Welcome to our study of some of the most memorable ladies in Australian music and how the ideas of female representation through live performance have changed over the years. Let’s enter the 2000s: Kylie Minogue is whipping the world into a frenzy as a bonafide sex symbol while the effects of Girl Power and the Spice Girls coming out of the UK has left young and impressionable girls with an idea their identity is something to be celebrated and embraced to an outrageous extent – and rightly so.
In Australia, ladies were making their presence known across the musical board; the new wave of pop princesses were coming through, punky girls with attitude were resonating with the angsty teens of the mid-2000’s, while Australian rock lovers of the 90’s continued to shine the crown of its queen, Adalita.
Magic Dirt still hold a special place in the hearts of many Australian music fans and for the band’s vocalist and guitarist Adalita, the love and support for her as a solo artist has continued to remain strong over the years. Rising to prominence with the Geelong band through the 1990’s Adalita has since been lauded as one of the country’s best songwriters and most beloved performers. The quintessential ‘rock chick’, Adalita kicked it as hard as her male bandmates and carved out her own spot within the heavily male-dominated genre musicians still operate within.
Her solo career and acclaimed All Day Venus album showcased another facet of Adalita’s songwriting and a more vulnerable side of her performance style. A more adult and composed style filtered into Adalita’s live presence, yet the grit and the assertive nature people fell for back in Magic Dirt’s heyday have never faltered.
Jess and Lisa Origliasso entered the scene circa 2005 with their pop-rock twin aesthetic earning an instant fanbase of girls and guys alike. The Brisbane twins dropped their debut record The Secret Life Of… near the end of 2005 and soon, the girls were performing everywhere, landing TV gigs and going on to capitalise on initial success with the release of their sophomore album Hook Me Up. At this time, The Veronicas’ look began maturing, becoming more provocative, yet still remaining on-brand with the pop-punk princess type aesthetic they were known for.
Experimentation with their music and dabbling in other genres in ensuing years saw The Veronicas’ retreat from the spotlight in Australia and spend time overseas writing, recording and performing, before returning with new management and album number three, 2014’s The Veronicas. Now 31, the Origliasso twins have moved away from the looks that defined them throughout their earlier career, though their position as incredibly stunning performers has remained.
She’s one of the most successful and influential pop songwriters in the business at the moment and indeed, her social presence and visual direction has made Adelaide-born Sia the point of many a conversation. This year, she makes her return to the live stage for her first shows in five years (she’ll play Coachella) and fans are already stoked at the possibility of more shows from Sia to come.
Sia’s most recent album 1000 Forms of Fear saw the artist deliberately chose to not show her face during any live performance of the material, either masking it behind oversized wigs or performing with her back to audiences. Her music videos have notably featured dancer Maddie Ziegler (who has appeared alongside her at awards ceremonies and other events) and have been extremely well received. Noted for her extremely private nature, Sia has commented on her choices not to be seen as a way of purposefully taking control over her image and not be a subject of media scrutiny like many, especially in the US music industry, find themselves.
Missy Higgins got her start in the industry from a young age, entering the radars of many music listeners via triple J’s Unearthed competition at a tender age of 15. The singer songwriter’s distinctive accented vocal made Higgins instantly recognisable and with her debut album The Sound of White properly breaking her in 2004, Missy stood apart from many other musicians at the time.
Her presence may have seemed unassuming on stage in the early days, but her talents as a live vocalist and storyteller shone through brighter than any shiny pop production and people flocked to it. Taking time away from music after a heavy bout of touring to complete uni studies, explore acting and other endeavours, Missy returned with a new album in 2009, earning her third ARIA #1 record.
Her music remained acoustic though her pop and folk influences blended together brilliantly in making some catchy choruses that would have Higgins well within the Australian music consciousness for years to come.
We’ll be back soon with a look at women kicking ass right now, from High Tension to Tkay Maidza and The Preatures. Stay tuned for the spotlight to be shone on some of our current favourites!