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by Jason Gubbels

July 10, 2014

Aussie Dance Pop

by Jason Gubbels  |  July 10, 2014

Although it receives considerably less coverage in non-Australian markets than AC/DC's power chords or Nick Cave's gothic balladry, Antipodeans love their frothy, club-friendly dance pop. And the tradition has a longer history than most casual listeners suspect. You could trace the Aussie talent for mixing telegenic female singers with big beats to that fateful 1981 decision by Melbourne-reared singer and actress Olivia Newton-John to trade in her mild lite-country image ("Have you never been mellow?") for the sweat-drenched likes of monster hit "Physical" ("There's nothing left to talk about unless it's horizontally"). The latter bit of discofied sexual delirium dominated the charts for 10 straight weeks and shattered the previous record, held by Debby Boone's gloppy "You Light Up My Life."

But if Newton-John showed the way, it was fellow Melbourne native Kylie Minogue who put Australian dance pop on the global map, leaving behind a successful television career for a contract with UK production maestros Stock Aitken Waterman. "I Should Be So Lucky" appeared in the final days of 1987, and soon the drum-machine-driven bubblegum anthem was topping the charts across both her native land and the UK. Over a decade later, Minogue was still an It Girl, plunging headlong into dance music on 2000 single "Spinning Around," and she shows little sign of leaving club culture behind. Her most recent release, 2014's "Kiss Me Once," remains committed to EDM touchstones.

Minogue had some early '90s contemporaries, like fellow soap opera star Melissa Tkautz or the perfectly named Tina Arena. But Kylie's influence can still be felt in even the broadest survey of recent Aussie dance pop, from the downtempo-friendly experimentation of Adelaide-born Sia Furler to the diva moves of Gold Coast-raised Ricki-Lee, whose elimination from the second season of Australian Idol proved something of a minor scandal for the nation. And there's more to sample, from Betty Who and Vassy to Zoe Badwi and emergin star Havana Brown. You'll find all these Aussie dance poppers and more in our attached playlist -- two dozen Down Under variations on getting "Physical."

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