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Emma Silk

on 10 September 2013

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During the 1990’s Australians listened to a wide variety of music including pop, punk, hip hop, electronic and alternative rock that all found large audiences throughout the country. This was the decade when the lines between musical genres became blurred.
Major Developments of Music in the 1990s
Indigenous Music

• Indigenous band, Yothu Yindi, combined traditional Aboriginal language, instruments and beats with modern instruments like guitars and drums.

• Following the grunge movement, alternative rock continued to grow in Australia throughout the 90’s with acts like The Whitlam’s, Powderfinger and Killing Heidi achieving success.
• There was an increase in music festivals including Big Day Out, Livid, Homebake
• Electronic, or computer-generated, sound became a common fixture of the Australian music scene

• Electronic music merged with pop in the 1990s and became electro-pop that was successful for Australian musical duo Savage Garden, who combined catchy melodies with dance beats and synthesised sounds.
•Children were listening to songwriter Bobby Susser who wrote songs for kids under the series “Bobby Susser Songs for Children”. This was made so that music could be used to educate children in schools and at home.

• Animated musicals from Disney were made for children including The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995).
• Groups such as The Wiggles and Hi-5 became quite popular among younger children as well.
Youth- Adults Music
• Young people were gathering in nightclubs and dancing to up-tempo electronic dance music styles like ‘house’, ‘techno’ and ‘trance’.

• They were also listening to the Grunge music of the time as it was a rebellious form to the alternative music.

• Baby Boomer’s rock scene, by the 90s, translated into adult contemporary as they strayed away from rock n roll.
• Radio station Triple J started expanding through the country during the decade and bands believed they needed to be known by Triple J because of their musical influence in order to achieve success.

•In 1990, it was estimated that Australians owned 29.1 million radio sets. Within a couple of years, radio became the background to everyday life; people would listen to the radio while performing other activities like driving, cooking, working or studying.

American Influence
• One of the most significant changes to have taken place in Australian society since the end of WWII was its drift towards American culture, rather than British culture. As the American way of life was projected further into Australia via popular culture, it rapidly altered the ways we spent our money, entertained ourselves, dressed and socialised. Eventually, many of our British cultural legacies gave way to new American ideals.

•The 1990’s was the era of the ‘boy band’ that didn’t play instruments but sang melodies accompanied by choreographed dances. With bands including Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block being heavily promoted in Australia they achieved considerable chart success. This lead to the formation of Australia’s own ‘boy band’ Human Nature.
• American music videos were repeatedly broadcasted on Australian music programs and commercial Australian radio stations played American music on high rotation. Later in the decade, the internet enabled Australians to easily download and reproduce music from anywhere in the world.
• American hip-hop and R&B, which had begun its rise in the 1980s, retained its popularity in Australia throughout the 1990s. Popular American hip-hop and R&B acts included Mariah Carey, girl group TLC and Snoop Dog.
British Influence
• In 1996, following on the success of the boy bands, British all-girl group the Spice Girls stormed the Australian music scene. Their debut single Wannabe spent eleven weeks as the number one single in Australia. The Spice Girls were designed to appeal to a young, female audience.

• British alternative rock acts like the Verve, Oasis and Blur achieved success in Australia throughout the decade. In the late 1990s, Australians embraced British electronic acts like the Chemical Brothers, the Prodigy and Fatboy Slim.
Childrens Music
Mainstream Music
Alternative Music
• Alternative music and Pop had an increase in popularity in 1994

• Grunge became huge in the Australia during this decade after the death of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain in 1994. This was characterised by heavy drums, distorted guitars and “intense, angst-filled lyrics”. It inspired local acts like Silverchair and Tumbleweed whom went on to become some of Australia’s most successful musical exports.

To conclude,
during the decade of the 1990s many
developments occurred for music which
were influenced
by both Britain and the America.
Due to our
lean towards America after World War
2, majority
of our international influences came
from America
because of how connected to them
we were. But at
the same time Australia had its
own successes in
the music industry with boy
bands, punk, rock, r&b
acts and solo artists
stealing the show.
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