"The Very Best of Hillsong Live... Again"

Reviewing a compilation album can render both reader and writer towards fatigue, so I will use this opportunity to present an idea to the mega
church down under.
Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for
Hillsong. I know a lot of mega churches try to find their own musical
niche, (Mars Hills Church comes to mind), but the reality is, Hillsong
is the dominant trend setter around the globe in contemporary worship.
Some churches might be a decade behind, or right under Hillsong's
shadow, but the influence is there nonetheless. They're not only a top
band in CCM, but a powerhouse in Australia's secular music industry,
something no worship team in America has achieved yet. I will give our
churches a break though, America's music industry is a tough market to
Anyways, we have yet another collection of Hillsong material over the years compiled into one disk. Never mind the previous
collections, "Absolute Worship volumes 1&2", and a few other
varieties here and there. Before the digital age of music, most worship
leaders found these disks helpful because we could purchase cds of
their best material into one without spending money on albums of new
material only to find 1 or 2 songs worthy of teaching to our
The digital age, and introduction of online music stores like itunes make a lot of worship compilation albums like this
useless. All the recordings are the same from their original albums.
The songs itself fit a good standard of work despite omitting some of
the best of their newer material like "Lead me to the Cross" or
"Hosanna." (Come to think of it, they left out everything composed by
Brooke Fraser/Ligertwood in this compilation despite the success of her
contributions) But in general I can't help but feel this is just an
easy way for the church to use it's brand name to make money. Even if
all the money goes for some good cause.
Here's what I would like to see on Hillsong's next "The Very Best of Hillsong Live" or whatever
they call it compilation album. I know Hillsong is all about setting
trends for churches, but what would really help the smaller, less
equipped churches throughout the world is an unplugged compilation of
some of the best of their newest material. I know right now the trend
is big electric guitar, keyboard pads, big drums, lights, video,
screens, etc... but most churches don't have that. We still use pianos,
acoustic guitars, congas, or small drum sets, and if we're lucky bass
and lead guitar. It's not that we're saying no to the current trends,
it's just typically we don't have a host of hundreds of professional
musicians to choose from so we take what we can get.
Often times it's intimidating trying to pull off a big electric guitar driven song
without the electric guitar, (or player competent or current enough to
play it).
The results are sometimes sketchy at best, with that feeling of "okay, I know this song is missing something, but what?"
while you worship to it. Often times it's not the song itself, just our
impression of it. "Mighty to Save" didn't take off in churches in
America until Laura Story did a folk/acoustic cover and we realized
"wow, this is just overall a great worship song."
Now, I'm not talking about them just doing a bunch of studio recordings. It needs to
be an applied setting. Gather some of their top worship leaders,
"Reuben Morgan, Brooke Ligertwood, Joel Huston, Marty Sampson and
company" and take away all the electronic "hip" elements and leave them
with just one acoustic
guitar, some percussion, a few background singers, a piano, and one or
two novelty instruments like a violin or flute. Now, no cheating by
just using all the slow or "worshipful" songs. Do the rockers, and
stadium sized anthems!
They're professionals, I expect nothing less than amazing results, and it'll give the rest of us a chance to hear
how these songs work in a setting that fits the reality of most
churches today with the quality, and professionalism that comes from
the writers and producers of these songs rather than a cover.
I'm not asking them to change their general trend setting ways, or do this
on their standard live album recordings. Just give us something that
fits our reality. If the results are suddenly more and more churches
feel less intimidated to do more of their current material, doesn't
that fit into their purpose of worship?

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Comment by Worship The Rock on May 24, 2010 at 7:36pm
Thanks for this blog - enjoyed it! I really like your suggestion for the next Hillsong "best of" CD!
Comment by Matthew Edey on May 24, 2010 at 8:39pm
Thanks. I've just started a review blog, and this was my first review... It keeps me writing which is a good thing as I haven't done it since I graduated from journalism school, lol.


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