If 2013 was characterised by Australian artists continuing the good work that the likes of Gotye and Tame Impala did the previous year in spreading Australian music all over the world, then 2014 appears to be the continuation of that proverbial Aussie invasion.
Case in point, a number of our local music-makers taking on the fertile American music market, cropping everywhere from taste-making year-end lists and the blogosphere to international music festivals and TV screens.
Now one of the country’s prominent news publications, USA Today, has sat up and taken notice, offering its tips on “five Australian acts you (re: Americans) need to know now.”
So who makes the cut? ‘Riptide’ hit-maker Vance Joy, nu-folkies Boy & Bear, Sydney-via-LA rapper Iggy Azalea, Perth rockers Birds Of Tokyo, and pop-punk teens 5 Seconds Of Summer.
Their five picks on the Down Under talent that are “breaking stateside right now” are fairly obvious choices, especially to Australian audiences who have already seen their native successes, but it does demonstrate the impact each act has had on the US charts, radio, and media. “The Top 5 Aussie picks is accompanied by another article that quizzes, “why are Australian artists suddenly so hot here?”
Melbourne singer-songwriter James Keogh, the tall brains behind Vance Joy, has spent most of the year edging his Hottest 100 #1 ‘Riptide’ into international charts and recently saw the uke-led single landing in USA Today’s Top 10 Adult-Alternative (AA) airplay chart. His incursion furthered by appearances on multiple US festival lineups, including Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands
Likewise Boy & Bear, who share the bill with Vance Joy at Firefly Festival as well as at the #6 spot on USA Today’s AA chart. Having played a brief American tour, the ARIA-winning five-piece are also set for Sasquatch! Festival this May.
Birds Of Tokyo have taken the promotional path to breaking America, chiefly thanks to nailing their Jimmy Kimmel Live performance earlier this month, performing signature hit ‘Lanterns‘ in front of a viewing audience of millions, and now becoming a chart-bothering sensation stateside as the Ian Kenny-led five-piece continue promotional duties and gigs across America.
5 Seconds Of Summer, four Sydney lads all aged under 20, have already the major coup of going #1 in Australia and the UK simultaneously with their pop-punk hit ‘She Looks So Perfect’, making them the first Aussie group to debut at #1 on the UK chart in 13 years. Their EP of the same name is selling strongly stateside and last month, they also sold out their 10-date US tour… in five minutes.
Last but not least is 23-year-old Sydney-bred blonde femcee Iggy Azalea. She has the distinction of being based Stateside after moving there at the age of 16, but having bubbled along with the wave of emerging rappers (Azealia Banks and Angel Haze spring to mind) the release of her debut album The New Classic has capitalised on her growing momentum. “There’s a kinship in the listening habits of the Australian listener and the American listener.”
USA Today’s top 5 Aussie picks is accompanied by another article that quizzes, “why are Australian artists suddenly so hot here?” chiefly pointing out that our little land Down Under is the perfect proving grounds for artists on the rise.
“Songs that are not obvious for top 40 can develop a story [in Australia] before finally breaking here (America),” Edison Research radio analyst Sean Ross tells USA Today. While Pete Ganbarg, the A&R wiz who helped engineer Vance Joy’s unprecedented five-album deal with Atlantic Records, says “there’s a kinship in the listening habits of the Australian listener and the American listener. If a record is exploding down there, chances are it’s got a real good shot at exploding here.”
According to Peter Szabo, Shazam’s head of music, Australians are also trendsetters who “embrace the idea of breaking music first. They’re very open to new music and love new technology. They love being on the leading edge.”