This weekend, on the 8th and 9th of June 2013, Triple J radio celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Hottest 100 by running a poll of the best songs from the last 20 years. It's a curious thing because Triple J in recent years have not been known to be nostalgic, and nor have their audience. Their target audience is supposed to be aged between 18-30, the younger end of the scale may not be ready to buy into such nostalgia yet.
The voting procedure limits you to a list of 20 songs to vote for. I've cast my vote and I feel quite torn about it. I took ages to decide on my 20 songs, but I really feel I've wasted my time. Very few of them have got a real chance of appearing, despite the fact I genuinely consider these tracks to be some of my very favourite songs of the last 20 years. There are so many other songs that I could have voted for - at one stage I had a short list of over 200 songs to choose from, and that was only from songs that actually DID make their respective countdowns in the first place.
Here's why I'm torn: There are songs that I know would easily make it in the list on the weekend, so do I really need to bother voting for them? Do I just vote for the songs that I'm most passionate about?
I've voted for the songs I'm most passionate about, but they seem very much to be songs that few others are also passionate enough about. At least not enough to vote for in a countdown such as this. I could be proven wrong on the day, but I highly doubt it.
I can predict already, based on what turned up in the last Hottest 100 of all time in 2009 what will make a good showing this time around.
There will be a stack of Radiohead in the countdown, for sure. I've voted for "Fake Plastic Trees". I absolutely love that song, but it didn't chart in 1995, the year of its release. In fact there was absolutely no entries from Radiohead in 1995, despite the fact that "The Bends" is almost universally regarded as a classic LP. You can bet on "Creep" being in the top 10, along with "Paranoid Android" and "Karma Police" at least somewhere in the middle numbers.
If Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In The Name" doesn't make top 10, I'll eat my hat. Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" will be in the top 10 too. Jeff's sublime version of the (relatively) obscure Leonard Cohen song, like Radiohead's back catalogue, has gotten way more popular since its first release. "Prisoner of Society" by Living End should place highly, as this anti-establishment gem still resonates with anyone who likes to kick against the system.
I didn't feel the need to vote for Jeff Buckley or RATM as they will most likely have enough support on their own. Here are my choices
Teenage Fanclub - Sparky's Dream
Why I voted for it: This is one of the most sublime Beach-Boys-meets-Nirvana pop songs I've ever heard, and one that always takes me to a magical place every time I hear it
Why it won't make it in the countdown: Quite simply, this was the last time the band made a Hottest 100 countdown. For some reason, their fanbase in this country is just not strong enough to get great tunes like this into prominent positions, despite the quality of the music.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #60 in 1995
Jebediah - Feet Touch The Ground
Why I voted for it: Jebediah were not known for their emotional depth, but on this song they get deep without getting cheesy.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: Like a lot of Australian bands from the 1990s, they just don't get much of a run on radio anymore.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #28 in 1999
The Living End - Prisoner of Society
Why I voted for it: It still gets the blood pumping.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: It will, and it will probably do alright for itself.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #15 in 1997
Godstar - Tea For One
Why I voted for it: It's a cute, slightly raggedy, but forthright breakup song that has a special meaning for me.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: The only Half-A-Cow label band to ever make an entry in a Hottest 100 was Sidewinder with "Titanic Days", and even then it only made #92. For some reason the listening public is either unaware of or apathetic towards the great collection of bands on the label.
Original Hottest 100 placement: Didn't chart on original release in 1995.
Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees
Why I voted for it: In retrospect, Radiohead's second LP was missed by lots of people, this writer included. Going back to it now there's lots to love, including this melancholy gem.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: It will appear somewhere in the countdown, because, like me, a lot of people have retrospectively reappraised Radiohead's back catalog.
Original Hottest 100 placement: Didn't chart on original release in 1995. #28 in the Hottest 100 of all time 2009.
Eagles of Death Metal - I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)
Why I voted for it: Gotta love a bit of scuzz rock. This is short, sharp and to the point. Fun all the way.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: Eagles of Death Metal always took a back-seat to their hipper, trendier sister group Queens of the Stone Age. They've always been regarded as a bit "jokey", despite releases by both bands having a healthy sense of humour. QOTSA will get a good run in the countdown, but there'll be little room for the kooky side-project.
Original Hottest 100 placement: Didn't chart on original release in 2005
You Am I - Jaimme's Got a Gal
Why I voted for it: You Am I have many great moments, but few are rarely as tender and touching as this one. It deserves more attention than it usually gets.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: This one has always been overshadowed by "Berlin Chair" which is universally regarded as the quintessential You Am I tune. Sad but true, but Berlin Chair will get a run, but little else from Timmy Rogers and Co will appear.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #77 in 1994
Ben Lee - Catch My Disease
Why I voted for it: This is probably the last time Ben Lee had "fun" on a record of his, and that fun is...um...infectious.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: Being so catchy, I believe it has/had a high burn rate, meaning that people get really sick of it very quickly.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #2 in 2005
Pollyanna - Pale Grey Eyes
Why I voted for it: It still sounds great today. It stands up well against any other modern song you care to name.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: Their legacy hasn't endured well. Their back catalog has been deleted, the band all but forgotten by most. Lead guitarist/singer Matt Handley is now a guitar-tech for Tame Impala. Clearly the role of elder statesman of Australian Rock went to somebody else.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #68 in 1995
Atomic Swing - Stone Me Into the Groove
Why I voted for it: Not since Hendrix has a Fender Stratocaster sounded so sweet or been played so funky!
Why it won't make it in the countdown: This was their only flush of fame, and even that was 20 years ago. People have short memories.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #10 in 1993
White Zombie - More Human Than Human
Why I voted for it: Crushingly heavy, it's heaps of fun to jump around to.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: After this was released, Rob Zombie released a few solo records that were a parody of himself, and he has since exiled himself to bad Horror movie hell.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #49 in 1995
Buffalo Tom - Taillights Fade
Why I voted for it: The entire catalog of Buffalo Tom is criminally underrated, and this track is one of their most profound statements capable of inducing goosebumps in grown men from 2 seconds in. Also a favourite of Murray, the former Red Wiggle (although that's not why it's notable)
Why it won't make it in the countdown: Another case of "out of sight, out of mind". Not altogether terribly popular in their day, not popular enough to get voted in this time around.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #53 in 1993
Fini Scad - Coppertone
Why I voted for it: Once a great white hope as the next big Australian band, they just disappeared after their one great record, never to be heard from again. The sweeping, soaring melody line in this should be regarded as a national treasure.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: So why isn't this a national treasure? Ask Peter Garrett, he has the answer: "Short memory, must have a....". How soon we forget...
Original Hottest 100 placement: #42 in 1996.
Bloc Party - Like Eating Glass
Why I voted for it: Bloc Party are a strange but harmonious mix of Punk attitude, angular post-punk guitars and dance beats. Full of energy and passion. This is a worthy opening track on their first LP.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: If any Bloc Party track gets in, it'll probably be "Hunting for Witches".
Original Hottest 100 placement: #88 in 2005
Best Coast - The Only Place
Why I voted for it: A Current favourite, and I was looking to vote for a worthy recent track. They don't come more worthy than this one.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: It didn't get the coverage it deserved on the radio.
Original Hottest 100 placement: Didn't chart in the Hottest 100 on release in 2012. Charted at #177 when the subsequent 100 were counted down a few weeks later. Oddly enough, it was the 42nd most played song on Triple J in the 2012 calendar year. Go figure.
Even - Stop and Go Man
Why I voted for it: One of the best pop songs written by an Australian, in my view. Why wouldn't you vote for it?
Why it won't make it in the countdown: See above. Not many people agree with me.
Original Hottest 100 placement: Did not chart on release in 1996.
The Whitlams - You Sound Like Louis Burdett
Why I voted for it: For anyone living in the big smoke in Australia, this song resonates with the inner city way of life. Not only that, this sprightly song is one the Whitlams' best.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: It may do - it's probably not the most popular song of theirs, but it may be popular enough to appear.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #53 in 1997
System Of A Down - Chop Suey!
Why I voted for it: A controversial song on its first release (it was released within weeks of the 9/11 attacks in 2001), its incomprehensible verses are iconic.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: It'll probably make the top 20 somewhere.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #3 in 2001
The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger
Why I voted for it: The recent crop of English bands such as Bloc Party, The Fratellis, Kaiser Chiefs, Dogs Die In Hot Cars et al are stunning at times, and they have turned out a collection of vital singles between them to rival those of their counterparts in the 1990s. This one is a classic - try not singing that tag line for hours after you hear it.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: Apparently Australians don't buy British sounding records, according to some commercial radio programmers. Should this prove to be the case, this song won't have a prayer.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #59 in 2007
The Waifs - London Still
Why I voted for it: A beautiful song, timeless and ageless. An easy sentiment to relate to - of being a long way from home and hanging to get back there.
Why it won't make it in the countdown: Of all the great songs The Waifs have created in their long career, this one would be the great white hope. If any track of theirs was to appear, it's probably be this one.
Original Hottest 100 placement: #3 in 2002.
These are all songs that I genuinely think are some of the greatest songs of the last 20 years. The problem is that what I think are cool are so out of step with what the general populace thinks. I don't think it's because what I like is so esoteric, but I think a lot of great music gets lost in the shuffle since we have so much great music available to us thanks to the Internet. That's why I have this blog - to share some music that has gotten lost in the shuffle.
I really have no idea what will be in the final list. I'll be tuning in, however, to see if my predictions will be accurate.