This is a post about a poll. Yeh - that poll. That polarizing music poll.
But really, it’s a story about my life.
You see, music means the world to me. I got in to music relatively young – I was in year five (10 years old, 1994) when I remember really hearing Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins for the first time, and I was hooked. I never really got pop music or the Top 40 (even though many of the bands I loved as a kid were surely in the Top 40 at the time). As other kids my age were listening to the Backstreet Boys, the Spice Girls, and Hanson, I was in to bands like Live and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
I stayed up late watching and taping Rage every weekend throughout high school, and listened to Triple J every night. I’ve been listening to the station off and on since 1994. The first time I ever turned on Triple J it was a Sunday night, and Fenella Kernebone‘s Creatures of the Spotlight was on – an arts program that played lots of noise and ambient sounds – and I remember thinking, ‘what the hell is this weird shit?’. It took me a while to get in to Triple J, even though it played the music I loved, but once I did I was hooked for almost 20 years.
The playlist on the station has declined over the years, or maybe I’ve just gotten older, or maybe music just isn’t as good as it used to be. Probably a combination of the three. But I’ve stuck with it, partially due to the lack of alternative and partially due to the fact that they do still play plenty of stuff that I like, with the occasional old time (1990s) gem thrown in.
However, we broke up on Sunday.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve threatened a break up. In 2003 I declared that I would never listen to Triple J again if Jet won the Hottest 100 (they did; so did I). That lasted a few hours, as I drank too much beer and had too much of a good time, and in the taxi that I caught home from the pub that night Triple J was on the radio. I decided that it was unreasonable to stop listening to my favourite station just because a stupid song by a rubbish band had won.
A decade (woah, what?) later though, I’ve decided it’s time. We’ve had a good time together, but I think I’ve finally outgrown Triple J. I barely listen to the radio as it is now – only in my car, and I don’t even drive most days – and it’s been a very, very, very long time since I’ve heard anything on the radio that’s caught my attention. (Until I listened to RTRfm today, that is. I don’t listen to RTR full time as I find there are far too many awkward pauses from the presenters and it makes me uncomfortable. Also sometimes it just gets weird. But I do listen to certain shows.)
I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Hottest 100 of the past 20 years left me… angry. Disappointed in Australian music fans. That’s probably it. It’s not Triple J’s fault, but it’s still signalling time to move on.
I mean, come on. Really? Wonderwall?
Perhaps it’s the time that I’ve spent either in a backpackers or living near a backpackers, but every time I hear Wonderwall I want to stab my ears out. It’s not to say that it’s not a technically good song – it is, I guess, and it means a lot to many people, etc etc, but it’s just not the best song of the past 20 years. Nor is 7 Nation Army the second best song.
But it’s not all about what I like. I didn’t actually vote. Most of the songs that I like best from the past 20 years aren’t songs that would’ve even cracked the top 1000, let alone the top 100. I probably don’t even have a right to whinge about the deplorable outcome, and I doubt that my votes would’ve made much of a difference (isn’t that what we always say when we choose not to get involved in something and then whinge about the outcome?).
However, I read a great post the other day on a blog that I rather like, and thought I’d do the same, compiling a list of my favourite 20 songs from the past 20 years, but only including one from each year. To save myself the trouble of thinking too hard, my top 20 has to be songs that were actually in the Hottest 100 in their respective year.
Of course, this ended up being a much more complicated list to whittle down that I expected, as my longlist still had over 200 songs. It’s a difficult process, because I feel like I have a story to tell about every song on the list (not to mention the many, many songs that never charted on JJJ and don’t count for the purposes of this exercise). Perhaps that’s a post (or series of) for another time.
1993: Cherub Rock – The Smashing Pumpkins (honourable mentions: Creep – Radiohead; Sober – Tool; The Ship Song – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds)
1994: Berlin Chair – You Am I (hons: Tomorrow – Silverchair; Seether – Veruca Salt; Today – The Smashing Pumpkins; Cornflake Girl – Tori Amos)
1995: Grace – Jeff Buckley (hons: Last Goodbye – Jeff Buckley; Drugs – Ammonia; Glory Box – Portishead)
1996: Tonight, Tonight – The Smashing Pumpkins (hons: Stinkfist – Tool; Pick You Up – Powderfinger; Breathe – The Prodigy; Born Slippy – Underworld; 1979 – The Smashing Pumpkins; D.A.F. – Powderfinger; Hyperballad – Bjork)
1997: Paranoid Android – Radiohead (honns: No Aphrodisiac – The Whitlams; Karma Police – Radiohead; Crazy - Cordrazine; A.D.I.D.A.S. – Korn (yes, really); Forty-Six & 2 - Tool; Captain (Million Miles) – Something for Kate; You’re Not the Only One – Ammonia; 6 Underground – Sneaker Pimps)
1998: Buy Now, Pay Later – The Whitlams (hons: Cigarettes Will Kill You - Ben Lee; Heavy Heart – You Am I; Teardrop – Massive Attack; Everybody Here Wants You – Jeff Buckley; Sweater – Eskimo Joe; Pure Morning – Placebo; Ava Adore – The Smashing Pumpkins; Untouchable Face – Ani diFranco)
1999: Waltz #2 – Elliott Smith (hons: Electricity – Something for Kate; Army – Ben Folds Five; Passenger – Powderfinger)
2000: Judith – A Perfect Circle (hons: Yellow - Coldplay; Frontier Psychiatrist – The Avalanches; Californication – Red Hot Chili Peppers; Every Fucking City – Paul Kelly; We Haven’t Turned Around - Gomez; Everything in Its Right Place – Radiohead)
2001: This Mess We’re In – PJ Harvey & Thom Yorke (hons: Last Nite – The Strokes; Schism – Tool; Pyramid Song - Radiohead; Parabola – Tool; Pattern Against User – At the Drive-In; Plug in Baby – Muse)
2002: No One Knows - Queens of the Stone Age (hons: London Still - The Waifs; Has it Come to This – The Streets; Something to Talk About – Badly Drawn Boy)
2003: Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes (hons: The Nosebleed Section – Hilltop Hoods; Everyone Deserves Music – Michael Franti & Spearhead; Stockholm Syndrome – Muse; Good Luck – Bassment Jaxx)
2004: Somersault – Decoder Ring (hons: Don’t U Eva – Sarah Blasko; Girl Anachronism – The Dresden Dolls; The Bucket – Kings of Leon; Slow Hands - Interpol; Breathe Me – Sia)
2005: Flame Trees – Sarah Blasko (hons: I Was Only 19 – The Herd; Middle of the Hill - Josh Pyke; Two More Years – Bloc Party; Helicopter – Bloc Party; This Year – The Mountain Goats; Ashes – The Beautiful Girls; First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes; Heartstopper – Emiliana Torrini)
2006: Heart’s a Mess – Gotye (hons: Kick, Push – Lupe Fiasco; Fidelity – Regina Spektor; Vicarious – Tool; Memories and Dust - Josh Pyke; Roquefort – Karnivool; Phenomena – Yeah Yeah Yeahs; Standing in the Way of Control - Gossip; 19-20-20 – The Grates)
2007: Hang Me Up To Dry – Cold War Kids (hons: Knights of Cydonia – Muse; This Heart Attack – Faker; Paper Planes – MIA; Reach – The Butterfly Effect; No Cars Go - Arcade Fire)
2008: Skinny Love – Bon Iver (hons: The King Is Dead - The Herd; The Lighthouse Song – Josh Pyke; Oxford Comma – Vampire Weekend; Burn Bridges – The Grates; I Will Possess Your Heart - Death Cab For Cutie; Something Is Not Right With Me – Cold War Kids; L.E.S. Artistes - Santogold)
2009: Islands – The XX (hons: Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons; Lisztomania – Phoenix; Heads Will Rolls – Yeah Yeah Yeahs; Heavy Cross – Gossip; Dog Days Are Over – Florence and the Machine)
2010: Bloodbuzz Ohio – The National AND There’s Nothing in the Water We Can’t Fight – Cloud Control (hons: Dance the Way I Feel - Ou Est Le Swimming Pool; Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves) - The Wombats; Baptism – Crystal Castles; The Suburbs – Arcade Fire; Dog – Andy Bull; Ready To Start – Arcade Fire; Spanish Sahara – Foals)
2011: The Wilhelm Scream – James Blake (hons: Midnight City - M83; Endless Summer – The Jezabels; Shake it Out – Florence and the Machine; Jump in to the Fog – The Wombats; Lay it Down – The Rubens; Perth - Bon Iver; Wildfire – SBTRKT; The Suburbs – Mr Little Jeans)
2012: Tesselate – alt-J (hons: Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men; My Gun - The Rubens; Angels - The XX; Laura – Bat for Lashes; Take a Walk – Passion Pit; Mountain Sound – Of Monsters and Men)