So as we all know the 2017 Hottest 100 played on Triple J last Saturday and everyone is talking about Kendrick Lamar’s ‘HUMBLE’. Some people are happy a song they voted for or enjoyed received such an accolade, others are disappointed another song didn’t get the spot and a lot of people who didn’t vote are complaining about the countdown as a whole because they lack a fundamental understanding of when they’re allowed to complain about things. Now a song reaching the number one on this countdown means that it’s the song which the most people voted for, meaning it resonated with the most people in that year. It therefore stands to reason that it’s quite possible that we can get quite a rough picture of what life, music and Australia was like in past years by looking at their respective countdown winners:
1993- ‘Asshole’ By Dennis Leary
The world has become extremely cynical and jaded and as a consequence nobody takes anything seriously anymore. Unsubtle satire on American ignorance is the hallmark of comedic and artistic achievement and people who are bad at singing are good and popular because they don’t try to sing.
1994- ‘Zombie’ By The Cranberries
Everyone is still really cynical about things but they’re starting to show genuine emotion in reaction to acts of violence. Previous attitudes of detachment are criticised in favour of an empathetic stance on political issues.
1995- ‘Wonderwall’ By Oasis
People really miss The Beatles being a thing. The most acoustic guitars on record are sold during this year. House parties are never the same again and more people are desperately seeking love through really bad poetry.
1996- ‘Buy Me a Pony’ By Spiderbait
Human attention spans are at an all-time low, it’s become a fast-paced and competitive world and everyone has lots to do! Artists are finally hitting back at overbearing, mean and unreliable recording companies.
1997- ‘No Aphrodisiac’ By The Whitlams
In a desperate plea to make something marketable, big and major companies have decided to make ‘loneliness’ the new sexy. People begin having romantic dinners by themselves, playing the newest version of Monopoly by themselves and getting married to themselves.
1998- ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) By The Offspring
People wise to social trends begin satirising cultural appropriation through their own methods of cultural appropriation. What results is a mess of ideas about how fashion and slang evolve and are isolated amongst communities, but everyone is reminded at the end of every day to have a lot of fun so nobody cares about the implications!
1999- ‘These Days’ By Powderfinger
Everyone’s started thinking about death a lot more and boy oh boy is it frightening! The passage of time is elusive yet persistent and there is nothing anyone can do about their past mistakes. People kinda just sit around at bus stops and contemplate their own lack of agency.
2000- ‘My Happiness’ By Powderfinger
Pretty much the same as the year before except now people realise that they also were happy once, which makes them even sadder.
2001- “Amazing” By Alex Lloyd
Instead of being openly mean and unpleasant to each other people begin disguising their insults as backhanded compliments. Relationships end for really vague reasons and everyone starts looking upon the past of the old times of pioneer Australia with an overly optimistic gleam.
2002- ‘No One Knows’ By Queens of the Stone Age
Singing the lyrics of songs have become kinda boring, so musicians strive to make their instrumentals easy to sing for listeners. Accompanying the nostalgia of the electric guitar comes an increased rate of black leather jackets, metallic flasks and American muscle cars coming into vogue again.
2003- ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ By Jet
The love affair with the onomatopoeic electric guitar continues except now people are also cheating on it with the bass. Everyone’s also a bit too stressed with life and what-not and they find solace in the simple pleasures of counting.
2004- ‘Take Me Out’ By Franz Ferdinand
The relationship with the electric guitar has become fractured, sporadic and kinda messed up in a lot of wonderfully weird ways. A weird and reckless abandon has taken the world by storm, carving a freaky nook into the public psyche that’s all about having fun whilst being totally bored. Dr. Who is probably the only program on television.
2005- ‘Wish You Well’ By Bernard Fanning
Death to the electric guitar! No more loud noises! No more being angry or excited about things! Now everyone is just gleefully looking at the past and going ‘oh well!’ Nihilism has never looked more like Bob Dylan dressed as Ronald McDonald and all the hipsters love it!
2006- ‘One Crowded Hour’ By Augie March
Australian music is peaking. The trend of having fun while being sad is subverted and now all that’s left is sadness and the afterthought of happiness. Overpopulation has become an issue, people no longer believe in love and everyone is keenly aware of how easily they can screw their lives up – leading to a steadying rise of anxiety amongst the people.
2007- ‘Knights of Cydonia’ By Muse
To escape the anxieties wrought from a perpetual lack of agency, a lack of metaphysical assurance about anything and the complicated and pesky emergence of moral relativism, we begin to fantasise about justified space-cowboy revolutions.
2008- ‘Sex on Fire’ By Kings of Leon
I’m not even going to fact check this, I’m 100% sure the first Twilight movie and The Dark Knight came out this year. The popularisation of sexy brooding men from those movies made everyone really horny for being inside dark rooms whilst other people are watching.
2009- ‘Little Lion Man’ By Mumford and Sons
Missing the aggression of the electric guitar but at the same time never wishing to return to it we supplement with Banjo’s and a stronger emphasis on swear words. As a society we begin taking ownership of our past mistakes but we’re pretty negative about learning from them.
2010- ‘Big Jet Plane’ By Angus and Julia Stone
Everything has fallen prey to the cynical blanket of societal demands and world conflict, even the prospect of finding true love in an instant has become more forlorn than exciting. To get potential suitors you have to take them on international trips, not as a fun holiday away, but to escape from the drab and terrifying worlds you inhabit.
2011- ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ by Gotye featuring Kimbra
In an effort to combat growing unease about adult life people begin looking back at old jingles and nursery rhymes, yet they are rudely interrupted by the brutal realities of how complicated life can get. Yet we are slowly starting to value the idea that there is more than one side to every story, suggesting opportunities to move forward.
2012- ‘Thrift Shop’ by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
Money is tight. Everything is super expensive and people are starting to realise that they’ll never reach their goals so they may as well have fun with what they have. The big questions of life are retired in order to properly take stock of the little things which make life great, leading to people becoming a bit more mindful of their surroundings.
2013- ‘Riptide’ by Vance Joy
Australians begin revelling in all the awesome things about Summer as though they’re experiencing the first Summer in 25 years. Nobody wears clothes, everyone is having ciders because beers aren’t fun enough for this Summer and acoustic guitars now convert to surfboards so you can serenade the dolphins.
2014- ‘Talk is Cheap’ by Chet Faker
Australians begin trying to make Winter a fun time too and it just doesn’t work as well. Everyone just kinda gets bored and falls asleep next to the fire and they wake up all sweaty and unsure of their place in the universe.
2015- ‘Hoops’ By The Rubens
Triple J and Triple M realise that they have lots of things in common and will probably remain good friends forever.
2016- ‘Never Be Like You’ By Flume featuring Kai
Computers have started existing and musicians are finally figuring out how to properly use them to make bleep bloops and wub dubs. The new technological age consequently scares many people who know that in the face of artificial intelligence their species will surely fade and there’s not much they can do about it.
2017- ‘HUMBLE’ By Kendrick Lamar
Societies have not only become more diverse but increasingly more aware of this diversity. The dark void in the human psyche where their self-esteem once was is filled by empowering anthems of competition and superiority. Syrup sandwiches is the only thing people have for breakfast.
At the end of the day whilst it can be fun to look at past years countdowns and see musical trends evolve in line with public perception, it’s important to note that whilst these countdowns are indicative of what’s going on with music at the time they are by no means representative. The Hottest 100 countdown has never pretended to be an exhaustive list of all the music of the year yet it does shine a light on many major and independent artists from a wide variety of genres, allowing listeners to explore a vast selection of musical and world perspectives in a fun and communal way.