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Australia’s nationwide youth station, Triple J, has are available in for some criticism these days, with a spate of articles accusing it of homogenising Australian music tastes or excluding too many native acts from the all-important Triple J playlist.

A lot others have sprung to the station’s defence, however the 2013 Hottest 100 – a significant annual Triple J occasion marking the 100 hottest songs of the final 12 months, as voted by listeners – serves as a well timed reminder that the station nonetheless offers a terrific service to most Australians.

The Hottest 100, held yearly on Australia Day, is marketed because the world’s greatest music democracy, and, on this case, the reality is definitely not too removed from the spin.

Listening to the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown, usually over a barbecue or at a celebration with pals, is an Australia Day custom for a lot of, partly as a result of there’s often one thing for everybody within the checklist.

Tastes change over time, in fact, however the Hottest 100 constantly serves up one of the crucial various collections of music types of any in style music survey on this planet – and that’s one thing of which Australia must be proud.

From little issues large issues develop

The primary Hottest 100 vote was held in 1993, shortly after the youth station moved to the ABC nationwide community. For a lot of younger Australians dwelling outdoors main cities, Triple J was the primary radio station they’d encountered that wasn’t restricted by business promoting and top-of-the-pops-style, excessive rotation play lists.

It coincided with the approaching of age of other rock signaled by the Billboard chart success of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit and the emergence of acts resembling Radiohead, Bjork, Spiderbait, Powderfinger, Rage Towards the Machine and Regurgitator.

Australia’s Powderfinger has appeared within the Hottest 100 checklist 22 instances.

The vote and countdown rapidly grew to become music to the ears for an enormous early-90s youth viewers determined for options to the pop networks. And, lo, one other Australia Day ritual was born.

Surveying the survey scene

After all there are lots of music charts. Probably the most commercially essential is the US-based Billboard Scorching 100 weekly chart that’s primarily based on a mixture of information from gross sales, airplay and streaming, fairly than a voting system.

The Rolling Stone surveys, such because the The 500 Biggest Albums of all Time, are sometimes primarily based on surveying artists and trade. Local people stations typically maintain their very own music votes; 4ZZZ FM in Brisbane has, since 1976, had a Scorching 100 vote and an Australia Day countdown.

However the Hottest 100 is among the solely main surveys that features a heavy dose of other music (versus the business, Prime 40 stuff). Sure, business tracks make their approach in there however few music surveys can boast the breadth of genres of the Hottest 100. Its sheer measurement and attain (this 12 months, greater than 1.four million votes had been acquired from nicely over 100,000 voters) means it is among the greatest snapshots of nationwide music tastes, and it does this job at a time of 12 months when many business music stations are nonetheless in vacation mode.

The large measurement of the survey pattern and indisputable fact that it isn’t historically targeted on business music signifies that the checklist is an effective broad style indicator, usually containing wildly various music types.

Style leaping

The Hottest 100 additionally permits us to trace how Australian music tastes change over time.

Final 12 months, Triple J held a vote for the Hottest 100 of the final 20 years. The ensuing tune checklist offered a terrific sonic snapshot of essential generational shifts and altering moments in in style music historical past, together with the groundswell of help for different rock acts such because the UK’s Radiohead and The Cranberries, and Australian acts resembling Spiderbait, Regurgitator and Silverchair within the 1990s.

Then got here digital acts such because the Chemical Brothers, Fats Boy Slim, The Prodigy and The Avalanches, adopted by a returned give attention to rap (resembling Adelaide hip-hoppers Hilltop Hoods) and the singer songwriter genres (together with Australian artists resembling Sarah Blasko, Missy Higgins and Angus and Julia Stone). Then got here the rise of the music producer and DJ by acts resembling Sydneysiders The Presets and Flume; and in 2011, the arrival of dubstep with the likes of US musician Skrillex and UK digital music producer, James Blake.

The Hottest 100 compilation discs, launched yearly after the countdown, are an excellent historic document of a broad cross part of pop and different music in any given 12 months.

All through all of this there’s a wholesome dose of native content material, with many Australian acts taking the primary spot or making repeat appearances. In line with this interactive chart by The Guardian, Brisbane rockers Powderfinger have had extra tracks (22) within the Hottest 100 since its inception than some other artist, whereas Hilltop Hoods outrank US hip hop superstars Jay-Z and Kanye West mixed, scoring 12 tracks within the Hottest 100 because the band shaped.

Hilltop Hoods.
Joel Carrett AAP


However the countdown will not be with out controversy. In 2010, the ABC by accident leaked the primary tune earlier than the countdown occurred (it was Little Lion Man by banjo-wielding UK folksters, Mumford & Sons).

Final 12 months, a bunch was capable of glean sufficient voting information from social media to create a pre-countdown spoiler checklist often called the Warmest 100, which precisely predicted the 2012 Hottest 100 primary tune and lots of different songs on the checklist. Triple J’s response was to alter the voting course of to attempt to cease such a information mining however it didn’t forestall the group from creating one other Warmest 100 this 12 months.

After all, there are at all times surprises within the checklist. Why do profitable acts and songs typically seem additional down the checklist than different, extra obscure acts? Why do some songs not seem in any respect? Why, for instance, did U2’s tune Vertigo seem on the 2004 checklist when it wasn’t even performed on Triple J that 12 months?

You may’t please everybody

Not everybody will love each tune on the Hottest 100 checklist this 12 months, and anticipate to listen to loads of complaining from these whose favorite songs or genres weren’t well-represented. Put together your self for a number of noisy voices whining that Triple J has offered out, that the highest songs are too business today (an argument trotted out when US hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis scored the highest spot in final 12 months’s Hottest 100 with the tune Thrift Store), or that the vote is in some way rigged.

However democracy means you get a vote. It doesn’t imply at all times getting what you need and simply because they aren’t your favorite songs doesn’t imply they aren’t somebody’s favorite songs.

It’s true the Hottest 100 is only a survey of Triple J listeners, fairly than a illustration of all in style music and all Australians.

That mentioned, it’s nonetheless a beneficial snapshot of a second in Australian cultural historical past and a convention spanning 20 years. I, for one, can be becoming a member of the Australia Day plenty in making an attempt to guess the primary with a snag and a beer across the barbie, as I did 20 years in the past, and I stay up for receiving the compilation discs on Father’s Day.

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