Hottest 100 Wrap-Up

July 13, 2009

The winning song.

Well, the countdown is over.  With our next-door neighbours moving in, we serenaded their arrival in the only possible way; lots of good food, alcohol and very, very loud music. And to everyone’s utter surprise (not), Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana pipped everyone at the post, and took out the number 1 spot. But what of the other 99? Was the countdown rubbish? Biased? An accurate depiction of musical tastes over the past century? Twitter, the Triple J site and numerous other social networks have been amass with comments about the once-a-decade event. Here’s my thoughts.

What a week of music it has been. I was a little dubious to begin with when i found out the structure of the J’s perennial music countdown. Splayed out over an entire week? In the end though i thought it worked fabulously (even if it was a thinly-veiled way to get more listeners). It increased the hype, to the point where everyone was waiting with baited breath for the mysterious top 20 on Sunday afternoon. Personally, I was glued to my radio all week. Also of note was the station’s use of social media; on that alone it deserves to be congratulated. It used twitter, facebook, their website and on-air with a ferocity that i haven’t witnessed before. Good work, guys.

And now, the inevitable analysis:

Every year when the countdown ends, there are always the haters. And naturally, being the most popular songs ‘of all time’, the backlash would be more intense than ever. And it was. I heard reactions as harsh as “Triple J, you are complete rubbish, I’m never listening to you again”. But there was also plenty of praise. Personally, i was among the latter category. While of course the list had faults (when does it not?), overall it was pretty darn good. I was stoked to see 8 out of my 10 votes actually make an appearance, which was much more than i was expecting. To see TV on the Radio make it in with Wolf Like Me (even if it was only at number 99) made my week.

One trend i did notice, as did many others in the blogosphere, was the lack of female artists in the countdown. Literally, there were none. Massive Attack, with their guest female vocalists, came as close as it got. But why? Why is Australia (and the world, for that matter), so adverse to staying, quality female musicians? I can think of plenty of artists straight off the top of my head- and not just recent ones either- that could (should?) have had songs up there.

Like many, I think it has to do with the voters. It was pretty easy to see what the main demographic of Triple J is from this countdown. Males in their mid 20’s had the most influence voting, and it showed. But while this is why so many people seem to be complaining, is it justified? After all, it is the HOTTEST 100. Not the best 100 songs of all time. Because let’s face it, if it was judged on musical quality, then surely Mozart would have got a look in somewhere. I think that’s what everyone is overlooking:

How can one person decide if a song is ‘better’ than another?

It’s all about personal taste. That’s why it’s a democracy. And regardless of whether everyone is happy or not about it, the majority has spoken. What would make a more accurate countdown? Only if the whole world voted? Of course more recent songs are going to be more popular; it’s what most people readily remember. Realisitically, it could only be ever completely accurate if everyone who had ever lived voted. And even then that’s not going to provide a accurate depiction. What would the cavemen have voted for?

Overall, I was pretty happy. I’m not about to switch off my radio and completely boycott Triple J. But i’m not about to take the countdown for gospel either. It is what it is: a great weekend of music. Can’t wait till 2019.

Oh, and PS: I loved the fact that Triple J managed to Rickroll the entire country. Pure gold.

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