Party-friendly songs top polls
If you’re like me, you’ll regularly look around at our current world and try to draw parallels with years gone by.
It doesn’t have to be a rigorously academic exercise, especially when it’s employed as a procrastination tool in the hours far from any deadline.
But just how often we repeat ourselves and how at times predictable our culture can be really came to a point this week on Australia Day.
No, I’m not talking about the regurgitated push to cast off our Commonwealth ties and stand alone as a republic.
And while it’s an important conversation that must be tackled at some point in our future, I’m also not talking about the mixed feelings towards the date of our national celebration and the idea to shift it to a more inclusive and meaningful spot on the calendar.
As with many thought bubbles in my life, this comes down to music and more specifically, how much we repeat ourselves year-in, year-out while still managing to complain about it all.
When The Rubens’ mellow-rock earworm Hoops sounded through speakers across the nation as winner of Triple J’s Hottest 100, the first thought that crossed my mind was how we’d have to endure the track via pub jukeboxes and cover bands for all eternity. That’s not meant as a slight to The Rubens, by the way.
If there’s one accolade that really looks good on a band’s resume then taking out pole position in a countdown dictated by young trendsetters across the country must surely be it.
But the victory’s detractors should note Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was No.1 in 1991, back when it was the Hottest 100 of All Time and before Kanye West ruined the use of the phrase “of all time”.
How many people back then groaned and rolled their eyes as this shining example of grunge was held up as one of the best songs ever recorded?
How many of those people now shout “classic” when it comes on the radio more than 20 years later? History has shown the Hottest 100 holds among its ranks some of the most timeless songs put out since the late 1980s — and they all follow a relatively simple rock-band setup, easily emulated and relentlessly accessible.
There’s Oasis’ Wonderwall, which topped the charts in 1995, Powderfinger’s double-header of These Days and My Happiness in 1999 and 2000 respectively, and in 2003, Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl really just solidified the presence of party-friendly rock‘n’roll at the top of the countdown.
Bernard Fanning in 2005, Augie March in 2006, Muse, Kings of Leon, Mumford and Sons, Angus and Julia Stone in the years that followed — all had songs that can be played both at any party known to man and on any acoustic guitar known to man. Even Gotye, who up until 2011, had been just that bit too quirky for mainstream acceptance, managed to take out the top spot with the absurdly cover-able Somebody That I Used To Know. So what does this all mean? Are we resigned to a future of easy-rock chart toppers?
Is it some subconscious national desire we’ll never manage to quell? Dare I say, is this our national genre?
Don’t be too hasty to point to the few combo-breakers either.
I’m sure more people now revile Macklemore’s Thrift Shop than rejoice in it.
Let’s also collectively forget that time we voted in The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy).
Perhaps over the years there’ll always be something appealing about a familiar and inoffensive catchy song that manages to find its way inside your head and become the soundtrack of the day.
Just remember, however, the next time you groan and roll your eyes about the winner of the Hottest 100, there’s a strong chance you’ll sing it with gusto at an impromptu house party karaoke session 10 years later, and turn to your friends and remark on how good the song was back when it was released. Cameron Myles is a sub-editor with West Australian Regional Newspapers.
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.
Sam Margin, Elliott Margin, Zaac Margin, Scott Baldwin and Willy Zeglis are The Rubens.