Pedestrian’s 2010 ARIA Awards Recap

We’ve set the bar too high, Australia. That’s the problem. We’ve set the bar too high, when, in instances like this, there should be no bar at all. I mean, when live TV, B Grade celebrities, alcoholism and awards ceremonies collide, the criteria by which we judge “good television” no longer applies. It’s irrelevant. And in typical awards ceremony style, last night’s 2010 ARIAs – the most awkward local awards since the 2009 Logies where Gretel Killeen took a metaphoric dump on national television then lit it on fire and slam danced around it while smiling nervously and wringing her hands behind her back – transformed the Opera House foreshore into a mire of presenter gaffes, incoherence, questionable camera work and self-conscious “glamour”.

So what did they get right? Well, in a bid to reduce running times, a score of awards – sixteen ARIA ‘Genre’ Awards, four ARIA Artisan Awards and five Hall of Fame inductions – were presented prior to Sunday night’s ceremony. I’m sure that helped. If only to reduce the time with which presenters could embarrass themselves. That’s about all I can think of right now.

What did they get wrong? First, whoever thought it was smart to conduct a televised awards ceremony outside is a complete idiot. The windswept toupees and dresses were such a cognitive disconnect from the award ceremonies of my mind, indoors with actual ceilings and podiums and ushers and a general air of respectability, it may as well have been on Mars. So weird. In real life it felt more like a festival than an awards ceremony. Like what Parklife would be if the mean age was 40 and everyone was obligated to hit a beer bong on arrival. What else? Sure, I get that teleprompter mishaps are to be expected, but when Jessica Mauboy introduced Tame Impala’s “de-butt” album Innerspeaker or when Bob Katter called the damn thing an “Araria” – you laugh, cry, then consume a box of suicide pills. Preferably in “de butt”.

And though that is our default reaction to these things – to recoil and cringe and laugh and complain, the ARIAs telecast is to bad television what the ARIAs is to Australian music. It’s big. It’s synonymous. And it’s important. But not in the way you’d expect. In a fragmented media landscape it offers a welcome, nation-wide eye roll (thanks, Twitter). It’s a yearly reminder that cultural cringe, despite evidence to the contrary, still exists in this country. It boldly does piecemeal what Sarah Murdoch does whole. It’s fucking crazy and it knows it. It has managed, in the eyes of the public at least, to transform Australian music’s “night of nights” into the surest train wreck on Australian TV. How did this happen? How did a celebration of music become an analogy for Australia’s gaudiness? I don’t know. But in terms of brand perception, The ARIAs the terribly awkward TV event has surely surpassed The ARIAs the esteemed music awards and I kind of prefer it that way.

Having said that, the awards are still kind of questionable too. In a loophole known henceforth as the “Sweet Disposition” rule, bands are still bagging awards for singles they released two years ago. Independent award winner Sia isn’t actually independent. And depending on your taste for meandering pop and beards, the coveted Album of the Year went to the most middling Australian duo since Hamish and Andy. But I fucking love the ARIAs and I want to believe it’ll be just as confusing next year. I want to see the quiet horror in the eyes of an American celebrity who knows nothing about Australian music. I want to watch a metaphoric car crash from the comfort of my own home while reading other people’s commentary on said car crash. I want to roll my eyes at my girlfriend who is doing the same. I want next year’s ARIAs to be hosted from atop Uluru by the quirky cast member of a mildly popular Channel Ten comedy series and a Neighbours alumni turned pop star and underwear model who had that drug scandal that one time which turned out to be false. I want to embrace the cultural cringe. I want to drink it up. Drink. It. Up. I want to watch the spectacle and make jokes about it the next day and embed hilarious Youtube videos on Facebook/Twitter and peruse red carpet arrivals with more judgment than I would usually reserve for people who, really, are just trying their best in a totally unnatural situation. I want it all of it, that wonderful, peculiar horribleness but most of all, I want whatever Angus and Julia Stone are having. Here’s to 2011.

Full list of winners below…

Album of the Year
Angus & Julia Stone – Down The Way (Original Matters/EMI)

Single of the Year
Angus & Julia Stone – Big Jet Plane (Original Matters/EMI)

Best Female Artist
Washington – I Believe You Liar (Mercury/UMA)

Best Male Artist
Dan Sultan – Get Out While You Can (MGM)

Best Group
The Temper Trap – Love Lost (Liberation Music)

Best Independent Release
Sia – We Are Born (Monkey Puzzle/Inertia)

Breakthrough Artist
Washington – I Believe You Liar (Mercury/UMA)


Most Popular Australian Single
The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition (Liberation Music)

Most Popular Australian Album
Powderfinger – Golden Rule (UMA)

Most Popular Australian Artist
Powderfinger – Golden Rule (UMA)

Most Popular International Artist
Mumford and Sons (Dew Process)


Best Pop Release
Sia – We Are Born (Monkey Puzzle/Inertia)

Best Rock Album
Birds of Tokyo – Birds of Tokyo (EMI)

Best Adult Alternative Album
Angus & Julia Stone – Down The Way (Original Matters/EMI)

Best Country Album
The McClymonts – Wrapped Up Good (UMA)

Best Adult Contemporary Album
Crowded House – Intriguer (UMA)

Best Comedy Release
Andrew Hansen, Chris Taylor & Craig Schuftan – The Blow Parade (ABC Music)

Best Classical Album
Paul Dyer and Australian Brandenburg Orchestra – Tapas – Tastes Of The Baroque (ABC Classics)

Best Jazz Album
James Morrison & The Idea Of North – Feels Like Spring (ABC Jazz)

Best Dance Release
Yolanda Be Cool and Dcup – We No Speak Americano (Sweat it Out/Central Station Records)

Best Urban Album
M-Phazes – Good Gracious (Obese Records)

Best Blues & Roots Album
Dan Sultan – Get Out While You Can (MGM)

Best Children’s Album
The Wiggles – Let’s Eat! (ABC Music)

Best Original Soundtrack/Cast/Show
Various – Before Too Long: Triple J’s Tribute to Paul Kelly (ABC Music)

Best Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal Album
Parkway Drive – Deep Blue (Resist Records/Shock)

Best Music DVD
Various – Sound Relief (Liberation Music)

Best World Music Album
Mamadou Diabate, Bobby Singh & Jeff Lang – Djan Djan (ABC Music)


Best Video
Kris Moyes – Sia, Clap Your Hands (Monkey Puzzle/Inertia)

Engineer of the Year
Wayne Connolly – Paul Dempsey, Fast Friends (EMI)

Producer of the Year
Angus & Julia Stone – Angus & Julia Stone, Black Crow, For You, Santa Monica Dream, Yellow Brick Road, Walk It Off, Hush (Original Matters/EMI)

Best Cover Art
Angus & Julia Stone – Angus & Julia Stone, Down The Way (Original Matters/EMI)

The Loved Ones
John Williamson
Johnny Young
The Church