Hot hits and cool tunes

Posted by David Smerdon on Jan 7, 2011 in Non-chess |

January is a difficult time for making decisions for many Australians, and not just for New Year’s resolutions.  It is also a frenzied month of voting for national radio station Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown of the top songs of the year, released on Australia Day on January 26.

It’s something of a tradition on Australia Day to have the countdown playing as celebrators play backyard cricket, laze in the pool, and tend to the lamb on the barbecue.

Of course, not all of these stereotypical ‘Straya Day events are possible for every Aussie, but even for those abroad, the Hottest 100 is often a staple feature.

Over a million votes are received (each person can vote for ten songs) in what is apparently the world’s largest music poll, now running for almost forty years.  And while I’m still working my way through the remainder of my 2011 resolutions, I thought it appropriate to share with you my votes.  While the competition is essentially to determine Australia’s top 100 popular songs, I usually cast my votes for the ten songs that have most influenced me (usually for no particularly profound reason) over the past year.

Basically, today this was just an excuse to distract from the humiliation that was the final day of the Ashes cricket series.  The Australians played so abysmally that it doesn’t even warrant a separate post, which is why the Ashes only get this little side-mention tucked within a music post.  To be fair, supergrandmaster Peter Svidler did warn me that England was going to demolish Australia in the series, but who would trust a Russian chess player on a cricket tip?

Apparently not me.  In any case, voting is still open at, and voting puts you in with a (very very small) chance of winning the Triple J “Golden Ticket”, a free pass to almost every festival and music gig for 2011.

And so, here are my “Hottest Ten” songs, or more appropriately the “Ten Songs I Can Currently Recall And Have A Vague Fondness For”, for the past year.  In no particular order:

Adrian Lux – Teenage Crime

Smooth, easy on the ears, with a slightly flowery palate.  Made me long to be a student again, which may or may not have influenced my decision to do just that in 2011.  Somehow encourages the listener to dream of riding hipster bicycles through fields of daisies and make bonfires on the beach.

Drapht – Rapunzel

I’m generally very against artists who choose names that are deliberate misspellings of words (although it does make them easier to Google).  But any song based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale gets an automatic tick from this old-school dreamer.  Similar level of funk to Drapht’s 2008 Hottest 100 number-10 hit “Jimmy Recard”, which, incidentally, was off his album entitled “Brothers Grimm”.

Nicholas Roy – It’s All My Fault

I first saw NR in a tiny bar on a quite Melbourne night in 2004.  The six of us in the empty audience gave him a standing ovation at the end of his set, although we never heard from him again.  Somehow a cross between Gotye and John Mayer, but with harsher language.

Washington – Sunday Best

What a find this little gem of a singer-songwriter was!  It’s hard to describe her style, though – Megan’s website very confusingly proclaims “She’s like a rock and roll band, but not. She’s kind of like Elvis Costello. She’s kind of like Cindy Lauper. She’s kind of like Motown stuff. She’s kind of like Phoenix. She’s kind of like Tom Waits.” I don’t agree with any of that, but somehow this song, a repeat prior to my scholarship interviews, got the dopamine going.  Look for this one in the top ten this year, and even a possible shot at the crown.

Now we start to move into the more dancey-electronically selections, which probably have less chance of hitting the big time in the countdown but really do get things pumping.

Duck Sauce – Barbara Streisand

How can anyone not like a song that honours The Nose as its title and only lyrics?!  This one, along with Paper Romance, has managed to conquer not only the fickle, aristocratic Triple J audience, but also the surface-spray world of commercialised radio as well.  The perfect start to any party in which table dancing is a possibility.

Seekae – Blood Bank

It’s hard to really explain this little three-piece Sydney electronic group.  Enigmatic, futuristic and overpoweringly intriguing, their first album goes down nicely with a cool cider in the twilight hours.  Guaranteed to uplift and propel, with just a slight case of vertigo.

Danny Byrd – Ill Behaviour {Ft. I-Kay}

A massive hit on the dance charts this year by one of the great contemporary drum-and-bass DJs.  Dangerous driving music, but good for the gym and far healthier on a night out than a Red Bull, though similarly effective.

Pendulum – Salt In The Wounds / Pendulum – Witchcraft

Pendulum is a particular favourite for modern drum-and-bass aficionados.  It’s also fantastic work-out music, and kept me going throughout much of the hundred push-up challenge as part of my 2010 New Year’s resolution.  These two are particular pec-pumpers, but not the sort of music to help you drift off to sleep.

Groove Armada – Paper Romance

I’m a massive Armada fan, though there album-before-last stank worse than rank peacock poo (a comparison I can now dish out with authority).  Their new one, Black Light, is one of the best electronic albums I’ve heard (with the exception of the absolutely dreadful Track 8, “Warsaw”, which sounds as close to a middle ear infection as I can imagine).  This track is the pick of the bunch, with a traditional Armada chorus crescendo that smoothly fades with plenty of time to bust out a whole other routine of funky moves.


Jan 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm

How could you go past the single greatest song of 2010 – ?
OK, it’s not local, but it’s got everything, literally.

Jan 7, 2011 at 11:45 pm

Barbara Streisand for the world!

If I had to vote for one song, it would be ‘The Time’ by the Black Eyed Peas.

Jan 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm

That Adrian Lux song has gone big big big….on both UK and Aus MOS Annuals and being dished up at Summerfieldayze recently..WIll be top 5 i think because it’s just so recognizable.

Jan 9, 2011 at 4:22 am

Drapht is a fantastic choice Dave, though it has me confused … Since when do you like hip-hop??

Jan 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

You do realise that Barbara Streisand is a rip-off right? Duck Sauce took the music from another band and then just chucked in the two words for fun… Although, and you know it’s rare that I’ll publicly agree with you for fear of recrimination, despite the rip-off fact (and why is it that so many ‘modern’ artists keep ripping off old classics for decent riffs anyway? Ie Vanilla Ice (ripped off Bowie and Queen) and Madonna (fully ripped off ABBA)…) it is annoyingly catchy.

Mostly I’m just unbelievably glad that you didn’t follow the current uni crowd’s disturbing and apparent obsession with Katy Perry songs. I would have had to disown you immediately 🙂

David Smerdon
Jan 9, 2011 at 8:03 pm

@Kerry – Since I survived all those trips in your car. Aussie hip-hop and driving with your knees are a winner combination in anyone’s books.

@Manda – Katie Perry, bleugh! I have taken the high road and sworn only to watch her film clips with the sound off. Repeatedly.

Jan 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

And I bet you’re only doing that so you can check out her boobs, right?

Surely there are more talented musicians, with decent songs, whose music videos you can watch with both sound and breastage?!



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