Kid Laroi was the big winner of the Australian Performing Rights Association (Apras) awards on Tuesday night, taking home three awards – including best gong in the song of the year category for his collaboration with Justin Bieber, Stay.
The track, a loving call to a partner that was described by the New York Times as a “hyper-slick new wave/pop-punk hybridization,” bested others by Amyl and the Sniffers, Hiatus Kaiyote, Genesis Owusu, and 2021 winners Midnight Oil.
It became a mega-hit upon its release last July, spending 14 consecutive weeks atop the Aria charts and reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
It’s been a blistering year for rapper Kamilaroi, real name Charlton Howard. Raised in Waterloo in Sydney and now based in Los Angeles, the 18-year-old was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys and VMAs, performed on Saturday Night Live with Miley Cyrus and signed – then split – with music by Bieber and Ariana Grande. Director Scooter Braun. It’s now being managed overseas by Adam Leber, who also has Lil Nas X and Labrinth on his roster.
At home in Australia, he was named artist of the year at the National Indigenous Music Awards in November. That same month, he won two Arias for Best Artist and Best Pop Release.
“I’m delighted to be on my way back,” said The Kid Laroi, who is performing at Tasmania’s Dark Mofo arts festival in June, in the middle of a national tour. “I miss you all and will see you soon.”
Song of the Year is the only peer-voted category at Apras in a field that is otherwise primarily determined by airplay and royalty income.
At the awards, which took place at Melbourne Town Hall, The Kid Laroi also won Most Performed Hip-Hop/Rap Work for Without You, as well as Songwriter of the Year – an award given at the discretion of the Apra Board of Directors. They are the second Australian Aboriginal artist – and the second hip-hop group – to win the songwriting award, after AB Original in 2018.
Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year, which The Kid Laroi won in 2021, went to Genesis Owusu, whose euphoric mix of hip-hop, funk and soul proved a winning formula in the industry. The Ghanaian-Australian musician (real name Kofi Owusu-Ansah) won the lucrative global songwriting competition Vanda & Young last year – also organized by Apra – as well as four Arias awards, including album of the year for her independent release, Smiling With No Teeth.
The Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Service to Australian Music went to The Wiggles, for whom the past year has been particularly – and perhaps unexpectedly – fruitful. In January, they topped Triple J’s Hottest 100 with a cover of Tame Impala’s 2012 track Elephant, which included a mashup with their own Fruit Salad chorus.
They followed up the win with ReWiggled in March, an album where Australian bands – including The Chats, Spacey Jane and Polish Club – perform covers from The Wiggles’ discography. Currently in the midst of an 18+ year Australian tour with their original foursome, they recently caught the eye of hitmakers like Lil Nas X, who joked on the headliner with the group of children.
Tones and I won two awards for the second year in a row: Fly Away was the most played pop work, and his ubiquitous earworm Dance Monkey was the most played Australian work overseas.
John Courtidis received two awards for the dance track Head & Heart, which he co-wrote alongside English artists Joel Corry and MNEK; Budjerah, who was named Breakthrough Artist at the Arias, won in the Most Played R&B/Soul category for his Higher title, along with Matt Corby; Ziggy Alberts won in blues and roots for Letting Go; Amy Shark won in country for Love Songs Ain’t For Us; and Angus Young won in rock for Shot in the Dark, with his late brother, Malcolm Young.