Going Cold on Triple J’s Hottest 100
Australia Day. Everyone has their own way of how they “put it in”. For me, it has usually been a day of overcooked meat on the barbie, beers on ice, a dozen adults jammed into a kiddies’ pool and a mostly controversial game of backyard cricket, featuring batsmen who refuse to walk, denying they’ve nicked it despite the ball ending up at second slip.
Whilst all this fun and frivolity takes place, whether you’re turning the snags, or scaling the neighbour’s fence to retrieve a half-taped tennis ball, everyone has their ears tuned to the radio, listening to Triple J’s Hottest 100, and waiting for their favourite song of the year to be played.
It’s a day that’s been an institution on my social calendar for a good decade, but it seems with age, and fatherhood to a 15-month-old son (Charlie), future Australia Days will take on a slightly different look.
I don’t know whether my taste in music has changed over time, or recent editions of the Hottest 100 have just been found wanting. This does seem to be a popular debate among many people of my vintage: has the Hottest 100 gotten worse in recent years? Could the 250,000-plus people who vote be wrong? Or are we simply too old for it now?
In the years before Charlie was born, radio dials in the car, and at home, were all welded to Triple J. Nowadays, the car radio is set to ABC, thanks to the Austereo networks’ unwavering commitment to playing the same six songs every hour, ad-bloody-nauseam, lest my son might one day add a Bliss n Eso-inspired b-bomb to his expanding vocabulary. And home is dominated by Shaun the Sheep, The Wiggles, and readings of Ten Little Dinosaurs and Room on the Broom.
But even though my interest wanes each year, I have persisted with voting in the Hottest 100. This is an exercise that has become increasingly difficult. To register a vote, you must submit a list of your 10 favourite songs for the year. In previous years, I’d spend hours trying to trim a shortlist of 30 down to 10. This year I only knew three or four songs, and I needed to enlist the help of online music forums and YouTube to make up the rest of my list!
Which begs the question, why do I still vote? Perhaps it’s a nostalgia thing? Or does voting make me feel… well… not so old and out-of-touch (despite obviously being out of touch, hence the online music forums and YouTube)?
With Triple J and I drifting further apart in what may be one of the longest break-ups in history, I expect this year could be the first countdown I haven’t listened to, in full, in almost 20 years. This year, the barbecue and beers will be replaced by fruit with custard, and bottles of milk. The rowdy mates and tunes will be replaced with nappy changes and nursery rhymes. And I’m fine with that.
I look forward to future years building on that special bond that is the father-son relationship while creating our own ‘traditional’ Australia Day activities. Like fishing and camping, swimming in the mighty Murray… or taking to the backyard cricket pitch and arguing over whether I edged that ball to second slip.
Simon Borg is a dad from Cobram, Victoria.