What’s that you say? It’s too early in the century to have a “best-of” list?

We know, we know. It’s only 2013. But there have already been so many great Gospel songs that we just had to recognize them. Will our picks be strong enough to stand for the next 87 years? We think so. But if you disagree with any of our choices, leave us a comment and let us know, or drop us a line on Facebook. We love a good, friendly debate.

Oh, and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Part 2.

“Shackles (Praise You)” – Mary Mary: The lead single of Erica and Tina Campbell’s debut album, Thankful, got a ton of mainstream radio airplay, showed up on MTV and crashed all sorts of secular charts. Despite criticism from Gospel traditionalists, “Shackles” set the stage for the group’s groundbreaking work as true crossovers, spreading God’s far and wide.

“Background” – Lecrae featuring Andy Mineo: The Grammy Award-winning gospel rapper partnered with Reach Records label mate Andy Mineo in this cut from the 2010 album, Rehab, which details Lecrae’s desire to let God be the star of his life. In the wake of almost universal positive acclaim, “Background” helped push Rehab to the #1 spot on Billboard’s Top Christian, Top Gospel and Top Independent Albums charts.

“Never Would Have Made It” – Marvin Sapp: Written as a tribute following the death of Sapp’s father, Henry Lewis Sapp, Jr., “Never Would Have Made It” evokes a raw emotion that made the song an absolute smash. It was certified platinum by the RIAA and even reached the top twenty on Billboard’s (mainstream) Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

“Imagine Me” – Kirk Franklin: We couldn’t have a list of top gospel songs without including Kirk Franklin, the man who is likely most responsible for ushering in the new sound of contemporary Gospel that is popular today, merging R&B, hip hop and funk with the traditional. “Imagine Me” is from Franklin’s 2005 release, Hero, a platinum album that landed at #1 on Billboard’s Top Christian and Top Gospel Album charts.

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