How a children's television show band won Australia's national music competition
‘The Wiggles’ are an Australian children’s music group that was formed in 1991. Around 1997 they sold a self financed show to Disney Channel Australia and became a hit. They broke into the USA market in 1998 with successful airing of their show and touring. In 2017 they signed a deal with NBC Universal to be available to 58 million American households. To say they are doing well is an understatement. But why, and how, did a children’s band win a national poll?
Triple J Hottest 100 has been around in different forms since 1988. In 2022 2.5million votes had been submitted for the selection of this years selection. The selection of music is limited to favourite Australian and alternative music of the previous year. The tipping lead was actual Kid Laroi and Justin Beiber’s collaboration. Although largely a popularity vote it is still considered a great honour to be selected onto the top 100 list.
So again, why is a children’s TV show even in the running? For whatever reason The Wiggles were invited to perform on Triple J in ‘Like A Version,’ which is for a band to cover in their own style another’s work. The Wiggles covered Tame Impala’s 2012 song Elephant while also infusing it with a chorus from their song Fruit Salad. That is the song that won.
What happened? Well two main thoughts are: it is nostalgia or it was a joke. Both of these are interesting to pursue at a deeper level.
If this is about nostalgia is this a response to the pandemic life of the last few years? A reach backwards to a simpler time and a happier world? What is it about nostalgia that drives a response stronger than any other factor? Is there a rise in nostalgia driven popular culture due to the pandemic? I’m not actually sure there has been. Instead most of the discussion about nostalgia was happening five years ago around the endless remake and reboot of film and TV.
If it is not nostalgia is it a joke? What is it about Australian culture that drives the desire to use humour in every place? A recent TV show that actively challenges concepts around Indigenous rights and Settlement, ‘Firebite’, uses humour to tackle colonisation. Is humour then more important in Australian popular culture than any other approach? Is this the defining characteristic of Australian popular culture.
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