When Triple J announced they would count down the Hottest 100 of the Decade, music heads went into meltdown.
Shortlists were curated, polls were opened, campaigns began, and fans were left with an absolute gamut of songs to choose from. Whittling down shortlists to just 10 songs felt like a punishment.
Now, with just hours before the polls close on Monday 9 March at midday (AEDT), punters are running their final checks, making decisive cuts and adjustments to pick their 10.
But a similar conundrum arises for those who have followed the traditional shortlist process, a procedure even Triple J labelled “torturous and overwhelming”.
Do you vote for your all-time favourite songs, or do you vote for the crowd favourites you love slightly less, but are confident will feature in the count?
It’s the classic head versus heart debate. Pragmatism against romanticism.
And we need to talk about it.
Is the value of having songs on the count greater than putting your faves on a list you can look back on forever? It’s a matter of intention.
In the context of the count as a public vote on an Australian radio platform, there’s huge value in being pragmatic.
What fun is it heading to a listening party and hearing none of your songs on the count? You’d just end up as the weird dude in the corner with a figurative dunce hat on.
“But White Ferrari is Frank Ocean’s best song!” Cool bro, now go enjoy listening to White Ferrari while the rest of your friends belt out Lost at the pointy end of the countdown.
In any case, voting for a song that has limited-to-zero chance of making the final 100 isn’t supporting the artist or other fans, just your own ego.
But hang on, the defendant has something to say.
If you become over-the-top pragmatic, then are you truly voting for your favourite songs of the decade?
The romantic flavour of having a shortlist that has your 10 personal favourites is seductive. Keeping true to one’s self and not selling out for the Triple J crowd is strong and brave. If the station had an integrity unit, they would be chuffed at your honesty. Perhaps they would even send you a certificate of thanks.
But, in a decade where Hoops took out the 2015 list, we know no such thing exists. It’s a wilderness out there, where no one appreciates your unique palate or respects the song you’ve played 2847 times since Spotify became a thing.
But amid all the mess, there’s some sort of middle ground.
Being able to choose 10 songs allows for the slightest wiggle room, and if you have 20 bangers that need to somehow fit, follow these tips to save yourself the headache.
Tossing up between an international act or an Australian? Support local.
Is Alright your favourite Kendrick Lamar song? Fair enough, it’s critically acclaimed as one of the greatest songs ever. But it’s probably not going to make the count. Instead, why not join the King Kunta campaign to get the former #2 the respect it deserves after that 2015 catastrophe? That’s still romantic, right?
Love an artist but don’t know which song to choose? Don’t pick the left-field choice, do your fave justice and plonk in their most popular track, in most cases it’s one of their best too.
Imagine if Magnolia missed that coveted #1 spot because a bunch of Gang of Youths groupies preferred The Heart is a Muscle.
Imagine doing that. You may as well write your own name on the ballot paper. In any case, nobody wins.
The 10-track list leaves room to honour one or two sentimental favourites and thus retain your individuality, but the Hottest 100 of the Decade is not a count for deep cuts.
The tracks played on Saturday 14 March will be grandiose, powerful ballads and emotional wonders; the songs that hit the hearts of giant swathes of the population who each collectively ‘felt that’ when their ears heard what was offered.
As the deadline approaches just remember, it’s okay to be a part of that.
Image by Rachael Sharman