Eurovision acts feature in Junkee's 200 Greatest Australian Songs of All Time
Over the past week, Australian pop culture website Junkee has published its list of the 200 greatest Australian songs of all time – and there are a few faces in the mix that Eurovision fans will find familiar.
Compiled by Junkee music editors Jules LeFevre and Joseph Earp, this list consists of 200 songs from various eras of Australian music, and features such internationally well-known and beloved acts as Kylie Minogue, Midnight Oil, AC/DC and INXS.
The list was created to celebrate what the authors believe to be the most exciting and diverse time for Australian music across race, gender, and sexual identity, something Eurovision fans can appreciate only too well.
The criteria for this list were stated as follows:
“In compiling our list, we here at Music Junkee have used a careful schema — we’ve ranked songs on such factors as commercial heft, critical acclaim, and how well they’ve aged — but there’s no such thing as objectivity in these matters, and a 100 people could use our precise same criteria and form a 100 different lists.
But that’s kinda the point. We believe that there’s something exciting about forming a critical canon, elevating songs in the most direct and praise-worthy way possible; by calling them, in no uncertain terms, The Best. But there’s also something exciting about generating a conversation. If this list seems wonky to you in some way, and that wonkiness makes you think about your own criteria for greatness, well that seems like a big part of the fun.”
The list also features a number of artists who have competed at both the Eurovision Song Contest and Eurovision: Australia Decides. Although none of their Eurovision songs feature, it’s reassuring to know that some of Australia’s greatest performers see the Eurovision stage as something wonderful and worthy to aspire towards.
The Eurovision acts and their songs’ rankings, along with Junkee’s comments, are listed below:
#176 – Kate Miller-Heidke (Australian representative, Eurovision Song Contest 2019) – ‘Caught in the Crowd'
““Every time I play a show now I still get someone coming and telling me that they were James in school,” Kate Miller-Heidke told The Feed’s Patrick Abboud last year, referencing a central character in the song who is bullied relentlessly. “Perhaps their actual bullies have never apologised to them, but to hear that apology from me in that song somehow helped them to heal.”
Miller-Heidke’s simple and direct storytelling — which earned her and husband Keir Nuttall the grand prize at the International Songwriting Competition — bottled something pure and heartfelt. It’s now even a part of the anti-bullying curriculum across the country, which is not an accolade most songs in this list can lay claim to.”
#147 – Vanessa Amorosi (3rd at Australia Decides, 2020) – ‘Absolutely Everybody’
“No one that lived through the Sydney Olympics can hear this song without being tossed bodily back to that closing ceremony in 2000, flags and pyrotechnics and tens of thousands of smiling faces. ‘Absolutely Everybody’ is a knockout, perfectly geared for the raise-your-hands-cos-we’re-all-human vibes of the Olympics. For a moment, it was the song of a beaming nation.”
#127 – Jessica Mauboy (Australian representative, Eurovision Song Contest 2018) – ‘Burn’
“The last two decades of Australian music is littered with failed careers of reality TV popstars. Jessica Mauboy, who blitzed the judges from the outset with a stunning cover of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Have Nothing’, has eclipsed (dozens of times over) the career of Damien Leith, who triumphed over Mauboy in the final of Australian Idol in 2006.
Mauboy’s ‘Burn’ is as infectious a pop song as you’ll come across, driven by her powerhouse vocals which slam through the song like a road train.”
#74 – Montaigne (Australian representative, Eurovision Song Contest 2020 & 2021) – ‘What You Mean to Me’
“Imagine a Kate Bush song dragged through a haunted forest backwards, and you’ll have something like Montaigne’s ‘What You Mean To Me’, a platinum-embossed love song with something dark lurking underneath its surface.
I mean, the chorus that drops about a minute in has an entire library’s worth of poetry jammed into a few sparkling lines. And then it gets even better, throwing in every instrument, effect and kitchen sink to hand. Who said more is always less?”
#61 – Delta Goodrem (co-writer of ‘My Girls’, Australia’s entry for Junior Eurovision 2015) – ‘Innocent Eyes’
“Delta Goodrem is generally underrated these days, but her skills as a storyteller are particularly so. After all, ‘Innocent Eyes’ is one of the narrative triumphs of modern Australian pop songwriting, one that trades on vague signifiers without ever slipping into fuzzy cliches.
And then, just when the tale reaches its breaking point, Goodrem gives up on words altogether, and drops a chorus mostly composed of la-las. It’s not just carefully knotted, emotional pop of the highest order. It’s also weird, suffused with auditory left turns. All hail Queen Delta.”
#51 – Olivia Newton-John (UK representative, Eurovision Song Contest 1974) – ‘Physical’
“Is this the horniest song in Australian pop history? Made up of locker-room sweat, perfume, and two punnets of blended raspberries and glitter, it’s a noxious ode to the body and all the things that human beings are capable of. Put it on at a party and wait the three seconds required before everyone in earshot collapses into a gyrating, multi-backed mess.”
#33 – Killing Heidi (lead singer Ella Hooper, 10th at Australia Decides 2019) – ‘Weir’
““We needed one more killer song for the record, and people were putting pressure on us,” Killing Heidi’s Ella Hooper told Vice in 2016. “I wasn’t used to writing to a brief or with any pressure from producers, but if memory serves me correctly — which it might not now — the consensus from the many cooks in the kitchen was that we needed something ‘Big!’, ‘Uplifting!’, ‘Iconic!’. I think I eventually belted out the chorus of ‘Weir’ half out of frustration.”
The cooks were onto something — Hooper’s jet engine vocals cause ‘Weir’ to lift entirely off the ground. There’s no tricks or illusions hidden within it — just a straightforward killer pop rock track, the jewel in Killing Heidi’s crown.”