Features November 9, 2017

“Pop is real, pop is great, deal with it”: Nic Kelly picks five Aussie pop songs commercial radio is sleeping on

“Pop is real, pop is great, deal with it”: Nic Kelly picks five Aussie pop songs commercial radio is sleeping on

There aren’t enough Australians in the singles charts. In the ARIA Top 20 Singles, the only Aussie is William Singe, the guest vocalist on Jonas Blue’s ’Mama’; the next one down (and the highest eligible for the Australian Artists chart) is Jessica Mauboy, at #21.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed. Blame has been laid at the feet of the usual suspects – streaming’s increased influence on charting positions, piracy, millennial apathy, a global conspiracy to make Ed Sheeran the only pop star in the world – and there isn’t necessarily an easy solution. More quotas for local content on commercial radio in key timeslots have been floated as a solution – but at #4 on the TMN Hot 100, Mauboy’s ’Fallin’’ is the fourth most-heard song in the country, and that airplay isn’t translating into a similar position on the ARIA charts.

In an op-ed yesterday, Double J’s Dan Condon argued that even if you think chart pop is ’shit’, “it might as well be shit Australian pop music” crowding the singles charts. Surely even the most hardened rockist, in between posting memes about Beyoncé not writing her own songs in Facebook comment sections, should get behind the idea of Mauboy and Dean Lewis putting up a real fight against the Sheerans of the chart world, right?

A little affirmative action can be a wonderful thing, and Condon’s entirely right that making a conscious effort to include Australian artists in your Spotify playlists, radio rotations and end-of-year lists can make a real difference to your consumption habits as well as your audience’s. But plenty of Aussie artists are making Top 40-ready pop music that doesn’t need pity streams: forward-looking, catchy as heck, and apparently wired directly into the creative surge that’s making crossover and mainstream pop from overseas so electric right now.

Nic Kelly, founder of Project U and EMI imprint Night High Records, is one of pop music’s most tireless advocates in Australia. Below, he tells TMN his five favourite new Australian pop songs that are radio-friendly, on-trend and definitely not shit.


Jack River – ’Fool’s Gold’

“Regional Australian radio and the Australian public in general have always had a really sweet spot for pop that’s dressed up as grunge. Jack River’s ’Fool’s Gold’ has some of the most subtly addictive pop songwriting we’ve produced this year – but it sounds like Gwen Stefani covered ’Teenage Dirtbag’. Australian songbuyer fodder if I’ve ever heard it.”

Jesse Porsches – ’The Weekend’

“This is sort of the perfect radio song AND perfect streaming platform song right now – and the Sydney-based producer (and one half of SUPER CRUEL with his bff Tigerilla) is so ready to propel into the charts especially as summer comes around. ’The Weekend’ will naturally continue to build as it gets added to roadtrip playlists on radio and in cars everywhere around the country.”

MUKI – ’Sassaparilla’

“MUKI, your new Sydney pop overlord, is out here crafting a series of sass-packed, pure-pop bangers. They’re sugary and sharp, and this song still has a huge audience to find, of pop fans who’ll fall straight in love with her.”

Alex Lahey – ’Every Day’s The Weekend’

“Alex’s hook writing is second to none – this is similar to Jack’s song in that it’s a pop song dressed in guitars and riffs – but it’s got one of the biggest earworm choruses in Australian pop this year and it’s a smash.”


Donatachi – ’Take Me (ft Kady Rain)’

“This literally just unwrapped new moment comes from a Sydney producer who’s here to create the most exemplary sugar pop on the planet and the saccharine production, over-zealous lyrics and perfect melodies are gonna shoot this straight up the charts. Pop is real, pop is great, deal with it.”

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