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An Analysis Of 2016 Australian Music ... So Far

So Abbey and I are poor and need money. We figured one way to get out of our problems was to strategically work out which songs would place well in the Hottest 100 and bet on them.

What followed was a discussion of some of the most popular tracks that Australia has seen this year so far.

These are our stories (dun dun).

Strange Diseases- Gang of Youths

ABBEY: An incredibly emancipating single by a band that is really rising through the ranks of Australia’s rock scene. First seeing the light of day on their album ‘The Positions’ in 2014, Strange Diseases has been remastered and re-released as one of the most powerful singles on the band’s sophomore effort ‘Let Me Be Clear’. With a killer string section and lyrics perfect for crowd participation, Gang of Youths are making some of the most promising music of the moment.

HAYDN: I don’t normally listen to rock, but this track is actually pretty great. I feel like it’s always going to be a banger when there are some strings to tie it all together. It doesn’t revamp the genre too much, but it’s a nice accessible tune that will provide you some variety to your Shake It Off-dominated playlist.

ABBEY: I have literally just decided that this is my second favourite song of the year. The first being Beyonce’s Don’t Hurt Yourself, because duh.

House on a Hard Rock – NGAIIRE

ABBEY: Charming the airwaves last year with her gorgeous track Once, the Papua New Guinea-born singer NGAIIRE is back at it again with her charming lyricism and appreciation for minimalism. With a grasp on RnB that is unfortunately otherwise lacking in the Australian scene, the artist plays with subtle sythns and vocal runs.

HAYDN: Probably the best R&B artist Australia has, and that’s not a great thing. Unfortunately, I find her uniqueness less authentic and more of an attempt to join the visionaries of the genre such as Frank Ocean and Miguel. The vocals and instrumental don’t mesh as well as the listener would hope, and the song could be catchier. Tbh - It’s a bit of a miss.

1955 (feat. Montaigne) – Hilltop Hoods

ABBEY: Arguably Australia’s most successful Hip Hop export, Hilltop Hoods have been around and kicking for over a decade now. And it shows. Navigating the Hip Hop scene appears to be a difficult pursuit for the white boys of Australia, but this act has never put a foot wrong. It has samples of 1950s advertisements throughout the track. And the feature of Montaigne? What an excellent decision that was.

HAYDN: I tried to go this year without listening to this song. I really did. Ugh. The chorus is really catchy, well done Montaigne. As for the rest of the song, um… I like the music video. It’s also produced pretty well. I just think you can’t make a song about 1955, called 1955, and have it sound modern. At least it’s better than Illy. Hey?

Because I Love You- Montaigne

ABBEY: Certainly worthy of multiple mentions, it has been a huge year for Montaigne. Playing our humble Manning Bar on a Wednesday evening just last year, this year has seen her release a solid debut album with some of the most wicked album art you’ll ever see. Because I Love You is as lyrically intricate as it is catchy. ‘I ate a salad today, I ate one yesterday too’, Montaigne documents her quest to be worthy of someone, no matter how self-deprecatingly different she becomes. With a voice like a sexy Scandinavian yodeler, Because I Love You is bursting with talent.

HAYDN: I agree with Abbey wholeheartedly on this one. Can we please make it our mission to get this chick to the Top 5 of the Hottest 100? Her character screams throughout this song, and it’s so great. The vocals and the production are so fun, so groovy, so down to earth and yet so above us. I just want to be friends with her. Please Montaigne? Because I love you. Lmao.

Papercuts (feat. Vera Blue) - Illy

ABBEY: If this was a one-word review, the word I would go for would be ‘generic’, Yep, it’s a generic rap-meets-pop song. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With a pretty dope drop, I picture a bunch of adults sitting around a table asking “But what do the kids like?” Low and behold: the kids like this song. Its catchy, its danceable, but it is a bit ‘meh’.

HAYDN: NOPE. I disagree. This song is so bad. It’s like Australia saw the genericism of G-EAZY, said “hey I think we need one of those” and made of of the worst pop-rap songs I have EVER heard. People say music can move people. This song makes me move away from the speakers, to Officeworks, just so I can give myself a papercut.

ABBEY: Ooo savage. But yeah, you’re not wrong.

Surgery of Love – The Delta Riggs

ABBEY: Fuzzy guitar hooks, leather jackets, and harmonica solos. In essence, The Delta Riggs are pretty much a dad band. But they do it so damn well. Rock music, once the pinnacle of ~cool~, has faded into a bit of obscurity of late. But whilst The Delta Riggs don’t take themselves too seriously, their music is just awesome. An excellent live band and a catchy tune, one can only hope that more musicians will follow suit.

HAYDN: With the exception of this song, funk has kind of disappeared from the mainstream music scene this year. Which is such a shame. Having said this, the catchiness of this track is enough to fill the St Vincent / Multi-Love hole in your heart. On their Facebook, their genre is “zig-zag” and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Check out their music video as well, if you’re looking for a weird fucking treat.

Smoke and Retribution (feat. Vince Staples and Kucka) - Flume

ABBEY: Flume has already made a rightful appearance on this year’s top pop songs. But this boy is a home grown favourite, so naturally he is a fitting addition to this list. Smoke and Retribution was the second single released off Flume’s second album, and what made it so special were the features. Vince Staples is taking the Australian scene by storm, and Kucka? Well she can undoubtedly hold the title for Australia’s feature queen.

HAYDN: It’s really great to see two worlds colliding and creating masterpieces. The two worlds being: Flume’s mesmerising mainstream success with female driven hooks and the fiery rap styles of Vince Staples. The authenticity of the rap verses fit all-to-well with Flumes off-beat signature production, resulting in an unforced, well-meshing collaboration. Well done fam.

The Opposite of Us – Big Scary

ABBEY: With one of the most beautiful intros I have ever heard, The Opposite of Us demonstrates Big Scary’s uncanny ability to layer minimal percussion, breathy vocals and melodic keys. Just when you think the song has plateaued, it enthrals you once more. Every element of this song is wonderful. The Melbournian Duo master the rise and fall like no other.

HAYDN: If you are on the bus home, listen to this song. It’s good for a nice sunset, window-stare. The opening instrumental channels some serious stripped-back Rihanna, but as soon as the vocals kick in, you are swept away by the Aussie persona (and reminded that you love Triple J). Slightly basic, but sometimes we just need that Coldplay x Rudimental x Aussie twist vibe in our life, ya feel?

Carry On (feat. Killer Mike) – Tkay Maidza

HAYDN: This song is phenomenal. It’s not good Australian rap. It’s good rap, a label that no other Australian artist has achieved. TKAY channels a fusion of the highs of Icona Pop and Azalea Banks and makes it her own. The chanting, anthemic nature of the chorus proves to the listener that she doesn’t need to rely on singing to keep you interested. Not to mention, nabbing one of the Run the Jewels duo makes for one hell of a cross-cultural tune. Also she snapchatted me one time.

ABBEY: BANGER BANGER BANGER! Spectacular tune. Divine. TKay is a gem and an absolute blessing to the Australian music scene. Although some of the lyrics are a bit of a miss, “this may be communism when I tell you this is mine” (lol wot?), TKay’s talent is undeniable. Also she held my hand and sang to me one time.

Cheap Thrills (feat. Sean Paul) – Sia

HAYDN: Who knew that an Australian artist would pioneer a revival of reggae-pop tracks that are slowly becoming the face of mainstream dance music. Together with Sean Paul, Sia proves that she doesn’t need a massive range or a viral video to sell records. Bottom line, this is a fun and catchy pop song. Some may argue that in an Igloo Australia fashion, Sia has become Americanised. That may be true but she is an Aussie grown talent that’s experimenting with genres and different styles, let’s just let her be. Cause she’s fucking killing it.

ABBEY: The extent of Sia’s talent is literally unfathomable. Her writing credits are extensive, her celebrity is unconventional, and her voice has a range better than most of Hollywood. She has been embraced by the American market yes, but she gave years of her life to Aussie Indie Pop. Its only fair the world gets to enjoy her.

Girls Talk Boys – 5 Seconds of Summer

HAYDN: I don’t care what any of you say, 5SOS are genuinely underrated. It’s such a shame that because of their predominantly teenage-girl fanbase they aren’t taken seriously. What about 1975? What about the Arctic Monkeys? This foursome pumped out the only highlight from the Ghostbusters soundtrack, blending supernatural inspiration with their infectious catchy vocals and heartbreaker personas. Keep it up boys.

ABBEY: I can’t say that I am on the 5SOS train, but this is purely because I very much was, when we were all 15. Regardless, this is such a fun song. The hook is very familiar, but until I pinpoint where I know it from, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I must admit that I get very excited when I hear this song on the radio.


Haydn Hickson