Hillsong United is known for non traditional, rock contemporary Christian music. On paper, that style of music doesn’t necessarily scream popular. With more than 16 million albums sold, the numbers speak for themselves. Along with four other bands under the Hillsong Music umbrella, Hillsong United continues to cross over age, race, and religious barriers. Below are four times when they exemplified walking on water in the music industry.
1. When they cursed and some people were offended.
“Even When It Hurts(Praise Song)” is a fan favorite off their latest album Empires. The lyric video currently has over 1 million views on YouTube and is so popular that a live version of the song was released. Although some people have found the song authentic,, others are offended by it. With a quiet storm of a presence and voice, lead singer Taya Smith sings:
“Even when the fight seems lost, I’ll praise You. Even when it hurts like hell, I’ll praise you.”
In a Christian Today interview one of Hillsong’s pastors addressed criticism and the idea that expressing pain is okay. Although rare in hope filled music today, believers expressing pain and sorrow is not a new concept. David frequently expressed his anguish to and about God in the Bible.
2. When Justin Bieber became their unofficial spokesperson.
Justin Bieber has not been yet been featured on any Hillsong albums, but it wouldn’t be a big surprise if he was. He has become more open about expressing his Christian faith in interviews. Complex dissects Justin’s latest album and the contrast of his songs about his faith and romantic relationships.
He even listed a worship song on his top music list in a interview with Cosmopolitan magazine. With his level of influence and a host of other young celebrities that are friends with Hillsong leaders, their congregation is not the typical “Sunday’s best” culture.
3. When they got Jay Z level street cred.
Let Hope Rise , set to premiere this year is the highly anticipated documentary about Hillsong United. Michael John Warren, director of Jay Z’s FADE TO BLACK, gives a sincere account on the film’s website, saying:
“I’m not a religious person, but I learned things from working with and becoming friends with the members of Hillsong UNITED.”
Even the distribution setbacks of the film contribute to the story. After all, why would hope need to rise, if discouragement didn’t fall?
4. When they took over Valentine’s Day in Tampa.
Valentine’s Day is a day of love, couples, romance, and worship? After a sold out show on Feb.13th at the USF Sun Dome, due to such a high demand, another show was made available. Up to around 10,000 people will gather together to spend a Sunday night worshiping right along with Hillsong United this Feb. 14th.
It’s not exactly the typical Valentine’s date night, but Hillsong continues to create experiences that are unexpected.