Hip-Hop and the Hottest 100

Well, today is the last day to vote in the Hottest 100, the annual music countdown run by Triplej. If you’re not too busy adorning your car mirrors with Australian flag covers or walking the streets shirtless with a VB stubbie and flag cape like some sort of drunken, racist superhero, perhaps you’ll be spending your Invasion Day like me; in a mate’s backyard pool with the radio locked on Triplej.

Australia Day may (does) have morally questionable foundations and the combination of alcohol and patriotism may (does) bring out the worst in parts of our society, but the day itself also highlights one of this country’s great strengths: unity. And the millions of people, nationally and internationally, that tune into the Hottest 100 is a beautiful example of this. Music is relatively unbiased and pushes no agenda. Music is something everyone can enjoy.

Triplej describes the countdown as “the world’s largest musical democracy.” Of course a democracy, as with any political system, has its faults. Songs receiving frequent airplay are likely to place higher. Some artists, as determined by the gods at Triplej, receive no airplay at all. Artists themselves must decide if they’ll shamelessly spam their fans with self-promotion. Songs released at the beginning of the year are disadvantaged. Some artists receive airplay on commercial radio. Et cetera, et cetera. Such flaws are unavoidable. Still, for the most part, it is good.

My favorite thing about the Hottest 100 is how it makes you think about music. Even if you don’t vote, the simple act of considering the options sparks those brain cells. And for those who do vote, the task of condensing an entire year of music down to 10 songs, while difficult, really helps you better understand what you appreciate in music, why you listen and what defines your taste.

Even for someone like me, with such a tight range of music I would define as “good”, it was still a struggle to decide who to vote for. I probably put more thought into my votes than I did last federal election.

• Do I vote for the big international acts or support the home grown Australian stuff?

• Do I prioritise smaller acts that would benefit from the exposure more, over well-established ones?

• What do I value more; lyrics, delivery, production, cuts, originality, depth?

• Do I vote for popular songs that are guaranteed to make the 100 to help them get as high as possible, or do I vote for lesser known songs/artists in the hope that they may scrape in?

• Do I vote for artists that make top 100 music but didn’t even get on the list (Maundz) or is that throwing away votes?

• If I do decide to vote international, do I choose the catchy single that everyone will vote for (Thrift Shop), the thoughtful critique of hip-hop/basketball/consumerist culture (Wings) or the long overdue and beautiful discussion of hip-hop and sexuality (Same Love)?

• Do I vote for my favorite song of the album (The Underground) or the track with the incredible video clip (Rattling The Keys To The Kingdom)?

• The cheerful tune (Young And Dumb) or the deeper one (Maybe Tomorrow)?

• The most banging beat (Naive Bravado), the best feature (Clean Slate) or the summer anthem of 2012 (Knee Length Socks)?

• The funny song (Dear Science) or the serious song (Campfire)?

• What about the bizarre yet catchy South African rave-rappers (Die Antwoord)?

• Or the amazing cover song that’s possibly better than the original (Brother)?

Decisions, decisions…

The great thing is you can’t really go wrong. But definitely think before you hit Submit, partly for the thought process itself, but also because votes are powerful, and the artists you choose appreciate your support more than you may realise.

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