a) Two co-presenters make unscripted jokes about Spotlight,
b) Dance music actually gets treated with respect,
c) Chris Lilley gets a near-hero welcome,
d) The "hot new thing" sweeps the awards (and will surely be snubbed when they release their sophomore album),
e) Brian McFadden shows up and his actually-Australian actually-nominated girlfriend Delta Goodrem does not,
f) All of the above
I won some shit!
I routinely say that the ARIA Awards are, perhaps, the best produced award show going around in any country. The fact that Australia's music industry isn't as big as America's means they don't need all those repetitive and useless categories such as Best Pop Recording with Vocals by a Former Reality Show Contestant Featuring a Ubiquitous Rap by Somebody Who Has Never Actually Released an Album of Their Own (<-an aproximation of what the Grammys have become, for sure). Yet, because of this very limited pool of contenders it means that they don't need to pander to "respectability" and can, instead, nominate stuff like The Presets' epic "My People" for Single of the Year as opposed to some song nobody heard by some old has been musician. And the lack of said categories also means more performances and, let's face it, anybody actually watching a music awards show should be treated to some good performance, shouldn't they?
The performances are almost always impeccably done. Do we remember Miss Connie blowing the mothafuckin' roof off last year's ceremony during a Sneaky Sound System medley? or Gotye's electrifing performance and even the John Butler Trio going mano-e-mano with Karl Urban? This year didn't disappoint, either. Sam Sparro more a freakin' CAPE (yes, folks, A CAPE!, unfortunately I did not get a picture of that), Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu got the prerequisite "not a dry eye in the house" spot and did it perfectly, The Veronicas continue to improve and are well one their way to being one of the best pop act IN THE WORLD (no joke), Pink proved she already is one of them and Faker were energetic and so on. Performance of the night probably belongs to The Presets who rocked out (with their cocks out) with "My People". It probably helps that "My People" is one of the greatest songs in many a year, but it was a kick to see Julian Hamilton dressed like Grandmaster Melle Mel-goes-to-Mardi Gras. I do wish though Gabriella Cilmi had have sung "Don't Wanna Go To Be Now" instead of the lethargic "Sweet About Me".
Plus, it helps that Australians actually like Australian music - something that differentiates the Aussie music and Aussie film industries, natch - and that the industry is open to more mainstream and popular choices - again, something that differentiates the Aussie music and Aussie film industries. And since Rove McManus' production company took over, the sets and selection of hosts have routinely been applause worthy. I know Hamish & Andy aren't everybody's bag, but you can't deny they do a better job than David Campbell did many years ago, surely the awards show's nadir. One of the best things about the show is that by the end of the night there is legitimate excitement about who will win the Album of the Year award (the big prize of the night). It helps that the fans who make up the moshpit give the night a sense of true excitement. By the time Rove and Pink walked out the crowds were going mental and it is something that is missing from every other awards show I watch (including the MTV Awards, which, by the end, have worn people out).
This year's winners were, more or less, to be expected. Gabriella Cilmi, as much as I quite liked her Lessons to be Learned album, will surely join the ranks of Delta Goodrem, Jet, Missy Higgins (somewhat) and many others who struck multiple-ARIA gold with their debut record and then snubbed despite their subsequent work being better. Single of the Year is a stretch for "Sweet About Me", but when the ARIAs like you, they really like you. Gurrumul's win for Best Independent Release was probably the highlight of the night. Just so wonderful to see him up there and was nice to see the younger fans in the pit responding to him and his performance. Would have been nicer to see him win Album of the Year, too, but The Presets' win in that very category was akin to Kylie Minogue winning the Single of the Year for "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" a few years back: Validation. Something that I can never imagine the Grammys doing, that's for sure. The voters could have very easily given these prizes to yet another pub rock musician, but that they didn't is something special (but Cilmi overload wasn't necessary either).
All in all, a good night and an award show that everyone involved should be proud with.