By Jack Brady
It has been two weekend’s past since Triple J played their Hottest 100 for the best songs of the past twenty years. It was literally music to mine, and I’m sure, the majority of the Australian public’s ears. I listened to the countdown from start to finish over the weekend, and while generally, it was a fantastic countdown, with Oasis’s ‘Wonderwall’ finishing up on top I couldn’t help but wonder how some songs even registered a mention. Songs like the Avalanches ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ (#27), Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ (#31), Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy’ (#56) and MIA’s ‘Paper Planes’ (#97) were questionable inclusions. It’s also hard to fathom how Hilltop Hoods (‘Nosebleed Section’ in at fourth) finished as high as it did. This article is a list of songs that wouldn’t have looked out of place in this Hottest 100. On a grand scale of everything, each of these songs is undeniably better than being subjected to the aneurysm-inducing, sixteen minute version of Daft Punk’s “Around the World”.
Ben Lee- Gamble Everything for Love (2004)
‘Gamble Everything for Love’ was the first single of Ben Lee’s 2005 album Awake is the new Sleep, Lee’s highly acclaimed ARIA winning fifth studio album. Released on December 13th, 2004, the song had eighteen days to impress to be even considered for the year’s annual Hottest 100. Fresh in Australia’s mind though and attributing to the song’s greatness, ‘Gamble Everything for Love’ finished within 2004’s top twenty songs at #15. Unfortunately by the time 2005 rolled around, the second single of the album ‘Catch my Disease’ overshadowed the first dramatically. It took Lee mainstream and saw ‘Gamble Everything for Love’ fall to the side, a forgotten gem of Lee’s greater accomplishments.
The Wombats- Jump into Fog (2011)
It’s not often a song is released in January and finishes as high as Jump into the Fog did in 2011. The second single of the Wombats second studio album This Modern Glitch finished at an admirable #18 in the annual Hottest 100, the highest of the four Wombats songs that made it into the countdown in 2011. A coming of age song for the Wombats, the darker sounds of ‘Jump into Fog’ emphasises a greater diversity of music and a change from the usual upbeat indie-pop beats usually contributed by the band. It’s not all doom and gloom for the Wombats though with the band’s 2007 cult classic, ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ finishing in at #74 in the best songs of the past twenty years.
Live- Lightning Crashes (1995)
The wonderful voice of Chris Shinn painted a beautiful picture in Live’s 1995 classic ‘Lightning Crashes’. Ironically, the song about the transference of life between the elderly dying and a child being born, hasn’t materialised in the transference of Hottest 100 countdowns over the past twenty years. This masterpiece finished #22 in the 1995 Hottest 100. In 1998, in the Hottest 100 of the Greatest Songs of All Time it went one better and finished #21. That’s every song ever. Fifteen years later, and it doesn’t even rate a mention in the best songs of the past twenty years? It could be quite possibly the most unwarranted fall from grace of all time, especially since Matt Corby made the countdown. It’s a musical travesty!
End of Fashion- O Yeah (2005)
Here’s a fun fact for you, End of Fashion released their third studio album last year, bet you didn’t know that. Relatively unknown and seemingly disappearing into nothingness, End of Fashion haven’t made legitimate head ways in Australian music since 2008 upon the release of their second studio album Book of Lies. What is undeniable though is their biggest single, off their self-titled debut album in 2005 ‘O Yeah’ is essentially a rad song. The winner of two ARIA awards and the owner of an APRA Song of the Year nomination, ‘O Yeah’ managed to finish eighth in the 2005 Hottest 100. A high pitch OOOO YEAHHH definitely wouldn’t have been out of place on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend, that’s for damn sure.
Blur- Parklife (1994)
Like a fine wine, ‘Parklife’ only gets better with age. A thick British narrating about his day-to-day life doesn’t seem like much, especially since Blur is primarily recognised nowadays from their 1997 ‘Song 2’ wooooohooooos which managed to come in at #22 in the latest Hottest 100 edition. Rewind three years previously though and ‘Parklife’ was all the rage from their third studio album of the same name. This song still makes an odd appearance in normal programming on Triple J and gladly so, the good feels from ‘Parklife’ and the sing-along vibes is what makes it quintessentially a brilliant song.
Red Hot Chili Peppers- Around the World (1999)
When the Red Hot Chili Peppers released their seventh studio album Californiacation it marked a turning point for the band’s fortunes from thereon in. Anthony Kiedis, Flea and co. created a masterpiece. Songs from the album like ‘Californiacation’ (#30) & ‘Scar Tissue (#28) were celebrated accordingly within the latest Hottest 100, yet, the opening track ‘Around the World’ didn’t get a look in, not withstanding Daft Punk’s own interpretation of the song title. The shredding guitar at the beginning of this track albeit the album allows for Californiacation to expand and flex its muscles in what is truly one of the greatest albums of at least the past twenty years. While it came in at #37 in the 1999 Hottest 100, it definitely wouldn’t have looked out of place as one of the best of the past two decades.
An Eskimo Joe Song (1998-2012)
It is unbelievable that one of Australia’s best and most beloved bands over the last fifteen years didn’t rate a mention in the Hottest 100 of the past twenty years whatsoever. Over the course of the Hottest 100’s existence, Eskimo Joe has managed to make the countdown twelve times while two of their albums Black Fingernails, Red Wine (#47) & A Song is a City (#87) made the Hottest 100 in 2011 as two of the best Australian albums of all time. From the band’s breakout 1998 single, Sweater (#33 in Hottest 100), to their most recent appearance in any countdown, Foreign Land (#65 in 2009), with their peak songs ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’ (#2 in 2006) & ‘From the Sea (#3 in 2004) chucked in for the greater measure, how Eskimo Joe didn’t warrant one song in the Hottest 100 of the past twenty years is beyond explainable.
Bob Evans- Don’t You Think It’s Time (2006)
Jebediah front man Kevin Mitchell would’ve been stoked listening to the Hottest 100 of the past twenty years on the Queen’s birthday long weekend. ‘Harpoon’ (#91) & ‘Leaving Home’ (#98) just scraped into the countdown by the skin of their teeth in what was a good day out for Jebediah. Bob Evans, Mitchell’s alter-ego, wasn’t as lucky. ‘Don’t You Think It’s Time’ is one of the more pleasant songs of our generation, having come in at #37 in the 2006 Hottest 100. Having witnessed this song performed live in the middle of a crowd, uncut and unplugged, with the one man singing, playing guitar and the harmonica together, it is definitely one of the more grander memories of musical performances I’ve ever been too. While it may seem bias that this song is in here, I guarantee upon listening to it you will fall in love with it as well.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes- 40 Day Dream (2009)
While the first single ’40 Day Dream’ off the band’s debut album Up from Below never made the hottest 100 of its year of release it would have definitely not been out of place. If the Kooks’s ‘Naive’ (#87), Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition’ (#38) & Bloc Party’s ‘Banquet’ (#57) could make it into the Hottest 100 of the past two decades without ranking in an annual list, why couldn’t Edward Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros? While Eddy could celebrate the fact that the second single of the same album ‘Home’ charted at #73 as one of the best of the last twenty years, the better song ‘40 Day Dream’ is left floundering in most individuals memories… except mine obviously and those almost two million people who have listened to this well crafted song on YouTube.
Johnny Cash- Hurt (2003)
The haunting and raw lyrics of Johnny Cash seven months before his death in ‘Hurt’ is one of the most eerie albeit beautiful musical journeys of the last decade. While yes, it is a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song of the same name, Cash’s version is arguably better and conveys several degrees of emotion further, considering the life he had. ‘Hurt’ never made a Triple J annual countdown, however, in 2009, in the Hottest 100 of All Time; the song came in at #60. What happened between then and now though is blurred. There can be only one explanation. Damn those fucking teenagers with their hippy pop music!
Beck- Loser (1993)
This song is a lyrical mess. With words that make no real sense and a chorus that can be established as an ironic funeral song, ‘Loser’ still manages to get the sing-along’s pumping when occasionally heard on our radio waves to this present day. Coming in at #45 in the 1994 Hottest 100, ‘Loser’ jagged the #97 spot in the 1998 Hottest 100 of All Time. Obviously the Australian public thought the song had become a “loser, baby” and were like “why don’t we kill” the songs aspirations as one of the best over the past twenty years. See what I did there? Comedian, eh? Yep, I’m done.
Bernard Fanning- Wish You Well (2005)
“Up so early, feel so bright. Didn’t get in the Hottest 100 last night”
While this is half-true, with two songs of Bernard Fanning’s band Powderfinger getting into the top ten, the man must ponder how ‘Wish You Well’, the #1 song of 2005 mind you, didn’t rate a mention as one of the best songs of the past twenty years. The song’s lyrics “why’d you give up on me so soon” must have been racing through the poor bloke’s head. ‘Wish You Well’ was one of only five songs that came in at #1 over the past twenty annual countdown’s that didn’t make it into the one just gone. Most of these are explainable, with Dennis Leary’s ‘Arsehole’ (1993), The Offspring’s ‘Pretty fly for a White Guy’ (1998) and Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’ (2012) being absolute travesties of songs, ‘Wish You Well’ however is not. A pity party between Fanning and Kevin Mitchell aka Bob Evans would seem appropriate. Maybe the old saying is true after all? No-one is bigger than the band.