U.K.-based, Sydney-formed Aussie rock act Gang Of Youths, and singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tash Sultana were among the big winners Tuesday night (April 4) at the 2023 Shure Rolling Stone Australia Awards.
Sultana was on hand to the receive the Rolling Stone Global Award at Sydney’s The Argyle. “I’ll keep it short and sweet, just like me,” they quipped.
The “Jungle” singer enters the next phase of their career with a fresh indie-pop single “James Dean,” the first through a new deal with Kobalt. Sultana already owns an ARIA Award for 2018’s Flow State (for best blues & roots album), an LP that peaked at No. 2 in Australia, and No. 51 on the Billboard 200.
Gang Of Youths scooped best record, for the band’s Angel in Realtime, which blasted to No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart in March 2022, their second leader.
Frontman Dave Le’aupepe delivered a pre-recorded thank-you to the packed house. “Most of all I want to thank youse back in Australia for caring about a record that was made entirely to serve the memory of my father. This is for my dad as well, who taught me how to live,” he explained.
Sydney indie act Lime Cordiale won the Rolling Stone Readers’ Choice Award, with frontman Oli Leimbach collecting the spoils. “Thanks everyone, I thought we were up for ‘Most Popular’ award, but that’s okay,” he quipped. “This is crazy, we’re really stoked, thanks everyone for everything.”
Also on the night, Perth indie-rockers Spacey Jane nabbed the best single honor for “Hardlight,” lifted from the band’s ARIA No. 1 studio album Here Comes Everybody, and the No. 3 ranked song in triple j’s Hottest 100 countdown of 2022.
Golden-voiced singer Budjerah took home best new artist, adding to a collection that includes an APRA Music Award and the coveted Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist ARIA Award.
The evening, however, belonged to Tina Arena, the living legend who was named as the inaugural recipient of the Rolling Stone Icon Award.
Introducing Arena to the stage, the Brag Media’s editor-in-chief Poppy Reid remarked: “Tina Arena is one of Australia’s highest-selling artists, she’s a once-in-a-generation talent, but more than that, she is an icon for young people everywhere.”
She added, “Her work comes from a place of love, it comes from obsession, and it shows in everything she does. From her music, to her activism, her feminism, her allyship and the way she fights the sickness in our society around ageism, to her using her platform to lift others up. She’s an inspiration to me and everyone I know.”
Arena’s rousing speech was both hilarious and biting, as she took time to thank those who deserved a shout out, and shouted out those ageists and misogynists who continue to hold-back female artists.
“I’ve never been one to conform to stereotypes, or expectations. I’m not interested in being cool,” she said. “I won’t toe the line. I tell it like it is. I’m true to my internal compass, because authenticity is an absolute must for me. I sing from the heart, and I write from the depths of my soul. It resonates with some people, because some people are craving what is ultimately real. They’re craving truth in a world filled with absolute bullshit.”
She continued, “As artists, we have a huge responsibility to do our job with integrity. We must not confirm. We must not allow the powers that be to manipulate and use the arts to push their own agendas. An artist’s job, in my own humble opinion, is to lift people up, to inspire change and empathy. It’s not to be the mouthpiece for different social and political propaganda.”
Arena’s Icon status is well-deserved. Her 12-strong catalogue of studio album (including three recorded in the French language) have sold 10 million combined copies, and yielded seven ARIA Awards including the album of the year honor for her 1995 hit Don’t Ask, a category no other solo female artist had won at the time.
Don’t Ask was the highest-selling album of 1995 in Australia and, with more than 1 million domestic sales, and to this day is one of the biggest-selling albums by an Australian female singer.
She’s venerated in her adopted homeland, France, where she was awarded one of country’s highest civil decorations, the Ordre national du Mérite (French Order of Merit), for her contribution to the arts, and was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2015.
Arena delivered the highlight of the RS Awards with Budjerah for a surprise duet to “Chains,” a hit from Don’t Ask.
2023 Shure Rolling Stone Australia Awards Winners:
Rolling Stone Icon Award
Winner: Tina Arena
Winner: Spacey Jane – “Hardlight”
Amy Shark – “Only Wanna Be With You”
Budjerah – “Ready for the Sky”
Courtney Barnett – “Rae Street”
Keith Urban – “Brown Eyes Baby”
Ruel – “Growing up is ___”
The Kid LAROI – “Thousand Miles”
Vance Joy – “Clarity”
Best New Artist
Eliza & The Delusionals
Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers
Winner: Gang of Youths – angel in realtime
5 Seconds of Summer – 5SOS5
Julia Jacklin – Pre Pleasure
Parkway Drive – Darker Still
Spacey Jane – Here Comes Everybody
The Wiggles – ReWiggled
Thelma Plum – Meanjin
Vance Joy – In Our Own Sweet Time
Rolling Stone Global Award
Winner: Tash Sultana
Gang Of Youths
Rüfüs Du Sol
Tones And I
Rolling Stone Readers’ Choice Award
Winner: Lime Cordiale
Boy & Bear
Tones And I