United, formerly Hillsong United, came together to reach youth with worship music that had more of a "rock ’n’ roll" influence. The band followed in the footsteps of worship leader Darlene Zschech, who led a separate band “Hillsong” that was based out of the same church.
The group's latest album, Empires, includes the song "Touch The Sky." Within the lyrics and mood of this ballad, Hillsong provides a call to Christ followers to surrender to our King. "In the world's view, surrender would be seen as a sign of weakness or defeat, but it's the opposite ... we surrender not because we've lost; but, because He's already won everything for us," says Joel Houston.
"Touch The Sky" follows United's moving song "Oceans," off their album of the same title (2013), which gets its inspiration from the story of Peter walking on water. "It was one of the first songs that we wrote. We got together at the beginning of the project and we spent like ten days, locked away in my apartment in New York City and we just wrote songs," Houston shares. "So we got together the last day of tracking, and we knew what the song was about but we didn't have the lyrics. So we went and found a waterfall in Sydney by the studio, and the lyrics just came. It's just a song about stepping into the unknown, and it's a song about faith, and raw trust, and I love that."
"Scandal of Grace" (Zion 2013) is another powerful worship song that points us to the unfathomable grace of God through Christ. "I remembered this conversation I had with this guy who was kind of a disgruntled believer, about God. We were talking about how some things don't make sense, and he said to me, 'it's the scandal of grace,'" explains Joel. "We think of scandal as something negative, but the grace of God through Jesus is completely scandalous! That's why he was crucified. It's much easier to live by a set of rules that we think can take us up to God, when he made his way to us and there is no good enough thing that we can do to get to God."
United’s popular, congregational-friendly songs like "Lead Me To The Cross," "Aftermath," “Your Name High,” and “King of All Days” have been sung in church services around the world and are led by songwriters and worship leaders Joel Houston, Jad Gillies and JD in their native Australia.
Their song, "Search My Heart" off the album Aftermath shows the band's dedication to worship and true devotion to God. "We'd be all living in the aftermath of our sins if it weren't for Jesus," explains Joel. "Because of Him, we're living in a different aftermath, one filled with hope and forgiveness."
In addition to making music, United is passionate about reaching non-believers with I-HEART - a unique opportunity for Christians to put feet to their faith.
I-HEART simply exists to “help more people,” whether it’s the homeless population or those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. To accomplish their purpose, the band partners with believers from across the globe, making the I-HEART the revolution they've always dreamed about. I-HEART truly emphasizes the power of Christians teaming together for a common purpose.
United won the award for "Worship Song of the Year," for their song "Oceans," at the 2014 K-LOVE fan awards.