Vanessa Amorosi is down to perform Absolutely Everybody at Brisbane 2032

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Is there a day that goes by when you don’t hear Vanessa Amorosi’s 1999 smash Absolutely Everybody at your local Kmart, or at your dentist’s waiting room, or just randomly running through your head? No, there isn’t. That song is still absolutely everywhere, absolutely everyday. We just had to talk to Vanessa Amorosi, now 42 and living in Los Angeles, about it.

Vanessa Amorosi answers the questions absolutely everybody wants to know.

Does Absolutely Everybody still pay your rent?
I mean, that’s just one of those songs I love to celebrate with everybody. I feel like we all go back to childhood with it. Whether it still pays the bills… Look, I’m lucky enough to have survived 25 years of making records since that, so I’m pretty happy.

It was on the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under, getting lip-synced for your life.
Such a moment for me. I love that show.

It must feel nice seeing RuPaul bounce along to your track.
It was, it really was.

It’s been almost 25 years since that song was released and it’s still ever present here. What are your feelings on it?
I appreciate all my songs that have worked. It’s blood, sweat and tears, and it’s always hit-and-miss. So when you have songs that resonate and people still want to hear them – even with, like, Shine and This Is Who I Am, and stuff like that – I’m super appreciative that people care.

I went through a YouTube wormhole watching so many performances of Absolutely Everybody. I didn’t know you did it on Top of the Pops. I know they famously liked their performances lip-synced; did you have to fight to do it live?
Yeah, that was never a scenario for me. I was very headstrong as a kid. [Singing] was the one thing I felt confident doing.

What do you remember of that experience?
Well, I had a lot of success through Europe. I toured with Joe Cocker. I was constantly on the road. Instagram is pretty amazing for that kind of stuff now because you can show everybody what you’re doing, and it’s not like you just disappear.

Looking over your discography, it does seem like you stepped out of the limelight between 2009 and 2019. What were you doing?
Touring Europe. I think for most musicians, it’s the bug, you’re forever travelling. And when you stay home for a certain amount of time, you get that bug again. The great thing is there are studios all over the world so you get to make records with a whole bunch of different people that you wouldn’t normally cross paths with.

What’s the wildest collaboration you’ve done?
I did a collaboration with Hoobastank.

They were amazing guys. I did a collaboration with Mary J. Blige, and she is the freaking bomb.

Vanessa Amorosi performs at Grapevine festival this month, with her new album Memphis Love due in November.Credit: Perou

Amazing. What year was that?
Ha, you’re asking the wrong person. There’s been plenty of collaborations. Right now, I’m releasing a record produced with Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics.

Were there any opportunities over the 25-odd years of your career that you regret not taking?
Not really. I mean, when I was about to have my son, I got offered to go on the road with the Rolling Stones and their first show was in Brazil. But I was having my son. So there you go, that was an opportunity.

Damn. I guess babies take priority.
Yes, I had a very wonderful little boy who is the greatest thing ever. He’s seven now. He’s not into music at all. He’s got the talent to do it, but he ain’t doing it. I’ve just got to let that be. He’s got it, but who knows?

Vanessa Amorosi with Olivia Newton-John and Tina Arena before the Sydney 2000 Olympics.Credit: Darrin Braybrook/ALLSPORT

That whole Y2K-era you emerged from is fascinating. Did you ever have relationships with Delta Goodrem, the Veronicas, Bardot?
I mean, we’re all in the same industry and it was very, very small. So yeah, but I mean, I’ve been living in the States for a while now. I can’t really sit here and go, “Okay, who started when I started?” It’s been a bit of a whirlwind.

Are you still in touch with [ex-manager and ex-Australian Idol judge] Mark Holden?
Yeah, of course.

I don’t know why but I read his autobiography once. He seems like a true hustler, the kind of spaces he managed to get himself into. I was shocked when I read that he discovered Milla Jovovich, the singer.
Mark’s amazing. I mean, I spoke to him last week.

What’s he doing? Is he still in music?
Um, no. Actually, you know what, that’s a good question. I don’t think my conversation with him last week was about music. It’s always random. I love it.

I was surprised to learn that you’ve never won an ARIA Award.
No, never won one.

One of the great vocalists this country has produced, and they haven’t given you a trophy?
Look, I’m just blessed that people still connect with my music, that I’m still able to go on the road, that I’m still able to rewind the clock to the 2000s to some of those hits and have songs that resonate with everybody. I can’t complain, really.

One of the moments everyone remembers is the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony in 2000. I was reading an article from back then that said, after he saw your performance, Andrea Bocelli called to do a duet. Did that happen?
No, I’m so bummed. It was the talk for quite some time and our teams went back and forth for a bit too. I don’t know what happened with that.

The YouTube comments on your Olympics performance are great. “She held the final note for more than 20 seconds in one breath, how!” What do you remember about that performance?
That’s one of the most special memories for me out of my whole career. There was something about it, where I just felt everything made sense. My journey up until that point – I know I’d only just started but, you know, I had been singing and working as a singer from 12 and I felt like I’d been doing it for a really long time – and then when that happened and I got that moment to sing that song and take those chances – because those are some big risks to take on TV, with the key changes in the notes and just stepping up again into another key change – I look back at that and I’m really proud of that moment. For me, it’s the ultimate.

Were you nervous?
I wasn’t nervous at all because I was young and dumb. Like now, I would be double-thinking some of those little things there. But back then as a kid, it was just like, “Yeah, I’m gonna sing, I do it all the time.” I could’ve stumbled on a note, it could’ve ended up a disaster. As years pass, you go whoa okay, now that you understand that moment so much more than when you’re a kid.

Brisbane has the Olympics in 2032. Do you think they’ll invite you back?
That would be amazing. I would do it.

You mentioned you’ve been performing since 12. I read you were discovered in a Russian cabaret restaurant. What does that mean?
I was singing top 40 songs, but from all around the world: Germany, Australia, America. I feel it helped me as a songwriter because it gave me a wide palette when it came to melodies and instrumentation and arrangements because everything was so different.

I imagine it would build up your confidence too, performing to an audience that’s eating pierogi and maybe not paying attention.
Absolutely, you learn how to be a performer. Not everybody gives a shit. You have to learn how to work through that and be captivating and make them want to look at you. Whether it’s busking on the street or working in a bar acoustically, all that stuff makes and breaks you. It’s those hard times that make you a great performer.

Vanessa Amorosi’s new single Wolf is out now. She performs at Grapevine on Saturday at Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley (VIC); October 8 at Sirromet Wines, Mount Cotton (QLD); October 14 at Sandalford Wines, Swan Valley (WA); October 21 at Hope Estate, Hunter Valley (NSW); October 22 at Serafino Wines, McLaren Vale (SA).

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