Here's How Courtney Barnett Went From Pizza Delivery Driver To Grammy Nominee In A Year
There are few Australian artists in recent memory that have had the international impact Courtney Barnett has had. With nothing but her guitar, her unique style of writing and a shaggy hair-do, Barnett went from pizza delivery driver to Grammy-nominated icon in just a few short years, and she worked her ass off to get there.
The next milestone she’s set to hit? Taking the iconic MTV Unplugged Melbourne stage on October 22. But before she treats us with that legendary performance that’ll surely leave us no choice but to stan, let’s take a look through her massive career and see how it all started and how she got where she is today.
2010 to 2011: Rapid Transit
Barnett cut her musical teeth in 2010 playing in a band called Rapid Transit. She shared guitar and vocal duties for the band, and they released one self-titled album. The album was initially released exclusive on cassette, and that cassette has now become a rare collector’s item.
2011: Immigrant Union
Following Rapid Transit, Barnett was part of a band called Immigrant Union, which described themselves as psych-country – it’s a thing, apparently. The band was actually founded by Dandy Warhols member Brent DeBoer, and Barnett features on their second album Anyway.
March 2012: She Uploads First Track To Triple J Unearthed
The all-important career-igniting spark came when Barnett uploaded ‘Lance Jr’. A song that would eventually feature on her first EP, I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris, it’s hard – and scary – to think about what would’ve happened had she never uploaded it in the first place.
2012: The Formation of Milk! Records
Very, very early on in her career, Barnett made the ultimately smart move of starting her own record label. Every record she has ever released under her name has been through this label, and it means she keeps most of the money. We stan a business queen, Kylie Jenner is quaking.
2013: A Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas
Things kicked into overdrive when Barnett compiled her two EPs, I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris and How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose, into one massive double EP, A Sea Of Split Peas. It was released with 'Avant Gardener' as the lead single – a song that would go on to define Barnett’s career. Pitchfork named it as the 42nd best song of the decade. THE DECADE, BITCH.
January 2015: Her First Hottest 100 Entry
In 2014, Milk! Records released a compilation EP titled A Pair Of Pears (With Shadows) which featured the super catchy Barnett track ‘Pickles From The Jar’. Besides being one of the rare songs that openly discusses Barnett’s relationship with then-partner Jen Cloher, it marked Barnett’s first – of many – entries in Triple J’s Hottest 100, coming in the 2014 countdown at number 51.
March 2015: She Releases Her Debut Album
Very few Australian debut albums have been met with the hype that Barnett’s was. But, when she released Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, the hype wasn’t only matched but it was exceeded. The album peaked at #4 on the ARIA Charts and #20 on the Billboard Charts, and featured on many publications’ end of year lists.
March 2015: She Appears On Ellen
March 2015 was a monumental month for Barnett, clearly. Alongside the release of her album, she got an introduction to mainstream US audiences with an appearance on Ellen, with Degeneres herself calling Barnett “one of (her) favourite new artists.” She sang ‘Depreston’, and absolutely tore the house down.
November 2015: She Wins Four ARIA Awards In One Night
It was always destined to be her night with the success she had throughout the year, but it’s hard to imagine that she was prepared to score eight nominations for the 2015 ARIA Awards – the most out of anyone that night. What’s even better is that she walked away with four of them, including ‘Best Female Artist’ and ‘Breakthrough Artist’.
January 2016: She Scores Four Hottest 100 Entries In The Same Countdown
Music’s largest democratic poll favoured Courtney after the release of her debut album, as she managed to score four (!!!) tracks in the 2015 Hottest 100 – tying the record for most entries by a female artist in one countdown. ‘Pedestrian At Best’, ‘Elevator Operator’, ‘Depreston’ and ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party’ all made the list – proving that music fans couldn’t pick just one Barnett track they adored.
February 2016: She Is Nominated For A GRAMMY Award
It’s music night of nights, and often seen as the pinnacle of acclaim for a musician’s career. Safe to say that Barnett must have been pretty bloody stoked when she copped a nomination for the all-important Best New Artist award at the 2016 GRAMMYs. Unfortunately, she didn’t win and was beaten out by Meghan Trainor which…well, we all know how that’s gone.
October 2017: She Releases Lotta Sea Lice With Kurt Vile
Taking a quick break between her own albums, she teamed up with American music wizard Kurt Vile for a whole collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice. In what’s become standard for anything Barnett does, the album was universally loved and featured on many end of year lists.
May 2018: She Releases Second Album Tell Me How You Really Feel
The second album curse is real for plenty of artists, in which they fail to deliver like their first album did. Barnett, however, fell under no such curse as her second album Tell Me How You Really Feel hits just as powerfully as her first. Notable tracks include ‘Nameless, Faceless’ which is a direct response to violence against and sexual assault and harassment of women all across the world. The album would go on to win ‘Best Rock Album’ at the 2018 ARIA awards, to the surprise of literally no-one.
October 2019: MTV Unplugged Melbourne
After such a meteoric rise, there's noone else who deserve to take the MTV Unplugged Melbourne stage more than, Courtney. We cannot wait to watch this go down.
If you want to head along to the live taping of MTV Unplugged Melbourne: Courtney Barnett head here to register for tickets.
Check Out All The 10s Who Went To The Rubens' MTV Unplugged Melbourne Gig...
Check Out All The 10s Who Went To The Rubens' MTV Unplugged Melbourne Gig
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