Monday, 13 July 2009

It is All Over: Latest 'Top 100' Songs Compiled.

I’ve just got back from a few days with some friends in Byron Bay where we just kind of lazed around, visited Nimbin, went hiking at Minyon Falls (great little hike up to a great waterfall, despite all the leeches), and watched 'Bruno’. Unfortunately, it was raining most of the weekend so little time was spent on the beach (hence, Bruno). All the while, the Triple J’s Hottest 100 ‘of all time’ was being played through the speakers of the car stereo as we toured back roads of northern New South Wales.

For what it is worth, I was genuinely surprised at what emerged within the top one hundred. I cannot deny that many of the bands and artists that made the list happen to be some of my favourites. As I had predicted, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came in at number one. No big surprise as it had taken the honours the last two times. It is clearly a song that has meant so much for so many people over the last twenty years. Rage Against the Machine made it at number two, Joy Division at number four, and Radiohead had a bunch of songs in the top twenty.

I had predicted that the nature of these sorts of poll as well as the Triple J hype machine would mean that the ‘Kings of Leon’ of this world would dominate, but thankfully this did not really occur. It would seem that the audience realised that a lot of these songs have not reached classical status yet, or simply don’t deserve such status. You can view the entire list here, and you’ll note that the majority of the songs on the list are at least five to ten years old.

It was great to see band’s like ‘The Shins’ and ‘You Am I’ making it, along with 'Midnight Oil' as well 'Massive Attack'. However, it is obvious that the list is dominated by alternative rock music; entire genre’s missing or woefully under-represented.

Jeff Buckley’s cover of Cohen’s "Hallelujah" made it into the list at number three. I must admit that I do have some slight reservations about its inclusion above songs such as “Paranoid Android” (number 5). I’m not arguing that it is not a great cover – arguably the best of all the pretenders - I just think that perhaps "Paranoid Android" deserved to be ahead purely on the basis that it is an original piece of work. I’m a bit outraged that Hilltop Hood’s "Nosebleed Section" made it into the top twenty – an indictment on the state of hip-hop in the current climate. You can probably blame Jay-Z, Kanye West and all those over-commercialised clowns with their violent, misogynist and somewhat confusing messages for drowning out the music of great hip-hop acts like Jurassic 5. It seems that people have become disillusioned with the genre, it isn’t doing anything ‘new’ or interesting anymore, probably because of the fans it tends to attract nowadays. Australian hip-hop is even worse, being extremely formulaic (rap about beer/peace, add beat, add panpipe sample).

While I mentioned that there were a lot of my favourite bands in the list, virtually none of my favourite songs managed to make it in. For the record, here are the songs that I voted for: Guided by Voices - Game Of Pricks / Radiohead - Let Down / The Replacements - I Will Dare / Roy Orbison - Crying / The Cure - In Between Days / Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart / The Cardigans - Lovefool /The Clash - Lost In The Supermarket/ The Beach Boys - Don't Worry Baby / The Beatles - We Can Work It Out

You'll note that only Joy Division’s track was in my list.

While I believe that, in general, the songs that made the top 100 deserve their status when you take into account the TripleJ listener demographic - this obviously doesn’t mean that they are the best 100 songs of all time (look at the extreme battles that went on in the hottest 100 music forums on the TripleJ website). The fact remains that it is impossible to compile such a meta-narrative due to the subjectivity of music appreciation.


simon said...

i don't think i've ever heard anything violent in a kanye song.

agree about hilltop hoods though.

Darragh said...

Perhaps I've over-generalised there with respect to Kanye - point taken. Must admit that I don't know a huge amount of his back catalog (I can hear you thinking, 'how can you possibly judge then?). But yes, I should admit my dislike for hip-hop generally in the popular form it has taken. I am bias. I do enjoy the more 'funk' based hip-hop - J5, Beastie Boys, Dj Shadow stuff. I don't mind Dr. Dre either and a few other groups - Wu Tang Clan, Jedi Mind tricks and so forth.

The Chicken said...

I predicted Nirvana would get #1 too. Like a lot of the presenters said, there was a huge 90s influence in the Hottest 100. I guess it reflects the demographic of people who voted.

I like the Hilltop Hoods but am not sure why it ended up so near the top of the list. Then again, I'm not really a Radiohead fan...

Darragh said...

Hi "The Chicken" thanks for commenting! :)

With so many individuals in the target JJJ demographic growing up in the 90s, it was only natural that so many 90s songs would make it in I suppose.

As I said on the facebook feed version of this post to another comment'er, I have no problem with people liking Hilltop Hoods, but I personally don't think their songs are say better than the beastie boys, or the cure, or michael jackson or many of the ones they beat. Thats just my personal opinion.