Thoughts On Triple J’s Hottest 100 Of 2016 (Stats, Trivia & Commentary)


Here are some thoughts on Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2016, broadcast on Thursday 26 January 2017 and won by Never Be Like You by Flume & Kai…

Call it what you want…

I have intentionally included the date of the countdown above because my first point concerns this directly, and not just because the #16 entry in the countdown was January 26 (which, incidentally, is an incorrect way of the writing the day) by AB Original & Dan Sultan. While it may have been bubbling under the surface for some time, and plenty of woke individuals will claim to have held this view for years, perhaps decades, it is now patently clear that the Hottest 100’s relationship with this date — Australia/Invasion/Survival Day — must end. The opinion writers at The Australian may not agree but Triple J exists to serve and represent the interests of young Australians, Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander ones among them, and the enthusiasm for change is now much stronger than the inertia holding the Hottest 100 down to a largely arbitrary anniversary. Triple J should be on the frontline of these issues, not trailing the pack, and it is weird-cum-embarrassing for a highly placed artist — AB Original in this case — being given airtime to rail against the very celebration they are being celebrated in.

In 2018, 26 January will fall on a Friday. Triple J should hand over control of the station that day to Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander DJs, announcers, comedians, performers, writers, journalists et al for them to program their fave music, Indigenous Australian or otherwise. Then, on Saturday 27 January 2018, Triple J should count down the Hottest 100. From then on, the Hottest 100 should always be counted down on the first Saturday after 26 January. It will take exactly one second for people to adapt to this new paradigm. In one fell swoop, Triple J can foster Indigenous talent, respect the invaluable culture of Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, be a trailblazer for change and, without much interruption at all, count down another Hottest 100.

I adore you…

All told, I thought it was a brilliant countdown. I was a bit miffed that Triple J revealed the 66:34 ratio of Australian to non-Australian entries as I originally perceived that to be a rather large spoiler but as the countdown played out, it was less deleterious to my enjoyment as first feared. Because so many songs considered Australian present as international — for example Flume’s tracks with Canadian/Swedish/American vocalists, Peking Duk’s collab with Elliphant and Illy’s duet with pom Ann-Marie — it was nowhere near as overtly Australian as it could have been. Eight of the Top 10 being Australia greatly reduces the list’s relevance as a global musical document but the days of that being the case are long gone anyway. The Hottest 100 is very much an exercise in parochial aural cheerleading, with the international artists only permitted in order for the myriad homegrown heroes to have someone to beat, a bit like when Australia hosts the Commonwealth Games.

Triple J’s delivery of the countdown was outstanding: the first 50 tracks took pretty much exactly four hours, while the Top 50 continued for 4 hours and 20 minutes. Gone was the needless and tedious attenuation that normally attends the Top 20; Veronica and Lewis did a cracking job shepherding the tracks, never lapsing into self-indulgence and showcasing their on-air skills simply by letting the songs do the talking for them. It was also noted in my company that there had been a merciful reduction in the number of dipsomaniacs invited on to the airwaves to share their dubious bon mots and revelry anecdotes.

And we sang death to the lads…

While swimming in the glorious azure waters at Thirroul Beach this morning I took inventory of all the Triple J favourites to completely miss out in the Hottest 100. First among equals is Ball Park Music. Erstwhile scorer of seven places across three Hottest 100s and furnishers of the #5 LP in Triple J’s 2016 Album Poll (Every Night The Same Dream), Ball Park Music’s radio hits Nihilist Party Anthem, Whipping Boy, Pariah and Leef were conspicuous by their absence. That means BPM joins Royal Blood (Royal Blood, 2014), Bloc Party (Intimacy, 2008) and Doves (Lost Souls, 2000) as the only four acts, since the beginning of the Triple J Album Poll in 1999, to score a Top 10 Album but no tracks in the Hottest 100.

Other notable (because of past successes, Feature Album status or general hitmakingness through 2016) absentees include James Blake, Olympia, Jezabels, Bon Iver, Aurora, M83, Nick Murphy, Emma Louise, Julia Jacklin, Ngaiire, Kendrick Lamar, San Cisco, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Last Shadow Puppets and Two Door Cinema Club.

You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me…

It wasn’t a great countdown for past winners: only Angus & Julia Stone cracked the 100, and even then not as the unified outfit that won in 2010 with Big Jet Plane. Angus was at #62 Marinade and #87 Uptown Folks under his new guise Dope Lemon while Julia was lending her considerable vocal talents to Golden Features’ #70 Wolfie. (Incidentally, this is the third year in a row that a distinctly up or down part of town has made the Hottest 100, following #6 Uptown Funk and #18 Downtown.)

Kings Of Leon, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Nick Murphy (né Chet Faker) released tracks but didn’t place. Other old faves from the high places like Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Ben Lee, Nicole Millar, Matt Corby and Coldplay were also omitted. Sometimes it seems like the worst thing you can do for your future Hottest 100 chances is do well in the Hottest 100!

So Sentimental…

That said, there were some delightful returns to the countdown from some famed music makers. Paul Kelly was #9 in 2000 with Every Fucking City and, 16 years on, he made a long-awaited return on AB Original’s cover of his own #45 Dumb Things (Like A Version). This broke Avalanches’ prodigal son effort set earlier in the countdown. #91 Subways broke the 15-year drought since #8 Since I Left You in 2001. The longest gap between Hottest 100 entries heading into the countdown was Zack De La Rocha’s 13 years between #18 Renegades Of Funk in 2001 and #72 Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) w/ Run The Jewels in 2014.

Not breaking any records but welcome back to Blink-182! #54 Bored To Death broke a 13-year stretch since #53 Feeling This in 2003.

Radiohead scored #79 Burn The Witch meaning the beloved Ox-rockers have appeared in the first (annual) and most recent Hottest 100.

Radiohead, Paul Kelly Daft Punk, and Blink-182 are the only acts from the 2016 Hottest 100 to have charted a song in a countdown from the 1990s.

But I’m Not Keeping Score…

Few things can beat On Hold by xx coming in at #XX in the Hottest C. It broke my heart when xx’s Angels came in at #XIX in MMXII. Coming close to matching this numerical/musical synchronicity was Illy & Ann-Marie’s #23 Catch-22. Catfish’s 7 was at #19, 1955 by Hoodies et al was #4, Glass Animals’ Season 2 Episode 3 was #98. One Dance by Drake, Wizkid & Kyla was #31, which at least has a one in it!

Welcome To The World Of Our Love…

Drizzy had two songs in the Hottest 100: #31 One Dance and #99 Too Good, both of them featuring artists from countries that have never previously been represented in the countdown. Wizkid is Nigerian and Rihanna is from Barbados. Barbados is the 21st different country to be repped and, naturally, Nigera is the 22nd.

Eleven (11) different countries made the countdown, with Australia supplying the most tracks for the 18th year in a row. The United States reclaimed second spot with 20 tracks after the United Kingdom usurped them in 2015. The UK was third with 11 tracks. Of those 11, seven tracks were from English acts, three from one Welsh band and the 11th was by Guernsey producer Mura Masa. I’m fairly sure this is the first time a Guernsey act has scored a guernsey in the Hottest 100.

We Could Jump The Statelines…

I listened to the countdown down in the Illawarra with two friends from university, one of them Tasmanian and the other from the Australian Capital Territory. We chilled on the couch, hung out with some hang gliders and were shooting hoops when Ultralight Beam came on. It was like living in a dream. Luca Brasi was repping the Apple Isle at #90 Anything Near Conviction, while SAFIA and Peking Duk were flying the flag for the enclave with four songs throughout, including #9 Stranger. New South Wales (Flume) pipped Queensland (Amy Shark), followed by Victoria (Tash Sultana) and South Australia (Hilltop Hoods) for a cross-country Top 4. Birds Of Tokyo got the job done, just, for Western Australia with #100 Brace, while the Northern Territory failed to make an impression. I guess Jessica Mauboy will just have to try harder to be more like Beyonce in 2017…

More to follow…

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