Triple J’s annual faux democratic institution, the Hottest 100, has delivered another mixed bag for 2013. Did your artists make it onto the list?
A whopping 43% of artists in the countdown hail from Australia. This echoes the success that Australian bands are having overseas – take a look at the huge Aussie contingent for Coachella. In particular, Sydney band The Preatures took out #9 with their dance worthy hit “Is This How You Feel?”
Boy and Bear‘s catchy “Southern Sun” climbed to #41, whilst rockers Kingswood deservedly placed at #53 with “Ohio.” Brisbane boys Violent Soho should be damn pleased with an impressive #14, proving one of the more popular live acts of 2013. And of course, nobody could be surprised that Flume and Matt Corby cracked the top ten.
Top international acts saw fair recognition, with the heart wrenching “Strong” by London Grammar at #10, back to back with “The Wire” from sibling band Haim. Arguably the best track off Yeezus, Kanye‘s visceral “Black Skinhead” scraped into the top 20. Finally, with their brilliant reinvention though Random Access Memories, wacky duo Daft Punk claimed three slots on the Hottest 100.
“Riptide.” Really? Yes, it is a popular song, and deserving of a top ten slot. But number one? People may have been sick of hearing “Royals,” but Lorde‘s dramatic take on wealth obsession feels more intelligent and unique than Vance Joy‘s ukulele driven semi-anthem.
Then there are the ‘what the fuck?’ songs. There are some disliked songs that don’t fit personal taste, but at least they can be respected and their popularity can be understood. For example, “Graceless” by The National is rather bland, but I can appreciate why it resonates with fans. But there are others like Major Lazer‘s “Jessica” which is enough to bring on a bout of nausea, and Fatboy Slim‘s “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat” truly makes me wonder why the sun hasn’t imploded.
There were some surprising absences from list too. No song from the loveable album Learn To Exist by The Jungle Giants made in into the list. Cub Sport‘s summer invoking “Paradise” was also undeservedly absent, as were tracks from the talented Abbe May and the UK’s Jake Bugg.
There are three ‘Like A Version’ covers in the Hottest 100. There’s nothing wrong with covers per se, but the Like A Version entries seem to skew the list even more than normal. Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky” made the list twice, thanks to San Cisco capitalising on the track’s popularity. Should the merit of a band be judged on a one off cover, which is instigated by Triple J themselves? Whilst ‘Like A Version’ has provided some great imaginings of classic songs, their inclusion on the Hottest 100 takes away from celebrating the originality of the year.
As some have already pointed out, there were too few female artists in the list. But to be fair, this affects the industry as a whole, not just the Hottest 100. Were there also not too few Indigenous artists? LGBT artists? The female artists (or bands with female members) who did place on the list, snagged themselves a heap of votes. Haim, London Grammar, The Preatures, Lana Del Rey and Lorde all had songs in the top fifteen (Lorde had 3). Lauren Mayberry‘s engaging vocals brought Chvrches to #28 with “Recover,” whilst Haim and London Grammar both had two other tracks recognised in the list.
Admittedly, Triple J is the best Australia has to recognise local music, by providing a helping hand to those deemed worthy. We can see classic rock falling out of favour, which I personally think is sad. The Arctic Monkeys and Queens of The Stone Age held the genre up with multiple entries. Yet rock has more than dominated the countdown in past years. It’s simply the turn of the trend for the station’s demographic. The important thing is to remember that this countdown is not the be all and end all of great Australian music. It’s out there in many diverse genres, and it is impossible for one station to account for all of it. Go forth and find the next year’s Hottest 100!