SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 27: Khalid performs during the 33rd Annual ARIA Awards 2019 at The Star on November 27, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

For the Australian music industry, the last week in November can be likened to an early Christmas. The decorations are hung, the glitz and glamour arrives in droves and there is enough food and alcohol to fuel a ship to Mars. It’s not Pitt Street Mall however, but the annual ARIA Awards. First established in 1987, the event has seen a star-studded lineup of nominees and performances, and this year was no different.

Off the back of Dua Lipa’s latest single ‘Don’t Start Now’, the international artist travelled Down Under – shortly after appearing at the AMAs this same week – to a plethora of fans, media and fellow talent to perform another rendition of her now-iconic routine. Halsey arrived to the red carpet in a sea of splattered colour, while Khalid donned a black and navy-blue spliced suit. Swarovski, the major partner of this year’s ARIA Awards ensured a glistening evening with celebrities and influencers also dress to the nines in sparkling jewellery.

From the red carpet to inside the theatre, ICON was there to witness it all – the winners, the snubs, the curious overheards and more.

The overheards

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 27: Robert Irwin and Sophie Monk hold a python during the 33rd Annual ARIA Awards 2019 at The Star on November 27, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

What do you get when you put media, artists, celebrities and industry executives all in the one room? Well, on this occasion, some controversial chatter and light-hearted quips.

A journalist to a publicist – “Who the f**k is that?!”

A cameraman speaking about an unnamed artist – “I would die to roll her cigarettes for a living.”

A publicist about talent – “He’s had enough, he just wants to take a piss.”

Two announcers on the Best Independent Artist – “And the ARIA goes to, Paul Kelly. Oh God, no, I have the wrong envelope.”

A host about the crowd – “Woah, you have stocked eskies at your feet? How Aussie.”

One celebrity about another during an acceptance speech – “Oh my gosh, I’ve forgotten what to say. I just made eye contact with Halsey.”

A fellow journalist to another, looking into the bottom of an empty glass – “This room is about to get really lit, isn’t it?”

And the most controversial of them all…

Hilltop Hoods on national television – “Jeffery Epstein didn’t kill himself.”

The Performances

It was perhaps one of the strongest lineups of performances we’ve seen at the ARIA Awards in recent history. Much to the excitement of onlookers and guests, Dua Lipa, Halsey and Khalid all made it to Australia with stellar performances ahead. As for local exports, Tones and I, Hilltop Hoods, Morgan Evans, The Teskey Brothers and Thelma Plum all treated their home country to some massive hits.

Halsey was the second act to take to the famed ARIAs stage, dressed in black as she smeared white paint across herself with fellow dancer and choreographer, Dani Vitale – a true Picasso moment. Her art-inspired evening continued with two dress changes, courtesy of namesake fashion house, Collina Strada.

Human Nature made headlines this year, as the boy band of 30 years was to be entered into the ARIA Hall of Fame. To join the likes of AC/DC, Cold Chisel and Men At Work, the four-man group who have toured with Celine Dion in the past revisited some of the classics in true breakout dance, choreographed costume change style. Bringing seated guests to their feet, the band proved they’ve still got the star factor.

The winners

2019 proved to be the year for new comers and some old favourites alike. The big winner at this year’s ARIA Awards was Tones and I as she walked away with four awards out of six nominations. From busking on streets of Byron Bay and living out of a van, the acceptances arrived with plenty of emotion, with the 19-year-old repeating, “But I only wrote one speech.” Clearly taken aback and almost lost for words, the internationally recognised artist spoke out against industry standards, saying, “No one could have ever prepare me for thee whole world judging me, and comparing [me] to other artists. But what’s most important is that you have to be a good person and care about others and carry yourself well.” She was then cut off with an overwhelming response from the audience.

Dean Lewis was another artist to take out some respected accolades including Best Male Artist and Album of the Year for debut release A Place We Knew – he beat out Rufus Du Sol who is up for a Grammy Award in 2020. Just last year, the 32-year-old won the Best Video Category. He had only been in the public eye since his 2016 release for ‘Wave’. A testament to his overwhelming influence.

Guy Sebastian nabbed several awards, including Song of the Yea for ‘Choir’, a pop-hit made in tribute for his friend and fellow musician Luke Liang who sadly passed away last year. The Australian music icon took the opportunity to make an emotional speech and raise awareness for mental health. “I cry probably 80 per cent of the times I sing this song,” he said, “it’s about Luke Liang, such a great friend of all of ours, [who] played in our band.”I love Tones and I, [she] said ‘just be a good person’. . .we’re all the same, just be a good person, this means the world, I love you,” he concluded.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 27: Khalid and Halsey present the ARIA Award Song of The Year during the 33rd Annual ARIA Awards 2019 at The Star on November 27, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

See all the winners below.

Album of the Year
Dean Lewis – A Place We Knew
Hilltop Hoods – The Great Expanse
RÜFÜS DU SOL – Solace
The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow
Thelma Plum – Better In Blak

Best Male Artist
Dean Lewis – A Place We Knew
Guy Sebastian – Choir
Hayden James – Between Us
Matt Corby – Rainbow Valley
Paul Kelly – Nature

Best Female Artist
Amy Shark – Mess Her Up
Jessica Mauboy – Little Things
Julia Jacklin – Crushing
Thelma Plum – Better In Blak
Tones And I – Dance Monkey

Best Dance Release
Dom Dolla – Take It
FISHER – You Little Beauty
Peking Duk & Jack River – Sugar
PNAU – Solid Gold
RÜFÜS DU SOL – Solace

Best Group
5 Seconds Of Summer – Easier
Birds Of Tokyo – Good Lord
Hilltop Hoods – The Great Expanse
RÜFÜS DU SOL – Solace
The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow

Breakthrough Artist
G Flip – About Us
Stella Donnelly – Beware Of The Dogs
The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow
Thelma Plum – Better In Blak
Tones And I – Dance Monkey

Best Pop Release
Amy Shark – Mess Her Up
Dean Lewis – A Place We Knew
Guy Sebastian – Choir
Thelma Plum – Better In Blak
Tones And I – Dance Monkey

Best Hip Hop Release
Baker Boy – Cool As Hell
Hilltop Hoods – The Great Expanse
Illy – Then What
Sampa The Great – Final Form
Tkay Maidza – Awake feat. JPEGMAFIA

Best Soul/R&B Release
Kaiit – Miss Shiney
Matt Corby – Rainbow Valley
Adrian Eagle – AOK
Genesis Owusu – WUTD + Vultures
Tash Sultana – Can’t Buy Happiness

Best Independent Release
Angie McMahon – Salt
G Flip – About Us
Julia Jacklin – Crushing
The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow
Tones And I – The Kids Are Coming

Best Rock Album
Amyl & The Sniffers – Amyl & The Sniffers
Holy Holy – My Own Pool Of Light
Jimmy Barnes – My Criminal Record
Midnight Oil – Armistice Day: Live at The Domain, Sydney
Skegss – My Own Mess

Best Adult Contemporary Album
Julia Jacklin – Crushing
Paul Kelly – Nature
Samantha Jade – The Magic of Christmas
Seeker Lover Keeper – Wild Seeds
The Paper Kites – On The Corner Where You Live

Best Country Album
Charlie Collins – Snowpine
Felicity Urquhart – Frozen Rabbit
Lee Kernaghan – Backroad Nation
Morgan Evans – Things That We Drink To
Sara Storer – Raindance

Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album
Clowns – Nature/Nurture
Dead Letter Circus – Dead Letter Circus
DZ Deathrays – Positive Rising: Part 1
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest
Northlane – Alien

Best Blues & Roots Album
Dan Sultan – Aviary Takes
John Butler Trio – HOME
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishies
Paul Kelly – Live At Sydney Opera House
The Teskey Brothers – Run Home Slow

Best Children’s Album
Dan Sultan – Nali & Friends
Kamil Ellis and Ensemble Offspring – Classic Kids: Music For The Dreaming
Regurgitator’s Pogogo Show – The Really Really Really Really Boring Album
The Beanies – Imagination Station
The Wiggles – Party Time!

Best Comedy Release
Arj Barker – Organic
Carl Barron – Drinking With A Fork
Chris Lilley – Lunatics (Official Soundtrack)
Sammy J – Symphony In J Minor
Veronica & Lewis – Sex Flex: A Rap Guide To Fornication

Best Video
Baker Boy – Cool As Hell
Briggs – Life Is Incredible feat. Greg Holden
G Flip – Drink Too Much
Guy Sebastian – Choir
Hilltop Hoods – Exit Sign feat. Illy & Ecca Vandal
Jessica Mauboy – Little Things
PNAU – Solid Gold
Sampa The Great – Final Form
Thelma Plum – Better In Blak
Tones And I – Dance Monkey

Best Australian Live Act
Amy Shark – Amy Shark Australian Tour
Baker Boy – Cool As Hell Tour
Electric Fields – 2000 And Whatever Tour
Gang Of Youths – Say Yes To Life Tour
Hilltop Hoods – The Great Expanse World Tour
Keith Urban – Graffiti U Tour 2019
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard Australian Tour 2019
Midnight Oil – Midnight Oil
Peking Duk – Peking Duk’s Biggest Tour Ever… So Far
The Teskey Brothers – The Teskey Brothers – Intimate Venue Tour

Song of the Year
5 Seconds Of Summer – Easier
Amy Shark – Mess Her Up
Birds Of Tokyo – Good Lord
Dean Lewis – 7 Minutes
Guy Sebastian – Choir
Hilltop Hoods – Leave Me Lonely
Kian – Waiting
Morgan Evans – Day Drunk
Ocean Alley – Confidence
Tones and I – Dance Monkey

Best International Artist
Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go
Ed Sheeran – No.6 Collaborations Project
George Ezra – Staying At Tamara’s
Khalid – Free Spirit
P!nk – Hurts 2B Human
Post Malone – Hollywood’s Bleeding
Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes
Taylor Swift – Lover
Travis Scott – Astroworld

Music Teacher of the Year
Antonio Chiappetta (St Andrews College, Marayong, NSW)
Bel Skinner (North Regional TAFE, WA)
Julie Rennick (Gunnedah Conservatorium, NSW)
Lee Strickland (Narbethong State Special School, QLD)

thoughts?