Music is a big part of my life. Growing up my family would take trips to go to the mall or to the Jersey Shore and music was always playing. My parents would play music from Bob Dylan and The Beatles, to Sly and the Family Stone and Motown. I also remember when my Mom would drive me to school when I was younger and would listen to the radio station (AM radio of course) that played Christian music, with acts like Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.
I noticed that although music that had a Christian message was good and positive, it didn't have the same production level of the more main-stream music on the FM side of the dial.
Christian music can sound pretty generic.
I would hate as a teen when I would go to the Christian Bookstore (Anyone remember the Salty Fisherman) and they would have big posters saying, "If you like this secular band checkout this Christian band." Why can't music by Christians be original and brilliant!?
That was about to change.
I remember being at a Youth Retreat about five years ago and the band played these amazing songs, with great lyrics, musical arrangements that ebbed and flowed, and guitar solos!
I asked what are these worship songs...?
I've never heard worship music like this before... they said it was Hillsong United.
I immediately bought my copy of Hillsong United's Look To You, and I was hooked.
The first track of track Salvation Is Here opened with a soaring guitar lick that was reminiscent of U2's Pride (In The Name Of Love).
They weren't trying to sound like other bands, but rather being inspired by other bands...big difference.
The crunchy guitars in the following track Tell The World, had a specific arrangement that I've never heard in worship music before, it was well thought out and passionate.
They even managed to have Jesus mentioned in the lyrics and not sound cheesy; believable and empowering.
Not only was the album grand in scale and scope but throughout the album songs are atmospheric and tremendously honest. Deeper is a song that features a hypnotic drum beat coupled with a Rhodes piano that takes you to another place.
United managed to have the lyrics, the arrangements and the production be brilliant and original.
Hillsong United has been a stable for our music in our Youth Ministry for many years. There is such anticipation for me and my wife each year as they release another album. The band's follow up album United We Stand, maybe their best album, with songs like Take It All and Inside Out, but Look To You was the album that opened my eyes to the next level of worship music.
What makes the most significant impression on me was seeing them live.
The frustrating thing about Christians is that sometimes when someone gets on the platform it can be more about hype than the Holy Spirit, for Hillsong they are truly authentic in their worship; on and off the stage.
They play with passion, not hype.
Passion is different than hype.
Passion has no agenda, hype always does.
They play, they worship, and they let God...
Check out this live clip of Tell The World way back in 2005...
Aussie Mullet Spoiler Alert!