2017 was a year of ups and downs.
We lost some of the most impactful artists of our generation, and saw a great degree of social change. As always, the music industry played a key role in championing positive changes and galvanising the public.
It was a tough year, but a productive one too.
So before we forge ahead into 2018, join us as we consider the moments that shaped music history, at home and abroad, in 2017.
1. THE DEATHS OF CHESTER BENNINGTON AND CHRIS CORNELL
Linkin Park and Soundgarden were were both generation-defining bands in their own right. For many, the deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington signalled more than just a celebrity passing. It was the sudden and violent severing of a thread that, until now, had linked them to their youth.
Even more heartbreaking was the nature and timing of their passing, mirroring the close friendship the two had shared.
While their deaths were devastating, they raised significant awareness of the important of mental health, and urged people to speak out about their personal struggles with depression.
2. GRIEF CLOSER TO HOME
2017 also saw several much-loved Australian artists taken from us. Notably, highly respected drummer and music writer Ian Shedden, Dr G Yunupingu of Yothu Yindi, Saltwater Band and solo career fame, and, most recently, Malcolm Young, who was a founding member of AC/DC and an inspiration to guitarists around the country.
3. GANG OF YOUTHS DOMINATE THE ARIAS, START ON REST OF THE WORLD.
This year’s ARIA awards solidified the arrival of up-and-comers like Amy Shark and All Our Exes Live in Texas, while acknowledging the ongoing contributions of industry veterans Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes and Kasey Chambers.
However, the clear favourite on the night was Gang of Youths, whose critically acclaimed sophomore effort Go Farther in Lightness picked up four awards from eight nominations, including Album of the Year and Best Rock Album of the Year.
The group went on to clean up at the APRA Awards, and gained international attention with their cover of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ being used in the trailer for DC’s Justice League.
Check out our full round up of the 2017 ARIAs.
4. DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL TO LAUNCH IN AUSTRALIA
Festivals seem to come and go like the wind in Australia. Big Day Out, Future, Soundwave – once staples of the Aussie festival-goer diet – all gone.
The tide turned earlier this year when it was announced that UK-based rock festival Download would be coming down under for its first ever Australian festival in March 2018. Organisers are also hatching plans for a nationwide tour in forthcoming years.
2018 sees Paramore, System Of A Down, Limp Bizkit, Korn and Northlane all heading to Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse for the inaugural concert. It looks set to be a belter!
5. TRIPLE J HOTTEST 100 RESCHEDULED
In November, Triple J announced that it would shift the unveiling of the Hottest 100 from Australia Day to the following day, January 27 – sparking more of the political debate the station was attempting to extract itself from.
In a statement made in November, Triple J note that the countdown “should be an event that everyone can enjoy together — for both the musicians whose songs make it in and for everyone listening in Australia and around the world.”
While some Australians criticised the station for their decision, many artists came out in support of the move, hoping that it would spark further progress in the debate around Australia Day itself.’
6. MACKLEMORE PERFORMS ‘SAME LOVE’ AT THE NRL GRAND FINAL
When Macklemore announced that he would support the Yes campaign by performing his hit single ‘Same Love’ at the NRL Grand Final, it whipped up an unbelievable amount of controversy.
National disgrace Tony Abbott called for him to be boycotted, while members of the No campaign demanded he be barred from entering the country. Regardless, Macklemore delivered the goods with a universally acclaimed, emotionally-charged performance that showed, despite the cliches, that love conquers all.
We like to think that ol’ Mack helped the Yes result along. Special mention must also go to The Killers, who knocked it out of the park with their performance at the AFL Grand Final the day before.
Check out our thoughts on Macklemore’s performance here.
7. ED SHEERAN BREAKS A DOWNLOAD RECORD
In September of this year, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ became the most downloaded and played track in Spotify’s history, with more than 1.32 billion listens.
The song has also amassed 2.89 billion views on YouTube, reached number one on the singles charts of 44 countries, and has been certified Gold in sixteen countries.
Watch and learn, people.
8. INDIE MUSIC TAKES A MASSIVE BITE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY PIE
2017 was a huge year for indie music, with more and more hungry music fans turning to indie artists for the quality they’re missing on commercial radio.
A study conducted by the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) found that indie music now makes up over 30 percent of the total industry – an all-time high. Last financial year, over 6,000 singles and albums were released by Aussie indie artists, with 95% of those releases from new artists.
What’s even more encouraging is that these artists are being increasingly listened to by consumers, both here in Australia and overseas.
Check out our in-depth analysis of the AIR study here.
9. AUSTRALIAN AND KIWI ARTISTS AMASS 26 GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
Australian and Kiwi artists have received an impressive tally of nominations for next year’s Grammy Awards with a combined 26 nominations across various categories, from writers and engineers to recording artists.
Flume is the most recent Australian to earn a Grammy, picking up the best Dance/Electronic album for Skin last year.
This time around, Sia’s been nominated for her song ‘Never Give Up’, as well as Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for Best Music Film.
The surprise package though is the Sydney Trio Mansionair, who received a nomination for Best Dance Recording for their work on Odesza‘s track ‘Line of Sight’. Usual suspect Lorde will be leading the charge for the Kiwis, with her sophomore effort Melodrama nominated across multiple categories, including Album of the Year.
10. THE #MENOMORE MOVEMENT SPRANG INTO ACTION
The movement against sexual discrimination in Hollywood continues to spread across the entertainment industry, with the music world no exception.
The #meNOmore movement was started by Australian artists to highlight the similar treatment they have received within the industry, and it quickly gained traction, with prominent artists including Missy Higgins, Clare Bowditch, The Preatures and Holly Throsby coming forward in support.
Check out the open Letter to the Australian Music Industry signed by the meNOmore campaign.
Originally Published in Music Insight, December 29th, 2017. Read Here.