Chart-topping "Australian Idol" alumni Jessica Mauboy, New Zealand-born rising star Ladyhawke and psychedelic electro-pop outfit Empire of the Sun shine bright on the list of contenders for this year's ARIA Awards, organizers revealed today (Oct. 8).

Mauboy leads the way ahead of the Nov. 26 event with seven nominations. The Sony Music-signed R&B singer from Darwin has two nominations in the highest-selling Australian single category for "Running Back" and "Burn", and is in the running for best pop release, best female artist, breakthrough artist - album, breakthrough artist - single and highest-selling Australian album for "Been Waiting," which has certified double platinum Down Under (140,000 units).

Empire of the Sun has six nominations, including a nod for best group and in the prestigious album of the year category for "Walking On A Dream" (EMI). The Luke Steele-fronted duo is also up for is up for best pop release, single of the year and highest selling Australian single, while their debut album is in the running for highest-selling Australian album.

Pip Brown, the artist better known as Ladyhawke, has chances in five categories. On the night, she will be up for best female artist, best pop release, single of the year for the catchy "My Delirium" (Modular/Universal) and the breakthrough artist - album and single categories.

There are four nominations apiece for veteran rockers AC/DC, new Melbourne alternative rock act the Temper Trap and hip-hoppers the Hilltop Hoods. Triple nominees on the night are hokum blues singer/songwriter C.W. Stoneking, rock group Eskimo Joe, and singers Sarah Blasko, Lisa Mitchell, Kate Miller-Heidke and Paul Dempsey.

The 2009 ceremony presents an opportunity for Dempsey to remove a growing monkey from his back. The Melbourne-based artist has 13 previous career nominations thus far with his group Something For Kate, today's development bringing the total to 16. However, Dempsey has never collected an ARIA Award to date.

"It's always surreal to be nominated, and it'll be a fun night. It always is," Dempsey tells Billboard.biz. "I really hope to get that monkey off my back," he quips. "But with my past experience with the ARIAs, I'd be lying if I said I was getting my hopes up."

On "Everything Is True" (EMI), his first solo album, Dempsey has garnered nominations for best male artist, best adult contemporary album and producer of the year (in tandem with Wayne Connolly).

Robbie Williams is among the first confirmed performers for the 2009 ARIA Awards, which returns this year to original TV broadcast partner Channel 9. The free-to-air network will screen the gala from 8.30pm on the night, while pay-TV channel MTV will air an encore performance on Nov. 27.

In an innovation for this year's ceremony, the show at Sydney's Acer Arena will be staged for the first time "in the round." Organizer ARIA has considerably tightened the budget for its main awards ceremonies this year, and has ditched the standalone Fine Arts Awards ceremony. On this occasion, the Fine Arts categories will be handed out on the night of the flagship ARIA Awards, prior to the 8.30pm live-to-air broadcast.