Tones And I, Sia, Lady Gaga Among Winners at 2020 APRA Music Awards

Tones And I
Courtesy of Elektra Records

Tones And I

With two trophies, including the coveted song of the year, Tones And I was the big winner at the APRA Music Awards on Monday (May 25).

Tones (real name Toni Watson) has now won just about every major accolade going since her breakthrough hit “Dance Monkey” evolved into a monster.

The single recently passed seven billion streams across all platforms, including more than one billion on YouTube and 1.4 billion on Spotify, a record for a female artist.

On Monday, Tones bagged the peer-voted APRA song of the year, one of the most precious industry awards in Australasia, to go with the 2020 breakthrough songwriter of the year, an honor that is determined by the PRO’s board of writer and publisher directors.

“As an artist, we don’t get recognized, a lot of the time as songwriters,” she said after collecting the breakthrough trophy, “but as an artist that does write my music, I want to say thank you.”

“Dance Monkey” blasted to the top of the charts in at least 30 territories, including a record-setting 24-week stand atop the ARIA Singles Chart to go with four ARIA Awards. The song also ruled the Official U.K. Singles Chart for 11 weeks, a high mark for a solo female artist.

Tones’ journey from busking on the streets of Byron Bay to the hottest artist on the planet is retold in a video released for YouTube’s Artist on the Rise program.

Meanwhile, Hilltop Hoods, the veteran hip-hop trio of Barry Francis (DJ Debris), Matthew Lambert (Suffa) and Daniel Smith (Pressure), took out songwriter of the year. And for the second year straight, they won for most performed urban work, on this occasion for "Leave Me Lonely," taken from their ARIA Albums Chart leader from 2019, The Great Expanse.

They share the circular trophy with co-writer Leigh Ryan (Plutonic Lab).

Seventeen-year-old singing sensation Kian Brownfield and co-writer Jerome Farah also won a brace of APRAs, with KIAN's “Waiting” recognized for most performed Australian work and most performed alternative work.

For the third consecutive year, Sia Furler's“Cheap Thrills” won for most performed Australian work overseas. Co-writer Greg Kurstin shared in the award. The APRAs are traditionally a happy hunting ground for Sia, who won songwriter of the year each year from 2013-15, marking the first time an artist had done the three-peat.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” duet from A Star Is Born was previously announced as the most performed international work, while Morgan Evans, Dean Lewis, Hayden James and Troy Cassar-Daley were among the winners.

The APRAs were originally slated to take place April 28 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, but the COVID-19 emergency undermined those plans. Instead, an hour-long “virtual” event took its place from 7:00pm AEST (5am ET), emceed by rapper Briggs and featuring one-off performances curated by musical director Kate Miller-Heidke.

On the night, the five song of the year nominations were reimagined by John Butler and Mama Kin; Kira Puru and Mo’Ju; Nikka Costa and Justin Stanley; The Dawn of MAY and William Crighton.

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