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Every One of triple j’s Hottest 100 Winners, Ranked

triple j’s Hottest 100 has been going for a few decades now, but how do the winning tracks stack up against each other?

Image of Hottest 100 winners Kendrick Lamar, Powderfinger, and Billie Eilish

Kendrick Lamar, Powderfinger, and Billie Eilish are just three of the winners in the Hottest 100's three decade history.

Aftermath/Interscope Records; Ian Jennings*; Supplied

Ever since triple j’s Hottest 100 kicked off back in 1989 as a yearly poll to find the public’s most beloved song, it’s pretty much been an institution in the world of Aussie music.

From humble beginnings which attracted a few thousand votes, it’s since grown into what the station calls thee world’s largest music poll, with recent years attracting more than three million votes.

But while divisive opinions reign in regards to whether the countdown has lost the same sort of spark it had in its early years, it still forges ahead, with each January seeing 100 new songs welcomed into the hallowed halls of Aussie music history.

Of course, every countdown needs to have a top spot, and over the years, the winning songs in the Hottest 100 have ranged from deadset classics to questionable entries that attract more scorn than praise. As such, we figured it was about time to go back over the yearly countdowns and rate each song in terms of how it’s held up over the years.

It’s worth noting that this list only collects songs from the yearly Hottest 100 countdowns, that is, from 1993 onwards. It doesn’t feature the winners of the All Time polls, though Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (winner in 1989 and 1990), Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (winner in 1991, 1998, and 2009), or Tame Impala’s “The Less I Know the Better” (winner of the Hottest 100 of The Decade poll in 2020) aren’t without their respective charms.

Be sure to also check out our live updates for the 2021 countdown to see who will be added to this list shortly!

Image of Gotye and Kimbra



“Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)” – Gotye (2011)

In 2011, the Hottest 100 winner was such a certainty that it became less a case of “who will take #1?”, and soon became a question of who would in fact take out the silver medal spot. With such a massive hit to their name, Gotye and Kimbra (the first time a featured artist, or a New Zealand artist, had appeared on top) had already taken on the world, so it made sense that their success would translate to local shores. As it turned out, the race to #2 was the far more interesting takeaway, with The Black Keys ultimately triumphing over Matt Corby’s “Brother” to achieve the second-placing with “Lonely Boy”.

Ironically, despite his number one spot, Gotye has yet to appear in a countdown since (though he has been working on a new album), while The Black Keys and Matt Corby have both appeared in subsequent years. So who’s the real winner here? It still seems to resonate today, too, with the track reaching #2 when triple j ran their Hottest 100 of The Decade poll in early 2020.

Image of Angus & Julia Stone

Daniel Mayne*


“Big Jet Plane” – Angus & Julia Stone (2010)

In 2009, triple j’s Hottest 100 of All Time infamously included no female artists, save for a few featured (yet uncredited) female voices. As time went on, inclusivity was definitely greater, though the top of the charts remained rather dominated by male-identifying artists. In fact, after The Cranberries topped the poll in 1994, no female-fronted acts would hit #1 until 2010.

That change came by way of Angus & Julia Stone who unveiled their track “Big Jet Plane” to great acclaim. In theory, it could be considered the first cover to top the poll, considering that Angus had penned it and performed it as Lady of The Sunshine in 2009. Either way though, while some fans consider the track to be somewhat lacking in the danger and cutting edge prowess that the Hottest 100 was once known for, it’s impossible to ignore the song that at long last made some small steps to righting some wrongs.

Image of Queens of The Stone Age

Ross Halfin*


“No One Knows” – Queens Of The Stone Age (2002)

As the 2002 poll counted down, it became abundantly clear that if it wasn’t Queens of The Stone Age that would top the poll, the number one song would definitely feature Dave Grohl. Ultimately featuring on ten tracks (including four with the Foo Fighters, one with Nirvana, and five as the drummer for QOTSA), the grunge icon left his mark on every part of the poll.

Sitting behind the kit for the Californian stoner-rock group’s Songs for The Deaf album, it was lead single “No One Knows” that came out on top. The first track to hit #1 without ever having charted as a single, it was a huge moment for fans of rock, riffs, and raw power, and still stands tall as one of the hardest songs to ever grab a gold medal.

Image of Tim Freedman, frontman of The Whitlams

Scott Gelston*


“No Aphrodisiac” – The Whitlams (1997)

After Spiderbait proved that Aussies indeed had the power to top the Hottest 100 after the success of “Buy Me A Pony” in 1996, some fans likely wondered just when we might see that feat repeated. As it turned out, you didn’t have long to wait, with The Whitlams’ breakthrough single “No Aphrodisiac” capturing the hearts and minds of listeners in 1997.

For The Whitlams, it was a bit of vindication, with much of its accompanying Eternal Nightcap album written in the wake of the passing of Stevie Plunder (who passed away exactly two years before the band topped the poll), and in a period of solemnity for the group. Famously, the winning track was also announced by a former Prime Minister, with Gough Whitlam on hand to announce that the group, his “eponyms”, had taken out the top spot.

Image of Billie Eilish



“bad guy” – Billie Eilish (2019)

While pop music has never been too far from the ears of Hottest 100 voters (despite what the diehards will claim), there have only been a few times that a ubiquitous pop hit has managed to poll at the pointy end of the countdown.

In 2019, the massive success of Billie Eilish proved irresistible for Hottest 100 listeners who voted her inescapable “bad guy” to the top spot. Not only did Eilish become the first female (in a non-feature artist role) to top the poll in almost a decade, but she was also the first solo female artist to ever do so. Plus, at only 18 at the time, she was also the youngest artist to ever grab #1. Not bad, eh?

Image of The Cranberries



“Zombie” – The Cranberries (1994)

The first chart-topping single to hit #1 in the Hottest 100, it’s a little hard in hindsight to remember just how big The Cranberries’ “Zombie” was upon its release. Arriving just 18 months after the release of their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (which also featured “Linger”, the #3 ranked song in the 1993 countdown), the Irish outfit were thrust into sudden and widespread celebrity when “Zombie” invaded charts around the world.

A resonant track written in response to IRA bombings as part of the Troubles, “Zombie” paired social commentary with blistering alternative rock and a highly-memorable vocal. Sadly, vocalist Dolores O’Riordan would pass away in 2018, making her the only vocalist to top the yearly countdown to have since passed on. Thankfully though, we have a truly stunning legacy to remember her by, with “Zombie” a true classic of the ’90s alt-rock era.

Image of Spiderbait

Ian Laidlaw*


“Buy Me A Pony” – Spiderbait (1996)

When the Hottest 100 began in 1989, it was dominated for two years by Joy Division and their enduring “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. When Nirvana turned the tables in 1991 with “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, it felt like a revolution. Fast forward to 1996, and the now-yearly Hottest 100 had seen three winning tracks, but none from Australia.

Enter Spiderbait. Releasing the industry-critical “Buy Me A Pony”, the track was a sensation with alt-rock lovers, ultimately giving Spiderbait their first Hottest 100 #1, and allowing Australia to reign supreme for the first time. Incidentally, “Buy Me A Pony” also remains the shortest song to ever top the countdown, and is one of the few times that the #1 song was the artist’s only entry in that year’s Hottest 100.

Image of Kendrick Lamar

Aftermath/Interscope Records


“HUMBLE.” – Kendrick Lamar (2017)

While the 2010s witnessed the stratospheric rise of hip-hop icon Kendrick Lamar, it was 2015 that fans saw as his peak. Releasing To Pimp a Butterfly in March, the record was viewed as Kendrick’s career peak, with a Grammy win for Best Rap Album to its name, and later being dubbed the 19th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone.

As such, many thought that the blistering “King Kunta” would top the poll that year, only for it to be dethroned by The Rubens and their single “Hoops”. Not content to let that record be his legacy, Kendrick kept on releasing work, with DAMN. arriving in 2017. Lead single “HUMBLE.” dominated the airwaves, and ultimately, it was voted in at #1, making Kendrick the first person of colour to top the poll, and serving him with a well-deserved top spot.

Image of Powderfinger

Ian Jennings*


“My Happiness” – Powderfinger (2000)

By the end of the century, Powderfinger had already established themselves as veterans of the scene, with three albums to their name, and a #1 spot for 1998’s Internationalist proving that they were on the cusp of big things. 1999 had previously seen them top the Hottest 100 thanks to “These Days” from the Two Hands soundtrack, and with a new album on the way, the world was their oyster. As it turned out, this oyster came loaded with one hell of a pearl.

Releasing album Odyssey Number Five in September of 2000, it came packed with singles like “My Kind of Scene” (which hit #3 in the Hottest 100 of 2000) and “Like a Dog”. However, it was the ode to a long distance relationship, “My Happiness”, that peaked atop the poll, giving the group their second #1. To date, Powderfinger are the only artist to top the poll twice, and the only artist to do it consecutively. Also, with Odyssey Number Five also containing a version of “These Days”, it’s the only album to feature two Hottest 100 #1s on its tracklist.