Call me un-Australian, a non-conforming individual, a meta-hipster or what you will, but I just don’t see the appeal of the Triple J Hottest 100. A countdown which somehow seems to seduce both hipsters and true-blue Aussie bogans into not only participating in the voting process but also tuning into the radio station for an entire day.
A favourite past-time of many who like to celebrate Australia day with a few cold ones, an assorted selection of traditional BBQ meats (sausages, steak and chicken) and a radio tuned to Triple J in the background as people comment on songs being played so far and what will be in the top 20, top 10 and top 3.
All the while I try and hide the fact that most of the music does not appeal to me nor do I really care who makes it into the top 10 or the countdown itself. When asked for my predictions, I casually steer the conversation into a new direction, people have luckily had a few drinks, so nobody notices my verbal sleight-of-hand.
Maybe I am not in the majority, perhaps I have a problem and a deep underlying sense of disdain for the Hottest 100 tradition that has been engrained into the Australian backbone for over 25 years since hitting the scene in 1988. Maybe I am just not cool enough to like or want to participate in the Hottest 100?
Democracy is great and the Hottest 100 is a musical form of democracy, citizens vote to elect the musical constituents they deem to be the worthy of mass Australian media acclaim for a day or two after the countdown is done and then we go about our normal lives for another year.
Then there is the controversy around getting Taylor Swift into the countdown in the form of the horrible “#Tay4Hottest100” social media shit storm. Ultimately Swift was excluded from the countdown, but ironically Bruno Mars (an artist who gets tonnes of airplay on the more commercial stations) is somehow an exception?
Don’t get me started on the inclusion of other relatively big name acts like; Sia, Lorde, Vance Joy (Taylor Swift even covered one of his damn songs and hand-picked him as a supporting act for her Australian tour), Kendrick Lamar, Jack White and the more laughable inclusion of one of the biggest rock bands out there: Foo Fighters.
I don’t like Taylor Swift’s music any more than most people with decent music taste do, but the exclusion of her from the countdown because she is “too mainstream” is just elitist bullshit, especially when the likes of Foo Fighters who are definitely not a struggling Indie rock band from Melbourne make it onto the list.
I was proud to see The Amity Affliction make it into the countdown, they’re a great Australian band who encompass a strong DIY ethic that has finally paid off for them. The countdown is great exposure for a band like The Amity Affliction looking for a new fan or perhaps to help bolster their merchandise and CD sales if only temporarily.
Sadly, most of the music just isn’t for me. There is a severe lack of variety within the Hottest 100, looking back at the earlier years you had great artists like Nirvana, Joy Division, Pearl Jam, Faith No More and other iconic nineties bands making it into the countdown, intertwined with pop and hip-hop. The countdown used to be pretty diverse and had something for everyone.
This years countdown which was playing in the background at a BBQ gathering I was relatively sober at, I noticed most of it was either indie rock or electronic music (there was a bit of dubstep and dance in there). With exception of bands like The Amity Affliction, the countdown was relatively uninspiring for me, but others seemed to enjoy it. Don’t get me started on The Hilltop Hoods, I struggle to contain my animal like rage when I hear that Cosby Sweater song playing.
Perhaps I have a problem of being too un-Australian. Maybe I should get involved and leave my music elitism out of this. After all, it is only an event that rolls around once per year that manages to galvanise the misled youth and XXXX drinking tradies into actually participating in something.
Maybe I should focus less on the countdown and just chill? Perhaps I just need to accept the fact that I am not cool enough to like any of the music or recognise 99% of the artists on the countdown. I should just stick with what I know and contain my music opinions out of fear of being perceived as some kind of music snob who hates Australia.
Then there is this Chet Faker guy. Not only was one of his tracks chosen for the number #1 spot on the countdown, but he also seemed to have a few others in the top 10 as well. Apparently people really like Chet, or perhaps they are hypnotised by his mighty hipster beard where he likes to keep his pet budgie Nelson, hidden away from customs in an elaborate maze of facial hair.
I tried getting into his music and I think he has a pretty good voice, but all of his music seems to sound the same to me. Either way, he has done incredibly well for himself: so good for him. There seemed to be a little controversy at the BBQ I attended where the gathering-goers were split 50/50 about his inclusion in the top 10 and taking out the number 1 spot.
I’ll just stick to my self-curated Spotify playlists laden with copious amounts of blues, non-Australian hip-hop, metal and likeable non-radio rock. You can have your Hottest 100 and if it makes you happy participating in the Australian tradition of caring what gets played in the countdown, then do what makes you happy and don’t let people like me tell you otherwise. I’ll happily consume beer and eat fine cuts of meat.
TL;DR – I don’t like the Triple J Hottest 100, nor most most of the artists or music that finds its way onto the list year after year.