AFTER THE HYPE – Triple J’s Hottest 100 Countdown

And now back to our regularly scheduled presentation on Radio Friendly.


It’s been a little over two weeks since the almighty Hottest 100 Countdown, when the heavens open, and God outstretches His/Her hand and tunes your non-binary radio to 107.7FM.  Or for those who are in 2019, ask Siri to play Triple J on your $500 glorified speaker. Triple J: home of the ironically shit pre-pubescent moustaches, the ironic neck-flap hats at the expense of sun safety, and the not so ironic at the expense of sounding serious, Tom Tilley.  The day is January 27th. Not January 26 as was tradition up until last year.  It’s Hottest 100 Day now, ever since Triple J claimed to make the ‘not so political’, yet extremely political move to change the date of their countdown due to the controversies surrounding January 26th.  A move that continues to spark online debate.  The only thing that annoys me about the whole debacle is I look like a fucking idiot with Aussie Flag tattoos on my cheeks for a music countdown. 

The day is January 27th.  The mercury is in the thirties and I’m slapping on sunscreen as if I’ve never seen the sun before.  A tinnie of Gold rests firmly in my sweaty grasp.  The snags are defrosting. The customs of our annual Australia Day party have shifted a day.  Now let me be honest, the Hottest 100 was the only thing we really cared about when we were eighteen and getting shitfaced through a summer’s day.  Or is that just what I think now at twenty-five? I reminisce on the Edward Tally-Hands, the two-metre-high Toohey’s New wizard staffs, the thin layer of beer floating atop the pool water, and the fifty Woolies snags that wait to be cooked because you couldn’t walk past a cracker deal.  In the background, Frank Ocean’s Thinkin Bout You, alt-j’s Tessalate, and Kendrick Lamar’s Swimming Pools play.  The celebration too taboo to conduct on Australia Day, like Two-Up.  Now a memory striving to be relived with the same gusto, enthusiasm and comradery as before.  Or maybe I’m just too old for this shit.

For years I was a Hottest 100 fan, as I’ve explained many times to my friends.  I had every compilation CD starting from 2004 up to 2015.  It’s what sparked my love for various genres.  But 2018’s Hottest 100 was the first countdown I boycotted, as I explained in this shamelessly plugged article of mine.  I’ve been saying I’d do it for years, considering none of my top ten songs would have even been played on the ‘youth’ radio station.  And I guess I just didn’t need the social media gratification of posting my risqué top ten as done in previous years.  I’m a big boy now.  I can pat my own back when needed. 

So, my friends and I sit in the pool, burning in the unapologetic mid-day sun. Not unlike the snags on the barbeque.  We sweat, we drink, we ask Siri to turn it up a bit so we can hear whatever the fuck Billie Eilish is singing about.   Our conversations fuelled by the various drinks armed in our hands. Occasionally our ears harken back to the countdown, swiftly followed by ‘who the hell is this?’  I can’t answer that.  Me, Mr Radio Friendly.  I haven’t listened to Triple J in years.  I’m just here for the beers.  And the friends.

We’ve reached the top thirty and Post Malone plays.  Sorry, his collaboration with Swae Lee plays, Sunflower.  Only six tracks ahead of his hit single Better Now.  I’m sorry Triple J, I didn’t realise this was Nova.  I’ll go back to listening to Parquet Courts, DJ Koze, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and IDLES.  All of which would have happily slot into the countdowns of yesteryear. 

The pool has cooled down a notch.  We no longer swim in lukewarm bath water.  It’s top ten time.  After a brief celebration from my mates at Skegg’s Up In The Clouds at number eleven, Knees by Ocean Alley plays.  Ocean who? Dinosaurs by Ruby Fields.  Never heard of her. And upon first impressions, it’s kind of a downer. This was supposed to be a party. When the Party’s Over by Billie Eilish.  I spoke too soon. Suddenly this party is depressing.  We look to each other, silently sipping our sun-bleached drinks. Dean Lewis’ Be Alright: not uplifting, and it’s pretty basic, what I assume would be played on B105.  Number five, Amy Shark’s I Said Hi, sounds like a Taylor Swift clone. This Is America is a commendable fourth though I could take an argument for it being higher considering the cultural movement it stirred.  As well as the memes. Travis Scott’s Sicko Mode comes in at number three, right as some nonsensical Triple J host calls it the Bohemian Rhapsody of this generation.  Outrage stirs the pool, causing tidal waves of disgrace that nearly knock my drink from my hand.  What a fucking stupid claim to make.  Live on air.  To thousands, if not millions of people. 

Ocean Alley’s Confidence is voted as number one and I have no fucking clue who Ocean Alley is.  The bass is funky, the hook is catchy but other than that it’s a basic song that’s barely noteworthy.  [I do admit I was a bit obsessed with it for a day after the countdown, but that’s merely because it was engraved in my skull. It’s that repetitive, not always a sign of a good song.]  But obviously I’m wrong, because thousands of privileged white kids who go to Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival liked it enough to vote for it.  A generalisation, yes.  But look at this meme.

Just over two weeks since the Hottest 100 and no one gives a fuck anymore.  Ocean Alley’s short-lived spike in streams will probably result in some ticket sales, a vinyl purchase and a headlining slot at another Triple J festival.  Good on ‘em.  But what sticks in my head, two weeks out, is how depressing the top ten were.  In a year where the bestselling books are self-help guides on how to not give a fuck and humble investment manuals, are we all that fucked in the head that the Hottest 100 Countdown was almost the equivalent of watching Blue Valentine and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind back to back.

I think if you ask yourself the question ‘am I too old to listen to this now?’ the answer is probably yes.  You’re too old to listen to the Hottest 100 if you complain and insist on reminiscing about the good old days of Jay and the Doctor.  Fuck, even Tom Ballard and Alex Dyson.  I’ll boycott the 2019 countdown. I guess it’s not so much a boycott, I just don’t care about it anymore.  Because at the end of the day, nothing is worth caring about.  Not love.  Not life.  And definitely not a music countdown.  We are just beings; beings who must serve out our time here on Earth, in the hope that someone misses us at the end of the day. And if I get a call when the last Sunday of January rolls around next year, and my mates are having a party, I might be there. I might not.  Who knows?

If this conclusion is depressing, then that’s what I felt during the top ten of the 2018 countdown.

If you are feeling depressed, please contact the Lifeline support on 13 11 14.

The Hottest 100 of 2018 was not worth the hype.

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