Perhaps you envision koalas, kangaroos, or venomous snakes. Your mind might venture to the effects of climate change, the outback, and the devastating bush fires. Or instead, maybe you consider Aussie slang terms, their unique accent, or even Vegemite, that curious Australian food spread made from leftover brewer's yeast.
However, the land down under is also famous for its talent. The island continent has famously exported a variety of entertainers who have become successful in America. For example, some of the biggest stars on the U.S. Billboard charts are Aussies. So let's take a look at Australian singers and bands who made it big in the U.S.
Australian Singers and Bands
In 1973, Australian brothers Angus and Malcolm Young founded this legendary Australian hard rock band known for its loud, pounding, simple sound and sexual innuendos. Rolling Stone saluted AC/DC as one of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time."
AC/DC got its name when the brothers saw those initials on a sewing machine and believed the electricity-related abbreviation aptly captured their power-charged musical performances. The band has since landed over two dozen singles on the mainstream rock charts, in addition to three tunes on the mainstream pop chart, the U.S. Billboard Hot 100:
- "You Shook Me All Night Long" (1980)
- "Back in Black" (1981)
- "Moneytalks" (1990)
Over their four decades of making music, the band has survived a variety of real-life challenges, including:
- bandmates' drug and legal problems
- the firing, illness, retirement, and death of AC/DC members and
- the accidental death of several fans at a concert.
Born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, country music superstar Keith Urban is a citizen of both countries and the United States. Urban has been an extremely productive musician. From 1999-2019, he released more than four dozen singles that reached the Top 40 of the U.S. country Billboard chart. Further, more than 20 of his hits during that period crossed over to the mainstream pop chart or the adult contemporary chart. Examples of these ditties include:
- "Somebody Like You" (2002)
- "You'll Think of Me" (2004)
- "Days Go By" (2004)
- "Making Memories of Us" (2005)
- "You Look Good in My Shirt" (2008)
- "Long Hot Summer" (2011)
- "Somewhere in My Car" (2014)
- "Raise 'Em Up" (featuring Eric Church) (2015)
- "Blue Ain't Your Color" (2016)
Urban gained notoriety in 2002 when he posed nude for Playgirl, later regretted a decision. In 2006, he married actress Nicole Kidman, also an Aussie. In addition, the Grammy Award-winning singer served as a judge for American Idol and was honoured by being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
The first-ever Aussie pop group to achieve success in their home country and the U.K. and the U.S., The Seekers, have sold more than 50 million records worldwide.
Hard rock band AC/DC have knocked The Wiggles off the top of Australia's entertainment rich list in spectacular style - thanks to earnings of $105 million in the last financial year.
On their new single Physical, Australia (the band) an infectious, hook-filled pop belter that'll leave you no choice but to get a little.
Australia has produced a wide variety of rock and popular music, from the internationally successful groups AC/DC, INXS, Nick Cave, Savage Garden, the Seekers, or pop divas Delta Goodrem, Kylie Minogue to the popular local content of John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes or Paul Kelly.
Toni Watson, known professionally as Tones and I, is an Australian singer, songwriter, and record producer. Her breakout single, "Dance Monkey", was released in May 2019 and reached number one in over 30 countries. "Dance Monkey" was accredited 16× platinum by ARIA for shipments of over 1,120,000 units by mid-2021.
FAQs About The Popular Bands And Singer In Australia
What would the 1970s have been without this trio of Australian brothers singing disco songs at the top end of their vocal register, sometimes in a quavery whisper? One of the best-selling musical artists, The Bees Gees, comprised Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. All were born in England but emigrated to Australia as children. They formed the Bee Gees in 1958, wrote all of their hits, and are known for their three-part tight harmonies.
- Recording primarily rock and disco songs, the band achieved an impressive 15 Top
- "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" (1971)
- "Jive Talkin'" (1975)
- "You Should Be Dancing" (1976)
- "How Deep Is Your Love" (1977)
- "Stayin' Alive" (1977)
- "Night Fever" (1978)
- "Too Much Heaven" (1978)
- "Tragedy" (1979)
- "Love You Inside Out" (1979)
The brothers Gibb have also been prolific songwriters for other singers. At least 2,500 artists have recorded their songs. The phenomenal success of this Australian group has been celebrated in various ways. The Bee Gees were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, awarded both a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Grammy Legend Award, and they were honoured with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
Men at Work
Because of their hit, "Down Under," Men at Work may be among the first musicians whom you associate with Australia. This Australian group was formed in 1979 as a pop-rock band with a new wave flair. Their most successful songs included contributions to the Top 10 list of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart:
- "Who Can It Be Now?" (1981)
- "Down Under" (1981)
- "Overkill" (1983)
- "It's a Mistake" (1983)
Their songs appealed to international audiences and found popularity on U.S. adult contemporary and mainstream rock charts. The band has periodically revived playing over the years.
For King & Country
American Songwriter applauded For King & Country as "Australia's answer to Coldplay", while Billboard described the Grammy Award-winning group as "on a passionate pursuit of joy." After emigrating to Nashville, the Australian band burst on the American music scene and built a loyal following in the contemporary Christian music space. They released a string of Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot Christian chart, including:
- "Busted Heart (Hold On to Me)" (2011)
- "The Proof of Your Love" (2012)
- "Fix My Eyes" (2014)
- "Shoulders" (2014)
- "It's Not Over Yet (The Encore)" (2016)
- "Priceless" (2016)
- "Glorious" (2016)
- "Little Drummer Boy" (2017)
- "Joy" (2018)
- "God Only Knows" (2019)
- "Burn the Ships" (2019)
Brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone comprise this Christian pop duo. The Australian band temporarily adopted two unremarkable names—"Austoville" and "Joel & Luke"—before settling on "For King & Country." What inspired their group's name was the battle cry of English soldiers who were willing to lay down their lives for their king and country.
Australian-born Natalie Imbruglia is talented in several realms. Initially, she modelled for L'Oreal and Gap and appeared as an actress in " Neighbours " Australian soap opera." She also starred in the 2003 spy action comedy film Johnny English and several subsequent movies.
In 1997, Imbruglia launched her singing career with the Ednaswap number, "Torn," a pop ditty about a bad breakup. "Torn" was Imbruglia's first song and highest-charting single. It became a worldwide hit and was nominated for a Grammy. Unfortunately, due to changes in how the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 was tabulated, "Torn" reached only #42 on the chart. Imbruglia enjoyed only moderate follow-up success with her 2002 song, "Wrong Impression," which peaked at #64. Imbruglia has additionally been a philanthropist for the cause of obstetric fistula. She became a British citizen in 2013.
If you grew up in the 1980s as I did, then you probably fell in love and nursed your broken heart listening to Air Supply songs. However, half of this powerhouse soft rock duo—lead vocalist Russell Hitchcock—is from the land down under.
The group was formed in 1975, and in the first half of the 1980s, they had a string of sentimental love songs that hit the Top 40 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. An impressive list of eight Air Supply songs reached the mainstream Top 10 in the early 1980s. These included:
- "Lost in Love" (1980)
- "All Out of Love" (1980)
- "Every Woman in the World" (1980)
- "The One That I Love" (1981)
- "Here I Am" (1981)
- "Sweet Dreams" (1982)
- "Even the Nights Are Better" (1982)
- "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" (1983)
Australian Female Singers
Courtney's unique blend of singer-songwriter garage-pop has brought her international acclaim, earned her a handful of Grammy nominations, and netted her a whole bunch of ARIA Music Awards, including an award for Best Female Artist of 2015.
Missy Higgins' sound is a unique blend of all her musical influences, including Nirvana, Sarah McLachlan and even Sigur Rós. The combination of this unique sound and her emotional lyrics has led her to the top of Australian charts in the early 00s and nine ARIA Music awards. But, unfortunately, this Melbourne native doesn't have any new albums coming out anytime soon. Still, she did release a new song in 2019 on Mother's Day, which talks about the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood.
Ever since she made her debut in 2001, Delta Goodrem has been killing it! She produced multiple best-selling albums and makes frequent appearances #1 spot of the top 40. On top of that, she's won multiple ARIA Music awards, MTV awards and World Music Awards. In addition to her successful music career, the Sydney-based pop star has also been all over Australian T.V. She's been on Neighbours as Nina Tucker, and she's even portrayed fellow Aussie singer Olivia Newton-John in a miniseries based on her life. Also, for the last couple of years, she's been a judge on The Voice Australia.
Iconic Bands In Australia
Crowded House was formed in Melbourne in 1985 with members Neil Finn, Paul Hester, Nick Seymour and Tim Finn (Mark Hart and Matt Sherrod joined later). They had numerous hits between 1985 and 1996, including Don't Dream It's Over, Something So Strong, Fall At Your Feet and Weather With You. Due to their popularity in Melbourne, the Melbourne Museum for Performing Arts now displays a Crowded House exhibition containing assorted collectibles and special band items.
Midnight Oil brought political and social injustices into the cultural mainstream through its music and lyrics. The band was formed in 1972 with members Andrew "Bear" James, Jim Moginie, singer Peter Garrett and Martin Rotsey. With their manic and urgent sound, the band became popular for their uniqueness and stagecraft.
Between 1976 and 2002, Midnight Oil played shows 200 times a year around the pubs, clubs and theatres of Australia while also touring in the U.S. Since breaking up, the band have remained one of Australia's most beloved cultural institutions. Amongst many hits, both Power And The Passion and Beds Are Burning were listed by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) in the Top 30 Best Australian Songs of All Time; the band also won 11 ARIA Awards.
Little River Band
Formed in 1975, the Little River Band remains one of Australia's most special musical groups. Having been unable to gain traction for their music in the United Kingdom, the rock band looked instead to the American market and found remarkable success. Their songs often charted higher on Billboard's mainstream pop and adult contemporary charts in the United States than in their home country of Australia. Over a handful of years, Little River Band landed six Top 10 hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100:
- "Reminiscing" (1978), their highest charting single at #3
- "Lady" (1979)
- "Lonesome Loser" (1979)
- "Cool Change" (1979)
- "The Night Owls" (1981)
- "Take It Easy On Me" (1982)
The band has undergone more than 35 changes to its membership over the years, and none of the current members includes the original members from the 1970s. The Little River Band endures, however.
The Divinyls started in 1980 in Sydney and mainly entailed vocalist Chrissy Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee, as the band went through numerous changes before its conclusion in 1996. With her passion and determination for singing and performing, Chrissy Amphlett was one of the main attractions of the Divinyls.
The band has released five albums, four of which received places in the top 10 Australian charts, while one reached 15 in the United States. Their biggest single, I Touch Myself, was placed number 1 in Australia and 4 in the U.S. The band, in 2006, was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame.
Jet is one of the more recognisable Australian rock bands, having sold a whopping 6.5 million album copies worldwide and in Australia. Two of their more popular singles, Are You Gonna Be My Girl and Rollover D.J., were voted number 1 and 19 on the 2003 Triple J Hottest 100. Jet has received various nominations and awards in Australia and America, including seven categories at the 2004 ARIA Music Awards such as Best Rock Album, Best Group and Single Of The Year.
In the 1970s, Skyhooks became the band everyone needed; their uniqueness and unconventional approach to stagecraft showed an edge that pushed rock to new standards in Australia. Although their music was rock, which spoke about the world around them, they advertised their band in ways that shocked everyone, with glittery costumes and big heels, which hardly reflected their lyrics. Due to their immense popularity, their first album stayed at number one for 16 weeks. Skyhooks subsequently created albums that would leave them with seven platinum records and two million dollars worth of albums.
While she was born and raised in Adelaide, Sia's been active in multiple music scenes worldwide. She's done vocals for bands like Zero 7 in the U.K. and collaborated with the biggest pop stars in the U.S. On top of all of that, she's broken out as a solo artist with songs like 'Chandelier' and 'Cheap Thrills'. This led her to ARIA Music awards, MTV awards and Grammy nominations.
What else can we say about Tina Arena that hasn't already been said? She's one of Australia's greatest singers, a member of the ARIA Hall of Fame, and one of the few musicians that have been active in the music industry for more than 40 years. From her humble beginnings as the adorable Tiny Tina to starring in Opera Australia's production of Evita, the Melbourne-based singer has done it all. And just last year, another accolade was added to her already long list, with Support Act awarding her the Excellence in Community Award last May.
Savage Garden started when Daniel Jones put an ad in the paper looking for a lead vocalist for Red Edge. The musician who responded, Darren Hayes, formed a duo with Jones and Savage Garden was born. Their first single in 1996 just reached number two. However, their next hits, To the Moon and Back and Truly Madly Deeply, reached number one. Their self-titled album held a record for the third-longest stay for any Australian-made album in the top 10. They sold 11 million albums while also winning ten ARIA Awards.
We know it, you know it, and the whole world knows it too – Australia makes great music! And a lot of that is owed to our famous female singers. So we've rounded up a list of 10 of the best Australian female singers that have graced the country and the world with their amazing music.