opinion Opinion November 26, 2019

The only 100% correct ARIA Awards predictions of 2019

The only 100% correct ARIA Awards predictions of 2019
Hilltop Hoods at the 2018 ARIAs

The ARIA Awards are here again, which means it’s time to make some wild predictions about who will clean up, who will be snubbed, and who will be caught on camera mouthing “what the fuck?” as someone else’s name is announced as the winner.

The wonderful thing about predictions is that you can make as many bad ones as you like, and should you happen to get even one major or unlikely one correct, that’s all that people remember. Should I get even a fraction of these correct, I will be rightly lauded as the second coming of Nostradamus – who, by the way, predicted World War III will start in 2019, so I guess that’s kicking off the next few weeks. Merry Christmas!

Now, we must never lose track of the fact that giving out awards for artistic pursuits is an arbitrary exercise at best, and a political one at worst. Nor should we forget that in 1993, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ lost the Grammy for Best Rock Song to Eric Clapton’s acoustic version of ‘Layla’.

But the ARIAs have some real-world value: traditionally, the winners’ record sales tend to spike in the few weeks following the awards. In 2005, Ben Lee took out three awards, and saw his album ‘Awake Is The New Sleep’ jump from #31 to #5. 

So, here’s who is definitely going to win all the awards, and my justification for each choice. I have omitted the publicly-voted awards, because the ARIAs shouldn’t be the Logies and every time we let the public vote, things get ruined. 


Album of the Year

Dean Lewis – A Place We Knew (Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Hilltop Hoods – The Great Expanse (Hilltop Hoods/Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

RÜFÜS DU SOL – Solace(Rose Avenue Records/Sony Music Australia)

The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow (Ivy League Records)

Thelma Plum – Better In Blak (Warner Music Australia Pty Ltd) 

WHO WILL WIN: Dean Lewis – A Place We Knew

This dude gets so much airplay that his debut album already sounds like a So Fresh: Hits Of Now collection. Plus, Vance Joy doesn’t have a record in the running, so this will do nicely.

Best Male Artist

Dean Lewis – A Place We Knew (Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Guy Sebastian – Choir (Sony Music Australia)

Hayden James – Between Us (Future Classic)

Matt Corby – Rainbow Valley (Matt Corby/Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Paul Kelly – Nature (EMI Music Australia)  

WHO WILL WIN: Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is having an amazing late-career run, and Dean Lewis already took out Best Male Artist, assuming the headline of this article proves correct. Nature includes five classic poems set to music, the likes of Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath and Walt Whitman. Are we as a society really going to deny Sylvia Plath her first ARIA Award, on top of everything else we subjected her to? I didn’t think so… 

Best Female Artist

Amy Shark – Mess Her Up (Wonderlick Recording Company)

Jessica Mauboy – Little Things (Sony Music Australia)

Julia Jacklin – Crushing (Liberation Records)

Thelma Plum – Better In Blak (Warner Music Australia Pty Ltd)

– Dance Monkey (Bad Batch Records/Sony Music)

WHO WILL WIN: Tones and I – Dance Monkey

Every year, someone sweeps the ARIA Awards, and this year it is going to be Tones and I, who, the internet tells me, is only eleven years old and wrote this song in a Byron hostel while on long service leave.

Best Dance Release

Dom Dolla – Take It (Sweat It Out/Warner Music Australia Pty Ltd

FISHER – You Little Beauty (etcetc Music)

Peking Duk & Jack River – Sugar (Sony Music Australia)

PNAU – Solid Gold (etcetc Music)

RÜFÜS DU SOL – ‘Solace (Rose Avenue Records/Sony Music Australia) 

WHO WILL WIN: RÜFÜS DU SOL – Solace

I’m surprised this was even eligible for Best Dance Release given how ambient and Eno-esque this record is, but if you get booked for club nights in the Cross for long enough, you can release a spoken-word album and people will still take pills to it.

Best Group

5 Seconds Of Summer – Easier (Interscope / EMI Music Australia)

Birds Of Tokyo – Good Lord (EMI Music Australia)

Hilltop Hoods – The Great Expanse (Hilltop Hoods/Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

RÜFÜS DU SOL – Solace (Rose Avenue Records/Sony Music Australia)

The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow (Ivy League Records)

WHO WILL WIN: Birds Of Tokyo – Good Lord

I was tempted to choose Hilltop Hoods for this one, as they stepped in at the eleventh hour to replace Chance The Rapper at this year’s Splendour In The Grass, which was basically a martyr mission, so the Australian music industry kinda owes them. But it’ll be Birds Of Tokyo, because ‘Good Lord’ is literally, and not at all metaphorically, about his wife cheating on him, and that stuff is hard to put out there, so good on him. Plus, it references Fleetwood Mac.

Breakthrough Artist

G Flip – About Us (Future Classic)

Stella Donnelly – Beware Of The Dogs (Stella Music/MGM)

The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow (Ivy League Records)

Thelma Plum – Better In Blak (Warner Music Australia Pty Ltd)

Tones And I – Dance Monkey (Bad Batch Records/Sony Music)

WHO WILL WIN: Tones and I

Tones and I’s debut single sat at the top of the ARIA charts for seventeen straight weeks, over a third of the year, which is a pretty big breakthrough for an artist to have, especially one who is only fifteen years old.

Best Pop Release

Amy Shark – Mess Her Up (Wonderlick Recording Company)

Dean Lewis – A Place We Knew (Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Guy Sebastian – Choir (Sony Music Australia)

Thelma Plum – Better In Blak (Warner Music Australia Pty Ltd)

Tones And I – Dance Monkey (Bad Batch Records/Sony Music) 

WHO WILL WIN: Tones and I

I’m sensing a pattern here. Also, it’s impressive that Guy Sebastian is still cranking out hits sixteen years since Idol.

Best Hip Hop Release

Baker Boy – Cool As Hell (Danzal Baker/Island Records Australia)

Hilltop Hoods – The Great Expanse (Hilltop Hoods/Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Illy – Then What (Sony Music Australia)

Sampa The Great – Final Form’(Ninja Tune/Inertia Music)

Tkay Maidza – Awake feat. JPEGMAFIA (Dew Process/Universal Music Australia)  

WHO WILL WIN: Baker Boy – ‘Cool As Hell’

He won Young Australian Of The Year, raps in the Yolŋu Matha language, has released five amazing singles straight without any shit ones, sounds a bit like Kendrick Lamar, appeared on Play School, and can do a flip. Case closed. 

Best Soul/R&B Release

Kaiit – Miss Shiney (Alt. Music Group/Ditto Music)

Matt Corby – Rainbow Valley (Matt Corby/Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Adrian Eagle – AOK (Adrian Eagle)

Genesis Owusu – WUTD + Vultures (Ourness/AWAL)

Tash Sultana – Can’t Buy Happiness (Lonely Lands Records/Sony Music Australia)

WHO WILL WIN: Tash Sultana

It’s a stretch to call this soul or R&B but Tash is an amazing international success story and the Australian music industry loves amazing international success stories. Also, you totally can buy happiness.

Best Independent Release

Angie McMahon – Salt (Independent/AWAL)

G Flip – About Us (Future Classic)

Julia Jacklin – Crushing (Liberation Records)

The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow (Ivy League Records)

Tones And I – The Kids Are Coming (Bad Batch Records/Sony Music)

WHO WILL WIN: Julia Jacklin – Crushing

I mean, it’ll probably be Tones and I, but surely given Sony’s might, it’s a bit rich to call this an indie release. Julia Jacklin’s record is so brilliant and bleeding it deserves to win, although I do feel for G Flip too, who had all these awards in the bag before Tones and I turned up.

Best Rock Album

Amyl and The Sniffers – Amyl and The Sniffers (Flightless Records)

Holy Holy – My Own Pool Of Light (Wonderlick Recording Company)

Jimmy Barnes – My Criminal Record (Bloodlines)

Midnight Oil – Armistice Day: Live at The Domain, Sydney (Sony Music Australia)

Northlane – Alien (UNFD)

Skegss – My Own Mess (Ratbag Records)  

WHO WILL WIN: Jimmy Barnes – My Criminal Record

This particular Countdown Award will be fiercely contended between Midnight Oil and Jimmy Barnes, but given Barnesy’s immense press run this year, the fact this was his 12th solo number one record in Australia, plus his recent Cold Chisel tour and album announcements, it is Barnesy’s year. I feel Wa Wa Nee were overlooked though. 

Best Adult Contemporary Album

Julia Jacklin – Crushing (Liberation Records)

Paul Kelly – Nature (EMI Music Australia)

Samantha Jade – The Magic of Christmas (Sony Music Australia)

Seeker Lover Keeper – Wild Seeds (Liberation Records)

The Paper Kites – On The Corner Where You Live (Wonderlick Recording Company) 

WHO WILL WIN: Paul Kelly – Nature

This category was designed for Paul Kelly, who has been making this country’s best Adult Contemporary music since the mid-’80s. Also, it is time for a renaming of most of these award categories. Props to Samatha Jade for landing an ARIA nom for a Christmas album, too.

Best Country Album

Charlie Collins – Snowpine (Mirror Music/Inertia Music)

Felicity Urquhart – Frozen Rabbit (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia)

Lee Kernaghan – Backroad Nation (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia)

Morgan Evans – Things We Drink To (Warner Music Nashville)

Sara Storer – Raindance (Universal Music Australia)

WHO WILL WIN: Morgan Evans – Things We Drink To

Evans will be performing on the night, which is often a very good indicator that he is considered a key part of the ARIAs experience of 2019. Plus, he represents the new face of Australian country music, which, nowadays, is less about getting drunk at night in a country pub, and more about getting drunk in the daytime with someone you’re trying it on with.

Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album

Clowns – Nature/Nurture (Damaged Record Co./Caroline Australia)

Dead Letter Circus – Dead Letter Circus (BMG)

DZ Deathrays – Positive Rising: Part 1 (I OH YOU)

King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest (Flightless Records/Inertia Music)

WHO WILL WIN: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest

All the metalheads lost their shit in 2016 when King Gizz won this category with an album which was more a freeform psychedelic type thing than a ‘grab the devil by the horns and mouth-fuck him back to Satan’s lair’ type thing, so this year they created a proper thrash metal album with song titles like ‘Organ Farmer’ and ‘Self-Immolate’ and ‘Hell’ so they can just win without all the boring backlash.

Best Blues & Roots Album

Dan Sultan – Aviary Takes (Liberation Records)

John Butler Trio – HOME (Jarrah Records/MGM)

King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishies (Flightless Records/Inertia Music)

Paul Kelly – Live At Sydney Opera House (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia)

The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow (Ivy League Records) 

WHO WILL WIN: Paul Kelly – Live At Sydney Opera House 

I mean, it’s basically a greatest hits collection, recorded outside the most iconic and pointiest landmark in the country, and Vika and Linda sing on it. Also, John Butler Trio have gone from winning APRA Song of the Year to their latest record not even having a Wikipedia page. That’s like those opposites he sings about in that opposite song.

Best Children’s Album

Dan Sultan – Nali & Friends (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia)

Kamil Ellis and Ensemble Offspring – Classic Kids: Music For 

The Dreaming (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Regurgitator’s Pogogo Show – The Really Really Really Really Boring Album (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia)

The Beanies – Imagination Station (Kinderling Kids Radio)

The Wiggles – Party Time! (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia) 

WHO WILL WIN: Dan Sultan – Nali & Friends

I feel like The Wiggles phoned in this latest album. I mean putting ‘Hokey Pokey’ at track two? ‘Simon Says’ followed by ‘Jelly On A Plate’? The album never recovers from the mid-record lull of ‘Head And Shoulders Knees and Toes’ in my opinion. Bring back Murray!

Best Comedy Release

Arj Barker – Organic (Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Carl Barron – Drinking With A Fork (Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Chris Lilley – Lunatics (Official Soundtrack) (ABC Music / Universal Music Australia)

Sammy J – Symphony In J Minor (ABC Music / Universal Music Australia)

Veronica & Lewis – Sex Flex: A Rap Guide To Fornication (ABC Music / Universal Music Australia)

WHO WILL WIN: Martin Molloy – Poop Chute

Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year

Antonio Chiappetta (St Andrews College, Marayong, NSW)

Bel Skinner (North Regional TAFE, WA)

Julie Rennick (Gunnedah Conservatorium, NSW)

Lee Strickland (Narbethong State Special School, QLD)

Who will win: Julie Rennick

This is a tough one. Obviously Bel Skinner’s transposing of ‘Smoke On The Water’ for cello is first-rate, and Antonio Chiappetta has forgotten more about cowbells than you’ll ever learn, but it’s the dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible on the chewed, plastic recorder that sets Rennick apart.

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