The best Australian songs

Go Between Bridge Brisbane at night (

Go Between Bridge Brisbane at night


Because Lisette and Marc are about about to emigrate to Australia, this article contains the best Australian singles.

Emigration is a subject which is regularly related in various songs. From Woody Guthrie’s I Ain’t Got No Home In This World Any More, through Steely Dan’s The Royal Scam, Rammstein’s Mein Land, U2’s The Refugee, (Belgian) De Kreuners’ Cous-cous Kreten up to The White Stripes’ Icky Thump: these songs are bout emigration, but mainly the involuntary kind. In almost all of these songs the point of view of the refugee is the main focus. Consequentially, these songs are not happy and/or positive.

On voluntary emigration, not many songs are known (as far as I know anyway). Maybe België by Het Goede Doel (a Dutch song and band), although the reasoning behind wanting to leave The Netherlands is not mentioned in the song. Maybe John Denver’s Leaving On A Jet Plane? If one of the readers knows some songs about the voluntary kind of emigration, I would love to know it!

Anyway: the voluntary kind is applicable to Lisette and Marc. I think it’s a bold thing to do. To smoothen the integration-process and to gain some knowledge on (part of the) Australian cultural heritage, I present to you the 10 best singles by (originally) Australian artists, ordered by year and month of release:


Saints - (I'm) Stranded (single) (


The Saints – (I’m) Stranded

September 1976

First single/song by The Saints. Highly energetic song. The Saints released a couple of very fine albums after this song!


ACDC - Whole Lotta Rosie (single) (

AC/DC – Whole Lotta Rosie

June 1977

AC/DC, with Bon Scott: unbelievable. One way or another, with drummer Phil Rudd a certain kind of swing is added into the AC/DC sound. All albums he plays on have a kind of boogie feel.

Let There Be Rock was the first AC/DC album I owned. It’s still my favorite album by the band. Whole Lotta Rosie was the first big AC/DC hit.


John Paul Young - Love Is In The Air (single) (

John Paul Young – Love Is In The Air

December 1977

Remarkable for the use of electronics, at the time (still) considered a novelty in popmusic. The song was produced by Harry Vanda & George Young, who, at the time, were also responsible for the production work on AC/DC (albums).

Global (disco)hit. Nostalgia.

NB: Harry Vanda is a born Dutchman and played a big part in Australia’s first great band The Easybeats.


Bee Gees - Night Fever (single) (


Bee Gees – Night Fever

February 1978

The Gibb brothers moved to Australia at a later age. Their musical career started while living in Australia, so that’s why the Bee Gees are part of this list.

The Bee Gees had previously experimented with funk and disco-rhythms on the song Jive Talkin’. On the album Saturday Night Fever the disco-element was effortlessly integrated into a perfect mix.

This song is one of the very best I know. The staccato guitar, in particular, is heavenly.


Olivia Newton John - Hopelessly Devoted To You (single) (


Olivia Newton-John – Hopelessly Devoted To You

September 1978

After Saturday Night fever, Robert Stigwood sanctioned the filming of a musical: Grease. It was to become an even bigger hit than Saturday Night Fever. The movie makes me smile. It was released at a time that (my) life seemed limitless and no reason for concern was present: the 1980’s doom hadn’t arrived yet and the No Future sloganeering passed by me. I was still in elementary school; this song represents pure nostalgia.


Icehouse - Great Southern Land (single) (

Icehouse – Great Southern Land

August 1982

Hey Little Girl was a modest hit. I thought it was a great song and bought the album Primitive Man. The song Streetcafe was also released as a single and proved to be even better. The album’s highlight was Icehouse’s tribute to Australia: Great Southern Land. A beautiful, somewhat melancholy, song.

Standing at the limit of an endless ocean
Stranded like a runaway, lost at sea
Anyone will tell you its a prisoner island
Hidden in the summer for a million years
Great southern land


INXS - Original Sin (single) (

INXS – Original Sin

December 1983

On very few occasions I dared to predict the expected amount of success of new bands. Besides U2, I predicted INXS to become huge, which came a reality, even beyond my own expectations.

This song was a prelude to what was to come. The following album, Listen Like Thieves, offered everything that could make a band huge in the 1980’s. INXS was granted the honor to represent Australia during Live Aid on July 13th, 1985. It all happened for INXS with the 1987 album Kick.


Go-Betweens - Was There Anything I Could Do (single) (

The Go-Betweens – Was There Anything I Could Do?

October 1988

Internationally known and acknowledged indie band from Brisbane, Australia. The music is influenced by new-wave and at times resembles The Smiths, except for the pathos. I think this song is their best, but a lot by this band is (really) good. Highly recommended!

On September 29th, 2009 the city of Brisbane announced that the Hale Street Link bridge was to be renamed to Go Between Bridge, as a tribute to the band.


Crowded House - Weather With You (single) (

Crowded House – Weather With You

February 1992

The band was put together in Australia, even though their main song-smith (Neil Finn) is from New Zealand. The band delivered one great (Beatle-esque) song after another. From Don’t Dream It’s Over to Weather With You: it’s all equally beautiful. A random other song from their body of work could have been picked and it would still be a great song. Stunning music!


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Jubilee Street (single) (

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

January 2013

A number of songs could haven been selected from Nick Cave’s immense body of work, too: The Mercy Seat, Red Right Hand, Into My Arms, etc. It is all unbelievably beautiful. As is Jubilee Street off the stunning album Push The Sky Away. During the tour promoting the album, Jubilee Street was an undisputed highlight.

Officer Of The Order Of Australia medal (

Officer Of The Order Of Australia medal

On January 26th, 2017 Nick Cave was awarded the Australian badge of honor for his “distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or humanity at large”. He was thanked for his contribution to “the performing arts as a musician, songwriter, author and actor, both nationally and internationally, and as a major contributor to Australian music culture and heritage”. He can call himself Officer of the General Division of the Order of Australia.


In closing

Australia produced a lot of great music. With The Go-Betweens, Crowded House and Nick Cave Australia supplies three of my favorite bands. What’s your opinion on Australian music? Are there songs missing and, if so, which ones? Let me know!

All that’s left for me to do is to wish all the best of luck to Lisette and Marc on their Australian adventure. Hereby!

NB: No, I didn’t forget about Men At Work’s Down Under. I think it’s an awful song.


Additions (dated 02/26/2016)

Men At Work – Down Under / Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning/ The Church – Under The Milky Way / The Triffids – Bury Me Deep In Love

(1981 / 1987 / 1988 / 1988)

In all the reactions received through mail, Facebook, Google+ and Whatsapp these singles were the most named.

Like stated before: I think Men At Work’s Down Under is awful. That applies to (everything by) Midnight Oil as well.

The Church en The Triffids on the other hand: great additions!

Thanks for all comments and replies!

Australië  - single aanvullingen (



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    • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 6:41 PM
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    Nice list. There would be a couple more I would add to it

    • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 6:42 PM
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    Hoodoo Gurus. This guy’s were popular when I was 16/17. This song in particular I still here on the radio from time to time

      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 02/24/2017 at 6:56 PM
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      Hoodoo Gurus, yes! I liked them a lot when I was younger! Thx for reminding me!

    • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 6:45 PM
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    Midnight Oil are distinctly Australian in their look and sound. Beds are burning is probably their most well known song, although personally I prefer several others ahead of it

      • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 6:57 PM
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      Too pub rock? :p

      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 02/24/2017 at 6:57 PM
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      Sorry, Midnight Oil is not for me, I’m afraid!

      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 02/24/2017 at 6:59 PM
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      Ha ha, no, just really don’t like the singer’s voice!

    • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 6:49 PM
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    Reckless. How I used to love this song, although I find the ryhmn of “arctic” and “Antarctic” annoying

      • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 7:03 PM
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      Hmmm, it was popular here in New Zealand, does that count as international?

      • Kate McCabe on 02/24/2017 at 7:05 PM
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      It’s a classic

      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 02/24/2017 at 6:58 PM
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      Never heard this before. Has this never been popular internationally?

      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 02/24/2017 at 7:07 PM
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      Well, I guess so. I don’t think it was popular in Europe….

    • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 6:57 PM
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    Much loved song downunder. Mark Seymour – brother of Crowded House bass player Nick Seymour

      • Kate McCabe on 02/24/2017 at 7:04 PM
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      Love this song

      • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 7:07 PM
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      That’s because you have drunkenly sung it at parties

      • Kate McCabe on 02/24/2017 at 8:25 PM
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      I take offence to that! I’ve sung it drunkenly elsewhere too

    • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 6:58 PM
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    Lastly – The Church. I’m surprised you didn’t have Under the milky way on your list!

      • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 7:06 PM
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      Lol, I would claim Crowded House as a New Zealand band, and swap their place for The Church

      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 02/24/2017 at 7:00 PM
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      Also nice! I limited myself to 10 songs. I really liked The Church, though

      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 02/24/2017 at 8:12 PM
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      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 02/24/2017 at 8:12 PM
      • Reply
      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 02/24/2017 at 8:12 PM
      • Reply
    • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 6:59 PM
    • Reply

    • Hamish Whitta on 02/24/2017 at 7:00 PM
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Compliments/remarks? Yes, please!