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The Triple J Hottest 100 is an annual music poll based on the votes of listeners of national Australian radio station, Triple J, to determine their favourite song of the year. Voting for the previous year's songs is conducted on the internet and begins roughly two weeks prior to the new year. The 100 most popular songs are then counted down on Australia Day. The poll attracts over half a million votes every year (increasing constantly from 500,000 in 2004 to 2.03 million in 2014) and is promoted as "the world's greatest music democracy".
The idea for the poll came from triple j producer Lawrie Zion. Late in 1988, he conceived the idea of the station running a listener poll to determine their 100 favourite songs of all time. The idea was influenced by Brisbane community radio station 4zzz, which developed its Hot 100 in 1976.
For the inaugural poll, before triple j had become a national broadcaster, Sydney listeners were required to write their 10 favourite tracks down on the back of an envelope. Some entries were sent into the station, written on a variety of items, including paintings, sculptures, and hand-rolled cannabis cigarettes. The results of the first poll were counted down on Sunday 5 March 1989 between 10am and 6pm.
The station repeated the event the following year when it started broadcasting to other capital cities besides Sydney. In 1991, triple j was forced to change the poll's name to 'Hottest 100' to avoid legal action with 4zzz.
During the poll's first few years—1989 to 1991—the winner in the first two years was "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division, while 1991's favourite song was "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana (which was also released that year). Realising that the poll's results were unlikely to significantly change from year to year, triple j rested the Hottest 100 in 1992 and relaunched it as an annual poll the following year. The newly launched poll required listeners to vote for their favourite songs of that year.
After its beginnings as a write-in poll, the Hottest 100 progressed to phone-in voting, which then progressed to SMS and online voting. In 2003, it was only possible to vote on the Triple J website, with registration required and a limited of 10 votes applied. In 2004, the guidelines were expanded so that voters were entitled to 10 internet votes, and 10 SMS votes.
The inaugural Hottest 100 compilation CD, Triple J Hottest 100 (The Hottest Of The Hottest), was released by ABC Music in 1994. Denis Leary's "Asshole" was voted in the number-one position in that year, while the radio-edited version of Ween's "Pushin' Up The Daisies", featuring a sample of musician Prince howling in place of the word "shit", appeared on the CD.
Powderfinger became the first act to feature three times in the top 10 of the poll in 2003: "(Baby I’ve Got You) On My Mind", "Sunsets" and "Love Your Way" placed in the 4th, 7th and 10th places, respectively. All three songs appeared on the 2003 Vulture Street full-length studio album, which attained "6 x Platinum" sales in Australia.
Chet Faker, whose real name is Nick Murphy, repeated Powderfinger's achievement from 2003, by placing three times in the top 10 positions, including the number-one ranking for the song "Talk Is Cheap". The other two songs were "Gold" and "1998", which ranked in the 7th and 8th positions, respectively, while all three songs were from the 2014 album Built On Glass. Faker places a total of four times in the entire poll, with a cover version of Sonia Dada's "Lover You Don't Treat Me No Good No More" in 22nd position. The 22nd Hottest 100 poll received a record 2,099,707 million votes, cast by 258,762 voters from 188 countries.
In the 25 years since its inception, the bands who have featured the most are Powderfinger, with 22 songs between the 1996 and 2009 countdowns, and the Foo Fighters who charted 22 times between 1995 and 2014. In 2011, it was incorrectly stated that Foo Fighters were the band with the most appearances. Powderfinger's frontman, Bernard Fanning, has taken out the top spot on three occasions, twice with Powderfinger in 1999 and 2000 and once as a solo artist in 2005.
Dave Grohl has appeared 32 times throughout the countdown including the top spot on two occasions (1991, 2002). Although, 13 of these appearances are from the Hottest 100 Of All Time countdowns. He has appeared 4 times with Nirvana, 22 with Foo Fighters, 5 with Queens of The Stone Age and once with Them Crooked Vultures. In fact, Grohl has appeared in most countdowns run by Triple J, only excluding those in 1989, 1990, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Robert Smith of The Cure has appeared 34 times throughout the countdown's lifetime. However, 28 of these were in the All Time countdowns. 5 more entires came from countdowns between 1993 and 1997, to date, a final appearance was through a collaboration with Crystal Castles in 2010.
Following a 13 January 2015 article on BuzzFeed titled "Why Isn’t Everyone Voting For 'Shake It Off' In The Hottest 100?" by Mark Di Stefano—also a former triple j newsreader—the "#Tay4Hottest100" hashtag campaign began during the voting period for the Hottest 100 poll for 2014. The campaign led to a significant amount of media coverage as Australian music fans debated the merits of Taylor Swift's inclusion in the poll, including the potential for a number-one ranking. According to those critical of the campaign, the Hottest 100 is reserved for non-mainstream artists who were "discovered or fostered by triple j." and provides valuable exposure for artists in the outer circles of the music industry.
The campaign led to a public discourse about the broader cultural implications of the controversy generated by Swift, which included accusations of cultural elitism. The Guardian 's Elle Hunt wrote: "... the virulent response to #Tay4Hottest100 has revealed the persistence of a dichotomy I’d thought we’d thrown out long ago: that of high art versus low." Writing for The Conversation on 23 January 2015, Charles Darwin University academic Gemma Blackwood concluded:
The cultural and economic meanings attached to the celebrity-sign of "Taylor Swift" seems antithetical to Triple J’s self-representation as a place for exciting new music, with a supposed focus on emerging Australian talent. This perhaps explains why Swift is excluded from the playlist when other "mainstream" American artists and chart toppers ... are still played on the station heavily: the alignment and transfer of values of what is considered "cool" and "hip" between the station and its chosen artists ... The concept of "youth" seems to be used in reference to a musical market and to identify particular music genres rather than being a real or an accurate signifier of young tastes and interests. It raises the question: what responsibility does a national youth broadcaster have in the shaping and the adapting of young musical interests?
Blackwood thanks Swift's fans for "providing an outlet for discussion of some big ideas about national musical tastes and values".
Station manager Chris Scaddan told the media that the Swift campaign is within the rules of the poll, later instructing triple j employees not to comment to "media, friends, family" about the campaign, as "it will all become clear when we get to the countdown next Monday." The station said: "we don’t comment on voting campaigns whilst Hottest 100 voting is open. It draws attention to them and may influence the results of the poll." Marketing website Mumbrella suggested on 20 January that a Facebook post by KFC incorporating the "#Tay4Hottest100" hashtag was against the Hottest 100 rules and could see Swift disqualified. Also on 20 January, the Guardian submitted a freedom of information request to the ABC in regard to the station's response to the campaign.
After journalist Peter Vincent reported that the Swift campaign had "swallowed" the Hottest 100 for 2014, citing research from the University of Queensland that showed that over 7,341 Hottest 100 posts in a 30-day period leading up to the poll results related to Swift, "Shake It Off" was eventually disqualified by the radio station in an announcement on 26 January 2015. The official announcement read: "it became pretty clear, pretty quick that a lot of people just wanted to prod some ‘hipsters’ for the lulz", acknowledging that the station "had a heap of fun", while Swift is "smart", "cool" and "successful". The song would have placed in the number-12 position if it had been allowed to compete.
On the inside cover of the Triple J Hottest 100 Volume 22 CD, bold capital initials spell out "TAYLOR SWIFT BAN".
Powderfinger became the first and, to date, only artist to have two Hottest 100 No. 1 tracks, in 1999 and 2000. (Frontman Bernard Fanning would later have a third No. 1 as a solo artist in 2005, and Powderfinger would also later win in the Hottest 100 Australian Albums countdown in 2011.)
Powderfinger became the second band to achieve two songs in the top five, the first (and only to date) Australian band to do so.
Dave Grohl was involved with ten tracks (including three in succession from No. 11 to No. 13): five with Queens of the Stone Age, four with the Foo Fighters, and one with Nirvana. This is a record that as of 2011, still stands.
Grinspoon equal Killing Heidi's record of the Highest placing of a Triple J Unearthed artist at No. 2. This record was broken by Vance Joy who won the countdown in 2013.
Mark Lanegan became the oldest person to win the Hottest 100. He was 42 when it was announced that "No One Knows" won the countdown.
Robert Smith's appearance with Crystal Castles in the 2010 list marked his first appearance in a Hottest 100 since 1997. This 13-year absence between songs is the equal longest by any artist in Hottest 100 history, matching Ben Folds Five's absence between 1999 and 2012 and Zack de la Rocha between 2001 and 2014.
"Thrift Shop" is the first hip-hop song to top the chart in Hottest 100 history. It also breaks the record of highest ranking hip-hop song, which was previously set by Coolio, Gorillaz & Hilltop Hoods. All of whom managed to place third in 1995, 2005, 2006 & 2009.
For the first time since 2008 no Australian artist featured in the Top 3.
The four highest charting artists in this year's countdown were all debutantes. This is the first time this has happened since the first countdown in 1993.