The best and worst of the Hottest 100

Ahead of triple j’s Australia Day countdown we look back at the best and worst moments of the Hottest 100 – from ‘Asshole’ to ‘Pretty Fly For A White Guy’.

Best Runner-Up: OutKast – ‘Hey Ya!’ (2003)

Numerologists will tell you that the best Hottest 100 runner-up was Blur’s ‘Song 2’. They’ll also claim that the best winner was Augie March’s ‘One Crowded Hour’ and you really don’t want to get them started on the significance of The Grates’ ‘19-20-20’ finishing in 10th place in 2006. But numerologists are insane and ignore the undisputed fact that OutKast’s ‘Hey Ya!’ is the greatest song to ever be relegated to second place. It’s widely believed that OutKast are refusing to release another album until this blight is rectified. As for The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ finishing in third place that year behind the winner – Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ – you’ll have to ask the numerologists about that.

Worst Runner-Up: Art vs. Science – ‘Parlez Vous Francais?’ (2009)

In the bloodmatch of Art vs Science no one wins, except when it’s a countdown of the “hottest” songs of 2009. Say what you will about Mumford and Sons but at least they kept this Francophile monstrosity from actually winning the poll. As a side note we’d like to believe that the video clip features a pair of mimes as a suggestion on how to best appreciate the song: with the sound off and the band trapped in an invisible glass case.

Best Aussie Winner: ‘One Crowded Hour’/’Buy Me A Pony’ (1996)

These songs couldn’t be more different. On the one hand, you have a stinging portrayal of the music industry circa 1996 that’s over in roughly one minute, 40 seconds; on the other, you have a poetic waltz that’s probably soundtracked more weddings than ‘Theme From Titanic’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’. What unites them, however, is that great triumph of the underdog (this was pre-’Black Betty’ Spiderbait, remember) – and you really can’t get much more Aussie than that. To think that two honest bands from Finley and Shepparton could take on the corporate-rock might of The Killers, Tool, Weezer and Bush with simple, direct songs that weren’t mixed by Steve Lillywhite for the national GDP of a small developing country should be a source of national pride and achievement on par with Tim Tams, the Big Pineapple and Chris Lilley.

Worst Aussie “Winner”: The Tenants – ‘You Shit Me to Tears’ (1999)

It’s too easy and too obvious to attack Angus & Julia Stone’s insipid ‘Big Jet Plane’ as the worst locally bred winter of the poll. It’s every lightly bearded, heavily dreadlocked busker’s favourite song and that’s reason enough to fight for a law banning it from public broadcast. The thought of ever having to hear it again is an evil almost too horrid to contemplate, so instead we’ll try to ignore its existence and instead nominate 1999’s third place getter The Tenants’ ‘You Shit Me to Tears’ as the worst thing to ever fly the Australian flag towards the top of the poll. It’s a half-mast song at best.

Best Novelty Song: Denis Leary – ‘Asshole’ (1993)

Long before Michael Moore was chasing Charlton Heston up driveways or Roseanne Barr was beaming “the real America” into our lounge-rooms, Denis Leary penned his own satirical ode to the American dream. While it is often cited as the first novelty song to take out the Hottest 100, ‘Asshole’ is no ‘Pretty Fly For a White Guy’. From its genius spoken word outro (“Russia, Germany, Romania – they can have all the democracy they want. They can have a democracy cakewalk right through the middle of Tiananmen Square and it won’t make a lick of difference, because we’ve got the bombs, OK?”) to the accompanying video in which Leary dons a smoking jacket while “swilling” a breast implant – this is novelty at it’s most cerebral.

Click through to page two for more best and worst.

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