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Were the 2010 ARIA Awards really that bad?

My, oh my. If ALL publicity is good publicity, then the 2010 ARIAs were actually a gigantic, enormous, shining, stunner of a success.

Twitter and Facebook were abuzz while the awards were being aired on Ten last Sunday night, then the barrage of TV, radio, print and online media coverage followed on Monday. And Tuesday. And, yes, even into Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

News commentators and music fans were rather narky. “Worst ARIAs ever?” asked News talk site The Punch, the ABC’s Marieke Hardy headlined “The ARIA awards are dead, long live the arias”, while Fairfax culture website The Vine declared it a “trainwreck”. WHO and OK magazines skipped the broadcast all together and just decided to focus on the fabulous fashions and the excellent performances.

Every news article posted online was then commented on by hundreds of people, each weighing in. Some were moaning the “death of the Australian Music Industry”, many commented on feeling they were the sober gate crashes at a new years eve party and others were just LOL-ing at some of the presenters.

Let’s face it – it’s an industry award night that is also trying to be a TV show. Hard work really. How do you, all at the same time.

  • Honour the work of Australian musicians?
  • Keep hundreds of paying music industry ticket holders happy?
  • Create a slick, two hour, high rating TV show?

Some would argue that this was managed just fine for the recent SBS ARIA Hall of Fame awards but that.s possibly not the right fit for the younger audience that ARIA and channel 10 were trying to attract. (Of course, the next question would probably be “why try and attract a young audience? Plenty of over 35s love their music”)

But like most occasions in life, perhaps:

  • You just can’t be all things to all people.
  • You can’t please everyone.

So I’ll tell you one thing I won’t be doing here – I won’t be posting the video footage of Jessica Mauboy mispronouncing the word ‘debut’. The interviews that Jess did this week (with much humour and grace, I might add) showed that the poor girl was obviously rather mortified and embarrassed and deserves some sympathy for the fact that someone didn’t clearly point out the error to her at the rehearsals that afternoon and give her the time to relearn her lines.

It’s all well and good to fly by the seat of your pants when you’re a seasoned professional presenter – the years of practice pay off and you know what to do when your autocue doesn’t work or when you can’t hear yourself think amongst a party loving crowd. But if you’re not used to presenting on live TV and given very little guidance or time to rehearse, chances are you’re going to stuff up.

I absolutely adore the new ARIA CEO Dan Rosen’s response to all the criticism. In an interview with Jason Treuen from TMN (The Music Network) he said, The ARIAs is about showcasing Australia’s best music acts and I think we did a really good job of that. The performances looked fantastic and all the performers put on a great show.”

“We’ll do a review and see what worked and what didn’t work and make sure that we focus next year more on the things that did work, and less on the things that didn’t work,” he said.

And being the positive, smart cookie that he is, he’s simply moved on from the media criticism.

“I’m not going to comment on the media. The media writes their stories. I would have liked it to focus more on the great performances.

“I’d have liked the media to focus on that side of it, the performance side of it rather than the presentation side of it. The media are entitled to do whatever they want. At the event itself, it felt fresh.

“But we have to cop the criticism and we have to continue to improve and get something better for next year. We have to keep moving forward.”

People love to bitch, but I think what we saw was the beginning of a good format for the event, but with a few execution problems.

I really hope that the baby doesn’t get thrown out with the bathwater and we revert next year to “here’s a thought, let’s do the same as we do every year!” We’re meant to be a country that’s progressive and creative so here’s to the hope that we don’t continue to not have an ‘it’s not like the (insert generic overseas award show name here)’ attitude. YAWN.

But enough already about that – here’s my purely personal “The Good, The Bad and The Fun” of the 2010 ARIAs, as told by a (very grateful) gold ticket holder who was also working by looking after an artist who was presenting an award on the night.

The Good

* I applaud the decision to innovate, try something new, refresh and change up an old and boring format. Dare to be different! Good on ARIA, Fremantle and Ten for trying something new!

* When the location of the red carpet has the beautiful backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the sparkling water of the harbour and the city skyline (instead of the usual concrete jungle), you’re onto a winner. All of the stunning media pics in the Newsltd and Fairfax dailies and weekly mags like WHO and OK proved this.

* Having the fans near the performers was a great idea. In some ways, keeping the music industry exec’s in a (super glam) marque on the stairs to celebrate (get plastered) is probably the best place for us.  Beautiful pic below. In previous years, the music fans sit high above the industry tables, watching the music industry peeps eat dinner and get trollied. At least this year the fans were up close and personal to their idols which would have been a huge buzz for them, and the performers.

* The main stage design was great, as was the nomination package design. The LED towers against the city skyline was inspired.

* Powderfinger performing – we miss you already!

* Washington – OH MY LORD that girl is TALENTED! Fun, frisky, damn fine entertainment – both on screen for viewers at home and for those of us there. She’s a showstopper.

* Having gorgeous DJs warming up the crowd.

* Guy Sebastian. Truly, truly an excellent musician, performer and good bloke. And give me a Gospel choir any day of the week and twice on Sundays!

* Sia – quirky, irreverent, fabulous tunes and voice. And she’s originally a good South Australian girl (where all wonderful things come from, non?)

* Birds of Tokyo – when front man Ian Kenny began singing with his lanky silhouette against the huge static screen, the crowd went wild.

The Bad

* Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know what everyone’s been saying. I’m over it, let’s move on.

The Fun

* Celebrating an amazing year of new music with the fans, artists and the teams behind the artists who work ridiculously hard to make their albums a success. If that’s not cause to let your hair down, I don’t know what is.

* Plenty of good food and wine (of which I didn’t really get to sample as I was too busy looking after artists. But it looked delish and everyone else was loving!)

* The beautiful weather – thank goodness – considering it rained all week in the lead up and then again the day after, it was damned lucky and all the more appreciated.

* Getting dolled up with professional hair and makeup by the glam team of Christina Cleary and Melissa Neville.

* The AFTERPARTYs! The official party at The Opera House was pretty much an extension of the whole fun night, only you didn’t need to keep an ear and eye out to find out what awards were being presented. Goss from friends at EMI said that theirs was excellent. The Universal afterparty was brilliant – stand outs were the incredible food and drinks, a photobooth to capture all the craziness, and a dancefloor full of artists, media and Universal staff. Not a wallflower to be found…

For all the details of the winners of the 2010 ARIA awards, go to

* Disclaimer – These are my genuine opinions and I’m not an employee of ARIA, Fremantle or the Ten Network, just a humble music lover.

One Response to Were the 2010 ARIA Awards really that bad?

  1. sue says:

    excellent piece and love the pics.wish i was there.

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