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Saturday, October 2, 2010

No Rockstar Icons From Australia Since Michael Hutchence?

This article might explain why. I got this from Facebook.

Bernard Zuel asks why Australia hasn't produced one strutting god since Michael Hutchence.


The English do them regularly, the Americans do them comfortably but where are the Australian rock stars? The classic rock star, that semi-mythical figure born of bedroom fantasies, fed by music-magazine intensity and crowned in tabloid frenzy.

Bernard Fanning from Powderfinger, you say? Nup. Big-selling but self-effacing and deliberately ordinary. Chris Cheney from the Living End? Workmanlike is not exactly what women like. Shannon Noll? Two words: soul patch. John Butler? You can't be a rock star sitting down. Jimmy Barnes? Too blokey, too matey, too old. Gareth Liddiard from the Drones? Too unknown, too inner-Melbourne.

Michael Hutchence, who knew a thing or two about what it meant to be a rock star, looked at his audience knowingly. ''They fantasise about much more than is really there, don't you think?'' he once said to Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go's.

Whatever truth lies in that comment is somewhat undercut by the fact that this was said to a beautiful, desired woman who was also, for a time, his lover. Carlisle recounts in a recent biography that Hutchence was not really complaining about the life.

He had, after all, chosen it and built a life around his need to be that creature of tantalising distance, desire and decadence.

As his band-mate Jon Farriss puts it: ''Michael became close to friends who allowed him to be a rock star because that was where he was the most comfortable.

''He couldn't pretend not to be [a rock star], otherwise it would be dysfunctional and it was dysfunctional enough already.''

A rock star is not just a lead singer or a big-selling artist or the prettiest one in the room; that is the practical side of music, the tangible, explicable side. And that's boring.

After five decades of mythologising, we know a rock star is the strutting peacock who doesn't ask for your attention but commands it.

The one with the streak of danger you know you'll never have in you but thrill to at a distance.

A rock star is the projection of blatant adolescent aspirations and only partially hidden adult expectations; and is recognised for it by a wider public who wouldn't buy an album or even know a song.

And, let's not pretend otherwise, a rock star reeks of sex: they have it, they're getting it, you're wanting it. Or at least to stand near it.

On those criteria, Chrissie Amphlett came close, Nick Cave would qualify if he hadn't scared so many people off before the hair started receding, Peter Garrett was never in the hunt and Tex Perkins and Tim Rogers didn't sell enough.

But Michael Hutchence, unquestionably, was a rock star. The most intriguing aspects of Hutchence today, as INXS prepare to release an album next month with a dozen guest vocalists, are why is he one of the very few rock stars created in Australia; and why has there not been another since his death in 1997?

Maybe there's the beginning of an answer in Powderfinger, whose guitarist Darren Middleton says the band belatedly began putting on a ''show'' when they realised audiences ''don't want to see themselves or the guy next door doing it, you want to be taken out of your own existence for an hour-and-a-half''.

Bernard Fanning confesses he avoided any classic rock-star behaviour on stage because

''I've had that great Australian fear that my mates are going to give me shit''.

There's the crux, says John O'Donnell, who signed Silverchair when they were monosyllabic ''long-hairs'', and who later ran the Australian arm of EMI.

''No one wants to be a rock star 'wanker', whereas that is celebrated in other countries,'' O'Donnell says.

''In their different ways, the US and UK promote brilliance and celebrate success but we have to be careful not to 'rise above our station' and turn into a wanker.''

The editor of Australian Rolling Stone, Dan Lander, says Australians prefer their rock performers to be the type ''you would have a beer with at the pub and it would seem like a normal thing to do''. ''We don't admire the prancer and the preener, so, therefore, our musicians don't become that,'' says Lander, who applies the theory to international acts who do well here. ''You look at the bands that we have embraced: Dave Grohl is not really a rock star, he's much more in the Aussie mould of what a musician is. We embrace the ones who fit that Aussie mould of the slightly humble performer than the more extravagant ones. Kings of Leon are another one, or Mumford & Sons.''

Robert Forster, these days seen more often as a music critic but in his prime an often flamboyant, smart and sexy frontman with the Go-Betweens, agrees with Lander that the small population could be a factor here.

''In Australia you get lift-off but it's precarious and can always come down, while rock stardom in the UK and America shoots you into outer space and that's when you start strutting about and you lose your mind, walking 10 miles off the Earth,'' Forster says.

But there's also a cultural barrier. ''In the UK, when they get a shot at the top, they live it large,'' Forster says. ''They suddenly just go, 'Yes!' They become lord of the manor and they love it, while in Australia it seems to be, 'I'm so thankful, I will keep to my roots.' There's something wedged in the Australian mind that I think doesn't allow someone to lift off out of that.''

Forster, not a great fan of Hutchence, nominates Jim Keays of '60s band the Masters Apprentices and Marc Hunter, the frontman of Dragon for two decades, as examples of a home-grown rock stars with danger, sex appeal and front.

''Marc Hunter is the full deal: the strutting rooster, the glint in the eye, reckless, camp and selling a lot of records,'' he says. ''Like Jim Keays, he had that bit of a smirk on the mouth, great clothes, great body, voice. A rock star.

''And the other thing about Marc Hunter is he enjoyed it. You could see that look on his face all the time and that is important.''

Do we have any who might have a chance of being an Australian rock star? Abbe May is a dark horse in some quarters, while O'Donnell says he thinks Silverchair's Daniel Johns is the only artist in the past 10 or 15 years who has ''that same sex and glamour appeal; that Hutchence thing, right down to the superstar girlfriends, wives in his life''.

Forster agrees: ''I wish he'd strut around a little bit more.''

The other name that crops up is Dan Sultan - early in his career but already turning heads, including those of INXS, with whom he's recorded Just Keep Walking for the band's upcoming album.

Farriss says, ''He might turn out to be the real thing,'' while Rolling Stone's Lander enthuses that "I haven't seen him perform but I have heard all the reports of girls standing there mesmerised''.

''It's early days but I'm very impressed with the way he's managed to be on the verge of moving from ABC 702 to Triple J and then taking over the world,'' he says.

The question is, though, does Sultan want it? Does he want it the way Michael Hutchence really wanted it? And will we let him?

My input: There have been a few good songs come out of Australia since Michael passed. One of my favorite recent songs came from a band from Sydney I think it is. The song is called I Want You by Savage Garden, it came out after Michael had already passed away, but it was a good song. I still play it a lot and I have it on my MP3 player. I don't keep crap on my MP3 player!!! I only keep songs that I really, truly LOVE!!! Not saying I am a fan of Savage Garden, but that is a good song! Got great rhythm! But have you seen the guys in the band? Not sure they have what it takes to be a memorable rockstar, and in fact, I think they were only a one-hit wonder.
 
Michael had a lot of sexual appeal, as well as talent for singing. Personally, I think Tim has more sexual appeal than Michael did, but that's just me! LOL! But I'm not saying the appeal wasn't there for Michael! He took a huge chunk of it and took full advantage of it too! It became what he really was. But yes, I think the article is right, he was the last of his kind. Today's artists just don't have it anymore. Maybe it's because most of today's youngsters want to look like rappers and gangsters! Not really like human beings. And yes I make that analogy, because rappers want to look inhuman wearing their pant-tops down to their ankles and flashing their bare butts at the world (were it not for those oversized shirts they wear). My little brother does that, and my oldest sis would too if I'd let her! But I won't! Someone who wears outfits like that has no sexual appeal! I couldn't see myself oogling a guy who wears his pants below his butt! Though I should mention, I wouldn't mind if Timmy did it! hehehe! But he's 50-something now, I don't think that's going to happen!
 
Another thing I noticed from this article, Michael had some ugly girlfriends!!! Besides Helena Christensen, who is a supermodel-type. But really!! Belinda Carlisle?? You've got to be kidding me! The woman has the eyes of an alligator! The shape of the head to match! She's a good singer, but not attractive like Helena was. Kylie Minogue was cute, like a 6-year old girl, but not really a beauty. And my ma once said that if I were to attract Michael, I'd have to look like a supermodel. LOL! Looking at some of his past girlfriends, I often joke that maybe I would have had a chance with Michael too. Once he got to know me. And the grand-daddy of all, Paula Yates. The woman was hiddeous!! If I were standing next to her, she would have made me look like Helena!! That's how ugly she was. I just find it kinda funny! You'd expect someone like Michael, who everybody refers to as a sex-god, to be surrounded by beautiful, sexually-attractive women! But in real life, it was the opposite. But if Michael was one of those types that goes for personality more than looks then more power to him and his kind!! I like that in anyone, man or woman. Not sure Paula had the personality though because she was crazy as shit!!! Anyone who names human children Fifi, Trixibelle, Peaches, or Tigerlily has got to be crazy!! Looking at those names, anyone besides me get the feeling that Paula more wanted cats than kids?? Those are kitty-names. I wonder if she had another child, if she would have named it Fluffy?
 
As for other frontmen for INXS, not sure. My little sis Katrina loves JD, so to her JD is a sex-god. I might see him that way if I were 20 years younger and never knew who Michael was. But JD is not an Australian. He's from Canada. Some people say Canadians are sexy. LOL! Sometimes I wish I had lived in Canada. I could have been one of them. Ma says there, everything is so expensive, people can barely afford to eat! Not sure I'd like that as I love to cook. Jon Stevens was Australian (from New Zealand), but he's ugly! I mean he's U-G-L-Y!! I don't like him, but it's not just because he was ugly. I also heard he's a jackass, who is full of himself. I don't like that kind. I never saw Jon Stevens perform, I don't need to. I just don't like him at all. I'd be telling him to get himself the fuck away from me, and stay out of my view of Tim!! hehe! He has no sexual appeal at all.
 
Katrina is not a big fan of INXS like I am. She likes JD and Jon Farriss but that's about it. She's heard the music, with Michael, and she liked it. But her meat is with Green Day. She likes Billie Armstrong. I told her he has too much make-up to suit my taste! But I do like a few of their songs. Green Day is to me, what INXS is to Katrina, just a minor affliction. But while Katrina finds JD and Jon sexy, I don't see anyone in Green Day that I find sexy. Sorry Katrina.
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