Voting is now open for triple j’s 2022 Hottest 100, but will the countdown be any good?
I promise I’ll get to the Hottest 100 shortly, but if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to start on a related tangent about the magic of Christmas fading as we age because I believe it’s an apt metaphor for the Hottest 100.
Remember how Christmas used to feel when you were a kid? Remember the unbridled sense of wonder and excitement you had?
I still have vivid memories of standing by the Christmas tree, daydreaming of the dope Roboraptor that Santa would hopefully place at its base. I remember the way the flashing Christmas lights diffused off my parents’ scratched-up hardwood floors.
It was an overwhelming, hopelessly naive joy.
Unfortunately, we grow up (well, some of us at least) and each year the joy of Christmas gets that little bit smaller as you realise that Santa isn’t real and Roborapters are nowhere near as cool as they seem in the ads.
Each year when Christmas rolls around you find yourself wistfully thinking back to the days when the holiday peaked for you, wishing you could feel that same naive joy again…
Now, to what you came for. You see, I and many others have often referred to Hottest 100 day as “Aussie muso Christmas”.
Much like what Christmas is to Christians, Hottest 100 day is the most significant and celebrated day in Australian music, and much like the Christmas experience for many of us, the magic of the Hottest 100 seems to fade as we get older.
Each year it feels like the countdown is less exciting and the songs are worse, why is that? Are we genuinely just getting old and irrelevant like the station so controversially claims, or is the station losing its touch as the musical tastemaker of the nation?
It’s a philosophical question to which we may never know the answer.
Those on the pro-j’s side will argue that – being a public vote – the countdown is a true reflection of modern music and older critics are simply out of touch and unwilling to open themselves up to the modern, pointing to the numerous studies that suggest we stop seeking out new music in our late 20’s or early 30’s. They argue that older listeners forgo anything truly new in favour of the same old bands they enjoyed in their developmental years.
If the newer Hottest 100’s were full of challenging and ultra-modern genres like hyperpop and trap (both genres that are great by the way) then I would be inclined to agree with that view, but have recent Hottest 100 offerings really been that challenging or new?
Every year for the past decade the top spots seem to have been fought out by the same collection of tropes:
- An inoffensive Australian indie-rock band with catchy, cruisy riffs
- A popular American rapper with a banger
- A popular American pop star with a banger
- Hilltop Hoods
Perhaps that’s where part of the answer for increasingly boring Hottest 100’s lies: the list is so tropey that after a few years of consecutive listens it begins to lose much of its interest factor.
Perhaps triple j is genuinely losing its cool factor, and avoiding playing the cutting edge of cool and interesting new music in favour of safe, radio-friendly indie-rock and pop that they hope will help them hold onto their declining listenership. This playlisting in turn informs the countdown, as many of the station’s listeners only vote for the music that the station exposes them to.
Saying this, without a way to empirically prove that one song is better than another the argument of whether Hottest 100’s are truly getting worse will always be mired in subjective opinion.
For this reason, I’ll leave the answer of “Will the 2022 Hottest 100 be any good?” up to you, my dear reader. Below are the five artists tipped as most likely to win, give them a listen and decide for yourself if the Hottest 100 is genuinely losing its magic or if we’re just getting old and cynical.