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An awards show for the rest of us.

The awards season is upon us, which means all of the industry bigwigs and press types will soon gravitate to Nashville for Gospel Music Week and the Dove Awards. Partly because we won’t be there, and because certain other websites have cornered the market for prognosticating and over-analyzing CCM's biggest night, and partly because I personally don’t really care who wins or loses, these "awards" are submitted.

Don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t meant to be self-indulgent or self-serving. They’re called the Bennies (patent pending) because I (and only I…please don’t bother the other fine writers at CMW) hand them out, and because I want to distinguish them from the now dead cMusicWeb Awards. But mostly because I couldn’t think of a better name. They are the Bennies, and they are as follows:

Most Attractive Female Artist Not to Be Nominated For a Dove Award: Natalie LaRue
We’ve been chasing Ms. LaRue for an interview for some time now, but things haven’t worked out. In place of the 800 or so words reserved for her and brother Phillip in our features section, comes this award. Gold statuettes weren’t in the budget, but I can probably make up a certificate or something.

Most Flamboyant Attempt to Boost Ratings for an Upcoming Awards Ceremony: GMA
They know P.O.D. and 12 Stones probably won’t show up, but nominated each band twice. Lifehouse, another big mainstream name, is up for "Modern Rock/Alternative Song of the Year." Worse, however, is the fact traditional fan favorites tobyMac and Third Day, neither of whom made an album in 2002, have a combined 14 nominations. Michael W. Smith has nine.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Steven Curtis Chapman
Yes, this is the first incarnation of the Benny awards, and the author is in no position to be handing out lifetime achievement awards. But this reserves me the right to remove Mr. Chapman from all future editions. The man has more hardware than the average Home Depot and makes an album a year. If I don't make a stand, who will?

Best Album of 2003:
Caedmon's Call, Back Home
Switchfoot, The Beautiful Letdown
Relient K, Two Lefts Don't Make a Right…But Three Do
Too close a race to call at this point, but Caedmon's are due for a huge album, and the latter two are poised to blow up like an inner tube.

Worst Album of 2003: Sonicflood, Cry Holy It won’t be released until March 11, and there may be plenty worse. But no band has failed so spectacularly to live up to its hype than the post-Jeff Deyo Sonicflood. And after last year’s Resonate, I'm willing to bet my house on this one.

Bill Gates Dash for Cash Award: Newsboys, Third Day, Rebecca St. James The former two will release worship albums this year (3D's is tentatively titled Offerings II: All I Have to Give). Even if, as some say, worship music is on its last legs, it appears there's still profit to be made. And what, exactly, warrants a RSJ greatest hits album?

Artist Most Likely to Enter the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2072: Eminem
Elvis was inducted in 2001. Why not his latter-day equivalent?
- Ben Forrest
February 2003
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