Geelong artist Noah Vernon named a finalist in Happy Mag’s Needle In The Hay competition

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Geelong artist Noah Vernon named a finalist in Happy Mag’s Needle In The Hay competition

Noah Vernon
Word by Staff Writer

Local singer-songwriter and fixture of the Geelong live music scene, Noah Vernon makes the next stage of Australia's biggest independent music competition.

After a record-breaking nearly 3000 entries, Happy Mag has revealed the finalists of the annual independent music competition Needle In The Hay.

Needle In The Hay was set up by Happy Mag to champion and empower emerging Australian and New Zealand bands and musicians at a time when they need it most in their careers. The competition, now in its seventh year, continues to be a launchpad for emerging artists, with past winners including the ‘Booster Seat’ band Spacey Jane, pop superstar Maple Glider, and multi-ARIA-award winning artist, Tones and I.

Needle In The Hay 2024 Finalists


  • Agum – Promise
  • Beryl – All Things
  • Beth Jackson – Dive School
  • Betty – Fire
  • CXLOE – Flight Risk
  • FVNERAL – Frozen Lasagne
  • Good Pash – Jellyfish Song
  • Isobel Knight – Hell Or Highwater
  • Joan & The Giants – Born In The Wrong Time
  • Lost Casual – Woman, Mr Rhodes – Can’t You Tell
  • Memory Motel – The Search
  • Noah Church – Filled With Dread
  • Ruby Jackson – You’ve Changed,
  • Simon O’Hagan – Oh Well
  • Sunset Avenue – Change It Up
  • The Smashed Avocados – Hey Ga
  • WCB – Moon Boi
  • Yasmina Sadiki – Bleed Out
  • YUMI – Better without You


  • Angharad Drake – Babysitter
  • MF Tomlinson – Winter Time Blues
  • Parker – Sofa Bed
  • Lottie McLeod – Bridge


  • Chela – Hard 4 You
  • Dolce Blue – Valentino
  • Siobhan Cotchin – When The Curtain Closes
  • South Summit – Sidelines
  • Little Guilt – Dancing while Behind


  • J-Milla – Nicest
  • Oscar The Wild – Unafraid


  • Floozy – Orange Peels
  • Merpire – Habit
  • Radio Free Alice – Look What You’ve Done
  • Jarabi Band – Djamana
  • Juice Webster – In The Zone
  • Noah Vernon – Back N Forth


  • Yung Milla – Land Downunder


  • Mikeala Cougar – Can You Tell

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.


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Usually a selection of the top 30, this year Happy Mag expanded their finalist pool to 40 deserving acts. In amongst the 40 finalists is local songwriter, Noah Vernon offering up latest body Back N Forth.

You might recognise Vernon from his acoustic spots at The Belmont Hotel, The Grovedale Hotel and Queen of the West, or from his original blend of R&B, soul, pop, rock and folk with stellar singles ‘Rocketship‘ and ‘Anxiety’. The beloved Geelong local has been honing his songwriting and sound since 2017. His latest track ‘DONNIE DARKO’, released 1 March 2024, is a testament to his artistic growth.

With a prize pool of over $30,000 including vinyl pressing, high quality recording gear, and plug-in packages, the competition prize aims to setup artists to amplify their career. The grand prize is a single pressed by Zenith Records, alongside a list of runner-up prizes.

This year the magazine has enlisted a wealth of knowledge for their judging panel including ARIA award-winning singer Ben Lee, and industry heavyweights Abbie Chatfield, Akala Newman, Dave Jenkins Jr., Jadey O’Regan, Ash McGregor, Pam Thornback, Andy Golledge and Emmy Mack, all with the tough task of selecting the winner.

More details on the competition and finalist can be found here.