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News January 17, 2024

How a U.S. Car Commercial Helped Drive ‘Walking on a Dream’ to the Billions Award

How a U.S. Car Commercial Helped Drive ‘Walking on a Dream’ to the Billions Award

Sometimes, a hit needs a lift.

Honda Civic provided that for Empire of the Sun’s debut “Walking on a Dream,” which has jogged past one billion streams, earning a prize from APRA AMCOS and entry into an elite list of homegrown hits.

Earlier this week, the PRO entered “Walking on a Dream” into the 1,000,000,000 List, recognition for passing the milestone for streams across Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and other major DSPs.

Released in 2008, “Walking on a Dream” introduced the world to a project that had it all – a “freshness and otherworldly sound,” recounts Dean Ormston, CEO of APRA AMCOS, twinned with an image that could have transported through a wormhole in space.

In Australia, “Walking on a Dream” got moving, fast, where it enjoyed mainstream broadcast support, including plays on the now-defunct Video Hits spot on Network Ten, and a top 10 spot on the ARIA Chart (peaking at No. 10).

The title track to their debut album, “Walking on a Dream” went on to collect a slew of awards, including single the year at the 2009 ARIA Music Awards, a night when Empire ruled with four victories. The single is now 10-times platinum certified by ARIA.

In the United States, the world’s biggest music market, “Walking on a Dream” initially had a slow ride.

Then, more than seven years after its release, the song took a sharp turn with a sync to a Honda Civic campaign.

The song’s Shazam tags “exploded” thanks to the ad, converting into a wave of streams and downloads, The Guardian reported at the time.

“Walking on a Dream” was now motoring. The single was re-released for the American market in May 2016, lifting to No. 65 on the Billboard Hot 100 – Empire of the Sun’s first and only appearance on the national singles chart.

The track would become a U.S. chart leader, hitting No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs, for their second leader after 2013’s “Alive” – a song that was released five years after “Walking on a Dream.”

Also, Empire of the Sun would reign over the Billboard + Clio Music’s Top Commercials chart for successive months in the United States, where the single is now platinum certified.

 

“It changed America to us,” founding member Nick Littlemore explained at the time. “It was very strange. The radio started playing it because people started requesting it. We’ve been very fortunate … songs don’t often come back around.”

Littlemore found a spiritual twist in its journey. “I do believe if you put a positive thought into the universe it’ll come back around,” he explained, “a bit like a message in a bottle.”

Another message in a bottle was cast out into the universe in 2022, when “Walking on a Dream” was licensed as the theme and soundtrack to a five-year global campaign for Western Australia Tourism.

Co-writers Littlemore and Jono Sloan were on hand to receive their Billions Award at APRA AMCOS’ headquarters in Sydney (frontman and fellow co-writer Luke Steele was unable to attend).

It’s an “evergreen record,” explains Littlemore. “It’s new for every generation. It’s the hope as a songwriter or creator in any sense that you can continually reach the kids and give them something to play back.”

That otherworldly backing track, he mentions, “is resplendent and it kind of came out of us, very naturally. It was meant to be.”

Empire of the Sun has three full-length albums to their name: that 2008 debut, 2013’s Ice on the Dune and 2016’s Two Vines.

A fourth isn’t just a dream.

“There’s a lot of great music in the bag. I’m hoping that will see the light of day,” Littlemore told Billboard in 2021. “I have great faith. I don’t feel we have exhausted that well by any stretch. The name still has a lot of goodwill. I really hope we can come together and finish it.”

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