Back in November 2015 I posted a little 4,000-odd-word post, complete with end notes, analysing trends in Triple J’s Hottest 100s from years past and attempting to predict, before a vote had been cast, what the Top 10 might be. It was a joy to research and write, and when it caught the attention of Triple J, MusicFeeds, ToneDeaf, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian, among others, I was surprised and thrilled. My goal was to write an essay demonstrating my love of the Hottest 100 and the songs inherent and to spread some of that love to this website’s readership. After the negativity that surrounded the 2014 countdown, I wanted to promote the Hottest 100’s positive attributes, like its fostering of friendships shared listening to music, the promotion of Australian music and the unmatched brilliance of a day spent beer in one hand, sausage sandwich in the other, one eye on the cricket, the other eye on the tennis, both feet in the pool and 100 songs blasted through your aural canals. I am very pro-Hottest 100 and my post was in many ways the manifestation of my rejection of the cynicism that has laced recent criticisms of the event.
This follow-up post is the follow-up to that first prediction, which was only the Top 10, and includes a full 100 songs. I want to make a couple of points clear about the Model Triple J Hottest 100 (MH100), which I am bolding in the next few paragraphs so people skim reading still catch the gist…
My list is not based on counting votes harvested from shared ballots on social media. Whilst I have seen quite a few ballots on Twitter and Instagram in my normal social mediaing, I have not counted any of these votes, nor have I attempted to recognise trends. Because I actually enjoy the surprise factor of the countdown, I have actually tried to avoid sighting these shared votes (and the betting markets, for that matter), though I have naturally absorbed some of these franchising opportunities by osmosis and some of this will no doubt have filtered through subconsciously to my list.
My countdown is not intended to be especially accurate. I’m calling my list a Model Hottest 100 because it’s a bit like when Lisa joined the Model United Nations in The Simpsons: it’s a hypothetical approximation of the Hottest 100. It might be spot on, it might be way off, chances are it’s somewhere in the middle (my personal pride over/under market is 65.5 of the tracks make the actual Hottest 100, with my Top 10 all in the Top 30). I’ve built it based on historical trends, taking into account the sex of the vocalist(s), the performers’ nationalities, the genre, commercial performance, Feature Album status, the number of singles released from the album, the number of unique artists and countries making the cut, and many more statistical quirks besides.
My countdown is supposed to be fun! One of the major changes from my original Top 10 to my revised list is that Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have gone Downtown, quite literally, from the penthouse to, well not quite the outhouse, but a more affordable apartment nonetheless. Pretty much the only negative feedback I got from the first post was that I had shamefully included Downtown in the Top 10. I definitely overestimated the resilience of Macklemore’s appeal, and while I am certain Downtown will make the actual cut, I have lost all faith in Downtown’s ability to take out a flagship position. Please don’t take this too seriously! I welcome any comments and witty feedback but know that this is all so inconsequential — you’re not Kendrick — you don’t gotta have a bone to pick!
For all these reasons, my countdown is not meant to spoil the Hottest 100! I actually hope I’m wrong — very wrong — so that the countdown is a surprise for me and for everyone else as well. When I first fell in love with the Hottest 100 (and it’s been a loving, caring relationship that has lasted longer than any interpersonal one!), the surprise factor was a huge part of the appeal. Until the advent of betting markets and Warmest 100s and Spotify playlists and sharing on social media and Buzzfeed campaigns — that is, before the build-up of the Hottest 100 industrial complex — it really was a guessing game as to which songs would end up where. I remember a music-loving friend having never heard of The Whitlams, let alone having heard No Aphrodisiac, when Gough himself announced his namesakes had overcome favourites Blur and Chumbawamba to the big prize. Although I don’t share my contemporaries’ retrospective cultural cringe for The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy), a song I still like, I was desperate for Cigarettes Will Kill You, Ben Lee’s masterpiece of late 90s shoegazing ante-emo whinging, to hit #1. I’ll even admit to having no idea what song had vanquished Straight Lines, surely an unbeatable winner from the day of its release, when Silverchair was played in the penultimate position for 2008 (in my defence, Knights of Cydonia was released by Muse 18 months earlier — how was I to know it was still eligible?!). Simply put, a lot of the surprise factor, and with it the fun factor, has evanesced over the past five years, and I lament that change, and I was intrigued and affirmed to hear Triple J employees telling me that they actually actively avoid seeing the votes come in because they (a) don’t want it ruined and (b) are terribly afraid they’ll give something away to others, spoiling it for them.
There used to be a time when you listened to the Hottest 100 as one last chance to hear all your favourites before the new year brought with it a new release schedule to wash them all away. Six months later (!) the CD would be released and you could indulge again in the ~40 curated songs; a compendium of the year that you would listen to on repeat until you couldn’t listen to it anymore and then you would shelve it in your CD tower stacker underneath all the previous ones you’d collected. Then, after a patient wait, you thought you had forgotten the words to Walking On The Sun and you excitedly tore it out again and slipped it into your Sony Discman, pumped up the volume and realised “it ain’t no joke I’d like to buy the the world a toga”, or at least that’s what I thought the line was as a naive schoolboy. With instant access to every song ever, via music streaming services, YouTube, piracy, or a la carte iTunes song purchasing for only $2 and change (in my day, a CD single cost $7.95!), we don’t have to rely on radio stations or compilation CDs to get our fix. And of course this Spotify Age is miles better than our slave-to-the-machine recent past, but just because you’ve gained a lot from advances doesn’t mean the obsolete technology was completely without merit: there’s a reason people still like wearing watches with hands and dials and no Apple logo.
Hopefully this wall of text acts as a suitable alert for people not wanting to see my Model Hottest 100, for fear it will spoil the big day, despite my best intentions. Here follows is my list, with more stats and analysis and prose to follow afterwards (and please forgive my very basic multimedia user experience)…
Patrick’s Model Hottest 100 of 2015
Model Hottest 100 Stats
- Using broadly applied genre classifications, the MH100 contains 60 Indie/Alternative/Rock tracks, 26 Electronic/Dance songs and 14 Hip-Hop/Rap/RnB jams. This is very much in keeping with the persistent trend away from traditional Triple J guitar-based music and towards more MacBook Air-based music production, which my good friends at ToneDeaf covered earlier this month.
- The 100 songs are belted out by 63 male voices and 29 females; there are 6 male/female combos and 2 instrumentals. The male count is well short of the all-time mean of 79.14 per cent, while 6 combos is in keeping with the past five years’ major surge in both sexes singing on a track (30 combos have placed over the past 5 H100s; there were only 9 in the 5 years before that). Two instrumentals would equal the all-time records set in 1994 and 1997 (Sweetness & Light / Mathar; Nightmare / Da Funk). It might be wishful thinking but my modelling of 29 female songs would make Hottest 100 history and, incidentally, would track with the steady but slow trend towards greater sex equality in the Hottest 100. The current record-holding year is 2011, when 26 songs carried only female voices. Over the 22 years of the Hottest 100, 17.18 per cent of the tracks have carried female-only vocals (378 songs).
- Eight different countries are represented in the MH100: Australia (55), United Kingdom (27), United States (19) Canada (4), New Zealand (3), Denmark (2), Jamaica (2) and France (1) [the numbers add up to 113 because of collaborations and the like]. Over the past five countdowns, there have been (2014 first) 10, 7, 10, 9 and 7 different countries making the cut. The countries in question are broadly on trend: Australia, the UK and the US have long been the Big 3; we know New Zealanders will do anything to disrupt anything Australian; and — would you believe?! — one of the five Scandinavian/Nordic/North Sea countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) has been repped in 20 of the 22 Hottest 100s, only missing out in 1998 and 2001! If it’s not MØ from Denmark it will be Iceland’s Of Monsters And Men, Norwegians Highasakite, hard rocking Finns Lordi or beloved Swedish troupe Miike Snow (and yes I know Andrew Wyatt is American).
- I’ve got Major Lazer at #100 and #1, mirroring Powderfinger’s tops and tails from 1999.
- Triple J Unearthed High winners Mosquito Coast sneak in at #91. Japanese Wallpaper, the year prior Unearthed High victor, was at #97.
- Both Jarryd James’ original and Wombat’s Like A Version cover of Do You Remember make the list. This last happened in 2013, when Get Lucky hit #3 (Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams) and #39 (San Cisco), and it has happened twice before as well (Harpoon & Take Me Out). On that note, I only have one Like A Version in the MH100, down from three last year. Again: wishful thinking.
- I have Weeknd with consecutive hits at #18 and #19. An act having back-to-back tracks in the Hottest 100 has occurred in 12 of the 22 previous countdown. Never has an act gone 3-in-a-row, though Quan Yeomans hit #26, #27 and #28 as part of Regurgitator and Happyland.
- Shot Fox by Alpine at #42 leading into Dead Fox by Courtney Barnett at #41 recalls Ramona Was A Waitress by Paul Dempsey at #32 leading into The Waitress Song by Seth Sentry at #31 in 2009. These are the only two song in H100 history have ‘waitress’ in the title.
- There are 71 distinctly different acts in the MH100. There was 72 in 2014 (this happened by pure serendipity). There were 84 in 1993 — we’re becoming boring!
- Former winners Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are back for their first appearance since topping 2012 with Thrift Shop. Their return means Denis Leary is the only winner to appear in only one Hottest 100. Other past winners to make the MH100 are Muse, Chet Faker, Vance Joy, Julia Stone and Mumford & Sons. Six former winners is up from two in 2014, one in 2013, two in 2012 and zero in 2011.
- Lean On at #1 will mean France and Denmark become the sixth and seventh countries to provide a winner, after (in order) United States, Ireland, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. France’s record highest is #3 Get Lucky by Daft Punk in 2013. Denmark’s is, and you’ll like this, #72 Lucas With The Lid Off by Lucas in 1994.
- There are two Australian #1 hits in the MH100 (Downtown & Lean On) and that tracks with all but one Hottest 100 (2009) including a chart-topper.
- Tame Impala has five tracks in the MH100, while Courtney Barnett, Florence and Wombats all have four. This aligns with those artists’ historically strong performance, appearance in the Triple J 2015 Albums Poll and Feature Album status.
- Just for fun, Hoops is at #5 in the MH100 and in my #P100. We both had Surrender by Smith Street Band at #69 last year!
And for the record, here is my ballot: