Music

All the winners and losers in triple j’s Hottest 100 of 2016

Over two-million people have had their say in their favourite songs of the year, and yesterday saw the world’s biggest music poll chalk up its results for the 24th year running. Let’s break down who came through with the goods and who fell short with this year’s winners and losers.

WINNER: Australia

Well, it’s official – with a grand total of 66%, well over half of the countdown was by Australian artists. It was a considerably-diverse bunch, too. 18-year- old Gretta Ray and 21-year- olds like Tash Sultana, Montaigne and Tkay Maidza were ranked alongside veterans like 62-year- old Paul Kelly (more on him later). Artists from nearly every state and territory were represented, including Canberra’s SAFIA and Tasmania’s finest export in Luca Brasi.

Many incredibly talented women made their debut, including Camp Cope, Alex Lahey and Ali Barter. Big-swinging rock bands, big-beat banger merchants and everyone in-between made up the 66 Australian songs. We’ve done us proud.

LOSER: Denmark

Only one solitary showing for the humble Nordic country, care of “Lean On” singer MØ with her misleading ‘Final Song’, which actually placed at 43rd . It also doesn’t appear to be her last song, either – since when did the Danish become so deceiving?

WINNER: Mansfield

Although the record of six songs in a single countdown is still yet to be equalled – damn you, Wolfmother – Mansfield’s Violent Soho came as close as anyone has in years with nearly half of their beloved WACO LP making its presence felt in the countdown. From the opening shots of ‘How to Taste’ to the unstoppable groove of ‘Viceroy’, each song from the album more than justified its inclusion. You truly forget how many smash hits those gents have in their arsenal until you’re hearing them in quick succession – or you’re catching one of their triumphant live shows, of course.

LOSER: Ball Park Music

The Brisbane band – and former Hottest 100 favourites – were tweeting away the night before the countdown about how the day always makes them nervous. Truthfully, they had nothing to worry about – and that may just be the problem. Although Every Night the Same Dream – their fourth and potentially best record – was voted as one of triple j listener’s favourite albums of 2016, it also holds the dubious honour of being the only album out of the entire top 10 to not have at least one song featured in the Hottest 100. Ironically, it’s at times like these that one would actually need a nihilist party anthem…

WINNERS: Paul Kelly and The Avalanches

Prior to yesterday, it had been 16 and 15 years respectively since either of these iconic Australian acts were in the Hottest 100. Kelly quietly moved on to the Double J demographic, while still releasing new music and holding a special place in the hearts of the younger generation raised on his music.

The Avalanches, meanwhile… well, you probably know the story by now. Still, even with such extensive time away from the countdown, their 2016 inclusions felt as though they’d never really left: Kelly teamed up with A.B. Original for one of the all-time best Like a Versions, providing a spin on his very own ‘Dumb Things’; while The Avalanches got the party started with three key singles from their Wildflower album. Many happy returns, gentlemen.

LOSERS: 2015’s upper crust

It’s been said that time is a flat circle – everything that was will be again. The same cannot be said, however, for the artists that made up the top 20 in 2015. Although there were showings from Canadian kings Drake and The Weeknd, high rankers such as DJ Snake and Macklemore were no-shows in spite of both releasing albums in 2016.

Even more surprising was a lack of Diplo, who had yet another massive hit with Major Lazer on his hands in 2016’s ‘Cold Water’; not to mention Nick Murphy, the Melbourne muso best known as The Artist Formerly Known As Chet Faker. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?

WINNER: Poptimism

Sorry, keyboard-wielding crybabies who are old enough to know better – pop infiltrated the Hottest 100 in spectacular fashion this year. Although he’s not the first Australian Idol alum to make their presence felt in the countdown – Matt Corby, Lisa Mitchell and Brooke “Owl Eyes” Addamo among them – having Guy Sebastian featured in Paces’ cover of L D R U’s ‘Keeping Score’ was an unexpected surprise that somehow won over the voting audience.

If that wasn’t enough, Drake’s ‘One Dance’ – unquestionably the biggest pop song of the year – made it in; as did American singer Halsey getting one in for the Beliebers with her cover of JB’s ‘Love Yourself’. There’s also the matter of a certain queen bee holding up the countdown to serve as brief respite from the Amity Affliction. Sorry, haters, but you can’t stop the pop – you can barely hope to contain it.

LOSER: Riffs

Okay, so Luke Henery snuck in the coolest bass hook this side of Interpol’s 2004 Hottest 100 entry ‘Evil’, and bands like the double-dipping Dune Rats and barroom heroes The Smith Street Band clocked some visibility for some semblance of guitar music. Away from that, however, the top tiers of the countdown were reserved for producers, hip-hop acts and dance artists. The closest it comes in the top ten is the acoustic guitar in DMA’s ‘Believe’ cover and the shrouded wah-wah funk in Childish Gambino’s baby-making ‘Redbone’. Still, these things are cyclical. Maybe 2017 will be the year you and your band sell your turntables and buy guitars?

WINNER: The animal kingdom

Dr. Doolittle would have had a field day exploring the Hottest 100. The countdown saw us swimming with a Shark, riding an Elliphant after a meal of Peking Duk, catching some Catfish, hunting for Cub Sport, spotting some Dune Rats headed for the sewer, going to an art exhibition full of Glass Animals, protecting the ‘Walrus’ from a big-eared circus elephant, spotting a Lizard Wizard by King Gizzard’s side, hearing a ‘Wolfie’ howl, feeding a ‘Panda’, running from Peta & The Wolves, staying clear of Elk Road and keeping watch for swooping Birds of Tokyo. Who’s running this zoo?

LOSER: Umlauts

Bands like Mötörhead and Mötley Crüe helped to popularise these dots and dashes, but only three artists in the countdown featured any excess accentuation: Beyoncé, RÜFÜS and the aforementioned MØ. Whät gïves?

WINNER: The Stone siblings

Although former winners Angus & Julia Stone did not release any new music together in 2016, they did both manage to find their way into the countdown through individual means. Brother Angus was off in Byron Bay with his slacker-pop mates in Dope Lemon, who scored two spots in the 100. Julia, meanwhile, was out of her comfort zone with Golden Features as… well, a feature. The Stones just keep on rolling – how does it feel?

LOSER: The Steele siblings

There was a time when Luke and Katy Steele were among the most elite of the Hottest 100 – the former was in the top five in 2008 with Empire of the Sun’s global smash ‘Walking On A Dream’, while the latter hit the top 10 in 2007 with Little Birdy’s ‘Come On, Come On’. The return of EotS to the countdown, however, only resulted in a measly 93 for ‘High and Low’. Meanwhile, Katy Steele’s debut solo album Human failed to make a dent at all. Maybe jet fuel can melt Steele beams after all…

WINNER: Ben Lawson

triple j’s comment section is normally a bin-fire. Bless this man for doing his best to make it a better place, one “should have been higher” at a time.

LOSER: Daryl Braithwaite

Ya joking!

WINNER: m8ship

There was a real sense of camaraderie with those lucky enough to score entries in the Hottest 100 in 2016. Congratulations were sent via social media from one act to another, acknowledging the hard work that each had put in. The affable folks from Violent Soho were even kind enough to shout-out blink-182, who arrived at number 54 with ‘Bored to Death’, tweeting: “More excited about this than our own songs being in!”

LOSER: The date

It’s been real, Hottest 100, but this year it got too real. If A.B. Original’s ‘January 26’ making a significant impact on the countdown wasn’t enough to get the point across, then who knows what will. It’s time that

Triple J leads by example and moves the countdown to the last Saturday of January. This way, the countdown still gets to be a recent reflection on the year that was with ample time to vote for songs; while also extracting itself from a day of hurt and mourning for the traditional custodians of the land in which we inhabit. No more excuses – the date’s changing.

Follow David James Young on Twitter. David co-hosts the podcast ‘Hottest 100s and 1000s