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:
The Saints – (I’m) Stranded
First single/song by The Saints. Highly energetic song. The Saints released a couple of very fine albums after this song!
AC/DC – Whole Lotta Rosie
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
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
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
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
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
INXS – Original Sin
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.
The Go-Betweens – Was There Anything I Could Do?
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
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
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.
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.
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!