Absolutely Everybody (Holden/Ingram/Hicks) 1999 and Shine (Amorosi/Parde/Holden) 2000 – Vanessa Amorosi
Melbourne girl Vanessa Amorosi burst onto the local scene in spectacular fashion in 1999/2000 with the release of her debut album The Power which sold over 1.2million copies and generated three bona fide hit singles – Absolutely Everybody, Shine and The Power, all charted top ten – a new pop princess had emerged, doe-eyed and baby-faced, who wrote most of her own songs, and possessed a powerful mezzo-soprano voice. The natural combination of her chest and head voice gave her a vocal dexterity that would enable her to convincingly cover rock, pop, blues, jazz and gospel genres, throughout her career.
Vanessa came from a musical family, both her parents were performers, singing professionally on the Australasian theatre restaurant and cabaret circuit, the twelve-year-old tomboy from the rural Victorian town of Emerald, started performing in local shopping centres and talent quests and quickly moved onto paid performances.
She was singing professionally at the Matryoshka Russian restaurant in Carnegie (Melb) when she was discovered by Jac Strom, who with former 1970’s pop heartthrob Mark Holden, signed her to their MarJac Productions company in 1997, she was 16 years old.
Two years later Amorosi released her debut single, Have A Look, co-written by Vanessa, Mark Holden, and the late Shaun Imrie, it’s a Europop dance song with “break up/ make up” lyrics, a simple/cheap promo video was shot in Sydney at Bondi and the Liverpool Shopping Centre, some break dancers provide background action and Vanessa busts some slightly self-conscious dance moves herself. It was a promising debut that charted at #12 nationally and was subsequently included on her album, The Power.
With her debut album all the stars aligned for Vanessa Amorosi, its release coincided with the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the first song released from the album, written by Amorosi, Holden and US songwriter James Ingram, Absolutely Everybody, virtually became the anthem of the Games. It was a joyous dance track with heartfelt, inspiring lyrics about universal love and friendship, the chorus was unforgettable, the hooks and riffs never stopped, Amorosi’s vocals were assured, and the production by Eurodance specialist Axel Breitung was perfect, it would have a been shoo-in to win Eurovision that year if Australia were eligible at the time. Vanessa performed Absolutely Everybody at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games to an international audience of 4 billion people, the song climbed to #4 locally and was an international hit – Austria #3, Germany #5, Switzerland #8, UK #7 and Belgium #10, it occupied the Australian Top 50 singles charts for over six months, but there was more to come.
The promo video was filmed on the island of Menorca at a holiday resort with lots of attractive people dancing, chilling by the pool and riding scooters whilst Vanessa sings the song but seems disengaged from the action around her, maybe she had forgotten to change into something more tropical after she had arrived on the plane.
The second single taken off the album was Shine, Amorosi showed that she could also write and perform a heartfelt ballad, the lyrics are uplifting and positive, but that was not their original intent, as the inspiration for the song had been the suicide of one of Amorosi’s school friends. Her original lyric had been “Everyone you see, everyone you know is gonna die” and Mark Holden substituted the word “shine” instead of “die” and the whole song assumed a different persona. However, if you listen closely to the backing vocals, they still retain the original intent of Amorosi’s darker version of the song “Don’t, don’t, don’t you do it”.
Vanessa performed Shine at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Paralympic Games, broadcast to 80 countries, and at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
Shine charted #5 locally, the album The Power climbed to #1 here, #7 Germany, and top 20 in Switzerland and Austria, occupied the national charts for 55 weeks and sold over 400,000 copies, but the hits kept coming as the double A-side release The Power/Every Time I Close My Eyes, charted #8 at the end of 2000, to round off a stellar year for the nineteen-year-old.