Last week Triple J revealed the top 100 songs from the last 20 years of their annual ‘Hottest 100’ competition. Although I abandoned listening to radio a few years back, I cast my vote and waited with baited breath. This wasn’t the typical ‘Hottest 100’. No, this was the crème de crème, the BEST 100 songs from the last 20 years. With over 900,000 votes, (yep, nearly a million people participated) I figured it would be quite diverse, but had a fairly good idea of what I thought would take the coveted number one position.
People who were too young to realize that ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana wasn’t a contender as it was too old to fit in the last 20 years went into a meltdown. “Noooooooo! Kurt forever!” lamented one teen in the fresh produce aisle. “What do you mean it can’t be ‘Teen Spirit’? It’s OUR SONG! Kurt understood us!”
I had the misfortune of seeing similar comments on both Facebook and Twitter. Sorry kids; it was never gonna happen. But don’t cry just yet: Nirvana earned a spot with ‘Heart Shaped Box’, which happens to be one of their finest songs.
I crossed my fingers for no ‘novelty’ songs. Lets just say that last year when Macklemore won with ‘Thrift Shop’ I KNEW I’d made the right decision to kick commercial radio to the curb and that clearly hipsters now ruled the world.
So after 20 long years of the Hottest 100, (an Australia day ritual, and one I’ve enjoyed since its inception when I was 13), who would take the prestigious title of ‘hottest’ song of the last 20 years?
You were given the option of 20 votes. I didn’t use all my votes. But the artists/bands I threw myself behind were as follows: Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jeff Buckley, The Cure, The Pixies, Bjork, The Breeders, Massive Attack, Portishead, Nine Inch Nails, Beastie Boys, Hole, The Waifs, Ben Folds Five, Muse, Jebediah, Tori Amos, Placebo, Dinosaur Jnr, Sia, Chemical Brothers, Pulp, The Dirty Three, etc.
I was certain (even though I didn’t vote for it) that ‘Paranoid Android’ by Radiohead would knock out the first place. To me, it was a no brainer. There’s NO song like it. It is so unique and clever. So many layers of instruments, Thom Yorke’s tortured, whispered threat “When I am king you will be first against the wall”, the way it builds to a crescendo that just becomes the most gnarly rock song, his anger and disdain are obvious. It’s an incredible song and is a long time crowd pleaser amongst fans of ‘Alternative’ music.
How wrong was I? The song that took out the number one spot is a song that I actually love. It has sentimental value, ‘nostalgia’ type of thing, one of those sing along drunken karaoke pop rock ballads. I like it. But it’s NOT the best song of the last 20 years. So what was it? In case you’ve been living under a rock; it was ‘Wonderwall’, by Oasis. It doesn’t pack a punch. It doesn’t build. It’s repetitive. And nasal. I like it because the album it came off, ‘What’s the Story, Morning Glory?’ got me through some tough times. But if this was music masked as ice-cream, ‘Wonderwall’ is vanilla. Songs like ‘Paranoid Android’ are 6 different scoops of mismatched flavours that shouldn’t work together, but do. With a cherry on top. It’s a tough call- the best song over the last 20 years (out of the Triple J Hottest Hundred list) was created by the egomaniacal Gallagher brothers? C’mon! I was impressed by the amount of home grown talent that got a nod, but as I am not a fan of Powderfinger was bummed to see them get 2 songs in the top 10.
I would have loved to see something more anthemic, more gutsy. I have a comprehensive collection of many different genres in my personal collection. And if you put me on the spot and say “Well Maree: if ‘Wonderwall’ isn’t good enough for you, then what is?” I’d be torn. That was the beauty of having multiple votes. If you pushed me on this, I’d end up saying ‘Grace’ by Jeff Buckley. His lyrics were almost psychic “it’s my time coming, oh I’m not afraid, not afraid to die. The rain is falling and I believe my time has come. It reminds me of the pain that I might leave behind. I’m not afraid to go…but it goes so slow…”
The lyrics, his style of guitar playing and his incomparable vocals (killer falsetto) leave me no choice but to place him first. He was his own musician, his own sound, and a true artist. Now, I’m not bashing Oasis. I was on ‘Team Oasis’ when it was far cooler to be on ‘Team Blur’ as these two Britpop bands fought each other for supremacy. But I was so disappointed that with almost 1 million votes that ‘Wonderwall’ was voted the best song of the last 20 years.
The video below is a parody, but it speaks volumes!
Did you vote? Are you into the Triple J Hottest Hundred countdown every year? Who would you have liked to see win the top honour?