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50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #48: Air Supply

Angie Hart of Frente! goes deep on the legacy of the chart-topping, award-winning, heart-string-tugging Air Supply.

50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time: Air Supply

Denise Truscello*; Sarah Walker*

In December of 2020, Rolling Stone Australia released a special edition issue which looks at the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time, paying tribute to the best and most impactful artists in Australian music history. While it would have been easy for the editors and writers of the publication to profess their love of the listed artists, the decision was instead made for those who found themselves inspired by these world-renowned names to share their own testimonials of why these artists deserve to make the list.

In celebration of the issue’s release in December, we’re counting down the full 50 artists and their accompanying testimonials in this ongoing online feature. If you want to get your hands on an physical copy of the magazine, be sure to subscribe now to experience the double-length edition featuring some of Australia’s best and brightest discussing the finest names in local music.

50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #48: Air Supply (by Angie Hart)

Air Supply roll out a scroll of hits so long, it may leave you breathless – “Even The Nights Are Better”, “Two Less Lonely People In The World”, “All Out Of Love”; they have become so much a part of the air that we breathe that we may not even realise. 

Since Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell first met onstage for the Australian production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, they have had their roots planted firmly in the mechanics of the melodramatic song. From day one, in both their songwriting and the delivery, Air Supply has presented a steady stream of strung-out-on-love songs.

“They have become so much a part of the air that we breathe that we may not even realise.”

Their debut single “Love and Other Bruises” is a melodic melancholy morning-after tale of “love and other bruises” which “makes us all good losers”. With pop music generally used as a vehicle for escape and fantasy, the sentiment that to love is to be human and to be human is to hurt, would be seemingly unpopular for a debut offering, but it won them a place on the charts and launched their career as soft rock truth-bombers. 

“Making Love Out of Nothing At All”, their highest-selling hit single (written by Jim Steinman), was used in a scientific study on why we get goosebumps (frisson) when the music moves us. When Hitchcock hits the upper register of his crystal clear range, it could break glass.

In “The One That You Love”, Hitchcock’s voice seems sure to break, but will never break as he assures the one that he loves that “we have the right you know”, in an appeal for just one more day. That voice, plus chords to pluck at your heart-strings, add a well-orchestrated drum fill and those songs – and we are all aquiver. 

Trading the lead, sharing their superpower and often duetting on songs – they make vulnerability a strength. “Young Love”, without the trademark glorious rock ballad production, asks us to lean in and trust as it naively ventures into unmapped territory. This time it is Russell bravely admitting that “young love so strong has never been a part of me”.

Capturing the fumbling and unsure heart of our adolescent wondering with not one ounce of conquest sought. “Young love hold on, we’re feeling it now/is this the way it’s meant to be?”

These unabashed displays of emotion, often have us tempted to label Air Supply as a “guilty pleasure”, but why should we feel bad about the one that we love? We have a right, you know.