Thanks to TPG and Telstra meeting somewhere in an underground lair with plans to make my life, and only my life, considerably more inconvenient than it is, I’m without internet. I have been for a week and a half, and I will be for a further week and a half at this rate. Given that I write remotely for an income, and we live IN THE FIRST WORLD WHERE THAT KIND OF SHIT ISN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN, it’s been an entirely frustrating and maddening experience.
Even worse is the fact I’ve been thinking of something I should write about at least once every day – but without any immediate means to record it I’ve failed so many times – but I’ll have a quick one right now.
The Triple J Hottest 100 vs. Taylor Swift
Is the idea of Taylor Swift being included in the nation’s (apparent) number 1 indie countdown of songs for the past year that ridiculous? It’s a bit silly, sure, but to the point where it became a big part of general discourse for a few weeks while the votes were working their way?
Triple J prides itself on its preference for independent or ‘small’ content, so that they can sit back in their chairs, chuffed with self-satisfaction that it was OBVIOUSLY them and them alone that made songs like ‘Sex on Fire’, ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ and ‘Riptide’ (all previous winners) popular in the first place. REMEMBER ‘ARE YOU GUNNA BE MY GIRL’ by JET? That song would NEVER have been successful were it not for Triple J. NEVER.
They can strum their hipster goatees and pretend that the bulk of the audience voting in this thing aren’t really 14 year old girls, while sipping their appalling takeaway coffees from Ultimo’s finest dodgy coffee shops. They can even write a posthumous post about how, despite all the campaigning, the efforts of Taylor Swift and her fans only got the one song they campaigned for up to number #12 – but what does that say?
If you’ve seen the list, you’re aware that Chet Faker (whoever the hell that is) didn’t just win, he had THREE SONGS IN THE TOP TEN. Peking Duck had another 2. That’s half of the ten ‘best’ songs of the last 12 months composed by two fucking artists.
Oh yes, Triple J may laud themselves for the ‘percentage’ of Australian acts, and be secretly chuffed that the guy who won the thing looks like he probably worked at Triple J beforehand, but what does that say about the depth of Australian talent and the voters themselves? Yes Australian acts graced many spots further down the list, and Triple J love their percentages, but can you really embrace results like that? Where half of the top ten is made up of 2 artists? Are we really supposed to believe that out there in the world, let alone here in Australia, there weren’t 5 other songs that deserved the spots a bit more?
Anyway, that’s not the point. They kicked up a big stink about a campaign to include what was certainly one of the most commercially successful songs of the year into the list (very much like ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ and ‘Sex on Fire’), but are somehow happy with the construction of their top ten.
Alt-J had three songs in the Top 30, Lana del Rey and Lorde BOTH made the top half of the list (actually Lorde had 2 in the Top 50, and she’s as ‘mainstream’ as it gets in the last year), so where’s the line? Who determines that artists like Lorde can have multiple tracks in the top 50, and Chet Faker can have three in the top ten, but that one Taylor Swift song can’t even get to number 12?
The J’s fired criticism at BuzzFeed for starting the campaign, but meanwhile every band and artist out there with a nom is campaigning for themselves on social media. Chet Faker has 609,000 FB likes and 57,200 Twitter followers. Do we really need to examine what the primary demographic is? On both these pages he has links to vote in the Hottest 100. Meanwhile another Aussie artist like Thundamentals (8.6k Twitter, 77k on FB) came in at number 30 (and then more times later in the list on the back of [what I consider] a very strong release).
If the complaints about BuzzFeed and Swift are to be believed, shouldn’t it then be claimed that Chet Faker has an unfair advantage over an act like Thundamentals, because he has nearly 400% more people he can campaign to? Seems a bit disparate, doesn’t it?
Look, I’m not saying that Taylor Swift deserves to be in there or not – but Triple J could have used the whole incident to show that they’re not a bunch of self-indulgent asses. If they want to exclude the track because it wasn’t played on the station, that’s entirely warranted, but to criticise the viral campaigning or primary demographics of a song because it’s ‘mainstream’ is stupid. Perhaps they’re too blinded to realise that their primary demographic now IS teenagers. If you’re willing to let half of the ‘best 10’ songs FOR A WHOLE YEAR be done by two people, it was either a really shit and shallow year (which it wasn’t), or there’s something seriously wrong with your voting process – and Taylor Swift has nothing to do with it.
Here’s hoping that these budget cuts coming towards the ABC end up making the Hottest 100 a Hottest 50 or even 25. Perhaps then the quality won’t be so diluted that people are concerned about Taylor Swift in the first place. Do it, Tony.