Sunday, September 5, 2021

"Lead Me On" by Amy Grant

Song#:  3604
Date:  08/06/1988
Debut:  96
Peak:  96
Weeks:  2
Genre:  Contemporary Christian

Pop Bits:  This popular Contemporary Christian singer/songwriter edged towards the mainstream with her sixth album Unguarded. The LP would yield a pair of Pop chart entries including the #29 "Find a Way" (#7 AC) and become a platinum seller that reached #35. While it significantly raised Grant's profile, some in the CC community were not necessarily thrilled with her more secular approach. It didn't help matters when she reached #1 Pop with "The Next Time I Fall," a love song duet with Peter Cetera. Whether the minor backlash was a factor or not, for her next effort, Lead Me On, Grant shied away from the mainstream pop she dabbled in and returned to her CC roots. The reversal was welcomed by her core crowd with both the album and its first single, "Saved By Love," hitting #1 on the CC charts. Over in the Pop world, that initial single didn't click and it failed to chart, although it did reach #32 at AC. This second single got to #5 CC while making it to #34 AC. It was able to gain some very slight support at Pop and became a blip on the chart for a couple of weeks. Two more tracks from the album would get to #1 at CC while another would reach #8. Even though mainstream support wasn't as prevalent this time around, the LP got to #71 Pop and became a gold seller. It would also earn her a Grammy for Best Gospel Performance, Female.  In 2001, CCM Magazine would place Lead Me On at #1 on their list of the greatest albums in Christian music.

ReduxReviewUnguarded had pop-leaning tracks that were fun and catchy. It took Grant's music in a different direction and it paid off. Because of its success, I think most folks were looking for her to do something similar or move even further towards the mainstream music. So the fact that she retreated a bit to more overt CC music with Lead Me On was a bit of a surprise. It was a more serious and mature effort with tracks given a rock production sheen that was different from the synthpop feel of Unguarded. The rolling folk-ish opening track "1974" set the tone with this grand title track showcasing soaring guitars and echoing drums. The album sounded powerful and is arguably Grant's best work. The only problem was that it didn't have any catchy pop hooks so its commercial viability at mainstream radio was limited. This title track is a terrific song, but it just wasn't Pop Top 40 fare. In the long run, it didn't matter because the album was so strong. She would return to hook-laden pop with her next LP and it would become her biggest success featuring some fun pop hits, yet it paled in comparison to the majestic and affecting Lead Me On.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Although it seemed like Unguarded was just a diversion into the mainstream pop world, Grant would push the envelope even further with her 1991 album Hearts in Motion. It featured far less Christian themed tracks than even Unguarded with music and production that rivaled any songs on the Pop chart. The first single, "Baby Baby," caught fire and got to #1 at Pop. In doing so she became the first CC artist to have a solo single top the chart. The song also got to #1 at AC. The album would generate three more Pop Top 10s and another Top 20. The hits would send the album to #10 and over time it would sell over five million copies. "Baby Baby" would get Grammy nods for Song and Record of the Year while Hearts in Motion would get one for Album of the Year. Her next album, House of Love, would also be a pop/CC mix that would reach #13 and go double-platinum thanks mainly to the #18 Pop/#2 AC hit "Lucky One." Her 1997 album Behind the Eyes would get to #8 and go gold. After that, Grant would return to Christian music and on occasion dabble with more secular tunes. Her Christmas albums would be popular with 1992's Home For Christmas hitting #2 Pop and selling over three million copies. As of this posting date, Grant had won six Grammys over nineteen nominations. Her success has often gotten her dubbed as The Queen of Christian Pop.


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