Various Artists – Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time

Twenty years, five Hottest 100 of All Times and more than a decade since Triple J has conducted a poll of this magnitude – it’s no wonder the unveiling of the 100 favourite songs by listeners in 2009 ended up being one of the most anticipated radio events. A pleasantly surprising mix of songs spanning all the way back to the ‘60s were voted in, and of course the anthem for Gen X, Y and now even Z, Smells Like Teen Spirit, took out the top honours for the third consecutive time.

For some the countdown was a celebration of the 20th and 21st century’s best songs, and for many it was a massive trip down memory lane; even this cynical reviewer found herself tuning in each afternoon in anticipation. Not that the poll didn’t have its share of criticism: for one, the list was curiously and complete devoid of any female artists and there were also cries that some of the songs were not necessarily the artist’s best (why was Red Right Hand overlooked in favour of Into My Arms by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, for example?). But regardless, it was hard to deny that the 100 songs that made the cut were solid.

Triple J’s CD release includes only 36 of the 100 songs, but it is a fine compilation nonetheless. As well as more recent songs – future contenders for the top position in decades to come perhaps? – by The Shins ( New Slang ), Australia’s Gotye ( Hearts a Mess ) and Muse (the massive Knights of Cydonia) the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time album features those timeless classics that many would have grown up to: tracks like Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division (voted #1 in the station’s first two polls before it was trumped by Teen Spirit), the perfect pop song, The Beach BoysGod Only Knows and the mighty Midnight Oil hit, Beds are Burning.

Just under half of the songs that made the list were from the ‘90s, with the most recent songs in the top 10 from 1997; disappointingly, Everlong, which took out the #9 spot, didn’t make it onto the album, but Radiohead’s Paranoid Android appears alongside some of the finest tunes to rule the era: Faith No More’s Epic, the still-powerful Rage Against the Machine anthem Killing in the Name and Jeff Buckley’s heartbreaking version of Hallelujah – a testament to a decade that produced a mass of superb songs which have kept fans coming back to them even 10 or 20 years later.

Given the songs were handpicked by the Australian music-loving public, it’s no surprise that this compilation lacks any dull moments – dependent on taste, of course. The songs that made up the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time were the soundtracks to many people’s youth, and many of them remain so simply because they are so enduring.