One of Australia's most popular radio stations is Triple J. Every year they hold the "hottest 100", in which people vote for their favourite songs from the year prior and on Australia Day (January 26) they countdown the entire 100-strong countdown. It's become an institution and is the world's biggest countdown (800,000 votes last year) and to celebrate the 20th anniversary Triple J are doing their second "Best Ever" Hot 100.
Of course, this being voted on by the Australian public means it will be filled with shit like Powderfinger, Eskimo Joe, The Living End and any number of pub rock and identikit rockers. Say what you will about pop stars being manufactured, but I'd rather take them than yet another Aussie rock outfit. The list will probably also be incredibly current. I shudder to think that the very first Hottest 100 winner, Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart", won't even rate a mention. Frightening prospect, that.
I am fully aware that all but one or two of the songs I have voted for will make the countdown as they lean far too much onto the side of pop. That the 40,000 strong list of songs that people have already voted for did not include the Cocteau Twins' "Heaven or Las Vegas" is both disturbing, depressing and tragically comical. Nevertheless, here are the ten songs I voted for. I don't actually consider them the "ten best of all time" - although several of them would be - but I decided to choose some songs that scream "DEFINITIVE" and "ALL TIME" and are more likely to get votes from others as opposed to more esoteric or overly pop tracks.
(in alphabetical order)
Cocteau Twins, "Heaven or Las Vegas" (1990, Heaven or Las Vegas)
I go to another world when I listen to this song. Dream pop is one of my favourite genres and there is no better example of it than "Heaven or Las Vegas". The chorus simply soars and Elizabeth Fraser sounds like some beautiful, incandescent (and indecipherable) goddess.
Curve, "Horror Head" (1991, Doppelgänger)
Alt rock extraordinaires that almost nobody knows about! This group from the early '90s are truly amazing and "Horror Head" is them at their very best. You could do worse to wash away the stink of modern day rock than giving this two piece are go. It's elegant rock pop in the style of alt rock from the early '90s filled with grimy guitar work and breathy vocals. Female voices in rock = superior to Bernard Fanning.
Hole, "Miss World" (1994, Live Through This)
Well, I could have chosen any number of Hole songs since they are, after all, the best band of the 1990s, but I went with "Miss World" off of Live Through This as it's probably their most recognisable (outside of "Celebrity Skin", but there are better tracks off of that 1998 album) and well-known by the sort of people who hate women in rock, and even they can admit this song is classic.
INXS, "Don't Change" (1982, Shabooh Shoobah)
Okay, so perhaps it is a little un-Australian to not have anything Aussie on here and if I'm gonna put any Australian rock band on here it's going to be INXS and it's going to be for "Don't Change" off of Shabooh Shoobah. It's those opening synths followed by those epic guitars that makes this song as flat out classic and brilliant as it is, but then adding Michael Hutchence's beautiful singing on top (especially the wailing in the final 30 seconds)? Fuckin' ace!
Kate Bush, "Wuthering Heights"
Has there ever been a voice like Kate Bush? Probably not. Her first single - she was the first female solo artist to go to #1 with her first single, btw - is still my favourite, although - let's be honest - there is an endless supply of songs that could have taken its place.
Madonna, "Vogue" (1990, I'm Breathless)
I originally wasn't going to put it on, but I figured I had already excised some brilliant pop tracks and this is my favourite song of all time so I thought I would give myself some leway. It really is the perfect pop song though, isn't it? Catchy tune, easily memorable lyrics, dancable and instantly iconic.
Massive Attack, "Unfinished Sympathy" (1991, Blue Lines)
The song that I constantly to-and-fro over as to what just is my favourite song of all time and i would probably say it is if you asked me tomorrow. "Unfinished Sympathy" is a captivating epic and the musical equivalent of a Shakespearean tragedy. Anybody who doesn't claim it as a favourite simply has never heard it. Still disappointing that The Verve get all the credit for their "Bittersweet Symphony" video clip when it was, quite obviously, stolen from Massive Attack.
Nirvana, "Come As You Are" (1991, Nevermind)
It was between this or "About a Girl" and the opening bass of "Come As You Are" won out. Truly earth-shattering and absolutely has to be turned up loud. It's tracks like this that make me understand head-banging.
Prince, "Purple Rain" (1984, Purple Rain)
If you don't know why I voted for this song then you need to go out, listen to the album, and then come back. If you can't figure it out then I don't know what to do with you, honestly.
Queen Latifah, "Just Another Day..." (1993, Black Reign)
I had to add this song to the database. Hip-hop music from the era of this track (you know, when hip-hop was good) didn't cross over and much as it should have. "Just Another Day..." is, by my account, the best hip-hop song of all time, so while I know it would never even made the Hot 1000, I felt like I had to give it a vote.
Now you go and VOTE too! Just don't ask me to confirm this list tomorrow and as it would most certainly change. It's just how it is.