Six things we learnt from the Hottest 100 countdown

Vance Joy.
Vance Joy.
Lorde performs at the Grammys.

Lorde performs at the Grammys.

London Grammar.

London Grammar.

Almost 1.5 million votes were cast in the 2013 Triple J Hottest 100, which aired on Australia Day. The countdown's results seem to be more polarising each year but, love it or hate it, it always provides a fascinating insight into the past year of music, as siphoned and distilled through Triple J's programmers and audience. Here are six things MATT NEAL learnt from the 2013 countdown.

Ok, so Lorde wasn't really robbed, but Vance Joy winning was almost as big of an upset as Warwinka beating Nadal in the Australian Open final.

No one saw it coming most of the bloggers and experts picked Lorde's Royals for the win (myself included), and she was the hot favourite with Sportsbet.

But Vance Joy's Riptide the second favourite claimed the day by a meagre margin of 1000 votes or so out of a possible 1.49 million, making it the closest result (and biggest upset) since Muse's Knights Of Cydonia pipped Silverchair's Straight Lines in 2007 by just 13 votes.

Riptide's win may have been slightly unexpected but it was not an unworthy winner.

His track, which is a blend of that "soul surfer" vibe that was big in 2003 (think Jack Johnson, Pete Murray and Xavier Rudd) and the current wave of indie-folk (Of Monsters & Men, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes), has the crossover appeal necessary to take the #1 spot, and is just about to explode globally.

And to be fair, some people did predict Vance Joy would win, notably the Warmest 100.

The big spoiler last year was the Warmest 100, which compiled social media data of people posting what they voted for to formulate a decent estimation of what would happen in the countdown.

From a sample size of 2.7 per cent of the vote, they picked 92 of the top 100, including the top three in order last year. This year, with a much smaller sample rate, the boffins behind the Warmest 100 were less accurate but still pretty impressive they successfully picked 85 of the Hottest 100 tracks, including #1, and accurately predicted seven of the top 10.

For the record, I'd like to point out that I managed to predict six of the top 10, including the top three (but in the wrong order) without any of their fancy algorithms.

A criticism regularly levelled at these Triple J polls is that there aren't enough women featured and therefore it's misogynist and sexist, despite the fact it's just people picking their favourite songs.

While it was disappointing we couldn't proclaim 2013 as the first time a solo female had taken the top spot, women were well represented in the poll.

Six of the top 12 songs featured female lead vocals, which is a record, while three tracks each from Lorde, Haim, London Grammar and Chvrches meant we heard ladies dotted throughout.

The Sydney Morning Herald reckoned "female-focused acts" made up a fifth of the poll, which isn't a bad result, but still a bit of a male jungle, which presenter Lewis McKirdy hinted at in more colourful language early on in the countdown on Sunday.

Trying to break the Hottest 100 into broad genres these days is hard. By my reckoning, 30 of the tracks were EDM (electronic dance music), 30 were indie pop and 13 were rock, with the rest split across hip hop (11), indie folk/roots (7), metal (3) and even reggae/dub (2), plus there were four covers I'm choosing not to count.

But this breakdown doesn't really cover it adequately there's a big difference between Cloud Control's indie pop and what Lana Del Rey is doing, which is often described as indie pop. In the case of the latter, the Musicology Brains Trust came up with the more appropriate term/euphemism "sad bathtime music" to describe it and we really hope this genre descriptor takes off.

Exponents of sad bathtime music in the Hottest 100 include Chet Faker, London Grammar, The Kite String Tangle, James Blake, Lana Del Rey and Flume.

There seems to be a lot of this kind of downbeat electro getting around the perfect soundtrack for your next sad bathtime.

With its own Like A Version segment, Triple J regularly pumps out covers but this year is the first time three of them have made the Hottest 100. San Cisco's Get Lucky, Something For Kate's Sweet Nothing, and Illy's inventive Ausmusic Month Medley all came about via Like A Version (and are admittedly worthy entries).

The other cover in the countdown was Bliss n Eso's take on Act Your Age (this was less worthy).

The most interesting thing about this swag of covers regards Get Lucky, which came in at #3 (Daft Punk's original) and #39 (San Cisco's cover) the first time two versions of the same song have made the same countdown since 1998 when Jebediah's Harpoon and Something For Kate's cover both registered.

While the old people (over 27s) grumble about how Triple J used to be better back in "my day" and note that bands seem to have a used-by-date on the station, the good news is that some acts are still enjoying a bit of Triple J love a decade on from their debut in the countdown.

Admittedly it's not many acts, but they're still there.  Something For Kate (who first got into the Hottest 100 in 1997), Fatboy Slim (1998), Daft Punk (2001), John Butler Trio (2001), Julian Casablancas of The Strokes (2001), Queens Of The Stone Age (2002) and The Cat Empire (2003) all featured in the 2013 countdown and are all still going strong more than 10 years on.


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