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ARIA Awards 2005: Exclusive Backstage Coverage
By Danny Canak,
(more articles from this author)
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Missy Higgins has capped off an incredible year by being crowned the Queen of the 2005 ARIA Awards, which were held at the Sydney Superdome on October 23rd. The star-studded affair was dominated by Higgins who walked away with five awards on the music industry’s night of nights, including the prestigious Album Of The Year award for The Sound of White.

The former "Triple J Unearthed" winner spoke to us backstage about her amazing night, revealing just how nervous she was for that last award. She said, “I’m a bit flushed actually. I was so much more nervous for that last award than I ever could imagine.” But the nerves soon disappeared when the topic of David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff arose. After dubbing him “sex on legs,” she said, “I never imagined that I’d be able to kiss David Hasselhoff on the lips and then try and hump him, but that happened. That was the highlight of my night.”

Her other highlights included winning gongs for Best Female Artist, Breakthrough Artist – Album, Highest Selling Album and Best Pop Release. The honesty in Higgins’ songwriting has obviously struck a chord with the Australian public, and has been a large part of her success according to the singer/songwriter. She said,

“I think if you’re going to be extremely honest with your songs and with your lyrics, you’ve really got to go all out. You can’t hold certain things back and make yourself look better and make yourself look cooler. What I’ve found is that’s what communicates to people, and that’s what really cuts through. I guess you’ve just got to put all your ego aside and that’s the main thing. And I think that’s what I really did with this album.”

Before parting, she assured us that fame hasn’t changed her. She said, “I’ve learned so much about myself – I don’t know where to start! It’s such a bizarre thing that I’m going through and that anyone that’s in my position is going through. I’ve really surprised myself the way that I’ve handled it and the way that I actually haven’t changed inside. I’m completely the same person that I was three years ago - but now my face is on the front cover of the ARIAs magazine.”

Not far behind Higgins was Ben Lee, or should that be King Ben Lee, who was the dominant male winner on the night, walking away with three awards including Best Male Artist, Best Independent Release and Single Of The Year (“Catch My Disease”). After years of plugging away, Lee was finally rewarded on the night for his Awake Is The New Sleep album. But it may come at a price for the star, whose days of enjoying a quiet coffee in the streets of Bondi may be numbered. He says,

“The success of the record has just inspired me to work even harder. Now’s the time where I feel like I’m young, I’ve got the passion for my music and the passion to try and say something to the world so I don’t have time for a quiet coffee. I want to be out there on the mission of trying to spread good pop music that means something.”

It seems that Australia has finally caught Ben Lee’s good old pop disease. World domination next?

2005 was also the year where a number of breakthrough artists walked away with their first ever awards. Mia Dyson, End Of Fashion, Tripod, The Go Betweens and Daniel Merriweather all picked up their first gongs on the night. Merriweather, who is yet to release his debut album, spoke about his Best Urban Release win for “She’s Got Me” and the upcoming long player. He said,

“At the moment, I’m trying to finish my album. Summing up my life in a 45 minute long player – it’s been a great journey. I’ve been working a lot in the States so it takes time because I’m always traveling, but at the moment, I’m so happy with my album. I can’t wait to release it next year. That’s what I’m working towards right now and this is just such a big compliment considering I haven’t dropped an album yet, you know. I really appreciate it.”

It was also the year that Grinspoon popped their ARIA cherry by winning their first award (Best Rock Album) after a decade of nominations. Frontman Phil Jamieson said, “It feels really strange to be honest. We’ve come to these awards many times and we’re really good at losing…but we’ve actually won. It’s humbling and it’s really nice.” Although bassist Joe Hansen was clearly itching to get to the after party when he said, “I’m pretty f**king psyched actually – where’s the party?”

Anthony Callea is another artist that popped his ARIA cherry by winning the Highest Selling Single award for “The Prayer” - which he performed anxiously on the night. He said, “I think tonight was the most nervous I’ve ever been to sing that song. Sometimes nerves can sort of take over, but I sort of tried to control them as much as possible tonight. I took a deep breath at the end - it was just like “yes it’s over.” The 2004 "Australian Idol" runner up also spoke about the show that catapulted him to fame, and how he thinks that it’s still relevant. He said,

“It’s a great launching pad for artists out there. People can bag it; people can say what they want. What’s the difference coming from a radio competition or a television soapie? So it’s just another way of getting out there. I started singing at the age of 5, I started gigging at the age of 15 and 16, so it’s not like one day I sort of woke up and decided to audition and thought, you know, maybe I can sing. So it’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for many years now and I just saw that as an opportunity, and I think you’d be stupid not to take it.”

Veteran Jimmy Barnes closed the show with a scorching rendition of his signature anthem, “Working Class Man,” moments after being inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame. Backstage, he shared some stories about his tremendous career that has featured many highs and lows. He said,

“There have been highs and lows but I mean you don’t appreciate the highs without the lows. That’s what life’s all about. There’s bound to be more lows and probably tomorrow morning will be one! That’s the beauty of life. You take it as it comes and if it’s all high, you don’t appreciate it enough.” He added, “Having ‘Double Happiness’ debut at #1 was just unbelievable after nine years. I loved getting an ARIA and I love being in the Hall of Fame and all that sort of stuff, but more importantly to me is the fact that after 33 years of singing professionally, I can still make music, I can still sing to people, and people still come and see me. That’s a great honour!”

Congratulations to all of the winners at the 2005 ARIA Awards (full list of winners below):

Album of the Year: Missy Higgins – The Sound Of White (Eleven / EMI)
Single of the Year: Ben Lee – Catch My Disease (Inertia)
Breakthrough Artist – Album: Missy Higgins – The Sound Of White (Eleven / EMI)
Breakthrough Artist – Single: End Of Fashion – O Yeah! (EMI)
Best Group: Eskimo Joe – Older Than You (FMR)
Best Male Artist: Ben Lee – Awake Is The New Sleep (Inertia)
Best Female Artist: Missy Higgins – The Sound Of White (Eleven / EMI)
Best Rock Album: Grinspoon – Thrills Kills And Sunday Pills (UMA)
Best Country Album: Keith Urban – Be Here (Capitol / EMI)
Best Blues and Roots Album: Mia Dyson – Parking Lots (Black Door Records / MGM)
Best Children's Album: The Wiggles- Live Hot Potatoes (ABC Kids)
Best Dance Release: Infusion – Six Feet Above Yesterday (Sony BMG)
Best Urban Release: Daniel Merriweather - She's Got Me (FMR)
Best Adult Contemporary Album: The Go-Betweens – Oceans Apart (Capitol / EMI)
Best Pop Release: Missy Higgins – The Sound Of White (Eleven / EMI)
Best Independent Release: Ben Lee – Awake Is The New Sleep (Inertia)
Best Comedy Release: Tripod - Middleborough Road (Liberation)
Best Music DVD: Jet – Right Right Right (EMI / Capitol)
Highest Selling Album: Missy Higgins – The Sound of White (Eleven / EMI)
Highest Selling Single: Anthony Callea – “The Prayer” (Sony BMG)
ARIA Awards Hall of Fame Inductee: Jimmy Barnes

FINE ARTS AWARDS WINNERS (announced October 11)
Best Classical Album: Australian Brandenburg Orchestra – Sanctuary (ABC Classics/Universal)
Best Jazz Album: Paul Grabowsky and Katie Noonan – Before Time Could Change Us (Warner Music)
Best Original Soundtrack/Cast/Show Album: Severed Heads – “The Illustrated Family Doctor” (Mana Soundtracks/Inertia)
Best World Music Album: Monsieur Camembert – Monsieur Camembert (Independent/MGM)

ARTISAN AWARDS (announced September 14)
Producer of the Year: David Nicholas - Drag The Way Out (Dew Process/Universal)
Best Video – Year: Ben Quinn - End Of Fashion “O Yeah” (Capitol/EMI)
Best Cover Art – Year: Ben Lee, Lara Meyerratken, Dan Estabrook Ben Lee - Awake Is The New Sleep (Inertia)
Engineer of the Year – Year: Matt Lovell - The Mess Hall Notes From A Ceiling (Cayman Island/Mafia Records/Shock)


1. “What we do is a joke. We just rock up, play our stuff, go home and get drunk, hehe.” Eskimo Joe provide an insight into the hard work that won them an ARIA.

2. “A few jokes? Give me a break! ‘Get off like a Hoff’ – what does that mean? I’m trying to figure that one out. I’m in the rest room last night and I’m ‘get off like a Hoff’, hehe. David (“don’t call me Hoff”) Hasselhoff shares one of many Hoff jokes currently circulating around the world.

3. “Leaving Cold Chisel was probably one of the hardest things I ever did.” Jimmy Barnes talking about one of the most significant moments in his career.

4. “We rock harder than anyone else in Australia.” It’s official - Grinspoon are the top dogs!

5. “I was a big John Farnham freak and just wanted to meet him. My dream was to be his backup singer.” Anthony Callea speaks about his admiration for John Farnham.

6. “Probably very unlikely to happen - I couldn’t handle the creative control.” Mia Dyson speaking about the chances of her signing to a major label.

7. “We’d like to thank Jet for not being nominated and Missy for not being eligible.” Eskimo Joe give us their “real” acceptance speech after winning the Best Group award.

8. “I was a massive fan of Rodney Rude and it feels like the baton has been passed.” Tripod after picking up Best Comedy Release.

9. “Perth rocks man, we love it. There’s a lot of good bands back home. So it’s good that someone gets something. Hopefully this (ARIA win) opens the floodgates.” End Of Fashion after picking up the Breakthrough Artist award for “O Yeah.”

10. “There’s a lot to do with image in "Australian Idol," obviously. When you enter your music into Unearthed, it’s nothing to do with what you look like or how you present yourself on television or what you dress like. I guess it’s more to do with your composition and the way that you perform. I think the main difference is the difference between television entertainment and I guess composition and writing your own music.” Missy Higgins on the difference between "Australian Idol" and "Triple J’s Unearthed."

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