The history of UMPG is best told through our songs. At home Johnny O’Keefe was swinging rock n’ roll onto AM airwaves for the first time, while abroad the Beach Boys were plotting an avant-garde pop roadmap that countless bands would later follow. The touring ethic of seminal punks Radio Birdman helped whet a global appetite for Australian rock that Jet and Wolfmother would later satisfy.
Foo Fighters (US) and The Living End (AUS) would all become arguably the greatest live bands in their respective nations during the late 90’s. Peter Allen’s ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ and Neil Murray’s ‘My Island Home’ became unofficial national anthems. Across the ditch, OMC would create an NZ urban blueprint with ‘How Bizarre’ before Savage achieved multi-platinum success in the U.S. Today, Adele is breaking records around the world while Melbourne rapper 360 breaks records at home.
Scroll through using the bar below, and click to either watch the video or play a song clip.
A classic song from one of America's greatest ever songwriters. This version by Fred Astaire marked the track's first appearance, as part of the film 'Follow The Fleet'.
Irving Berlin - Let's Face The Music and Dance (Fred Astaire)
Legend has it that when Irving Berlin wrote this song he called to his secretary, "Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I've ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody's ever written!".
Johnny O'Keefe's musical career spanned over 20 years and he remains Australia's most successful chart performer, with 28 Top 40 hits to his name.
Johnny O' Keefe - Shake, Baby Shake
The most famous version of the classic song came from this American doo wop group, and was a number one hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Platters - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
A true pioneer of freeform jazz, John Coltrane was constantly pushing the boundaries with his music, and this title track from his 1960 album is a perfect example of his talent and radical approach to composition.
One of the many highlights of the Beach Boys' extensive legacy, 'Fun, Fun, Fun' featured on their 'Shut Down Volume 2' album.
Beach Boys - Fun, Fun, Fun
One of the greatest folk-rock anthems of all time, and the song that shot the duo to stardom - as well as appearing in Mike Nichols' infamous film 'The Graduate'.
Simon & Garfunkel - Sound of Silence
The definitive psychedelic rock anthem from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, from their 1967 album 'Are You Experienced'.
Recorded just a few days before his death in 1967, this was the first ever posthumous number one single to enter the UK and US charts, and went on to become the most successful release of his career.
A performance of an original song ‘Old Man Emu’ on ‘New Faces’ in 1970 marked the arrival of legendary bush-balladeer John Williamson - the song would quickly hit No.1 on the Australian chart.
Written by brothers Idris and Evan Jones, 'The Pushbike Song' was record by The Mixtures and released in 1970 - reaching No. 1 in Australia, it would have also reached No. 1 in the UK had it not have been for George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’.
Idris and Evan Jones - The Pushbike Song (performed by The Mixtures)
Sherbet was the first Australian band to reach $1 million in record sales in Australia; the first Australian band to turn their merchandising into a huge industry; and they pioneered the concept of massive regional tours. From 1970 until 1984 Sherbet scored 20 hit singles in Australia (with two No. 1's) and released 10 Platinum status albums.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin's atmospheric pop ballad, documenting the lonely life of an astronaut, appeared on Elton's fifth studio album 'Honky Château'.
Apparently inspired by a gig in Scotland when the glam rockers were chased off stage as they were pelted with bottles, 'Ballroom Blitz' went on to be smash hit in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
'The Newcastle Song' was a 1975 hit for musician and comedian Bob Hudson, the song poked fun at the working-class youth culture of the City of Newcastle in NSW.
From the band's fifth studio album 'Siren', 'Love is the Drug' was built around a gloriously addictive disco bassline, and took the band to number two in the UK charts.
The Sex Pistols' debut single was a rallying cry for a disillusioned and allientated youth in 1970s Britain - described by their manager Malcolm McLaren as, "a call to arms to the kids who believe that rock and roll was taken away from them."
Radio Birdman performing the song 'New Race', taken from the seminal 1977 album 'Radios Appear'. Multi-platinum Australian band Silverchair would later perform the song with You Am I’s Tim Rogers at the 1995 ARIA awards.
One of the standout out songs from the film soundtrack that helped bring disco into the mainstream - helped along by John Travolta's legendary strut through the streets of New York for the 'Saturday Night Fever' opening credits.
'Khe Sanh' was about an Australian Vietnam veteran coping with a return to normal life. Despite being initially banned from radio airplay in Australia, it still charted at #4 (in the band's home town of Adelaide) and at #41 on the national charts.
The Clash's powerful political anthem was a response to social problems in Britain at the end of the 1970s, and regarded by many as one of their finest pieces of work.
Considered an alternative Australian national anthem, ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ was a global hit for Peter Allen in 1980. Australian airline QANTAS has used the song for many years with a notable lyric change, Rio has been changed to Rome as the airline does not operate flights to Rio de Janeiro.
Peter Allen - I Still Call Australia Home
Joy Division's beautifully bleak anti love song, and their first chart hit - tragically marred by the death of Ian Curtis.
'Jessie's Girl' by pop-rock singer Rick Springfield was released in 1981, the song became an instant hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and later won Springfield a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
Rick Springfield - Jessie's Girl
INXS have won six ARIA awards (including three for Best Group) and have sold more than 30 million records. They were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2001.
'I Was Only Nineteen' was released in March 1983 as a single; it's a first person account of a typical Australian infantry regular soldier's experience in the Vietnam War.
Arguably one of the most memorable electronic introductions to any track, Annie Lennox and David Stewart's hit single continues to ignite dancefloors today.
Although often considered to be a diversion from the classic Smith's sound, it was clearly a good one, as this was doubtless one of the band's best loved records, and according to co-writer Johnny Marr, "possibly our most enduring."
The Smiths - How Soon is Now?
The Grammy award winning song about an every day man dreaming of life as a rock star was one of the band's most successful singles, and also the first track ever to be played on MTV Europe
In 1989 'Under the Milky Way' won an ARIA Award for 'Single of the Year' and charted in the Top 30 on the Australian Singles Chart and US Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 24. On 27 October 2010 The Church were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in Sydney.
The Hummingbirds in August of 1989 released their single 'Blush', it peaked at No. 1 on the Alternative music chart, and No. 19 on the ARIA singles charts.
The Hummingbirds - Blush
Things of Stone and Wood released their song 'Happy Birthday Helen' in 1992 and it reached No. 9 on the Australian Singles Chart. A love song with a unique Melbourne-centric lyric, it can often be heard around Australian birthday cakes in place of the more traditional ‘Happy Birthday’ serenade.
Things of Stone and Wood - Happy Birthday Helen
In 1992 Lee Kernaghan released 'Boys from the Bush', lifted from his ARIA award winning album ‘The Outback Club’. The song was Lee’s first ARIA No. 1 and would become an Australian Outback anthem.
In 1994, The Cruel Sea won five ARIA Awards: 'Single of the Year’, 'Song of the Year', 'Album of the Year', 'Best Group' and 'Producer of the Year' for 'The Honeymoon Is Over'.
“Ooh, baby, it's making me crazy, everytime I look around, everytime I look around, everytime I look around, it's in my face”. Remember these lyrics? New Zealand’s OMC released 'How Bizarre' in December 1995, and the song can still be heard on radio stations around the world today.
The lyrically brilliant song about at an art student who aspired to be one of the 'common people' helped establish Pulp as one of the UK's best loved bands.
In 1995 'My Island Home' won 'Song of the Year' at the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) Awards. Written by Neil Murray and originally performed by his Warumpi Band, Christine Anu performed 'My Island Home' at the closing ceremony for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics.
The song that launched the career of the Posh, Scary, Sporty, Baby and Ginger, as they introduced the world to their own brand of 'Girl Power'.
The day the Australian pop princess went disco and never looked back - this catchy floor filler coupled with the futuristic music video became Kylie's most successful ever release.
Kylie Minigue - Can't Get You Out of My Head
In 2001 Alex Lloyd released his most popular album ‘Watching Angels Mend’, which included hit songs 'Amazing' and 'Green', and went double Platinum. 'Amazing' also hit No. 1 on the Triple J Hottest 100 and won ‘Song of the Year’ at the 2002 APRA Music Awards.
Built around an unforgettable piano riff, 'Clocks' won the band the prestigious 'Record of the Year' Grammy award.
The Killers' debut single slipped under the radar on its first release, but firmly established the band as a force to be reckoned with second time round. Lead singer Brandon Flowers described the song as being heavily influenced by La Vegas, where he grew up.
Savage's first solo single 'Swing' peaked at number one for five weeks in the New Zealand singles chart. After the song featured in 2007’s Judd Apatow film ‘Knocked Up’, subsequent versions featuring Soulja Boy and Pitbull propelled the song to over 2.5m sales in the US, making it the highest selling song of all-time by an Australian or New Zealand hip hop artist.
In 2005 Rogue Traders' album 'Here Comes the Drums' was certified 4× Platinum by ARIA for shipment of 280,000 copies featuring their hit song ‘Voodoo Child'.
On 31 October 2005, Powderfinger front man Fanning released his debut solo album entitled ‘Tea & Sympathy’ featuring his single 'Wish You Well'. The album debuted at #1 on the Australian ARIA Albums chart, and spent 58 weeks in the top 50 selling over 350,000 units in the process.
Bernard Fanning - Wish You Well
This breezy, lilting, ska-inflected slice of perfect pop launched the career of one of the UK's best loved (and sometimes controversial) pop stars.
In 2006 Ben Lee and co-writer McGowan Southworth won the APRA Award ‘Song of the Year’ & ‘Most Performed Australian Work’ for nominated work 'Catch My Disease'.
This second track from Florence's debut album 'Lungs' showcased her unique and captivating vocal style and set her on the path to stardom.
After a stellar multi-album career for globe-trotting punk rockers The Living End, arguably Australia’s best live band had inexplicably never been nominated for an APRA music award. In 2009, 15 years after the band formed, frontman Chris Cheney halted the band’s European tour to return to Australia to collect the prestigious ‘Song of the Year’ award for the multi-platinum smash ‘White Noise’…he jumped on a plane and returned to Germany 2 hours later.
‘Running Back feat. Flo Rida’ was the highest selling single of 2009 and also picked up the ‘Best Urban Work’ gong at the 2009 APRA Awards. Written by Jessica, Audius and Sean Ray Mullins - UMPG would go on to sign both Audius and Mullins to worldwide publishing agreements.
The London quartet pedal a distinctive brand of bluegrass tinged folk, played across instruments as diverse as a double bass and a banjo. 'The Cave' was the third single from their Brit award winning debut album 'Sigh No More'.
Adele's first UK number one single was inspired by heartbreak, but set her on the path to becoming a record breaking global superstar, the UK's very own "girl done good".
Written by UMPG’s Sean Ray Mullins and Cassie Davis, Havana Brown’s 'We Run The Night' was certified 3 x Platinum in Australia before the song infiltrated US radio airwaves in 2012. The song continues its ascent up the Billboard Chart and has achieved global sales in excess of 1m.
Melbourne rapper 360 tells the tale of an ex-girlfriend that cheated on him with a best mate. The song has since achieved sales of 4 x Platinum and the album ‘Falling and Flying’ featuring the Gold and Platinum singles ‘Killer’, ‘Just Got Started’ and ‘Child’ has sold well in excess of 100,000 copies in Australia.
Battle Scars reached number 1 on the ARIA chart, before going on to be certified 9 x platinum in Australia, and 2 x in New Zealand where it reached number 2, giving Sebastian his sixth trip to the ARIA top spot and Fiasco his first.
Timmy Trumpet's 'Freaks' broke records at home after becoming the highest selling single in Ministry of Sound Australia's history. It was certified 4x Platinum in Australia but also became a hit across the world selling close to a million copies.
Sydney based electro duo Peking Duk’s ‘Take Me Over’ was certified 2x Platinum in Australia and earned the duo trophies for ‘Dance Work of the Year’ and ‘Most Played Australian Work’ at the 2016 APRA Music Awards. ‘Take Me Over’ was also nominated in the ‘Best Dance Release’ and ‘Song of the Year’ at last years ARIA’s.
Steve Mac co-wrote and produced this global hit, which topped the charts in 60 countries worldwide - including 12 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
Australian singer-songwriter Ruel won 2018 Breakthrough Artist at the Aria Awards for his EP 'Dazed & Confused' which features hit single 'Younger' that achieved Platinum status in Australia. 'Younger' was written with fellow UMPG published producer M-Phazes. Ruel is the youngest to win in this ARIA category and to sell out two Sydney Opera House shows.
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