Ten sound recordings with cultural, historical and aesthetic significance have been added to ‘Sounds of Australia’ for 2022.
Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech made the list this year, alongside the Neighbours theme tune from 1987 and an advertising jingle that taught Australians how decimal currency worked in 1966.
Every year since 2007, the Australian public has been nominating ten new sounds that “inform or reflect life in Australia” to be added to Sounds of Australia, with final selections determined by a panel of industry experts. Each sound has to meet the criteria of being a significant sound recording, more than ten years old and, of course, being Australian.
The decimal currency jingle
Australia adopted decimal currency in 1966 following a major public awareness campaign that included television and radio advertisements. The characters of Dollar Bill and Mr Pound successfully explained decimal currency to Australians, with the character of Dollar Bill even inspiring a fan club.
The campaign’s catchy jingle Out with the Old and in with the New was sung to the tune of the Australian folk song Click Go the Shears, adding another layer of historical and cultural significance to the sound.
It joins a number of iconic advertising jingles on the now 170-strong list. There’s the Aeroplane Jelly song, which was broadcast up to 100 times a day on Sydney radio in the 1940s, the Louie the Fly jingle, an instantly recognisable part of Mortein TV and radio advertisements for 55 years, Happy Little Vegemites from the late 1950s, and It’s Time, the campaign song for Gough Whitlam’s 1972 election campaign for the Australian Labor Party.
A life beyond the product
Charmingly straightforward, these ads show us how far marketing has come in the age of disruption and the attention economy. Their enduring quality has earned them a spot among a huge array of big-hitters, from the song Treaty by Yothu Yindi to You’re the Voice by John Farnham.
NFSA’s curator Thorsten Kaeding thinks the ads that make the ‘Sounds of Australia’ list share a few things in common.
“Firstly, they are all incredibly catchy. They engage the listener and stay with them. They get across their message in a way that immediately catches your attention and gets the message across,” he tells Marketing.
“More importantly though, they all have a life in our culture that goes beyond the product they were developed for. Indeed, they have the power to reflect our culture more broadly and tap into our belief or ideal of who we are or would like to be.”
If your work of sonic branding does its job well enough, it might just embed itself in Aussie culture and have people singing over 50 years later.
“Interestingly, we have had a lot of people telling us that they still use the [decimal currency] jingle, just in reverse, using it to work out how many Pounds Shillings and Pence to Dollars and Cents,” says Kaeding.