There’s Something Musical in the Water Down Under

Where does the one Australian artist rank on the Billboard charts?


Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

Chet Faker, Broods, RÜFÜS, Alison Wonderland, Peking Duk, George Maple, Flume, Angus and Julia Stone. Do any of these names ring a bell for you? They may sound obscure at first but in fact this is a collection of some of the most prominent singers and producers from Australia at the moment, each of whom has embarked on a North American tour, if not a European one already. Several of them already have, or will be, performing at renowned North American festivals in the upcoming months, such as South by Southwest and Coachella.

 

Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Sam Smith, Pitbull, Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Ne-Yo. I wont even ask if these names are recognizable because I’m certain they are, and that’s due to the fact that they are all straight from what is known as the “top 40,” which is a list compiled by Billboard Magazine that details the most popular songs of the moment. Upon conducting a surface level analysis of this list, most of the artists originate from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada or countries throughout Europe.

 

Where does the one Australian artist rank? Sitting at number 33 is James Keogh for his song “Riptide,” which was released well over a year ago. With no disrespect to the current artists on the popular top 40 list, I’m frankly tired of the recycled, mundane and uneventful music that quite often plagues the list. Instead, I’m calling for greater representation for Australian artists on a chart that is largely dominated by North American and European artists, both for the reason that their music is more diverse, but also because they seriously deserve it.

 

One does not have to look further than Australia’s nationally-beloved radio station Triple J, which is as much of a cultural institution as it is a place of broadcasting. In particular, the cultural impact that Triple J bears is personified by its annual Australia Day event called Triple J’s Hottest 100, in which the station counts down the hottest 100 songs as voted by its listeners. It is a testament to the home-grown musical talent Australia generates, evidenced by the 59 Australians out of the list of 100 artists on this years’ Hot 100.

 

However, this one day of the year isn’t the sole indicator of the flourishing appreciation Australia boasts for its musical talent. If you follow their Twitter account you will find a tally of every song played by the station throughout the day and the time it was played at. It’s a simple idea, but one that is not implemented enough by North American stations, if at all.

 

On Triple J you’re given a taste of grittier and alternative hip-hop, indie, down-tempo, future bass, synth pop, electronic, chill-trap and deep house music. By no means are all these names Australian artists — they are the names of artists from all around the globe. Consequently, this is indicative of a growing music industry that features new genres constantly being formed and explored in contexts that are largely unfamiliar to the average North American top 40 listener, which is representative of Triple J’s influence on the musical complexity present in the development of emerging and popular Australian artists.

 

The names of these artists may be unfamiliar to you, but that’s because they haven’t received the North America radio exposure they deserve. Most of these artists featured on Triple J have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and millions of plays on the reputable music streaming site SoundCloud. It’s undeniably clear that these artists have the fan following to prove their quality and staying power, it’s just a question of whether you as a listener will go and find the music that you will love, but just don’t know it yet, down under.

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