Brought to life in 1878 by composer Peter Dodds McCormick, ‘Advance Australia Fair’ has been around for a minute. Every so often, national discourse loops back to the topic of whether or not it’s time we updated our national jam.

There’s plenty of conjecture about what song, if any, could usurp the weary shanty, but is there really any other song qualified for the position other than Hunters & Collectors’ 1992 mega-hit ‘Holy Grail’, unearthed from their album Cut?

With the band currently gearing up to perform at the Mecca of Australian rock, Red Hot Summer Tour, we compared the jams to determine if ‘Holy Grail’ was in fact more important to Australia than ‘Advance Australia Fair’.

Here’s a good place to start: ‘Holy Grail’ is omnipresent in Australian Culture.

While the Australian Anthem has been shoehorned into just about any sporting event to take place on Australian soil, ‘Holy Grail’ was embedded with purpose. ‘Holy Grail’ was anointed the official AFL theme song in 2002, a title it enjoyed through to 2006.

During that time, the song was used to punctuate just about every match right up to the finals. The relationship between Australia’s flagship sport and ‘Holy Grail’ was even more intimate than that. Hunna’s Mark Seymour performed ‘Holy Grail’ as pre-match entertainment in 1998, 2002 and 2009, returning to the field once more in 2013 to perform the song at half time.

Watch Hunters & Collectors performing at the 2013 AFL Grand Final

While it didn’t receive the same air time with League or Union, the song was picked to feature prominently in the 2006 Aussie film classic Footy Legends, which is just about as talismanic to the franchise as any final round before or after.

The Australian Cricket community wasn’t immune to the stirring swells and pop sensibility of ‘Holy Grail’ either. In 1995, the Brisbane Bulls picked the tune to score their win of the Sheffield Shield.

By winning over hearts and minds in AFL, League and Cricket fandoms, ‘Holy Grail’ has become a built-in feature within three sturdy pillars that encompass an overwhelming amount of Australian culture. In terms of familiarising the Australian public with ‘Holy Grail’, much of the heavy lifting is already done.

Watch ‘Holy Grail’ in Footy Legends

Another reason why ‘Holy Grail’ is more important than ‘Advance Australia Fair’ is that it’s accounted for.

The Australian Anthem entered the public domain in 1966. It’s largely accepted that the lyrics and the tune are owned by we, the people. However, it can be used for commercial purposes if proper approval is sought out.

Other than that, just about anyone can do anything they want and soundtrack it to Advance Australia Fair. In essence, this sounds like a nice thing, until you hear it being belted full volume at a white supremacist rally.

Just like any composition, ‘Advance Australia Fair’ can be co-opted for good and evil. Hell, even ‘Holy Grail’ is victim to this predicament but the difference is, the creators of ‘Holy Grail’, better described as the owners of if, have autonomy over its use.

So, when white supremacy movement Reclaim Australia tried to make its movement synonymous with the Australia classic hit, Hunters & Collectors banned them from using it. When Australian conservative shock jock Steve Price thought he could use it as the official theme song to his 2GB radio show – wherein he shares largely counter-productive rhetoric – Hunters & Collectors stepped in with a resounding “Not with this song, you don’t”.

While it may irk some to know that a small handful of citizens own the rights to the Australian Anthem, Hunters & Collectors have proven to be far from evil overlords with its usage.

In 2019, ‘Holy Grail’ is a much more authentic representation of Australian society

When put under a microscope, the lyrics to ‘Advance Australia Fair’ are fairly… bogus.

Advance to where? Advance how? Other than the title, there’s very little talk of advancing. Rather, ‘Advance Australia Fair’ is a self-congratulatory chant, a big ol’ pat on the back for absolutely nailing it as a nation. That wasn’t the reality back in 1878 and it’s certainly not a reality now.

‘Holy Grail’ talks of dreams and hopes; of defying odds; of betterment. The themes of the song point to Hunna’s struggle to break the US market using Napoleon marching the Grand Army into Russia in 1812 as a metaphor.

While that specific story (and metaphor) is neither here nor there, the idea of pushing forward to more promising pastures is far more relevant to today’s Australia – a society plagued with an anxiety crisis fuelled largely by a trust in (perceived) once-stable institutions rapidly corroding – than a song about how good our soil is.

Last but certainly not least; perhaps the most compelling argument that ‘Holy Grail’ is more important than the Australian National Anthem: It straight up bangs.

Something to think about when you catch Hunters & Collectors performing ‘Holy Grail’ live at the forthcoming Red Hot Summer Tour alongside Aussie rock Untouchables The Living End, James Reyne, Killing Heidi, Baby Animals, The Angels and Boom Crash Opera.

Watch the clip for ‘Holy Grail’ by Hunters & Collectors

Red Hot Summer Tour – 10 Years Of Red Hot Rock 2020

Hunters & Collectors
James Reyne
The Living End
The Angels
Baby Animals
Killing Heidi
Boom Crash Opera

Saturday, January 4th, 2020
Bendigo Racecourse, Bendigo, VIC

Sunday, January 5th, 2020
Old Mount Gambier Gaol, Mount Gambier, SA

Saturday, January 11th, 2020
Sounds By The River
Mary Ann Reserve, Mannum, SA
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Sunday, January 12th, 2020
Sandalford Estate, Swan Valley, WA

Saturday, January 18th, 2020
Mornington Racecourse, Mornington, VIC
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Sunday, January 19th, 2020
Mornington Racecourse, Mornington, VIC
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Saturday, January 25th, 2020
Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Hobart, TAS

Sunday, January 26th, 2020
Country Club Lawns, Launceston, TAS

Saturday, February 1st, 2020
Westport Park, Port Macquarie, NSW

Saturday, February 8th, 2020
Cockatoo Island, Sydney, NSW
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Sunday, February 9th, 2020
Cockatoo Island, Sydney, NSW

Saturday, February 15th, 2020
Roche Estate, Hunter Valley, NSW

Sunday, February 16th, 2020
Bella Vista Farm, Baulkham Hills, NSW

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020
Sandstone Point Hotel, Bribie Island, QLD
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Sunday, February 23rd, 2020
Queens Park – Frogs Hollow, Toowoomba, QLD

Saturday, February 29th, 2020
Sandstone Point Hotel, Bribie Island, QLD
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Sunday, March 1st, 2020
Harrigans Drift Inn, Jacobs Well, QLD
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Saturday, March 7th, 2020
Mackay Park, Batemans Bay, NSW

Saturday, March 14th, 2020
Kiama Showgrounds, Kiama, NSW

Saturday, March 21st, 2020
Gateway Lakes, Wodonga, VIC

Saturday, March 28th, 2020
North Gardens, Ballarat, VIC

Sunday, March 29th, 2020
Seppeltsfield, Barossa, SA

Saturday, April 4th, 2020
Lazy River Estate, Dubbo, NSW

Saturday, April 11th, 2020
Darwin Amphitheatre, Darwin, NT

Saturday, April 18th, 2020
Barlow Park, Cairns, QLD

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