Triple J’s Hottest 100 has come and gone for another year, and as always, the countdown has had more than its fair share of haters.
Adding his voice to the slew of whinging punters on Facebook and Twitter, the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Bernard Zuel has slammed yesterday’s countdown, calling it “unsurprising and safe”.
Noting that the presence of a Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber would have added some “spice” to the countdown, Zuel said the countdown provided “few surprises and absolutely no controversy… or risk”.
(For their part, The Rubens have responded to the criticism, telling ABC News Breakfast that a democratically voted poll result is probably “not meant to be surprising”.)
Of course, bashing the results of the Hottest 100 is practically a national pastime at this point — every year, the countdown is slammed by social media users for not having enough guitars, or having too many guitars, or not having enough Australian acts, or having too many Australian acts (especially if those Australian acts make hip hop music), or being full of songs that nobody’s ever heard of, or being full of songs that are too mainstream and safe.
The annual complaints are as contradictory as they are constant, but they usually spring from the same belief — that the Hottest 100 used to be better. That there was a time when you could throw a snag on the Australia Day barbie and listen to a whole day of great, credible tunes; that somewhere along the way, Triple J music director Richard Kingsmill ruined this perfect Australian institution, and if we could just get it to go back the way it was when we were kids or angry teenagers, everything would be golden again.
Here’s the thing, though — that idealised version of the Hottest 100 doesn’t exist, and it never did.
There’s never been a Hottest 100 that didn’t have a few cringe-worthy, head-scratching entries. There’s no Hottest 100 countdown from yesteryear that would hold up as a flawless Spotify playlist today.
To prove our point that the Hottest 100 wasn’t any better when you were a kid, here are 25 ghosts of countdowns past that you won’t believe Triple J listeners used to love…
Denis Leary – Asshole (#1, 1993)
Ace of Base – All That She Wants (#29, 1993)
Culture Beat – Mr Vain (#68, 1993)
East 17 – Deep (#78, 1993)
Inner Circle – Sweat (A La La La La Long) (#94, 1993)
The Vaughns – Who Farted? (#54, 1995)
N-Trance – Stayin’ Alive (#64, 1995)
Shaggy – Boombastic (#65, 1995)
Adam Clayton / Larry Mullen – Mission Impossible Theme (#68, 1996)
OMC – How Bizarre (#78, 1996)
Chumbawumba – Tubthumping (#3, 1997)
Quindon Tarver – Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen (#16, 1997)
The Offspring – Pretty Fly For A White Guy (#1, 1998)
Adam Sandler – Somebody Kill Me (#39, 1998)
Pauline Pantsdown – I Don’t Like It (#58, 1998)
Madison Avenue – Don’t Call Me Baby (#22, 1999)
Sugar Ray – Every Morning (#98, 1999)
Wheatus – Teenage Dirtbag (#4, 2000)
Bomfunk MCs – Freestyler (#24, 2000)
Madonna – Music (#87, 2000)
Alien Ant Farm – Smooth Criminal (#6, 2001)
Crazy Town – Butterfly (#81, 2001)
William Shatner – Common People (#21, 2004)
U2 – Vertigo (#38, 2004)
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop (#1, 2012)
Which track from this year’s countdown will we be embarrassed about in five years? Have your say in the comments below!
Disclaimer: A version of this article appeared on Bmag last year, and will continue to appear every year until people admit that the Hottest 100 was never as good as they remember.