Tones And I Dominates the ARIA Awards

Tones And I at the 2019 ARIA Awards in Sydney, Nov. 27.
Photo credit: Jordan Kirk

Tones And I at the 2019 ARIA Awards in Sydney, Nov. 27.

Tones And I has been dominating sales charts around the globe for several months now. On Wednesday night (Nov. 27) in Sydney, she dominated the 2019 ARIA Awards, taking home four trophies.

The "Dance Monkey" star entered the ceremony with a leading eight nominations, and converted half that tally as she scooped best female artist, best pop release, breakthrough artist and best independent release.

She won early, taking out best female artist and delivering one of the night's great speeches. Reading from a prepared note, Tones said: “Sometimes I don’t think that I’m the most relatable female artist. I’m not into make-up or dresses or typically girly things. But to me, those things don’t really define what it is to be a female artist in this industry any more.”

She continued, “It’s being brave and courageous and true to yourself. No-one could have ever prepared me for the whole world judging me and comparing you to other artists. But what’s most important is that you have to be a good person and care about others and carry yourself well. Thank you for Australia letting me know that I’m OK just the way I am.”

Tones' career has traveled at light speed since "Dance Monkey" dropped in May. The song has raced to one billion streams in those six months, the fastest to hit that milestone by an Australian artist. During that irrepressible run, "Dance Monkey" has topped charts in 19 territories including a record-setting 17-weeks -- and counting -- run atop the ARIA Singles Chart and a remarkable eight-week unbroken streak atop the Official U.K. Singles Chart.

On taking out best independent release, Tones paid tribute to the national Triple J radio network for the "impact they have on a lot of artists careers. Definitely mine."

The rising star admitted 2019 has far exceeded expectations. "My two goals this year was to get played on Triple J one time and play a 200-cap venue. I never thought I’d have the No. 1 song in the world."

Also on the night, Dean Lewis was a multiple winner taking out best male artist and the coveted album of the year prize for his chart-topping debut A Place We Knew.

"The most important thing we can do is treat people online and in our lives with kindness," he said during his acceptance speech for best album. "You never know what they’re going through. And how much your words can build them up or bring them down. No matter what you’re going through, there’s light at the end of the tunnel."

Perhaps the biggest surprise came right at the conclusion, when Guy Sebastian's "Choir" trumped "Dance Monkey" for the fan-voted song of the year. The Australian Idol alum collected his prize then returned to the stage to perform his comeback song, the final moment of the evening. “Choir” also won for best music video, a category many thought Tones And I up would snag.

U2 have blazed through the country on their Joshua Tree stadium tour. They played a part on the night, announcing the best group award via a live video link from Perth. “It’s very, very hot,” admitted Bono of their experience on the road in Australia. “We’re Irish people, we’re pink-skinned. We feel spoiled.”

The award went to The Teskey Brothers, for the Victorian group's soulful sophomore album Run Home Slow, which opened at No. 2 on the national chart. Run Home Slow also took out blues & roots album.

Other winners including RÜFÜS DU SOL (best dance release), Sampa The Great (best hip-hop release), Kaiit (best soul/R&B release), Morgan Evans (best country album) and Hilltop Hoods (best Australian live act).

Taylor Swift took out the best international artist award, and paid thanks in a recorded message with her cat Olivia in her arms. 

One of the night’s biggest prizes went to Human Nature, the foursome of Toby Allen, Phil Burton, and brothers Andrew and Michael Tierney, who were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The vocal group have worked the Las Vegas strip for the past 10 years, and on Wednesday they celebrated their 30th anniversary on home soil at the ARIAs. 

The group played a medley of hits from across the years, and each band member took turns sharing stories and thanking their family, friends and supporters. “It’s still four high school mates sharing this journey side by side,” founding bandmember Phil Burton said.

Performers at the 33rd annual gala included Brit Dua Lipa, U.S. singers Halsey and Khalid, veteran Aussie hip-hop outfit Hilltop Hoods and The Teskey Brothers. 

The gala was broadcast on the free-to-air Channel 9 network in Australia, and streamed globally on YouTube.

See all the winners below. 

Album Of The Year
Dean Lewis - A Place We Knew (Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Best Male Artist
Dean Lewis - A Place We Knew (Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Best Female Artist
Tones And I - Dance Monkey (Bad Batch Records/Sony Music)

Best Dance Release
RÜFÜS DU SOL - Solace (Rose Avenue Records/Sony Music Australia)

Best Group
The Teskey Brothers - Run Home Slow (Ivy League Records)

Breakthrough Artist presented by PPCA
Tones And I - Dance Monkey (Bad Batch Records/Sony Music)

Best Pop Release
Tones And I - Dance Monkey (Bad Batch Records/Sony Music) 

Best Hip Hop Release presented by Hennessy
Sampa The Great - Final Form (Ninja Tune/Inertia Music)

Best Soul/R&B Release
Kaiit - Miss Shiney (Alt. Music Group/Ditto Music)

Best Independent Release
Tones And I - The Kids Are Coming (Bad Batch Records/Sony Music)

Best Rock Album
Amyl and The Sniffers - Amyl and The Sniffers (Flightless Records)

Best Country Album
Morgan Evans - Things That We Drink To (Warner Music Nashville)

Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album
Northlane - Alien (UNFD) 

Best Blues & Roots Album
The Teskey Brothers - Run Home Slow (Ivy League Records) 

Best Children's Album
Dan Sultan - Nali & Friends (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia)

Best Comedy Release
Arj Barker - Organic (Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)


Best Video presented by YouTube Music
Guy Sebastian - Choir (Sony Music Australia)

Best Australian Live Act
Hilltop Hoods - The Great Expanse World Tour (Hilltop Hoods/Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Song Of The Year presented by YouTube Music
Guy Sebastian - Choir (Sony Music Australia)

Best International Artist
Taylor Swift - Lover (UNI/UMA)

Telstra ARIA Music Teacher of the Year
Antonio Chiappetta (St Andrews College, Marayong, NSW)


Best Cover Art
Emilie Pfitzner for Thelma Plum - Better In Blak  (Warner Music Australia Pty Ltd)

Engineer Of The Year
Sam Teskey for The Teskey Brothers - Run Home Slow (Ivy League Records)

Producer Of The Year
Dann Hume for Matt Corby - Rainbow Valley (Matt Corby/Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)


Best Classical Album
Paul Kelly, James Ledger - Thirteen Ways To Look At Birds (Decca Australia/Universal Music Australia)

Best Jazz Album
Kate Ceberano and Paul Grabowsky - TRYST  (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia)

Best Original Soundtrack or Musical Theatre Cast Album
Various Artists - The Recording Studio (Music From The TV Series) (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia)

Best World Music Album
Melbourne Ska Orchestra - One Year Of Ska (ABC Music/Universal Music Australia)