BACK in 1981 an Australian singer with a clean cut image released a sexually-charged single 15 years into their career.
With Physical Olivia Newton-John raised eyebrows with lyrics like “there’s nothing left to talk about unless it’s horizontally”.
Fast forward to 2018 and on Delta Goodrem’s new single Think About You she sings “every time I look at you your clothes are coming off … I think about you naked when I’m looking at you.”
It’s a long way from the teenage girl who sang Innocent Eyes.
If you think Delta Goodrem is going through her Physical phase you’re not alone — and it’s not just replicating the iconic Lycra-clad pop video to play Livvy in the new Channel 7 Olivia miniseries.
“Olivia heard Think About You and said ‘Oh it’s your Physical moment!’,” Goodrem admits.
“I can see that. I’ve changed. I’m a grown woman. It feels like the right song for this moment in my life. I’m not the same person I was going into making this song. I couldn’t have done this song two years ago, it would have felt weird. I’ve changed, so it’s natural the perception of me has changed. The ease into this chapter has felt effortless for me.”
It could have been even more direct — the working title of Think About You was actually Naked, scrapped for several reasons including James Arthur getting in first with a song of the same name.
“I’m glad the name changed,” Goodrem says. “Being called Naked might have given people preconceived ideas about the song.”
The song was written late last year in Sydney with visiting songwriters Julian Bunetta and John Ryan.
The pair cut their teeth on One Direction hits Story Of My Life, Best Song Ever and Steal My Girl and were coming off the back of global hit Slow Hands written with former 1D man Niall Horan.
Goodrem hadn’t even planned to start writing for her sixth album, but wanted to
“It was a unique way of working for me,” Goodrem said. “I write by myself all the time. Usually I have a book of concepts and ideas, but I went into this writing session just jamming on the piano.
“Even when we’d finished writing it I thought ‘Oh that’s cool’ but I was still thinking about the long process of making an album and not that it would be a single so soon. But it’s a new world right now, so when everyone liked the song I said let’s go for it and put it out.”
Musically, as well as lyrically, it’s also new territory for Goodrem — minimal beats and grooves.
“I was going through a Janet Jackson phase when we were making Think About You,” Goodrem says.
“I’m a real ‘90s fan. I had a ‘90s themed party for my 30th. With streaming sites you can go back to all the songs you loved growing up and make your own playlists. That’s also influencing artists, all that nostalgia of the songs you loved when you were discovering music.”
Streaming is also changing the way people consume music, and therefore the ARIA chart which reflects the most popular songs in the country.
Previously determined on physical sales, then digital downloads, ARIA now include streaming figures in the calculation to find which songs (and albums) Australians listen to most each week.
Since streaming was factored in, it now very rare for Australian artists to be able to reach No. 1 on the singles chart — the last local chart topping single was The Veronicas’ In My Blood in June 2016.
Streaming habits, where people play their favourite songs over and over, is leading to singles spending longer and longer at No. 1 — since December 11 last year only two songs have been No. 1 on the ARIA chart — Ed Sheeran’s Perfect (eight weeks on top) and Drake’s God’s Plan (seven weeks on top).
Both Sheeran and Drake are two of the most-streamed artists on the planet, whereas Goodrem has a large section of her fanbase who still love buying physical CDs or digital downloads.
Now all artists have to have a large streaming audience, as well as physical and digital audience, to have a decent chance of reaching No.1.
“In ten years’ time it’ll seem so weird saying you used to release music on CDs and cassettes,” Goodrem laughs.
“But it’s an incredibly exciting time in music. We’re all navigating the new way things
As well as returning her to high rotation on commercial radio (it’s in the Top 15 most played songs in Australia his week) Think About You has already clocked up 1.5 million streams on Spotify alone and is being discovered by new listeners through surfacing on a string of random streaming playlists.
The quality of the song has even seen hipster site Noisey run a story this week titled ‘Delta Goodrem Wants You To Know She F—- Now’.
“I love that I can still surprise people,” Goodrem says. “I know I’ve still got plenty to surprise people with. I’ve always said you’ve got to have something up your sleeve. You have to outlast and eventually you wear people down and they’ll join the tribe!
“The beauty of streaming is that people can now discover your song on a playlist by accident and not even know it’s you. There’s no association to what they think the song is about or what they might think is going on in my life, they are just taking it on the music. That’s all I’ve ever wanted in my whole career, for people to take the songs for themselves. I can’t control what happens with a fantasy, mystical storyline of my life that seems to sell magazines, but it’s not the reality of my life.”
Goodrem is still catering for fans who like a tangible single — launching a new competition for a one on one experience with the singer who purchase one of two physical CD singles she’s releasing for the new release (she’s one of the few Australian artists whose fans still demand she makes the format).
As someone with nine No. 1 singles on the ARIA chart, Goodrem knows it’s tougher than ever to crack double figures.
“I’m learning as well. We’re all learning, especially the Australian music industry, it is harder for us to fight to get up the chart. But we can do it just as good as anywhere else in the world. It’s working out how to continue to grow a song, it isn’t the same, it’s about making a song build now.”
Indeed Goodrem released Think About You initially a month ago without doing a single interview or promotional visit, just letting the song speak for itself.
“I was getting twitchy, only because I love connecting with the fans. You can’t underestimate that connection. There’s the analytical side of technology but there’s also the heart and soul side of humans. It’s that balance of finding connection to the song but also letting the song grow, that’s very new to me. I’ll keep watching and learning on this one and I’ve learnt a lot already. I’m up for the challenge, I’ll work out a way.”
Think About You (Sony) out now. Pre-order physical CD singles of Think About You and Think About You (Versions) with John Gibbons and Initial Talk remixes from JB HiFi online, Sanity online or Delta’s official instore for the chance for a one-on-one experience with Delta Goodrem. Each physical CD purchase is a new chance to win. Entry is open to fans who have already pre-ordered the physical CD from the above retailers, as well as anyone who purchases a copy from now until May 31. Winners will receive a unique code with their CD advising them of their prize.