by Greg Phillips

John Butler's classy acceptance

John Butler’s classy acceptance

The 2014 ARIA Awards have been run and won and there’s nothing left to do but examine them, so let’s do that. Arguments about how the ARIAs are televised aside (I’ll get to that in a minute), the awards do spotlight Australia’s increasingly important contribution to the world of contemporary music and there were many positives about last night’s show. The international success this year of Sheppard, Sia and 5 Seconds of Summer has been extraordinary and it was great to see those achievements being recognised. The pairing of Sheppard with the Melbourne Ska Orchestra was a nice touch. The induction of Molly Meldrum into the Hall of Fame and his acceptance speech was a heartwarming moment. John Butler was all class in his acceptance speech. Paul Kelly and Neil Finn gave an old school performance and showed that  songs will always prevail over sizzle. Dan Sultan delivered a good dose of soulful rock ‘n’ roll. Chet Faker on piano, accompanied only by cello  gave a chilling performance of his tune Talk is Cheap. Sia’s wins were well deserved and unfortunate that her video acceptance speech was clumsily broadcast. On her Twitter account today she posted that she had made 4 award acceptance videos and only one got used. She also offered her ARIA awards up to any fan who could prove that they have recently bestowed a good deed on the world. Of course, Katy Perry and One Direction were there for the money shots. It’s apt to acknowledge that behind many of the artists performing on the night were a bunch of talented backing musicians who scored a gig and got some fine exposure. The ARIA awards are also a great opportunity for the industry to come together and celebrate a year of hard work. Artists get to meet other artists, network, exchange war stories and maybe even discuss collaboration opportunities. 2014 was a wonderful year for Australian music and at last night’s award presentation, that was recognised.

illy with someone

illy with someone from overseas!

I used to whinge and whine to anyone who would listen about the annual ARIAs telecast and its lack of dignity. Let’s face it, there have been some less than slick productions in the past. Lately, I have resigned myself to the fact that in order for the awards to be televised, and for Australian music to be placed front and centre in the mainstream media, then there has to be a commercial value for the show’s presenters. In order for it to be of commercial value, it has to follow the production aesthetic and philosophies of TV’s most marketable shows, which happen to be things like X Factor, The Voice, Big Brother, Masterchef etc. It also means that to appeal to a mass audience, the awards show has to feature recording artists and TV personalities who have the biggest reach. The fact that those people mainly appeal to the young female teen market is irrelevant to the presenters, it’s a number’s game. So in order for the likes of respected, quality artists like Paul Kelly, Neil Finn, Chet Faker, Dan Sultan, Illy, Hilltop Hoods, Peking Duk etc to receive their due recognition, they have to be packaged alongside some manufactured pop culture icons. It also means that non-music related TV staffers such as Osher G or whatever his name is this week, and Angela Bishop, get to host and present it and slot in subtle cross promotional network references as directed. In today’s fickle, celebrity-driven, social media world, if you want the ARIAs to be broadcast on commercial telly and made a big deal of on the internet, then that’s the equation. At one end of our music spectrum there’s your X Factor/Voice style artists and at the other, there’s the Triple J pool. If only the ARIA award telecast could reflect the fact that there’s a whole other world of quality Australian music in between.

And the winners were:


Best Adult Contemporary Album winners Neil & Paul

Best Adult Contemporary Album winners Neil & Paul

Album of the Year
 Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
Best Group 
Sheppard – Bombs Away
Best Male Artist
 Chet Faker – Built on Glass
Best Female Artist
 Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
Breakthrough Artist
 Iggy Azalea – The New Classic
Best Independent Release 
Chet Faker – Built on Glass
Best Adult Contemporary Album
 Neil Finn & Paul Kelly – Goin’ Your Way
Best Blues & Roots Album
 John Butler Trio – Flesh & Blood
Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album
 DZ Deathrays – Black Rat
Best Rock Album
 Dan Sultan – Blackbird
Best Urban Album
 Hilltop Hoods – Walking Under Stars
Best Country Album 
Kasey Chambers – Bittersweet
Best Children’s Album 
The Wiggles – Apples & Bananas
Best Comedy Release
 Buddy Goode – It’s a Buddy Goode Christmas
Best Pop Release
 Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
Best Dance Release
 Peking Duk featuring Nicole Millar – “High”
Song of the Year 5 Seconds of Summer – “She Looks So Perfect”
Best Australian Live Act 
Keith Urban
Best International Artist One Direction – Midnight Memories
Best Classical Album 
Lior, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Westlake – Compassion
Best Jazz Album
 Paul Grabowsky Sextet – The Bitter Suite
Best Original Soundtrack/Cast/Show Album
 Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Gurrumul: His Life and Music
Best World Music Album
 Joseph Tawadros – Permission to Evaporate
Artisan Awards
Best Cover Art  
Tin & Ed – Chet Faker – Built on Glass
Engineer of the Year 
Eric J Dubowsky – Chet Faker – Built on Glass
Producer of the Year
 Nicholas Murphy – Chet Faker – Built on Glass
Best Video *Sia – “Chandelier” – Sia Furler, Daniel Askill
ARIA Hall of Fame Inductee
 Molly Meldrum
ARIA Industry Icon Award
 Denis Handlin (ARIA Chairman/Sony Music Chairman & CEO)

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