Let’s talk about the Hottest 100.

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Australia, I want you to take a long, hard look at yourself, and think about what you’ve done.

Let us begin with some vaguely interesting, yet irrelevant facts:

  • The first three songs to reach #1 in the yearly Hottest 100 countdown all had one word names: Dennis Leary – “Asshole” [1993]; The Cranberries – “Zombie” [1994]; Oasis – “Wonderwall” [1995].
  • Between 2004 and 2010, all of the winning songs had three words in the title: Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out” [2004]; Bernard Fanning – “Wish You Well” [2005]; Augie March – “One Crowded Hour” [2006]; Muse – “Knights of Cydonia” [2007]; Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire” [2008]; Mumford & Sons – “Little Lion Man” [2009]; Angus & Julia Stone – “Big Jet Plane” [2010].
  • In 1995, Alanis Morissette managed to get three songs into the countdown [#39 “You Oughta Know”; #85 “Hand in my Pocket”; #90 “All I Really Want”] without having ever been played on triple j.  This is because Jagged Little Pill is a great album, despite whatever the music snobs at triple j think.  The only other song to ever make the countdown without any triple j rotation was “Wheels” by the Foo Fighters in 2009, which is strange because it’s the worst song that Dave Grohl and co. have ever released.

And now, to discuss yesterday’s “thing”.  I shall highlight just a few songs that made their way into the Hottest 100 of 2012, and offer my own opinion of the situation.  For the sake of comparison, I shall also make occasional mention of two of my favourite Hottest 100 countdowns – 1995 and 1997.  This is just a way of offering some perspective.

Disclaimer of sorts:  Feel free to disagree with any of all of the following judgements.  Yesterday’s countdown made it clear exactly how out of touch I am with triple j listeners and their voting habits.  If you know the secret to understanding the likes of Flume, please share.  I love music – and I pride myself on my varied and eclectic tastes – but there are some things that I just can’t get my head around.

  • #94. The Gaslight Anthem – “45”: I like this song!  I know this song!  I didn’t vote for this song, but I’m glad that it made it into the countdown.
  • #78. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – “Household Goods”: With a name like Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, I was expecting more.  And by “more” I mean “actual music”.  This was the first song that came on after I turned on the radio to listen to the Hottest 100 countdown, and I almost gave up and turned it off then and there.  It wasn’t a good sign of things to come.
  • #73. Ben Folds Five – “Draw A Crowd”: This is the first song that I voted for to make it in.  I expected it to place a lot higher.  But apparently stupid novelty hip-hop songs are far more popular than witty piano-based nerd rock these days.
  • #70. The Presets – “Promises”: In 1997, “Place Your Hands” by Reef placed at #70.  It’s a good song.  So is “Promises” – even if it does sound like it came out of the UK in the mid-80s.  Although I didn’t vote for it, I did expect this song to do better.  People prefer dubstep over 80s throwbacks, it seems.
  • #67. Flume – “On Top” feat. T-Shirt: I must’ve been living under a rock for the past twelve months, because I hadn’t actually heard a Flume song until now.  And I know that I sound incredibly out of touch when I say this, but his music just sounds like my computer is running slow and the speakers keep skipping.  In 1995, Chris Isaak came in at #67 with “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing”.  You’d never hear a song like that in today’s countdown.  One would probably argue that Chris Isaak is too “adult contemporary”.  Still, I prefer “adult contemporary” over whatever the hell Flume is.  Also, I’m assuming that the T-Shirt who is a guest in this song is not the British pop group from the 90s [remember “You Sexy Thing”?].  That’s a pity.
  • #54. The Bamboos – “I Got Burned” feat. Tim Rogers: I voted for this one too!  But I expected it to be in the top 20.  This song is everywhere, and it’s so bloody catchy.  Also: Tim Rogers!
  • #49. Thundamentals – “Brother” [from Like a Version]: I honestly have no idea how this song could have made it into the top 50 of this countdown.  Firstly, I feel that it’s silly to include Like a Versions in the countdown, as they’re not proper singles.  Actual produced covers are one thing, but performances from the radio studio?  No thanks.  And secondly, it’s not even a good cover.  They absolutely destroyed the song.
  • #43. The Lumineers – “Ho Hey”:  I expected this song to be a lot closer to #1.  I was expecting it to at least be in the top 20.  Again, this is how out of touch I am…
  • #41. British India – “I Can Make You Love Me”: Another song that I expected to do better.  Why so few rock songs in the top 20?
  • #40. Arctic Monkeys – “R U Mine?”: Another song that I voted for, and my highest scoring one, too.  Again, I thought that this song would do better.  But then again, I thought “Cornerstone” was going to be in the top ten back in the 2009 countdown, and it didn’t even make the top 100.  It seems that the youth of today don’t appreciate the genius of Alex Turner.
  • #34. Lana Del Rey – “Born to Die”: WHY IS LANA DEL REY ONE OF TRIPLE J’S DARLINGS?  SHE IS AS MANUFACTURED AS THEY COME.  If triple j play her, then they may as well play Lady Gaga.  I GIVE UP.
  • #29. Loon Lake – “Cherry Lips”: If only this were a cover of the Garbage song.  I mean, it’s not bad, but when I hear “Cherry Lips” I think of Shirley Manson, and this is just not the same.  Fun note: in 1997, Third Eye Blind came in at #29 with “Semi-Charmed Life”.  Now, that’s a great song.
  • #27. Ball Park Music – “Surrender”: I should have voted for this song.  That is all.
  • #15. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – “Same Love”: This song has a really good message, but that doesn’t stop it from being a really bad song.  I wish it were better, I really do.  But it’s awful.
  • #12. Icona Pop – “I Love It” feat Charli XCX: I was shocked enough to see this song on the longlist, but then to see its overall position… oh my.  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!  This is the theme song for a bloody spin-off of Jersey Shore, for fuck’s sake.  It’s a pop song.  And I have absolutely no problem with it as a pop song.  But as #12 in the triple j Hottest 100… SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT.  This would be like the Spice Girls getting into the 1996 countdown.  IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.  I DO NOT LIKE IT.  I NEED A GLASS OF WATER NOW PLEASE.
  • #1. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – “Thrift Shop”: Don’t even get me started.  I know Lizzy likes this song.  I know lots of people like this song.  I don’t completely hate it, but I do have a problem with what essentially is a novelty song being held in the same calibre as previous Hottest 100 winners.  Okay, so it’s a “fun” song, but does that really make it the best song released in the last year?

I was going to comment on more songs, but the whole thing just makes me feel angry and confused.  Surely I’m not the only one.  What did you think of this year’s countdown?

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2 Comments

  • Lizzy
    5 years ago

    Hey I thought I’d respond here rather than on my blog. I don’t know what the “best song” of 2012 was, or if I could ever decide that. Thrift Shop was my favourite, it made me dance, it made me laugh, I like it. I am not really a “music person” though, like you are. I mean, I don’t actively seek new music, I listen to Triple J, and I like what I like. I don’t think Hottest 100 is about the best song, I think it is about the favourite song, and those are different things to me.

    I was surprised by a lot of things in the countdown too, I definitely thought Draw a Crowd would be a lot higher for example. Obviously, I respect your opinion on all the music listed here, even if I don’t agree with you on it all, but I have to say I *don’t* understand why Thrift Shop keeps getting called a “novelty” song. I don’t see how it’s any different to anything else, except that it’s less about shooting up n*ggers and sexy bitches and more about fun stuff I actually relate to. I also think that if you are as “out of touch” as you say you are, then it’s kind of unfair for you to be saying “what is wrong with you people?”. People like things you don’t, and voted for them, it’s as simple as that. I guess people are mad that Triple J isn’t as underground or something as it used to be, which blows my mind because like… the alternative will always become the mainstream, and it’ll make way for new alternatives, which is great thing. But that’s a discussion for another day.

  • 5 years ago

    Lizzy, you make some excellent points. Maybe it is silly of me to complain that other people’s tastes differ to mine. In fact, it certainly is. But what really bothers me here [and what I maybe haven’t conveyed quite so coherently in this blog post] is this:

    In the past, I have always understood the results of the Hottest 100. I may not have agreed with them, in that they didn’t align with my own votes, but I understood that the songs had some sort of appeal within the triple j audience, and that other people liked them. This year, I don’t get it. For the first time, I’m actually baffled by some of the inclusions. It’s not about not liking the songs, but about my confusion at their ranking. My mind simply cannot comprehend how that “I Love It” song could have possibly made #12. It makes no sense to me. If you were able to explain it, then I’d actually be grateful. Because I just don’t get it at all.

    It’s also really interesting for you to say that “people are mad that Triple J isn’t as underground or something as it used to be” – because, and this supports your argument quite well, and is interesting, which is why I am telling you, triple j has never actually been as “underground” as people think. Let me give you some examples:

    1995 – “Wonderwall” by Oasis came in at #1. That song was #1 on the ARIA charts and certified Gold in Aus. Number three that year? “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio. Everybody knows and loves that song. It was also #1 on the ARIA charts and went 3x platinum. Also in the Hottest 100 that year – “Waterfalls” by TLC. You can’t tell me that “Waterfalls” is underground. It actually beat “Wonderwall” on the end of year charts in Australia.

    1996 – The Mission: Impossible theme song came in at #68. You’ve probably got it stuck in your head now. I do. Dun dun da-da, dun dun da-da…

    1997 – #3 was “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. This is a song that I would consider akin to “Thrift Shop” in a way. When I call “Thrift Shop” a novelty song, this is the kind of thing that I’m comparing it to. And I love “Tubthumping”, but I don’t believe that it is worthy of representing an entire year of music. We’ll leave that to The Whitlams. Also in 1997, “Lovefool” by The Cardigans came in at #77.

    1998 – #1 was The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly for a White Guy”. That song couldn’t possibly be considered “underground”.

    And although I could go on for ages, I’m going to stop here – mainly because I know that you probably don’t care, but also because I’ve forgotten what point I was trying to make, and I’m more excited about sharing information that I find interesting due to my love of 90s music…

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