It’s hard to imagine with the snow hitting the ground outside the window that on the other side of the world the sun is blazing a sizzling 40 degrees. Yet, over in Australia, the rather socialist form of awards system has once again highlighted a plethora of national music which has for one reason or another stayed on the sunny coast away from our eardrums.
For those unaware, The Hottest 100 collaborates the top 10 songs of over 2.7 million people into a conclusive public ranking of the year’s best music showcased in a day-long radio show hosted by Triple J- the music station with a monopoly over the expansive landmass’s radio waves. Previously an integral part of Australia Day has recently moved to the 27th January as a result of revolutionary Change the Date campaigns which fights for the return of Australia, or Invasion, Day to the indigenous populations of the country. With 65% of the Top 100 coming from Australia and the likes of Troye Sivan, Matt Corby and Parcels not making the cut, the Hottest 100 is a gold rush for artists who have evaded many good English musos Spotify-mining glare.
So here is a ten-artist list who can hopefully act as your musical hot water bottle for the seeming never-ending 4 pm sunsets.
Beating Childish Gambino to the top spot, alongside two other songs in the top twenty, this has been the year for independent beach bums, Ocean Alley. Psychedelic reggae rushes through their very bones. Their prize-winning ‘Confidence’ is sunshine in a bass-driven package, which forces you to lie back and slip into the beat of the lapping waves of Northern Sydney.
You may have heard the little Mallrat’s name floating around the airwaves, maybe because she’s supporting Maggie Rogers on three dates of her UK tour this month, but nevertheless, Mallrat, also known as Grace Shaw, is a singer, songwriter and producer who should be on everyone’s radar. Her quintessentially Australian vocals and relaxed romanticism form a dreamlike flight in ‘Groceries’ which charts in at a massive number 7.
Ruby Fields has come a long way since busking on street corners at 13. Now a full-fledged, tinny wielding adult, Fields has harnessed the anxieties of classic punk within an electric guitar. Breaking the top 10 with ‘Dinosaurs’, self-deprecation is the name of the game, as slow guitar breaks into a Nirvada-esque thunder. This not so average chick is a self-aware idol, harnessing her laidback tomboy essence in an indie format far more compelling than the bombardment of repetitive indie boy bands.
With over 2 million followers on Spotify, Wafia Al-Rikabi has almost double the listeners than chart-toppers Ocean Alley, yet, she resides comfortably at number 14. As a global citizen with an Australian accent, Wafia is an Arab and Dutch singer who meshes her heritage wither own brand of glittery, electronic R&B.
Named after a game quickly mentioned in The Simpsons, childhood friends Zach Stephenson and Billy Fleming form a guitar brandishing band whose highly anticipated debut album (Blend Inn) saw them achieve national fame. The climax of such, ‘Join the Club’ is a colossal tune which turns guitars into percussion and adds explosive energy to mediocre days.
Just as the Hottest 100 is an annual occurrence in the Triple J universe, so is the radio station’s national talent hunt through Australia’s high schools. This year’s winner, and closer of the top number 20, KIAN is just 16 and holds to his name a staggering 23 million Spotify listens to debut single ‘Waiting’.
The queen of break up songs, Vera Blue holds a special place in Australia’s music scene as the resident song witch who could rival both Lana Del Ray and Florence and the Machine with a swish of her hair. With an ear for gentle harmonies and electronic beats, she will enchant you at just one listen. Recently touching- down on British shores, Blue has recorded a beautiful acoustic rendition of ‘All The Pretty Girls’ for Mahogany, showing that she is more than an electronic goddess, but also a guitar grasping one.
Often eclipsed to the just the newly-weds Tim Nelson and Sam “Bolan” Netterfield, the four-piece band Cub Sport are Brisbane’s flawless offering of indie pop. It’s hard to neglect the married couple’s importance to queer acceptance in a society who only gained equal marriage rights in 2018- their 2017 ‘O Lord’ was an ode to coming out and challenge to masculine norms. A year later, ‘Sometimes’ has hit number 30, preluding a new evolution of the bands atmospheric pop which can be found in their self-titled album released last week.
From the West coast comes San Cisco, the indie pop divas who somehow manage to trap the heat from Australia’s sunniest city inside their guitars. They’ve been bustling around in the shade for a good while (and have a vast discography of refreshing songs to show for it), yet the recent addition of Jennifer Aslett (the amazing bassist and curator of @dogseatinggently) can only spell an even brighter future.
Baker Boy, an incredible Yolngu rapper from the Northern Territory, fuses the Yolngu Matha language and English with the energy of a nation. 2019 did not see the two-time chart infiltration of 2018, however ‘Mr La Di Da Di’ keeps his revolutionary spirit visible at number 51. One of the humblest musicians around today, Baker Boy is helping bring the Aboriginal peoples of Australia out of the shadows and his positivity is infectious.
Check out the full playlist here:
Header Image Credit Ocean Alley Press