Music

Every Hottest 100 Song Reviewed In Under 50 Words

"This song is a claustrophobic panic attack. No wonder people related to it."

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Assuming that I have judged the time since COVID-19 first hit correctly, it’s been approximately fifty years since the last triple j Hottest 100 countdown, way back when Billie Eilish took the top spot, and Mallrat was still allowed to hang in said mall without PPE.

2020 was not a year for celebrations, and this is reflected in the songs that were voted into the Hottest 100 countdown.

Morose, downtempo, soothing, longing, relaxing, and filled with itchy, itchy ennui — this Hottest 100 felt more like a nationwide wake than a public-holiday party soundtrack with blow-up pools and mates named Thommo. With this all in mind, let’s take a look at the year that was.


100. Benee — ‘Kool’

The ‘chillwave’ genre was Pitchfork-popular for as much time as it takes a limited-edition cassette to melt on an Australian dashboard, but I’m so glad it’s still an inspiration all these years later.

99. ‘Hockey Dad — ‘Itch’

This guitar in this song sounds like an evil spider, just slowly walking, stalking around.

98. Joji — ‘Your Man’

Every Joji song sounds like a different artist, but they are all great artists. His star sign is ‘compilation tape’.

97. Stormzy  — ‘Audacity’ (feat. Headie One)

Stormzy could read out a lunch specials menu and it would sound cool.

96. Hockey Dad — ‘Germaphobe’

Two songs from the same artist in the same block? That’s just bad radio programming. I thought Triple J was a professional operation.

95. Illy — ‘Loose Ends’ (feat. G Flip)

“CDs in their covers, all the tapes thrown out/Yeah, we made mistakes, I lost count, last count.” First mistake was chucking those cassettes out, friend.

94. Aitch x AJ Tracey — ‘Rain’ (feat. Tay Keith)

A cover of the popular Beatles song.

93. Internet Money — ‘Lemonade’ (feat. Gunna/Don Toliver/NAV)

Did you know that ‘Internet Money’ is the correct way to pronounce Grimes and Elon Musk’s baby’s name?

92. Thelma Plum — ‘These Days’

When the original topped the Hottest 100 in 1999, we were scared of computers crashing; now we’re scared of hugging. Y2K panic was quaint, wasn’t it?

91. Bugs — ‘Charlie [triple j Like A Version]’

The line: “love is like a chess game, and boys gotta do the chasing” shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the rules of chess. Good song, though.

90. Billie Eilish —  ‘No Time To Die’

This song is so Lorde-core that she really should have gotten songwriting credits.

89. The Jungle Giants —  ‘In Her Eyes’

This would make for great hold music, and that’s not an insult. Hold music is important.

88. BRONSON — ‘HEART ATTACK’ (feat. lau.ra)

Even the uptempo songs were downtempo in 2020.

87. Teenage Joans — ‘Three Leaf Clover’

This is the song that won the Unearthed High competition, and seems to a harbinger of a utopian future with a more relaxed ‘wacky socks in the office’ policy.

86. Drake —  ‘Laugh Now Cry Later’ (feat. Lil Durk)

I have never heard Drake laugh. Cry, sure, heard that.

85. Dune Rats — ‘Too Tough Terry’

Between Scott Green and Too Tough Terry, Dune Rats records are like little Dickens novels, aren’t they?

84. Dominic Fike — ‘Chicken Tenders’

Bet Dune Rats are pissed they didn’t come up with this song title.

83. Cosmo’s Midnight & Ruel —  ‘Down For You’

If smoothFM did a Hottest 100 of 2020, the lists would be very similar.

82. The Chats — ‘The Clap’

Bet Dune Rats are pissed they didn’t come up with this song title.

81. Spacey Jane — ‘Weightless’

Per capita, surely Perth is the indie pop capital of the world, and has been since the ’90s.

80. Fisher —  ‘Freaks’

No matter what “shoes come off and freaks come out” actually means, it can’t be anything good.

79. Billie Eilish — ‘my future’

Billie really dropped off the radar this year. Unless she’s snuck into the top ten with a song I’ve forgotten about.

78.  ‘Lady Marmalade (triple j Like A Version)’ (feat. JessB)

French is such a beautiful language. I wonder what they’re saying…

77. Sofi Tukker & Gorgon City — ‘House Arrest’

Imagine being on actual house arrest during 2020. It would feel like when they suspend you from school and call it a punishment.

76. London Grammar — ‘Baby It’s You’

I like how she pronounces ‘bab-ee’ like the mum from Schitt’s Creek.

75. Remi Wolf — ‘Photo ID’

Is this a mashup of ‘Sweet Escape’ by Gwen Stefani and ‘Caribbean Queen’ by Billy Ocean?

74. LAUREL — ‘Scream Drive Faster’

This is what the future sounded like to people in the 1980s. Guess they were right.

73. Genesis Owusu — ‘Don’t Need You’

This funky jam was a Hottest 100 success despite the dearth of roller skating rinks in Australia.

72. Ocean Alley — ‘Way Down’

“After taking out #1 in 2018, Ocean Alley are now way down in the Hottest 100 with Way Down.” (This is why I’m not the one who back announces the countdown on triple j.)

71. Bring Me The Horizon & YUNGBLUD —  ‘Obey’

Apparently this song syncs up perfectly with any of the Matrix sequels. You have to be wearing a trench coat for it to work, though.

70. Chet Faker — ‘Low’

Chet Faker fka Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker fka Pacifier fka Shihad fka Flume ft. Chet Faker.

69. Hope D — ‘Second’

Hope D is the best of the Beastie Boys.

68. Vera Blue — ‘Lie To Me’

Oh, I love this song. The acoustic version is even better, as is often the way.

67. Doja Cat — ‘Boss Bitch’

According to triple j, this is the only song to ever make the Hottest 100 with the word ‘bitch’ in the title, which means Meredith Brooks got shafted.

66. Skegss — ‘Fantasising’

Skegss are signed to a label run by the Dune Rats which is amusing for reasons you can extrapolate yourselves.

65. Amy Shark — ‘C’MON’ (feat. Travis Barker)

Since the success of this song, Barker has apparently demanded every Blink song he drummed on be relabelled with (feat. Travis Barker).

64. The Amity Affliction — ‘Soak Me In Bleach’

As I want you to be…

63. Ball Park Music — ‘Day & Age’

There is something genius about putting the word ‘music’ in your band name. Roxy Music is the only other example I can think of.

62. Joji — ‘Run’

…and then Joji played the guitar and it was clear that Metallica hadn’t changed the amp settings at all since they recorded ‘Nothing Else Matters’. “Perfect,” he muttered to himself as a grin snuck onto his face.

61. Ruby Fields — ‘Pretty Grim’

Drug psychosis is talking to a picture of your Mum, who then talks back.

60. The Kid Laroi — ‘GO’ (feat. Juice WRLD)

The Kid LAROI better be Young Australian Of The Year within the next few years.

59. Joji — ‘Gimme Love’

Try saying “gimme love” to someone and see how that goes for you.

58. Tones and I — ‘Fly Away’

Dance. Fly Away. This girl is filled with demands.

57. Beddy Rays — ‘Sobercoaster’

The lamest ride at Australia’s Wonderland.

56. San Cisco — ‘On The Line’

Between this, Dua Lipa, and ‘Prisoner’ by Miley Cyrus, 2020 really was the year of shameless stealing from Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Physical’.

55. Alex the Astronaut — ‘I Think You’re Great’

Shucks-core.

54. Eiffel 65 — ‘Blue (Flume Remix)’

Is it classed as a remix, when all you did was tape it from a CD to a cassette and left the bits in where the disc accidentally skipped?

53. The Weeknd —  ‘In Your Eyes’

This is so Michael Jackson that it should be in court answering molestation charges.

52. DMA’S — ‘The Glow’

I will never get over that errant apostrophe, I don’t care how good they are.

51. Glass Animals — ‘Your Love (Déjà Vu)’

The intro of this song and the backward bits in ‘Rushing Back’ by Flume and Vera Blue both freak my dog Miles out. Acid flashback, possibly.

50. Peking Duk & The Wombats — ‘Nothing To Love About Love’

Do Australians love the Wombats cos they are named the Wombats, or are they named the Wombats because Australians love them? Answers in the comments, please.

49. Juice WRLD — ‘Wishing Well’

Apparently this guy had dozens of unreleased songs in the can, so expect Tupac-levels of posthumous goodness.

48. Headie One –‘Ain’t It Different’ (feat. AJ Tracey, Stormzy)

I just want to rap ‘pineapple, pineapple, pineapple pineapple’ over every trap beat.

47. Architects — ‘Animals’

Animals should never be architects. No opposable thumbs, for one.

46. Tash Sultana — ‘Pretty Lady’

Even Tash Sultana can’t stop the phrase ‘pretty lady’ from sounding like a sleazy lip-licking moustachioed RSL pick up line you need to scrub off your body with industrial soap.

45. Ruel — ‘As Long As You Care’

This dude looks like Jonathon Taylor Thomas and sings like a goddamn angel and we have ScoMo repping us internationally? C’mon, Australia, get it together.

44. G Flip — ‘You & I’

Her voice sounds like Taylor Hanson in the chorus, and I like it.

43. Ziggy Alberts — ‘Together’

The reverberations of Cyclone Jack Johnson are still being felt off the Sunshine Coast twenty years later.

42. Jack Harlow — ‘Whats Poppin’

Wait, Jack, are you asking me what’s poppin’ or telling me what’s poppin’?

41. Smith Street Band — ‘I Still Dream About You’

Dial up the “end credits to The OC” guitar tone, please, it’s time to make an epic worthy of Marissa Cooper’s downfall.

40. Juice WRLD — ‘Come & Go’ (feat. Marshmello)

It’s just sad. That’s all.

39. Juice WRLD — ‘Righteous’

Apparently the triple j hosts accidentally left the Juice WRLD record playing and improvised. The real #39 was Heroin Girl by Everclear.

38. Bring Me The Horizon — ‘Parasite Eve’

Our family opens our presents on Parasite Eve, rather than on the actual day. Does yours?

37. The Kid LAROI — ‘So Done’

Why isn’t a 17-year-old Indigenous kid topping the US charts not national news in our racist, Liberal-led country? (I think I answered my own question.)

36. Machine Gun Kelly — ‘Forget Me Too’  (feat. Halsey)

For fans of Blink-182 (feat. Avril Lavigne). Time is a flat circle.

35. The Avalanches — ‘Running Red Lights’ (feat. Rivers Cuomo, Pink Siifu)

Don’t wanna be ageist, but this is Double J fodder, surely? Rivers is so old, maybe even Single J fodder.

34. Amy Shark — ‘Everybody Rise’

The best song to perform while tripping over a foldback speaker live on national TV on NYE.

33. Tame Impala —  ‘Breathe Deeper’

The perfect song for a year in which the Calm app was the most reliable source of input.

32. DMA’S — ‘Criminals’

These guys are Benjamin Button-ing through the past 40 years of British music. Next stop: The Human League.

31. San Cisco —  ‘Reasons’

I’ve given up trying to describe what this band sounds like. Everything. They sound like everything.

30. Birdz –‘Bagi-la-m Bargan’ (feat. Fred Leone)

Birdz is one of the best hip-hop artists to come out of Australia. How creepy is that piano line, too.

29. Sycco — ‘Dribble’

As far as songs about mopping up bodily fluids go, this one is pretty swell.

28. Spacey Jane — ‘Straightfaced’

Prediction: These guys will be at a Crowded House-level of international fame in a few years.

27. Skegss — Under The Thunder’

Why isn’t this song about skateboarding? These dudes have sold out.

26. Lime Cordiale — ‘No Plans To Make Plans’

Isn’t that a plan in itself?

25. Lime Cordiale — ‘Reality Check Please’

The greatest pun to make it into the chart, complete with a cheesy desk bell to really knock it out of the park.

24. Mac Miller — ‘Blue World’

Fun Fact: This song made Obama’s playlist of his favourite 2020 music. Don’t think Biden’s heard it yet.

23. Mac Miller — ‘Good News’

This Jon Brion co-write is a sad signpost that he was a few years from making his ‘Pet Sounds.’ RIP.

22. Eves Karydas — ‘Complicated’

According to the internet, teeth falling out in dreams is extremely common and means basically everything and nothing.

21. Stace Cadet & KLP — ‘Energy’

A Hi-NRG club song to bump in the car outside all those shutdown clubs.

20. Lime Cordiale — ‘Addicted To The Sunshine’

Vitamin D addiction has ruined many lives.

19. Halsey — ‘You Should Be Sad’

Fun fact: Halsey is an anagram of Ashley – her real name.

18. Glass Animals — ‘Tangerine’

Is it just me, or is this vocal melody the ‘na na na-na na’ sing-song thing kids use to tease one another when they win at stick-fighting?

17. Tame Impala — ‘Is It True’

Tame Impala records are timeless, but the cover art will age like a peach.

16. Lime Cordiale — ‘Screw Loose’

Someone clearly spilled a bottle of Lime Cordiale all over this section of the charts.

15. Spacey Jane — ‘Skin’

2020 was Spacey Jane’s year. Guess we all missed guitars after all.

14. Ocean Alley — ‘Tombstone’

It’s the basslines Ocean Alley reject that make Ocean Alley the best.

13. Mallrat — ‘Rockstar’

The most serene, sweet song about being a rockstar.

12. Mashd N Kutcher — ‘Get On The Beers’ (feat. Dan Andrews)

So far, the only state Premier to make this year’s Hottest 100. So far.

11. Lime Cordiale — ‘On Our Own’

Are they enough of a household name in Australia to be referred to as ‘The Cordies’ yet?

10. Billie Eilish — ‘Therefore I Am’

Oh, there she is! Quoting Descartes in tracky-dacks. Respect.

9. Hilltop Hoods — ‘I’m Good?’

With this entry, Hilltop Hoods tie with Fooeys and Powderfinger for the most songs ever in the Hottest 100. Twenty two a piece. That’s just a fact, really.

8.  The Jungle Giants — ‘Sending Me Ur Loving’

The second song in the countdown to refer to the resultant luck in finding a four leaf clover.

7. G Flip — ‘Hyperfine’

Hyperfine seems like the type of made-up ‘technology’ they brag about on those mattress ads that seem to be in every podcast these days.

6. ‘WAP’ – Cardi B x Megan Thee Stallion

I’ve heard this back announced on the radio as ‘Wet Ass P’ which undid all the empowerment in this song.

5. Tame Impala — ‘Lost In Yesterday’

Kevin Parker bloody loves yesterday. He has a point – it’s often much better.

4. Ball Park Music — ‘Cherub’

‘New Slang’ for a new generation. Natalie Portman clearly stuffed the ballot boxes.

3. Flume — ‘The Difference’ (feat. Toro y Moi)

This song appeared in the AirPod commercial and is nominated for a Grammy. Incidentally the AirPod have been nominated for a Grammy too, under the new Most Misplaced Item category.

2. Spacey Jane — ‘Booster Seat’

Christ, this song is a claustrophobic panic attack. No wonder people related to it.

1. Glass Animals — ‘Heat Waves’

A nostalgic song aching with loss and the realisation things will never go back to how they were, no matter how hard you wish them to. The perfect number one for a terrible year.


Nathan Jolly was formerly the Editor of The Music Network, and tweets from @NathanJolly