Hottest 100 Aus Albums: Lessons Learned
Yesterday’s announcement of the Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time busted open some so-called home truths about our national youth broadcaster. Words, graphs and flimsy assumptions by DARREN LEVIN.
There’s nothing like a publicly voted list to fire the shame cauldron up, especially when it’s [topped](/news/4292748) by a Powderfinger album – and a mediocre one at that. While we’re not going to debate the artistic merits of the Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time – our readers have done that particularly well over the past few weeks – there are still many conclusions to be drawn from the way triple j listeners voted. Based on carefully extrapolated data from the poll, and in the vein of our Splendour In The Grass [expose](/articles/4255759), our conclusions are as follows:
Australian Hip-Hop Is Overrated
?Australian hip-hop is now a broad, broad church,? wrote Chris Johnston in an [article](/articles/3709148) extolling the virtues of the genre last year. That may be the case, but triple j listeners have still yet to tap into hip-hop’s rich and diverse tapestry – from Diafrix’s trans-global beats to genre-hopping collectives like Curse ov Dialect and The Herd. Out of the Top 100, only five hip-hop records made the cut, and it gets even more damning when you consider that only two acts were represented: Hilltop Hoods with three albums The Hard Road* (#16), *The Calling* (#23) and *State of the Art (#85); and Bliss N Eso with *Running on Air* (#66) and *Flying Colours (#67). The genre may be ubiquitous on the triple j airwaves, but its listeners seem to have a problem embracing diversity. We’re talking about hip-hop still, just to be clear.
Bogan Prog Acts Have The Best Street Teams
We’re holding on to nu-metal, it seems, or at least its modern incarnation: bogan prog. Bogan prog is a genre that originated either in Bondi or Perth (no one’s really sure) featuring men with weird goatees and Tool t-shirts (dreadlocks optional); loud-soft-loud dynamics; emotive ?yardling?; odd time signatures; five string basses; and more notes than sense. If this year’s poll is anything to go by, they have outrageously powerful street-teams, too. How else can you explain the following albums clogging up the list: Imago* and *Begins Here* by The Butterfly Effect, *This Is The Warning* by Dead Letter Circus, *The New Normal* by Cog, *Sound Awake* and *Themata* by Karnivool and *Birds of Tokyo* and *Universes by Birds of Tokyo. It’s akin to a US poll featuring Staind and Linkin Park. WTF Australia!
The Gender Divide Continues
Since the advent of music-related lists, people have been quibbling about the under-representation of women, so much so that a beer company decided to concoct a [viral marketing strategy](/news/3814331) to redress this. The Hottest 100 Female Songs turned out to be an absolute shambles – Pink featured seven times, with very few Australian artists making the list – but at least it actually acknowledged that females exist. It takes until selection 29 for a female artist to appear in the triple j poll (Missy Higgins with her ARIA-conquering The Sound of White*), while female or female-fronted acts only accounted for 11 percent of the Top 100. Angus & Julia Stone is the only act with multiple entries – *Down The Way* and *A Book Like This – but given the band is co-fronted by a bearded hippie, perhaps that should only count as one?
In a recent article in Grantland, US music critic Chuck Klosterman was asked to devise a mathematical method of calculating how essential a given musician is to their band based on a baseball statistic called VORP, an acronym for ?Value Over Replacement Player?. In order to calculate the impact of the bogan vote, we’ve decided to adopt some of Klosterman’s workings to create a bogan ranking, or BLT (?Bogan List Tally?). Each band in the poll will be given a BLT out of 100 based on the following criteria:
1. Propensity to cause a punch-on (20 points)
2. Use of distorted guitar (10 points)
3. Sounds like AC/DC, Midnight Oil or Cold Chisel (10 points)
4. Actually is AC/DC, Midnight Oil or Cold Chisel (15 points)
5. May provoke finger-pointing, platonic man love and/or singalongs (20 points)
6. Played over a super slo-mo sports-related montage or added on high rotation on Triple M (15 points)
7. Festival friendly (10 points)
100 (3): Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel, AC/DC.
85 (8): Hoodoo Gurus, Wolfmother, The Living End, silverchair, Jet,
INXS, Hunters & Collectors, Grinspoon.
75 (18): You Am I, The Vines, The John Butler Trio, The Butterfly Effect, Spiderbait, Skyhooks, Powderfinger, Pendulum, Machine Gun Fellatio, Karnivool, John Farnham, Jebediah, Frenzal Rhomb, Eskimo Joe, Dead Letter Circus, Cog, Children Collide, Birds of Tokyo.
65 (8): The Whitlams, Tame Impala, Regurgitator, Presets, Missy Higgins, Hilltop Hoods, Bliss N Eso, Art vs. Science.
60 (1): The Saints.
55 (1): Something for Kate.
45 (19): The Temper Trap, The Sleepy Jackson, The Panics, The Cruel Sea, The Cat Empire, Pnau, Pete Murray, Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls, Paul Dempsey, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Josh Pyke, Gypsy & The Cat, Gotye, george, Empire of the Sun, Crowded House, Bernard Fanning, Augie March, Angus & Julia Stone.
30 (4): Washington, The Waifs, The Avalanches, Cut Copy.
20 (1): The Grates.
10 (5): The Go-Betweens, Sia, Sarah Blasko, Lisa Mitchell, Cloud Control.
Out of the 68 acts represented in the poll, 39 received a BLT of 50 or more, translating to roughly 57 percent of the total vote. This proves conclusively that the bogan voting bloc cannot be underestimated and needs to be stopped. (We were going to create a metric for hipsters, but realised it’s just as easy to read the list above from bottom to top.)
Not Enough Metal/Striborg
Despite a well-run [guerrilla campaign](/news/4278282) by M+N*, which included stickers, *Solitude by Tasmanian black metal legend Striborg failed to make the top 100, leading us to only two conclusions: the votes were rigged or triple j listeners don’t like metal. There are strong arguments for both, but the fact that not one metal act made the list (we’re not counting bogan prog – see above) speaks the kind of brutal volumes that only the devil’s music can produce.
The graph below pigeonholes acts into very broad genres (dance, metal, rock, pop and hip-hop) to illustrate this point:
Strange Nostalgia For The Noughties
Forget the ?90s revival, this current generation of
Facebook users triple j listeners are more interested in looking back on the decade just past. Of the 100 albums included, 53 percent were made between 2000 and 2009, with CDs made in the ?90s comprising only 21 percent of the poll. Contrast that with the far more credible [industry poll](/news/4272292), which featured virtually the same about of albums from the 1990s as the noughties.
NSW Wins Origin ?11
Victoria likes to consider itself ?Australia’s rock capital?, but the bulk of the Hottest 100 acts were formed in NSW. Out of the 68 acts represented, 25 come from NSW, 20 from Victoria, 10 each from Queensland and West Australia and three from South Australia. And yet, when venues close in Melbourne, 20,000 people [take to the streets](/articles/3882468) in protest. When the same thing happens in Sydney, they’re turned into Mexican restaurants by Justin Hemmes. In conclusion: Victoria (still) rocks.
Critical Opinion Is Irrelevant
How many times do critics have to champion The Triffids? Born Sandy Devotional*, The Dirty Three’s *Horse Stories*, The Drones? *Gala Mill*, Eddy Current’s *Primary Colours* and Rowland S Howard’s *Teenage Snuff Film* before the rest of Australia ?gets it?? All of those albums appeared in the industry list, but were inexplicably ignored by triple j listeners, whose idea of iconic is *Gilgamesh by Gypsy & The Cat. As Dave Graney [once put it](/articles/3753963): OF ALL TIME?!
The gap between critical and public opinion becomes even more stark when you consider that only three records made it into both top 10s: Since I Left You* by The Avalanches, *Kick* by INXS and AC/DC’s *Back in Black.
NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS (BASED ON THE INDUSTRY LIST):
Born Sandy Devotional – The Triffids (#6)
Sunset Studies – Augie March (#17)
Gala Mill – The Drones (#19)
Wait Long by the River? – The Drones (#24)
Starfish – The Church (#28)
Magic Box – The Loved Ones (#34)
Junkyard – The Birthday Party (#35)
Radios Appear – Radio Birdman (#36)
Havilah – The Drones (#38)
Teenage Snuff Film – Rowland S. Howard (#41)
Sunnyboys – Sunnyboys (#46)
Sex – The Necks (#47)
Dream It Down – Underground Lovers (#48)
Friends in Danger – Magic Dirt (#49)
What Rhymes With Cars and Girls – Tim Rogers & The Twin Set (#50)
Primary Colours – Eddy Current Suppression Ring (#53)
Horse Stories – Dirty Three (#58)
Wires – Art of Fighting (#62)
Children of Telepathic Experiences – Gerling (#63)
Charcoal Lane – Archie Roach (#70)
Easy – The Easybeats (#71)
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap – AC/DC (#72)
Tumbleweed – Tumbleweed (#73)
Ocean Songs – Dirty Three (#76)
Gurrumul – Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (#77)
Your Funeral? My Trial – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (#78)
Fever – Kylie Minogue (#86)
X-Aspirations – X (#87)
Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express – The Go-Betweens (#89)
Blue Sky Mining – Midnight Oil (#92)
Great Truckin? Songs of the Renaissance – TISM (#95)
Flowers – Icehouse (#99)
[Why Splendour Didn’t Sell Out: The Truth](/articles/4255759)
[Graney On The Hottest 100: ?Be Amazed At My Ignorance!](/articles/4177762)
[Dave Graney: Not-So Hottest 100 Pt 1](/articles/3753963)
[Aus Classics That’ll Never Be On A Triple J List](/articles/4276709)