The weird, coronavirus-burdened ARIA Awards of 2020 actually turned out really well. Even the performances – despite most of them being prerecorded – absolutely fkn slapped.
That’s especially true for Sampa the Great‘s performance of “Final Form”, which was actually recorded over in Botswana where she’s with her family at the moment.
But before the song even started, Sampa laid down a strong, powerful message about the ARIAs, the music industry, and Aussie society in general.
“In a country that pretends to not see Black, to not see its origins and its past… not only did Black visionaries make you see, but made it known who created human history,” she said.
“And when we win awards, they toss us on the ad breaks, of course, but it’s that history lost, can’t remember what you forgot.
“Is it free, this industry, for people like me? Diversity, equity, in your ARIA Awards?
“To my people I say: ‘We are our own freedom.’”
After being nominated for six awards, Sampa the Great ultimately nabbed the ARIAs for best female artist, best hip-hop release and best independent release.
The other performances of the night were sick too, and still had that same live music energy despite not technically being live. It’s enough to make you forget about the studio versions altogether.
Tame Impala performed the full version of “On Track”, filmed with a retro camera to match the retro-ish sounds.
The album that the song’s on, The Slow Rush, netted the band album of the year (!!!), best group (also !!!), best rock album, engineer of the year and producer of the year.
That’s a lot of shiny pyramids to lug home.
Amy Shark did a beautiful rendition of “Everybody Rise” with the Australian Girls Choir and the Sydney Youth Orchestra.
Meanwhile, Sia, performed “Together” and managed to conceal her face the whole time.
But she’s not fooling the real stans. Those of use who knew Sia before she blew up with 1000 Forms of Fear still remember.
Then came Sam Smith, who reminded us what an incredible set of lungs he’s got by performing “Diamonds”.
One of the more colourful gigs of the night was Lime Cordiale, who played “Robbery”.
Archie Roach, who was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame this year, gave a moving performance of his debut single from 1990, “They Took the Children Away”.
As its name implies, the song deals with the Stolen Generations, a tragedy which Australia has yet to properly reckon with.
Uncle Archie also won best male artist and best adult contemporary album.
After a night of both high energy songs and moving performances, the 2020 ARIAs finished on perhaps the highest note possible.
As a tribute to Aussie singer and feminist icon Helen Reddy, who passed away earlier this year, a literal dream team of female Aussie musos came together to perform her anthem “I Am Woman.”
Watch Amy Shark, Christine Anu, Delta Goodrem, Emma Watkins, Jessica Mauboy, Kate Ceberano, Marcia Hines, Montaigne, The McClymonts and Tones And I below:
What a way to end the show.