Words by Elliot Struck
I remember the first time I heard Bag Raiders.
It was at The Civic Hotel, in Newcastle, and I was maybe wearing a 2XL Modular Records tee, probably shredded Tsubi denim, definitely De La Soul Nike Dunk Low Pro SB’s, and absolutely a chemically-imbalanced look of elevation. The song? Their ultra-uplifting ‘Fun Punch’, which to me is as important to Australia’s early 2000s electro explosion as The Presets’ ‘Are You The One?’ and Cut Copy’s ‘Saturdays’. The way that Moog lead wails simply commands HANDS: [UP]/ DOWN. Later I’d discover ‘Nil By Mouth’, a sleazy, white noise grower that now stirs such deep nostalgia that it’s almost too painful for me to listen to. And, I wasn’t alone; many of my age and stage were having dance music awakenings that ran parallel with Bag Raiders’ evolution.
But, it wasn’t until 2008 that they released ‘Shooting Stars’. It was a track on their Turbo Love EP, so named after what they then thought would be the more popular song on the release. And while ‘Turbo Love’ captured the same raw energy as ‘Fun Punch’, the Baggies could never have known that it’d be the unassuming B-side, with its perfunctory G# minor melodics and the daring choice to only play the chorus once, at the climax, that would truly put them on the map. Which is why in 2009, when they release their debut, self-titled LP, it was behind ‘Shooting Stars’ as lead single that they put their faith.
Now, at this point I’ll draw attention to what an interesting case study this act is. Bag Raiders consists of two unbelievably talented pop composers and multi-instrumentalists. They helped drive a musical revolution in early-2000s Australia, pulling the stale focus from a barren wasteland of Breaks and Drum & Bass, into a hedonistic time of Light, Sound and Dance. Which makes it all the more incredible that their most successful moments have come from such bizarre places. Firstly, from the use of ‘Shooting Stars’ on a 2013 episode of Australia’s Got Talent, after which it entered the ARIA Singles Top 40 (five years after its release). And secondly, from memes.
It’s 2016 and Harambe the Gorilla dies, rest his soul. An animated tribute clip explodes on the internet featuring ‘Shooting Stars’ over clips from Ego’s ‘The Crazy Things We Do’ video. But then, in early 2017, it all really happens: “Fat Man Does Amazing Dive” hits Reddit, sound-tracked by ‘Shooting Stars’, and the collective Internet shits itself. In what New York Magazine called the, “first big post-Vine meme,” the song plays over imagery of people falling through surreal backgrounds. Like any good meme, its magic can’t be explained—it must be seen.
Most virality is accidental. But it’s not easy to come by as a band (unless you’re Ok Go!). And yet, virality is what ‘Shooting Stars’ got. It wasn’t long until it’d tapped the fresh eardrums of millions, eventually reappearing on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic Songs chart at number 11. On March 3, Bag Raiders posted on Facebook. “Ok, it’s been a funny couple of weeks but we definitely didn’t see this one coming!!!! We give thankness to the dankness.”
As the song continues to (re) explode, they post again on March 18: “For those of you who got here from the memes… For those of you who are new to the party… And to all those who’ve been down since day1, we love u.” And the Internet fucking loves you, Bag Raiders. Enjoy the ride.