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Midnight Oil was an Australian Hard Rock / Alternative Rock band. They were formed in the early 1970s as Farm, releasing their first album (after becoming Midnight Oil) in 1978. They soon went on to become one of the most popular bands in Australia, with one album staying on the Australian charts for nearly two years. Outside Australia, they are known for one or two songs at most (usually "Beds Are Burning"). They parted ways in 2002, but reunited in 2005 and 2009 for benefit concerts.

Most of their songs focus heavily on social criticism/commentary, with a leftist point of view - they support environmentalism and worker's rights and are opposed to colonialism. The band's lead singer, Peter Garrett, was Australia's Minister for the Environment, Heritage, and the Arts. He'd run for office before, though, during his tenure with the band.

Lineup (1987-2002[1]):

  • Peter Garrett: Lead vocals, harmonica, and sometimes synthesizer during the band's days as Farm (1975-2002)
  • Bones Hillman: Bass, backing vocals (1987-2002)
  • Rob Hirst: Drums, percussion, backing vocals [2] (1971-2002)
  • Jim Moginie: Guitar, keyboards (1971-2002)
  • Martin Rotsey: Guitar[3] (1977-2002)

Former members (pre-1987):

  • Andrew "Bear" James: Bass (1976-1980); quit due to health issues.
  • Peter Gifford: Bass, backing vocals (1980-1987); quit after the recording of Diesel And Dust due to the touring schedule being too stressful.


  • 1978 -- Midnight Oil
  • 1979 -- Head Injuries
  • 1980 -- Bird Noises (EP)
  • 1981 -- Place Without A Postcard
  • 1982 -- 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • 1984 -- Red Sails In The Sunset
  • 1985 -- Species Deceases (EP)
  • 1987 -- Diesel And Dust
  • 1990 -- Blue Sky Mining
  • 1993 -- Earth And Sun And Moon
  • 1996 -- Breathe
  • 1997 -- 20,000 Watt RSL - A "Greatest Hits" Contained a "preview song" from Redneck Wonderland (What Goes On)
  • 1998 -- Redneck Wonderland
  • 2001 -- Capricornia
  • 2006 -- Flat Chat - Another "Greatest Hits"

Midnight Oil's music has examples of the following tropes:

  • Angrish: Some parts of a few songs on Redneck Wonderland are pretty much incomprehensible, and the lyrics aren't found in the booklet, nor are they deciphered by most fan sites.
  • Bald of Awesome - Lead singer Peter Garrett.
  • BLAM Episode: "Bakerman" on Red Sails in the Sunset. A Japanese school band plays a cheerful oompa ditty.
  • Determinator: A common theme in several songs is not giving up in the face of greatest adversity.
  • Epic Rocking: Nothing Lost Nothing Gained, Jimmy Sharman's Boxers
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Read About it". It doesn't fade as such, but appears to end. Then, after quite a long pause, comes back with a reprise of the first verse.
    • Also completely inverted with "Somebody's Trying to Tell Me Something" at the end of the same album. The original vinyl record ended with a run-out groove so that the final note and lyric ("down") was held indefinitely until the listener pulled the needle off the record. On the CD version, it runs for about 40 seconds and makes the listener simply think that something's wrong with their player.
  • Gratuitous Panning: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 had this in many places.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: My Country, not surprisingly, takes shots at people who think this way. And prominently features the name of this trope in the chorus.
  • New Sound Album: Many.
  • Old Shame: It wasn't that old by the time they broke up in 2002, but drummer Rob Hirst hates their 1996 album Breathe, mostly because he didn't have any involvement in the songwriting. It was poorly received by the fans, too. It at least boasts a strong single in "Surf's Up Tonight", but even that was too poppy for some purists.
    • Averted by their older material in general, as they were known to play a decent amount of it live and occasionally break out even the most obscure of their early songs that they may not have played in many years.
  • Precision F-Strike: The first line of the first song on the first album:
  • Protest Song: Most of Diesel And Dust and Blue Sky Mining, among others.
  • Renaissance Man: Well, they have a song called this, anyway.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Drummer Rob Hirst sings lead vocals on "When the Generals Talk" and "Kosciusko" from Red Sails in the Sunset.
  • Take That: A lot (almost all?) of their songs are criticizing someone or something.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Played straight and averted, sometimes within the span of a few tracks on one album.
  • Title Drop: Three total across their career.
    • Place Without A Postcard: Brave Faces
    • Diesel And Dust: Warakurna
    • Blue Sky Mining: Blue Sky Mine (appropriately)
    • Earth And Sun And Moon: Earth And Sun And Moon (title track)
    • Redneck Wonderland: Redneck Wonderland (title track)
    • Capricornia: Capricornia (title track. To be pronounced "cap-ree-corn-ya")
    • Flat Chat : Comes from a word in the song Power And The Passion which is on this collection. "flat chat, Pine Gap, in every home a big mac and no one goes out back, that's that"
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Especially to non-Australians, a lot of references in their songs come off as pretty obscure or highbrow.

 "Don't want to live in Andropovosphere"

"Phar Lap floating in a jar"

"Set up those gunsights in H.G. Wells' backyard"

"L. Ron Hubbard can't save your life, Superboy takes a plutonium wife"

"There's no one on the Reeperbahn"

"The triumphalist and narcissist are joined ear and hip and phone, they're worshipping their chrome"


  1. ; this is the lineup for both reunions
  2. (also sang lead on a few songs on Red Sails In The Sunset)
  3. (The Other Wiki listed both of them as lead guitar; they alternated on this role.)
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