How Has Australian Music changed Since The 50's
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How Has Australian Music changed Since The 50's
An indepth summary of the rich history that is Australian music
Curated by Casey Wherry
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The 50's: Americas Influence

Military ties between Australia and America (through the Korean War) played a big role in the development of Australian music throughout the 1950’s. Famous American artists such as Frank Sinatra, Little Richard and Ricky Nelson were constantly being invited over to Australia to perform in the state capitols. Australian music was mostly limited to jazz and country at this time. Although TV was brought to Australia in 1956, many Australians couldn’t afford one so the main media for music was radio. Australia's taste in music was heavily influenced by music coming from America and hardy any popular music was actually being made in Australia. The 50's was also known as the decade in which rock and roll was born.


One of the hit songs of the 50's was 'Heartbreak Hotel' recorded by Elvis Presley. It was the song which got him his first ever gold record with one million sales.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PotB76gi2_4

 

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The 70's: Australia Finds Their Feet and TV Turns To Music

The 70’s was a decade that saw more and more Australian artists step into the spotlight. Australian musicians such as Spectrum, ACDC, and Daddy Cool were some of the popular acts of that time. In 1971, Australian group Spectrum released its debut single “I’ll Be Gone” which hit No.1 on the national music charts very quickly. But this does not compare to the release of the hit song “It’s a Long Way to the Top” by AC/DC in 1975 which quickly became a classic Aussie rock song.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1iR2Wi3u5o

The 70’s was also home to some big revolutions in the way music was portrayed on television. The long-running and extremely popular music TV show ‘Countdown’ was first aired in late 1974 and became one of the longest running Australian television programs ever. Hosted by Molly Meldrum, more than 12 years of Countdown every Sunday evening had draw a large and very loyal fan base.
Another hit music TV show from Australia, Young Talent Time, also made its debut in the 1970’s with their first episode airing in 1971.

A very notable and ground-breaking song of the 70’s was the iconic ‘I Am Woman’ sung by Helen Reddy. This strong song of female empowerment was the first song by an Australian to score No.1 on the US Billboard charts and was also the first Australian song to win a Grammy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGMESM8JKOg

1977 was a year of both highs and lows for the music industry of that time. A music legend, the King Elvis Presley, was pronounced dead on the 16th of August. His health had been deteriorating over the past few years and he was suffering from the effects of alcohol and drug abuse. Although Elvis was certainly not the performer he once was, the world was still saddened and shocked by the loss of one of the worlds music greats.

1977 was also the year that worldwide pop sensations ABBA toured Australia. There was widespread hysteria as fans flocked to see their shows. This kind of madness hadn’t been seen since the Beatles toured over 10 years before. ABBA: The Movie was filmed during their Australian tour.

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The 90's: Fantastic Music Festivals and Waking Up Jeff

The 90’s saw the even further expansion of music in Australia. There was no longer one or two main styles of music, there were many. Alternative music saw a big boost in popularity.
The 90’s showed an increase of music festivals in Australia. Originating in Sydney, the annual Big Day Out music festival expanded to include the major Australian capital cities in 1993. This famous music festival was home to all things music with many different stages to showcase a whole range of different music styles. Both local and international artists perform during one of the biggest music festivals in Australia.

The 90’s also saw further success for many Australian acts. Pop duo Savage Garden released their debut single ‘I Want You’ in 1996 which is an instant hit in Australia and overseas. This sparked a bidding war as to which record label could sign them. Savage Garden was widely popular for being different to the guitar-dominated charts at the time.

1996 was also the year that one of the most catchy and easily recognisable songs in Australia was released. ‘Wake Up Jeff’ by Australian children’s entertainers The Wiggles was released on their sixth album by the group. Their surprisingly busy tour schedule and their fun songs have cemented them as some of the greatest entertainers of the past few decades.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfFWkoP4bv0

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Reflection

This assignment has been a really good way for me to explore a topic that I am interested in. I began this assignment with the idea of researching Australian Television. After a few lessons of work I felt like this topic wasn’t interesting me as much as I thought. I had complete control over what my topic could be, so I decided to change from Australian Television to Australian Music. I instantly felt more interested in my topic and therefore more keen to continue with it.

I really enjoyed creating this assignment and I think I have done well in it. Researching and typing never seemed to be boring as I was very interested in what I was looking up. I even listened to some of the older classic songs while doing my work because I enjoyed them so much. Doing this assignment has allowed me to appreciate the music artists in this country and how they have changed the world we live in today. I chose to present the assignment as blog posts on the website ‘Scoop It!’ because I felt like it was the best way to present the work I’ve done. I like how each decade has a different kind of theme and has different interesting events throughout it.

Overall, I found this assignment highly enjoyable and I hope I will be able to choose my assignment topics more often.

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The 60's: The British Invasion, The Rise Of Television and other Important Things

The 60's was the decade where Australia slowly but surely expanded their musical influences. Although American influences were still vital, Australia was not depending on them as heavily as before. Americas influence was shown in 1964 when the "Surf Culture" fad was sweeping the nation. One of the biggest bands of this genre, The Beach Boys, toured Australia in 1964 and was one of the most popular bands of that time.

Throughout the 60’s there were also many dance fads that teenagers of that time would go to discos or other gatherings to perform. Dances such as The Stomp, The Boogaloo and The Twist were very popular among teenagers. Many popular dances at this time did not require a partner so anyone could participate.

Although the television was introduced to Australia in the 50’s, many households didn’t own a TV until the 60’s. This was due to various reasons such as it being too expensive or them thinking that it was just a fad that would die out. Many families also knew someone else who owned a TV so they would just go to their house if they wanted to watch something. But by 1965, nine out of ten households owned a television.

Throughout the 60’s, music from Brittan was becoming more and more popular and was eventually considered to be as popular as American music. Music from any Australian artist was almost always heavily influenced by American and/or British styles. One Australian band who were very successful overseas were “The Seekers”. They were the first Australian group to sell one million records with their song “I’ll Never Find Another You”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ga9Bs4fzSY

Arguably the most successful band of the 60’s was, of course, The Beatles. The Beatles’ tour of Australia in 1964 sent the whole country into a spin. Beatle-mania had taken the nation by storm. Thousands and thousands of fans would line the streets to catch a glimpse of John, George, Paul and Ringo. The Rocker and Surfie music seemed to be pushed aside to make way for the seemingly unstoppable steamroller that was The Beatles.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDdI7GhZSQA

 

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The 80's: AC/DC Tragedy and Australian Success

The 80’s began with the loss of a legend. Front man of Australian rock band AC/DC Bon Scott passed away. After a heavy night of drinking, Scott was found and rushed to the nearest hospital where he was pronounced dead. Although the official cause of death was alcohol poisoning and ‘Death By Misadventure’, the actual cause was aspiration of his own vomit. There have been many conspiracy theories surrounding his death but no one has been able to prove that there was any foul play. AC/DC contemplated disbanding but then decided to press on with their careers and hired Brian Johnson as their new vocalist. Five months after Scott’s death, AC/DC released the album “Back in Black” paying tribute to their late band member. It was hugely successful and is now the second best selling album behind Michael Jacksons’ ‘Thriller’.

Pub Rock became hugely popular during the early 80’s with Australian bands such as Mental As Anything, Midnight Oil and Cold Chisel becoming very popular in a very short amount of time. One song that really showed that Australia was coming into its own in the music world was the song ‘Down Under’ by Men At Work. The entire song is about being from Australia and various Australian cultures, yet it was at No.1 on the US Billboard Charts for 4 weeks. This goes to show the successful kinds of music that was coming out of Australia at this time. John Farnham was another Australian act who was achieving success with his album ‘Whispering Jack’ staying at the top of the charts for 25 weeks.

By far the biggest Australian song of the 80’s was ‘Locomotion’ by Kylie Minogue. The highest selling single of the 80’s, it got Minogue a record deal and launched her into international stardom. It reached No. 1 on the charts in Australia, 2 in the UK and 3 in America. It also got to number 1 in Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, and South Africa.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZAhzVvgY-c

 

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The 00's and Now: Look How Far We've Come

The introduction of reality TV shows allowed talented young artists to show the whole country their music easier than ever before. Almost all of these talent searching shows were spinoffs of American or British ideas. Shows such as Australian Idol, X Factor, Australia’s Got Talent and more recently The Voice allowed the public to view the new generation of possible stars and vote on their favourite. The winner of each show usually walked away with a substantial amount of money and a recording contract to help kick start their career. Unfortunately, not all winners end up having success after the show and sometimes it’s the runners up or another finalist that eventually enjoys success. Artists such as Guy Sebastian, Ricki Lee, Jessica Malboy, Reece Mastin, Johnny Ruffo and Shannon Noll among others are examples of Australian success stories from these kinds of television programs.

It seemed like there was a never-ending flow of pop songs swamping the charts during this time. Artists such as NSYNC, Destiny's Child, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, P!nk, U2 and Wheatus were dominating the charts with hits such as Teenage Dirt bag, Opps... I Did It Again, On A Night Like This and Spinning Around. Kylie Minogue was doing particularly well during this time.

As for now, the music is definitely very different from that of the 50’s and 60’s. Since then we’ve seen fads come and go, talented artists discovered and legends die. We’ve witnessed the timeless, the record-breaking and the incredible passion that these artists put into their work. Artists such as P!nk and Kylie Minogue have withstood the test of time, continuously putting out good music for hopefully years to come. Australian music has changed a lot since the 50’s. Not necessarily for the better but change is change, and change is good.

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Bibliography

Arts centre Melbourne, 2012, Revolutions, Australian Music History Timeline, http://revolutions.artscentremelbourne.com.au/#/2000 Date accessed 8/11

Wikipedia, 2012, Countdown, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countdown_(Australian_TV_series), Date accessed 10/11

Wikipedia, 2012, List of Number 1 Singles 2000, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_number-one_singles_of_2000_(Australia), Date accessed 20/11

Wikipedia, 2012, Midnight Oil, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_Oil, Date accessed 18/11

Wikipedia, 2012, Music Of Australia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Australia, Date accessed 2/11

Wikipedia, 2012, Timeline of Trends In Australian Music, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_trends_in_Australian_music, Date accessed 2/11

Wikipedia, 2012, Young Talent Time, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Talent_Time, Date accessed 10/11

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