Triple J Hottest 100: Ocean Alley wins Australia's biggest song poll

The Sydney six-piece came in at No 1 and No 100, in a broadcast which featured a strong turnout for women in the top 10

Sydney’s Ocean Alley have won the 2018 Triple J Hottest 100 with Confidence, one of four songs by the band to make it into this year’s countdown – the largest song poll in Australia.

Confidence is the lead single from Chiaroscuro, the second album from the northern beaches six-piece.

Nick Findlay, the music director of Australia’s national youth broadcaster Triple J, described the song as “dripping with a level of sun-drenched soul that’s straight out of a 70s surf flick”, and praised it as “a well-deserved jam to take out the No 1 spot”.

Ocean Alley also came in at No 100 with Happy Sad; at No 16 with their cover of Player’s Baby Come Back; and at No 10 with Knees. The countdown drew more than 2.75m votes in total.

Australian producer Fisher was voted in at No 2 for his electro-house club favourite Losing It, which saw him nominated for a Grammy and an Aria; and two US hip-hop artists came in at No 3 and No 4: Travis Scott for Sicko Mode (featuring Drake), and Childish Gambino for This is America, respectively.

Widely hailed as one of the most important tracks and clips of the year, the racially charged This is America was hotly tipped as a favourite in this year’s countdown – as was I Said Hi by Australia’s Amy Shark, which made it to No 5.

It was the second year in a row the Hottest 100 hasn’t been held on Australia Day, a date it moved to in 2004. Considered a day of mourning by many Australians, tens of thousands of people joined Invasion Day marches around the country on Saturday 26 January, calling for the public holiday – which marks the anniversary of the first fleet’s landing in 1788 – to be abolished, or for its date to be changed.

Triple J decided to move the broadcast to a less divisive date in 2017, following an internal review and a national survey in which 60% of the 65,000 respondents voted in favour of the shift.

Votes for the 2018 countdown were up almost 15% on last year, according to figures from the broadcaster. Five per cent of the votes came from overseas; most voters (29%) came from New South Wales; and 80% of voters were under 30.

Eighteen was the most common age among those who voted, and 65 songs in the countdown came from Australian artists.

Annual reminder that if you don't like what's on the #Hottest100 and you're over 35, that's kind of the point!

— Bill (@Billablog) January 26, 2019

To the middle-aged people who will inevitably whinge about modern music today, it’s worth remembering that Shaggy - Boombastic and Madison Avenue - Dont Call Me Baby made the #hottest100 in the glory days of the 90s @triplej

— Ben Allen (@benallen_9) January 26, 2019

Gender imbalance is a common criticism levelled at the Hottest 100 and the Triple J playlist, and at the Australian music industry more broadly. The broadcaster crunched the numbers last year and found that women were more likely to vote for women artists in the poll. This year, as with last year, more women (53%) voted than men – and it was a strong showing for female solo artists in the top 20 for 2018.

Seventeen-year-old US singer-songwriter Billie Eilish was voted in at No 8 for When the Party’s Over, becoming the youngest solo artist ever to make it to the top 10 (Eilish also had songs at No 46 and No 17). Ruby Fields came in at No 9 with Dinosaurs; Mallrat made it to No 7 with Groceries; and Wafia, an Australian of Iraqi-Syrian origin, was at No 14 with I’m Good.

“Thank you for making this brown girl’s dreams come true,” she said, during the broadcast.

According to Triple J’s statistics, 67 songs in the 2018 Hottest 100 came from male artists and 22 from female; eight songs were by acts including both male and female artists; and three came from artists who identify as non-binary or genderqueer.

Overall in the #Hottest100 we saw 62:38 (all male acts) : (acts with at least one woman, incl fts).

AFAIK, only one track with more than one woman: SanCisco's When I Dream at no. 48.

If I'd been counting acts with at least 50% women, the stats would have looked VERY different.

— Jo Tamar (@jotamarwallaby) January 27, 2019

Baker Boy’s Mr La Di Da Di was the only non-English track to make it into this year’s countdown. The Indigenous artist, a young Australian of the Year recipient, raps in both English and his native Yolngu Matha.

During the broadcast, Triple J raised more than $600,000 for crisis support hotline Lifeline – the first year they partnered with the charity, after three years’ fundraising for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience.

• This article was corrected on 29 January. At 17, Billie Eilish is the youngest solo artist to make it into the top ten, not the youngest artist.


Steph Harmon

The GuardianTramp

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