The Hottest 100 is an Australian institution.
For close to 30 years, it has annually collated and capsuled a time in the lives of triple j’s listeners. Each countdown is a snapshot of where we were, who we were and what we were listening to.
But the best-of-the-year Hottest 100s that began in 1993 – like the people who voted for them – aren’t perfect. With hindsight, we can better see the trees in the forest. ‘Asshole’ isn’t a better song than ‘Creep’. ‘Straight Lines’ was robbed. The Cat Empire’s ‘Hello’ was not the sixth best (let alone the 60th best) song of 2003.
And then there are the songs that missed the countdown altogether. And this is where we step in. To celebrate the the impact and legacy of the world’s biggest musical democracy, we’ve decided to right some wrongs, or at least acknowledge some oversights.
This is a list of the Hottest 100 songs that missed the Hottest 100. We wanted this countdown to read like any other Hottest 100, and to be reflective of the mix of gender, genre and general musicality that populates each year’s list. But most of all, we wanted it to stir a reaction along the lines of “you’re joking – how the hell did that song miss out?”.
As with every other Hottest 100, people will take issue with this countdown in some manner and we welcome the discussion. But, if nothing else, we hope people take this list in the spirit of appreciation, celebration and conversation that it was created.
Long live triple j, and long live the Hottest 100.
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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in December 2018.
The Hottest 100 songs to have missed triple j’s Hottest 100
1. Everlong – Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters are tied with Powderfinger for the most entries (22) in the annual Hottest 100s over the past 25 years. That draw looks likely to continue for some time. Powderfinger have shown no signs of ending their hiatus (it’ll happen) and Foo Fighters have officially shuffled off into “dad band” territory, more Double J than triple j these days. Case in point: the Foos’ most recent album, Concrete & Gold, despite being their best in a while, couldn’t muster up a single song in the 2017 poll.
All this makes the overlooking of ‘Everlong’ all the more disappointing. Dave “Nicest Man in Rock” Grohl and his ever-expanding line-up of bandmates could have been crowned the lone champs of the Hottest 100 before they were put out to pasture if only ‘Everlong’ had been acknowledged back in its day.
Its exclusion is baffling, and one that punters have tried to correct over the years. Since it missed the cut in ‘97 and ‘98 (other tracks from The Colour & The Shape polled in both those years), ‘Everlong’ has been voted into the annual countdown in 2006 (a sadly inferior acoustic version at #61) and into the All-Time Hottest 100 of 2009 (#9) and the 20 Years celebration in 2013 (#6).
So why is this #1 on our list? That’s simple. This is the (equal) greatest band in the history of the countdown, and one of the biggest rock bands in the world. On top of that, ‘Everlong’ has become their best-loved song – according to setlist.fm it’s the song they’ve played the most in their career by a hefty margin. It’s often a concert-closer. It’s the greatest moment on their greatest album.
“You know the funny thing about ‘Everlong’?,” drummer Taylor Hawkins told NME in 2015. “People consider that our biggest hit … but at the time is wasn’t really that big of a hit. It’s something that took (time). Dave did an acoustic version later, just by happenstance … and that got played more than the rock version at first. That song took years to build up the steam that now has become ‘the great ‘Everlong’’.”
The great ‘Everlong’ indeed, 21 years in the making – MN
Check out the Foo Fighters’ ‘Everlong’:
2. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
It took everyone else covering Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ for people to realise the late Jeff Buckley had already delivered the definitive version of the tune back in 1995 (there have been more than 300 covers of it recorded since 1991, according to one now-defunct Cohen fansite.
Even triple j listeners were slow to the fact. It wasn’t one of the two songs from Buckley’s Grace to make the Hottest 100 in ‘95 – that would be ‘Last Goodbye’ and the title track. Nor was it one of the three songs from Grace to make the All-Time Hottest 100 of ‘98 (add ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ to the list). It took the all-time countdown of 2009 for it to come to come to prominence – it was voted in at #3.
That was peak ‘Hallelujah’ – by the 20 Years countdown four years later it had dropped to #36 and been replaced at #3 by ‘Last Goodbye’.
But away from the multitude of versions by the plethora TV music contest singers who have done their best to bludgeon the song to death, it needs to be acknowledged that this is not only one of those rare covers that surpasses the original, but a supreme example of the incredible talents of a musician with a remarkable gift that was sadly taken away too soon.
Also, it’s a beautifully written song by one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived. What more do you need? – MN
Check out Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’:
3. Don’t Look Back In Anger – Oasis
The first Oasis single to feature Noel on lead vocals was released straight after 1995’s Hottest 100 winner ‘Wonderwall’ and peaked at #19 during an 11-week run in the Aussie charts. Hardly groundbreaking stuff but since then, over the past 22 years, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ has grown in stature to become Oasis’s signature song… in every jurisdiction but Australia.
The track’s Hottest 100 eligibility suffered from straddling the new year, making it kinda eligible for two years but ultimately unable to crack either. As a standout track on (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, released October 1995, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ received airplay in 1995, alongside #13 ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Wonderwall’. Then it was released as an actual single, back when that actually meant something, in February 1996.
Sometimes, this straddling of the years meant the song would feature in the latter year’s Hottest 100, such as when, say, #1 ‘No Aphrodisiac’ and #53 ‘You Sound Like Louis Burdett’ were included in the 1997 chart and then subsequent singles #37 ‘Buy Now Pay Later (Charlie No 2)’, #43 Melbourne and #56 ‘Charlie No 3’ were placed in the 1998 edition. Other times, however, the post-New Year singles fall into the Hottest 100 abyss.
Oasis and their contemporaries presaged a genuine cultural movement that came to be known as Cool Britannia. It comprised music (Britpop alums Blur, Suede, Pulp, Ash et al, but also popular artists like Spice Girls, All Saints and Robbie Williams), film (the Austin Powers and James Bond franchises, and the mind-boggling Spice Girls movie), sport (England at Euro96 and the rise of crossover celebrities like David Beckham), tragedy (Princess Diana’s death) and politics (the rise of Tony Blair and New Labour).
Eventually Cool Brittania fizzled out, maybe because we all grew tired of the Gallaghers’ antics or because Mike Myers found new artistic frontiers in the Shrek series or because none of the Spice Girls tended to have much personality when interviewed separately. (You can relive some of the more glorious highs of the era in the wonderful TV series Beautiful People.)
‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ would become something of a theme song for the era. NME readers said it had the most explosive chorus in UK chart history, it’s the second most played song live in Oasis’ gig history (behind ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’) and the romantic ideal underpinning the song — be nostalgic, sure, but never vitriolic — is how a lot of us approaching middle age tend to look back on our formative years. — PA
Check out Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’:
4. Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead
To date, Radiohead’s The Bends is the only one of the group’s consistently exceptional albums to have not yielded a song in a Hottest 100 countdown. At a cursory glance, this can be chalked up to the band having too many great singles in the running for that year’s list, but when you consider that only one of the album’s five singles scraped into the ARIA charts, this mystery gets a little deeper.
Since then, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ (the lowest charting single from the album on a global scale) is the only cut from The Bends to have been redeemed somewhat, eventually being voted to #28 in the 2009 All Time countdown.
Famously described as “pompous and bombastic” by guitarist Ed O’Brien during its production, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ has since become one of the group’s most beloved songs. Often noted as the point at which Radiohead transitioned from riding the coattails of grunge to blazing their own trail, the tune had a rather laboured conception, with tensions rising in the studio after being told by their producer to record a follow-up to ‘Creep’.
However, the famous story for the track goes that despite the track beginning as something of a throwaway idea, after members of the band attended a Jeff Buckley gig, frontman Thom Yorke was so mesmerised by his performance that he returned to the studio, sung the song, then broke down crying in a mixture of frustration and inspiration.
Featuring Yorke’s world-weary lyrics and an instrumental performance that gradually matches the emotional intensity of the track, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ is not only one of the most underrated songs in Radiohead’s oeuvre, but one of the most underrated songs of all time.
Why no songs from The Bends (which I maintain is the best album Radiohead have put their name to) never made it into countdown will always remain a mystery, but there’s no denying that ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ was robbed back in 1995. – TJ
Check out Radiohead’s ‘Fake Plastic Trees’:
5. Feel Good Hit Of The Summer – Queens Of The Stone Age
Sounding more like a junkie’s grocery list than a rock classic, ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’ was the moment at which Queens Of The Stone Age broke away from their status as luminaries of California’s stoner-rock scene and earn their reputation as future leaders of the hard rock genre.
Having formed only four years prior following the breakup of Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age had big shoes to fill, and with 2000’s Rated R, the group proved they were well on their way, especially thanks to the anthemic nature of tracks like this.
However, ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’ occupies a strange place in the annals of Hottest 100 history. Not because it wasn’t popular (it scored plenty of airplay and even hit #75 on the ARIA charts), but because of its honorary status as a member of the class of 2000.
See, when the Hottest 100 for 2000 was counted down in January of 2001, the track was sadly absent from the countdown. Sure, tears were shed and wiped away with fans’ tattered leather jackets, but when the annual CD release was unleashed later in the year, well, the track was included.
It wasn’t quite an oversight either, with Richard Kingsmill specifically mentioning the band by name in the liner notes, despite their notable absence. While plenty of fans couldn’t care less about the track’s inclusion, some wondered what was going on.
Did it barely miss out and reach #101? Was it excluded from the countdown? Or was it just an error that somehow made it through to the printing process? Either way, Queens Of The Stone Age were more than redeemed in 2002 when they ‘officially’ debuted in a Hottest 100, scoring five tracks, and taking out the #1 spot with ‘No One Knows’ – a fitting title for a winning track by a band whose earlier presence will remain a mystery. – TJ
Check out Queens Of The Stone Age’s ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’:
6. Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Rolling Stone called it the seventh best song of the 2000s, while Pitchfork ranked it #6 for the same era. Popbitch declared it “the single most influential song of the 21st century so far” (sorry, that link’s behind a paywall but it’s a good read). Anyway you carve it, this is a song that now has a legacy.
Its influence wasn’t visible when the song was released in 2003. At the time, triple j was more interested in Fever To Tell’s raucous first single ‘Date With The Night’ (which also missed the Hottest 100). Everyone got more excited about Yeah Yeah Yeahs three years later when Show Your Bones turned up, producing the band’s first Hottest 100 entries (‘Phenomena’ at #66, ‘Gold Lion’ at #24).
But when Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ career is summarised and celebrated years from now, ‘Maps’ will be the song that is seen as the zenith of their creativity, and the one that best encapsulates the band – the perfect combination of noise and heart. – MN
Check out the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s ‘Maps’:
7. Banquet – Bloc Party
Only Wolfmother fared better than Bloc Party in the 2005 Hottest 100. Six songs from Wolfmother’s self-titled debut somewhat overshadowed the fact Bloc Party’s excellent album Silent Alarm had four in the countdown, including three in the top 45 (and yes, for the record, The Cat Empire also had four songs in there, but they were lower placed, and Wolfmother and Silent Alarm also went one-two in the triple j top album poll of that year while The Cat Empire’s ‘Two Shoes’ was nowhere to be seen on that list).
But what was really interesting was that just four years later, fans had moved away from those four Silent Alarm cuts that made the Hottest 100 – ‘Two More Years’, ‘Helicopter’, ‘Positive Tension’, and ‘Like Eating Glass’ – and gravitated toward a different song as their favourite from this album of riches. It was ‘Banquet’ that was voted in at #42 in the 2009 Hottest 100 of All Time, and at #57 in the 20 Years countdown in 2013.
Almost any track off Silent Alarm could have been voted into the 2005 countdown, and similarly, any track could have been championed later as the true hero of this near-flawless collection of post-post-punk/new-new-wave (or whatever the hell that mid ’00s spree of bands was called) songs.
Perhaps the reason this one has outlasted the rest is because it now sounds like the most quintessentially Silent-Alarm-era-Bloc-Party song of the bunch with its spiky left-right guitars, dry disco drums, and Kele Okereke’s diverse singing styles intoning his becoming-an-adult concerns. – MN
Check out the Bloc Party’s ‘Banquet’:
8. Back To Black – Amy Winehouse
‘Rehab (Remix)’ with Jay-Z at #67. That’s it for one of the most important, vital, tragic musical figures of the past 30 years. The original ‘Rehab’ was lifted from the album Back To Black, a cathartic, deeply honest collection of parables detailing Amy Winehouse’s substance abuse problems and her intense amour for the mad, bad and dangerous-to-know Blake Fielder-Civil.
Recalling the original soul girl groups that flourished out of Detroit during pop’s golden age, peppered with the blue-eyed soul ingénues that Winehouse no doubt listened to — Dusty and Patsy first among them — ‘Back To Black’ could have been just another break-up song in the mostly harmless mould that Adele has used to sell truckloads of records and hoover up Grammys. But because Winehouse always drenches her music with a raw, gin-soaked vulnerability, you actually hear the pain she obviously felt at that loser leaving her again for some past squeeze.
Winehouse’s decline has become a clichéd cautionary tale but listening to ‘Back To Black’ again while I tap this out, I can only wonder what might have been had she capitalised on ‘Back To Black’’s success by staying clean and making more magic rather going to back to Blake and fading out like so many other rare talents afflicted with a hole that only substances can apparently fill. — PA
Check out the Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’:
9. One Armed Scissor – At The Drive-In
In 2001, At The Drive-In had managed to become one of the biggest bands in the post-hardcore genre. Their powerful songs, featuring the incomparable vocals of frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala, struck a chord with fans all over the world, despite the fact that their songs were often so cryptic that they became almost impossible to decipher.
In September of 2000, the group had released their third album, Relationship Of Command, but this only signalled the end for the group.
In January of 2001, the group would play the infamous Sydney Big Day Out, which became notorious for the death of teenager Jessica Michalik during Limp Bizkit’s set. Hours earlier, the band had become a legend of Aussie music after they walked off stage having performed only three songs, as Bixler-Zavala bleated like a sheep at the crowd, criticising their dangerous moshing.
Under a month later, the group had performed their final show of their initial run, and broke up weeks later, all before their record had even left the Aussie charts.
By the time Hottest 100 voting came around later in the year, the band were still on everyone’s minds, with ‘Invalid Litter Dept.’ and ‘Pattern Against User’ placing in the countdown despite the latter having not been released as a single. Meanwhile ‘One Armed Scissor’, often cited as the group’s most popular track, was strangely absent.
While the tune featured heavy symbolism in its lyrics which dealt with tensions within the band, one could argue that triple j listeners weren’t quite ready for what this track delivered. While hindsight clearly makes this one a notable omission, we do have to wonder just what listeners were thinking back then. – TJ
Check out At The Drive-In’s ‘One Armed Scissor’:
10. Don’t Speak – No Doubt
triple j’s seemingly arbitrary line between their playlist and the mainstream is perhaps best illustrated by No Doubt’s break-up ballad ‘Don’t Speak’. The station was all over Tragic Kingdom’s previous two singles ‘Just A Girl’ and ‘Spiderwebs’ (the former was #25 in the ‘96 Hottest 100) but for whatever reason, ‘Don’t Speak’ was a bridge too far for the js.
The song would go to #1 on the ARIA charts (and in at least 12 other countries) and was the eighth biggest selling single in Australia in that year. But triple j drew a line in the sand on the band, and that line was exactly between ‘Spiderwebs’ and ‘Don’t Speak’. Rarely was the station’s self-regulated 1990s division between the alternative and the pop world so clearly defined.
But it denied No Doubt a second song in the Hottest 100. The band was never better than on Tragic Kingdom – a record that yielded a remarkable seven singles over three years, none of which were bigger and more powerful than this heartfelt alt-rock power-ballad. – MN
Check out No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’:
11. All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem
In 2009, just two years after it was released, music website Pitchfork ranked LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’ as the second-best song of the decade (directly behind OutKast’s ‘B.O.B.’, if you were wondering). The track was the second single from the group’s second album, Sound Of Silver, and showed a dramatic change for James Murphy and co.
No longer was Murphy singing about ‘Losing His Edge’, and how he had been the one to help break new ground on the music scene. Now, he was feeling pensive and nostalgic for the times gone by, and decided to pen what has since been referred to by some as a mid-life crisis set to music.
Coming at a time when James Murphy was doubting the future of his LCD Soundsystem project, ‘All My Friends’ features a simplistic piano and bassline that backs rambling, stream-of-consciousness lyrics that paint a picture of parties, drunken nights, and the realisation that you’re getting older.
As it continues, it approaches themes of loneliness and regret before it crescendos into the gorgeous catharsis of the question, “Where are your friends tonight?”. If ever a song was there to help you come to terms with the fact that maybe your best days are behind you, this it it.
But maybe this is exactly why ‘All My Friends’ was overlooked by listeners back in the 2007 Hottest 100. Sure, LCD Soundsystem were getting increasingly popular by this time, but they would not make a countdown until 2010, when ‘I Can Change’ peaked at #92.
But while songs like ‘Daft Punk Are Playing At My House’ were veritable party bangers, ‘All My Friends’ was a nostalgic look back at the prime of your life – not exactly the most relatable track for a station whose target audience are entering, or already in, that prime.
While listeners would indeed begin to appreciate the song much more when Gang Of Youths covered it for Like A Version back in 2015, but even then, a cover which has since been considered as one of the best in the station’s history was also overlooked. Maybe ‘All My Friends’ is destined to be one of the most overlooked tracks in the station’s history? – TJ
Check out LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’:
12. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
When we were compiling this Hottest 100 of omitted songs there was some disagreement over whether this track should be included. Most of the songs on this list are, broadly speaking, songs within the triple j audio wheelhouse, even if they did not receive much or any airplay on triple j during their time of prominence.
I don’t think anyone could argue that ‘Shake It Off’ is a triple j song — it clearly isn’t — but I fought for it to be among this collection of tracks because it is the only song that actually was voted into a Hottest 100 and then intentionally ruled out, at least that we know about. It’s at #12 on our list because that is where it apparently placed in 2014 before being chalked off.
At the time of the BuzzFeed-led write-in campaign for Taylor Swift’s #1 hit I was hardened in my opposition to triple j including it, as I detailed in a stupid-thousand word essay for my blog. My view has softened since then and I now think triple j should have included the song in that year’s countdown and played it between ‘Gooey’ (relegated to #13) and #11, ‘Faded’.
Perhaps it would have been harder for triple j to effectively stamp out campaigns had it relented that once. What we don’t want to see is the poll being reduced to some cheap stunt between socially-aware brands — think bookmakers and purveyors of fried chicken — all of them too clever by half.
Sexism was one of the criticisms levelled against triple j when it excluded Swift. Consider that triple j plays The Weeknd on high rotation, and he has twice appeared in Hottest 100 Top 10s, despite being a pop music superstar who works closely with super producer Max Martin.
Sure, his genre is more R&B-infused that Taylor’s country roots, but is it really that different? Listening to triple j in the four years since the ‘Shake It Off’ controversy, I thought I had noticed a significant effort being made to include more tracks from female solo artists, perhaps as a response to these claims of sexism.
I decided to conduct some research, going back through all the available details for feature albums since 2000 (the last year available on triple j’s website). This is hardly conclusive evidence that triple j is playing more female vocalists, nor is it definitive since bands with female vocalists (few though there have been) are folded into the Group category, but I think this gives a good overview of how sparse triple j’s support of female singers has historically been:
|Group||Male solo||Female solo||Compilation|
|2018||24||8||11||1||Up to Ziggy Alberts|
Essentially, twice as many male solo artists have been promoted as feature album artists over the past 19 years. While it is true there are some great bands with female leads or co-leads — say, Garbage, Hole, The Grates and London Grammar — to be featured down the years, the vast majority of the groups are also male-driven.
Take 2013, the last complete year before the #Tay4Hottest100 campaign, when only two solo females (Lorde and Gossling) were featured: of the 39 groups, 30 have exclusively males vocals, another five combine male and female singers, and only four (Thao, Austra, London Grammar and Haim) are exclusively female. Only 11 of 2013’s 48 feature albums included female vocals at any point.
Since then, the numbers have improved, to the point that in 2017, for the first time for which records are available (and, I am certain, ever) there were more solo females — almost twice as many — featured than men. (It’s worth noting, however, that of 29 groups featured in 2017, 20 had male vocals, six had both and only three were female.)
It is still a long way from anything resembling equality but it is a lurch in the right direction, and the turning point does seem to coincide with ‘Shake It Off’’s omission, meaning some good has come from the controversy and criticism, ironically because it seems triple j chose not to shake it off. — PA.
Check out Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’:
13. All I Need – Air
For the longest time, triple j listeners weren’t too keen on electronic music. While this attitude has somewhat changed in recent years, groups like Aphex Twin and Four Tet have never managed to truly resonate with listeners, despite the critical acclaim that they garner.
Back in the ‘90s when alt-rock was still at its peak, this attitude was even more prevalent, and a French electronic group called Air was destined to be overlooked.
While tracks from their debut album Moon Safari did score a bit of recognition, ‘All I Need’ was sadly overlooked in favour of more radio-friendly tunes, such as the admittedly infectious ‘Sexy Boy’ or the hypnotic ‘Kelly Watch The Stars’.
Featuring lyrics written and sung by US singer Beth Hirsch, and featuring music that had been reworked from an earlier song called ‘Les Professionnels’, the tune became a blissful downtempo anthem for chilled-out music fans the world over.
A luscious, immersive tune that is almost the epitome of the word ‘laidback’, Air well and truly brought this phenomenal style of music to the forefront for a brief moment in time, though its lack of loud guitars and singalong choruses ultimately hurt its chances of success among some of the more mainstream styles of music at the time.
While Air would gain themselves more widespread fame in 2000 as the musicians behind the stunning soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, nothing can compare to the beauty and majesty of ‘All I Need’. – TJ
Check out Air’s ‘All I Need’:
14. Disarm – The Smashing Pumpkins
Here’s one of the weirdest omissions in Hottest 100 history. Coming in at #90 in 1994 was The Smashing Pumpkins with ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’, a Thin Lizzy cover they’d dropped onto the b-side of the ‘Disarm’ single. And so where did ‘Disarm’ place in the countdown? Nowhere.
Let me say that again – the b-side was #90. The a-side, which happens to be one of the Pumpkins best known tunes, did not make the list.
For a band whose singles were playlist regulars on the js between the release of Siamese Dream in 1993 and their (temporary) break-up in 2001, the non-appearance of ‘Disarm’ is baffling on its own, let alone with its b-side registering in its place. Billy Corgan’s acoustic-and-orchestra lamenting of a difficult childhood is one of the most ‘90s things to ever happen in the ‘90s, as well as being one of the best things he ever recorded.
But the presence of a (not-that-great) b-side in its place suggests a mistake was made. We’re not going to point fingers, but consider that wrong now righted. You’re welcome, Mr Corgan. – MN
Check out The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Disarm’:
15. Jerks Of Attention – Jebediah
Following the release of their debut EP in 1996, Perth’s Jebediah took the Aussie music scene by storm that year when they released their debut single ‘Jerks Of Attention’. Inspired by, and even name-checking, the likes of The Stone Roses and Archers Of Loaf (in fact some could argue this track is heavily inspired by the latter’s ‘Web In Front’), the group were well on their way to fame, charting within the top 100 on the ARIA chart.
Within a year, the group had become household names, with their debut album, Slightly Odway, peaking at #7 on the Aussie charts, and being voted in at #5 on the triple j album poll for that year.
However, by the time the voting for the Hottest 100 of 1997 came around, ‘Jerks Of Attention’ was nowhere to be seen. Sure, a total of five of the album’s tracks made it into the 1997 and 1998 countdowns, but what about their debut single?
The biggest issue here was more than likely the track’s release date. A December 1996 release date meant that it wasn’t eligible for the 1996 countdown, and by the time the voting period for 1997 opened, the version that fans were listening to was a re-recorded album version that lacked the guts of the original.
Of course, ‘Jerks Of Attention’ was somewhat vindicated in the 1998 Hottest 100 Of All Time countdown. Despite being held in August of 1998, halfway between the 1997 and 1998 countdowns, the single version of ‘Jerks Of Attention’ scored itself a nice placing at #81, and earned itself the reputation as one of the few songs to not make an annual countdown, but to be voted into the All Time polls. – TJ
Check out Jebediah’s ‘Jerks Of Attention’:
16. Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill
In 1999, ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ by Lauryn Hill became the first rap song by a female vocalist to hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The second was ‘Fancy’ by Iggy Azalea & Charli XCX 15 years later. The one-time Fugees frontperson wasn’t so much a pioneer and a lone crusader in a genre that has for decade prized men, manliness and machismo, if not outright chauvinism, as a shibboleth for acceptance and success.
Adding some extra credibility oomph, as if ‘Doo Wop’ needed it, Hill wrote and produced the track single-handedly, so she must have felt quite a thrill beating — and getta load of these losers — Aaliyah, Erykah Badu, Aretha Franklin and Janet Jackson to a Grammy the following year. Hill also won Album of the Year for Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, eclipsing another all-female (vocals) cohort of nominees (Sheryl Crow, Shirley Manson’s Garbage, Madonna and Shania Twain).
Curiously, Hill was also named Best New Artist, even though she had been a household name since ‘Killing Me Softly’ thrust Fugees into the mainstream in 1996.
And here’s the conundrum: why did triple j support ‘Killing Me Softly’, a fun and radio-friendly pop-cover that was getting plenty of spins on commercial stations, so much that it hit #35 in the Hottest 100 of 1996, but not Lauryn Hill’s solo career, which burst out with loads of authentic artistic merit? Was it merely sexism? I think that explains some of it, but not all of it.
There was certainly an element of genreism back then. Even using the broadest definition of rap, that particular style was barely played during the 1990s and early 2000s, and those artists that were played were invariably established male purveyors. A quick look through the Hottest 100 lists from the 90s shows a paucity.
Across the three Hottest 100 buttressing ‘Doo Wop’ — 1998, 1999 and 2000 — ‘Intergalactic’ by Beastie Boys and ‘It’s Like That’ by Run DMC vs Jason Nevins were the only two rap songs to feature. It really wasn’t until triple j started championing emerging Aussie hip-hop artists in the mid-naughties that overseas and female rap became prominent on the broadcaster and its annual countdown. — PA
Check out Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’:
17. Hurt – Johnny Cash
Yep, it’s higher up the list than the original (see #64) – exactly how the great man (Trent Reznor that is) would have wanted it. “That song isn’t mine anymore,” the Nine Inch Nails frontman famously said, although Reznor admits Cash’s cover felt “invasive” at first and it was only upon seeing the film clip that Reznor changed his mind.
At the behest of producer Rick Rubin, Cash took Reznor’s super-depressing tale of self-harm and smack, and made it something greater. With his aged voice trembling with every word, the country music legend ironically breathed new life into this self-loathing masterpiece.
It would be the last single Cash released in his lifetime (it came out just six months before his death) and would prove to be not only his biggest hit in over a decade, but also a kind of epitaph for a flawed icon. In the All Time Hottest 100 vote in 2009 it landed at #60. – MN
Check out Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’:
18. Rearviewmirror – Pearl Jam
Considering how much triple j loved Pearl Jam in the early days (and indeed for much of the grunge survivors’ career), it’s strange that their second album Vs only yielded one tune in the 1993 Hottest 100.
It’s even stranger when you consider how massive Vs was – it sat atop the US Billboard charts for five weeks and set a record for first week sales in that country which stood for five years. In Australia it debuted at #1 and spent 68 weeks in the top 50, and triple j played the absolute shit out of it.
Yet only ‘Go’ seemingly enamoured listeners enough to earn a spot in the Hottest 100 (and a high one at that, coming in at #8). Given the breadth of Pearl Jam songs that would be voted into the countdown in future years (14 songs over 13 years), the omissions from Vs stand out even more.
This rocker about getting in the car and getting the hell out of town is perhaps the best of the bunch (but we snuck in another one at #21 … and another one after that). Voters also voted it into the All Time countdown of 2009 at #56 – one of four Pearl Jam songs to make that list. You do the math. – MN
Check out Pearl Jam’s ‘Rearviewmirror’:
19. All Is Full Of Love – Björk
Throughout her career, Iceland’s Queen of Music has regularly pushed boundaries, which has made her not everyone’s cup of tea. triple j has always been in her corner though, featuring her albums and spinning her increasingly esoteric singles. The listeners haven’t always gone along for the ride, and they stopped voting Björk into the Hottest 100 after her second “grown-up” album Post.
But that prevented this undeniably beautiful track a spot in the countdown in either ‘97 (when the album Homogenic came out), ‘98 or ‘99 (when it was finally released as a single). It’s even more surprising that ‘All Is Full Of Love’’s stunning film clip by Chris Cunningham couldn’t spur it into the Hottest 100, despite getting high rotation on Rage thanks to its selection by a steady stream of guest programmers.
That Björk has only had four songs make the Hottest 100 doesn’t do justice to her influence or the magnitude of her career. This song’s omission is part of that near-criminal oversight. – MN
Check out Björk’s ‘All Is Full Of Love’:
20. Stan – Eminem (feat. Dido)
In 1999, triple j was one of the first Australian radio stations to play Eminem, giving regular rotations to his breakthrough track ‘My Name Is’. Three years later, they were ushering three of his tunes into the 2002 Hottest 100, including the all-time anthem ‘Lose Yourself’ at #7. Somewhere in the middle of all that, the man born Marshall Bruce Mathers III dropped his affecting tale of a deranged fan named Stan.
While this is not only one of the best Eminem songs of all time, it’s one of the best hip hop songs of all time, dipping into a level of twist-in-the-tail storytelling rarely seen in the genre. Q Magazine called it the third best hip hop track ever, Rolling Stone put it in their 500 best songs and 100 best hip hop songs of all time, and the likes of Complex, VH1, The Face, LA Weekly and others have rated it among the greats. Literary critics and psychologists have analysed it. The term “stan” (meaning “an overly obsessed fan”) was added to the Oxford Dictionary.
But listeners couldn’t see fit to add it to the Hottest 100. The poll has always had a weird relationship with hip hop, perhaps best exemplified by the fact Eminem’s Stan never made the cut. – MN
Check out Eminem (feat. Dido)’s ‘Stan’:
21. Daughter – Pearl Jam
The daughter in ‘Daughter’ has a learning difficulty. She’s trying to read but can’t so Mum lowers the shades to, I guess, beat her up. She’s not worthy of being called daughter. Dark and woke by the standards of the day, the Pearl Jam song with only half a verse and a two-line chorus has such a burrowing earworm is not hard to spend half of first term in Year 7 muttering it into semantic satiation, much to your older sister’s chagrin.
‘Daughter’ was the second single off Pearl Jam’s second album, and their first released in the age of annual Hottest 100s. The first single, ‘Go’, which hasn’t really experienced a Pearl Jam canon canonisation the same way ‘Daughter’ has, was #8 in the 1993 countdown but there would be no repeat success for this typically grungy song.
Perhaps this was because voting interest in ‘Daughter’ was swamped by #36 ‘Spin The Black Circle’, which was released in November 1994 as the lead single from Vitalogy, which came out merely 13 months after Vs.
This was a period of extreme productivity for the band. Merkin Ball EP (#35 ‘I Got Id’) came out in 1995, then LPs No Code and Yield in, respectively, 1996 and 1998. You think the whole nation would be suffering from Pearl Jam fatigue but that was an ague only affecting ‘Daughter’. – PA
Check out Pearl Jam’s ‘Daughter’:
22. Shark Fin Blues – The Drones
The Drones have gained a reputation as being one of the most criminally-overlooked Aussie bands of all time. Despite a career that goes all the way back to 1997, it wasn’t until 2013 that they scored a top 20 placing on the ARIA charts, and to date, they still haven’t appeared in a Hottest 100 countdown, yearly or otherwise. So what gives?
Following the Hottest 100 Of All Time countdown in 2009, triple j organised a poll of Australian songwriters in an attempt to find what they believe to be the greatest Aussie song of all time. The results saw The Drones’ ‘Shark Fin Blues’ beating out the likes of The Easybeats’ ‘Friday On My Mind’, and The Saints’ ‘(I’m) Stranded’; no matter how you look at it, that’s a pretty strong endorsement.
Described by Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson as being like “having passionate sex on a boat in rough seas, all rolling and rollicking, missed kisses and missed holes”, the track has undoubtedly gained a cult following amongst Aussie music fans, yet has still not gained anywhere near the popular acclaim that it deserves.
Despite having won the inaugural Australian Music Prize for the album the track features on, Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By, it wasn’t until Missy Higgins took on ‘Shark Fin Blues’ as part of her Oz album that The Drones received some chart success with the track.
While Missy Higgins’ cover made it into the #71 position, we can only begin to wonder why it was that listeners have overlooked The Drones so blatantly over the years, especially when they’ve crafted a song that has been so critically-acclaimed as ‘Shark Fin Blues’. It’s a mystery to end all mysteries. – TJ
Check out The Drones’ ‘Shark Fin Blues’:
23. Get Ur Freak On – Missy Elliot
So back to the aforementioned “weird relationship” triple j has had with hip hop (see #20). The genre didn’t get its own show on the station until 2004 – consider the fact metal had its own show from 1990, experimental music had one from at least 2000, and dance music had The Groove Train since the early ‘90s.
This all might go some way to explaining why so little rap made it into the Hottest 100 each year, and why it took 19 years for a hip hop track to top the chart (‘Thrift Shop’ in 2012).
And how else do you explain this banghra-infused banger from missing the list? This was Missy Elliot’s breakthrough single in Australia and was all over triple j in 2001. Yet it took a couple of years for voters to click and put “Miss E” in the countdown (‘Pass That Dutch’ and ‘Work It’ polled in 2003).
Look back at the 2001 poll and the incredible lack of rap. It’s basically Gorillaz and Crazy Town. How does Crazy fucking Town make the Hottest 100 that year and Missy Elliot’s most popular tune (according to Spotify – 78 million spins and counting) doesn’t? – MN
Check out Missy Elliot’s ‘Get Ur Freak On’:
24. Do You Realize?? – The Flaming Lips
By 2002, The Flaming Lips had already been around for close to two decades, making a name for themselves thanks to their loud, fuzzed-out music and general kookiness, so some fans had probably thought the band’s best days might be behind them.
After a brush with success thanks to the hit ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’ back in 1993 (so far their only track to crack the ARIA top 50), the experimental behemoth that was 1997’s Zaireeka, and the critically-acclaimed The Soft Bulletin in 1999, the group could have been forgiven for packing it in, having achieved all they needed to.
However, 2002 saw the release of the group’s tenth album, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. A loosely connected record with themes of science fiction, few would have ever thought that this record would contain one of the most existentially blunt, yet positively uplifting songs of all time, ‘Do You Realize??’.
With lyrics that focus on the inconsequential nature of human life and the beauty of everything around us, frontman Wayne Coyne takes the listener on a whimsical journey that teaches us to appreciate everything, while not-so-gently trying to confirm, “Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?”
Often cited as one of the group’s most popular tunes, it was even adopted as the official rock song for The Flaming Lips’ home state of Oklahoma for a while. Yet despite this popularity, The Flaming Lips have remained a notable omission from Hottest 100 ever since its inception.
Sure, Wayne Coyne and multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd featured on The Chemical Brothers’ ‘The Golden Path’ back in 2003, but for that to be their only entry while a gorgeous track such as this falls by the wayside? We have to ask triple j listeners; do you realise what you overlooked back in 2002? – TJ
Check out The Flaming Lips’ ‘Do You Realize??’:
25. Down By The Water – PJ Harvey
There’s a surprising (and quite frankly disappointing) lack of PJ Harvey in the history of the Hottest 100. She’s had just three entries in 25 years and two of those are duets (one with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and one with Violent Femme’s Gordon Gano).
It doesn’t do justice to an astounding and hugely influential career that’s produced nine albums (most of them amazing – hell, she’s the only person to win two Mercury Music Prizes). Really we could have picked any of her singles for a slot in this list of omissions (such as ‘This Is Love’, ‘The Letter ‘,or ‘Long Snake Moan’), but ‘Down By The Water’ is one of the biggest and best.
It’s one of her best-selling songs in Australia and her most played song on Spotify, but it’s also the track that perhaps best exemplifies what makes Polly Jean so great. Dark grooves, cool sparse instrumentation, and a murderous tale spun with earworm hooks – what’s not to love? – MN
Check out PJ Harvey’s ‘Down By The Water’:
26. How To Make Gravy – Paul Kelly
12 Gravy Stains of Christmas
- ‘How To Make Gravy’ by Paul Kelly is supposed to be funny. It’s gallows humour, for sure (though no one facing the gallows is also a chance of parole come July), but it is a parody of the pitiable Australian male. It’s quintessential PK lyrical songwriting at its most wry, its most unifying. This is a song every Australian can relate to, whether you’re a Rose Bay type celebrating Christmas with the landed gentry or you actually are in the nick come the 21st of December.
- Speaking of, I love that the legend of ‘How To Make Gravy’ has simmered up such a long shelf-life for this cloying concoction. This song was not a hit upon release but the advent of social media has given rise to the date of this fabled phone call becoming labelled Gravy Day or Paul Kelly Day.
- So why is this gravy keeping so well? Christmas songs do tend to come back into fashion for two weeks every year but ‘How To Make Gravy’ has a bit more to it than, say, Michael Buble’s insufferable crooners. The steady stream of covers and re-releases certainly assisted, including Luca Brasi’s #127 Like A Version, which introduced the track to a new generation of fans.
- The Like A Version concept has been a boon for Paul Kelly. His songs have been reimagined by The Panics, Illy, AB Original, and Alex The Astronaut — perhaps not the most likely candidates — and the great man himself covered ‘Rehab’ by Amy Winehouse on his appearance.
- Unlike, say, Bernard Fanning, who has become increasingly irrelevant to triple j with each new release, Paul Kelly’s output among the cool kids is appreciating like some fine cooking wine. He’s made two Hottest 100 appearances, at #9 with the magnificent ‘Every Fucking City’, and as a guest on AB Original’s #45 ‘Dumb Things’ (Like A Version). These two entries were 16 years apart, which is a Hottest 100 record.
- As part of his fresh appeal to the youngsters and newfangled ways, Paul now hosts his own Yuletide mini-festival, of course it is named Making Gravy, and includes past, present and future Hottest 100 legends Angus & Julia Stone, Alex Lahey, DD Dumbo, Angie McMahon, and Mojo Juju.
- Apparently one of the questions Paul gets asked the most in interviews or chats with garrulous fans is “How do you make gravy?”. Folks, he gives the recipe (a real, family tradition): flour, salt, red wine, tomato sauce.
- Joe, the lad spending Christmas in the carceral house, has previously appeared in ‘To Her Door’ and ‘Love Never Runs On Time’.
- I do take umbrage with Joe saying it will be a hundred degrees. Christmas is in Adelaide, not Arkansas!
- It’s easy for pathos to slip into bathos but Kelly keeps it together with some of the details extrapolated in ‘How To Make Gravy’. Thinking of Rita while “standing in line” on Christmas morning is tear jerking, and the repeated apologies, credulity-stretching promises of paying people back and dreams of making gravy again next Christmas are all desperate in a sympathetic way, it’s the naked truth that Joe considers making gravy his only essential skill — and remember gravy is a metaphor for something unnecessary festooned at the end — that is most lachrymose.
- Did you know there is a mildly amusing response track by Benny Davis called ‘How Not To Make Gravy’? Look it up on your streaming machine.
- You might think that simply by dint of these 12 points ‘How To Make Gravy’ is my fave Paul Kelly song but it’s actually ‘Before Too Long’. – PA
Check out Paul Kelly’s ‘How To Make Gravy’:
27. The Scientist – Coldplay
triple j has had a love-hate relationship with Coldplay. Before their debut album Parachutes came out, they championed ‘Shiver’, and when the album dropped they featured it, flogging the singles hard, particularly ‘Yellow’, which ended up at #5 in the Hottest 100 of 2000, while ‘Shiver’ was #63.
The second album yielded three Hottest 100 entries in 2002, including ‘Clocks’ at #69, which was remixed by Röyksopp and voted into #5 in 2003. The next album got a couple of songs into the countdown, but then, arguably just as their music was getting even more interesting, they stopped being a triple j staple, and the fourth album didn’t feature a single track in the Hottest 100 (something we’ve amended at #97), proving they were indeed the U2 of their day. It had gradually become cool to dislike Coldplay. Tall poppies and all that.
The biggest oversight in amongst all this is ‘The Scientist’. It’s their third most played song on Spotify, it was the second longest charting single off A Rush Of Blood To The Head in Australia, and it’s mercurial film clip is still their fourth most-watched on YouTube. But it’s also a timeless ballad, built on one of those immediately classic-sounding chord-melody combinations Chris Martin seems to deliver with freakish regularity. – MN
Check out Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’:
28. Ms. Jackson – OutKast
Denis Leary ruins everything. One of the records he holds is highest position by a Hottest 100 one-hit-wonder, and he’s held it since day dot and he can never be beaten. All we can hope for is for another of his dubious musical compositions to somehow crack an annual countdown, relegating him into the two-hit-wonder scrap and elevating OutKast to that position.
Of course, trainspotters might interject that Big Boi and his pal Cutty hit #77 with ‘Shutterbug’. My gainsaying would be ‘Hey Ya!’ was from the André 3000 half of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
Directly before these two Atlanta rap gods did their split double album, OutKast released the more conventional LP Stankonia, which furnished their Aussie breakout single ‘Ms. Jackson’.
Strangely enough, Ms Jackson received more airplay on commercial radio than it did on triple j, meaning it was a deadest rolled gold chart megahit — four weeks at #2 behind ‘It Wasn’t Me’ by Shaggy (incidentally, and a lot of people don’t know this, triple j used to play Shaggy; ‘Boombastic’ was #65 in the Hottest 100 of 1995) — but not a Hottest 100 insurgent, despite being on the voting list, and the subject of a memorable parody by erstwhile brekkie gibberers Adam + Wil, who Weird Al Yankovicked, “I’m sorry Matt Hayden / you are for real / you scored centuries with some giant hits / so much better than Michael Kasprowicz” in a slightly less shameful Hottest 100 omission.
In addition to ‘Ms. Jackson’ being a sign of the exemplary quality still to come from OutKast, it was also a harbinger of the shift in rap supremacy from the northeast and west coast of the States to the south and, specifically, Atlanta. Trap and trap-adjacent rap is now lording it all over the old hot spots, with only the sheer genius of Compton’s classic rap’s Kendrick Lamar holding his own against the onslaught.
For those playing along at home, had ‘Ms. Jackson’ made the grade, and if Denis Leary were scrubbed, the highest placing Hottest 100 single-entrant would be shared by bronze medallists Coolio, Chumbawamba, and The Tenants. Till then, please join me in a collective rapprochement with OutKast’s glaring omission — sing it with me — “I’m sorry, Ms. Jackson!”. — PA
Check out OutKast’s ‘Ms. Jackson’:
29. All Apologies – Nirvana
It’s hard to explain just how important ‘All Apologies’ would turn out to be for fans of Nirvana. While the group had already become Hottest 100 royalty thanks to their 1991 topping of the chart with ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, many assumed this would be an ongoing trend.
When 1993’s In Utero was released, fans voted ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ into the #20 spot, and expected many more great tunes to come. However, the very last song on that album, and the very last single released during the life of frontman Kurt Cobain, was ‘All Apologies’, which served as not only one of the last new songs fans would hear, but also as a rather fitting track for the group to say goodbye with.
Originally produced by punk icon Steve Albini, this haunting track was effectively viewed in hindsight as something of a final statement from Kurt Cobain, as he meditated on who he was and who he wanted to be – despite the fact it had actually been written years earlier while Cobain was in a much happier place.
While ‘All Apologies’ was indeed a beloved song by the group, it was one of the few more accessible tracks on an otherwise rougher, and much grittier album from the grunge icons. While ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ was arguably the record’s biggest hit, many have felt that ‘All Apologies’ was looked over at the time in favour of something more in line with the alternative anthems that the group had previously composed by the band.
No matter how you look at it, it’s a shame that Nirvana’s last record only ever had one showing in a Hottest 100 countdown, and that so many other brilliant tracks were kept off of the chart. – TJ
Check out Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’:
30. Say It Ain’t So – Weezer
Despite the popular opinion that Weezer haven’t done anything good since Pinkerton in 1996, they’ve proven surprisingly enduring, slotting eight songs into the Hottest 100 over 15 years (six of those are post-Pinkerton, FYI). The only track from their debut, The Blue Album, to get voted into triple j’s end-of-year poll was ‘Undone (The Sweater Song)’. No ‘Buddy Holly’, which could have easily made the cut here, but more importantly, no ‘Say It Ain’t So’.
Similar to how Pinkerton was derided on release by critics and fans alike but has been recast as a magnum opus, ‘Say It Ain’t So’ was overlooked in favour of The Blue Album’s other singles. Unlike ‘Undone’ and ‘Buddy Holly’ it didn’t crack the ARIA top 100 or have a Spike Jonze-directed film clip, yet ‘Say It Ain’t So’ has become regarded as not only the best song on that record, but the best Weezer song of all time.
Like Pinkerton, ‘Say It Ain’t So’ has a darkness to it most people didn’t initially associate with Weezer. Its tale of alcoholism is much edgier than the bad times buried beneath the ooh-wee-oohs of ‘Buddy Holly’ or the party chatter of ‘Undone’. Maybe this is why it took a while to get recognised. Now we just need the unfairly overlooked post-Pinkerton albums to be redeemed and all will be right in the world. – MN
Check out Weezer’s ‘Say It Ain’t So’:
31. Dreams – The Cranberries
There are two Cranberries-related crimes from the first annual Hottest 100. The first one was immediately obvious: the adjective problematic’s Denis Leary denying the Limerick squad the runners-up with their breakout hit ‘Linger’. The second is only obvious on reflection: the single before ‘Linger’, ‘Dreams’, missed out completely.
‘Linger’ was the song that got everyone pumped for Irish west coast lilting but it was ‘Dreams’ that set the scene for the extraordinary world takeover that Dolores O’Riordan (vale), the Hogan brothers and Fergal Lawler implemented through the mid-’90s. The Cranberries (original name: The Cranberry Saw Us) even got namechecked in Clueless.
Dreams is one of the effortlessly cool tracks that invites you to step outside commercial pop guff and take the hand of something a little bit more alternate for a dance. The arrangement is no ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and the lyrics aren’t quite ‘Paranoid Android’, but this particular air’s general air of carefree happiness is insanely refreshing, and it was doubly that upon its release in competition with all the flannel-clad Seattle man-bands growling about how sad the whole world is.
The Cranberries was my bridge band from 2DayFM to triple j. That was a time when my life was changing every day and, Dolores, it’s been a nightmare losing you, because you’re a dream to me. Dream to me. — PA.
Check out The Cranberries’ ‘Dreams’:
32. Lover, You Should’ve Come Over – Jeff Buckley
As previously mentioned (see #2), this song snuck its way into the hearts of triple j listeners. The year after Buckley waded into the Mississippi River, never to return, ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ placed #47 in the 1998-held Hottest 100 of All Time, despite not making the annual countdown when it was released in 1995. It was one of three songs from the singer-songwriter in the All Time poll.
When a similar “best ever” countdown was done in 2009, ‘Lover’ was there again at #56. The strange thing in ‘09 was that the song had leapfrogged ahead of ‘Grace’, which came in at #69, despite ‘Grace’ being one of only two songs to be voted into a Hottest 100 during Buckley’s lifetime.
triple j fell hard for Jeff Buckley, and when he died they – fans and staff – were collectively crushed. That lasting aching sadness felt throughout the station and its listeners is personified in ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’. – MN
Check out Jeff Buckley’s ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’:
33. Charmless Man – Blur
For all that Australia loved Britpop, and Britpop was so heavily personified by Blur and Oasis, it’s interesting that, combined, these two heavy-hitters of the decade only contributed nine songs to Hottest 100s during the 1990s. That’s the same number Garbage clocked up on its own during the pre-Millennium days of Adidas jackets, Ben Sherman shirts, foppy hair, soccer ball motifs and confected feuds. Just thinking about Euro 96 gives me nostalgic goosebumps.
Of course, Garbage never scored a Top 10 Hottest 100 hit, let alone a #1 or #2, like with Oasis (‘Wonderwall’) and Blur (‘Song 2’). At the time Blur ran second to The Whitlams there was a general mood that the London fourpiece was Cherry Ripe, ready to parlay success in the Colonies to finally, unequivocally cracking the United States, just as the Gallaghers had done over the 12 months prior.
This perfervid optimism grew out of the critical and commercial success of Blur’s preceding albums, the genre-defining Parklife and the more experimental, expansive, Popbrit stylings of The Great Escape.
The Great Escape’s lead single was ‘Country House’ and it was released on the same day — 14 August 1995 — as Oasis’s ‘Roll With It’. This north-versus-south, working-class-versus-university-class battle was dubbed the Britpop War and the bands, their fans, the media, and pretty much everyone with an interest in conflict paid attention. ‘Country House’ won the day, debuting at #1, and it ended up #53 on the Hottest 100 of 1995.
This is all just to set the scene: Blur has just won the Battle of Britpop, soon Oasis will release one of the most iconic songs of all time. Between those two historical bollards comes the story of a ‘Charmless Man’.
The final single from The Great Escape tells the story of gauche slob completely lacking in self-awareness, a void comfortably filled with self-possession. Think David Brent, but with a red wine stain on his shirt and, somehow, more pretension. The opening bars are classic Britpop: twanging guitars, a little fuzz, persistent but never overbearing drumbeat. There’s a “na-na-na-na-na-na” in there and Damon’s vocals uptick to a nice falsetto on the verses. It’s a masterpiece of narrative songwriting.
Strangely, Damon would later say ‘Charmless Man’ was the end of something. Having won the Britpop war, Blur was turning to new frontiers, both geographically and musically. The self-titled album that produced ‘Song 2’ was heavier, darker and more obviously influenced by London punk bands the crew grew up listening to and the US indie scene guitarist Graham Coxon was increasingly enamoured with.
Then came the dark, moody, break-up record 13, which was more a harbinger of what Radiohead would do on Kid A then reminiscent of anything Blur had done before. When Coxon departed subsequently, it left a three-piece to release the under-appreciated proto-punk-revival LP Think Tank. The biggest twist of all would then see Damon, seemingly out of nothing, create one of the most successful hip hop groups in history.
The band would eventually get back together to extrude The Magic Whip, a magnificent collection of old-school Britpop numbers infused with east Asian themes of vertical neighbourhoods, perfected loneliness, megacity sameness and, presciently, a new wave of North Korean turmoil.
Damon said he was inspired to write ‘Charmless Man’ by some poetry scrawled across a toilet stall he had visited. Somewhere in middle England (or maybe he was a tourist, or maybe the Charmless Man is gender non-specific), there is a tiresome fool returning a wine, lecturing someone over best deployment of wingbacks and misquoting Fawlty Towers. The Charmless Man who inspired a song that proved to be an inflection point for a band and a genre.
Or, perhaps, deep down, we know that the ‘Charmless Man’ has been us all along. — PA
Check out Blur’s ‘Charmless Man’:
34. Edge Of Town – Middle Kids
Sydney’s Middle Kids are a perfect example of a modern band bursting out of the gates with an absolutely killer tune under their belt. The biggest track from their 2017 self-titled debut EP, ‘Edge Of Town’ struck a chord with listeners all around the world.
In fact, even Elton John declared himself a fan of the track, helping both ‘Edge Of Town’ and ‘Never Start’ to reach a combined total of 3.5 million Spotify streams just months after their release. Needless to say, the group were well on their way to success.
However, by the time the Hottest 100 of 2017 came around, almost a full year after the release of their debut EP, the group were nowhere to be found, though ‘Never Start’ managed to hit #127 in the top 200. Was it a matter of timing, with the song being released too early?
Well, maybe, but there’s also every chance it was outshined by the admittedly fantastic Like A Version cover of the track by Paul Dempsey, which did manage to chart at #88 that year. Was the cover so good that people just forgot about the original? Or will Middle Kids be one of those acts that we wonder about for years to come, lamenting their absence in the countdown during their early days? Only time will tell. – TJ
Check out Middle Kids’ ‘Edge Of Town’:
35. Around The World – Daft Punk
‘Around The World’ is not the most lyrically creative song of the past 25 years. Its songbook simply comprises “around the world” being fuzzy-sang 144 times in just over 7 minutes. The music video is something else altogether: directed by Michael Gondry and choreographed by Bianca Li, it features ghost-skeleton dancing in a mesmeric MC Escher-esque routine that is almost as hypnotic as the transglobal mantra those two kooky French robots keep Dextering (the matchmaker, not the serial killer) out.
Daft Punk had experienced some fledgling antipodean success upon the release of their juvenile effort Homework. ‘Da Funk’ had enough of us “wah wah-wah-wah-wahing” to paw its way to #98 in the Hottest 100 of 1997 and #31 on the ARIA Singles Chart.
‘Around The World’ came next and was a much bigger hit, peaking at #11 and spending four months in the Top 50 through the back half of 1997. Pourquoi l’amour du public électoral n’était-il pas à la mesure de celui du public acheteur? (Editor: Why didn’t the love of Hottest 100 voters match the enthusiasm of the people buying singles?)
The DP lads would eventually place ‘Around The World’ at #58 of the Hottest 100 of All Time (2009) and #59 on the Hottest 100 of the Past 20 Years. Around those two achievements, Daft Punk would solidify itself as true Hottest 100 legends, having gone Top 10 with #7 ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger (Alive 2007)’ and #3 ‘Get Lucky’, along with three other entries from Random Access Memories. It’s hard to imagine there will ever be another retro Hottest 100 without a significant Daft Punk presence, and yet for some reason or another, ‘Around The World’ failed to take off. — PA
Check out Daft Punk’s ‘Around The World’:
36. Modern Girl – Sleater-Kinney
When Sleater-Kinney first formed back in 1994, its members had already performed as members of some of the most influential punk groups in America’s Pacific Northwest. However, after releasing seven albums in a decade, it was 2005’s The Woods that finally saw the group receiving the widespread critical acclaim that they so deserved.
Sadly, it was also their last album for another decade, with the trio calling it quits for a period of time while they worked on other projects.
The Woods, while one of the most accessible albums in the group’s career, also contained one of their most beloved songs, ‘Modern Girl’. Featuring lyrics that touch on feminism, consumerism, and love, while painting a simple image of what it’s like to grow up, lose your innocence, and be forced to make it on your own.
Featuring simple guitars, a harmonica, and a hell of a lot of fuzz as the tune goes on, its simple lyrics have resonated with listeners since its release, who relate to the track’s statement of ambition and desperation. Why this track was overlooked by listeners, we may never know, but we can take comfort knowing that Sleater-Kinney have more than received the acclaim that was so owed to them in their prime. – TJ
Check out Sleater-Kinney’s ‘Modern Girl’:
37. New Slang – The Shins
Ask anyone with an insight into the indie music scene and they’ll tell you that The Shins are one of the groups who brought the genre to the mainstream. But again, unless you were in the know, there’s a strong chance they passed you by for a few years.
In fact, it wasn’t until three years after the release of The Shins’ debut album, Oh, Inverted World, that its strongest song, ‘New Slang’, gained widespread attention after being featured on the soundtrack to Garden State, which went on to win itself a Grammy Award and upped the standards for soundtracks.
“You gotta hear this one song,” proclaimed Natalie Portman in the film, “It will change your life, I swear.” From the very moment that music fans heard those words and were treated to the delicate majesty of ‘New Slang’, that sentiment rang true and has continued to change lives every day.
With lyrics that express feelings of disdain for relationships, jobs, life, and one’s hometown, the track found a way to be relatable to almost everyone who listened to it.
But sadly, the fact that this track didn’t hit the mainstream until three years after its release meant that it was robbed of a well-deserved spot in the Hottest 100 countdown for 2001.
It seems that listeners realised their mistake though, and when the 2009 Hottest 100 of All Time rolled around, it was voted into the #72 position. Sandwiched between The Smiths and The Clash, the track well and truly received the recognition it so deserved, even if it was eight years in the making. – TJ
Check out The Shins’ ‘New Slang’:
38. Fuck And Run – Liz Phair
When Liz Phair burst onto the indie-rock scene in 1993 with her post-hookup anthem ‘Fuck And Run’, the track was almost universally misunderstood by her legions of new fans and music critics everywhere as being a song which painted herself as a sex object. On the contrary, this song was about female empowerment at a time when that very topic appeared to be largely absent from the genre.
Described by Liz Phair as a song in which she lamented her ability to find a meaningful relationship and ending up in meaningless hookups, the tune propelled her onto the world stage, and resulted in her debut album, Exile In Guyville, correctly being named as one of the greatest records of all time.
Despite this response, and the underground success of a powerful track that helped to normalise female sexuality, Liz Phair never really saw the level of success that she deserved in Australia. While 1994 would see ‘Supernova’, the lead single from her follow-up album Whip-Smart voted into #33, Exile In Guyville was criminally overlooked in the annals of Hottest 100 history. – TJ
Check out Liz Phair’s ‘Fuck And Run’:
39. Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap
Stop a music buff on the street and ask him or her what number ‘Sweet Disposition’ came in the Hottest 100 and you’ll probably hear something like “Top 10”, “right up there” and even a few “it was #1 wasn’t it?”.
One of the great mind-bogglers of the Hottest 100 era in Australian music is that The Temper Trap’s sublime composition did not feature at all in an annual countdown, a victim of poorly applied eligibility rules and the slow-burning nature of its rise to prominence (one that mirrors the songs own mellifluous passage to crescendo).
Originally released in September 2008, ‘Sweet Disposition’ was no overnight sensation. It received some radio play in Australia and was voted to #102 in the Hottest 100 of 2008. In June 2009, The Temper Trap released its debut album Conditions, which was overlooked for Feature Album honours for Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear.
In August 2009, the release of (500) Days of Summer nudged ‘Sweet Disposition’ towards the mainstream, and it eventually cracked the ARIA Singles Chart during the first week of December. Prime time, one would think, for a serious if late Hottest 100 challenge.
Only problem was, eager fans trawling the voting list would find #21 ‘Fader’, #48 ‘Science Of Fear’, #58 ‘Love Lost’. and ‘Down River’ (#141, FWIW) but no ‘Sweet Disposition’! I actually wrote in ‘Sweet Disposition’ that year, blissfully unaware that it was 18 months old (didn’t stop those ‘Knights Of Cydonia’) or that it would’ve, kinda, charted twice (didn’t stop the six times a song has actually appeared twice).
‘Sweet Disposition’ received its much deserved moment in the spotlight through the first half of 2010, as it approached the 2-year anniversary of its release. By this stage the band had made three distinct music videos to support it. It peaked at #14 in Australia and #8 in the UK, and scored the deeply credible #38 slot in the Hottest 100 of the Past 20 Years in 2013. Furthermore, Conditions was voted #20 in the Hottest 100 of Australian Albums in 2011.
Sing it with me: Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet dis—po—sition… – PA
Check out The Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition’:
40. My Own Summer (Shove It) – Deftones
Okay, you got us – there’s not much metal on this list. But like hip-hop, the Hottest 100 has only ever had a tokenistic relationship with heavy music. So the fact there’s only two metal songs here (spot the other one!) is pretty reflective of what a normal Hottest 100 list looks like.
But why was this track – Deftones’ breakthrough single – ignored by voters, beyond the annual lack of metal love in the poll? Probably because the album that spawned it, Around The Fur, was a super-slow burn. It didn’t even crack the ARIA top 50, yet somehow still went gold. By the time the alt-rock masses caught on to its brilliance – that swaggering hard groove, that whisper-to-a-scream, that incessant riff – the moment had passed.
Deftones never made the Hottest 100, not with this track, not with ‘Be Quiet & Drive (Far Away)’, and not even with their “biggest hit” ‘Change (In The House Of Flies)’. To some, this is surprising. To many, who were probably there in those brief moments in ‘97-’98 before “nu-metal” became a joke, this is an outrage. Hopefully this somewhat makes up for that. – MN
Check out Deftones’ ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’:
41. Pure Massacre – Silverchair
When triple j did their Hottest 100 Aussie albums countdown in 2011, every Silverchair album made the list – hell, most of them made the top 50. But which one placed highest? That’s right, it was Frogstomp, the grungy-as-fuck debut they dropped while only 14 years of age. It was voted in at #2 behind Powderfinger’s Odyssey Number Five.
So it might be surprising to learn that Frogstomp is the Silverchair album with the fewest number of Hottest 100 entries – good old Tomorrow made the cut at #5 but that’s it. No ‘Pure Massacre’, ‘Israel’s Son’, or ‘Shade’, all of which got considerable airplay at the time. So the inclusion of ‘Pure Massacre’ in this list – a naïve watching-the-news lament for humanity that could only have been written by an extremely talented 14-year-old – evens the ledger somewhat.
This list is all about the baffling results of the Hottest 100. That the ‘94 and ‘95 countdowns weren’t filled with Frogstomp songs is a pretty peculiar one. – MN
Check out Silverchair’s ‘Pure Massacre’:
42. Tribute – Tenacious D
Frank Zappa once asked the question, “does humor belong in music?”, and if Tenacious D are anything to go by, then the answer is a resounding yes. Formed by actors Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the duo soon became a cult sensation thanks to a US television series and Black’s rising profile in Hollywood.
However, when the group released their debut album in 2001, people finally began to sit up and take notice.
Supposedly written as somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’, the legend goes that the band tried to write an even better song than Metallica’s ‘One’ after Kyle Gass proclaimed it to be “the best song in the world”. Finding themselves unable to do so, the group wrote a tribute to the world’s best song, and performed it on their TV series before it became a hit in its own right.
On paper, it shouldn’t work, but thanks to Jack Black’s comical and musical versatility, Kyle Gass’ technical proficiency, and a music video featuring the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl as the devil (he also drums on the song), the track was an instant classic, though triple j listeners apparently didn’t see it that way at the time. – TJ
Check out Tenacious D’s ‘Tribute’:
43. Get Myself Arrested – Gomez
When UK band Gomez took to Australian stages earlier this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their Mercury Music Prize-winning debut Bring It On, this was the track that drew the biggest singalong. But that record failed to lodge a single song into the Hottest 100, despite boasting such great Gomez singles as ‘78 Stone Wobble’, and ‘Whippin’ Piccadilly’.
Either or both of those could have made this list, but for singalong value alone it has to be this bouncy mix of reggae upstrokes, burnt-out slide guitar, and reckless euphoria. It’s certainly the song the 30-something and 40-something punters seemed to choose on Gomez’s most-recent Aussie tour, the ageing crowd voting with their voices and then some.
That Gomez only scored a total of four songs in the Hottest 100 over a 20-year career is a criminal act that someone should be arrested for. – MN
Check out Gomez’s ‘Get Myself Arrested’:
44. Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon – Urge Overkill
I am often subjected to ridicule by my girlfriend for repeated abuses of hyperbole but let me say before I even get to my latest gratuitous offence that I have no qualms on this one: ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ by Urge Overkill is not just one of the great covers of all time, it’s one of the greatest songs of all time.
Paired unforgettably with vision of Mia Wallace insufflating heroin mistaken for cocaine, Urge Overkill’s interpretation of Neil Diamond’s US Top 10 hit from 1967 introduced a Bourbon-soaked grunge sensibility to the original tale of self-destructive unrequited love. Anyone who has ever loved someone who is obviously going around with the wrong partner can empathise.
The Pulp Fiction soundtrack was a cultural phenomenon, spending over a year in the Australian charts and belatedly propelling ‘Jungle Boogie’, ‘Bustin’ Surfboards’, and ‘You Never Can Tell’ into the mainstream.
Urge Overkill had already broken in Australia prior to Quentin Tarantino tapping them for the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. ‘Sister Havana’ was #16 in the very first Hottest 100. ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ came to prominence at the end of 1994, ahead of a chart run that saw it peak at #21 in early 1995.
There is a suggestion that because Urge Overkill’s (tautology alert) original cover appeared on a little-known 1992 EP, it was ineligible. Those diachronic vagaries seemed to have been applied without much consistency. ‘The Order Of Death’ by Public Image Ltd made the grade at #95 in 1999, 15 years after first being released, after being included in The Blair Witch Project (tw: Josh! Josh! Josh!).
Regardless of whether it was ineligibility or simply lack of interest, this omission has been an open sore for me for more than two decades. As I said, one of the greatest songs of all time. — PA
Check out Urge Overkill’s ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’:
45. Let Forever Be – The Chemical Brothers
This has all the hallmarks of a great Chemical Brothers track – an astoundingly cool rock beat, psychedelic noises galore, talented guest vocalist (Oasis’ Noel Gallagher), and a rad film clip (courtesy of Michel Gondry). On top of that, it is a great Chemical Brothers track; one of many over the years. Yet it’s not one of the 11 songs from the electro veterans to make the Hottest 100 over the 22 years since ‘Setting Sun’ put them in the countdown for the first time.
For the record, ‘Setting Sun’ featured another astoundingly cool rock beat, plenty of psychedelic voices, a talented guest vocalist (Oasis’ Noel Gallagher), and a not-as-cool film clip. Go figure. Had this race already been run? Surely not.
There are a stack of great Chemical Brothers tracks not in those 11 songs. ‘Let Forever Be’ just happens to be one of their best, and for inexplicable reasons, it didn’t make the cut. How does it feel like? Weird – just like the grammar in that sentence. – MN
Check out The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Let Forever Be’:
46. Obstacle 1 – Interpol
In 2002, Interpol became one of the biggest buzz bands in the indie rock genre. Cementing themselves as one of the leading acts in the post-punk revival of the early ‘00s, Interpol released their debut album, Turn On The Bright Lights, in August to overwhelming critical acclaim.
Despite the fact the record has gone on to be considered one of the greatest of not only the decade, but of all time, it’s surprisingly rare to hear any of these songs played on the radio, or even alternative music television today. While tracks like ‘Untitled’ and ‘NYC’ are often considered highlights, the group would escape mainstream fame for a couple of years still.
The second single from the album, ‘Obstacle 1’, has however managed to worm its way into retrospective fame, with its driving guitar line, forceful vocals from frontman Paul Banks, and its somewhat cryptic lyrics.
As time would go on, the track would make numerous end-of-year lists and even feature on the soundtrack to Guitar Hero, yet all of this acclaim was sadly delayed. Who’s to say how popular Interpol would have been if modern radio was able to jump on this track with much more eagerness, and who knows, we might not have had to wait until 2004 to finally see Interpol rightfully score a place in a Hottest 100 countdown. – TJ
Check out Interpol’s ‘Obstacle 1’:
47. Red Right Hand – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
What the hell has that tall handsome man near the viaduct been doing? Why is his right hand so red? It didn’t take long for ‘Red Right Hand’, perchance the most visceral song of all time, to creep its way into our waking nightmares.
Soon after its release in 1994 it started appearing in TV shows like The X-Files and films such as the Scream franchise, Hellboy, and Dumb And Dumber (yes, really) as a moribund theme song worthy of the most haunted charnel house. And Peaky Blinders. And Jack Irish.
The celebrated darkness of ‘Red Right Hand’ is so established now to have reached parody: the Barossa Valley tourism honchos exploited South Australia’s serial killer notoriety and used it to glorious effect in one of the best campaigns ads ever thrust at your senses.
It goes without saying that Cave and fellow bad seeds Mick Harvey and Thomas Wydler could have purchased a factory of trench coats with the money made from licensing this particular pre-Murder Ballads murder ballad.
In fact, ‘Red Right Hand’ came out right between #11 ‘Do You Love Me?’ and #8 ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’ – that is, right at Peak Cave (would that be a stalactite or stalagmite?) so it’s not like this track suffered from being a moment out of time, not in triple j’s wheelhouse or just too problematic.
‘Red Right Hand’ is one of the rare tracks to appear in an all-time Hottest 100 — #96 in the 1998 edition — but not in annual countdown. It failed to make subsequent appearances in 2009 (all-time) and 2013 (20 Years of the Hottest 100); a surprise, as one woulda thought all those licensing deals would have only broadened its appeal. — PA
Check out Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’s ‘Red Right Hand’:
48. Pretty Pimpin – Kurt Vile
Having formed the critically-acclaimed rock group The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile is basically a member of indie royalty. Performing with the group until 2009 before leaving to work on his solo career, it wasn’t until 2013, along with the release of his fifth album, Wakin On A Pretty Daze, that Vile began to see any sort of widespread fame, followed two years later with his stunning single ‘Pretty Pimpin’.
As it was, ‘Pretty Pimpin’ was in with a good chance of making the Hottest 100 countdown in 2015, but sadly just missed out and stalled at a very respectable #106.
While the track was somewhat of a different vibe for triple j listeners, featuring a country-tinged finger-style guitar line, and seemingly rambling lyrics that focused on Depersonalisation Disorder, it was a stunning tune that quite likely did a lot better than many expected.
However, while many may have found the tune as something of a slow-burner, and one that they needed to grow on, they may have waited too long to finally come around to it, and managed to rob the track of a well-deserved place in the top 100. – TJ
Check out Kurt Vile’s ‘Pretty Pimpin’:
49. Juicy – The Notorious B.I.G.
2Pac made the Hottest 100 in 1996, the year he died. There was no such tribute for Christopher George Latore Wallace AKA The Notorious B.I.G. AKA Biggie Smalls. ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ would have been a good candidate for a posthumous inclusion, given it went to #10 in Australia in 1997, about four months after Biggie’s death. Sadly, this didn’t happen, despite Hottest 100 voters having a good track record in voting for the recently deceased (Cobain, Buckley, Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, 2Pac).
But if we’re going to give Biggie his dues, it’s hard to go past his rags-to-riches breakthrough single ‘Juicy’.
Its belated accolades make it one of the most highly regarded hip hop tracks of all time – VH1 and rap mag Ego Trip called it the best hip-hop song of the ‘90s, Q called it the ninth best rap song of all time, and it has featured prominently in lists from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Blender and The Source. Respect. – MN
Check out The Notorious B.I.G.’s ‘Juicy’:
50. Elastic Heart – Sia
Sia is the twelfth and final (to date) Australian artist to top the US Billboard Hot 100. She did so with her dancehall crossover toe-tapper ‘Cheap Thrills’, with Sean Paul. Before reaching this apogee of commercial success, the Adelaide native traversed a rocky outcrop on the indie-pop fringes, battled alcohol and substance abuse issues and fought to break out from her nook as a songwriter into fully-fledged independent stardom.
Early albums OnlySee and Healing Is Difficult were barely noticed but then Colour The Small One gained some traction off the back of #87 ‘Breathe Me’, leading the way for Some People Have Real Problems and We Are Born, which propelled her to the b-list.
Guest spots on some pop jams by Flo Rida and David Guetta threatened to derail her triple j cred but the authenticity mavens stuck solid and the release of 1000 Forms Of Fear, swinging on the highs of super single ‘Chandelier’, was supported with significant airplay for, intriguingly, supporting tracks ‘Burn The Pages’, ‘Hostage’, and ‘Fire Meet Gasoline’.
Maybe it was the blowback to ‘Chandelier’ qualifying for the same Hottest 100 ‘Shake It Off’ was denied, but there was no repeat for that song’s spiritual sequel ‘Elastic Heart’, which is just as amazing. — PA
Check out Sia’s ‘Elastic Heart’:
51. Caught By The Fuzz – Supergrass
Supergrass burst onto the scene in the mid-‘90s thanks to the success of their debut album, I Should Coco, which saw the young Englishmen instantly reaching worldwide success on the back of the record’s last single, ‘Alright’. While that tune wasn’t terribly popular in mainstream Australia (#96 on the ARIA charts), it did become Supergrass’ first foray into the Hottest 100 charts, appearing at #79 in 1995.
Considering the rise of Britpop at the time, a placing such as this for a bright, positive track like ‘Alright’ makes sense, but many have since wondered what happened to the group’s debut single, ‘Caught By The Fuzz’.
Performing only marginally better on the Aussie charts (#96), ‘Caught By The Fuzz’ is a punk-inspired Britpop gem that shares a true story of frontman Gaz Coombes being caught by law enforcement for drug possession, and is often considered one of the group’s best tracks.
Described by a member of The Presidents Of The United States Of America as being “exactly what being a teenager sounds like”, the track resonated with youth around the world, though it remained sorely overlooked by triple j listeners.
While some might say it was the awkward timing of the song’s release (with the original single being released on vinyl only in 1994, and not being available on an album until early 1995), there’s no definitive explanation as to why Supergrass’ breakthrough single has remained so tragically overlooked for all these years. – TJ
Check out Supergrass’ ‘Caught By The Fuzz’:
52. She Don’t Use Jelly – The Flaming Lips
As mentioned back in #24 of this list, The Flaming Lips have never made the Hottest 100, outside of a Chemical Brothers cameo. And while this was ludicrous by the time ‘Do You Realize??’ was overlooked by listeners in 2002, it was already pretty odd back in the inaugural annual countdown in 1993.
In a year when British boy band East 17, Inner Circle’s insufferable ‘Sweat (A La La La La Long)’, and The Shamen’s almost-as-bad ‘Ebeneezer Goode’ made the cut, The Flaming Lips’ biggest hit single ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’ was nowhere to be seen.
There are few songs that exemplify how the weird alt-rockers had booted their way into the mainstream as effectively as ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’. It would have sounded lovely in a Hottest 100 poll alongside Ween’s ‘Push Th’ Little Daisies’, Porno For Pyros’ ‘Pets’, and Nirvana’s ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ – it’s almost the meeting point between those three songs.
But it didn’t reach the Hottest 100 most likely because the song’s popularity burned too slow and too long. The album that birthed it (Transmissions From The Satellite Heart) came out mid-1993, but ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’ wasn’t released as a single in Australia until almost a year later.
Beavis & Butthead didn’t critique it until March 1994. And even then, it took until March 1995 (about the time they infamously performed it on Beverly Hills 90210) before the song began an eight week stint in the ARIA charts that peaked at #25. So by the time the mainstream buzz arrived, the triple j hype had long since died out, and the Lips were preparing their under-rated seventh album Clouds Taste Metallic.
As a result, The Flaming Lips inadvertently started an unenviable streak of great songs failing to make it into the Hottest 100; a streak which continues to this day. – MN
Check out The Flaming Lips’s ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’:
53. Such Great Heights – The Postal Service
The Postal Service are one of those rare groups whose music is the stuff of legend. Coming together as a supergroup duo comprised of Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello, the pair merged indie rock and downtempo electronica in such a way that made them irresistible to fans of almost any music genre.
Following the release of their debut album, Give Up, in 2003, The Postal Service were an indie hit, with lead single ‘Such Great Heights’ becoming a staple of lovelorn mixtapes everywhere. While the group sporadically crafted a couple of remixes over the next ten years, fans would be left wanting a new album, with The Postal Service officially disbanding in 2013 following a brief reunion.
However, ‘Such Great Heights’ has managed to become an indie anthem whose legacy has outlasted the group itself, having also gained a much wider audience thanks to its presence on various compilations and soundtracks over the years.
Yet, despite this popularity, the track seems to have served as one of those rare sleeper hits, where word of mouth led to it receiving far greater recognition years after its release.
While Australia has become home to a voracious fanbase for Gibbard’s Death Cab For Cutie, it seems that they weren’t quite on the ball when The Postal Service came around, leading to this masterpiece of indietronica being overlooked by voters that year. – TJ
Check out The Postal Service’s ‘Such Great Heights’:
54. Gin And Juice – Snoop Doggy Dogg (feat. Dat Nigga Daz)
Add this name to the list of “I Can’t Believe They’ve Never Been In The Hottest 100” – Snoop Doggy Dogg. The man known as Calvin Broadus to his mother is one of the most influential rappers of all time, and back in ‘93/’94 he was taking the sound of G-funk to the world, including Australia. His debut album Doggystyle yielded two top 50 songs Down Under, including this ode to drink mixing (and smoking weed, of course).
Considering Cypress Hill’s ‘Hits From The Bong’ and ‘Insane In the Brain’ made the ‘93 countdown, it seems even more surprising this track didn’t make the cut. It would have sat just nicely between the two, preferably bumping out Inner Circle’s obnoxious ‘Sweat (A La La La La Long)’ in the process (God, I hate that song). – MN
Check out Snoop Doggy Dogg’s ‘Gin And Juice (feat. Dat Nigga Daz)’:
55. Voodoo Lady – Ween
You could put the entire discography of the ever-versatile Ween on shuffle and no one would notice it was all the same band until it was pointed out. With their musical styles varying with almost every song, Ween are one of those groups where it’s not hard to find a song that you enjoy.
By 1994, the band had just released their fourth album, and had already scored a Hottest 100 spot with ‘Push Th’ Little Daisies’ in 1993, but their latest album – Chocolate And Cheese – went sadly overlooked by Aussie fans.
While the group’s later records would see triple j listeners again falling in love with the band, what was arguably their most successful single, ‘Voodoo Lady’ was completely ignored.
Maybe it was the admittedly strange chorus of the track, or maybe it was the fact that this tune lacked the same frenetic nature of ‘Push Th’ Little Daisies’, but despite hitting #58 on the ARIA charts, the track has remained one of the more popular tunes by Ween to have never scored a position in the annual Hottest 100 countdown. – TJ
Check out Ween’s ‘Voodoo Lady’:
56. Ruby Soho – Rancid
In the mid-‘90s, Rancid found themselves at a strange place in their career. After releasing two albums in as many years, the group found themselves at the centre of a major label bidding war. Choosing to stick to their guns and remain with Epitaph Records, the group buckled down and recorded the album that sounded exactly like what one would expect a major label debut for a punk band should sound like.
The record saw the group enter the Hottest 100 with their enduring ‘Time Bomb’, though fans and the Aussie charts agree ‘Ruby Soho’ is the more popular song. With one of the most radio-friendly choruses ever constructed by the group, the track follows the story of a doomed relationship between bassist Matt Freeman and a girl met while on tour.
Sadly (and somewhat ironically), frontman Tim Armstrong would begin a relationship with Aussie Brody Dalle while touring in support of this album. Their eventual breakup has soured Armstrong’s view of Australia it seems, and the band haven’t been back in 20 years. This might not be likely to change any time soon, but in the meantime, we at least have ‘Ruby Soho’ to commiserate with. – TJ
Check out Rancid’s ‘Ruby Soho’:
57. Big In Japan – Tom Waits
Tom Waits. A songwriter’s songwriter. Arguably one of the most daring and influential artists of the past 50 years. Number of Hottest 100 entries – zero.
This song is probably the closest he came to scoring a slot in the poll. It was played heavily on triple j when Mule Variations was released, and for many late-Gen Xers/early-Gen Ys, it was their first introduction to the weirdly wonderful uniqueness that is Tom Waits.
And what a glorious introduction it is. It’s far from his greatest song (Waits biographer Barney Hoskins doesn’t even rate it in the top 50 Waits tracks in his excellent book Lowside Of The Road) but it sums up so much about the iconic musician.
It’s clattering and banging yet hooky and happening, it seems so easy yet oozes class and wit, and it’s strangely timeless and unbeholden to any musical trend of its time or before. And front and centre, is Mr Waits, barking like a carnival hype-man at the end of a long whisky-soaked run on the road, reminding us that, yes, he’s kind of a big deal. – MN
Check out Tom Waits’ ‘Big In Japan’:
58. 99 Problems – Jay-Z
It took until 2009 for Jay-Z to crack the Hottest 100. By that point he’d released 10 solo records, three collaboration albums, and more than 50 singles. ‘99 Problems’ was his 40th single and its release on The Black Album in 2003 was almost totally overlooked by triple j.
These days, this massive two-chord Rick Rubin-produced banger is a high-water mark of hip hop. Wikipedia calls it “one of the most discussed songs of the decade”. Rolling Stone rated it the #2 single of the ‘00s; Pitchfork said #14. It’s second verse is used in law classes. Jack White said it was “the story of America … in a nutshell”. Jay-Z playing it live at two UK festivals in 2008 was enough to put back into the British charts.
While its hook (which is borrowed from Ice-T) is awesome, the song is so much more than that. Rappers lined up at Rubin’s door hoping for something similarly huge, and every single one of them would have given their right arm for a verse as good as the second one, which remains perhaps the greatest verse in the history of hip hop. – MN
Check out Jay-Z’s ’99 Problems’:
59. Take Me To Church – Hozier
Early ’20s rural Irishman Andrew Hozier-Byrne was so disgusted by the Catholic hierarchy’s views on homosexuality he penned ‘Take Me To Church’, an explicitly pro-gay marriage blues-rock anthem with perhaps the most distinguished chorus of the decade. What in the world was triple j thinking not playing this? Maybe they thought he was just another Passenger.
Would Hozier have won the Hottest 100 had he been on the list? ‘Take Me To Church’ must have had a chance up against ‘Talk Is Cheap’, which wasn’t even the best song on Chet Faker’s album. Having peaked at #2 in Australia, the UK and the US, maybe it was destined to always just miss out.
I do think Hozier would have helped his cause by singing “take me to church” — just the title, not the whole chorus — one last time right at the end of the song. — PA
Check out Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’:
60. Just – Radiohead
As mentioned (see #4) The Bends is the only Radiohead album not to pop a track into the poll. And yes, we’ve already included one track in this list of omissions, but here’s another, partly because that album and this track are amazing but also because, seriously, how was this left out?
Jonny Greenwood’s white-hot guitar sounds and Thom Yorke’s voice suit the post-Nirvana and pre-Britpop zeitgeist of its time… although maybe that’s why it failed; because it fell right into the gap between those two movements.
Written as part of a friendly competition between Yorke and Greenwood to see who could get the most chords into a song (nine chords, for those of you playing along at home), it’s a typically loathing tale of an acquaintance who is unaware of how annoying they are.
But it also marks the guitar zenith of Radiohead. After this, they would become moodier, more experimental and would never rock as hard again. Given what we know now, that feels like a moment in time worth voting into the Hottest 100, yeah?
And when you factor in that film clip (which is surely one of Rage’s most played) it feels like a grievous oversight. Sure, there is a large pile of Radiohead songs worthy of inclusion on this list, but this is a big one. – MN
Check out Radiohead’s ‘Just’:
61. Wake Up – Arcade Fire
Australia genuinely loves Arcade Fire. Neon Bible came in at #4 on Triple J’s Album Poll, then The Suburbs topped it, and Reflektor was #3. Despite these heights and the ongoing patronage of Hottest 100 whisperer Richard Kingsmill (who rated Funeral #2, Neon Bible #1, The Suburbs #8, Reflektor #5 and I’m sure he liked ‘Everything Now’ even though it’s not in his Top 10), Arcade Fire has had a decidedly lame Hottest 100 career, especially before Reflektor hit #16, which made them the most successful Canadian (and yes I know the Butler brothers are from Houston, Texas) act in the chart’s history (that’s if you count Duck Sauce as American, and I do), overtaken first by #9 ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ by The Weeknd and then by Kai’s guesting on #1 ‘Never Be Like You’.
Despite our Arcade amour, the voting public has only shown tepid interest in supporting the Fire, perhaps due to the group’s output being so album-oriented. Their five records bulge with consistent lyrical themes and leitmotifs, even their inchoate debut, which features four tracks named ‘Neighbourhood’. It also boasts ‘Wake Up’, a fan favourite, live staple and soundtrack to my fave film trailer of all time (even if you didn’t like The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, you had to like the trailer).
Arcade Fire’s musical genius stems from their ability to create relatable indie pop gems incorporating an eclectic mix of instruments, male and female vocals, idiosyncratic time signatures and visceral sincerity. Put that unique sense of purpose aside for almost six minutes, however, and you have the spine-tingling alternate rock masterpiece of ‘Wake Up’. It brings to mind another cult Texas troupe, Spoon, which has never catapulted its admirable musicianship into individual song acclaim.
I think it’s fair to say ‘Everything Now’ did not burn the house down like Arcade Fire’s previous four LPs, a squib that will inevitably see the gang retired up to Double J somnolence. Alas. But we’ll always have ‘Wake Up’. — PA
Check out Arcade Fire’s ‘Wake Up’:
62. Can’t Stand Me Now – The Libertines
You could say Pete Doherty is like Keith Richards except without all the, you know, success. The insanely charismatic co-frontman of Babyshambles and The Libertines is not known for living the simple life; churning out soul-melting punk jams while dating supermodels and maintaining a relatively high-functioning long-term substance abuse problem.
While Doherty has appeared once in a Hottest 100 — Babyshambles furnished us with #79 ‘Fuck Forever’ — there has never been an entry from his more famous project. When the (ostensible) duo (Doherty likes to Libertine with Carl Barât) toured Australian in early 2018, there was a veritable sing-along fever in the Sydney City Limits mosh for bangers like ‘Boys In The Band’, ‘What Katie Did’, ‘What A Waster’, ‘Time For Heroes’, and ‘Up The Bracket’, in addition to their more recent ‘hit’ ‘Gunga Din’. Where were all these harmonious types when those songs were eligible?
‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ is quintessential Libertines. Drawled lyrics over banjo-esque twang mourning the death of another tumultuous relationship, the inability to make anything work, reverting to the only thing that provides relief, blamed it on the brown, indeed. We’ve all reflected on the ones who used to love us and assumed they can’t stand us now.
Doherty must be an infuriating man to love but he is a joy to listen to. And I’m sure Barât’s fine too. — PA
Check out The Libertines’ ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’:
63. Naïve – The Kooks
The facts don’t lie. Despite missing the countdown in 2006, this was voted into the 20 Years of Hottest 100 list in 2013 at #87. That alone makes it a worthy addition to this list and demonstrates the band’s enduring popularity in Australia.
Compared to their compatriots in the second wave of Britpop – Arctic Monkeys, The Wombats and the rest of the menagerie – The Kooks have been somewhat overlooked by voters, especially when you consider they’ve had three top 15 albums in this country and are festival regulars over here.
They’ve only had two songs in the annual Hottest 100; that’s a long way behind Arctic Monkeys (12 song) and The Wombats (11). Maybe they’re living in the shadows of those other bands, and maybe that’s why ‘Naïve’ missed the cut first time around. – MN
Check out The Kooks’s ‘Naïve’:
64. Hurt – Nine Inch Nails
We had the cover at #17, so it would have been unfair to give the original a miss. Yes, even Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor agreed Johnny Cash had inadvertently whipped the song out from under his “empire of dirt”, to the point where many people think it’s something Cash wrote. But all that sells the original way too short.
Cash’s reading of ‘Hurt’ is what makes it great, but obviously his brilliant cover wouldn’t exist without Reznor’s original, and so much of the song’s greatness is there in the Nine Inch Nails’ version. That melody, for one, is highly under-rated, as is the way it slides over the darkly majestic chords, particularly that angular flat-fifth (or is it a sharp-11th?) Reznor starts with. It’s all nearly buried under distortion, dissonance, and white noise, but there is beauty in the ugliness of it all.
However it’s the sheer laid-bare soul of it all that really kills – so stark in Cash’s hands, but no less pained in Reznor’s. And it was his pain to start with. Surely that’s worth something. – MN
Check out Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’:
65. Kick It – Peaches (feat. Iggy Pop)
Peaches pushes boundaries – something triple j has always done too. And that’s why they’ve consistently played Peaches since her debut album The Teaches Of Peaches. But for some reason the listeners have never seen fit to vote her edgy punky pop into the countdown. Too edgy? Don’t get it?
This one should’ve made the cut for a number of reasons. For one, it’s funny – the back and forth between Peaches and Iggy is self-referential and doesn’t take itself too seriously – but it’s also got a catchy shoutiness to it that earworms its way into your brain. The lack of bass shouldn’t have been a problem; this came out in the era of the bassless two-piece a la The White Stripes.
And when is a little bit of Iggy not a good thing? Maybe people just weren’t ready for it. Too edgy? – MN
Check out Peaches’ ‘Kick It (feat. Iggy Pop)’:
66. Cuffed & Collared – Bad//Dreems
On paper, Adelaide’s Bad//Dreems have got it all. They deliver stunning pub-rock songs which channel the likes of Cold Chisel and Celibate Rifles, they write and record with the ferocity of an untamed dog, they’ve got legendary producer Mark Opitz on hand, and their live shows are something of a religious experience for the dedicated fans who brave the sweaty mosh pits to scream out every lyric at the top of their lungs.
However, despite a healthy fanbase and support from triple j, the Baddies have never cracked the Hottest 100. When ‘Cuffed & Collared’ was relegated to the #171 spot in 2015, social media was flooded with so many messages asking where Bad//Dreems were that it almost seemed plausible that a miscalculation had been made.
Bad//Dreems are the future of balls-to-the-wall Aussie rock, and if the attitude of their fanbase is anything to go by, their lack of previous inclusion will only serve as an apocryphal tale when their future tracks get the love they deserve and they rightly enter the annals of Aussie music history. – TJ
Check out Bad//Dreems’s ‘Cuffed & Collared’:
67. Web In Front – Archers Of Loaf
Take a listen to ‘Web In Front’ right now, and really listen to those lyrics. Confused? You’re not alone. The band’s aggressive, stream-of-consciousness delivery didn’t win the favour of many critics upon release, with noted American music critic Robert Christgau even going as far as to call their debut album, Icky Mettle, a “tantrum set to music”.
However, ‘Web In Front’ was one of those rare songs which managed to transcend the indie lo-fi landscape and switch over to the mainstream. Back in the ‘90s, the track was a constant feature on Rage, serving as an inspiration for bands such as Jebediah, who not only namecheck the group in ‘Jerks Of Attention’, but also present their track as a faithful homage to the original.
Despite the track’s lyrical inaccessibility and certain obtuse charm, this slice of indie-rock has gone on to be considered one of the greatest examples of the genre, serving as the band’s finest moment, and leading many to wonder why this one never got the kudos it deserved back in 1993. – TJ
Check out Archers Of Loaf’s ‘Web In Front’:
68. I’m Afraid Of Americans (V1) – David Bowie
There was a time when triple j played Bowie. Mostly that was in 1997, when the chameleonic genius once again reinvented himself on Earthling, this time seamlessly slipping into a world of skittering electro beats and industrial guitars.
Teaming with Nine Inch Nails for this remix of album highlight ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’ was a natural fit – so much so, the reworking got released as a single and boasted an MTV-saturating film clip starring Bowie and Reznor. The two acts even went on the road together. Bowie joined Nine Inch Nails on stage for songs. The symbiosis was complete.
Bowie never made it into the Hottest 100 except in All Time countdowns (‘Heroes’ and ‘Life On Mars?’ are indeed ‘all time’ tunes) but that sells short his incredible ability to continually make music of the time, no matter what time that was.
Just as he recrafted his sound to suit the ‘70s and the ‘80s, he did it in the ‘90s, releasing one of his truly under-rated albums in Earthling. Aside from this being a great song (and a great remix) ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’ is representative of Bowie’s knack for hitting the zeitgeist right between the eyes, even 30-plus years into a career. – MN
Check out David Bowie’s ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans (V1)’:
69. Boys Wanna Be Her – Peaches
Peaches again, this time from her hilariously titled third album Impeach My Bush (you had to be there), continuing on her journey of shattering gender norms, questioning sexual ideals, and breaking down barriers along the way. One of her most popular tracks, it’s also one of her catchiest, boasting a killer glam riff over a stomping beat, while Peaches intones that simple yet effective hook.
Aside from being all over triple j at time, this song was (and has been) everywhere. Over the years, it’s been in a slew of TV shows, films, trailers and games. It’s slowly worked its way into the consciousness. Add in the girl-power, gender-positive message and maybe it was just too far ahead of its time, much like the aforementioned ‘Kick It’ at #65.
triple j and its listeners have always attempted to be ahead of the curve, but by not heeding the teaches of Peaches, they may have skipped the wrong class and missed a valuable lesson. – MN
Check out Peaches’ ‘Boys Wanna Be Her’:
70. Connection – Elastica
It’s a nice piece of nostalgic ‘90s symmetry that both Blur and Elastica are included in this document. The lead singers of these revelatory Britpop bands — Damon Albarn and Justine Frischmann — dated furiously through the bands’ Halcion days in a kinda ‘cross-the-pond tabloid-fodder version of Kurt and Courtney.
Elastica’s self-titled debut album debuted at #1 on the UK charts and was one of the fastest selling freshperson efforts (whatever that means) in history. Fifteen short, fast, loud explosions of high energy with song titles like ‘S.O.F.T’ and ‘2:1’ to make any Soundcloud rapper proud. Song lengths ranged from the momentary 1:15 to the epic 4:27. Jammed in the middle of those ranges was ‘Connection’. Just over two minutes for Frischmann to meet her dealer, fall in love, seal the deal and ride off into the sunrise.
Damon and Justine split up, Damon and his Blurmates recorded 13 in mourning; the type of album you listen to if you’re contemplating suicide, just to make sure you go through with it. Elastica’s second album came in 2000, five years after they burst on the scene, but by then the magic had died, Britpop was in decline and lad culture was on the rise, but at least that vital connection had been made. — PA
Check out Elastica’s ‘Connection’:
71. New Noise – Refused
For years, the story of Refused was almost mythical. After releasing a pair of albums and spending years toiling away in the Swedish hardcore punk scene, Refused broke into the mainstream with the release of The Shape Of Punk To Come, an album described by some as an instant classic due to its daring, stylistic change. Unfortunately it was a commercial failure.
Then, following the cancellation of a poorly-received US tour halfway through, the group announced their breakup in an open letter, bluntly titled ‘Refused Are Fucking Dead’.
The ensuing years would see fans and critics begin to appreciate the group and their work (thanks in part to the mythos of their final shows), with tracks such as ‘New Noise’ becoming considered an influential, if overlooked, classic of the genre.
With the track decrying the state of popular music and proclaiming that “We need new noise/New art for the real people,” it’s hard to believe that the alternative music-loving audience of triple j at the time didn’t embrace the tune and its message.
While the slow-burning nature of Refused’s legacy may play a huge role in this track being overlooked at the time, it undoubtedly remains one of those tracks which hindsight allows us to look at differently. – TJ
Check out Refused’s ‘New Noise’:
72. We Are Young – fun. (feat. Janelle Monáe)
There are several reasons why a track is omitted from a Hottest 100 and ends up on this list of celebrated no-shows. Oblivion upon release but has since gained prominence (‘Everlong’ and ‘New Slang’), released too late in the year to make the cut (‘Loving Is Easy’ and ‘Raingirl’, who don’t even make our cut!) and criminal negligence (‘Sweet Disposition’) are three explainers.
When it was time for me to choose my picks for best/worst omissions, the commonish thread for my picks was simply that triple j didn’t play that song specifically, or the act more broadly.
Although some songs somehow slip through the net and place in the countdown despite not being on the playlist (‘Feel It Still’ and ‘rockstar’ are two recent examples), for the vast majority of blacklisted songs, there is no hope of inclusion. That’s the case with ‘We Are Young’ by Brooklyn ultrahipsters fun. (note the lower case and period in their official band name for extra authenticity) & Janelle Monáe.
It’s almost impossible to listen to triple j (or commercial radio, for that matter) without hearing Jack Antonoff’s enviable talents shining through the works of Lorde, Amy Shark, Grimes, Sia, St Lucia, Tegan and Sara, Banks, St Vincent, Lana Del Rey or MØ.
The guy is like Max Martin but with just enough credibility to get his production and co-writing works picked up by Artistic Merit FM. Why then won’t triple j play either of Jack’s bands, fun. and Bleachers? Surely it’s not Nate Ruess’ beautiful, perfectly enunciated vocals?
‘We Are Young’ rode the Glee/Apple keynote/Super Bowl commercial wave to global success and near ubiquity through 2012. They even got to play Splendour in the Grass. Is ‘We Are Young’ any more poppy than ‘Sweet Nothing’ (Cal + Flo), ‘I Love It’ (Icona + Charli), ‘Feel The Love’ (Rudi + John) or ‘Silhouettes’ (Avicii (vale))?
All those tracks made the j-grade for the Hottest 100 of 2012; had ‘We Are Young’ been played I am certain it would have challenged ‘Thrift Shop’ for top spot. — PA
Check out fun.’s ‘We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monáe)’:
73. The People – The Music
The Music is one of those bands that did not foresee the rise of search engine optimisation as an important tool in music research and discovery (others include Live, The The, Lamb, Even, and Air). Originally from Leeds, The Music combined elements of soul, Madchester, post-Britpop, grunge revival and that rock-electronica pioneered (?) by Radiohead on OK Computer and Kid A, to forge a simultaneously distinctive and derivative sound. Robert Harvey’s stretched vowels definitely helped.
‘The People’ smoulders with a dark intensity constructed around the image of a woman out walking alone — an anxiety that hasn’t been soothed 15 years on — that builds to a yearning asseveration to change the way we are living.
In an alternate universe, The Music would have been at the vanguard of guitar-driven alternate sensibilities alongside The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, and Bloc Party, but the band’s relatively slow output and obfuscated sense of purpose meant it ended up more like The Bravery. Or maybe it was the lack of SEO? — PA
Check out The Music’s ‘The People’:
74. Heavy Metal Drummer – Wilco
Arguably one of the most critically-acclaimed bands of the last few decades, Wilco have won over countless fans thanks to their country-tinged alt-rock, yet for some reason, this success has never really translated to Australian audiences.
When Wilco released their fourth album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, back in 2001, the group were in prime position for storming the Hottest 100 charts.
Backed with the wistful ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’, which featured the nostalgic chorus, “I miss the innocence I’ve known/Playing KISS covers, beautiful and stoned,” the group had arguably released one of the best summer songs of all time.
Sadly, for many Australian music fans, this track probably didn’t gain much traction until it was featured on the accompanying compilation album for the 2004 Big Day Out festival. Of course, by then it was too late for the track to crack the charts, leaving fans only able to wonder what could have been. – TJ
Check out Wilco’s ‘Heavy Metal Drummer’:
75. Missing (Todd Terry Club Mix) – Everything But The Girl
One of the great mondegreens I experienced first-hand was my school pal Jonno Miller enthusing about the song ‘Desert Masquerade’ by Everything But The Girl. What was that Jonno? I think the lyric is “And I miss you, like the deserts miss the rain”; who the hell misses a desert masquerade? The Phantom of the Oasis?
My memory is a little hazy on this but I’m sure triple j played Everything But The Girl tracks through the late ’90s, especially off the Hull duo’s 1999 LP Temperamental. Why they chose not to play the original version of ‘Missing’ or its stratospherically popular remix by Todd Terry, is an unknown.
This was an era of triple j playing eerily similar casual house from new wavers like Deep Dish, White Town, Blue Boy, Morcheeba, Moloko, and heritage acts like Massive Attack, and Faithless.
Maybe the powers that be thought this remix was just too cynically commercial, a sure-fire hit after years of toiling with barely any Australian cut-through (‘Don’t Leave Me Behind’ apparently charted at #85 on the pre-ARIA Kent Report), that it didn’t need the artistic merit imprimatur that came with playback on the js.
‘Missing (Todd Terry Remix)’ stalled at #2 for six weeks in Australia; kept off #1 by ‘One Of Us’ (Joan Osborne) and ‘How Bizarre’ (OMC). It was the seventh biggest selling song of 1996. Those numbers guarantee that this song was hanging around like a hung up ex-lover outside your old address, so tell me again Jonno how the hell you could that lyric wrong? — PA
Check out Everything But The Girl’s ‘Missing (Todd Terry Club Mix)’:
76. Grounds For Divorce – Elbow
Back in 2001, Elbow’s Asleep In The Back managed to not only crack the ARIA top 100, but also scored the #3 spot on triple j’s yearly album poll. Fast-forward seven years, and the group’s Mercury Award-winning The Seldom Seen Kid was nowhere to be found on any variety of Aussie chart, much to the confusion of fans around the country.
Drawing listeners in with its slinky, smoky blues-rock, ‘Grounds For Divorce’ was almost seen by some as a warning against the dangers of drinking, yet the verbose nature of its lyrics, and the impassioned delivery with which frontman Guy Garvey presented the track put this song into its own league.
Despite this, the immense popularity this track saw, and the frequent appearance of its accompanying album on year-end best-of lists, was not enough for triple j listeners to embrace it. – TJ
Check out Elbow’s ‘Grounds For Divorce’:
77. Glory Of The 80’s – Tori Amos
Rather than the kitschy ‘80s nostalgia glamorised by contemporaneous films like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, 200 Cigarettes, Wet Hot American Summer and American Psycho (yes, really) — big hair, shoulder pads, smoking inside, the nascent popularity of CDs, cocaine on every table, Wang Chung on every stereo — the glory Tori Amos recalls from the ‘80s is darker, foreboding, sad but not maudlin; a reminder that, yes, this was an era of excess, when pockets bulged with greenback pilfered off Reaganomic deregulation, but it was also a time when AIDS rent through the last generation inner city bohemians and a quiet desperation started to descend: more The Last Days of Disco than The Wedding Singer.
Indeed, the opening lines of ‘Glory Of The 80’s’ talks of Tori being electromagnetically sent back to a party going on in 1985, as vivid a scene-setting as you are likely to hear for a time traveling tale of drug abuse, cross-dressing, presumed immortality, insanely high levels of self-confidence and a delicious reference to ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ (the US #1 song the day I was born). And then, just when it all seems real, it disappears.
Few artists of her era influenced indie pop more than Tori Amos. A true auteur who infused her prolific and uncategorisable music with a fearless playfulness — viz labelling Courtney Love the titular (shamefully low) #98 ‘Professional Widow’ — her Hottest 100 candidacy likely took hits for at times being too inaccessible for mainstreamish audience. Her power lives on, though, in the guise of Meg Mac, Vera Blue, Fiona Apple, Lorde, King Princess and Billie Eillish, among countless more. — PA
Check out Tori Amos’s ‘Glory Of The 80’s’:
78. I Miss You – Blink-182
Here’s a fun challenge for you. A cleverer wag than me has created a 10-hour loop of Tom DeLonge’s verse and the refrain from Blink-182’s punk ballad ‘I Miss You’, which was the boys’ first hit of their Hottest 100 wilderness years, between #53 ‘Feeling This’ in 2003 and #54 ‘Bored to Death’ in 2016.
Unlike the furiously upbeat pop punk songs happily littered with good natured and often hilariously ribald lyrics, ‘I Miss You’ was a much more serious piece of break-up music, home to evocative lines referencing Halloween at Christmas and sick strange darknesses. Impressive stuff from the band that once invited listeners to take off their pants and jacket.
There’s been a lamentable dearth of crafty lyricism in contemporary skater and pop punk, with themes of alienation, depression and anxiety permeating with sincerity rather than gallows humour. ‘Bored To Death’ encapsulates that sentiment though the rot had set in with ‘I Miss You’, somewhat showcasing how Blink-182 was at the bleeding edge of a second punk movement, even when being shunted aside for finally growing up.
Your challenge: listen to this mesmeric loop till you can name the three acts to have placed at the same number three separate annual Hottest 100s. One of them is a solo artist who also gets around in a band. — PA
Check out Blink-182’s ‘I Miss You’:
79. Ironic – Alanis Morissette
Here’s one for the trainspotters: in 2014 when debate raged over whether ‘Shake It Off’ should be including in the Hottest 100, one of the perceived truths scuttling about was that to be eligible for the countdown, a song had to have been played at least once in full during the year (which is actually the 12 months to 30 November).
Because ‘Shake It Off’ had not been played, it was not eligible, was one of the prevailing dissents. Firstly, this isn’t true. Erstwhile station supremo Ollie Wards has confirmed to me that this is an urban legend: significantly more (new) songs are played on triple j each year than are included on the list (he said roughly 6,000 to 2,000), though of course there are also write-ins, which is how ‘Shake It Off’ was hoping to shake it up.
If being played doesn’t necessarily qualify you for being on the list, how come some songs get on the list despite not having been played?
For example, the very same year ‘Shake It Off’ did not come in at #12, Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ was on the list and at #9 despite not being played on triple j. This raised the question: is this the first time a song has charted despite not being played? Crafty responders responded in the negative, citing Alanis Morissette’s three entries in 1995 — #39 ‘You Oughta Know’, #85 ‘Hand In My Pocket’, #90 ‘All I Really Want’ — as placements that came despite these songs and Alanis in general not having been played on the station during the year.
And to some extent that is true, but here is where is the trainspotters can lick their pencils and prime their notepads: back in 1995, triple j would simulcast rage on Friday and Saturday nights, including Rage’s countdowns of the ARIA Top 50 singles chart (a practice rage has shamefully discontinued), meaning those prenominate Alanis hits would have been played. Using Alanis’ attenuated definition, that could qualify as ironic.
Her biggest hit in terms of chart placement, you would expect the iconic ‘Ironic’ to have been one of the three rogue Morissette songs to have creepy Peted their way into the Hottest 100, but no. The song filled with bon mots everyone loved to point out were not actually ironic, meaning the song as a whole was ironic, was kept off #1 in Australia by ‘How Bizarre’ (itself a crossover Hottest 100 hit at #78) and ‘Fastlove’, and kept out of the Hottest 100 by, to some extent, sexism.
It was much harder for solo female artists to get a decent run on triple j back in the 90s. For the earliest year that records are publicly available, 2000, only two of the feature albums that year were by female artists, both of whom were already established stars: Sinead O’Connor and PJ Harvey. In 2009, there were seven — Fever Ray, Lily Allen, Bertie Blackman, Sarah Blasko, Lisa Mitchell, La Roux and Florence (yes I am counting those final two as solo artists) — of which five were debut albums.
In 2018, to mid-October, there already been 10 female solo feature albums, seven of them debuts: Tia Gostelow, Tash Sultana, Laurel, Odette, Amy Shark, Florence (fourth album), Jack River, Courtney Barnett (second), Kali Uchis and Alison Wonderland (second).
There are upstream reasons for this upswing in solo female representation but my understanding is that the real reason is that triple j is making a concerted effort to improve its ratios. Had this happened 20-odd years ago, ‘Ironic’ probably would have made the cut, and on merit, not as some curio. — PA
Check out Alanis Morissette’s ‘Ironic’:
80. Read My Mind – The Killers
Nine years after their last appearance, The Killers returned to the Hottest 100 in 2017 with the damned impressive track ‘The Man’. In fact, their ability to pump out hits over the past decade and a half is somewhat under-acclaimed, although it hasn’t gone unnoticed by triple j listeners. When you look at the singles they’ve released over that time that have cracked the ARIA top 50, all of them have made it into the Hottest 100… except two.
This is one of them (and have a look at #88 for the other, which I would humbly suggest is their magnum opus). ‘Read My Mind’ is classic Killers, with a chorus to match their best stuff and everything that makes them great – the driving bass, the bed of synths, the hooks, and Brandon Flowers’ intoxicating mix of frailty and bravado.
So why didn’t this one make the cut? It was the third single off their 2006 album Sam’s Town, and not officially released as a single until March 2007. It’s a familiar tale of timing, which you’ve already read a dozen times in this overly long article. Because you’ve read every word haven’t you? Haven’t you?
If you’re still reading at this, congratulations and thank you. – MN
Check out The Killers’s ‘Read My Mind’:
81. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town – Pearl Jam
OK, call us crazy for putting three tracks from Pearl Jam’s Vs on this list, but think about how big this band is/was, how much triple j loved them, how big grunge was circa 1993 (the first year of the Hottest 100), and how much triple j loved grunge. There were two Pet Shop Boys songs in the ‘93 countdown, two Headless Chickens songs and two King Missile songs, yet only one Pearl Jam song. Which of these bands screams “1993” to you the most? Odds are it’s Pearl Jam.
Bear in mind pretty much every song off Vs got a spin on the js at that time (I know, I was there, listening to triple j for the first time that very year, taping Request Fest religiously). But perhaps, more importantly considering they made the countdown 14 times, is the fact this is one of Pearl Jam’s best loved songs.
It charted in the US despite not being released as a single on two separate occasions, it featured on their ‘best of’, and has been included on plenty of their impossibly numerous live albums.
Even the people that don’t like Pearl Jam seem to like this song. And that’s possibly the biggest recommendation you can give a Pearl Jam song. – MN
Check out Pearl Jam’s ‘Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town’:
82. Dakota – Stereophonics
By the time Wales’ Stereophonics released their fifth album, Language. Sex. Violence. Other?, in 2005, some cynical music fans may have believed that the group were past their best-before date.
While their popularity had remained constant over in the UK, many down in Australia might have forgotten about the group since the release of their 1999 and 2001 albums, Performance And Cocktails and Just Enough Education To Perform. However, the group was ready to show off exactly what made them special when they released the introspective ‘Dakota’.
Featuring elements of new wave, and featuring a less abrasive sound than had been found on some of their more rock-oriented albums, ‘Dakota’ saw the group deliver a stunning love song that shot the group to the top of the UK charts, becoming their most popular track there, and the only tune of theirs to crack the ARIA top 50, hitting #22.
Sadly, this success didn’t translate over to the Hottest 100 chart where, to date, Stereophonics are still yet to place. While tracks like ‘The Bartender And The Thief’ and ‘Have A Nice Day’ had already been overlooked by triple j listeners, maybe it’s clear that Stereophonics are destined to be one of the chart’s greatest ‘what-ifs’. – TJ
Check out Stereophonics’ ‘Dakota’:
83. Heavy Disco – The Bennies
When The Bennies first formed in the late ‘00s under the name Madonna (yes, really), few could have thought that within just a matter of years they would become one of the most beloved party-starters that Melbourne has ever seen.
Providing fun-loving ska tunes that pay tribute to having a good time and indulging in a few substances along the way, The Bennies cracked the Hottest 100 for the first time in 2015, hitting #88 with ‘Party Machine’. However, it was the year prior that the group unleashed arguably one of the best tracks they’ve ever laid down.
Coming from the EP of the same name, ‘Heavy Disco’ is undoubtedly one of the tightest tracks that the group have ever recorded.
With lyrics that wholly focus on heading out with mates and having a night on the town, the tune is home to some of the slickest production in The Bennies’ discography, and one of the greatest choruses that Aussie crowds have ever had the pleasure to scream out in concert.
Needless to say, with a tune this upbeat and enjoyable, it’s a wonder it didn’t resonate with triple j’s fun-loving listeners. – TJ
Check out The Bennies’ ‘Heavy Disco’:
84. Death To The Apple Gerls – Gerling
When Gerling first formed in the early ‘90s, few would have been aware of the future that the group would have. Starting out as an indie-rock group, the group would continue to evolve over the years, charting in the Hottest 100 with tracks such as the ambient ‘Enter, Space Capsule’, the dance-floor hit ‘Dust Me Selecta’, and the enigmatic ‘Who’s Ya Daddy?’.
However, when the group released their debut album, Children Of Telepathic Experiences, back in 1998, the group’s tunes were a pretty even split between their alt-rock beginnings and their new electronic leanings.
One of the album’s main singles, ‘Death To The Apple Gerls’, showcased the band’s idiosyncratic nature as they mixed in a stunning singalong chorus with lyrics that were equal parts cryptic and socially-conscious.
Supposedly written as a response to the presentation of women in advertisements as always being seductive (à la, Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden), the track was a moderate underground hit, spawning a memorable video and performance on Recovery, which saw the band almost succeeding in making backpacks cool again.
Sadly, triple j listeners waited until 1999 to finally vote the group into the Hottest 100 countdown with the decidedly different ‘Enter, Space Capsule’, but hey, at least the band received the kudos they truly deserved for a stunning debut album. – TJ
Check out Gerling’s ‘Death To The Apple Gerls’:
85. Sure Shot – Beastie Boys
By 1994, the Beastie Boys had become superstars of the hip-hop world, helping to bridge the gap between its underground status and its more mainstream future. The release of the group’s fourth album, Ill Communication, proved to be the moment at which the group truly broke in Australia, charting within the ARIA top ten for the first time, and appearing in a Hottest 100 for the first time when the iconic ‘Sabotage’ charted at #16.
Meanwhile, the album’s opening track, the group’s criminally underrated ‘Sure Shot’ was also released as a single, though it barely managed to make any impact on charts around the world.
Despite this, fans and the band alike have considered it to be one of the Beastie Boys’ finest moments. Constructed like an average pop song as it switches between performing members through its straightforward chorus-verse-chorus style, ‘Sure Shot’ was never really a contender for the Hottest 100 in that year, though by all accounts, this perfect representation of the group’s dynamic should have been one of their biggest singles.
While Richard Kingsmill would later cite it as one of the songs that would make his personal Hottest 100 Of All Time, listeners would spend the next four years with ‘Sabotage’ as the only Beastie Boys song to have charted in a countdown. – TJ
Check out Beastie Boys’ ‘Sure Shot’:
86. Carol – The Peep Tempel
One could never credulously suppose that The Peep Tempel has created a large fanbase but those that do enjoy the mixed singing and spoken word character studies of the Melbourne post-punk are at least perfervid.
It wasn’t the bursting amphitheatre mosh you get for The Smith Street Band but when The Peep Tempel played its high-noon set on a sunny Splendour Sunday in 2017 it was a harmonious congregation, pleasantly waiting patiently through the band’s repertoire before finally getting the chance to belt out such distinctive hippocampus-etched flourishes like “I don’t think Trevor is good for you”, “I don’t want to be a fuckin Christmas ham” and the borderline Shakespearean “I’m the one who has been helping you through the divorce, Carol”.
Released late in the year and only on occasional rotation due to its saucy language, creepy subject matter and 1990s grunge sound redolent of, say, Days of the New’s best songs or Soundgarden’s worst, ‘Carol’ performed manfully to hit #128 in the second Hottest 100, and maybe with some broader exposure and maybe some Triple M playback, it could have cracked the 100 and cemented its place as one of the best, if curiously unusual, throwback rock tracks of the decade.
As it stands, we’ll all just have to accept the reality that maybe there is an unworthy Trevor inside all of us. — PA
Check out The Peep Tempel’s ‘Carol’:
87. Colour Television – Eddy Current Suppression Ring
Eddy Current Suppression Ring are one of those groups that really shouldn’t have worked on paper. Comprising workmates at a vinyl factory who decided to start playing music on a whim, the group would within five years become one of the most celebrated Melbourne rock groups of the decade.
With a raw, primal approach to playing their music, and a rather DIY aesthetic behind them, the group garnered plenty of triple j airtime with the release of their second album, Primary Colours, which also saw the band nominated for an ARIA Award and won them the Australian Music Prize.
While ‘Which Way To Go’ scored itself a spot at #166 in 2008, fan favourite ‘Colour Television’ remained nowhere to be seen. A slow-burning criticism of the media, the track was a live anthem, and even got the Like A Version treatment in 2010 when Jonathan Boulet performed a stunning rendition of the track.
Despite the massive success that the group experienced back in 2008, it’s a complete head-scratcher as to why they remained out of the annual 100. Maybe it was a case of too many great songs and the votes were split, or maybe, to paraphrase Marty McFly, listeners weren’t quite ready for that sound just yet. – TJ
Check out Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s ‘Colour Television’:
88. All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers
There’s no doubting the power of The Killers’ debut album, Hot Fuss. After all, with their lead single, ‘Somebody Told Me’, reaching #4 in the 2004 countdown, and their enduring hit ‘Mr. Brightside’ not only reaching #13 (robbed!), but also spending a total of 201 weeks in the UK charts, it’s easy to call the record a massive success.
However, out of all the singles released from their debut album, only one, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, remained absent from the 2004 Hottest 100. Charting five places higher than ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ on the Aussie charts, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ should have been a sure thing, with its constant airplay and anthemic qualities scoring it huge acclaim across the board.
While its omission might be considered a mystery to many, an explanation may come from the fact that fans may not have actually known what the track is called.
In fact, if you Google the track, you find an awful lot of results for the track being referred to by its bridge lyrics, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier”, with the track’s title only appearing twice in the song, and at the very end no less.
Considering the track’s widespread popularity, this might be the closest thing we get to a resolution, and it could even serve as advice to future rock stars; if you want success, make sure people can identify your track by its title alone. – TJ
Check out The Killers’ ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’:
89. Shimmy Shimmy Ya – Ol’ Dirty Bastard
There are approximately 116 members of Wu-Tang Clan (give or take a few) and not a single one of them has ever made it into the Hottest 100. Given their influence on rap since busting out in ‘93 with their single ‘Protect Ya Neck’ – collectively and individually – it’s a bit of an oversight.
So what’s the one song to correct that faux pas? We’re going with this cut from the craziest of Clan, the late ODB, who had a prolific career despite his premature death and his considerable “legal troubles”. ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ boasts one of the best hooks in rap, as well as some of the best sample work of the time (particularly that nifty two-note nick from Stevie Wonder’s ‘Knocks Me Off My Feet’), courtesy of fellow Wu-Tang Clan member RZA.
It’s so good the song has been sampled or interpolated in more than 80 songs since. That’s the ultimate compliment, even higher than inclusion on this list. Just. – MN
Check out Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’:
90. Closer – Tegan And Sara
Tegan and Sara Quin are Canadian lesbian identical twin vegan sisters. Okay, I just made up the vegan bit because it sounds so on-brand for the prolific indie pop duettists.
Their 2000s output was a cultural touchstone during the precipitous rise of college campus-fostered identity politics, so much so they were playing on Lena Dunham’s stereo when she wrote up her Girls treatise.
There was some debate in the halls of Hottest 100 Omissions HQ regarding which Tegan & Sara track’s snubbing was most egregious. There was no debate, however, that only three entries — #42 ‘Back In Your Head’, #70 ‘The Con’, #99 ‘Hell’ — in a countdown from T&S’s oeuvre is a malign oversight. I fought for ‘Closer’ because it is an insanely catchy synth-pop number with some delightful uptalked singing on “closer” at the opening and then on the half rhymes “critical” and “typical”, all festooned upon an otherwise conventional number outlining unrequited lust.
Adding to ‘Closer’’s broad appeal, it was featured in an episodes of Glee, Friends From College and BoJack Horseman, alongside ads for AT&T and the WWE, and it has a music video set inside a karaoke booth.
On an incidental note, Tegan + Sara is one of several acts to have charted a Hottest 100 track and been namechecked in a separate entry, NOFX’s #88 ‘Creeping Out Sara’. How many more can you name? — PA
Check out Tegan And Sara’s ‘Closer’:
91. Avant Gardener – Courtney Barnett
triple j’s love affair with Courtney Barnett still has a few albums left in it. In the meantime, expect her rather excellent 2018 album Tell Me How You Really Feel to yield a stack of entries in this year’s countdown, to go with the four off her previous album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. But where were the votes for tunes off her “double EP” A Sea Of Split Peas?
A lot of people did vote for this track in the 2013 countdown, but it wasn’t enough. ‘Avant Gardener‘ landed at #140 and we can’t help but feel that in years to come, future Hottest 100 devotees will wonder why the brilliance of Barnett wasn’t noticed earlier and why this didn’t land higher.
Bonus points for turning the word “emphysema” into a verb. – MN
Check out Courtney Barnett’s ‘Avant Gardener’:
92. Moving Out – West Thebarton Brothel Party
An ode to share-house living probably isn’t the first thing that you would write a song about, but then again, there are very few bands who take an approach to music like Adelaide’s West Thebarton (formerly known as West Thebarton Brothel Party).
Self-described as a “seven-headed soul-rock hydra,” West Thebarton (and no, it’s not pronounced ‘The Barton’) burst onto the Aussie rock scene a few years back, playing intense live shows supporting the likes of Bad//Dreems and Courtney Barnett.
Serving as the first single from their debut album, Different Beings Being Different, ‘Moving Out’ captured the feelings of generations of young Aussies as they go through that rite of passage which sees them living with friends, hoping for those unrealistic mates rates, and always looking forward to better accommodations.
Bolstered by fuzzy riffs, pounding drums, and the powerful, soulful vocals of Reverend Ray Dalfsen, ‘Moving Out’ occupies a relatable corner in the Aussie indie-rock world, easily becoming an anthem for today’s youth as they head out on their own.
While a mere glance at their live shows confirm they’re one of the most intense and beloved young bands on the scene today, it remains a mystery as to why it was overlooked by triple j listeners. – TJ
Check out West Thebarton Brothel Party’s ‘Moving Out’:
93. iFly – Ball Park Music
In the seven years since their first album, these talented Brisbanians have scored eight songs in the Hottest 100. That debut record Happiness And Surrounding Suburbs even scored two tunes in the 2011 countdown (and another at #196). But rewind even further and you find their second EP and this little pop delicacy, which earned a five-star review from Richard Kingsmill on Unearthed.
And who are we to argue with the King? There was certainly a good amount of people in agreeance with him regarding iFly – it was voted in at #130 in 2010. But that’s still not good enough. Listen to the King, people. This is a five-star song. I haven’t done the math on how many songs Kingsmill has given five stars on Unearthed, but I can’t imagine that happens too often. – MN
Check out Ball Park Music’s ‘iFly’:
94. No Diggity – Blackstreet (feat. Dr. Dre)
If Chet Faker can get a guernsey with this song, why couldn’t the original? It’s smooth AF and features Dr. Dre (another rap legend largely overlooked by the Hottest 100) and some cool rhymes by Queen Pen. Plus there’s a serious lack of new jack swing in the history of the poll.
Take a look back at the ‘96 countdown and this wouldn’t have been out of place. Hell – nothing was out of place in a year when the top 10 boasted Tool, Allen Ginsberg and Babybird’s ‘You’re Gorgeous’. There’s also a few songs that could’ve been bumped to make way (I’m looking at you, Matt Trapnell & Trapazoid).
But, yet again, timing is everything. The song only poked its head into the ARIA top 50 in December ‘96, which is too late for Hottest 100 voters. But it would spend 23 weeks in the charts, peaking at #21. Having said that, I don’t recall it getting played on triple j at that time, much like a lot of (now influential) hip-hop of the era. Hindsight and Chet Faker have 20/20 vision. – MN
Check out Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity (feat. Dr. Dre)’:
95. West Coast – FIDLAR
It’s rare that a song can so perfectly encapsulate the feelings of hanging out with your mates and doing whatever the hell you want to, but that’s exactly what Los Angeles’ FIDLAR managed to do with ‘West Coast’.
As laid-back and easygoing as the phrase their name is derived from (an acronym for ‘Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk’), ‘West Coast’ describes the band cutting school and going out on a booze-cruise so legendary that they just had to write a song about it.
Hitting #157 in the 2015 Hottest 100 countdown, this track resonated with fans enough to almost make the list, showing that singing about your mates while revelling against the dreaded nine-to-five workday is more than enough to become a hit in Australia. – TJ
Check out FIDLAR’s ‘West Coast’:
96. The Way – Fastball
It’s hard to tell sometimes why one emerging band and its catchy riff makes the j-grade and another doesn’t. Whereas triple j likes to own the infrastructure for local artists through its outstanding Unearthed project, when they foster and promote talent they haven’t, err, unearthed, we are more beholden to their nebulous whims, especially when it comes to international acts.
The Way is a sublime piece of guitar-based narrative pop-rock, penned solo by Fastball lead singer Tony Scalzo, complete with a delicious period of silence for sing-alongers to navigate, but it was completely overlooked from triple j’s playlist in 1998 and, as a result, that year’s Hottest 100.
That year’s countdown alone featured similar one-hit wonders and one-hit wonder-adjacent ditties like #21 ‘Sex And Candy’, #34 ‘One Week’, #35′ Flagpole Sitta’, #38 ‘The Impression That I Get’ and #78 ‘Shimmer’. Maybe there is some barely visible line of artistic merit those songs are breaching that ‘The Way’ just falls short of, but it would only be just. — PA
Check out Fastball’s ‘The Way’:
97. Violet Hill – Coldplay
Viva La Vida was the first Coldplay album released after triple j started sending back their albums to the record label unopened and unplayed. An importunate pity, really, because Viva La Vida was a return to form after the ghastly X&Y and a proper indie rock LP, even if one does suspect it was overproduced in order to sound so underproduced.
‘Violet Hill’ is a small mound near Lord’s in London, unmemorable to tell the truth, but the song ‘Violet Hill’ with its talk of rime-crusted limerence and dearly beloveds rendered mute is redolent of some of the darker Nick Cave murder ballads that have not aged particularly well in these woke climes.
While it is hard to imagine Chris Martin killing someone and turning all that beautiful white snow scarlet, colour me problematic because I much prefer him dark and brooding — “you better lie low” — to whatever the opposite of heroic couplet exemplified by “if you try your best but you don’t succeed / when you get what you want but not what you need”. ‘Fix You’ was #26.
‘Violet Hill’ fixed Coldplay’s reputation but they were never to chart in a Hottest 100 again. — PA
Check out Coldplay’s ‘Violet Hill’:
98. Braided Hair – 1 Giant Leap (feat. Speech & Neneh Cherry)
Before the popular music industry became dominated by producers working with a variety of vocalist to create genre-bending LPs that sounded like self-contained 100% Hits compilations — think Disclosure, Flume, Rudimental, Snakehips, Major Lazer, etc, etc — there was Duncan Bridgeman and Jamie Catto (late of the parish Faithless), two electronic artisans who created a multimedia music project (mere seconds before Gorillaz) called 1 Giant Leap.
The pair recruited some true a-listers for their self-titled debut, including Robbie Williams (at his apogee), Michael Stipe (only in partial decline), Michael Franti (during one of his bearable phases), Maxi Jazz (I know I am in the minority) and the always magnificent Neneh Cherry.
The standout track was ‘Braided Hair’, featuring Neneh and Arrested Development (not that one) frontman Speech. These two nonpareil vocalists have championed social causes throughout their careers, never afraid to leverage their own experiences to connect with audiences about their journeys, which are typically full of twists and turns that braid like hair.
It’s a song that bursts with enthusiasm for celebrating your uniqueness no matter the obstacle. The sort of message that shouldn’t be diminished by the work’s relative obscurity.
At one point during the denouement, Neneh background asks-sings “what’s it all for?”. It’s for all us. — PA
Check out 1 Giant Leap’s ‘Braided Hair (feat. Speech & Neneh Cherry)’:
99. I Believe In A Thing Called Love – The Darkness
When The Darkness hit the scene back in the early ‘00s, they were an anachronism. Theatrical glam metal hadn’t been popular for close to a decade, but these English lads were determined to make it work.
With ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ serving as the third single from their debut album, Permission To Land, it had everything that rock fans would love; a catchy rhythm, a charismatic frontman, and a healthy dose of self-awareness that made the band as endearing as the music they created.
Sadly, it never really resonated with Aussie audiences (it peaked at #40 on the ARIA charts), though its predecessor, ‘Growing On Me’ hit the 2003 Hottest 100 despite charting six spots lower. To paraphrase Chuck Berry, it goes to show you never can tell what will crack the Hottest 100. – TJ
Check out The Darkness’ ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’:
100. Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Ray Dalton)
Australian ARIA #1 hits have a rich history of success in the Hottest 100 — it’s the mode peak position of the 25 annual winners — and, alongside success in triple j’s own album poll, success on the sales chart is the strongest predictor of Hottest 100 success.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis scored two Hottest 100 megahits (#1 ‘Thrift Shop’ and #15 ‘Same Love’ (with Mary Lambert)) off their debut LP The Heist but by the time their third Australian #1 single was dominating commercial radio, the powers that be at triple j had slowed down their rotation and voters had become exhausted of the duo’s (well, Macklemore’s rally) schtick.
‘Thrift Shop’ had the novelty factor and ‘Same Love’ was a powerful, prescient tune, but ‘Can’t Hold Us’ is actually the standout rap-pop track off The Heist, overcasting its omission with a characteristic Pacific Northwest rainshower.
The same love that propelled Mack & Ryan to the top of both charts would blossom again via ‘Downtown’ (#18) and ‘Glorious’ (#52; sans Ryan, avec Skylar Grey), both huge hits on the sales charts, proving that mainstream success doesn’t have to be a barrier to entry, unless you’re Linkin Park… — PA
Check out Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s ‘Can’t Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton)’:
101. This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race – Fall Out Boy
Because we’re nothing if not completists, here’s the song that just missed the list of songs that just missed the Hottest 100.
Legend has it this song got played once on triple j. Would it have been out of place on their playlists back in 2007? Unlikely. The year before, a similar brand of pop-punk/emo-rock cracked the Hottest 100 with the annoyingly punctuated Panic! At The Disco (#91 for ‘The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage’) and AFI (#45 for ‘Miss Murder’ and #67 for ‘Love Like Winter’). Oh, and My Chemical Romance were a big thing on triple j at the time, scoring Hottest 100 entries in 2007 and 2006.
So it’s hard to say why this dual-speed collection of witticisms and woo-ooo-oohs didn’t make the cut. Was triple j emoed out? I’d take this tune over anything AFI put out, that’s for sure. – MN
Check out Fall Out Boy’s ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race’:
The Hottest 100 songs to have missed triple j’s Hottest 100 (#102 – 200)
And, like we just said, we’re nothing if not completists. So here are numbers 102-200. Read this the day after you read 1-101 and it will feel like the real thing.
102. Lateralus – Tool
103. My Mind’s Sedate – Shihad
104. Israel’s Son – Silverchair
105. Mayonaise – The Smashing Pumpkins
106. Violet – Hole
107. Abuse Me – Silverchair
108. The National Anthem – Radiohead
109. Sheep Go To Heaven – Cake
110. Viva La Vida – Coldplay
111. High-Fiving MF – Local H
112. Shutterspeed – Karnivool
113. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine – The Killers
114. Svefn-g-englar – Sigur Ros
115. My Name Is – Eminem
116. Sayonara Anyway – Klinger
117. E-Pro – Beck
118. One Headlight – The Wallflowers
119. Ocean Breathes Salty – Modest Mouse
120. Empire State Of Mind – Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
121. Which Way To Go – Eddy Current Suppression Ring
122. My Only Friend – Bad//Dreems
123. Jesus I Was Evil – Darcy Clay
124. Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away) – Deftones
125. I Write Sins Not Tragedies – Panic! At The Disco
126. Valerie – The Zutons
127. Be Faithful – Fatman Scoop
128. Bury Me With It – Modest Mouse
129. Bring It On – Gomez
130. You Can’t Move Into My House – Frenzal Rhomb
131. Pace It – Magic Dirt
132. The Real Slim Shady – Eminem
133. Masseduction – St Vincent
134. Buggin’ – Flaming Lips
135. The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance – Vampire Weekend
136. Animal – Pearl Jam
137. Shitty Future – The Bronx
138. The Day I Tried To Live – Soundgarden
139. Fuck The Pain Away – Peaches
140. God Told Me To – Paul Kelly
141. Piss Up A Rope – Ween
142. The Day The World Went Away – Nine Inch Nails
143. Some Nights – fun.
144. Bonfire – Childish Gambino
145. Big Empty – Stone Temple Pilots
146. Pinstripe – Something For Kate
147. Save Our Town – Philadelphia Grand Jury
148. Off White Limousine – Client Liaison
149. California – Phantom Planet
150. Drive – Incubus
151. Teenage Angst – Placebo
152. Harmonic Generator – The Datsuns
153. Wild & Weak – WAAX
154. Muscle Museum – Muse
155. Something For Your MIND – Superorganism
156. B.O.B. – Outkast
157. A320 – Foo Fighters
158. Brittle Then Broken – Pollyanna
159. Oh My God – Kaiser Chiefs
160. United States Of Whatever – Liam Lynch
161. L’Via L’Viaquez – The Mars Volta
162. Numb – Linkin Park
163. Sarah – Eskimo Joe
164. The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret – Queens Of The Stone Age
165. For You – Angus & Julia Stone
166. Terrible Love – The National
167. Are You The One? – The Presets
168. Hot Thoughts – Spoon
169. Not Afraid Of Romance – Machine Gun Fellatio
170. Run – Tourist
171. Don’t Look Back Into The Sun – The Libertines
172. Static – Screamfeeder
173. I Want You – Savage Garden
174. Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones – The Hives
175. Future Foe Scenarios – Silversun Pickups
176. Someone So Much – Bob Evans
177. Two Months Off – Underworld
178. Dark Necessities – Red Hot Chili Peppers
179. Walking With A Ghost – Tegan And Sara
180. Oh My Darling Don’t Cry – Run The Jewels
181. These Kids – Joel Turner & The Modern Day Poets
182. Love Spreads – The Stone Roses
183. The Way We Get By – Spoon
184. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart – Wilco
185. Kelly – Van She
186. Don’t Hold Back – Potbelleez
187. I’m On A Boat – Lonely Island & T-Pain
188. Because I Got High – Afroman
189. Grace Kelly – Mika
190. Decode – Paramore
191. Tits On The Radio – Scissor Sisters
192. Misery Business – Paramore
193. Harrowdown Hill – Thom Yorke
194. Nice Day To Go To The Pub – Cosmic Psychos
195. Aerial Love – Daniel Johns
196. C.R.E.A.M. – Wu-Tang Clan
197. Informer – Snow
198. Little Monster – Royal Blood
199. Animals – Martin Garrix
200. Sandstorm – Darude