Like any extremely popular countdown timer voted on by the public, the Hottest 100 result is always a lightning rod for discussion and disagreement.
The biggest controversy in the history of the Hot 100 vote was the banning of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Up” from the 2014 countdown. The song’s exclusion resulted in a number of bans. editorials accusing either the management of the triple j of elitism, or doubling this elitism.
But it’s not just the high-profile omissions that get people talking – to this day, people across the country continue to debate the worth of the Top 100 Winners from years past. Ahead of the 2021 Hottest 100, which will take place in January 2022, we’ve decided to join the fray.
Here are five songs (captioned “Nah”) that wouldn’t stand a chance of winning the Hottest 100 if the vote was repeated. Plus, in an effort to avoid looking awkward, we’ve picked five of the most enduring and simply excellent winners in the history of the Hot 100 (captioned “Yeah”).
Songs That Deserved And Didn’t Deserve To Be Ranked # 1 Of The 100 Hottest
YEAH: The Cranberries – ‘Zombie’ (1994)
The quality of Dolores O’Riordan’s songwriting has never been in doubt. “Zombie”, the Irish band’s most prominent song, comes straight from the heart. But the pristine urgency of “Zombie” more than 25 years after its release is not something you would have put money on in 1994.
On the one hand, “Zombie” concerns contemporary events, in particular the death of two children in an IRA bombardment against the English town of Warrington, and more broadly, the decades-long conflict between the North loyalists. Irish and Irish Republicans, which we know as The Troubles.
‘Zombie’ is also dressed in the stylistic characteristics of the era. It’s an alternative rock song saturated with distortions and adjacent to grunge. But the Limerick group’s most popular single remains as vital and popular as ever, making it a deserving winner of the Hot 100.
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NAH: Jet – “Are you going to be my girlfriend?” “(2003)
The guy from Jet doesn’t even like this song. During a recent episode of The plug with Neil GriffithsJet lead singer and Mop lead Nic Cester spoke about how trapped he felt after the successful iPod commercial of “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” “We had become famous for a specific style of music that was never who I personally was,” Cester said.
Did Jet really have the potential for artistic greatness, only to have poisoned him with commercial cataloging? Maybe we’ll never know (but have you heard Shine on?), but “Are you going to be my girlfriend?” Sounds like a total anachronism 18 years later.
It’s a useful throwback that would have sounded great through the speakers when you’ve tried on a pair of acid-washed jeans at General Pants Co., but the Iggy Pop-meets-White Stripes patchwork is just fine. not the song of the year.
YEAH: Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out” (2004)
The indie rock and post-punk boom of the early to mid-2000s was marked by attitude and great hairstyles, but not longevity. Franz Ferdinand is a notable exception and the Glasgow band’s heartbreaking single ‘Take Me Out’ remains one of our best hopes for global harmony.
Led by Alex Kapranos, Franz Ferdinand continued to make excellent records, but in terms of sheer virality, they never exceeded “Take Me Out”. “Take Me Out” has it all: tempo changes, guitar and vocal hooks galore, and one hell of a breakdown that can synchronize the bodies of several thousand gakked festival punters.
NAH: Bernard Fanning – “I wish you well” (2005)
Bernard Fanning has won more Hottest 100s than anyone: two with Powderfinger (1999, 2000) and one with his first solo single, “Wish You Well”. With 22 entries in total, Powderfinger is the most decorated act in the history of the 100 Hottest 100, which begs the question whether group thinking played a role in sending “Wish You Well” to no. 1 in 2005?
“Wish You Well” isn’t a trash can, but it’s not Fanning’s best hour, either. It sounds like a song born out of the writers block, germinated on a day when ideas weren’t flowing, but Bernie decided to go ahead anyway. The finished product appears to have been given a makeover to meet the demands of Fanning’s publishing house; that is, suitable for television commercials.
YEAH: Muse – ‘The Knights of Cydonia’ (2007)
Muse are ridiculous; this is taken as read. But there are times when you wonder if the British trio recognizes how over-the-top and melodramatic their sci-fi prog-pop can seem to listeners. On the other hand, there are times when it doesn’t matter, like on “Knights Of Cydonia”, which perfectly captures Muse in his best light.
Everything is there: the dynamism of hard rock, the conceptual grandiosity and the exhilaration of the party. ‘Knights of Cydonia’ is essentially a musical theme for a spaghetti western space opera, loaded with heavy riffs and a vocal climax, whose lyrics feel hollow on the page, but damn good to sing.
NAH: Kings of Leon – ‘Sex On Fire’ (2008)
The lyrics of ‘Sex On Fire’ seem to be dripping with lust and desire, but Kings of Leon’s conversion from Southern Strokes to U2 for the Two and a half men the crowd fails to evoke stimulation of any kind.
The reason for the Followill Clan’s Hottest 100 victory seems obvious: “Sex On Fire” just couldn’t be avoided in 2008. But it’s not a work of artistic substance, nor a fun pop cultural artifact. Taken out of context, ‘Sex On Fire’ is stale like a dehydrated mealworm and clinical like a medical center questionnaire.
Here is a better contender for first place in 2008: “Business Time” from Flight of the Conchords (which finished it in 19th place). Not only is it visibly sexy, but listening to it in 2021 won’t cause a narcoleptic episode – the same can’t be said of “Sex On Fire”.
YEAH: Gotye feat. Kimbra – “Someone I Knew” (2011)
Melbourne songwriter and producer Gotye’s collaboration with Aotearoa singer Kimbra continued to achieve global ubiquity, settling on playlists on commercial radio stations around the world. This kind of success is hard to recover. For example, Kimbra still has “I’m that girl from the song gotye” in her Instagram bio, while Wally De Backer hasn’t made another Gotye record since.
It is also difficult for us to hear the song without the baggage of its omnipresence. But try, if you can, to go back to the winter of 2011, when “Somebody I Used to Know” was released with minimal fanfare. Everything we thought about back then, hearing it on Tom and alex Where Drive with Lindsay “The Doctor” McDougall, it was a catchy song.
Remember the tingles the first time you heard De Backer channel Peter Gabriel up high in the first chorus? The chills when Kimbra’s voice arrived for the second verse? The awe you felt when the pair started exchanging lines and melodies later in the song?
NAH: Mumford & Sons – ‘Little Lion Man’ (2009)
I still remember the disappointment I felt when, after days of promoting their new signing, Brisbane label Dew Process created the video for ‘Little Lion Man’. It was a joke ? A parody of the far too serious nu-folk movement?
Apparently, no, “Little Lion Man” has been around the world and Mr. Mumford and his friends quickly joined Kings of Leon on Manila’s dossier of contemporary artists your father Boomer or Gen X might love.
I don’t mean to insult those who love the song, but ‘Little Lion Man’ annoys me at every turn, from Christian righteousness to the newsgroup-approved use of the word “damn”, to the sound of classy English guys. . playing with banjos as if they were the keys to their father’s Aston Martin.
YEAH: Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy” (2019)
You might be wondering why are there so few women on this list? Are they not also eligible for reassessment? Well the simple answer is that after The Cranberries won in 1994 the next female song to win the Hottest 100 was Angus & Julia Stone’s “Big Jet Plane” in 2010.
It wasn’t until Billie Eilish’s victory in 2019 that a female-identified solo artist took first place. “Bad Guy” isn’t just historic for that reason, it’s also the most recent example of a Hottest 100 classic, the kind of song that would win no matter what year it was released.
It has an early-night groove, easily memorable synth hook, a bit of lyrical awkwardness, and a compelling vocal performance. Well done, Billie.
NAH: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Wanz) – “Thrift Shop” (2012)
Richard Kingsmill, longtime musical director of triple j, loved Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ debut album so much, The heist, that you would have thought the Seattle hip-hop duo were on par with genre greats like Eric B. & Rakim and Gang Starr. But alas, they weren’t even on the same planet.
It’s tempting to deride ‘Thrift Shop’ as a novelty song. But if so, why are we leaving Denis Leary’s “asshole” (# 1 in 1993) off the hook? The truth is, novelty songs aren’t doomed. Most of the “Conshole” jokes continue to stick on landing almost 30 years later. But Macklemore’s tongue-in-cheek gangster is a cringe-worthy town.
He didn’t even have faith in his own jokes. The lyrics, “Probably shoulda washing this, sents like R. Kelly’s Sheets”, are completed with the word “piss”, which tells you everything you need to know about how “fucking awesome” this song is.