How A ‘Like A Version’ Winning The Hottest 100 Would Change The Game
Denzel Curry's cover taking out the top spot would be a massive deal - but how massive?
The Hottest 100 is but a week away, and according to prediction site 100 Warm Tunas, Denzel Curry’s ‘Bulls on Parade’ has the thing in the bag.
That’s not surprising. From the moment Curry’s incendiary take on the Rage Against the Machine classic first dropped, it was clear that the cover had the legs — not to mention the sheer virality — to go the distance.
The song’s so aggressive — so wonderfully, delightfully abrasive — that every time you watch it, it’s like you’re experiencing it for the very first time. Which is impressive for a song that dropped way back in February 2019, almost an entire year ago.
Of course, Curry taking out the top spot would be momentous for a number of reasons. He’d be the second ever person of colour to nab the highly coveted position, following after Kendrick Lamar, who won in 2018. But it’d also be the very first time that a cover ever topped the chart, let alone a ‘Like A Version’.
That’s big. But what, exactly, does it mean? Here’s our run-down of the ways ‘Bulls on Parade’ topping the countdown would change things.
It’d Make ‘Like A Version’ Even More Coveted For Young Musicians
‘Like A Version’ has always been a hotly-coveted spot for any young and emerging musicians. There’s no faster or more effective way to tap into that massive triple j market than playing a song that people already know. You’re not asking anyone to stray too far from familiar territory, and you’re Trojan Horse-ing your own sound into one of the biggest radio audiences in the world.
That’s been the case for a long time. But Denzel Curry cleaning up at the Hottest 100 just makes it even more clear the things an effective LAV can do for your career. Curry wasn’t a nobody in Australia before he performed that song — far from it. He had a reputation down here, and his records sold well.
But ‘Bulls on Parade’ shifted that Antipodean ascendency into a new gear. The guy’s a big deal down here now. He can tour our country whenever he wants, and expect to sell out a lotta shows.
Imagine getting that kinda break as a new band.
It Means All Bets Are Off For The Future Of The Hottest 100
If you were cynical, you might be tempted to call The Hottest 100 a way of testing what we already know. In the past, the song that has taken out the top spot on the list has tended be something of a no-brainer — the biggest song on the chart is the biggest song in the world. Your occasional ‘Hoops’ aside, winners have been some of history’s greatest musicians performing songs that the whole world knows.
Kendrick Lamar, Flume, Macklemore, Gotye — these are colossal artists with big record companies behind them making music finely-tuned to bend ears.
We’re almost into that time of the year where people start posting their triple J hottest 100 picks and end it with 1-2 tracks that no one has ever heard of to flex how alternative they are
— Tom (@tomhay18) January 9, 2020
‘Bulls on Parade’ is different. Sure, the cover has had some splash overseas, but its stratospheric rise is a uniquely Australian incident. It’s not some layered, polished work recorded in a million dollar studio. It’s an artist stepping into a small space in an Aussie radio station, and blowing the goddamn roof off.
That changes what the Hottest 100 can do. Not just for a couple of years, but for a long, long time.
Triple J’s Brand Would Strengthen Even Further
Curry is the author of ‘Bulls on Parade’, and it’s his skill and intelligence that makes the song what it is. But the hand that triple j had in the creation of the song shouldn’t be underestimated.
‘Like A Version’ and The Hottest 100 are, amongst other things, branding exercises — ways for the radio station to perpetuate its rule as the number one youth broadcaster. Having the former celebrated by the latter is a kind of weird, marketing ouroboros: the snake eating its own tail.
— Denzel Curry (@denzelcurry) January 15, 2020
That’s good for triple j, of course: great even. But the world of Aussie radio shouldn’t be a monopoly, and we should all remain mindful of how much power triple j already wield. We don’t want an industry where one radio station, run by a relatively small number of people, get to decide how Aussie music works. And the more powerful that triple j becomes, the closer we move to that.
It Would Highlight The Total Dominance Of Rap
Rock hasn’t been the dominant musical artform for a very long time — but the success of ‘Bulls on Parade’ is another nail in that particular coffin. The kids aren’t listening to rock. The musicians doing the truly exciting things aren’t making rock. The old fashioned, guitar-toting image of the rock god is dead. Rappers hold the market now, and they’ll continue to do so for ages.
Curry’s success proves that. ‘Bulls on Parade’ is a late ’90s rap-metal crossover that only hit the 29th position in the Aussie charts when it was first released. Now, it’s the song we haven’t stopped hearing for almost a year. There’s no clearer indication of how much the industry has changed than that.
Joseph Earp is a staff writer at Junkee who tweets @Joseph_O_Earp.