Music

The Hottest 100 Winner Is Probably Out Now…So What Is It?

We've got a few ideas.

Every year at the end of January, triple j’s Hottest 100 sets out to name Australia’s favourite song of the year. And each year in the lead up, we do our absolute darnedest to predict just what that song will be.

In fact, the only thing more reliable than the countdown itself is the tidal wave of rampant speculation, betting, and aggregated social media trickery that occurs in the weeks prior to (the date currently known as) Australia Day. For as long as it’s been going, people have been desperate to find the formula that determines a winning song.

So what does determine a Hottest 100 winner? Having a pretty great song is a start, yes, but there’s a whole host of other factors that come into play for a song to really become a contender for the #1 spot. Being white and male generally helps — whether you’re a solo artist or in a band. It also helps if you have crossover appeal — artists like Macklemore, Vance Joy, and Gotye all rode big waves of popularity from outside the triple j sphere to snag the top spot.

But by far the most prominent statistic to emerge from the countdown is the correlation between the #1 song and the timing of its release. Most winning songs hit shelves in the first half of the year — it’s exceptionally rare that a #1 song will come out later than August or September. So let’s dive into the timing of each winner’s release from the past 11 years (the prefix year indicates the year ahead of the count, i.e. the 2006 count took place in January 2007 and so forth):

Previous Hottest 100 Winners:

2006 Augie March — ‘One Crowded Hour’ (released March 2006)

2007 Muse — ‘Knights of Cydonia’ (released July 2006)

2008 Kings Of Leon — ‘Sex on Fire’ (released August 2008)

2009 Mumford & Sons — ‘Little Lion Man’ (released August 2009)

2010 Angus & Julia Stone — ‘Big Jet Plane’  (released March 2010)

2011 Gotye feat. Kimbra — ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’  (released July 2011)

2012 Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Waz — ‘Thrift Shop’  (released August 2012)

2013 Vance Joy — ‘Riptide’ (released March 2013)

2014 Chet Faker — ‘Talk Is Cheap’ (released February 2014)

2015 The Rubens — ‘Hoops’ (released July 2015)

2016 Flume — ‘Never Be Like You (ft. Kai)’ (released January 2016)

March, August, and July feature pretty heavily, with three winners apiece in the last 11 years. Two winners have been released in January (Denis Leary’s ‘Asshole’ in the inaugural year back in 1993, and Flume in 2016), and November is the latest date from which a song has won (The Offspring with ‘Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)’ in 1998.

Bernard Fanning also came in pretty late with 2005’s winning track ‘Wish You Well’, which dropped in October. But apart from that, it’s July, August, and March releases that have dominated the top spot in the last decade.

The logic seems to be that a song needs to be around long enough to entrench itself in listener’s minds, but not so long that they then forget about it — which makes a mid-year release ideal. Which means that given the stats, our 2017 Hottest 100 winner has probably already been released.

So who could it be?

The Local Contenders…

2017 hasn’t dealt us a hit on the scale of Flume’s ‘Never Be Like You’. In fact, it’s quite difficult to pick any clear frontrunner at this point. That’s not to say there haven’t been many, many fantastic tunes, there’s just not one that really stands above the rest.

That said, there are many locals songs in with a shot. Sydney’s Gang Of Youths returned this year with their album Go Farther In Lightness, and they have a few solid singles in the form of ‘Atlas Drowned’, ‘Achilles Come Down, and ‘What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out’ (which is their most-played track on the station this year). We’re almost guaranteed to have at least two of them in the countdown, but at #1? Maybe, maybe not.

There are also strong showings from artists like Amy Shark (‘Weekends’), The Smith Street Band (‘Birthdays’, ’25’), and dance duo Cosmos Midnight with ‘History’ — which is triple j’s most played track all year.  Speaking of dance acts, Flight Facilities have ‘Arty Boy’, and Touch Sensitive made his grand comeback with ‘Lay Down’, both of which will undoubtedly find places in the pointy end of the count. You can never dismiss Peking Duk either, who are armed with their latest banger ‘Fake Magic’.

Then there’s ‘Lay It On Me’, the new single from previous Hottest 100 winner Vance Joy — look for that one in the top 20. Tash Sultana could cap off a couple off a great year with a high placing for her song ‘Murder To The Mind’, while Sydney crew Thundamentals also have an outside chance with ’21 Grams (ft. Hilltop Hoods)’.

The International Players…

When considering the international competition, three acts quickly come to mind: Lorde, Kendrick Lamar, and The xx.

Lorde’s second album Melodrama yields three potential #1’s: ‘Green Light’, ‘Perfect Places’, and ‘Homemade Dynamite.’ Of those three, ‘Green Light’ looks to be the most likely, not only because it’s been spun on triple j the most, but because it brings with it a massive amount of mainstream success — which is essential if you want to clinch the top spot. It was also released in March, which is the prime time for winners.

The xx have two potential winners up their sleeve with ‘I Dare You’ and ‘Say Something Loving’. All three have been well-spun by the station this year, with ‘Say Something Loving’ racking up the most plays of the two. Statistically they’re at a disadvantage, as both the songs were released way back in January, which could mean punters forget about them when it comes time to vote. But as we saw with Flume last year, the early release isn’t necessarily a death sentence.

Kendrick’s best chances are with ‘HUMBLE.’ and ‘DNA.’ — but then again we all thought he was a shoo-in with ‘King Kunta’ in 2015, when he got pipped at the post by The Rubens. Not the finest moment in the countdown’s history, let’s be honest.

Queens Of The Stone Age will no doubt get back in the countdown with ‘The Way You Used To Do’, and you can expect to see at least one of Haim’s new tracks in there too. ‘Want You Back’, ‘Little Of Your Love’, and ‘Right Now’ will be the best bet for the LA trio.

In terms of wild outside chances, look no further than The Killers. After a few years in the wilderness releasing pretty underwhelming songs, they came back in June with the catchy-as-fuck ‘The Man’, which has been in high rotation on triple j ever since.

The Verdict

If we pour all these songs through the Hottest 100 sieve, the ones that get caught are Lorde’s ‘Green Light’, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘HUMBLE.’, and Peking Duk’s ‘Fake Magic’. They’re the strongest singles of the bunch, with a significant amount of crossover power that could nab them the top spot.

Of those? It’s anyone’s guess, but I’d tentatively place ‘Green Light’ ahead of the others. It would be a small justice after being pipped at the post by Vance Joy back in 2013.

That said, we all know who should really win.


Jules LeFevre is Staff Writer for Music Junkee and inthemix. She still thinks Major Lazer’s ‘Get Free’ was robbed of the Hottest 100 crown in 2012. She is on Twitter