Thursday, 30 May 2013

Hottest 100 of the last 20 years: And here's how I voted.

The last 20 years basically covers my entire experience of discovering music for myself, so picking my 20 favourites from the last 20 years is pretty difficult.  In fact, it's basically impossible.  Hummer's shared his submission to Triple J's commemoration of 20 years of Hottest 100 list, so I thought I'd have a go as well.

Triple J provided one rule: the songs had to be released between January 1 2003 and December 31 2012.  To make it slightly easier for myself, I added two additional rules: I limited myself to singles only (no album tracks), and one song per artist only.  And then I spent about ten minutes writing songs down and crossing some of them out until I had a list of 20 I was reasonably happy with.  It's obviously far from 'definitive' - I submitted my list last week, and looking back, I'm already surprised by some of my conclusions.  But here it is, with some random thoughts attached:

One of about five Blur songs I could have picked (and to be honest, today I’m wondering why I didn’t pick Beetlebum).  Blur soundtracked my adolescence and this is Blur at their most magisterial

The greatest single of all time.  Fact.

The sound of long, lazy summers.

Wasn’t sure which Radiohead song to pick but I picked this one because it’s kind of an amalgamation of every Radiohead song.  Still thrilling.

This song kind of formed the basis of my musical taste for the last 15 years, because it introduced me to Mercury Rev, which in turn led me to The Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, Sparklehorse, Lambchop and so many others.  

The Flaming Lips tend to test my patience these days but ‘The Soft Bulletin’ is by far the best Flaming Lips album and this is the best song on it.  

“How can she love me if she doesn't even love the cinema that I love?” 

If Major Tom from Space Oddity came back down to earth 30 years later, it might sound like this.  A nine minute long existential crisis.

The song Lauren Laverne chose to play just after she announced that BBC 6music had been saved from closure and the closest that Lambchop ever came to a hit (which isn’t very close at all).  A bittersweet anthem to “screwing up our lives” from my favourite band ever.

I don’t really understand what this song is about (drugs and stuff??) but it has lodged itself into my subconscious the way few songs ever have.  The single version chops two and a half minutes off the length and adds a children’s choir, but I prefer the album version which begins with a gentle piano and ends six and a half minutes later with a cacophony of noisy guitars.

One of several Doves songs I could have picked, but this is the only one with monkey noises in it.

That riff. A brilliant reminder of the power of keeping this simple.

‘Perfect pop song’ is a cliché but this is a perfect pop song.

I spend a lot of time shuffling and skipping through songs on my phone, but this is one I *never* skip.  Joyous. 

I love the idea of the debut single as a statement of intent – and ‘Formed a band’ celebrates that and sends it up at the same time.  

Nick Cave takes on the whole world and wins.  Astonishing

Lyrics are a bit ‘stream of consciousness’ but it still sounds amazing.

Best song with a mandolin on it.

Growing old never sounded so good.

The only song from the last five years, because songs tend to grow on me over a long time.  But Janelle Monae performing this live at the Opera House last year was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Hottest 100 of the last 20 years: How I voted.


Every time I turn on Triple j these days they seem to be doing a Hottest 100 of this or a Hottest 100 of that. Not that I mind. I enjoy lists, reading lists, making lists but mostly I enjoy criticising lists. 

The first of the yearly Hottest 100 polls was held in 1993, so this year it is the Hottest 100 of the last 20 years. Of course we are all being encouraged to take part by voting for our top 20 of the last 20 years.

Here is how I voted. The technique was one of speed, I wrote down 20ish songs I like, trying to keep to the types of artists that get played on triple j and then to no more than 1 or 2 songs per artist. From this I did a quick cull and hit submit.

 As raw and powerful today as it was 13 years ago One Armed Scissor is the most powerful moment from At the Drive In's best album. Emotional before Emo had a name.

Spiky guitar tune that moved the early 2000s post punk revival on to the dance floor.

While Deftones outgrew nu-metal a long time ago this hit from Around the Fur lives on.

The first single from the first CD I ever bought. 

Repetitive, irritating, brilliant.

Interpol effortlessly recreated Joy Division, Obstacle 1 was their best song. If only that is where it ended. Of the two groups I am not sure who had the more tragic career progression. Joy Division's lead singer hung himself. Interpol's lead singer released a horrible rap mix tape called 'Everybody on my dick like they supposed to be

A song about getting old, making big decisions, moving away and never forgetting the value of your friends. I am a little older, so like it a little more each time I hear it.

I forget why I voted for Protection over Teardrop, Angel or Karmacoma. All great songs I only had room to choose one.

Hottest 100 voters like swearing. On Closer Trent Rezor sings 'I wanna fuck you like an animal'. Closer is likely to make the top 100. I voted for something else. Two NIN songs that are full of emotion but are near polar opposites. Hurt is desperate, broken, weak and fragile. The Hand That Feeds powerful, urgent and angry.

Super group containing members of Tool, QOTSA, NIN, Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson you know I love it.

da-chk, da-chk, de-de-de-de-de, da-chk, a-a-a-a.
Total headache material, totally unexpected, totally brilliant. 

 Modest britpop highlight. 

In truth I could have chosen any track from the first three QOTSA albums. 

15 Step is my favourite song from my favourite Radiohead album. Choosing Paranoid Android is my attempt at picking something that might come in near the top of the list.

Swirling feedback, pulsing drums, howling guitars: music to lose your shit to. Wolf Like Me blows my mind every time.

Great sing-a-long track from the greatest sing-a-long band.

Tragic thing is that the riff from Seven Nation Army now best known as a bland corporate sport chant.  FOOTBALL!!!!!!!

Bawley winner and newest song on my top 20.

That is it. On review I forgot to put in any Nick Cave (Bad Seeds or Grinderman), DJ Shadow, PJ Harvey, Spiritualized, The National, any Hip Hop, anything Australian or any Blur.

Voting closes on June 2nd. Get to it.

Bert & Ernie Ante Up