Game-Changing Women of Australian Music – The Veronicas Pt. 1

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4Ever (M Martin/L Gottwald) 2005 and Everything I’m Not (L Gottwald/M Martin/R Yacoub/The Veronicas) 2005 and When It All Falls Apart (J Alexander/B Steinberg/The Veronicas) -The Veronicas 2006

Jessica and Lisa Origliasso (1984) are identical twins of Italian/Australian parentage from Albany Creek, Brisbane; both girls attended the Ferny Creek Primary School and Wavell State HS, and their parents Joseph and Colleen nurtured the girls ambition to become professional performers. Below L-R Joseph and Colleen Origliassi, Colleen and the Twins, Teenage Jess and Lisa.

The twins first came to notice in their teens when they appeared in talent quests and performed at local sporting events, and ultimately landed roles in 2000 in the children’s TV series called Cybergirl in which they played the twin villains Emerald and Sapphire Buxton.

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They initially performed as The Twins and then as Lisa and Jessica, which was the name under which they released three teen pop albums with Analog Heart Records, which failed to chart. They then recruited two friends to form the group Teal and recorded several demos of their own compositions, including the hooky single Baby It’s You, which also failed to chart, but caught the attention of Sire, a subsidiary of Warners Music to whom they were subsequently signed in 2005. By now the girls were more focused on their songwriting and they duly produced songs for Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan, Miz, and Russian group t.A.T.u. Below The Veronicas with Toby Gad.

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After relocating to Los Angeles in 2005 the sisters were hooked up with internationally acclaimed songwriters and producers – Cliff Magness (Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson), Billy Steinberg (Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Divinyls), Toby Gad (John Legend, Demi Lovato, Beyonce) and the game-changing Swedes from Stockholm’s Cheiron Hit Factory Max Martin (Britney Spears, Katy Perry, PINK), and Dr. Luke (Backstreet Boys, Pink, Kelly Clarkson). Below – Dr. Luke

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At the age of 20 the girls adopted the name The Veronicas, inspired by a line uttered in the movie Heathers, not realizing that it was based on the character Veronica Lodge, from Archie comics.

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Archie Comic Publications launched a substantial legal claim against Warner Brothers, and the Veronicas, but ultimately settled for a cross-promotional deal, which included the sisters appearing in the comics, meeting “Veronica”, and “performing” at the fictional Rivervale High School.

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It was quite incredible how much interest the twins had already created internationally given that they had not taken a song into the local charts, had little media experience and exposure outside their home town Brisbane, and had to this time been managed by their father Joseph.  Yet at twenty years of age they had secured a much sought-after songwriting, recording and production deal with Warners who were committed to grooming them for stardom.

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The Veronicas potential was quickly realized, they were talented songwriters and gifted performers, and had already collaborated on the creation of fifty songs, when they accepted a $2.0 million recording contract with Warner Bros/Sire America and went into the studio with LA-based German songwriter/producer Toby Gad to record their debut album The Secret Life Of…

The album divided critics, the best reviews noted the slick, tuneful hooks and the punky sassiness of the sisters’ harmonies, the dislikes branded the songs bland, airbrushed versions of the latest Now! or So Fresh compilations, girlie rocker hits which could only be described as a guilty pleasure.

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4Ever was the first single released, it was the standout song on the album, written by the team from Stockholm’s famed Cheiron Studios, Max Martin, and Lukasz Gottwald (aka Dr Luke) who had penned hits for Britney Spears (Baby One More Time), Kelly Clarkson (Since U Been Gone), Katy Perry (Hot and Cold) and Pink (Who Knew).

An audio sugar rush, Livin’ La Vida Loca for the new millenium.

The song has a sexy garage rock ambience, surging guitar riffs lifted the momentum and the girls’ intuitive harmonies delivered the come-on lyrics “Let me take you on the ride of your life/ that’s what I said alright/They can say what they want to say/ ‘cause tonight I just don’t even care.” Lisa said of 4EverIt’s about living life for the moment… plus it’s a bit bratty, which we like!” The song was a hit, charting #3 locally, #7 in NZ and a top forty hit in Europe, there were no less than three promo videos for this song which were released in 2005, 2009 and 2021, and each one has its fans. The original vid featured the girls driving in an open-top sports car, hanging out in malls and generally preening, pouting, and writing messages in lipstick on a mirror to reinforce the lyric “spend the night with you”. Typically for a Max Martin song the chorus is hooky, catchy, and repetitive, and the girl’s appearance is classic mid-2000 punky chic- streaky hair, chunky plastic jewellery, pink shadow and black eyeliner, piercings, the song was part of a McDonald’s happy meal deal at the time, and it pre-dated the ubiquitous phone camera as the girls use a self-developing instant camera instead, in the vid.

The second version of the vid has a party vibe with the twins performing with a backing band and revealing more of their body art, the third version of this song featured the girls cavorting in a public swimming pool at night and apparently “twinning” a boy they both liked by replicating him, using special effects of course. In 2006 the Swedish tunesmiths had also produced a hit song called U+ Ur Hand for Pink which sounded as though the whole melody from 4Ever had been lifted off for Pink’s song with just the lyrics changed, Pink was not aware until after she had released her song, and as a consequence she has not worked with Dr. Luke since.

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The twins followed up quickly with Everything I’m Not, a punky pop song with post-Grunge influences and a sparse groove, rumbling bass, and strummed guitar riffs at the intro which segued to fat ringing guitars, where Jessica joined in on rhythm guitar. It’s was a breakup song with a defiant message to imperfect guys who demand perfection in their partners. The promo video captured some girrrl power antics as the sisters’ graffiti and daub paint on a car, belonging to the guy with whom they are breaking up. It delivered another top ten hit here in Australia, and the album Secret life Of Us… was also charting strongly, #3 locally, #5 NZ and #11 in Belgium. 

Bratty girrrl power conquered all.

When It All Falls Apart became the third single lifted from the album, the Veronicas worked with two experienced US songwriters in Billy Steinberg and Josh Alexander who had penned hits for Madonna (Like A Virgin), Cyndi Lauper (True Colors), Demi Lovato (Give Your Heart A Break) and JoJo (Too Little Too Late), and shared writing credits on this one, which indicated their growing maturity and confidence in the writing and recording of hits.

The Veronicas were adept at capturing the sound of growing up too soon, the teen pop of 4Ever giving way to more angsty, post-adolescence, as the twenty-year-olds sought to move beyond teen idol status, to something more sustainable in the future.

The song has a Kelly Clarkson vibe, punky pop with the sisters dealing with relationship problems again, it was another breakup song, the girls feeling betrayed, heartbroken, hung over and having a day from hell, the promo video was notable for the appearance of a live crocodile in the bathroom, it climbed to #7 and maintained the Veronicas chart momentum into 2006.

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