just 11. But pare, I did.
So without further delay, here are my top-11 favorite Tenth Avenue North songs.
#11 -“Strong Enough to Save” (The Light Meets the Dark)
If there exists One who orchestrates the wind and waves, why not also a Calmer for our stormy lives?
Favorite lyric: I know the weight of this world can take you down like gravity. I know the current of yourself can take you out — out to sea.
#10 – “Any Other Way” (The Light Meets the Dark)
This song breathes a sincere plea spoken with the voice of Christ. It’s a plea to come — just as you are. All of you.
Favorite lyric: I want to know who you are even if you’re falling apart. Reach in and touch your scars and all the shame you’ve kept in your heart.
#9 – “Break Me Down” (Over and Underneath)
When I was with YouthWorks in Milwaukee two summers ago, we literally had one mix CD constantly playing in the kitchen on repeat. This particular song was one of several Tenth Avenue North songs on the CD. I smile every time I hear it, because I’m immediately transported back to a chaotic kitchen of sticky macaroni pots and inflamed burgers.
Favorite lyric: Take me, break me, set me free.
#8 – “Healing Begins” (The Light Meets the Dark)
It’s one thing for light and dark to gradually meet over the course of 12 cyclic hours; it’s quite another to witness the dramatic transformation in one supernatural moment.
Favorite lyric: When you come to where you’re broken within, the light meets the dark.
#7 – “Love is Here” (Over and Underneath)
One of Tenth Avenue North’s first big hits. It still resonates with me years later, because often when love seems so far beyond my reach — gosh, it’s here. It’s right here, always.
Favorite lyric: By His stripes He’s paid our ransom; from His wounds we drink salvation.
#6 – “Hold My Heart” (Over and Underneath)
I once saw Tenth Avenue North perform live at Winter Jam, and I’ll never forget the image of lead singer Mike Donehey falling to his knees as he sung the chorus of this song. Gosh. So powerful. Sometimes life just isn’t peaches and cream. Sometimes you have to cry out to the God who says He supposedly loves you. And that’s okay. He can take it.
Bonus reason for liking this song: Mike Donehey describing himself as a “recovering Christian school kid” in this particular video. YES. PREACH.
Favorite lyric: Could the maker of the stars hear the sound of my breaking heart?
#5 – “Times” (Over and Underneath)
Why is God so silent sometimes? This song doesn’t shy away from our human frustration. It’s a sobering, burdensome, slow-moving song — but wait for the bridge. Because that’s when the heavy punches hit you from Above.
Favorite lyric: I don’t care where you’ve fallen, where you have been. I’ll never forsake you; My love never ends. It never ends…
#4 – “Worn” (The Struggle)
The first Tenth Avenue North song that resonated with me on The Struggle. It hit me just before my last summer at camp, and needless to say, that experience quite often left me worn. The song is such an earnest plea for our struggles to bloom into something beautiful. Somehow.
Bonus reason #1 for liking this song: I used “Worn” as one of the two background songs for my Struggle Central book trailer video! The other background song actually pops up later in this countdown…
Bonus reason #2 for liking this song: Tenth Avenue North’s music video for this song has to be one of the greatest music video creations across any genre. I mean: a giant mystical tree, sparkling stars, and levitating bodies. Need. I. Say. More?
Favorite lyric: I wanna know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life, and all that’s dead inside can be reborn.
#3 – “By Your Side” (Over and Underneath)
Tenth Avenue North’s first big hit that made me Google them for more. I haven’t looked back since. The chorus — love that chorus.
Favorite lyric: I’ll be by your side wherever you fall in the dead of night, whenever you call.
#2 – “You Are More” (The Light Meets the Dark)
Often, our bad decisions and struggles weigh us down to the point of exhaustion and identity. We instinctively equate ourselves with our failures, faults, and shortcomings. But not so fast — that’s not what this risen Christ is all about.
Bonus reason for liking this song: The chalkboard used in this music video was filled with actual personal struggles submitted by Tenth Avenue North fans. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a bit of a thing for human struggle. I should write a book about that someday. As you watch this brilliant chalkboard video, wait for The Moment. Just wait; you’ll know. And it’s awesome.
Favorite lyric: Don’t you know who you are?
#1 – “The Struggle” (The Struggle)
It started the soundtrack to my first book’s video trailer, and this song has quickly become one of several pivotal songs for the soundtrack of my entire life. I reference the song toward the end of Struggle Central, and if my crazy life is ever turned into a movie, this song will be playing at one juncture or another. Guaranteed.
Favorite lyric: Hallelujah, we are free to struggle; we’re not struggling to be free.
And there you have it; the next chapter in my top-11 musical countdown is now complete. But what say you? Did I get it right, or did I leave something out?
What’s your favorite Tenth Avenue North song?