It’s that time of the year. The ARIA Awards are here, and will be happening tomorrow night at the Star Casino, an uncharted wasteland near the harbour where no lock out laws apply and violent incidents are wildly under-reported in a move beneficial to the government, the shareholders, and numerous business interests. But let’s not dwell on that! The carpet is great — the type where you can spill a drink and it is absorbed before a Chux gets anywhere near it — and that’s the regular carpet, not even the red carpet. It’s quite a glamorous location for an awards do.

Anyway, let’s predict some winners.

DISCLAIMER: These results were arrived at through a combination of mathematics, stone cold facts, chart analysis, guess work, the positioning of various items of furniture in order to create a fortuitous flow of energy through the room, and irrational self belief. I have omitted the publicly-voted awards, as they don’t count, and the Blues and Roots, Children, and Country categories, as I find them — personally-speaking — quite boring.

Apple Music Album Of The Year

A.B. Original for  “Reclaim Australia” (Golden Era Records/Universal Music Australia)
Amy Shark for “Night Thinker” (Wonderlick Recording Company)
Gang Of Youths for “Go Farther In Lightness” (Mosy Recordings/Sony Music Australia)
Illy for “Two Degrees” (ONETWO/Warner Music Australia)
Paul Kelly for “Life Is Fine” (EMI)

WHO WILL WIN: This one is tough. A.B. Original just won the J Award, and made an important album, which always goes well at these things; Paul Kelly is the sentimental favourite and very ARIA-board-friendly; Gang Of Youths are this year’s Powderfinger in 2001/You Am I in 1996; and Apple just paid for a billboard in Times Square for Amy Shark so they want her to win (although her album isn’t an album, it’s an EP). I’m predicting Gang Of Youths, for the future of the industry.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Paul Kelly, always Paul Kelly.

Best Male Artist

D.D Dumbo for “Utopia Defeated” (Liberation Music)
Dan Sultan for “Killer” (Liberation Music)
Illy for “Two Degrees” (ONETWO/Warner Music Australia)
Paul Kelly for “Life Is Fine” (EMI)
Vance Joy for “Lay It On Me” (Liberation Music)

WHO WILL WIN: Paul Kelly has made the biggest mark this year, and everybody loves a redemption story, despite Kelly having made some of the best albums of his career over the past decade and not actual dropping in quality or output. Still, it wasn’t FM-friendly-ice-cold-beer-Sunday-summer-send-my-love-to-Angus-style-Paul Kelly, which this record very much is.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Paul Kelly, always Paul Kelly

Best Female Artist

Amy Shark for “Night Thinker” (Wonderlick Recording Company)
Jessica Mauboy “The Secret Daughter (Songs from the Original TV Series” (Sony Music Australia
Julia Jacklin “Don’t Let The Kids Win” (Liberation Music)
Meg Mac “Low Blows” (littleBIGMAN Records/EMI)
SIA ‘The Greatest feat. Kendrick Lamar’ (Inertia Music)

WHO WILL WIN: Strong category. Jess Mauboy has had a strong year, but she’s had a strong career, so there’s not enough novelty here to award her this one. Strong argument, right? Also she won in 2013. It’s Amy Shark’s year. (A story ran on one of the dailies a few days ago that opened with “Jessica Mauboy has her eyes on one prize at the 2017 ARIA awards, the Best Australian Live Act” which simply cannot be true.)

WHO SHOULD WIN: Amy Shark has made the biggest impact, and made an EP so strong it charted as an album.

Best Dance Release

Dom Dolla & Torren Foot for ‘Be Randy’ (Club Sweat/Xelon)
Jagwar Ma for “Every Now & Then” (Future Classic)
Peking Duk for ‘Stranger (feat. Elliphant)’ (Sony Music)
Pnau for ‘Chameleon’ (etcetc Music)
The Kite String Tangle for “The Kite String Tangle” (Warner Music Australia/ Exist Recordings)

WHO WILL WIN: Stranger has been everywhere for the past year, sold almost a quarter of a million copies in Australia, and hit #5 on the charts despite featuring a vocalist named ‘Elliphant’. Plus, Sony like to win.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Jagwar Ma sound like a tape of Primal Scream and Bez sweating and screaming in each other’s ears at the Hacienda that’s been left in the sun, which is a sound that should always win.

Best Group

A.B Original for “Reclaim Australia” (Golden Era Records/Universal Music Australia)
Gang Of Youths for “Go Farther In Lightness” (Mosy Records/Sony Music Australia)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard for “Flying Microtonal Banana” (Flightless Records/Remote Control Records)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for “Skeleton Tree” (Bad Seed Ltd/Kobalt Music Australia)
Peking Duk for “Stranger (feat. Elliphant)” (Sony Music Australia)

WHO WILL WIN: Nick Cave isn’t a group. He won Best Male Artist in 2008 with a Bad Seeds record. Disqualified!! A.B Original will win this, although they aren’t very Gang of Youths, and this is a very Gang Of Youths year, isn’t it? Actually, Gang Of Youths will win this. Final answer: Gang Of Youths.

WHO SHOULD WIN: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are a perfect example of a band who have created their own industry, where they release and record albums whenever they feel (four this year), put on festivals with rides in place of headlining tours, and manage to make it financially viable despite having two dozen members. King Gizz are the type of band that makes many people at the ARIA Awards fearful for their jobs.

Breakthrough Artist

A.B Original for “Reclaim Australia” (Golden Era Records/Universal Music Australia)
Amy Shark for “Night Thinker” (Wonderlick Recording Company)
Dean Lewis for “Waves” (Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)
Tash Sultana for “Notion” (Lonely Lands Records/Sony Music Australia)
Tkay Maidza for “TKAY” (Dew Process)

WHO WILL WIN: A.B Original are too important not to be honoured here. Plus, giving them Breakthrough Artist means ARIA get to say “we totally picked it”.

WHO SHOULD WIN IT: How Tkay isn’t one of the biggest pop artists in the world right now baffles me. Album number two, she’ll break internationally. Unless commercial success isn’t a meritocracy, of course.

Best Pop Release

Amy Shark for “Night Thinker” (Wonderlick Recording Company)
Dean Lewis for “Waves” (Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)
Jessica Mauboy for “Fallin’’ (Sony Music Australia)
Sia for “The Greatest (feat. Kendrick Lamar)” (Sony Music Australia)
Vera Blue for “Perennial” (Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

WHO WILL WIN IT: Dean Lewis’ ‘Waves’ is one of those songs where I can’t figure whether I really like it, or it really annoys me. Maybe both. It sounds like a song they’ll play on the (upcoming) cliffhanger week of Home and Away, and those songs always win.

WHO SHOULD WIN IT: How is ‘Stranger’ not a pop release? It’s so treacly sweet I had to take an insulin shot after just remembering the chorus.

Best Urban Album

A.B Original for “Reclaim Australia” (Golden Era Records/Universal Music Australia)
Illy for “Two Degrees” (ONETWO/Warner Music Australia)
REMI for “Divas & Demons” (House of Beige/UNFD)
Thundamentals for “Everyone We Know” (High Depth/Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)
Tkay Maidza for “TKAY” (Dew Process)

WHO WILL WIN IT: A.B Original will win this, although REMI is an outsider chance, considering his early critical acclaim. What happened to 1200 Techniques? Bet they have a 2018 comeback.

WHO SHOULD WIN IT: A.B Original. Also, can we rename this category to something that doesn’t directly stem from the racist red-lining of inner-city districts? You know who were pretty urban? The Strokes.

Best Independent Release

A.B Original for “Reclaim Australia” (Golden Era Records/Universal Music Australia)
Dan Sultan for “Killer” (Liberation Music)
SIA for “The Greatest (feat. Kendrick Lamar)” (Inertia Music)
Tash Sultana for “Notion” (Lonely Lands Records/Sony Music Australia)
Vance Joy for “Lay It On Me” (Liberation Music)

WHO WILL WIN: Tash Sultana went from busking in Melbourne to indifferent shoppers, to selling out a U.S. tour in the time it takes most artists to set up their loop-pedal board.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Tash Sultana, for the above reasons.

Best Rock Album

Dan Sultan for “Killer” (Liberation Music)
Dune Rats for “The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit (Ratbag Records)
Gang Of Youths for “Go Farther In Lightness” (Mosy Recordings/Sony Music Australia)
Polish Club for “Alrighty Alrighty” (Double Double/Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)
The Preatures for “Girlhood” (Island Records Australia/Universal Music Australia)

WHO WILL WIN: Gang Of Youths. They managed to straddle the line between commercial Triple M-leading mass success and critical acclaim, with a dense, overly-long, extreme record with more lyrics than Dylan’s entire discography. Excellent work.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Gang Of Youths.

Best Adult Contemporary Album

Bernard Fanning for “Brutal Dawn” (Dew Process)
D.D Dumbo for “Utopia Defeated” (Liberation Music)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds for “Skeleton Tree” (Bad Seed Ltd/Kobalt Music Recordings)
Paul Kelly for “Life Is Fine” (EMI)
Pete Murray for “Camacho” (Sony Music Australia)

WHO WILL WIN: Paul Kelly’s ‘Life Is Fine’ album is basically what this ridiculously-named category was invented for, and considering neither Farnsy, Barnesy, nor Diesel released a record during the calendar year, PK it is.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Nick Cave made the most artful and heartbreaking record here, but Paul Kelly in the ocean on the cover, singing with Vika and Linda about firewood and candles. C’mon!

Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album

Airbourne for “Breaking Outta Hell” (Spinefarm Records/Caroline Australia)
Frenzal Rhomb for “Hi-Vis High Tea” (Caroline Australia)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard for “Murder Of The Universe” (FLIGHTLESS/Inertia)
Northlane for “Mesmer” (UNFD/Warner Music Australia)
Sleepmakeswaves for “Made of Breath Only” (Bird’s Robe Records/MGM)

WHO WILL WIN: King Gizz will take this category out, leading to your mate Neil’s ninety-minute rant about how this category needs to get back to awarding real hard rock bands and real metal bands and how that’s the only industry consistently selling albums these days, St. Anger’s snare sound sucked, etc. etc.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Frenzal Rhomb, for releasing a hilarious album filled with 60-second songs, with the greatest cover art of the year, and leading it with a single named ‘Cunt Act’.

Enjoy!