Oh, hello! So, anyway, this weekend a hot new pop record by Hillsong Worship looks likely to debut in the Top 5 of the ARIA Charts – laughably titled There Is More despite the very fact they are hoping to conceal that information from their followers.
I have written about this very fact numerous times, but I cannot put too fine a point on the fact that Hillsong is an ARIA-accredited store.
This means that sales of this CD/passport-to-heaven count towards the ARIA charts. This is not divine intervention. This is coercion, and groupthink, and the type of pressure that PR firms would dream of being able to apply.
Now, in 1993, John Fogerty from Creedence Clearwater Revival got sued by his old label for ripping off an old Creedence song from 1970 – which he wrote.
At the risk of copping a similar lawsuit, here’s an excerpt from something I wrote in early 2013 for Junkee, which lays out the moral issue with Hillsong sales counting towards the charts. Let me stress, this isn’t a legal issue (until Junkee sue me, of course) but a moral one – which I’ll admit is in the eye of the beholder (did I rip that phrase off from the Bible. Do Hillsong own the Bible?)
“…These are actual physical sales, and therefore as legitimate a practice as bands selling records over a merchandise desk. Tamworth Entertainment Centre, for example, is also an accredited ARIA store, and only report statistics when there are big festivals or arena shows on, which no doubt helps to spike album sales by country artists performing at the centre. However, it’s the insidious nature of the Hillsong United sales that should be cause for concern.
The topic of religion is far too broad and contentious to even get into here, however it is doubtful that country music fans feel the immense pressure of contributing to a cause when they decide to purchase the latest Lee Kernigan record.
Nor is there the indoctrination from an early age. You want peer pressure? Try not buying the latest recording, released by your church, which claims to be “an expression of a really extraordinary God doing what only He can do through really ordinary people who love Him, want to serve Him and to build His church.” Now that’s a sales pitch!”
If this seems farfetched, keep in mind that Hillsong draw upward of 20,000 worshippers a week to their centre in Baulkham Hills. That’s one of over a dozen centres they run in Australia.
The ARIA charts come out at 5pm on Saturday. Try to act surprised. Then take a day of rest – you’ve earned it.