All The Winners And Losers Of Triple J’s Hottest 100 Of The Decade
Winner: 'Innerbloom'. Loser: triple j.
The 2010s are done and dusted, and shortly after announcing the Hottest 100 for 2019, triple j announced they would be holding the first-ever Hottest 100 Of The Decade.
It’s the 34th Hottest 100 overall, and the first to focus in on a specific decade. This is a list of nostalgia, of certified crowd favourites and — of course — controversy.
As with every countdown, there are winners and there are losers. Let’s take a closer look as to who and what falls into each category.
Winner: Tame Impala
In January 2009, a lo-fi psychedelic band from Fremantle scraped their way into the bottom half of the Hottest 100 with a catchy little ditty called ‘Half Full Glass of Wine.’
Eleven years, a dozen further countdown entries, four albums and an ascent to global superstardom later, Tame Impala unexpectedly took out the entire countdown with their beloved 2015 single ‘The Less I Know the Better.’
Even the man himself, Kevin Parker, couldn’t believe it when he was called up by the station — especially considering he was up against juggernauts like ‘Covered in Chrome’, ‘Royals’ and ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’.
It didn’t come alone, either: Three of the project’s other biggest singles — ‘Let It Happen,’ ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ and ‘Elephant’ — all made their presence felt within the 100. The cosmic ballet goes on, and the all-conquering WA odyssey continues.
Is ‘The Less I Know’ the best Tame Impala song? Not necessarily. They’ve gone harder, they’ve been trippier, they’ve even written catchier hooks. For whatever reason, though, ‘The Less I Know’ manages to hit a sweet spot that has served Impala impeccably well over the last five years. It’s an unexpected but ultimately deserving winner.
Between ‘The Less I Know The Better’ and The Peep Tempel’s pub-rock banger ‘Carol’ from back in 2013, it hasn’t been a good decade for the humble Trevor.
To make matters worse, not a single person named Trevor made it into the Hottest 100 Of The Decade. Better luck next time, Trev.
Winner: Kanye West
The best thing about focusing on the decade as a whole is that you can remember the chunk of it where Kanye West was king – and not necessarily the part where he went postal and made a gospel record.
Yeezy’s hit parade throughout the countdown was a slow drive (drive slow, homie) down Memory Lane, and one that reminded us of the power (pun intended) that Kanye held well into his second decade in the public eye.
Whether it was the nine-minute odyssey of ‘Runaway’ (more on that later) or the time he got the balance just right between Jesus and Yeezus on ‘Ultralight Beam’, Ye truly proved what a creative innovator he was in the 2010s.
It is no exaggeration whatsoever to say that the man born Aubrey Graham was one of the defining artists of the 2010s.
A platinum-selling, record-breaking pop and rap phenom — to think of the decade without Drake is like thinking of the ’60s without The Rolling Stones. Hyperbole? The numbers don’t lie, folks.
And yet, the only Drake feature in the entire countdown was in Travis Scott’s game-changing 2018 single ‘SICKO MODE’. Not a single track from Drizzy, not even his previous Hottest 100 entries like ‘Hotline Bling’ or ‘Passionfruit’ made the cut. What gives?
Winners: Robyn and Adele
Two women from very different corners of the pop world, neither of which have ever gotten a great deal of love from triple j, both made their Hottest 100 debuts here.
Robyn, whose only countdown presence in the past was her 2014 collaboration with Röyksopp, finally got her due with ‘Dancing on My Own’ — a song that not only started the decade, but helped to define it.
Meanwhile, Mother’s Day came early with Adele notching up 97th place thanks to her juggernaut single ‘Rolling in the Deep’. You kids can roll your eyes at your parents’ record collection all you want — ain’t nobody denying that stomp-clap part before the final chorus.
Even in the decade where it finally became cool to be a Beyoncé fan, the Queen Bey was nowhere to be seen in the Hottest 100.
No ‘Run the World,’ no ‘Love on Top,’ no ‘Flawless,’ not even a ‘Hold Up’ in there — which actually made it into the Hottest 100 of 2016. Not even the blessing of 2010s trendsetters like Ezra Koenig and Father John Misty could get that one back into the collective conscience.
Perhaps, similar to Drake, these are seen as larger-than-life beings in the music world that don’t necessarily need the support in a countdown like this.
That might be true to some extent — there is no way any of them know what triple j even is — but how does that explain the presence of massive names like Kanye, Billie, Adele and Sam Smith? Where exactly is the line drawn? It’s kind of fascinating to think about the semantics of j’s gatekeeping.
The song so nice, it got voted in twice. The What So Not remix of RÜFÜS DU SOL’s expansive 2015 single had already scored a Hottest 100 nod in the year of its release, but the original nine-minute version fell just shy of placing — it was #103 in that year’s Hottest 200.
Needless to say, the intervening years have been obscenely kind to the Sydney dance trio — it may be impossible to comprehend for some fans that the same band they saw play at the Annandale and the Metro recently released a live album that was recorded at the fucking Joshua Tree.
That’s just the kind of astral plane RÜFUS exist on now — and it somehow felt right that ‘Innerbloom’ was the highest-charting song in the countdown to have never gotten in previously.
Yes, Kanye is a winner in the Hottest 100 Of The Decade — but ‘Runaway’ is not. Allow us to explain: ‘Runaway’, at 9:07, is the longest song to get into a Hottest 100 in the 2010s and the second-longest of all time behind Green Day’s ‘Jesus of Suburbia’.
At 9:35, however, ‘Innerbloom’ confidently takes the lead–– which means Kanye now has to take his Rick James sample and his vocoder and officially go home. He still holds the annual countdown record for the decade, though, so at least he can leave with his head held high.
Winner: EDM — Especially Flume
Of course, resident megastar and cunning linguist Flume lead the charge with a whopping seven features in the countdown — four solo tracks, one with old mate Chet Faker and two remixes for the likes of Hermitude and Disclosure, who each got one of their own tracks in for good measure.
The late Avicii appeared with ‘Levels,’ Calvin Harris brought the beats with ‘Feel So Close’ and one-hit wonder Adrian Lux reminded everyone what a fucking tune ‘Teenage Crime’ is.
Will we see an EDM revival in the not too distant future? Perhaps a Swedish House Mafia reunion? Anything is possible.
Loser: Heavy music
Despite a reasonable showing over the decade with artists like Parkway Drive, The Amity Affliction and even Slipknot ranking in the Hottest 100, not a single heavy act made it into the decade list.
Amity scored #199 in the Hottest 200 with their track ‘Pittsburgh,’ but that barely counts. At the end of the day, it makes sense — metal and hardcore and niche genres to begin with, even when they cross over to greater success with acts like Bring Me the Horizon or Polaris.
Still, it’s very funny to think about RÜFÜS DU SOL’s longest-song record being beaten clean by a good minute by, say, Deafheaven’s 2013 classic ‘Sunbather.’ Imagine the text line reaction to that one.
Loser: triple j
So, three songs got in by a band that had been quietly blacklisted by the station due to their unacceptable behaviour. As recently as a few months ago, the station proudly upheld one of the band’s alleged victims as a star and allegedly vetoed an artist covering this band for Like A Version.
Then, all of a sudden, the station suffered a sudden bout of retrograde amnesia and listed over a dozen of the band’s songs on the shortlist for voting in the Hottest 100 of the Decade.
Not only did they get three songs in the Hottest 100, they got an additional two in the Hottest 200 as well. So, if you’re ever wondering how long it will take for people to forget about your actions: just under four years.
If pushed on the matter, the argument from higher-ups will go that it’s what people wanted and it’s what they voted for. Of course, then we’d have to ignore the fact that triple j put them on the shortlist to begin with, and further ignore the fact that triple j can rotate out a band or artist at the drop of a hat, should they no longer fit the age demographic or their music is no longer fashionable.
The js play God all the time — so why stop now?
David James Young is a writer and podcaster. He’s the host of Hottest 100s and 1000s, a podcast in which he and three other music nerds comb through every Hottest 100 and review each song. So if you like articles like this, you might like the podcast. Give it a go, anyway. See what you reckon. Find out more at www.davidjamesyoung.com.