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Australia's Musical Legends

By Rose Cunningham



I’m sure we have all heard a million stories about Taylor Swift, Madonna, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston - but who knows the stories of our own musical legends? 


Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is an amazing artist, and one of the first musicians I ever listened to (yes - before Taylor Swift). His music covers a vast range of ideas about Australia, and extends past the standard ranges and typicalities of the Country genre, including delving into blues and Aussie Rock. My personal favourite of Kelly’s music is a song titled “Bradman” (inspired by the Australian cricket legend) since I can remember listening to it with Dad in the car, though “From Little Things Big Things Grow” comes in a close second, depicting a crucial event in the land rights movement. A recurring theme in Kelly's work is the idea of Australian identity. He explores what it means to be Australian, delving into the country's convict history, its multicultural society, and the shared experiences that bind Australians together. His songs often feature characters and narratives that many Australians can relate to, whether it's through a shared love for the sport in "Bradman," or in the resilience and mate-ship displayed in "Leaps and Bounds”. 


This truly makes Kelly an Australian musical legend, but if you would rather some rock with a uniquely Aussie nickname - Acca Dacca is next.


AC/DC

AC/DC (Acca Dacca) is an iconic rock band formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1973 by Scottish-born brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. Although the band's lineup has changed over the years, they became a staple of hard rock and heavy metal music. AC/DC's music is characterised by straightforward, hard-hitting rock with catchy guitar riffs and a relentless rhythm section. The slightly raspy vocals, when paired with the heavy guitar riffs make their music easy to tell when it’s playing. I quite enjoy “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” which features in School Of Rock, and while I don’t listen to AC/DC regularly, there is definitely a reason for it to feature on my playlist a bit more than it currently does.


John Williamson

John Williamson is my favourite Australian musician of all time. His lyrics encompass a wide range of Australian experiences, often taking us back to an era where the bush was “Not clean, not ordered - In fact, it's outta control” (lyrics from Hillbilly Road). His music is a celebration of the Australian bush, using his harmonica and guitar to immerse us within the plains of the Mallee region where he grew up. “Raining on the Plains” with Sara Storer and “Hillbilly Road” are my top two picks from his catalogue, but with over 40 albums to his name, anyone could find something there to enjoy. When listening to his music, keep an eye out for some iconic Aussie animals and scenes (The Gumtrees, Old Man Emu, Galahs and Uluru feature), and take the time to enjoy his upbeat tunes which could comfortably get my family dancing and singing around the kitchen. The first concert I ever attended was John Williamson’s “Winding Back” tour in 2021, and since then, he has been firmly cemented as one of my favourite musicians of all time.


Dean Lewis

His songs are on my playlist all the time! Dean Lewis’s incredibly obvious accent makes him easy to identify no matter where you are. The music is smooth, easy listening and has a strong beat which is perfect to drive to, (or to get your parents to put on in the car). Despite most of his songs being about heartbreak of some sort, they are super relatable because they are based on a wide range of people’s emotions and experiences. “Waves” is one of my favourites and has featured on every Spotify Wrapped of mine since 2020, alternating between a slow, sad tempo to an exciting but wistful tone. Lewis’s vocals are smooth but raw and bring you on for an emotional ride. He’s sold 5.5 Million albums, and had over 11 Billion streams, cementing him as an amazing Australian musical artist.

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