Why 2016 was the best and worst year in music
People everywhere are touting 2016 as one of the best years for new music in recent memory, and here at Music Insight, we’re finding it hard to argue otherwise. We had ARIA Hall Of Fame inductees, band reunions that were years in the making, and albums about some of the most culturally important issues we face here in this country.
However, we also lost a number of great people within the entertainment industry this year. Their work is permanent, and will live on in us as listeners and viewers.
Here are some of the most significant music moments from this year.
The 30th ARIA Awards took place on the 23rd of November and provided a heap of memorable moments, including Crowded House being inducted into the Hall Of Fame, The Veronicas putting on a show-stopper performance of In My Blood, and Flume topping the winners list with five ARIA Award wins. Troye Sivan talked about the importance of accepting the LGBTI community, Marriage Equality Australia’s Angie Green spoke on Behalf of Sia, urging politicians to sort out marriage equality once and for all, and Hilltop Hoods got everyone behind Canteen. Check out our full rundown here.
National Live Music Awards
The National Live Music Awards celebrated the best of the best from Australia’s live music scene, including both musicians and the industry folk behind the scenes who make it all happen. The event took place at various venues around the country simultaneously, and saw Ngaiire score three awards (Live Voice Of The Year – National and NSW, R&B/Soul Act Of The Year), Violent Soho take two (Hard Rock Live Act Of The Year, Best Live Act – QLD), and a number of other talented acts and initiatives all walking away with a trophy each.
Check out our review of the Perth event and a full list of winners here.
Triple J celebrates 10 years of triplejunearthed.com
Triple J celebrated 10 years of triplejunearthed.com this month with a massive countdown featuring the Hottest 100 artists to ever be discovered on the website. It was an absolute corker of a list, with a wealth of competition winners, festival favourites, Unearthed High victors and just some of the best talent this country’s ever produced: Courtney Barnett, Boy & Bear, Ball Park Music, Big Scary, RÜFÜS, Remi, and Tkay Maidza were just some of the acts that made up the Top 20.
The full list is right here.
A.B. Original release Reclaim Australia
A.B. Original – a collaboration between Indigenous rappers Briggs and Trials – released their record Reclaim Australia on the 25th of November. Prior to its release, Ryan Griffen (ABC’s Cleverman) acknowledged in a press release that “many people aren’t ready for this”, and with the record in the spotlight after triple j made it their week’s feature album, it’s easy to say he was right – a Facebook comments scroll through any post relating to the album brings forth too many examples of unrepentant racism. As such, the cultural significance, importance, and quality of this album – featuring a Yorta Yorta man and a Ngarrindjeri man spitting verse, with straight-backed conviction, about racism in Australia – is undeniable.
Camp Cope release their self-titled debut and generally win 2016
Melbourne trio Camp Cope‘s debut album wears its heart on its sleeve as vocalist Georgia Maq, bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah Thompson portray the depressing realities of womanhood with power. At one of their shows in Brisbane earlier this year, a group of men began pushing girls around while singing along to Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams– a song describing how unsafe the world can be for women – and the irony was not lost on anybody. They encouraged the non-males in the audience to surge to the front of the stage, and thus their shows have become a place of liberation and strength. Since Camp Cope was released in April, the album has received critical acclaim in Australia and around the world. It is a testament to Maq’s honest songwriting that the band has been able to connect with so many listeners, and why Camp Cope is Music Insight’s Album of the Year.
The Avalanches, American Football release follow-up albums over fifteen years after their debuts
Melbourne’s The Avalanches made waves when they announced they would finally be releasing Wildflower, their first album since 2000’s Since I Left You. The group had been working on Wildflower since the early 2000s, and unveiled the first single, Frankie Sinatra, in June. Upon release, Wildflower received critical acclaim.
Seminal Chicago-based emo-rockers American Football split in 1999 after playing a handful of basement shows and releasing their first album American Football. They reformed in 2014 and, off the back of that debut gaining a cult following, played sold out shows around the world. They started hinting at a new album early in 2016 and unveiled first single I’ve Been So Lost For So Long in August. The album, again titled American Football, launched in October, and the band are currently touring it through the US.
Reformations and break-ups
A number of influential bands reformed this year. Groups such as pop-punks At The Drive-In, Aussie rockers Jet and horror-punk group Misfits (with original singer Glenn Danzig) got themselves back together to play shows and create new music. On the other side of the coin, a large number of groups also called it quits – legendary US rockers Eagles dissolved after the death of founding member Glenn Frey, while a number of popular acts called time on their careers in their current form, including The Stooges, The Maccabees, Gossip, Youth Lagoon and THEESatisfaction.
Female acts dominate
Australian music threw up some massive talent this year, including some mind-blowingly brilliant women. Montaigne, Alex Lahey, Camp Cope, Olympia and Julia Jacklin are just some of the artists who piqued our interest and generally slayed in 2016. They dominated awards shows, festivals and the live circuit, as well as gaining international attention. It’s a good thing 2017 is just hours away as we simply can’t wait to see what this bunch gets up to next year.
We lost a lot of wonderfully talented people in the music industry this year. There was worldwide mourning for David Bowie right at the start of the year, and only a few months after that, we lost a world icon in Prince. We also lost legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen in November, followed by pop megastar George Michael in December. 3 Doors Down guitarist Matt Roberts passed, as did Signe Anderson and Paul Kantner of psych-rock pioneers Jefferson Airplane; Architects‘ Tom Searle; Surfer Blood‘s Thomas Fekete; Grammy winners Merle Haggard and Guy Clark; Beastie Boys‘ John Berry; Megadeth‘s Nick Menza; and closer to home, Fergus Miller (Bored Nothing). Rest in peace.
– Kane Sutton with Anni Fordham