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Triple J's Hottest 100 Volume 12

Hello all, and welcome to my in-depth analysis of the alleged hotness of Triple J’s Hottest 100 Volume 12. My judgements will be superficial, subjective and mercifully brief. I will be paying particular attention to lyrics and music. I will be looking especially for those who’ve gathered plenty of secondary sources. I will be listening to these suckers and typing at the same time. I reserve the right to completely miss any irony in lyrics. It’s easy to do. Remember, if these songs aren’t as hot as they’re supposed to be, it’s your fault, because you had the chance to vote for them. Last year. Quite a while back.

Let no one say I don’t have my finger on the pulse of last year’s culture. Anyhow, let’s go! May I point out first that despite the misleading title of the CD, there are only 40 tracks.

The look inside your eyes drives me from control, evoking visions of my favourite casserole.— Greenskeepers

1 | Take Me Out — Franz Ferdinand

The start of a song is often one of the best bits, so Mr Ferdinand pulls a cunning trick and starts the song twice. The second start (and rest of song) is much better than the first bit, luckily. Lots of guitar and a thudding rhythm. The song seems to be about a man with confidence problems trying to pick up at a bar. It feels a bit peculiar when rock stars talk about having trouble picking up. I feel they could do more for mankind by telling us all how they became awesome, rather than about how crap they were beforehand.

2 | Somebody Told Me — The Killers

The Killers is an alright name for a band but coming after the ingeniously titled previous band it’s a bit bland. The song, however, is way cooler. The lead singer has a pretty nifty voice that swings about a lot but stays nicely in tune. This song, like the last one, seems to be about picking up at a bar. This feller is marginally more confident, but is letting rumours about boyfriends that look like women get to him. I’d have thought that’d boost your confidence but I may be missing the point.

An awkward line about “February last year” almost mars a good chorus, but the song is so energetic it can take this dead wood and keep going.

3 | Black Betty — Spiderbait

This song is a cover. I don’t know if the original song sucked quite as hard as this one, but there’s only so many times that I can hear “bam-ba-lam” without going mental. The singing sounds a little doctored to sound like a poor quality recording, which works on some songs. Not this one. The banjo — or whatever foul instrument it is — in the background does nothing for me either. Ugh, it’s back on the “bam-ba-lam”s. NEXT TRACK!

Don’t U Eva wish for just one thing that you might never see?— Sarah Blasko

4 | The Bucket — Kings of Leon

Mr of Leon sounds a bit like Tom Hanks with a speech impediment which isn’t a particularly good start. If the accent is real then I apologise to him. But there’s a nice bit of guitar running through this track and some good drumming too. I have absolutely no idea what they’re singing about, which isn’t such a bad thing, really.

5 | Take Your Mama Out — Scissor Sisters

These sisters sound disturbingly male. In fact, they sound disturbingly like Billy Joel at the start of the song. This seems to be a bit of advice to men who’s girlfriends have left them. It tells them to take their Mum out on the town and stay out late. This doesn’t sound the best course of action to me but I know a feller called Oedipus who’d be up for it. This song may suffer on repeat listenings from a feeling of awkward grossness.

6 | Beautiful to Me — Little Birdy

Finally, someone on this album has found love and seems to be managing to keep it. From the title I expected this song to be sickeningly sweet but there’s something about Little Birdy’s voice — if that really is her name — which sells it to me. Even if a lot of female singers are singing in a similar style these days. I’m not sick of it yet. Very nice, this one.

7 | Adelaide — Ben Folds

In this song, Ben explains to us why he wants to live in Adelaide. He spends a whole song on it and still doesn’t quite convince me. Still, this is without a doubt the best song about Adelaide that I’ve ever heard. “The air is clear [and] there’s better beer” than in the USA, apparently, but then that’s true for pretty much everywhere in Australia. This isn’t fantastic but it’s about average for Mr Folds. It ends with him relentlessly playing the low keys on the piano, which sounds pretty crummy to me, but if you like pianos a lot that might appeal.

8 | Little Yellow Spider — Devendra Banhart

One verse per animal/planetary body, 11 animals/planetary bodies. This can get a bit draining. It gets a bit gross in places. There’s a sexy pig at one point who I thought must be Miss Piggy but she marries a man so it can’t be, Piggy wouldn’t settle for anything less than Kermit. Towards the end Devendra decides to describe the movement of a squid and makes me feel all ikky for the rest of the song. Cute but irritating.

9 | From the Sea — Eskimo Joe

A really nice opening leads into a great song. I have one caveat in that elements of the melody remind me of something I heard somewhere else — but I might be imagining it so I give this song the benefit of the doubt. The song bounces between loud and quiet nicely and has an awesome chorus. This is another song who’s meaning is obscure but it has some great lines, in particular “The world repeats itself somehow” which makes me think of an amalgam of all the best bits of every Groundhog Day-esque story I’ve ever heard or seen.

10 | Fit But You Know It — The Streets

Mr the Streets has an amusing-sounding British accent but this song doesn’t quite sustain four minutes. I’m not a big one on speaking during songs and this song is a major offender. This is yet another story of a guy trying / not trying to pick up, but this one says he’s got a girlfriend so he doesn’t have all my sympathy. The beat underneath starts to grate after only one minute and Mr the Streets keeps talking annoyingly and… ugh.

At the end, there’s less talking and more singing and it makes me long for the talking again.

11 | Float On — Modest Mouse

A cute little guitar riff introduces the Modest Mouse, who’s voice, unsurprisingly, squeaks a bit at times. Mouse’s style is pretty loose, and the backing vocals are deliberately a bit spread out and messy sounding, which works for the song pretty well. The song lists two reasonably bad things that happen to this guy, who’s response is that he’ll float on alright. I’m reluctant to advocate such a life philosophy, you might end up a doormat. Or a mouse.

12 | Somersault — Decoder Ring

A haunting, Sarah McLachlan-ish song. The chorus is particularly nice, with the Ring holding long notes over a simple repeated set of chords. Finding the lyrics for this song was tricky but I got them in the end. It’s basically one of those ones where a lover is telling her other that he/she’ll always stay in her heart. Which is a bit cliched, but there’s some other nice lines like “I see your breath hanging here like snow clouds”.

13 | Something’s Gotta Give — John Butler Trio

I’m not big into country-style music, so I’ve got to take this into account. But I especially get irritated by country music that tries to make political comments. No, wait, that’s not really true. I wouldn’t mind if this song had a metaphor, or an emotion, or something separating the song from what it was saying. But instead “Something’s Gotta Give” has lines like: “Got the whole world fighting for Texas T” and

God bless the people in New York when they were attacked
God bless the children being bombed there in Iraq
God bless the goddamn junkie with a monkey on his back

It lacks a lot of subtlety. It’s also a pretty overtly Christian song — after all that crap it appears to tell us all to “pay attention to God above” which is very sensible advice for a world torn apart by religious extremism.

14 | Chicken Payback — The Bees

This track has the best start of anything yet on the album. Then it slips into an old-stylee song that reminds me of that one about the guy in the bath when there was a party goin’ on. But better. It comes complete with a crowd to call out selected phrases back to the band, and sounds all tinny as if it were recorded back then. Lyrics-wise it’s another “list-the-animals” song, a category which has unexpected predominance. It keeps telling you to pay various farm animals back. If you’ve been playing poker at Old MacDonald’s place, this is probably sensible.

15 | Coin Operated Boy — The Dresden Dolls

A song about a girl and her quest for a sexbot. If a guy sang this it’d probably sound rather sleazy but from a girl’s lips it doesn’t sound quite as creepy, which seems unfair. I’m a bit uncomfortable at the suggestion that she destroyed all her previous, real, boys. But it’s not a bad idea for a song. The track has a relentless beat that gets annoying very quickly. As if to alleviate this problem it slips into a long bridge which is relieving at first but then mananges to get irritating as well. A Frying Pan to Fire kind of situation. The best bit is when we get the sound effects of making the eponymous Coin Operated Boy. The worst bits are at the start. It all falls apart a bit at the end which is nicer.

16 | Dirty Hearts — Dallas Crane

Dallas must be Frasier’s other brother. This idea made the song a lot more interesting than it initially was. Dallas sings like a slightly worse version of Jimmy Barnes, and Jimmy was pretty bad to begin with. The song concerns a sad girl who is comforted by the singer, who reckons she’s got a dirty heart. Or something. So he sings her a song. If it’s this one, I don’t think it helped.

17 | Gamble Everything for Love — Ben Lee

I heard this a lot on the radio at the time, but luckily just avoided that saturation point where I got sick of it. It’s a nice little ditty with a cute guitar strumming along underneath it and Lee’s soft voice crooning with little variation in volume. The title sums up the song well, it’s just Lee explaining the concept of Gambling Everything for Love in various different ways. The final verse is particularly good: “Tell me, are you gettin’ hurt, is it worth it?”

18 | Lotion — Greenskeepers

I love this song. I’m not entirely sure why but it endeared it to me when I first heard it and I haven’t been able to shake it. It’s got cute little 80s synth cords, it has clapping, and the lead Greenskeeper has an awesome, loopy-sounding voice. But the best bit of this song are the lyrics. Let me give you a sample.

The look inside your eyes drives me from control
Evoking visions of my favourite casserole.
And if I eat your heart
I’ll also bite your soul
And when I’m done with that
I’ll use your skull as a bowl.

It seems to be the song of a psychotic murderer in the same idiom as Patrick Bateman. But funnier. And he keeps dropping Gollum-esque “precious”es everywhere which is extra cool.

19 | She Wants to Move — N*E*R*D

This song is about some guy trying to pick up again, but this time the girl has a boy with her. The song tries to describe how damn sexy the girl is, and doesn’t do such a bad job: “She makes me think of lightning in skies,” “She wants to move,” “She hopes this’ll last forever”. Unfortunately, the backing vocals keep blurting out “She’s SEXY!” which seems rather like having a repeated line in ‘Vincent’ saying “He’s a BEAUTIFULMUSICALGENIUS!” Er yes. That was the point of your song. If you didn’t get it across with your sexy Santana-ish guitar and your latin beat and your lyrics involving asses and eyes and lightning, then yelling it at us won’t help.

This track would be ten times better without that issue, but even then it would still have “Your ass is a spaceship I want to ride in” coupled with a cheesy space-wooshing effect. Perhaps it’s a parody? Hey, that’s it, it’s a parody. Got to be.

20 | Hard Act to Follow — Grinspoon

This one has super-bland verses, but quite a good chorus. The Grinspoon Singers aren’t too bad. Um. I’m stuck for things to say. I think it’s about a guy who leaves a girl because her previous boyfriend was better than him. Or something. I suspect I’ve missed the point though, there’s a few pills floating through the lyrics that might replace any or all of the people in my summary.

21 | Scar — Missy Higgins

We’ve probably all heard this one. Ah, poor Missy. She wants people to cut on her. Ah, no, that’s not right. Actually, looking at the lyrics, this song’s a lot more interesting than I thought it was. It speaks to a common issue — we’ve all had that problem when you can’t get your blocks to fit in the wrong holes. But with people instead of blocks and complicated life roles as holes. Or something. The track’s put together simply, and it works very nicely — the focus is rightly on Higgins’ excellent voice.

22 | Drop the Pressure — Mylo

Ah, some dance music. I always enjoy it when this sort of stuff starts off with one element and then adds a new one every four bars or so. This track does that sort of thing in a way, though occasionally it drops bits as well which is a bit disappointing. And then the words come in, which I will quote in full because it’s easy:

Motherfucker’s gonna drop the pressure.

This is also disappointing, because I heard it wrong when listening to it and thought it was “Motherfucker’s gonna talk under pressure” which made me think of a bunch of cops interrogating some scummy crook. And then I thought, that doesn’t sound like a dance video clip, so all the cops became hot women in poorly-fitting outfits and started cavorting in front of the slightly cleaner crook, bending over in suggestive ways. Which seemed to fit quite nicely. Ahem. Anyhow.

23 | C’mon C’mon — The Von Bondies

This isn’t, as you might have expected, a song about Lleyton Hewitt. It’s actually a catchy rock anthem. You know how some songs have an awesome chorus and the verses just feel like filler? This song seems to have tried to bypass that by being almost all chorus. There are verse-like things but most of the time they sound like the chorus. Good fun, this one, short and to the point. Incidentally, it seems to be a song about nostalgia, but it’s hard to tell. Maybe a war? Vietnam? Nah, I’m lost.

24 | Walk Idiot Walk — The Hives

What a nice name for a band. Mr the Hives has a raspy crazy voice and he and his friends remind me a bit of AC/DC. This may however just be because I don’t know much about AC/DC. It seems to be a tirade against those useless bloody robots that people make in Japan that we see at the end of the news sometimes — though I might be mistaken again. I think I’m losing my edge. Those robots deserve it, though. Ooooh, can you play the trumpet, Mr Robot? Good for you! We worked out how to do that years ago. Go sit down and process boring sums, that’s what you’re good for. Where was I? Ah yes, quite a good song but a bit bland and possibly irritating later.

25 | Don’t U Eva — Sarah Blasko

I want to hate a song who’s title is so badly spelled. But this is one of my favourites. Blasko’s singing is good (although I mistook her for Higgins at first), and the lyrics are awesome. The song’s addressing some boring person who likes to have their reality pinned down, sorted out, neatly placed, and she’s asking him if he can see that there might be some interesting things out there that defy this process. I hope. I’m all nervous now. Let’s have some lyrics before we move on:

You’d raise the door just so you could find the key

Don’t U Eva wish for just one thing that you might never see?

26 | Mass Destruction — Faithless

I’m really in favour of songs that take some of the crazy modern language that slips into our minds these days and analyses it. This one takes aim at “mass destruction” and tries to show the root of the destruction we see, rather than the actual tools. It manages a good deal more subtlety than the John Butler Trio: most of the time it suggests rather than comes out and says things. For example, though it namechecks Halliburton, it phrases it thusly:

Whether Halliburton, Enron or anyone
Greed is a weapon of mass destruction

It also has a nice little personal story running through it which grounds it nicely and stops it being too trite.

27 | Common People — William Shatner and Joe Jackson

William Shatner has an awesome voice. That can’t be disputed. He delivers the lines in this song brilliantly, and luckily, Joe Jackson jumps in to sing. It’s a good cover — better than the original to my mind. It’s the story of an irritating rich snobby girl that Bill meets at College, who wants to live with and screw common people like Bill. I don’t know if he actually gets any though, he seems to take her to the supermarket instead. Silly Billy. The point of the song is that you can’t leave your class/past/social status behind and just become something else because you want to. Probably true.

28 | Woman — Wolfmother

A little bit of Led Zepplin-sounding stuff here. With his voice faded a little in the background, the (oddly, male) Wolfmother calls out to a woman while complaining that he has to set her free all the time. It sounds like it might have been inspired by the Legend of Zelda video games. The woman is clearly Zelda and Link is warning the players to listen to him. Yes, that makes sense. Lots of psychadelic organs and heavy bass playing accompany the tragic tale of this man in his green tunic. I especially like the line “She’s a woman, you know what I mean.” Yes, yes I do. Go on.

29 | 10 A.M. Automatic — The Black Keys

First of all, what a stupid idea for a colour of keys. You’d never be able to find them in the dark. How bloody useless. Moving on, this track is a little dull but not actually annoying. Mr Keys has one of those quite interesting raw sounding voices but he comes across like a bit of a bastard, telling someone that they’ve turned deranged and they’ve got pain, and such, so he’s leaving them. At least he’s not trying to pick anyone up, I’m getting sick of that. There’s a pretty awesome guitar solo at the end that makes the whole thing kind of worth listening to.

30 | Godhopping — Dogs Die In Hot Cars

Awesome name for a band. Eighties sound. Very quick and bouncy which makes it even harder to work out what they’re on about, but sounds pretty good. It seems to be about a bunch of people on the way to Bombay. No, that can’t be it. Ah, the clue’s in the title. It’s about people switching Gods so they can be certain of things again, after things didn’t work out with the previous God. Hmmm. OK, that might not be right either. Well, I’ll give you a lyric and move on, I’m out of time.

I’ve learnt that indecision only brings no joy
So much joy to a fickle little world

31 | Not Many [Remix] — Scribe, featuring Savage of Decepticonz & Con Psy of Frontline

Phwoar. What a complicated bunch of people. I’m inclined to like a group that includes “Decepticon” in it’s name but from what I can work out, only Savage is here from that group. Was Savage an actual Decepticon? He must have been, surely, it’s a good name. Perhaps he was one of the Insecticons? Hmmmm.

This is the only remix I’ve ever heard which starts with someone calling out “This is the Remix!” That’s really useful. Rappers talk so fast it’s hard to process everything, especially when I’ve spent a minute waffling about Transformers. There’s lots of introductions, a lot of crowing about being better than everyone else, something about crayons, something about pharmacists, something about celebrating. For rap it seems quite good. I quite like the chorus in an irritating rap-ish kind of way.

32 | Yo Mama — BuTTER Fingers

Oh dear. This song is an extended “Yo Mama” call, suprisingly enough. The chorus is reasonably amusing: “Yo mama’s on the top of my things to do list”, and a bridge in the middle expands on this nicely. The rest of it gets a shade ruder — this kind of stuff is barely palatable when it isn’t about mothers. “She licked my colon cleaner than a clyster” is a good example. But then, I suppose it does what it says on the tin. I can’t really complain. I can not listen to it again though.

33 | Paco Doesn’t Love Me — Spazzys

This song seems to be waiting for a Teen Movie to run as the second song on the credits for. It’s pretty awful. Paco’s an Italian drummer, you see. And Miss Spazzys has a “killer crush” on him.

He hits the skins as fast as Marky
I wish he’d hit my skin that quickly

Um, yes. Imaginatively, she tells him “I wanna hold your hand”. The music is relentless, the singing is bog-standard, and the whole things sounds like an ever crappier version of “Hey Mickey”. Yeah, it’s that bad. NEXT PLEASE!

34 | Slow Hands — Interpol

Mr Pol has a reasonably good voice, and the playing is quite nice, it’s just a bit dull. I’m always in favour of big words in songs and this one does well with “dissipate”, “myriad” and “incentive”. The song could have been good with a solid chorus but even that’s a little dull. The song is about a Spy with slow hands who’s for hire but everyone’s got too many weights around them, so he’s forced to pole dance with stars and go crazy in a violet place.

Nah, you got me, I’ve got no clue.

35 | This Old Love — Liar

Ah, how nice. A soft, slow, sweet song. I haven’t been able to find the lyrics online so it might be about axe murderers but it doesn’t sound like it. I’m pretty sure it’s about a guy and his love and how they’ve been together so long and things aren’t gonna screw up and they’re happy sometimes and sad other times but he doesn’t have to worry. Yeah, definitely not axe-murderers, I feel that pretty strongly now. Nice strings in the background and Mr Liar has a bit of a Simon/Garfunkelish voice. Which one of those folk sang? Ah well, too late now, next track.

36 | It’s Too Late — Evermore

Awesome opening, with short little twinkles and quick guitar chords, building up to the singing. Mr More’s singing is pretty good, a very relaxed near-broken style. It’s about a lazy bugger trying to hide from the world, I think, which appeals to me greatly. The chorus is particularly cool:

Ride on
Ride till early morning sun
Ride on
Like the dawning of the day
Its too late
To let all your feelings show
Go on
Till the night has crept away

It’s like a how-to avoid doing anything with your life. Super-useful. Great song.

37 | Sleepy Little Deathtoll Town — The Panda Band

These pandas1 are suprisingly good at manipulating our human instruments. This feels like a song from an unmade rock musical, and I mean that in a good way. There’s an awesome middle eight as well. My favourite bit is the clarinet that keeps twisting though the song. This is one that I can’t find the lyrics for as well, but it’s basically about some crummy town, where there are straight, wide streets, bells in towers, and priests, and sailors running around trying to pick up. Probably. Ah, it’s good, anyhow. The lead Panda singer has a lot of character in his voice, which I like.

38 | Push Up — Freestylers

It starts like an old Michael Jackson song. And it kind of continues like one. I’m sure that’s good if you like that sort of thing. I’m glad to get back to the songs about guys picking up, and somewhat more satisfyingly, this time it seems he actually does. And then keeps talking about it for aaaaaages. In case you’re wondering what the title means, it’s Push Up as in “push up your body next to mine”, “push up and shake that ass” or “push up I love when you feel like getting nasty”. Oh, go and get a room for heaven’s sake.

39 | My Friend Robot — Regurgitator

Regurgitator are still around? I thought they were dead! And here’s our second song about robots which is unexpected. This is the soulful story of a man and his Robot friend, and how good the robot is, and how he’s a computer, and how he can’t kiss people, and how he never sleeps or lies. There’s some daggy swirly noises to remind us that the song’s about robots, in case we forgot. The Regurgitator sings reasonably well but the song is somewhat monotonous and can grate if you’re 39 songs into a huge album review and just want to get to the end and finish for the love of god. But it’s probably OK if you’re not.

40 | Memory Lane — Elliott Smith

Really nice guitar playing, a cute melody and great lyrics. The song sketches a picture of ‘Memory Lane’, where the mayor’s name is fear, and his voice rings out from an advancing mountain of cliche. The song would appear to be about isolation and retreating into the past, or something of that ilk, and Mr Smith sings it with a light touch that suits nicely. A good song to finish on.


Analysis

Hah! I intended to write something at the end to extrapolate onto the presiding mood of 2004 and the themes running through popular culture and such, but this thing is FAR TOO DAMN LONG already and also, I can’t be stuffed. So let me simply point out that the man with the Robot forgot to make his into a sexbot, whereas the woman with the coin operated boy sounds much cleverer on that front. And that lots of blokes want to pick up and not many do. And that listing a bunch of animals is a convenient backbone for a song if you’re stuck for ideas. I hope you enjoyed this but in all truth I’m pretty sure no one got to the end.2

  1. Only now do you poor fools realise the significance of the big picture at the top.
  2. Phwoar. Longest Grapefruit Review Ever. Until some loser comes along and breaks yet another of my records.
5 comments posted — most recent by Tom on 22/10/06