The world of popular music is drenched in hyperbole, almost by default. Every new record is ‘seminal’, upcoming singles are ‘groundbreaking’, artists are ‘the most buzzed about’, ‘singular acts’ or even ‘once in a generation.’  This is a thing I know to be true, because in addition to being someone that loves a lot of music, I’ve been writing label press releases stacked high with superlatives for a very long time. 

Perhaps my favourite line when it comes to breathlessly talking about more established acts in particular is that they have ‘soundtracked the entire lives’ of their fans. Now, not to be pedantic, but this is patently untrue. Doubly so if you were born in Australia (or, frankly, much of the world) from the late ‘80s onwards. Your parents may have played you The Beatles, The Saints or The Rolling Stones when you were a baby, but as soon as you learned to point and ask for what you wanted, there was only one band that mattered. 

This is a thing I know to be true, because according to my mother, it happened very quickly to me. And now that I’m a parent, it’s happening to me again. 

Despite having a musically inclined toddler, I still have a distinct aversion to a lot of children’s programming. I find much of it to be saccharine and overcooked. The tweeness of it all, those high-pitched voices, it drives me bonkers. The Wiggles have never felt like this for me, and I’ve been listening to their albums in one way or another for over three decades. Perhaps it’s familiarity, some sort of civic pride, the kind we have when puffing up our chest and talking to foreigners about Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, The Kid Laroi or The Matildas. 

More likely it’s because The Wiggles started out as a pub band with the best name ever (The Cockroaches, for those playing at home), one that made a point of writing actual songs. Some of their greatest, most enduring numbers started out as rock and roll bangers, reworked for children without losing any of their live energy. I’m not entirely sure where in my grey matter this enduring love of The Wiggles resides. There is no algorithm sophisticated enough to take in both my childhood and my current listening habits, but if there was, many of the songs on Yummy Yummy would easily be in my Top 10.      

Consider ‘D.O.R.O.T.H.Y’. It blasts out of the gate like a great indie pop song. Proper drums, acoustic guitars, some rockin’ backing vocals. The song is barely two minutes long, but they manage to cram a wild clavichord in there, too. Take the lyrics off this and it could be early Architecture in Helsinki. Or try ‘The Monkey Dance’’. 1960s rock par excellence. Four part harmonies. Lots of psychedelic animal sounds. No wonder parents dig it. 

Depending on who you ask, The Wiggles are either Australia’s most successful children’s entertainment export outside of Bluey, or Australia’s most successful music export, period. Having broken America in 2000, they now perform to around a million people a year across the world. Despite lineup changes that have left only Anthony Field performing as an original member, their popularity has only increased over time. The Wiggles hold the record for the most ARIA Award wins in any one category and are also Hall of Famers. You can watch them on TV in over 190 countries. Their average streaming numbers would make most major pop stars cry. 

Mum likes to remind me that she took me to a Wiggles concert when I was five, which would have been a year or two after they started. She said it cost her $5 and it was in a community hall. These days, it might be slightly more onerous to get my daughter in front of a Wiggles live show. It’s a full touring production and tickets go at Swift-like speed. But the charm of The Wiggles is that you can experience them anywhere and with anyone. My wife, who has never heard of them before moving to Australia, loves ‘Hot Potato.’ Our friend who designed this essay played a rambunctious rendition of ‘Apples and Bananas’ with his band for an official covers record. The Wiggles are part of our social fabric and the barrier to entry is low. 

As a new parent, what brings me back to The Wiggles, apart from their clear musical proficiency over their contemporaries, is the comfort. The band obviously looks different now to the early 1990s, but the attitude and the enthusiasm remains. This is repaid by the diehard relationship children have with their music. It’s a surefire way to keep our kid entertained in the car. A lauded radio presenter once told me that her sex life was soundtracked by The Wiggles, as it was the only time she and her husband could get their kids to leave them in peace for half an hour. Sure, you might be able to do this with Peppa Pig. But would you really want to?

I grew up with Carole King, Earth Wind & Fire, Sheryl Crow and Crowded House. These are artists I remember from my youth that my parents loved. But only one act has soundtracked my entire life, and will likely continue to do so for some time, given I’m the oldest of four children and the only one yet to have kids. By the time you read this, Yummy Yummy will be nearly thirty years old. I might be biased, but I reckon it rocks as hard as the day it was released.   

Essay by Jonno Seidler

Jonno Seidler is the co-founder of Impressed and a music journalist. Whenever he wears purple t-shirts, which he does often, his friends tend to yell ‘Wake up Jeff!’ at him. 



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