Last week I discussed the artists that missed out on an ARIA nom, this week it’s all about the contenders for the Urban award..
Iggy Azalea – The New Classic
It’s 2014 and a young white girl from Mullumbimby drops a song called Murda Bizness and no one flinches. Iggy Azalea clearly possesses a formidable inner-strength: she moved to the US at 16 and actually made it in the toughest market there is – that alone is a big deal but despite nearing a billion youtube views it’s been clunky. Her Atlanta rap accent, described as “verbal blackface” by Jean Grae may be a necessary affectation in breaking the US market, but given the context of her hippy upbringing in Australia, it’s almost Hollywood in transformation. Never fear though, her casually racist stereotyping of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders show she is most definitely Aussie. If Abbott didn’t break any promises and words mean nothing then Iggy can say she’s the realest. In many eyes she’s odds on to win with a staggering break-out year.
Hilltop Hoods – Walking Under Stars
Every album they’ve released since The Hard Road has won the Urban ARIA Award – even when they repackaged The Hard Road with strings they won with that too! It speaks volumes about the respect and affection held for the Hoods by the public and industry that they stay on top all these years later. For me, Walking Under Stars felt like a revitalising album giving the trio a spring in their step as they uncovered new ground with a renewed sense of purpose. Once again the Hoods are selling out huge concerts and their music is going Gold and Platinum. Phenomenal run of success. They’ve reached legacy status. Clear favourites outside of the Iggy juggernaut.
Illy – Cinematic
One of the hardest working artists over the last five years, Illy is a force to be reckoned with distinguishing himself from the pack with authoritative flows and a knack for writing sophisticated pop hooks. Time and time again his singles find their way to the top of radio rotation culminating in this year’s Tightrope, his biggest tune to date. His ambition and focus can’t be questioned – seemingly writing the last two albums simultaneously – and pulling it off. Seriously impressive. He won last year’s ARIA for the inferior Bring it Back album, so surely the far stronger Cinematic has a strong chance.
Thundamentals – So We Can Remember
It’s as if Blue Mountains crew Thundamentals knew they were onto something special when they gave this album its title. Huge growth between albums showed the boys aren’t playing around anymore – they stepped up everywhere, from production to songwriting to clips – I get the feeling we’re only seeing the start of a long run from them. This ARIA Award has at times felt like it’s a ‘profile’ rather than ‘album’ award and if that continues Thundas don’t stand a chance against this list. If it’s the latter, they could surprise everyone because this album was sharp, insightful and ambitious. Got Love for the underdog.
360 – Utopia
One of the most divisive and inspiring artists in the country – I haven’t seen an Australian artist like him in the time I’ve been involved in this music caper. Utopia hasn’t hit the public’s consciousness like the tidal wave that was Falling and Flying but songs like Price of Fame still shook things up – one of the best hooks of the year. I like 360 and have great respect for much of what he’s done – and we need larger than life characters. In with a shot but he’s up against it.