47 Most Iconic Songs in Aussie Music History

Any Australian may be proud of Australia’s musical heritage. Even while Australian fans are inevitably partial, most of us firmly feel that Aussie has spent decades creating some of the world’s most exquisitely composed and masterfully sung music.

What Australian music moments stand out as the most memorable in history?

A single song may provide the soundtrack to the finest (and worse) times in our life, much like a scene from a cherished movie. These songs, which often appear on iPods or in the backdrop of TV commercials, take us back in time by unlocking memories from the past. 

Some popular culture’s biggest and most famous events also have musical soundtracks. As are the outstanding Australian musicians who created the music and who themselves are in charge of many of the decade-defining scenes that feature in this collector’s edition.

Consider the continued success of local artists like Kylie Minogue, the cultural influence of fledgling record companies like Modular, and the encroachment of music television on popular culture and the general public’s awareness. There are many iconic Australian music moments.

When a moment in time and music come together, it may dismantle boundaries, spark movements, initiate trends, launch industries, create icons, and permanently alter the course of history. All those above have been accomplished by some pioneering individuals who made the Rolling Stone List, including Michael Gudinski. It’s the stuff of legends and the making of legends.

1. The Godfather: Michael Gudinski Launches Mushroom

Michael Gudinski was the first to acknowledge his ignorance. He could have been better at selling watermelons, for instance.

At the Sunbury Festival when they were children, Gudinski and his buddy Ray Evans had an entrepreneurial concept.

Gudinski managed a number of the bands performing at the now-iconic early 1970s festival as stage manager. In 2010, Evans claimed to a reporter that he had thought of the concept for a watermelon concession: simply truck in the fuckers and slice them in half. 

Gudinski had finished his melon sales. During the next four decades, the late Melbourne businessman created the Mushroom Group, a vast, independent music empire unlike anything else in Australia.

He continues by saying that they have tried to maintain most of their assets in the music industry, where everybody is familiar with them.

Before starting Mushroom Records with Evans in 1972, Gudinski, popularly known as MG, started organising dance parties across his neighbourhood as a teenager. MG was just 20 years old at the time. 

It would sprout tour arms from it. Later, the label ratified Skyhooks, a group that Gudinski was managing at the time (despite being the youngest of all the band members). There was no ceiling. 

The business Gudinski founded was involved in every imaginable aspect of music when he died away in 2021 at the age of 68. These included concerts, tours, publishing, agencies, merchandising, neighbouring rights, cinema and TV, creative services, and labels. 

One of the world’s most prominent independent concert promoters, Frontier Touring is a behemoth. It was the driving force behind Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour 2018, an all-time box office smash with over a million tickets sold.

Gudinski knew that if marketing is about buying, selling, and playing in the grey area between, occasionally, an offer is just too good to pass up. In the 1990s, MG sold Records to Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd (now News Corporation) in a two-part agreement known in the music business as the “deal of the century.

He most likely had postnatal sale depression after selling out, which is a rare Gudinski designation. He then experienced a time when he was quite wealthy but also a little disillusioned. And they put back a large portion of that money into the company. 

Gudinski remained committed to the endeavour even after the epidemic and daily life. He used the telephones to do business. Featuring more than fifty music talents from both sides of the Tasman, The Mushroom Group Chairman staged Music From The Home Front, a fictitious Anzac Day performance broadcast on the free-to-air commercial Nine Network.

And from it, the triple-vinyl set Music From The Home Front, just the second product of that kind to be distributed in Australia by Mushroom after the live Sunbury album.

The entire Home Front album’s proceeds were donated to the music industry nonprofit Support Act, which propelled it to the top of the ARIA Albums Chart.

He still had to finish. The State of Music, a multi-part webcast series concentrating on local talent, was launched by MG in collaboration with the Victorian Government’s Victoria Together programme. 

He also launched The Sound, a multi-season ABC series produced by Mushroom Vision. Gudinski told this reporter in late 2020, “This is not about my labels. The topic here is Australian music.

The news of Gudinski’s death shocked people all across the world. Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, and Sheeran were among an impressive list of celebrities who attended the homage to the late musician. 

The “Shape of You” singer travelled a considerable distance to Gudinski’s state monument, where he performed the recently written song “Visiting Hours” in honour of his buddy. Jimmy Barnes and Kylie Minogue, two of MG’s close companions and artist signings, were the back singers in the final edit.   

Mushroom Group will mark its 50th anniversary in 2023. The company’s 200 workers, past employees, and friends will be at the centre of those goals, according to CEO Matt Gudinski, MG’s son. 

MG isn’t there anymore, but the community he founded still bears the influence of his spirit. Outside Rod Laver Arena, MG is immortalised on a statue, delivering his signature one-finger salute and proclaiming, “Number One forever.”

2. Chart Attack: ARIA Introduces Australia’s First Official Music Charts

The claims about the demise of the music sales charts have been grossly overblown.

Only a few individuals enjoy charts, those cyclical measurements of popularity. But ever since recordings have been created and released to the general public, charts have provided us with a view into what is rising and dying.

Charts are a necessary piece of equipment for the record industry and its retail partners. And promoters, who bet on whether their artist will be well-liked enough to generate ticket sales.

Though few would acknowledge it, musicians keep an eye on the charts. When Pnau and Elton John’s song Good Morning to the Night was ready to top the UK chart in 2012, the Rocket Man gave the guys a wake-up call. 

“Elton called us at three in the morning and yelled, ‘Why the fuck aren’t you awake?'” Peter Mayes of Pnau said, “We’re going Number One.”

And indeed, anoraks and geeks connected to this never-ending popularity struggle enjoy charts all over the globe.

The ARIA Charts will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2023. On July 10, 1983, the entire body released the Countdown Chart, the first poll it had ever conducted. David Kent, who had written his own Kent Music Report, was chosen to keep track of sales for the new, official tally for the first five years.

The number one song on the inaugural singles chart was “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler, whose music video was made by Australian director Russell Mulcahy. The biggest album was Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which debuted at Number One on the ARIA Albums survey.

In 1988, ARIA started handling such charts internally since few record shops even had fax machines. The four chart employees would phone the shops and key in the information on one hectic day each week after the forms were issued a week in advance. “Chart Day” would go far into the night since the procedure was everything but scientific.

In four decades, all streaming and sales information will be available online. 

ARIA’s charts in the 1980s and 1990s had data from a few stores; currently, its system receives data from over a thousand outlets, combining digital and physical data, including broadcasts from the most widely used DSPs. 

Except for the ARIA Club Chart, which compiles reports filed by experienced DJs, all charts depend on sales and consumption statistics.

The ARIA charts continue to develop as preferences shift and new platforms for music emerge. Then streaming and downloads were added to the mix. 

The trade association recently released its inaugural New Release Chart, a weekly analysis of the most well-liked new songs worldwide on a four-month cycle.

The singles and albums rankings were advanced by a full day in March 2021, one of the most significant developments for those who prefer to receive the news first. 

In doing so, ARIA’s two preliminary surveys were issued first in the world cycle, outpacing the UK charts by a few hours.

You’re not alone if you don’t work in the music industry yet get excited by charts, evidence of enduring hits, slow-burners, and failures.

3. Big Day Out Bags Nirvana

1992 became a pivotal year for Australia.

We had survived the necessary recession; the ABC introduced two bananas dressed in pyjamas, Queensland rejected daylight saving time, the Prime Minister acquired the nickname “the Lizard of Oz” after caressing the monarch’s back, and, most importantly, Australian music underwent a permanent transformation. And it was somewhat unintentional.

A bit evolved out of what started as a Violent Femmes tour with a little-known grunge band from Seattle, on purpose, by accident.

Violent Femmes were travelling to Australia when Ken West and Viv Lees, who became friends during community service removing concert posters as a punishment for hanging up gig posters, hired Nirvana to open so they could play larger venues. 

Unbeknownst to Lees, West continued modifying the Violent Femmes performance at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion in response to the US event SummerFest. 

You Am I, and Yothu Yindi were two of the Australian alternative scene’s darlings he hired in addition to installing a skate ramp in the forecourt. A routine assignment was becoming something far more significant. 

West continued to add artists as more bands learned about the event. The Violent Femmes eventually evolved into Kenfest (and later, at the last minute, Big Day Out), including twenty-one artists performing over three stages for twelve hours. 

This a fantastic premise that event planners have since imitated; the only issue was that tickets weren’t selling.

Fortunately, the band scheduled to perform as support had been working on a new record. Their first album, Bleach, had only moderate success, peaking at number 89 on the Billboard 100. 

However, their follow-up album Nevermind and its lead hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” completely altered the course of history. Everyone wanted to see Nirvana perform, and alternative music had become widespread.

The concept that almost failed dramatically has become the most popular thing to As ao.

As a result of the first year’s popularity, Big Day Out was extended to Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth the following year and then to Auckland and Gold Coast in 1994. 

What started as a regular performer at the Hordern gradually grew into a multi-city event with up to eight stages, bringing the greatest bands in the world to Australia and exposing fans to the songs they would adore for the rest of the year.

Big Day Out is famous for many things. Still, on 25 January 1992, the most popular band in history played the middle slot at an unheard-of music festival in Sydney, forever altering the course of music concerts in this nation and, for a long time, setting the bar for subsequent celebrations to meet.

And most significantly, it allowed around 9,500 spectators to declare.

4. The Countdown Revolution Begins on ABC TV

It’s hard to communicate the significance of Countdown to someone who wasn’t of a specific age at the time. You can catch up on old episodes and read books about it, most notably Peter Wilmoth’s wonderful Glad All Over. 

Still, to truly understand the full impact and power of that ABC music’n’chat television programme, which genuinely stopped a nation every Sunday night between 1974 and 1987, you had to be a member of the Countdown generation. 

The Australian youth stopped what they were doing at six o’clock and assembled in front of the television, waiting for the words “COUNTDOWN… and evening with your host Mollyyyyyyy Meldrum.” 

Then you would watch in awe to see which films had been successful, who was playing live, and how often Molly would use the phrases “do yourself a favour” and “um.” 

You would adore some performers and loathe others, but you would be captivated by this action-packed hour of television, which often ends in a trainwreck. The first question you’d ask at school the following morning if you were to miss an episode was, “Who was on Countdown last night?” 

The most effective platform for popular songs in the nation was this programme. Cold Chisel wrecked the stage after their performance at the Countdown Awards, and Molly had exclusive content with everyone. 

Prince Charles appeared on the show for an interview with Molly. The chats with Rod, Elton, or whatever else it was that week often made little to no sense, but you paid attention, observed, and listened.

The programme came of age in October 1974, when this nation switched from black and white to colour television. Record companies would do everything to have their people on the show. 

Ever wonder why Australian performers’ live performances have become so graphically focused? They had to accept a version’s colour and visual elements for Deadline and colour broadcasts. After that, they carried it to the bars and the rest of the globe. 

Countdown eventually came to an end. Of course, there were other musical television programmes, such as the omnipresent MTV, which debuted in Australia in April 1987. 

The Countdown Revolution, an experiment by ABC, is most known for the live-to-air walkout by presenters Tania Lacy and Mark Little on June 22, 1990, for various reasons, chief among them the need for performers to mimic backtracks. Nobody recalls this Countdown. 

Countdown featured Molly Meldrum stuttering and fumbling through the world-exclusive “interviews” and 30-minute broadcast, often “tired and emotional.” 

We recall the abundance of ABBA, John Paul Young (also known as Squeak) serving as co-host, Iggy Pop referring to Molly as “dogface,” and the arguments with Elton and Rod. The countdown has a start and end. 

Never again will one television programme have so much significance, authority, or impact. Those thirty minutes of beautiful mayhem on Sunday nights were the breaking point for many Australian stars. The most significant problem of the day has never been who appeared on a pop music TV programme the night before, and it never will be.

5. Yothu Yindi Prove Trailblazers for First Nations Music

Despite a long and rich history dating back over 40,000 years, Indigenous Australian music only came to light in 1991. With the signing of extensive record agreements by bands like Coloured Stone and Warumpi Band in the 1980s, the struggle for First Nations artists to succeed intensified. 

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until Yothu Yindi broke boundaries with their ground-breaking track “Treaty” that mainstream Australia started to accept and enjoy First Nations music.

The Barunga Statement was submitted to then-prime minister Bob Hawke by the Yolngu people in 1988. Hawke replied by promising to put the requests for a treaty with First Nations people into effect by 1990.

Yothu Yindi, a band of balanda and Yolngu members, was rising then. In 1988, they were allowed to tour with Midnight Oil in the US, which was their big break. After their return, they signed with Mushroom Records, and their first album, Homeland Movement, was released in 1989.

The band and Paul Kelly wrote “Treaty” in reaction to the 1990 deadline nearing with no response from the government, making a strong musical statement. 

The song came out with little excitement until Melbourne group Filthy Lucre remixed it, taking components of the mostly rock-based music and turning them into a disco blockbuster.

The song made history when it entered the ARIA Charts for the first time, with lyrics in both English and Yolngu, reaching Number Eleven. 

The film provided non-Indigenous Australia with a unique insight into the life of distant First Nations communities by showcasing the band members’ traditional dance and culture.

In the US, the band was registered to Hollywood Records and reached Number Three on the Billboard World Music chart; the compilation Tribal Voice became a Top Five smash later that year. 

The song “Treaty” won the Song of the Year award at the 1991 APRA Awards, the Human Rights Commission’s Record and Songwriting of the Year awards and the ARIA Award for Best Australian Single. 

The MTV International and Australian Music Awards awarded the video Best Australian Video. Based on the band’s historical accomplishments, singer Dr M. Yunupingu was named Australian of the Year in 1993.

Although Gurrumul, a member of Yothu Yindi, ultimately broke the band’s record for the highest-selling Indigenous album, maintaining the significant Yolgnu impact on Australian music, Yothu Yindi’s legacy endured with several further albums. 

The National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia inventory of historically significant works included “Treaty” in 2009.

It’s difficult to overstate the influence of “Treaty” in restoring Black voices and tales in popular music in 2022, with singers like Baker Boy, The Kid LAROI,  and Jessica Mauboy becoming mainstays on radio radios. 

We have yet to advance in our quest for a treaty, and the unjust responsibilities that current First Nations artists continue to bear are substantial. Despite this, Yothu Yindi’s opening of doors and minds made it feasible for modern First Nations talent to succeed.

6. Helen Reddy’s Feminist Anthem Paves the Way for Women

The song “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy from the 1970s helped redefine Australian perception towards women and, more significantly, how they could express themselves. 

There weren’t any powerful songs that correctly captured the tenacity, drive, and grit of the women she knew, according to Reddy, who said that’s why she felt compelled to write it. 

Instead, she was exposed to songs about women that focused on being attractive or unjustly oppressed. 

The opening line, “I am woman, hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore,” sparked a movement and a moment because women play an essential role in society. 

It seems inevitable that a song with the lines “I am strong, I am invincible, I am a woman” would spark a movement and continue to fire emotion today in 2022, given all that has transpired in terms of women’s freedom — and everything that still needs to be done. 

However, upon its release in the early 1970s, the song didn’t immediately become a hit. It was a loud, steady roar that developed a reputation over many years.

Reddy’s first album included the song, but she felt it “was not hit-single material” and noted that it did not get rapid rotation. 

Reddy frequently performed it as the first song at live performances despite what seemed to be a lack of economic success, and it was often mentioned in fan letters. 

Reddy was requested to give the song more substance so it could be released as a single after it was featured in the Stand Up and Be Counted opening credits. 

After Reddy began playing the song on television, the tenacity, willpower, and bravery of the ladies it inspired helped it get some attention.

But even so, it wasn’t sufficient.

Between June and September 1972, “I Am Woman” fluctuated in and out of the Billboard Hot 100 list in the US. 

It peaked at Number One in December, becoming the first Capitol Records single to achieve that position since Bobbie Gentry’s breakthrough single “Ode to Billie Joe” from 1967. Additionally, it was the first US Number One for a musician of Australian descent. 

Reddy also received a Grammy in 1973 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, another ground-breaking achievement as she was the first Australian to do so. 

Reddy famously took the time to thank God, while this is typical at award presentations. But what makes her performance on stage stand out is how she refers to God as a woman, saying that she wants to express her gratitude to God as she makes everything possible.

Although the song has a long history, it may be fortunate that Reddy was unaware of its significance.

7. Kylie Minogue Hailed as Australia’s Queen of Pop

The Australian ambassador to the globe is a soap star, fashion queen, cancer survivor, homosexual icon, dancefloor diva, and music mogul. Australia’s reigning pop and cultural queen is Kylie Minogue. Antarctica is the only continent where Kylie still needs to perform. 

The girl next door, born in Melbourne, has sold over 80 million albums worldwide, making Kylie Minogue the best-selling Australian solo artist of all time.

The true-blue trailblazer has been shattering records since her on-screen nuptials to Scott on the acclaimed Australian serial Neighbours. On July 28, 1987, 20 million Britons and two million Australians were riveted to their televisions to catch the must-see program. 

Due in part to their secret affair, Minogue and Donovan had fantastic chemistry together. A five-decade career encompassing music, cinema, television, fashion, and more began with Neighbours. 

Kylie Minogue has left her mark on everything from wine and water to clothing and perfumes, making her a brand unto herself. Her net worth is estimated to be at $120 million.

The “TV wedding of the year” and the subsequent mainstream release of her debut single, “Locomotion,” after signing with the late and great Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Records, were what indeed launched Kylie Minogue into the minds and hearts of a new admiring international fanbase. 

In Australia, “Locomotion” became the best-selling song of the decade and topped the music charts throughout the globe.  

Many people adored Minogue, but homosexual men in particular. She continues to be covered by drag performers, and gogo dancers in gold hot pants bring songs like “Love at First Sight” and “Better the Devil You Know” to life at LGBTQIA+ pubs and nightclubs all over the globe. 

By supporting underrepresented populations, Kylie has shown her gratitude to the community for supporting her during good and bad times. In 1994, 1998, and 2012, she gave legendary concerts at the Lesbian Mardi Gras Party and the Sydney Gay.

Additionally renowned are Minogue’s many group projects.

In 1988, she sang a duet with Donovan. Over a million copies of “Especially For You” were sold in Britain alone, and it also topped the charts in Australia and Europe. 

Seven years later, Minogue made her most contentious musical alliance on the Top Forty British television programme Top of the Pops. 

“Where the Wild Roses Grow” is the first song from Nick Cave’s eighth studio album, and Kylie described it as “something extraordinary” when Nick Cave and his band The Bad Seeds were in attendance. The combining of two stars from different musical universes was likewise quite contentious. 

As two disparate worlds converged, the bizarre coupling was fruitful. It opened the door for more musically genre-defying and culturally significant moments and allowed Kylie Minogue another run at the top of the global pop charts. 

8. triple j Goes National

The development of triple j has seen several turning points. 

The station debuted in Sydney in 1975 with “You Just Like Me ‘Cause I’m Good in Bed” by the Australian group Skyhooks, a song that had never been on the radio. 

Its clever and sly cultural judgments didn’t end there. 

It was the radio station ready to play “Fuck Tha Police” by N.W.In 1989, despite its profanity. 

Triple j may have served as a counterculture radio station trying to introduce young music lovers to various music genres, artists, and ideas, but powerful forces like politicians and the police weren’t having any of it.

The music was ultimately outlawed, and a staff member got demotion letters. Then, another N.W. participated in a demonstration. A creative “industrial action” involved playing the song “Express Yourself” on the station for 24 hours straight. 

The station made a serious effort to expand outside New South Wales’s capital in the late 1980s and early 1990s, launching the Hottest 100 Countdown.  

The station started expanding into the markets of Newcastle, Darwin, Adelaide,  Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart,  and Perth in 1989, the same year as the “Fuck Tha Police” standoff. 

By 1996, it was also transmitting to more rural areas of Australia, including Alice Springs, Rockhampton, and Kalgoorlie. 

With its launch and the Hottest 100 Countdown’s growing cultural significance, triple j emerged as one of the most significant and influential channels for fresh Australian music. 

Artists including Amy Shark, the Hilltop Hoods, Peter Garrett of the Midnight Oil, and others have said they attribute their breakthrough success to the station for giving their songs a run. 

Triple J continues to develop and impact the regions even as arguments raged about whether the station had a “Sydney bias” or even an “anti-Sydney bias” as part of an overcorrection. 

Triple J helped listeners psychologically escape their isolated locations, according to Dr Kate Ames, who researched the station’s effect on rural audiences for her dissertation. 

She claimed that triple j fosters a notion of a virtual universe that exists above the physical world, uniting individuals through their shared love of music and sense of individuality. 

According to Eltham, the radio station is a “strange hybrid” that sits “uncomfortably between its marketing and community radio cousins.” 

However, he argued that despite its flaws, the ongoing arguments about triple j — whether it is effectively serving its audience, its position in the cultural landscape, its duty of care to its target audience, and, of course, whether the top song on the Hottest 100 is “deserving” each year — serve to highlight the network’s significance and importance. 

Triple J introduced controversy, culture, and cheek to the nation’s young because of its countrywide distribution. In comparison to its commercial competitors, it plays more Australian music—a launchpad for careers. 

Thumbing the nose at the sensors has long been a tradition at The Js, as the station stated, marking its 30th anniversary in 2005. Yes, being cheeky is essential, but so is pushing limits and getting under people’s skin. 

Looking back through the triple j playlists will give you an idea of what has been deemed inappropriate. Popular music has always been a convenient target for the moral majority. In general, we’ve played it if it’s offensive. 

9. Global #MeToo Movement Reaches Australian Music Industry

Like most revolutions, the reckoning on the mistreatment of women in the Australian music business started as a trickle, or possibly a few trickles, until it turned into a torrent.

The exact moment the reckoning started cannot be determined. In the years after the #MeToo movement began, several accounts of inappropriate behaviour by executives and performers alike have surfaced. 

The unveiling of the Instagram account @BeneathTheGlassCeiling, coupled with Jaguar Jonze’s brave disclosure of her alleged sexual assault on Instagram and Twitter, as well as Michelle Pitiris’ critique of Bigsound and QMusic’s lack of response to assault allegations, created significant waves on social media. These events marked a pivotal moment that exposed the shortcomings within these organisations.

A young music business intern was subjected to unethical workplace behaviour by a record label executive on November 26, 2020, according to the first anonymous story published by Beneath The Glass Ceiling.

“I quickly learned that there are no rules in the music industry […] there was an endless blurring of boundaries spurred by alcohol, drugs, and late nights — sustaining the toxic culture of bullying, assault, and mismanagement.”

After then, the executive’s grooming tactics were described, leading to the young intern being coerced into using narcotics at a work function.

The departure of Denis Handlin, the most significant reckoning in the business, was the first of hundreds of tales posted beforehand.

It was widely known that the music business had a toxic culture. The main podcast title that would be released as the situation developed was Everybody Knows.

It was more complicated to break into the notoriously guarded, defensive, and legally sensitive music business, and many journalists had been attempting to do so for years.

The comments poured in. The industry’s poorly kept secret was beginning to get public, and on top of that, one specific record label’s culture was under scrutiny. For those who were aware, Sony Music Australia was the site of most charges made public on Beneath The Glass Ceiling.

Unexpectedly, the solid barriers around the music business were beginning to fracture. As a result of their fear of retaliation, victims who had previously been too terrified to speak did so using fictitious names and anonymous accounts.

Tony Glover, a senior executive at Sony Music, was the first to go down; he was fired after being accused of intimidating and harassing young employees at the business. 

People close to Glover portrayed his misconduct as minimal. They said he was a scapegoat used to deflect attention from the actual problems at the core of one of the most prominent record labels in the nation.

If such were the case, Sony would be entirely off base. Victims were empowered to speak out more after Glover’s resignation, and finally, the outrage reached the New York headquarters. Internal and then external investigations were conducted first.

It needed to be more. Handlin’s resignation from Sony Music was announced by email to workers on June 21, 2021, with immediate effect. 

Pat Handlin, the son of Handlin, and Mark Stebnicki, the HR director, were suspended the next day while the inquiry was ongoing; they later quit without explanation, but there is no indication they were accused of misconduct. Wayne Ringrow, the Australian artist’s marketing director, would later go as well. 

The trickle turned into a flood, carrying away the most crucial figure in Australian music. 

After a few weeks, Universal Music also faced its punishment; however, not much happened because of the probes’ intermittent nature. 

Denis Handlin’s firing was sufficient to spur the music business to action. A review that identified high rates of harassment and intimidation in the Australian music business was published more than a year after Handlin’s departure. The panel that was quickly put up to investigate solutions to the problem was disbanded.

The results were not unexpected. Everyone is aware once more.

The worst incidents in the sector have gone unreported in some instances. For decades, Australian music safeguarded itself by compensating victims hefty sums of money and enforcing strict non-disclosure agreements to keep them silent. 

In some places, offenders are permitted to continue generating music and new victims because they are protected by a strong group of people who threaten and coerce victims into silence, furthering their pain and providing a setting for harmful activity.

10. INXS Pack London’s Wembley Stadium

In their lengthy history, INXS has had several high points. But suppose you ask the band’s surviving members to identify just one memory that stands out. 

In that case, they’ll probably recall their headline performance in front of 74,000 extremely excited fans at the UK’s Wembley Stadium.

 They became one of the largest and most well-known bands on the globe due to that particular incident.

Wembley Arena was already packed when INXS performed there in 1990. The genuine match was at the Stadium. The 1987 Kick album was a smash hit. 

In 1990, they released X as a follow-up, and the band was then unstoppable. And on July 13, 1991, as part of the Stadium’s Summer X series of performances, they drove it home as they performed, mesmerised, and won over the crowd. 

This was the final significant international music market to give in to INXS. It was a voyage that had started in Sydney’s rough and brutal pub scene. 

The UK had always been a challenge in the quest for global dominance, which had first been centred on North America (which they had already conquered). 

In truth, Queen had asked them to perform at Wembley Stadium as a lower-card addition to the list in July 1986. The hordes of Queen fans had yet to take to INXS, using bread, tomatoes, and other things as targets. 

This time, INXS were the featured act, and Michael and his band rocked, grooved, and swaggered their way into folklore. They owned the UK. What comes next? Space, my love.

Keith Urban Takes Country Music to Pop Radio

11. Keith Urban Takes Country Music to Pop Radio

Keith Urban’s rare musical brilliance enabled him to captivate mainstream and country radio simultaneously. However, his ability to achieve this feat came at a price. 

While acknowledging that it stifled his creativity, Urban’s crucial early years as a composer in Nashville allowed him to establish the necessary connections. 

Despite his yearning to create songs with a drum machine, he found himself confined to a small room armed only with a yellow legal pad and an acoustic guitar.

Before his groundbreaking album Fuse in 2013, Keith Urban had already ventured beyond the confines of traditional country music. However, he approached the selection of singles with meticulous thoughtfulness. 

In an interview with Rolling Stone AU/NZ in 2021, Urban revealed his strategy of reserving certain songs for country radio while exploring and performing others outside the genre’s boundaries. 

He knew that the gatekeepers at country radio might need to give those non-traditional songs a fair chance. Nevertheless, his innovative approach was noticed by radio executives outside of country music, who recognised his talent and contributed to his ascent as a prominent figure in the music industry.

Keith Urban’s impressive discography includes acclaimed albums like Graffiti U, which reached the remarkable position of Number Two on the Billboard 200 chart, and The Speed of Now Part 1. 

The latest achievement was particularly notable, marking his fourth consecutive album to debut simultaneously at Number One in the United States, Canada, and Australia. 

Furthermore, Urban has collaborated with various artists, including P!nk, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Amy Shark, Jason Derulo, and Julia Michaels, further cementing his reputation as a versatile and sought-after musician.

Keith Urban is, without a doubt, Australia’s most successful country-crossover export, having garnered five ARIA Awards, four Grammy Awards, nineteen more nominations, twenty-four country Number songs, and many global Number albums. 

12. Uncle Archie Roach Enters the Hall of Fame

Rapper Briggs praised Uncle Archie Roach AM for taking “his story, vulnerability, and heart and making it art” when he was accepted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 2020.

Roach spent thirty years using the strength of his soulful voice and compassionate lyrics to forge a more robust, culturally acceptable national narrative that didn’t sugarcoat the unpleasant realities of colonialism. 

From his debut album Charcoal Lane, released in 1990, the song “Took The Children Away” especially became an anthem for those from the Stolen Generations. It is undoubtedly Roach’s most well-known song, drawn from personal experience, and the first to win an Australian Human Rights Award.

This song was played by Roach that evening together with Charcoal Lane co-producer Paul Kelly, another musician.

Despite his illness and inability to travel, Roach and his family assembled at the Lighthouse Theatre in Warrnambool. There, he delivered a heartfelt performance, singing while seated and relying on a nasal cannula for breathing.

For some, it could have been a startling sight, but as the song progressed and Roach’s voice began to vibrate, it became apparent that his music’s influence remained strong.

His nomination into the ARIA Hall of Fame recognised the pioneering aspect of Roach’s career—similar to that of Yothu Yindi and Uncle Jimmy Little—and honoured the enormous impact the singer had on Australia’s music industry by encouraging other Indigenous musicians to follow in his footsteps.

The night was brilliantly capped off with Roach winning Best Male and Best Adult Contemporary for the record Tell Me Why.

13. Tones And I Dances to New Heights

A hit will occasionally burst outside of Australia and spread across borders like a virus. The song “Dance Monkey” is the most catchy thing ever. 

2019 single “Dance Monkey” by Tones And I, the stage name of singer-songwriter Toni Watson, broke multiple records as it quickly gained popularity and stormed sales charts worldwide. 

“Dance Monkey” spent eleven weeks at Number One in the United Kingdom, the third-largest recorded music market in the world, setting a record for a single female artist. 

Furthermore, the song held the top spot on the ARIA Singles Chart in Australia for an astounding twenty-four non-consecutive weeks, soon displacing the fifteen weeks Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” had held the position. 

Tones dominated the Billboard Hot 100 Songwriters list in the United States, the world’s largest music market, and reached Number Four on the Billboard Hot 100, feats that only Nick Cave, Midnight Oil, or even AC/DC have come close to doing. Everybody was observing this beast in action.

Producer of “Dance Monkey,” Konstantin Kersting, describes it as “crazy.” “Tones and I were messaging and said, ‘Have you seen where it’s at?’ Nobody anticipated it would occur.

Its voyage began when Watson, an Australian from the Mornington Peninsula, first performed as a busker throughout Australia’s east coast. As a result of her discovery at Byron Bay, her tale developed. What follows is history.

When “Dance Monkey” eventually calmed down, it surpassed seven billion streams and topped the charts in around thirty countries. 

It is currently acknowledged as the song that gets “Shazamed” the most and the third-most Spotify stream. Tones have made hints that he may stop performing “Dance Monkey” during live performances, ending one of the all-time successes.

14. John Butler’s Independence Starts a New Trend

Since the 1970s, independent labels have been a mainstay of the Australian music industry. However, they often operated in the background, advocating excellent alternative music and playing a significant but commercially secondary role, with a few notable outliers like Mushroom, Regular, and Roo Art. 

Overall, success owned by artists was much less common. With a few notable instances (such as Nineties pioneers Tony O’Connor, a relaxation musician), getting a spot on the ARIA Charts as an entirely independent artist used to be an impossibility. 

An unusual dreadlocked busker from Fremantle cracked the significant labels’ monopoly on independent economic success in 2004. With his album Sunrise Over Sea, John Butler not only paved the way for a new wave of Australian folk-rock musicians and permanently altered the business paradigm. 

If you desired a music career, signing to a label was no longer a must; instead, it was a choice. 

With their third album, The John Butler Trio broke the glass ceiling for independent musicians by becoming the first separate act to reach the top spot on the ARIA Albums Chart with their five-times Platinum blockbuster. 

Butler, together with his manager Phil Stevens and Sebastian Chase of MGM Distribution, set aside the notion that you can’t get on the radio or into big-box record stores without a major label and came up with a strategy for Butler’s independent Jarrah Records that prioritised fan interaction and creative autonomy. 

The strategy was successful and has served as a model for many musicians ever since, propelling him to the top of the chart, a feat he would do three more times during his extraordinary career. 

Tina Arena Schools the Industry on Ageism, Radio Quotas & More

15. Tina Arena Schools the Industry on Ageism, Radio Quotas & More

Remember to underestimate the value of a woman who has earned recognition from the authorities in her field and has a proven history of success.

Tina Arena, a woman known for seizing opportunities, was unsurprisingly honoured by the record labels association ARIA in 2015 with an induction into its prestigious Hall of Fame. Arena fully understood the occasion’s significance, boasting an attentive audience.

Following a captivating performance of her timeless hit “Chains” alongside feminist trailblazers Jessica Mauboy and The Veronicas, Tina Arena graced the stage to deliver her speech. 

In her speech, Tina Arena began by expressing her heartfelt appreciation to her family, friends, management, record labels Sony and EMI Publishing, influential figures like Gudinski and Chugg, performing rights organisation APRA AMCOS, Rina Ferris, and music icon Molly Meldrum. 

This demonstration of gratitude was expected from Arena, who has always valued and recognised her dedicated fans and the pioneers who shaped her four-decade-long career.

As her address progressed, Arena tackled pressing issues of the time that remain primarily unresolved even seven years later. True to her characteristic style, she addressed these concerns with grace and gratitude, delivering a powerful statement highlighting the need for change and progress.

During her speech, Tina Arena subtly tackled the issue of the gender pay gap and the unique challenges mothers face in the music industry while discussing the birth of her son Gabriel. 

She remarked, “Like many working mothers, I encountered a sense of uncertainty upon returning to work. I had concerns about whether I would still be embraced in the pop world.”

Additionally, Arena criticised streaming platforms for their meagre compensation to content creators, emphasising the importance of respecting the arts. She conveyed, “It is crucial to value and appreciate the arts because we would find ourselves in a dire situation without them. 

Arena’s bold and assertive critique of ageism in the Australian music industry captured significant media coverage. When curating playlists, she urged commercial radio to prioritise the song’s quality rather than the artist’s age. 

Arena passionately appealed, “Please continue to support Australian music and exceed quotas not out of obligation but because you genuinely believe in it.”

During her impactful address, Arena acknowledged influential women in the industry, including the esteemed Kylie Minogue, who was proudly seated beside her onstage. Addressing the issue directly, she proclaimed, “Ladies over forty, we will determine when it’s time for us to step aside. Thank you.”

Tina Arena’s significant achievements should always be remembered. She is the first woman to win the prestigious ARIA Album of the Year award and is recognised as one of Australia’s top-selling artists. 

Additionally, she played a pioneering role as one of the first ethnic children on Australian television. Tina’s remarkable legacy will continue to inspire us. In light of the situation, it is crucial to tap into the knowledge she has imparted and take appropriate action, as she would undoubtedly encourage us to do so.

16. Little River Band Storms America

A little-known band from rural Victoria with the name of a road sign established the foundation for that rock and roll fantasy long before INXS,  AC/DC, and Men at Work achieved chart success in the USA. 

Although Little River Band was founded in England in 1975, they may be Melbourne natives. They were at this point when they met Brisbane-born producer Glenn Wheatley, who, in four years, propelled them from the underground to the mainstream. 

By 1979, they were affiliated with Capitol Records in the USA after receiving a record label contract from EMI in Australia. 

Wheatley had planned for the group to tour the country, which they accomplished in November 1976. The group was well-known for its distinctive West Coast harmonies and love of melody. 

Before transitioning into band management, he gained experience as a musician with The Master’s Apprentices and was familiar with the requirements for launching a career abroad. 

Despite their desire to succeed overseas, the core of what they achieved was distinctly Australian; they composed, recorded, and produced their music there before spreading it around the globe. 

From their self-titled first album, the song “It’s A Long Way There” reached Number Twenty-Eight on the Billboard Charts, giving fans a preview of what was to come. 

“Help Is On Its Way,” the second song, peaked at Number Fourteen on the Billboard Charts. After that, they were successful in reaching the US Top Ten with six singles, including “Reminiscing,” “Lady,” “Lonesome Loser,” and “Cool Change”; “Reminiscing” was one of the most frequently played songs on American radio. 

Glenn Frey, a member of the Eagles, referred to the band’s founding members as one of the “best singing bands in the world”: guitarists Beeb Birtles and Graeham Goble, vocalist Glenn Shorrock, and drummer Derek Pellicci. 

They eventually sold over 25 million records globally and shared a 1979 Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group with Barbra Streisand, Supertramp, and Neil Diamond. 

Travelling to the US from Australia was expensive, so Glenn Shorrock decided to go solo in 1982. The Australian group was one of the most famous rock bands in the world at its peak in the late 1970s; by 1983, it had landed thirteen successes in the American Top Forty. They designed the model for what was feasible. 

17. AC/DC Swoon Swanston Street,

Imagine yourself strolling along the famous Savile Row in London in the early hours of January 30, 1969. As you walk, you hear the enchanting sound of music filling the air, captivating your attention. 

Curiosity piques and you instinctively look to discover none other than The Beatles performing on stage. It’s a moment that will forever be etched in rock ‘n’ roll history.

Now, let’s transport ourselves to Australia and fast forward to February 23, 1976. In the vibrant city of Melbourne, you find yourself in the heart of the action on Swanston Street. 

The bustling atmosphere surrounds you as people go about their day, whether heading to or from Flinders Street station, engaging in shopping sprees, or enjoying leisurely coffee.

 Unexpectedly, as you navigate the busy street, a remarkable sight catches your eye: a flatbed truck slowly traversing its way through the crowd. And what makes it even more extraordinary is that the iconic Australian rock ‘n’ roll legends, AC/DC, are delivering an electrifying performance on this unconventional stage.

In both instances, the parallel is undeniable. These unforgettable moments in music history exemplify the sheer thrill and luck of stumbling upon legendary musicians in unexpected locations. 

Whether it’s the grandeur of witnessing The Beatles on Savile Row or the raw energy of experiencing AC/DC on Swanston Street, these instances leave an indelible mark on the collective memory of music enthusiasts and serve as a testament to the timeless power of rock ‘n’ roll.

There are artists on the back, but nobody recognises them. Only five members of a relatively young Sydney band are in Melbourne to film some video content for the Countdown television program, which is the most significant exposure a musician could receive in its heyday. As everyone knows, the song is the iconic “It’s A Long Way To The Top ” anthem. 

What can you recall? Malcolm Young’s fantastic guitar introduction? How young did they appear? How content, carefree, and unburdened they appeared? 

The parade would serve as a reminder of the calm before the storm, featuring Angus in his school uniform before it became commonplace, Bon Scott’s slightly older swagger before he paraded it across international stages, and when bagpipes got genuinely excellent.

Just $380 was spent on the video. David Olney shot the movie, which Paul Drane directed. One of the most popular videos in Australian rock’n’roll history, it has had approximately forty million views on YouTube alone. 

Dame Joan Sutherland, Johnny O’Keefe, Vanda & Young, Slim Dusty, and Col Joye were among the first performers to be admitted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame, established a little over ten years later in 1988. They were given the same honour when Steven Tyler of Aerosmith was inducted into the International Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. 

It’s difficult to fathom the moment in 1976 when that enormous, colossal worldwide triumph still awaited AC/DC since they are now such an integral part of popular culture. 

That time, they sang a song about wanting it all while being aware of the difficulties ahead in the quest for fame. Five young men with big hopes — and three piper musicians — marched through the streets of Melbourne at that moment in time.

Gurrumul The Legacy of a Lifetime

18. Gurrumul: The Legacy of a Lifetime

Gurrumul Yunupingu had sold an estimated 500,000 records worldwide at the time of his passing in 2017, making him the most successful Indigenous Australian artist in sales. 

But beyond his financial success, Yunupingu is a significant cultural icon in Australia. 

Although he defied any attempt to categorise him as such, as an artist, he represented a genuinely Australian voice (Rolling Stone Australia even described the singer as the nation’s “most important voice” in 2017).

In 2008, Yunupingu, a former member of Saltwater Band and Yothu Yindi, released his debut album as a solo artist. With the help of longtime friend and colleague Michael Hohnen, the album’s title track, which was published via Skinnyfish Music, went viral.

Yunupingu mostly performed in Gumatj, Galpu, and Djambarrpuyngu on the CD, using his angelic voice to convey concepts such as identity, spirit, connection to the land, the elements, and ancestry. 

More than any other medium, this was how his fans—like Elton John and Quincy Jones, will.,  and Stevie Wonder—came to know and comprehend the singer.

A month into Yunupingu’s 2009 European tour, Sting, a fan and former leader of The Police, persuaded the South African singer to sing a duet of “Every Breath You Take” on French television.

The event is excellently captured in Robert Hillman’s biography Gurrumul: His Life and Music, which also includes Yunupingu’s amusement at the concept of a blind man singing the lines “watching you.” 

As he practised the song in his hotel room, he would sing, “Every word you say, I’ll be listening to you,” joking, “cos I won’t be watching you!”

The first album in an Indigenous language to accomplish this accomplishment debuted at Number One on the ARIA Albums Chart in 2018 with the posthumous album Djarimirri, and Yunupingu was inducted into the NIMAs Hall of Fame at the 2022 National Indigenous Music Awards.

19. The Story of ‘Whispering Jack’

Glenn Wheatley, a late music executive and talent management, remortgaged his Melbourne house to pay for the recording of John Farnham’s legendary Whispering Jack comeback album in the middle of the 1980s. 

Farnham was unsuccessful in getting a record deal to release an album. Farnham was stereotyped as a pop singer with youthful idol appeal even though it had been over 20 years since he had produced and released the smash track “Sadie, the Cleaning Lady” in 1967. 

The labels didn’t want to develop him because of his spotless record, and they didn’t think he would become a famous modern adult star.  

Wheatley took Farnham’s desire to record an album seriously and was quietly convinced that he could change his image. 

When Wheatley persuaded him to join the Little River Band in 1982 as a singer, the two became friends and recorded three albums after Glenn Shorrock departed the band. Farnham’s luck didn’t last, but it undoubtedly inspired his further artistic development. 

His career as a Seventies pop sensation may have peaked, and no record business executive was interested in returning him with a fresh sound. But Wheatley had a different idea, and he had the $150,000 to make it happen. 

Theirs is a tale of a friendship based on confidence and self-trust; their risky decision in 1985 impacted their professional futures.  

Whispering Jack was created over eighteen months, and after its release, it lasted twenty-five weeks at the top of the Australian charts. It was the first album ever issued in CD format and quickly rose to the top of the charts in the 1980s. 

Nobody else prevented Michael Jackson from reaching the top place on the Australian charts as Farnham did, and “You’re The Voice” is as near as it gets to an Australian national anthem.    

Whispering Jack’s popularity launched Farnham’s career in modern music, and despite all the odds, he managed to establish he was capable. 

Notably, it also began one of the longest and most fruitful managerial alliances in the annals of popular music, spanning 38 years with Wheatley (including 35 years without a contract).

20. Screaming Success 

For more than 50 years, Jimmy Barnes has dominated the chart game. The unstoppable rocker holds the record for the most Number One singles in Australian chart history with five with his collective Cold Chisel and fourteen as a solo artist, an unbeatable accomplishment in the age of streaming.

The Working Class Man continues to be one of Australia’s hardest-working musicians. In 2022 he solidified his leadership at the top of the ARIA Number One’s leaderboard by releasing Soul Deep 30, which earned him his nineteenth Number One album and put him ahead of international icons like  Madonna (12), Eminem (11), The Beatles (14).

How else to explain Barnes’ 1991 album Soul Deep, which was reissued on its 30th anniversary and returned to the top of the ARIA Charts three decades after it had sold more than 700,000 copies and gone platinum ten times in Australia, becoming the best-selling album of his career? Barnes is that unique artist who can energise his audience across generations.

That 1991 launch was a risky bet. After Cold Chisel split up in 1983, Barnes quickly released four solo rock’n’roll records, controlling the airwaves and commandeering prime real estate in Australian retail stores. Soul Deep was his favourite project paying homage to the 1960s R&B tunes and singers who had initially inspired him to pursue a music career.

Mushroom CEO Michael Gudinski, his partner in crime, voiced some trepidation about the musical detour because soul music had historically had difficulty gaining approval from the commercial radio industry’s gatekeepers. 

But as always, Gudinski stood by his partner, and Soul Deep continues to be the album with the most significant sales in Mushroom’s illustrious past.

Even though Jimmy Barnes has a number-one record, the 1990s had its share of tough times. When the Flesh and Blood album landed at Number One last year, unseating adolescent stream queen Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour, his late label head Warren Costello would admit this.

As they completed the first two decades of extensive worldwide touring and dominated the charts for several solo records that followed, Costello claimed that MG and Jimmy made some of the most excellent A&R judgments made at the time.

While ego was always present, they were never so gullible as to believe that Number One albums sprang out of thin air. As it happened at some time in any great career, that same achievement became a bit more elusive in the late Nineties, but as always, Jimmy battled back. 

Liberation, the first record he released under the new label Michael and I had founded, marked his triumphant return. In many ways, the 2005 single Double Happiness, which debuted at No. 1, helped us all refocus.

Australian Idol Hits the Small Screen

Australian Idol debuted in the middle of 2003 when the music business was in turmoil. 

A new audience generation had the technological know-how to discover new acts independently without label assistance. It was brand-obsessed enough not to object to increased corporatisation and multimillion-dollar cross-industry collaborations.

Australian Idol included a colourful and witty focus on the path of the would-be contestant, which unavoidably began with a personal experience that inspired “music as therapy.” 

Millions of people watched music during prime time, and it was a ratings bonanza. Over three million people watched the first championship game.

The artists who were previously unheard of or ignored quickly rose to fame with hit recordings and became household names. They include:

  • Guy Sebastian
  • Shannon Noll
  • Damien Leith
  • Stan Walker
  • Jessica Mauboy
  • Casey Donovan
  • Cosima De Vito
  • Anthony Callea,
  • Courtney Act
  • Rob Mills

Although the show was a cash cow, Network Ten only paid $13 million each season. Twenty million votes were made to support their preferred Idol in 2003 by fans via text messages or phone calls, netting Ten and Telstra about $11 million. Twenty-nine million votes and $16 million were cast during the second season.

According to the AFR, prestigious sponsors, including Telstra, Mazda, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble,  Village Roadshow, and Cadbury, paid $3.4 million (each) per season.

Ratings were negatively impacted by the varying depth of the contestants, format fatigue, and rivalry with other TV talent shows.

After only 1.4 million views of the 2009 finale, Channel 10 finally cancelled the show. 

Savage Garden Soundtracks the New Millennium

Savage Garden became a shining example of Australian export success for producing some of Australia’s most enduring pop moments from the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

With the help of their chart-topping, self-titled first album in 1997, Daniel Jones and Darren Hayes made Savage Garden a household name. 

With tunes like “To the Moon and Back” and “I Want You”, the duo made a name for themselves as a breath of fresh air. The release of “Truly Madly Deeply” gave the group a maiden taste success, which their label was eager to replicate. 

Let’s go on to “I Knew I Loved You,” a song that Hayes has said was composed “out of spite” for their label, which insisted on a suitable successor to “Truly Madly Deeply.” 

Savage Garden wrote this song to be included on their second record, Affirmation, released in 1999 and is another record rife with pop perfection. At first, the band thought that a song like “Truly Madly Deeply” wasn’t suitable for reproduction in terms of its content and effect. 

“I Knew I Loved You,” a love ballad that brilliantly describes the experience of falling madly in love, connected with listeners worldwide, but particularly in the North American market, where it rose to the top spot on US radio for the year 2000. 

The song strengthened Savage Garden’s global appeal and contributed to the band’s reputation, which is still adored and revered today.

21. The Golden Year for Silverchair (1995)

The year 1995 was a great success for Silverchair. The three salt-haired fifteen-year-olds created mayhem at the Australian Big Day Out festival in January of that year, a few months before realising their widely praised debut album.

The band was purposefully scheduled to play one of the festival’s lower side stages in the latter part of the afternoon to capitalise on the success of their entry point, the immensely popular grunge-era tune “Tomorrow.”

Due to the knock-on effects of scarcity, attendees in Sydney scaled poles to obtain a better view of Silverchair’s performance, and partygoers in Melbourne jumped on top of a roof, causing it to collapse. 

At the time, Ben Gillies, Daniel Johns, and Chris Joannou held contradictory opinions of the media: music-focused platforms like Rolling Stone and triple j were “hell” (excellent), whereas newspapers, tabloid magazines, and mainstream Australian television were awful. Almost all non-music press requests for interviews with the group were declined. 

Silverchair didn’t give Recovery the honour of an interview until 1997 on Australian television.

At a time when their age alone may have relegated them to the novelty bin, the move—a strategic one for oversight, less so for the band itself—established legitimacy.

1995’s calendar year was transformed into a highlight reel:

They were a Big Day Out high highlight in January. With the release of their first record Frogstomp, the band was the first from Australia to reach a local Number One in March. They appeared at the MTV Awards in September, which were aired worldwide. 

They agreed to take part in a cover of Radio Birdman’s “New Race” with Tim Rogers in November after declining to perform any of their songs at the ARIA Awards. The band also declined to make an acceptance statement after winning five of the nine trophies for which they were nominated. 

Instead, they brought onstage Josh Shirley, seven years old, who appeared in a tiny appearance on Frogstomp and is the son of album producer Kevin Shirley. 

Silverchair made history in December when they performed as the show’s youngest band on Saturday Night Live. After the success of Frogstomp, the international music business turned its attention to Australia, and Johns was walking around barefoot and sporting an Ammonia T-shirt.

Johns had failed his oral communication exam at school that year when he refused to present (and still despises public speaking), so Silverchair’s meteoric success that year may have been as much a need as it was management-manoeuvring. 

But that attitude of selective exposure worked wonders for public perception; some people didn’t think they were “good for their age,” but they were equally skilled musicians to others around them.

Olivia Newton-John Debuts on the Global Stage

22. Olivia Newton-John Debuts on the Global Stage

While Olivia Newton-John was already a superstar before donning the iconic black spandex jumpsuit, it’s still difficult to distinguish Our Livvy from Sandy.

Grease came when Newton-John already had three Grammys and was on par with other Seventies megastars like Diana Ross and Donna Summer. Her first Grammy in the country music category went to “Let Me Be There,” while “I Honestly Love You,” written by fellow Australian Peter Allen, brought her second and third.

The 1970s were beneficial to Olivia Newton-John. On Dean Martin’s self-titled show, she made her US television debut and conquered the most competitive market. In 1973, “Let Me Be There” followed, and in 1974  “I Honestly Love You” helped that success develop. 

Olivia Newton-John’s performance in Grease, a role she had considered declining, smashed box office records and altered the world’s attitude towards her.

Her status as a genuine global icon was permanently established as the luscious strings of “Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing” played while Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta were having fun in the water.

She had the option to stop there. It would have been sufficient. However, years of success followed, culminating in “Physical” winning a second Grammy. She also raised money and advocated for cancer patients. 

A true Australian icon, Olivia Newton-John profoundly impacted many generations.

23. Midnight Oil’s Political Statement at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games

By 2000, it seemed like “the time had come.”

The moment has come for the Australian government to express its regret to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for the horrors of colonisation, particularly the kidnapping of children that gave rise to the so-called Stolen Generations.

John Howard, the prime minister then, steadfastly refused to do it.

Thus, Midnight Oil performed their politically charged signature song, “Beds Are Burning”, at the 2000 Sydney Olympics Closing Ceremony while donning black overalls that prominently featured the word “sorry”.

Earlier in the evening, Vanessa Amorosi’s Latin Mix of “Absolutely Everybody” was performed after a song about humanity uniting as one by Nikki Webster and the Sing 2001 Choir.

Midnight Oil was under enormous pressure not to ruin the celebration due to the expected one billion viewers of the broadcast worldwide (with John Howard himself being present), and significantly, they had yet to request permission from the International Olympics Committee before the performance. 

The performance was the segway into the night’s final song and was a protest statement. 

Together, the two bands tapped into a burgeoning national emotion that had seen over two million individuals cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of peace and gave it a voice. 

The first Indigenous Australian Artist to Top Billboard Singles Chart is The Kid LAROI

24. The first Indigenous Australian Artist to Top Billboard Singles Chart is The Kid LAROI

The Kid LAROI is an adolescent hip-hop lover who grew up in Sydney listening to Tupac, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West. He is surely skilled at bundling career milestones.

Thanks to a development agreement with Sony Music, Charlton Howard established his career in the US without going through the traditional rites of passage. The Gadigal-born performer with Kamilaroi heritage was mentored by Juice Wrld and signed a worldwide label deal before moving from Waterloo to Hollywood in 2020. 

He achieved an unprecedented US Number One in 2021 with Justin Bieber’s “Stay” song. Since then, he has worked with artists like Post Malone and Machine Gun Kelly, becoming the highest-placing Indigenous Australian musician in Triple j’s Hottest 100 ever. 

Time is crucial in LAROI’s rise, which is a universal truth. While LAROI was able to stand on the shoulders of giants while trap, emo-rap, and Southern hip-hop were having a moment, Australia had highly regarded, primed and ready for a global takeover years before LAROI’s rise (A.B. Original, Koolism, Illy, and Drapht, to name a few). He took advantage of how quickly internet culture spread and made a name for himself with a global sound.

One award stands out above the others among LAROI’s accomplishments, excluding that “Stay” reached Number One in 22 countries and holds Diamond certification in France. 

He became the first Australian act to reach the top spot since AC/DC in 2020 (with Power Up) and the debut solo Australian since Sia debuted at the top with 2014’s 1000 Forms of Fear, when the mixtape F*ck Love, which was published in 2020, rose to the top of the Billboard 200 list in 2021. 

The Kid LAROI became the first Indigenous Australian musician to hold the top position on the largest chart stage in history, which is of the utmost importance.

As a devout Kamilaroi man, LAROI’s international career conveys a powerful message of victory to his people back home. He is, without a doubt, a young sensation opening new doors for Australian Indigenous voices. 

Delta Goodrem’s ‘Innocent Eyes’ Era

25. Delta Goodrem’s ‘Innocent Eyes’ Era

The first phrase of the title song from Delta Goodrem’s 2003 first album Innocent Eyes is one of music history. 

And given the album’s continuing appeal, it would be difficult to forget. 

Five Number singles were produced from the album Innocent Eyes, including the title tune, “Born to Try,” “Lost Without You,” “Not Me, Not I,” and “Predictable.”

It was the best-selling album in Australia in 2003, received a gold certification fifteen times, and propelled Goodrem’s career far beyond that of the sweet schoolgirl character she was portraying on Neighbours at the time, Nina Tucker. 

Innocent Eyes broke John Farnham’s Whispering Jack’s record by holding the top spot on the ARIA Charts for twenty-nine consecutive weeks. 

The singer-songwriter received a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer, amid the album’s ongoing popularity in 2003, which prompted her to leave Neighbours and prevented her from participating in many commercial and performance possibilities. 

She received therapy for her health issues, won seven ARIA Awards, including Best Female Artist, and was given a tribute by Darren Hayes on stage that brought her to tears. 

The nearly perfect record helped establish Goodrem as the voice of a generation of Australians and gave rise to a devoted following that continues to support her today. 

Although the record is nineteen years old (Goodrem was nineteen when she released it), its purity, unadulterated strength, commercial success, and legacy persist.

26. The Seekers Become the First Australian Band to Top the UK Chart

Given their cultural influence and era-defining legacy, it’s simple to overlook that The Seekers only had a brief reign over the world’s radios. Athol Guy, Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, and Judith Durham embarked on an ad hoc working vacation in 1964, plucking their way across the Atlantic to the UK. 

Agent Eddie Jarrett, who secured bookings for them in clubs around the UK, devised a ten-week whirlwind tour as part of the strategy. 

That tour included a stop at Abbey Road Studios, where the band recorded a song called “I’ll Never Find Another You” by writer/producer Tom Springfield (yeah, one of those Springfields). 

Buttery-smooth harmonies, a folky acoustic riff, Athol Guy’s genuinely terrifying glasses, and of course, Judith Durham’s singing gave it all the makings of a hit. 

The track reached the top of the UK charts in February 1965, making The Seekers a pioneering Australian band to succeed in the country. It was also a debut Number One, which neither The Beatles nor The Rolling Stones managed. 

The Seekers returned to Australia by 1967 after several other Number One successes, including the international blockbuster “Georgie Girl.” They concluded their tour with a wild performance in front of 200,000 people in Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl. 

It was one of the biggest crowds in the Southern Hemisphere and the biggest gathering in Australian history. 10% of the city’s residents showed up to watch. The Seekers were, in fact, officially over the following year when Judith Durham departed the group to pursue a solo career. But the carnival wasn’t over yet. 

27. Two Songwriting Legends Meet: Harry Vanda and George Young

The van den Bergs and the Youngs were two families that immigrated to Australia in 1963. The Youngs were from Scotland, while van den Bergs travelled from the Netherlands. 

Both families ended up in Sydney’s Villawood Migrant Hostel.

 Harry “Vanda” (van den Berg) and George Young were also present when the Easybeats—Stevie Wright, Dick Diamonde, and Gordon Fleet—met by fate at the hostel. 

The creative duo, now indelibly known as “Vanda & Young,” began working together in the middle of the 1960s and produced several Easybeats successes, including “Friday on My Mind,” which peaked at the top of the charts in Australia in 1966. 

They also contributed to the success of AC/DC, which was founded by Malcolm and Angus Young and was, at the time, one of Australia’s largest musical exports. 

High Voltage and TNT by AC/DC from 1975, Let There Be Rock by AC/DC from 1977, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap by AC/DC from 1976, and Powerage, and If You Want Blood You’ve Got It from 1978 are among the albums they produced. 

Vanda and Young have a long history of songwriting. The Vanda and Young Global Songwriting Competition, founded in 2009, honours future generations of Australian hit songwriters. 

Many of our greatest, like Megan Washington, Isabella Manfredi, Kimbra, Amy Shark, Gretta Ray, and Matt Corby, had the opportunity to launch their professional careers. 

George Young was honoured for his connections, charm, and skills when he passed away in 2017. The best way to put it was in a press release from his publishing and recording company, Alberts: “George was a pioneer who, with close companions Harry Vanda and Ted Albert, established an original sound for the Australian music sector.”

America Falls in Love with Nick Cave

28. America Falls in Love with Nick Cave

To describe Nick Cave as a “triple threat” would grossly underestimate his abilities. 

A significant canon of works by Cave, who has led bands for many years and written movies, books, and captivating soundtracks, has sometimes been as gloomy and grief-stricken as his incredible journey. 

Despite personal loss and substance abuse, Cave has stayed in his zone while constantly developing and working with others. His output is incredibly prolific and deserving of his 2007 ARIA Hall of Fame membership. 

The native of Warracknabeal now resides in England, a nation that values his abilities and whose citizens have propelled seven Nick Cave recordings into the Top Ten. 

“Where The Wild Roses Grow,” a song from Cave’s 1995 album Murder Ballads that was darker than coal, may have been his closest encounter with the general public. 

Cave’s choice to work on it alongside Kylie Minogue at the time generated more controversy than its actual content. It was a brilliant move, and the song, which peaked at Number Eleven, came agonisingly close to making the UK Top Ten. 

Since the turn of the century, seven of Nick Cave’s albums have made an impression on the US Billboard 200 list, proving that America came late to the Nick Cave party. Only one of his LPs—1997’s The Boatman’s Call—bothered the charts before 2000.  

29. Jet Soundtracks iPod Ad, Ushering in New Era for Music Marketing

Absent people need help comprehending how great the early 2000s Apple iPod advertisements were. These advertisements changed the course of music history when the industry had to decide between tiny discs and the MP3 revolution. 

When they switched on their analog TVs in 2004, Australian band Jet’s foot-stomping song “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” was playing. Two seconds into the commercial, you knew this would sell a ton of iPods because the song had won the triple j Hottest 100 the year before. 

This first cool sync arrangement was ushered in a new era of artist/brand partners. That combination of Nic Cester’s ripped voice, the nerve-wracking guitar of Cameron Muncy, the frantic dancing of human silhouettes, and the whipping of white iPod wires was pure commercial gold. 

30. Parkway Drive cement Global Metalcore Heavyweight Status

Parkway Drive from Byron Bay cemented their status as one of metalcore’s greatest acts in 2019 at Germany’s Wacken Open Air event, sixteen years into the artistry that had already racked up many accomplishments. 

In its 30th year, headlining the renowned European metal festival was a significant and contentious accomplishment. However, Parkway Drive swiftly dispelled doubts about their ability to break new ground on the international stage with their ferocious, unrelenting performance. 

This accomplishment took Parkway Drive, already widely regarded as one of Australia’s genre’s unquestionably finest bands, to new heights of esteem and notoriety. 

Parkway Drive created a new model for success in Australian heavy music, easily earning their position on our list of the 50 Greatest Australian Musicians of All Time with the publication of the Viva The Favorites documentary (in 2020).

Kasey Chambers’ ARIA Hall of Fame Induction

31. Kasey Chambers’ ARIA Hall of Fame Induction

On the Nullarbor, Kasey Chambers’ career began around a campfire. At night, she and her family would round the fire while singing country songs by artists like Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams, and Gram Parsons. 

Due to isolation from the music business and the organisations that control it, Chambers grew up needing to learn about it. For an artist motivated by sincerity, it was like an unintended superpower.

As a result, Chambers appreciated the praise when it began to pour in, starting with the title tune of her debut album “The Captain” in 1999, but she never allowed it to define her. And she felt as though she had been surprised when the highest honour—admission into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2018—was presented.

Although Kasey Chambers made history by becoming the youngest-ever female inductee, her work has always exhibited maturity exceeding her age. 

She was well on her way to becoming the Queen of Country in her formative years. Her debut album, The Captain, hit the Top 50 Country Albums chart and won many awards, including two ARIA Awards.  

Chambers’ subsequent album Barricades and Brickwalls made her the first Australian artist to simultaneously have a single and album at Number One. 

Seventeen years later, Chambers was inducted into the Hall of Fame in a touching ceremony. By this point, he had amassed more accolades and Platinum accreditations than you could shake a stick at. 

The remake of “Not Pretty Enough” had a strong feminine energy and got a fresh interpretation from Missy Higgins, Amy Sheppard, and Kate Miller-Heidke. 

The supporting band for Chambers’ rendition of “Ain’t No Little Girl” included her father, Bill, and Paul Kelly. The front-row participants in the standing ovation were Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, and Troye Sivan.

Kasey Chambers’ face broke into honest emotion when Paul Kelly entered the stage to read a poem he had concealed from Chambers and didn’t perform during the practice. 

Chambers’ cheeks and eyes glistened from the tears she tried to hold back but couldn’t stop. She put it all backstage: “I’m utterly overwhelmed,” she exclaimed.

Kasey is still the shining star who sings around the campfire, but now her audience fills theatres, and she is hiding several awards.

32. Gotye and the Little Song That Conquered the World

The melodic musical dance between a two-note guitar sample from renowned Brazilian artist Luiz Bonfá and the xylophone plinks of “Baa, Black Sheep” immediately made the connection. 

As they shared break-up viewpoints, the emotionally-charged vocals of Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter Gotye and New Zealand singer Kimbra tore at the heartstrings. 

But “Somebody That I Used To Know” was propelled to global dominance by the famed director Natasha Pincus’ official video and the two performers’ fascinating stop-motion animation performances. At the same time, they were both naked and body-painted. 

Following its premiere in Australia in July 2011, it enjoyed a lengthy, slow-cooked success that peaked in Europe, the UK, and the USA in 2012 after being catapulted to virality by the era’s social media kings Ashton Kutcher and Katy Perry. 

For two years, “Somebody That I Used To Know” ruled the charts everywhere, garnered four ARIA and two Grammy Awards, and was virtually unstoppable. More than a decade later, with over three billion views, it continues proving its everlasting appeal.

33. Rage Soundtracks Our Discontented Youth From the Couch

The working title for the all-night TV show was Rage ‘Til You Puke, which is noticeably more violent and visceral than its present name but captures the spirit of the show’s long-running, all-night, entertainment-anytime philosophy. 

The Australian soundtrack show made its national television premiere on ABC in 1987, and it is still in production today, making it the longest-running music television program.

On the show, guests have ranged from Kylie Minogue to Metallica, the Beastie Boys to Blondie, and Midnight Oil to INXS, all of whom have discussed their influences and vices. 

Throughout its thirty-five seasons, it has featured formats such as chart countdowns, genre specials, guest programming, and themed editions, which is nothing to throw up at. 

Flume Makes Grammy Awards History

34. Flume Makes Grammy Awards History

Flume’s second album, Skin’s Release, was a watershed event for Australian music because of the artist and how the country’s electronic music was viewed abroad. 

While Flume would be nominated again in 2020, he was the first Australian artist to win the Best Dance & Electronic Album section at the 2017 Grammys. Flume was the first Australian electronic musician to do so since. 

Skin is a masterpiece in Flume’s style and breakthrough potential, and it is a gorgeous fourteen-track album featuring collaborations with artists including Kuka, Tove Lo, Beck, Vic Mensa, Kai, and Little Dragon. 

Foreign artists like Skrillex, Diplo, and those from the UK entering the lane Disclosure had already established a comfortable lead when Flume challenged Skin to a duel. 

It was more than just a message to show up; it was a declaration of intent: Skin changed everything.

35. The Wiggles Reimagine Children’s Music

The history of this group begins with four friends from Sydney’s Macquarie University exploring unknown territory in 1991 in their early childhood education together. However, it would be soon that parents and children in Australia boarded a ship destined for global dominance. 

There was yet to be a market for kids’ music. However, Murray Cook, Jeff Fatt, Anthony Field, Phillip Wilcherand, and Greg Page, the original members, were about to alter that.

The pioneering self-titled and independently funded Wiggles CD was the first. The band’s first manager, Jeremy Fabinyi, persuaded ABC Music, a record company subsidised by the government, to support the endeavour and devote their promotional resources.

 Although The Wiggles didn’t immediately light up the world, the $4,000 wager did pay off and defied the doubters by selling more than 100,000 copies.

The Wiggles, juggling day jobs, began singing at Circular Quay and performing their first round of kiddie-bops to gain recognition outside sticky-floored taverns. They also visited childcare facilities and retail centres. 

The Wiggles’ greatest, most recognisable tunes, like “Dorothy the Dinosaur,” “Hot Potato,” and “Get Ready to Wiggle,” quickly became family anthems performed in living rooms and on family outings.

The rest is history, as The Wiggles later became a household name for selling out arenas, having their TV programs and superfans worldwide. 

After winning the triple j Hottest 100, selling out venues across New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, and appearing on the September face of Rolling Stone AU & NZ, the new-face Wiggles are greater than ever in 2022.

36. Dirty Pool Management Changes Industry’s Inner-Workings

Dirty Poo adopted the “door deal,” a concept popularised by groups like Dragon, and released it on an industrial scale. Ray Hearn, John Woodruff, and Rod Willis, the co-founders, did much more than just create a business together. 

They ignited the Australian entertainment industry. Dirty Pool eliminated the mediators by negotiating agreements with venues directly, and their client list of management clients includes The Angels,  Cold Chisel, and Flowers (Icehouse). 

Artists would instead collect 90% of the entry costs to events, as opposed to the normal flat price set by agents and venues for their performances. This restored more money to artists’ coffers after a decade of dubious deals in which they suffered financial losses. 

The system spread throughout the sector, fostering a new economy that supported the pub rock revolution of the 1980s, when touring Australia with an artist served as more than just a means of promotion but also allowed bands to flourish financially rather than merely get by.

37. Sound Relief to the Rescue

Organisers of concerts Gudinski and Chugg were motivated to organise the Sound Relief charity event after the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria took 173 lives in 2009. other founders included Tom Lang, Joe Segreto, Amanda Pelman, and Mark Pope. Donations were also raised for Qld flood victims at the event. 

On March 14, one of Australia’s largest concerts gathered a who’s who of music luminaries to two cities to perform simultaneously at SCG in Sydney and the MCG in Melbourne. 

Everyone performed on stage, including Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, and Midnight Oil, to raise money for the less fortunate. 

Even the Eighties rock band Hunters and Collectors came back together after ten years, which was a major accomplishment given how often label owner Michael Gudinski had contacted them. 

Coldplay also included a then-62-year-old John Farnham when they sang “You’re The Voice,” a piece that Farnham still considers to be a career high point. Icehouse, Jet, and You Am I also gave sold-out performances. 

Olivia Newton-John and Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees performed together. At the same time, Kylie Minogue sang “I Still Call Australia Home” on their final big-stage performance before her death earlier this year.

Sound Relief attracted over 120,000 attendees, raised over $8 million, and paved the groundwork for other benefit events like Fire Fight in 2020.

Hilltop Hoods Lead the Way for Strings in Hip Hop

38. Hilltop Hoods Lead the Way for Strings in Hip Hop

The Hard Road, released in 2006, marked the beginning of a new era for Adelaide’s Hilltop Hoods. By the time of the trio’s fourth album, they had already earned the title of one of Australia’s most cherished bands, making them legends in the making. 

The Hard Road increased the Hoods’ ability to cross into the public by becoming the first Australian hip-hop album to debut at Number One on the ARIA Albums Billboard. 

The album also gave birth to the Hoods’ debut Restrung release, which saw the Adelaide Symphony remake the entire disc. The Hilltop Hoods gave a one-off concert in their hometown before an audience of 7,000 people to celebrate the album’s release, and they gave their original material more than just a distinctive twist. They demonstrated their desire to go above what was expected of Australian hip-hop musicians then and set their sights higher.

39. The Fire Fight Benefit Concert of 2020

The Aussies music industry organised the event 2020’s Fire Fight Australia. It was in a colossal effort to show solidarity for each other amid what was, at the time, the worst disaster we could have imagined happening in the nation.

The charity concert, directed by TEG Live and TEG Dainty, brought in over $10 million for various relief, rehabilitation, fire rescue, and rebuilding services. It featured stirring performances by John Farnham, Baker Boy, Amy Shark, Peking Duk, Adam Lambert, and Grinspoon.

Over one million people watched the official television coverage of the live music event on Channel 7 and Foxtel, while 75,000 people attended the concert in person at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium. 

The ten-hour event, planned and put together in just five weeks, was a tremendous accomplishment and evidence of the value of live stage performance and music to express one’s feelings and release.

Troye Sivan Australia’s First YouTube Music Star

40. Troye Sivan: Australia’s First YouTube Music Star

Troye Sivan is a pioneer. For his 27,000 fans who had flocked to his account to hear the awkward, quirky youngster sing acoustic renditions of popular songs, the eccentric adolescent started making video blogs in 2012 and uploaded them to YouTube. An Australian record executive, Mark Holland, noticed Sivan in 2013 and signed him to a major recording label deal with EMI Music.  

Nearly ten years later, the Perth-born YouTube sensation with bleached blonde hair and silky voice has amassed over one billion views, making her the first Australian to achieve true stardom. 

His work on Boy Erased with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman earned him Golden Globe nominations and Academy Awards.

The pop idol who was destined for fame has also made excellent use of his platform by ardently supporting LGBTQIA+ communities.

41. The Saints Dubbed Early Punk Pioneers with (I’m) Stranded

According to Robert A. Hull, The Saints’ debut album (I’m) Stranded was praised for matching the brutal uprising of groups like  The Clash and The Jam and may have signalled the advent of punk in Australia. 

However, the band’s connection with punk was tumultuous, and guitarist Ed Kuepper bemoaned that the “gutsy realists” were included in the same wave as other bands. 

By 1974, the band was fully formed. He said that only an arsehole would have identified himself with that movement when it emerged two and a half years later. 

Many today acknowledge that the 1977 record, issued by EMI, may rank well among the best debut albums of the time.

The title track from the album “(I’m) Stranded” was included in APRA’s list of the Top 30 Australian Songs of All Time in 2001 despite not quite reaching the Top Ten. 

Regardless of how you or the band decide to classify (I’m) Stranded, it will undoubtedly be included in the list of the 50 most iconic Australian entertainment moments. 

42. Masked Wolf Lands First Viral Australian Song on TikTok

The feat Masked Wolf accomplished with “Astronaut in the Ocean” was previously considered unachievable. With early rocket fuel from TikTok, the Sydney rapper scored global hip-hop success from the land Down Under. 

The song was initially released in 2019 and republished in late 2020 with backing from a big label after becoming one of the first Australian songs to go viral on the short-video platform.

In 2021, “Astronaut” reached Number Six on Billboard’s Hot 100 list and topped its Hot Rap Songs poll, proving that Masked Wolf had the hottest hip-hop song in the hip-hop capital of the world.

Before the end of the year,  producer Tyron Hapi and Masked Wolf were accepted into APRA AMCOS’ The 1,000,000,000 List for pushing the breakthrough song above one billion streams across all platforms. 

The song “Astronaut” was then crowned the top dog on TikTok by appearing in about eight million videos yearly, more than fifty percent larger than the second most-used tune. 

The song “Astronaut…” joined Spotify’s Billions Club in September 2022. At that moment, Masked Wolf thought, “Not in thousands of years did I ever believe I would do this.

43. Steve Pavlovic Sets Up Game-Changing Record Label, Modular

Modular Recordings was always a step above with a stable that featured The Avalanches, Tame Impala, step Copy, Ladyhawke, The Presets, and more. 

The record label, founded by Steve “Pav” Pavlovic, was named “the coolest label in the world” by Britain’s NME in 2007. It was as precise a label as they come: cool or hot. 

In 2013, Pav extended his label into the UK and Europe after touring with Nirvana, the Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, and many more avant-garde artists at the height of their powers. 

In 2015, a laid-back person who could sleep when life’s stresses would make most of us lose it encountered difficulty and fought some unpleasant court fights. 

Due to these problems, Pav was sidelined, and his record company, Modular, was acquired by Universal Music. In 2022, Unpopular’s exhibition at Sydney’s Powerhouse, including 200 artifacts from his collection, brought Pav back into the public eye. According to reports, Pavlovic will be working on several projects after Unpopular.

44. Two Young Australians Invent the First Digital Synthesiser and Sampler, The Fairlight

Moving digital sampling for granted. Yet, it was conceived in 1979 in an attic in Point Piper, Sydney, by two young Aussies named Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogel. That is the place where Fairlight was created. 

The Fairlight, named after a hydrofoil that raced across Sydney’s harbour, was the world’s first digital synthesiser and, possibly, music’s most significant technological innovation since the phonograph. 

Frustrated with traditional analogue synth instruments, Ryrie and Vogel spent years fiddling with their creation in Ryrie’s grandmother’s garage before releasing their Computer Musical Instrument (CMI) in an unprepared world. 

Producers could now use twin 8-bit processors, which have the godlike capability, to sample and alter natural sounds on a computer for the first time. Even though the samples were short—0.5–1 seconds—they were a game-changer, and Ryrie and Vogel are largely responsible for the synth-pop of the 1980s. 

Their technology became so well-known that Phil Collins had to specifically state in the liner notes of No Jacket Required in 1985 that “There is no Fairlight on this record.” 

45. Sia Becomes Most Prolific Songwriter On APRA AMCOS’ 1,000,000,000 List

Sia Since her early days with Adelaide jazz-funk ensemble Crisp in the mid-Nineties, Kate Isobelle Furler, better known on the world’s pop charts as simply Sia has scaled many a mountain.

The singer-songwriter, who formerly played a wedding singer on the Australian drama Home And Away, has gone on to become a legitimate worldwide hitmaker and popstar in her own right and was accepted into an elite group called The 1,000,000,000 List in the first half of 2020. 

Furler is also the “most prolific” member of the elite club, according to APRA AMCOS, who compile the list; fifteen of her songs have topped a total of one billion listens from all major platforms, including Spotify,  Vevo, YouTube, YouTube Music, Apple Music, Amazon, and others. 

Among them are a few of her chart-topping singles, like the four-time Grammy-nominated “Chandelier” and her tribute to the 49 victims of the 2016 Orlando club tragedy, “The Greatest,” which has had over 500 million listens on Spotify alone. 

But her job as a hit machine-for-hire has resulted in chart-topping hits for celebrities like Katy Perry.

46. Johnny O’Keefe’s US Tour Makes History

It has to begin somewhere, right? Johnny O’Keefe paved the way for hundreds of Australian talents to follow before exploring America established a rite of passage.

The narrative began in 1959 in Los Angeles with the production of “She’s My Baby,” which was also unusual at the time. But O’Keefe had made sufficient of an impression on the charts, played a pivotal part in establishing music tv with Six O’Clock Rock, and built the framework for a worldwide breakthrough.

He resurfaced in February 1960 after meeting with executives of Liberty Records. JOK — the Wild One — was advertised as The Boomerang Boy (yeah, you read it correctly; these were different times) and was required to perform boomerang-throwing demonstrations. 

JOK had a big setback just months later due to a catastrophic vehicle accident that may have killed him. In January 1961, he returned to the United States for another stint after healing. 

The tour, once again, did not take off, but JOK was the initial Australian rock’n’roller to give it a shot. Everyone who attempted after he did so in his footsteps.

47. 5 Seconds of Summer Score Third Consecutive Billboard Number One Album

If you had told the four Western Sydney friends in early 2021 that their group would soon establish one of the world’s largest bands… They’d probably believed you.

It needed courage, an unrelenting beginner’s attitude, and the ability to establish a cult-like fanbase that evolved with them to become 5 Seconds of Summer. 5SOS has it in droves eleven years into their career.

The band has had five Number One albums in Australia, three in the United Kingdom, and three in the United States, as well as a spot on Billboard’s Top Musicians of the 2010s list and over eighty accolades. It’s been a successful career full of firsts, but 5SOS made US chart history in 2018.

5SOS is the first Australian artist to have three Number One albums on the Billboard 200 with the release of Youngblood. They were also the first band to have three studio albums chart at the top of the Billboard 200.

“You came together as people to get us our third number-one record for all the right reasons,” 5SOS said to supporters on Instagram in 2018. You made history for four young men today, and you are the reason we consider ourselves the luckiest people alive..”


The 47 most iconic songs in Aussie music history represent a diverse and influential collection of tracks that have shaped the country’s cultural landscape. 

From classic rock anthems to heartfelt ballads and infectious pop hits, these songs have resonated with generations of Australians and left an indelible mark on the domestic and international music industry.

The list showcases Australian musicians’ incredible talent and creativity, highlighting their ability to craft timeless songs that capture the essence of the nation. 

Whether it’s the raw energy of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” the haunting melodies of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” or the empowering lyrics of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” each song represents a unique aspect of Australian identity and musical expression.