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Triple J Hottest 100: Am I Hot Or Not?

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Triple J’s Hottest 100, the best songs of the last year as voted for by the listeners of triple j (or at least the people who log onto their website to vote), was announced last week:

1. Angus And Julia Stone – Big Jet Plane

2. Little Red – Rock It
3. Ou Est Le Swimming Pool – Dance The Way I Feel
4. Birds Of Tokyo – Plans
5. Boy & Bear – Fall At Your Feet
6. Adrian Lux – Teenage Crime
7. Cee Lo Green – Fuck You!
8. The Wombats – Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)
9. Art Vs. Science – Magic Fountain
10. Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. – Somebody To Love Me

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11 Responses to Triple J Hottest 100: Am I Hot Or Not?

  1. Darragh January 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    It’s now become unAustralian to not listen to or support the Hottest 100.

    There is an argument, methinks, supporting the idea that listening to the Hottest 100 is so identifiable with the Australia day public holiday that it sees an influx of ‘voters’ who don’t normally listen to the station but rather listen to stations like Nova, and consequently vote for the songs they are familiar with.

    I think you’re spot on with the direction JJJ should be taking. It used to be like this ten years ago, but then some fool thought they should be competing with the likes of Nova and consequently isolating a lot of people who used to support the station.

  2. Dave January 30, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Agree except for, ‘No one does nationalism like the Australians’.

    If Oz nationalism ended with believing our music was the best, that’d be awesome.

    But we have plenty of tools, like every other country, who take it much further than that.

  3. Chad Parkhill January 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    While I agree with much of the sentiment here, I think there’s a logical problem with the argument you’re making, and it’s this: you’re trying to infer what Triple J plays (and, therefore, supports) from what was voted in as the hottest songs of the year. As you note, though, it’s most certainly the case that there are many more people who anually vote in the Hottest 100 (and then tune in on Australia day) than there are those who actually listen to Triple J faithfully. How else can you explain the fact that every year the Hottest 100 breaks a new voting record and yet Triple J’s market share has been in the doldrums for quite some time?

    I was fortunate enough to have a gander at a spreadsheet of what Triple J played over 2010, and it’s clear that there’s no clear fit between what Triple J supports and what gets voted in the Hottest 100. Of course, some of the songs align neatly, but what’s really fascinating is that a lot of it doesn’t. The most played song on the Js last year was Flight Facilities’ “Crave You”. It came in at no. 19 in the poll. “Big Jet Plane” came in at no. 1 on the poll, but it’s well outside of the top 100 most-played songs (it’s somewhere around the 197th most-played song, although my maths here is based on a quick scan, glass of wine in hand). There’s plenty of songs that got flogged in the Js last year that simply didn’t register on the countdown *at all*, such as Caribou’s “Odessa” (no. 10 in plays) or Kate Nash’s “Do Wah Doo” (no. 9).

    So yeah, I agree with your prognosis: that Triple J’s Hottest 100 this year was a real snoozefest. I don’t really think the station is to blame for it, though – although, looking at the list of what they actually played, I think they could have done a better job of supporting some of the flat-out amazing Australian albums that came out last year (My Disco, Otouto, Parades – although for some reason Kyu’s “Pixiphony” got a good flogging). But even if they had it’s pretty clear that their selections have very little bearing on what gets played on Hottest 100 day.

    The premise of your article is that what Triple J selects matters in some way because they’re tastemakers (i.e. tastemakers have a moral responsibility to mold tastes in suitably artistic/developed manner). But I really don’t think they have the power you think they do.

  4. ed January 31, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Good points Chad and some things I hadn’t really considered. I don’t have a huge history with the station and so guess it’s tainted by my own anecdotal evidence in that when I moved here I was blown away by triple j and what they played (songs I’d never heard played on the radio before) where as now every time I pop in I find it hard to stay listening for very long. And whilst I’m out of their age demographic I don’t see it as an age thing as I was old when I first started listening and Im buying/seeing more bands than ever, it’s not like I’m still completely living in 1990 or something.

    In the first couple years I was here I bought the Hottest 100 albums but it’s not worth it now as I there’s never enough on them worth buying it for. If they’ve got to put out a CD that reflects the songs in the Hottest 100 is it a true reflection of what they play? And is it leading them further down this line towards mainstream? Triple J don’t seem phased by it though, at least not in public. And I guess there’s nothing they can do really without really going away from playing anything that the likes of Nova would play. But maybe it’s the best day of recruitment they have to put their name out there and try and get hold of new listeners. Has the Hottest 100 always been on Australia Day? It doesn’t seem to be helping matters but I guess if they moved it to a different day and something that wasn’t a public holiday there would be the usual cries of ‘Un-Australian’.

    I did debate about whether to post this or not, mainly as I’ve been working on a much better and more interesting triple j related post (well, I think it is) and didn’t want to bore people with more stuff about them. But it was written and so I thought I’d just toss it in for some discussion.

  5. CT January 31, 2011 at 9:08 am

    I keep reading descriptions of rabid Aus nationalism with puzzlement and wonder whether a lot of it is a recent development. Perhaps a post-Howard thing, a little like the way Australia Day more generally developed a more aggressive edge in only the past decade or so.

    Admittedly, I pretty much never tune in to FM radio or commercial TV these days, but it seems like a very short time since broadcasters, like so many other sections of Australian society, were still in the grip of the legendary cultural cringe. Music and films and literature were usually deemed “good… for an Australian artist”.

    I’m yet to encounter anyone expressing “OUR bands are better than yours” type views. Not that I doubt they are expressed by at least some (perhaps younger) cohorts. Did someone really abolish all the self-deprecation while I wasn’t paying attention for a few years? I wonder if such a phenomenon could actually be the flipside to the cultural cringe: advocacy for a tiny industry, leading to mild defensiveness and then mutating into something more aggressive among the same post-Howard generations who have been observed re-embracing Anzac Day, for instance.

  6. Liz January 31, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I wholeheartedly agree. Triple J is well aware of their position as ‘taste makers’ but at the moment it seems like the only acts who they’ll promote on heavy rotation are either acts who are already popular on BBC Radio or, Australian acts who have already been signed to a major label.
    Working in the industry I did, there was a time when I would find out that a major label had signed some unknown act (often formed under a cynical pretense), only to hear Triple J later promoting them as if they were some independent band who they had discovered. Triple J’s ‘unearthed’ promos appear to only exist to create the illusion that they give a shit about independent bands. Occasionally they’ll play some gravelly recording of 15 year olds beating on a saucepan then dust their hands of the need to promote unsigned Australian acts.
    I know of one Australian band who released their debut album to universal acclaim in Australian and overseas music press however, upon listening to them Triple J’s ‘King’ programmer deemed them “not edgy enough” to play. Incidentally, the band had no problem getting airplay on Triple J’s Short.fast.loud, Nova, Triple M, community radio and overseas radio. There was another Australian unsigned band I knew of who King programmer loved. Conveniently, it happened to be November and thus ‘Australian music month on JJJ’. Oddly enough, he didn’t play them either despite liking them personally and deeming them appropriate for JJJ.
    The whole state of affairs makes me angry. Not just on behalf of those hardworking bands, but as someone who loves music. I wouldn’t care so much if King Programmer just played what he liked…but he doesn’t appear to be. It annoys me that a government funded radio station is so subservient to major label interest to the point of shutting out unsigned Australian acts deserving of airplay. Perhaps it’s time to get rid of Triple J’s monarchy.

  7. Everett True January 31, 2011 at 11:01 am

    (from Facebook)

    Russell Birrer
    It wasnt always so shitty ET, 10-15 years ago it was ok…but fuck me, it’s dire now.
    14 hours ago · Like · 1 person

    Joanna Nilson
    there’s going to be a new station, triple j 2, so i hear, more underground
    14 hours ago · Like

    Everett True
    Interesting, but I think Justin would argue that’s what triple j itself should be doing – still, it’ll mean more tax-payer dollars for the j, which can only be good, right folk?
    14 hours ago · Like

    Louisa Horne
    I stopped listening to the hottest 100 many, many years ago, It’s really frustrating. However, during the hottest 100 my frustration is generally because of the Triple J voters rather than the station itself. I still listen to Triple J because I have great respect for Richard Kingsmill and i feel i should be loyal, plus there are no commercials.
    14 hours ago · Like

    Joanna Nilson
    one person shouldnt have a monopoly on a tax funded station for so long, but yeah, can of worms rightthere. having said that, the station has been great for my band and unearthed and stuff so not all bad. unearthed is a good initiative.
    14 hours ago · Like

    Richard Spencer
    It has certainly has absolutely nothing to do with control, or subliminal messaging, or issuing messages to counter intelligence agents ( Radio 4 Sailing By…).
    14 hours ago · Like · 1 person

  8. Tony January 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    ET,
    this is my favourite topic. Triple J is the only national alternative radio station. Given such a platform with too much freedom, its gone to their heads.
    I’m all for Australian music, but only if its any good. Trouble is, most of it is crap. I love Australian red wine, so I buy it. But why should I miss out on the world’s best music coming from The US and the UK just because JJJ needs to go above the 33.3% quota?
    Why should we miss out?
    Not fair.
    JJJ needs a reality check, and needs quality control.
    Dont play anyone from Unearthed unless its good.
    Sometimes when one digs into the earth, all they find is dirt, not gold, so put the dirt back until you find gold. I dont want to hear it until you’ve found gold!

  9. KR January 31, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    I think the problem here is everyone’s expectations of triple j. Listeners from more mainstream stations expect triple j to sort through every song and put on stuff they’ll like while alternative fans may feel cheated because they think triple j is a station made entirely for them.

    As a young man maybe I missed the days when there was a clear definable difference between those who enjoy pop and those who enjoy less mainstream types of music. It’s no longer a crime to enjoy both and the lines are sufficiently blurred. Smells Like Teen Spirit, a song supposedly supposedly anti-establishment, was apparently the hottest song of all time. You can go to Splendour in the Grass and enjoy the Pixies, The Strokes and any other assortment of ‘indie’ acts right next to the lad named Gavin with two stubbie coolers attached to his arms.

    I suggest that as a youth station triple j are merely trying to express their demographics mixed tastes. It isn’t really fair to point fingers because you don’t agree with the choices of others. By leaving the hottest 100 up to the people of Australia they’re removing the blame from themselves entirely.

    As a national broadcaster triple j appear to make a much more concentrated effort to display, promote and find music that people will enjoy than any other. For this they should be encouraged in the right direction rather than reprimanded. For now it’s all we have.

  10. Darragh February 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Yeah, but KR, there is a symbiotic relationship here, between listener and station. While JJJ may be playing what they believe their audience want to hear, they are, at the same time, informing the audience as to what is ‘good’. T

    he point a few people make above is that mostly this stuff is not good but rather (mostly) poor. We’re letting them off the hook by repeatedly buying into their convenient excuse that they’re simply playing what their listeners want to hear when really this approach may be undermining the quality of Australian music.

  11. Emily February 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Regional areas don’t have Nova.

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