The Music Writers Poll 2015: Artist Of The Year

23 December 2015 | 11:49 am | Bryget Chrisfield

"It's been yonks since an Australian artist topped this category; the last time local produce reigned supreme was actually a tie with an international."

courtney barnett

It's just gotta be noted that The Music's Artist Of The Year can be from anywhere around the world (indeed the honour was bestowed upon FKA twigs — born Tahliah Barnett in Gloucestershire, England — last year). But this year the gong goes to globe-trotting local lass and all 'round legend: Courtney Barnett. And it's a complete coincidence that they share a surname (weird, right?). Yay! It's been yonks since an Australian artist topped this category; the last time local produce reigned supreme was actually a tie with an international (2012: Tame Impala/Frank Ocean). We would like to recognise the unstoppable Tame Impala's return into our Top Ten (#3) and also welcome Marlon Williams (#6) who's from across the ditch, but we happily claim him and he's definitely one to watch (closely). Congratulations on #2, Kendrick Lamar, you've also had one helluva year and if there was an award for best album title, To Pimp A Butterfly would be a surefire contender.   

Now for some more stats: The only other artist that made our Artist Of The Year Top Ten this year as well as last was Taylor Swift (#10) - yes! Girls rock. And while we're on the gender issue, let's acknowledge two facts: for three consecutive years now, kickass female acts have won The Music's Artist Of The Year poll (Lorde was our 2013 fave) and, secondly, four female artists have made it into our Top Ten in this category for two years running (Beyoncé and Sia joined the party in 2014). But check out Barnett's form! She's actually been deemed worthy by our esteemed team of writers for three years on the trot (coming in at #4 in both 2013 and 2014).  

Barnett's had a ripper year in 2015 both here and internationally, from warming up Stateside stages for Blur to recording a Jack White-produced single (Shivers/Boxing Day Blues Revisited) at Third Man Studios in Nashville and picking up practically every award she's been nominated for in this country: four Carlton Dry Independent Music Awards (including one for her label Milk! Records, which she runs with her partner Jen Cloher), four ARIAs (including Best Cover Art for Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Think, which she drew on a piece of printed paper with a felt-tip pen), four The Age Music Victoria Awards and a J Award. Plus, recently Barnett scored a Grammy nom for Best New Artist! And there was also her appearance on CBS News Saturday Morning for which she was interviewed then performed three songs with her rad band. More important, though, is Barnett's commitment to her natural image, casual dress sense and the beauty she finds in the mundane as expressed through those insightful, often humorous, lyrics ("Give me all your money and I'll make some origami, honey" = genius). Barnett isn't afraid to celebrate the awkward and shine a light on traumatic personal experiences, either (see: Avant Gardener).  

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The Music couldn't be more proud to acknowledge the inimitable Courtney Barnett as our 2015 Artist Of The Year.

The Top Ten

  1. Courtney Barnett
  2. Kendrick Lamar
  3. Tame Impala
  4. Sufjan Stevens
  5. Grimes
  6. Marlon Williams
  7. Drake
  8. Father John Misty
  9. Florence + The Machine
  10. Taylor Swift

Previous winners:

FKA twigs (2014)

Lorde (2013)

Tame Impala/Frank Ocean (2012)

Gotye (2011)