Women in Music 2016

Bryan Adams, Ellie Goulding and Chris Isaak Selected to Headline AFL Grand Final Concert, Criticism Ensues

Bryan Adams, Ellie Goulding and Chris Isaak will provide the pre-game entertainment for the Oct. 3 AFL Grand Final, Australia’s showpiece annual sporting event. And not everyone is thrilled with the league's line-up of choice.

Trade body Music Victoria is leading a chorus of disapproval for the Australian Football League’s decision to appoint a Canadian (Adams), a Brit (Goulding) and an American (Isaak) to take the spotlight and deny a local act the chance to shine on the immense stage that is the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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In post on its Facebook page, Music Victoria said it was “disappointing to see the absence of Australian acts on the entertainment line-up announced for the AFL Grand Final 2015,” and suggested a shortlist of homegrown artists (Courtney Barnett, Cold Chisel, The Smith Street Band, Sia and Grinspoon) it felt was worthy for the big stage. 

“A national event in a world leading music city such as Melbourne should include at least one upcoming or established Australian artist,” the statement continues. 

Triple J radio morning host Zan Rowe echoed the sentiment. "No local bands for the #AFLGF is inexcusable and just plain odd. We're in a golden age of Australian music."

A spokesman for the AFL deflects the criticism. “We’ve had many Australian artists perform in previous years, and we’ll have Australian artists perform in years to come.” The rep also tells Billboard an Australian artist will sing the national anthem, details on which will be announced in coming days.

In recent years, the likes of Australian acts Hunters & Collectors, The Temper Trap, Birds of Tokyo and Powderfinger and international artists Lionel Richie, Ed Sheeran, Tom Jones and Meat Loaf (with an infamous, off-tone set) have taken center stage for Grand Final day.

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In its statement announcing its decision, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said the booked artists had been purposely selected to entertain football fans of all ages. “The AFL Grand Final is the pinnacle for fans and players alike and as such the caliber of the international acts performing equates to the stature of the event,” he said.

Mushroom Group chairman Michael Gudinski, producer of the Grand Final entertainment, commented in the statement: “Ellie Goulding is one of the hottest new female artists in the world. Following her win for Best British Female at last year’s BRIT Awards, she has had one of the biggest hit songs of the year – the number one track ‘Love Me Like You Do’. We are thrilled that she can join us at Australia’s biggest sporting event." Gudinski's team declined to comment further.

A Change.org campaign has since been set up with the mantra: “Let’s make it homegrown again. Let’s promote to the world Australia’s amazing new musical talent on our biggest sporting stage.”