Friday, May 29, 2015

Flyby Review: Hillsong United's Empires

This was one of those fun reviews: when my teenage daughter saw the CD she said, "Oh, wow, do we get to keep this?"  When I said yes, she said, "Yaaayyy!"

My other teen just did the song "Touch the Sky" with the youth praise band at church, and it is one of his new favorites.

I can't believe it's been almost two years since they brought us "Oceans."  That popular song by Hillsong UNITED remained a youth group favorite until we were all sick of it and hoping Hillsong would come out with something new - and so, they have!  

Every song on this album is beautiful.  I love the mellow sound that is still so rich with instrumental harmony and texture.  The singers' voices blend perfectly.  The songs are worshipful, peaceful, meaningful, and not too gimmicky or repetitive.

Now, before I continue to gush, I will offer one disclaimer.  It's for the song "Even When It Hurts."  The rest of that line says "Even when it hurts like h*** I'll praise you."  Some Christians are going to love that we have a new praise song with a little edge, that we are "keeping it real."  Others are going to boycott the whole album because of that word.  It is worth reading the Hillsong minister's reasons for allowing the lyric to stay on the album.  You can read his response to the critics on his blog.

I guess I am somewhere in the middle of this argument.  I wouldn't have left the lyric in the song, but I won't write them nasty letters about it.  I will let my kids listen to it, because we are no longer reaching a world of only "churched" friends who all have the same background as we do.  We are reaching out to the world, and many of them are feeling the abysmal depths of their pain and will express it in this way.  We are here to tell them that even when they feel that way, God is here for them, and we will praise Him.  On the other hand, I will not sing the lyric or allow my kids to sing it out loud, because we do not use that word to express our earthly feelings.  It is a place.  A very horrible place, and I would venture to say that anyone who thinks they are going through it here on this earth has very little idea of what the reality will be like.  I do not feel the need to use worldly language, personally, to reach the world.

Now that I have presented those two paragraphs, I do not want that lyric to overshadow the album.  I tend to not enjoy listening to straight "praise" music because I find some of it shallow, and I enjoy listening to fuller and more thought-provoking Christian music, and also something with more of a rock, pop, or contemporary sound.  But I did not feel that way with this album.  This is an album that I could listen to and praise and worship with for a long time and not get tired of it.  The singers are talented, the music is rich, and God is lifted up.  I give the album 5 stars out of 5!

So, you want to go right out and buy this album, right?  Well, I hope you do, but I do have one to give away!  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page with the title of your favorite Hillsong song, by June 5, to enter the drawing.  If this is the first time you've heard of this group, just say, "I don't know any."  Maybe you'll get a chance to listen to this album and familiarize yourself with them!

I'm going to extend this giveaway a little.  My son has a new webpage called I Play Jesus Music.  If you check it out and leave a comment on his I Play Jesus Music Facebook Page, I will also enter you in the drawing.  You'll have to mention that you want to be part of the Hillsong drawing so that I can get all the names from his Facebook page as well!

About Hillsong United:UNITED is committed to writing songs that speak truth, create a unique sound, connect with churches, individuals and ultimately connect people everywhere with God. UNITED serve in church as a part of the wider Hillsong Worship and Creative team when they are home. When on tour, they are accompanied by the whole Hillsong team’s support and prayers that their ministry would arrest hearts and point people to Jesus, impacting individuals, local youth groups and local churches.

S O C I A L • C O R N E R (brace yourselves, they are social musicians ;)

Twitter: @HillsongUnited

Instagram: @HillsongUnited

Check them out on tour this summer:

Honorable Mention: 
- Here’s a video of their performance on the TODAY show in case you missed it last month:

Official website:

Happy listening!

1 comment:

  1. My favorite Hillsong song is Lead Me To The Cross. yarbr012 at gmail dot com