In January of 2017, Ben Lawson made headlines by commenting on every song that made it into the triple j Hottest 100 of 2016 by jovially noting that, “ya joking, shoulda been higher”. Just nine years earlier though, countless fans around the country would’ve agreed with this sentiment when the annual countdown reached its pointy end.
For content, in January of 2008, the Hottest 100 had almost been going for two decades. Since it launched its annual “All Time” countdowns in 1989, a three-year run ended in 1991, before a year off ensued, and the countdown returned in 1994, allowing listeners to vote for their favourite song of the last year.
In the years that followed, the annual poll gradually became a point of national pride, with listeners the world over gathering to revel in the majesty of the music that had soundtracked their year. By the 2007 poll, it had reached new heights, with over 700,000 votes being counted. 12 years later, that number exploded, with 3.2 million votes being cast in the 2019 countdown.
Just last week, triple j announced that the Hottest 100 of 2020 was something of a tight race, with just 350 votes separating the top two songs with just three days of voting to go. However, those with an ear for musical history would undoubtedly have had a flashback to the events of January 26th, 2008, when the Hottest 100 of 2007 finished with a surprising upset.
With the countdown being broadcast live from The Domain in Sydney, Breakfast team Robbie [Buck], Marieke [Hardy], and The Doctor [Lindsay McDougall] were on hand for the later portion, while special guests such as Ross Noble made it a star-studded affair.
According to bookmakers, favourable odds had been placed upon Silverchair’s “Straight Lines” scoring the top spot, given the band’s successful year which saw final album Young Modern become their fifth consecutive number one on the ARIA chart, and also win six ARIA Awards, including Best Album, and Best Single for “Straight Lines”.
With frontman Daniel Johns touring the country with the Big Day Out at the time, it seemed fitting to bring the iconic musician out on stage at The Domain for what would ostensibly be a little bit of history. After all, Silverchair had previously reached #5 with “Tomorrow” back in 1994, and despite charting five times in the 2002 countdown, their highest was only #10. It felt like it was time for the group to change everything.
Ultimately, Johns was brought out following “Straight Lines” being broadcast at number two. Dressed in a green blazer, with bleached blonde hair, sunglasses, and a lollipop in his mouth, he seemed unfazed by the silver medal.
“I just want to tell you that this has been not only the biggest Hottest 100 ever in terms of voting, but this has been the tightest competition for number one in the history of the Hottest 100,” Buck told Johns, who seemed to be realising how close his band had come to the top spot.
“Do you want to know how many votes separated you and number one, Daniel?” asked Hardy, before the rocker laughed and offered a simple, “Not really”.
Soon, it was revealed that the margin between the top two songs was a mere 13 votes – the tightest in Hottest 100 history to date, and a feat not seen since.
“Do you have 13 friends that you know didn’t vote this year?”, asked The Doctor, before Johns noted he “probably [has] more than that”, and promised he was just content with reaching the number two position.
As sad as this moment felt for supports of Aussie music, it soon felt like salt had been rubbed into the wound when it was revealed that the winning song was in fact Muse’s “Knights Of Cydonia”. A hugely popular track which become even more so thanks to its inclusion on the Guitar Hero soundtrack, the song in question had in fact been released on July 3rd, 2006 – nearly 19 months before the countdown took place.
Though not related to the events of the 2007 countdown, triple j are these days a little more stringent with their inclusion guidelines, with eligible songs needing to be released between before December of the previous calendar year, and after December of the year prior.
Though the top end countdown has never been quite as close since (though Queens Of The Stone Age’s “No One Knows” and The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” were separated by a solitary vote in the 2009 All Time countdown), it remains to be seen whether the gap of 350 votes has been tightened or widened due to the last-minute rush of voting for the 2020 Hottest 100. Whatever the case, voters will have to listen on Saturday, January 23rd to find out what happened.
Key Hottest 100 Dates
12pm AEDT, Saturday, January 23rd, 2021
Hottest 100 countdown on triple j
10am local time, Sunday, January 24th, 2021
Hottest 200 countdown on triple j
12pm local time, Monday, January 25th, 2021
Hottest 100 of 2000 on Double J
11pm local time, Friday, January 29th, 2021
Hottest 100 videos on rage