So, I could probably count the number of people who might actually care about who I voted for on one hand….but then again, I may be surprised. The annual list of favourite tracks compiled is hard enough, but now it’s time to contribute my votes to the 20 year countdown
The official rules are pretty simple: max. 20 votes across tracks initially released between 1 Jan, 1993 and 31 Dec, 2012 including singles, album tracks and covers but no live recordings of previous releases. One entry per person, one vote per song.
I don’t do things by halves, and my votes will likely amount to nothing in the grander scheme of things. But 20 years is a long time, and a lot of music….and it represents 2/3 of my life, probably about the same amount of time that music has actually really meant something to me. Yes, this is voting, but it’s also a reflection of all the things that have passed through my ears so I’ve complicated a little more for myself by applying my own T&Cs
- Aim for one song per year (based on single release date, or album release date for album tracks). This is an equitable share of 20 votes, and I did okay with the exception of 1998 and 2009 (foregoing 2010 and 2012 as a result). Possibly the toughest and most stupid restriction I could place on myself but there are a lot of good tracks, and it would only be fair to share the love around.
- One song per band / artist. Not negotiable BUT musicians can be shared across bands. This was also a stupid rule….but I got there
- No mentions of second choices…it makes this whole process more agonising.
There wasn’t any blood, there was sweat, almost some tears, lots of stomach churning, some laughs and some seriously awful singalongs but here’s where I got to. It’s by no means perfect but it feels pretty good.
The faster option – have a listen here: Triple J 20 years of Hottest 100 – My Votes
Or there’s the comprehensive approach….
1993: All Apologies – Nirvana
I wouldn’t expect this to be the first choice of Nirvana songs for many people, and I have nothing against the more typically iconic Nirvana tracks – they are good – but for whatever reason, they never really resonated with me in the same way. All Apologies was the one that really struck a chord, initially through the MTV Unplugged session and probably because it was so distinct from the more ‘popular’ Nirvana tracks. I think About a Girl sparked by interest in the session, but this is the one that really struck a chord. Still full of the expected angst and frustration, but in a more subtle way. The bass and guitar intro gets me every time….
1994: Zombie – The Cranberries
This one takes me back to my days of watching Video Hits on Saturday and Sunday mornings, where I was guaranteed to see this play week on week on week, Dolores O’Riordan with the gold body paint and crucifix scene, as well as hearing it on chart countdowns on the radio
But beyond the nostalgia, this song still hits a spot with everyone on the odd occasion when it crops up. Most recently, Zombie was playing in a store while I was buying some new CDs so of course, I started singing along (not too loudly) but then walked past someone in an aisle who didn’t look old enough to be born when this was released, but was still singing along (at a louder volume that me). Proof that this one has lasted the test of time, even if it didn’t make me a fan of The Cranberries and sadly proves how little progress has been made in the world when lyrics like this still remain so poignant.
And yes, at that point I also raised the volume of my own singing…perhaps to the horror of those around me
1995: Grace – Jeff Buckley
When I first heard Grace (the album), this was the track that I wanted to play on repeat, over and over again. It’s the intro that sucks me in but the song just builds and soars…and I still can’t quite pinpoint what it is, but there’s something in it that makes you go back to listen again. I’m not the biggest Jeff Buckley fan but when you hear this you really get to appreciate the talent that was lost too soon.
Then of course, there’s the bitter irony of the lyrics including the ominous “Well it’s my time coming, I’m not afraid to die…” but I doubt I’m the only one who’s contemplated that idea before.
Hmmm…the mind is a little hazy here, how did I come across this one? I’d dare say radio, and ‘The Fat of the Land’ album is probably more memorable around the controversy surrounding a certain other track. However this is the one that sticks me with as a personal favourite. It just reminds me of starting to branch away significantly from the type of music I was listening to (limited, and not particularly diverse), and was probably around the time when genre didn’t really matter to me despite the fact that it wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to communicate to everyone else. Then of course, there were the video clips with Keith Flint sticking his face into the camera, a pretty scary sight.
Regardless, I still want to scream out random lyrics when I hear this track…’I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter…’
Crazy and strange times, I remember everyone starting to find favourite bands and singers, the divisions between the pop kids, the grunge kids, and a peculiar group who were obsessed with Boyzone (I wasn’t with them…) posters on folders and lockers and then this song came along. For whatever reason, this may not have been everyone’s favourite but it somehow bought most of the weird little groups together and had everyone singing along. I wasn’t a rebellious teen by any stretch, but there was something that made me sit up and pay attention.
Suffice to say, this song still kicks some serious butt. In a live set, it’sa force on it’s own…the universal singalong for young and old. Good times!
1998: It’s a tie….
The simplest ‘decision’ if you can call it that. 1998 is is the ONLY year I have not ‘researched’ but is the year of greatest consideration, having been emotionally and almost physically torn between two tracks. While I know I’m ignoring a number of good songs, any further thought is going to make this harder and unnecessarily complicated. There is no way around this and I refused to choose between them.
Given to Fly is my absolute favourite song to date…crescendos, layers of rhythm and melody and soaring vocals that take off with ‘A wave came crashing like a fist to the jaw….’ and the world just sort of….stops, for just a moment. It starts, builds, soars and resolves – and it sort of feels like you’re riding a wave. One of my favourite parts of the PJ20 is watching Mike McCready play this solo on an acoustic guitar. (Slightly obsessive? Well, yes…. Am I hearing and feeling things that aren’t really there? Well, maybe…. Do I care? No!). Spine tingling magic which I’ve also had the priviledge of experiencing live twice…I’d have been absolutely devestated if it hadn’t made the set list!
I’d listen to this song forever…And yes, I listed to this several times during the course of compiling my 20 votes, delaying the process even further…futher discussion will prompt yet another listen so I’ll stop here.
This was never a single, but it is the most enchanting instrumental track I’ve come across, and my favourite John Butler song. I remember the first time I saw John Butler live sitting in the stands, house left and experiencing this song unfold before me. I left Festival Hall buzzing that night. There is so much emotion wrapped up in this, and little surprises that occur throughout the journey, like a little musical rollercoaster…just when you think it’s over, something else happens. It continues to blow my mind every timeI hear it, in any form. It’s breathtaking, it sends shivers up my spine….I’d be devestated if someone didn’t feel something stir inside them during this song.
Technically, this was a 1998 song so I’ll count it under 1998. However as there is a 2012 version, I’m going to forego a 2012 song to reach my 20 votes. The things I do….. 😉
Freak was the song that made me pay attention to Silverchair, but Emotion Sickness really uncovered that there was more to Silverchair than I could have really expected after Frogstomp, and in particular Daniel Johns’ musically creative mind. I remember watching the making of Neon Ballroom and being completely taken by surprise with the intensity and dynamic that was being created by what had been, until that point, a teenage garage-grunge band (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The end result is spine tingling, and a little uneasy – orchestral strings, those little piano embellishments from David Helfgott, distorted guitars. It’s almost too much to take in during one listen, and I still find myself uncovering different parts when I listen.
A great moment when Daniel Johns is speaking to David Helfgott about the style and genre of the track, saying “I haven’t put it into any category, it doesn’t bother me..as long as it’s sincere, I don’t care.” Words for the soul.
2000: Babylon – David Gray
Ok, this isn’t a Triple J type track…and it is the choice which will undoubtely fail to make a blip in the results but the rules said any songs released between 1993 and 2012. I’m calling this my ‘2000’ track because even though it was on an album released in 1998 (seriously,what was in the water that year?!?!?!), the David Gray website lists this as a single in 2000. Technicalities, but it works 😉
This was an accidental discovery that I stumbled across one night while watching TV. I have vivid images of a clip of some sort Yassociated with this song that I thought I’d seen during a Rage viewing session, but a YouTube search has disproved this. Dare I say it, perhaps I’m reacalling footage for a TV commerical for the album (the shock, horror….), or maybe it was one of those ‘making of’ album programs that TV stations stuff between programs to fill in time. I’m seriously confused now…but it was definitely TV related! Don’t knock the TV people, Ididn’t have an internet connection at home at this stage…remember those times?
Irrespective of where I discovered it, this song introduced me to David Gray, who has become one of my favourite artists since purchasing White Ladder, a direct result of hearing Babylon. A profound impact and a pretty awesome song…nothing overly complicated, but you can feel the story.
2001: Special Ones – George
One of many stunning tracks by George, and my first listen to the sensational vocals of Katie Noonan. I remember this being such a different and refreshing track…the raw, honest lyrics that still strike a chord, something that wasn’t a mainstream pop track that was still getting attention and was so captivating that you just wanted to listen to more.
It’s not a track that gets played a lot, but it’s beautiful and introduced me to all the wonderful music on Polyserena, and Unity…and all of Katie’s solo work. I’m pretty fussy when it comes to female vocalists but there’s no denying the amazing talent here…and some seriously mind blowing lyrics of pain and strength.
Where to begin with this one. The first time I saw the clip for this song, I saw Dave Grohl behind the drum kit and kind of froze…this was Dave Grohl, from the Foo Fighters, back behind drums….and then that ripping intro with that awesome guitar gets my foot tapping every time. I was gobsmacked….and I wanted to hear the song again, immediately. It is still my favourite QOTSA track.
This track is the reason why seeing Dave Grohl behind drums live is on my unofficial bucket list (if I had a proper, written list it would be official). It’s just a killer track, the lead up to the final verse and chorus is mindblowing, then that gorgeous lyric ‘Heaven smiles above me, what they gift, down below…..’
I know that Something for Kate isn’t everyone’s cup of tea…this has cropped up in several conversations over the years and I’m simply come to the conclusion that you like, or you don’t. In my case, I like….a lot!
Monsters was the first SFK track I’d heard and converted me to a fan after listening to Echolalia.I didn’t think it could get any better. But I was wrong because then came Deja Vu. The vocals, the strings, everything about this track was more enthralling than any other SFK track I’d heard to date arrangement wise and the juxtaposition of the lyrics – take it as you will – boring, funny, dark, pointless, whatever works for you.
I remember this track being on very heavy rotation once I got my hands on The Official Fiction…beautiful.
And then came 2004 when I jumped onto the Eskimo Joe bandwagon, with their second album A Song is a City and coming across a little track called Older than You. Listening to the album in full, this track sort of sits apart from everything else. It fits, but not quite in the same way as the other tracks…perhaps that’s why it got my attention. But there was something more, and quite frankly it was probably just a great song to sing along to and got my foot tapping.
All I know is that this is the song that I wanted to hear live, and resulted in me seeing Eskimo Joe live several times, in a very short space of time. Fun, and still love it!
Not an easy choice as my Foo Fighters song as I also have very strong ties to ‘Walk’ (long story, and not for this blog….) but Best of You was a turning point that gave me a new found appreciation for the Foo Fighters. After an already mesmerising night at the Sydney Opera House back in 2006 on the Skin and Bones tour, Dave Grohl walked out on stage, by himself, with nothing but an acoustic guitar. He opened his mouth and roared, “I’ve got another confession to make…..” and we were captivated.
Dave Grohl held everyone in that concert hall in the palm of his hand for those minutes only to be awoken by the obligatory singalong leading to the bridge.
2006: Better Way – Ben Harper
I still have flashbacks of bringing this album home… unfolding Both Sides of the Gun for the first time to reveal double CD goodness. Disc one was pretty chilled and calm, but disc two bursts to life with that lingering Weissenborn sound that immediately conjures up images of Ben Harper playing on stage, and that awesome percussion. I can’t help but get this sense of the lyrics creating a feeling of being alive, as opposed to just living…similar, but vastly different. The challenge between existance and action perhaps?
If this doesn’t make you want to stand up for something and celebrate the ideal of something better, I’m not sure what will.
2007: Rise – Eddie Vedder
Eddie Vedder. Mandolin. Simplicity, serenity, calmness and depth (yep, those rose tinted glasses are on again….) but in all seriousness, there is a sense of just letting go, not letting anything hold you back from whatever life has ahead. Surely I’m not the only one that can’t help but smile…and I did have a super cheesy grin on my face while listening to this and walking to work the other day.
It’s short, but magical…so much so that I will literally believe that mistakes can be turned into gold…
Fact: I could have chosen any track from Universes for 2008. This was another one of those albums, played over and over again. I think I even decided against Christmas Carols while putting up the Christmas tree in 2008 to listen to the album, and then proceeded to listen to it on repeat that evening. An Ode to Death was a stand out…musically, you can’t help but be drawn in. Lyrically, the opening ‘Tell me, how far would you go….’ continues to linger long after the song has finished and you’d be hard pressed not to be singing along (if you like the song….)
The track kicks some serious butt live as well…hearing it again last night at the Hi Fi only served to confirm its inclusion in my 20 favourites.
2009: Another tie….
So, Themata had been in my possession for a while and then came along the eagerly anticipated Sound Awake. From the first listen this track had me hooked with that bass. Again, it was on heavy rotation and held me captivated, listening to the sounds and lyrics unravel…cryptic as they may be. I can’t help but be left with the words “Wake up, there’s blood in your sweat when you wake up….” after hearing this track (every time guaranteed).
Technically I could have voted for the original by MGMT, released in 2008 but it’s Paul Dempsey’s version that really got me hooked. Again, this was one of those tracks played over, and over, and over again. There’s nothing wrong with the MGMT version – I owned that before I heard this, but the difference with Paul’s version is that is delivery – it’s just more raw, real and believable.
But perhaps this cover is actually testament to the strenght of the original itself. As Glen Hansard said, “If the song is strong it can survive on just an acoustic guitar and a voice.” Amen to that!
2010: Skipped it
The year that my ears picked up all the indie folk sounds around the place, with Boy & Bear being an absolute stand out for me (and everyone else, judging by the sweltering Big Day Out crowds watching these guys from afar….way, way afar…) The track is awesome, the arrangement is phenominal. You can’t help but sing along and the only downside is that it makes me extremely envious of all the people that can whistle along, which I can live with. It’s the track that made me get the album, and there’s been no looking back since
2012: Skipped it
That’s it…can’t wait to find out what other people vote for, and hear the results 🙂
- 20 Years of The Hottest 100 (theculturallabyrinth.wordpress.com)