Every year when ARIAs time rolls around, we’re left with an awards show that is diminishing every year and an artist that will be nominated 27 times, only to be snubbed the succeeding year. Gabriella Cilmi, Empire of the Sun, Angus and Julia Stone, Sam Sparro – these are all names that were once ARIA gold and a now a mere blip on ARIA’s radar. In fact, this year Angus and Julia Stone only find themselves nominated in the Category for Best Rock Release, probably only because Rick Rubin produced it.
Yes, it’s an odd, kitsch award show that always pulls in the best International talent to celebrate Australian music, but it’s our award show and we love it. Afterall, all we have to look forward to is the Logies and The Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. For somebody who loves award shows, it’s pretty slim pickings.
As I eluded to before, the 2014 ARIA Award Nominations are out and they tip their hat to our best homegrown talent like the realest Aussie out there, I-G-G-Y. The list, which unbelievably includes 5 Seconds Of Summer in a category with Violent Soho, almost makes it feel like Australia has had a pretty miserable year. But, it’s quite the contrary actually.
So, our dear, underfunded piss-up, the ARIAs – what do we do with you? Below are how we would’ve set out the nominations, if that counts for anything.
Album of the Year
The Album of the Year category has been a kiss of death for most that have won it. Angus and Julia Stone, Boy & Bear and Empire of the Sun have all suffered downturns on their follow-ups, so we were tempted to fill this category with artists we hate. We didn’t though. How could you hate Sia’s mega-album 1000 Forms of Fear that came after writing for nearly every superstar on the planet. It’s a pop album in every sense- there’s huge melodies, an even bigger voice and fire metaphors aplenty. Kimbra’s, The Golden Echo has been criminally underappreciated since its release but it’s one of the years most wildly adventurous records. It’s a complete curveball from the Kiwi singer that combines soulful melodies with instrumental detours at every turn.
It’s ridiculous to even imagine two hip-hop artists up for Album of the Year but this is a perfect world and Allday and Remi’s albums were pretty perfect. Both the records were slick and world class. They were personal, yet also upbeat and dance-worthy, showing that Australian hip-hop has plenty more to offer. Finally, DZ Deathrays addition is the punch in the guts this category needs. They’re one of those bands that have quietly become one of Australia’s most successful exports, particularly in the UK. Black Rat saw them carve out the melody amongst grinding, raucous instrumentals revealing a band that is more than just a garage-rock outfit.
This is a pretty prestigious category. It’s been won by the Queen of the ARIAs in 2008, Gabriella Cilmi and was last year won by Jessica Mauboy. Kimbra has already won this category twice but her second album The Golden Echo is far superior to the first. It’s an opus of sprawling melodies and daring instrumentals that should’ve seen her win for a third time. Courtney Barnett is the most obvious snub of the ARIAs. She’s been killing it overseas with performances at both Glastonbury and Coachella but unfortunately she ain’t good enough to share the stage with Iggy Azalea in Aus. Elizabeth Rose and Tkay Maidza would be great additions to help along young Australian talent instead of pushing the oldies up an inevitably ending hill. And Sia is there still on our list because she just writes dem melodies that make us kill. It’s been a phenomenal year for her and her win will make people forget about her fellow nominees.
Australian hip-hop is reaching its peak right now. A peak which could see it embraced by the rest of the world rather than leaving a bad taste in the mouth like truffle oil eaten by a despiser. Remi and Allday are the golden boys of hip-hop this year. They’ve both released great albums that effortlessly embraced overseas influences and still made it sound like it could’ve only been made here. On the other end of the spectrum, Tom Iansek of Big Scary released a delicate, nurtured record as #1 Dads and further proved himself as one of the best voices in the country. While that record was criminally underappreciated, Mr. Chet Faker’s hasn’t. Built On Glass has helped him become the Flume of 2014 and while you could argue the album was a little over-indulgent, it’s done good things for Aussie music. Andy Bull took five years to release his second album but it was well worth the wait. A Sea of Approval is an anxious, cohesive-set.
Yes, these groups were denied of an official nomination because of 5 Seconds of Summer. Lets take a moment for that to sink in. The Preatures will most likely have their moment next year when the album is eligible for nomination but they had some cracker singles in 2014- like the gritty anthem, Better Than It Ever Could Be. Talking of groups with a killer frontwoman, The Jezabels continued to show themselves as the country’s best moody songwriters with an album that saw the band embrace pop and Hayley-Mary’s voice sore once more. Ball Park Music started off in the eyes of the public as a bit of fun but with three album to their name now, they’ve etched themselves a place in Australian music history. Puddinghead is their best release – humorous, upsetting and melodic.
We don’t want to take away from Andy Bull but a breakthrough nomination five years after a debut album feels a little like the Grammys awarding Bon Iver on his second album. This category’s an absolute corker this year, managing to find room for Iggy Azalea and 5SOS in the SAME category. We’ve talked about Allday a bit already but will just finish on saying if he started a cult, we would join it. A cult we would also join is one started by Adelaide rapper Tkay Maidza. Her single U-Huh is the best number one hit that was never number one. Surely, she’ll get a nod next year. Oscar Key Sung has been kicking around the Melbourne scene for a while but his Holograms EP truly felt like his breakthrough. Combining electronica and RnB, it spawned one of the best singles of the year All I Could Do. That track is almost as good as Future Classic signee, George Maple’s Talk Talk. It’s a seductive stunner with warm undertones that’s begging to be snapped up overseas. D.D. Dumbo has already been snapped up overseas becoming somewhat of a poster boy for NME in the UK because Tropical Oceans has one of the best vocal riffs of the year.