It’s our very last post for 2018, which means it’s time to reveal my ten favorite songs of the year – although chances are, if you’ve been reading this blog more religiously than most, or have a good idea of what I am into, then you’d have guessed some of the songs on this list. For this year, I decided not to have a massive reckoning some time from the beginning of December (too much pressure, that) but instead made up this list as the year went along. It didn’t make it easier: the tenth song (again, this list is in alphabetical order) was added just a few days ago, and that was a song I actually took off the list. I won’t tell you what that is… [NB]
We tend to think of country music as a domain of the Americans. The imagery it evokes – the vast landscapes you see, the families you come home to, the beliefs you hold dear – seem to be distinctly American. It was a bit of a surprise to me, then, to realize that the Australians also have a very strong country scene, and one that isn’t exactly a beat-for-beat copy of what their neighbors an ocean away do. Unlike with most of the country’s pop music, country music down under has developed on a track of its own. While music from other parts of the world also served as an inspiration, the country’s idyllic landscapes – and sometimes harsh conditions – informed and developed the movement as much.
It was inevitable that hip-hop would be bubbling under in Australia, as it had around the world. As with most music movements down under, hip-hop there also took a nudge from its popularity in the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1980s. But here, it took just a little bit longer. We’ve talked for the past few weeks about how the development of Australian music centered around bands performing in local venues, and how they grew after some sort of national infrastructure – critical support on radio and TV – was locked into place. Well, that infrastructure got complacent for a while – then again, the 80s were big for many of these bands – and hip-hop barely got a look-in, even by the time the 1990s came in and tastes were starting to shift all over.
Australians love to have a good time, or so the stereotype goes. Musically, it shows, with a lot of dance acts – DJs, producers, everyone else in between – making lots of waves, with some lucky enough to sneak out of the country and make it big globally. But since the development of Aussie pop music centered mostly on rock and pop, it took a while for the electronic scene to break through to the mainstream and become an essential part of the landscape – well, essential enough to make me feel old, because this never really was the music of my youth. But soldier on we must.
When I began this column three years ago I had a bit of apprehension that this would be a token slot for local music, which these things tend to be, which ultimately isn’t good for this blog’s attempts to cover it all better. Well, yes and no. I’ve amped up the album reviews, but then I still forget a lot of things. But then, can I blame it on being busy too? I was meaning to review the new Apartel album, but haven’t. Same with the new Strange Creatures album, but haven’t. Same with Eyedress‘ album, but haven’t. (I do have a “review the album within a week of release” policy.) I can barely keep track of my editorial calendar, much more my work one. It is a sign of things to come, I’m afraid.