The APRA Song of the Year H20: 20 Years Later

Only one bout of listening remains in this exercise, and that’s to listen to any 2009 releases by Oz artists who are considered amongst our best writers.  Ah, but who would they be?  Here are APRA’s winners thus far:

Powderfinger, Alex Lloyd, Kasey Chambers, The John Butler Trio, Missy Higgins, Ben Lee, Glenn Richards (Augie March), Daniel Johns, Chris Cheney (The Living End).

Throw in the winners of APRA’s Songwriter of the Year and you can add Savage Garden, Killing Heidi, Wolfmother and The Presets.

And it would be foolish to leave out such luminaries as Paul Kelly, Don Walker, Troy Cassar-Daley, Sarah Blasko, Archie Roach, Nick Cave, Colin Hay and anyone else you, the reader, might be kind enough to remind me about.

Of this lot, the ones who released albums in 2009 are:

Powderfinger – Golden Rule
Ben Lee – The Rebirth of Venus
Darren Hayes (ex-Savage Garden) – We Are Smug (collaboration with Robert Conley)
Wolfmother – Cosmic Egg
Sarah Blasko – As Day Follows Night
Troy Cassar-Daley – I Love This Place
Colin Hay – American Sunshine

And because I liked The Middle East and Washington, I’ll listen to The Recordings of the Middle East and How To Tame Lions.

I have until March 15, and that’s made me realise – not for the first time – that we’re going about this the wrong way.  I shouldn’t be seeking out great songwriting; it should be finding me.  That’s how great songs work: they come out, they make their way in the world, they falter, they triumph, and they find you, or they don’t.  The system is not a meritocracy, and bands like INXS are wildly overrated, but time allows great songs the space they need to provoke an emotional response.  I truly didn’t appreciate Cattle and Cane the first time I heard it.  I thought it was dull.  I was wrong.

So I propose that these awards be given out, if at all, twenty years after the release of a song.  Thus, we should decide this year on the best Australian song released in 1989.  Wouldn’t that be more fun?  More sensible?  And easier?  And the folkies and twangers might get a look-in!  Imagine: comparing the relative merits of Johnny Diesel’s Cry In Shame and 1927’s Compulsory Hero.  Or The Black Sorrows’s Chained To The Wheel.

We could also do the right thing by Jason Donovan, and pretend that his singing career never, ever happened.


10 thoughts on “The APRA Song of the Year H20: 20 Years Later

  1. Who the F**K are you to say INXS are “wildly overrated.” Have you ever written a worldwide top 10 hit? How about 8 consecutive top 10 hits!!! To compare a completely derivative band where every riff is stolen from another song like Wolfmother, to INXS’s originality and worldwide achievements is blasphemous. Lets see how many of your list of songs are still being played on the radio in 20 years time, eh!!!! How dare you when INXS opened the INternational doors for your list of “where are they now” has beens to walk through!!!!
    I am unsubscribing from your crap “major to minor” rag. It truly is MINOR…!!!

    • Um, I’m a songwriter who thinks they made some good records, but didn’t write such great songs. My favourite is Don’t Change, which is lovely, and Never Tear Us Apart is pretty good, but New Sensation and Devil Inside are overrated.

      It’s called an opinion. You don’t need to write a hit to have one.

      Thanks for visiting. Bye.

  2. wow, who knew INXS’s biggest fan read your blog.

    I have been watching this process of discovery and critiquing for the last few weeks and I think you have been quite fair, so well done. I have wracked my brains and cannot think of a single song I can suggest, but I will say that you can’t go wrong with Sarah Blasko or Powderfinger.

    good luck in your quest for the answer.

  3. Wow Pete, you’ve have hit a new high in the blogoshpere to warrant that one! Was that your first flame?

    Not sure if it’s eligible for 2009, but I really liked the album Gurrumul by Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. I think the hit single was Wiyathul.

    I presume it qualifies for the main award rather than World Music…

    • That was my first flame on this blog, and I’ll never forget it. Special.

      Gurrumul, sadly, was 2008. I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from it/him.

    • I like to think that Pete would have been funnier if I’d made him up. But the thought never occurred to me, and besides, I am nowhere near David Thorne’s league.

      • I love the idea of Peter’s split personality – good Peter J Casey and evil Pete – doing battle on this blog. Evil Pete, you’ll have to get a good hoverboard like all proper baddies.

        But (with a big wrench back to the point of the blog), what would be your theme music for good Peter J Casey and evil Pete?

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