The ARIAs were once a big deal for Australian TV, often scheduled on a Sunday night with a prime time national network spot. This year they were held on a less glamorous Thursday, shunted off to Nine’s secondary Go channel and notably lacking in the big production spend.
Nevertheless, for good or for bad, they are part of our cultural landscape, and we felt vaguely obliged to watch – if only to observe the current malaise of modern pop music and the parlous state of the ever diminishing Australian recording industry. Cynical – eh? You bet!
This year, viewing the ARIAs was made a lot more palatable with a remote control in hand and a tasty serving of reality TV on the other digitals, Gem and 7mate. We began with the obligatory red carpet interviews, which soon became tedious, even as we tallied up the number of tattooed performers on a trusty pocket calculator. It was time for a quick flip to Embarrassing Bodies on Gem, where a hapless young patient was dealing with the dilemma of excess hair on her bottom.
Meanwhile back at the ARIAs we wondered whether any of the night’s imported drawcards, like Taylor Swift, the Madden Bros or Nicki Minaj had ever faced such cosmetic attention. Irrelevant of course, but the cultural cringe seems to demand the presence of the big o’seas names – excess butt hair or not. But hey, we do have some sizeable names of our own and every year it seems one particular artist or group makes off with an almost indecent swag of the spike like gongs.
This year it was Gotye and as he conjured even more humility to grab yet another goddam award we took the opportunity to hit the remote. Over on 7mate ‘Turtleman’ had just dived into a murky Kentucky cesspool to retrieve a pesky alligator snapping turtle, a scenario we quickly interpreted as a metaphor for the whole Australian recording industry.
Back at the ARIAs and Guy Sebastian was belting out Battle Scars with the kind of impassioned super strained vocals that can cure a bad case of constipation. We passed on a toilet break and quickly returned to Turtleman who at this stage was enjoying a hearty plate of squirrel stew with his aptly named ‘Turtlemom’.
By now Gotye had collected enough ARIA spikes to construct his own giant meditative bed of nails and we were soon back on Mate to catch The Gator Boys at work, snaring those troublesome gators who invade the private homes and swimming pools of the Florida Everglades. A quick grab of boil lancing on Embarrassing Bods and suddenly everything was starting to blur.
When the gang from Operation Repo finally hit our screens we weren’t sure whether we were trawling the means streets of LA or watching a guest appearance from the latest international Hispanic rap group. It was definitely time to exit the so called digital channels and retreat to the sanity of ABC 1. Hopefully by the next morning the ARIAs would all seem like a horrible bad dream, or for those lucky enough to over-indulge at the after parties, erased from the memory forever!
THE HIT LIST: Christmas comes early this Thursday 6 December at Venue 505 in Surry Hills when Melbourne’s Leigh Barker & The New Sheiks are joined by Sydney’s Finer Cuts and Pugsley Buzzard for a night of rambunctious dancefloor swing, New Orleans jazz and hokum style blues. www.venue505.com