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Isabella Ross | February 22, 2022

It’s 6pm on Hottest 100 Day. I walk through the back door of the restaurant I work at, forgetting the back-to-school rush of holidaymakers securing their fix of homemade pasta. Morgan, our bartender, desperately tries to keep up a Spotify queue of the countdown while I battle entitled customers. Pandemonium ensues, and all we want to do is go back to her place for our own listening party. Over the crashes and clatter of cutlery and vibrant conversation, the triple j website reaches the pointy end of the countdown and freezes on Spacey Jane’s ‘Lots of Nothing’ for 15 minutes, completely skipping #2 and the shock of seeing #1. 

In the couple of weeks since the countdown, my thoughts on the number one spot have ebbed and flowed, often conflicting each other. 

Perhaps in your house “should have been higher” was a blasphemous refrain on the day. But now we have let our opinions marinate—and it’s time to put them on blast.

Coming in at #101 with ‘Time I Love to Waste’, I can’t help but feel that my absolute girl crush of an artist MAY-A should have been higher. Anyone who knows me or has read my work on Fodder before knows that I love MAY-A, and that dancing around my bedroom in the endless lockdowns to her debut EP Don’t Kiss Ur Friends will forever remind me of 2021. 

There’s some part of The Wiggles winning that feels special, like Australia came together with a collective childhood memory in a time where nothing else felt stable. 

The sweet sound of Angeline Armstrong blessed my ears at #91. It reminded me of Telenova’s phenomenal debut as a Melbourne-based trio in the midst of 2020, gracing us with a silver lining to our lockdowns with their cinematic acoustics and an ethereal atmosphere. 

Next to a song like this, The Wiggles’ take on ‘Elephant’ just doesn’t sit right. The contrast between our childhood nostalgia and Telenova’s incredible ability to create tangible atmospheres is jarring, making the playful nature of The Wiggles feel out of place. 

Just a few spots down the line I am reminded of my first listen to the band Jungle. Played from an Airbnb host’s vinyl collection in quite possibly my favourite accommodation ever, ‘Keep Moving’ certainly kept me moving and grooving throughout my 2021 café job. 

Delivered to us on a silver platter in the middle of a long and grey winter, Solar Power felt like a beautiful warm hug from my absolute queen, Lorde. I wondered how I could possibly make space in my heart for her newer artwork as I drove to work with Melodrama all but stuck in my car’s CD player, holding an unrivalled royalty in the slot. #62 for ‘Mood Ring’ is a spot I feel no affiliation with, as I am just happy she made it in (three times!). 

Dancing around my kitchen, singing with my favourite person and tapping away on the steering wheel, The Rions’ ‘Night Light’ has been stuck in my head since my first listen. What an incredible effort reaching #51! As Unearthed High winners of the same year, I am keen to see how the catchy sound of these boys blossoms. 

Still undecided if I love or hate Like a Version winning, my friends and I cannot decide if they belong or not in the countdown—ruminating on the variables of creativity and lacking nuanced opinions, we run in undecided circles. 

A permeating love of pink has consumed my entire life, and yet still not to the capacity of Peach PRC. I remember singing 15 second snippets of ‘Josh’ as they were stuck in my head from the endless TikTok doom scroll. Pushing the boundaries of a conventional music career, Peach has shown us the value of creativity accelerating her career trajectory in an unconventional way, releasing music that even my dad loves to sing when triple j gives it a spin. 

After Morgan and I had packed up the restaurant—long after ‘Fruit Salad, Yummy Yummy!’ appeared as a brief soundtrack to our guests’ Italian dinner—we made our way to Morgan’s house to drink homemade cocktails under the starlight, listening to the top 20 with a little more attention and a lot less frazzle. To be honest, my focus was more on the conversation and was caught up on details I will probably never remember. But that’s what I love about music; the way it brings us together. Whether we all know the songs or not, there is endless opportunity to learn more about the artists and about ourselves. 

Weeks later I am still unsure of how I feel; there were so many great songs that deserved the top spot. How must Spacey Jane feel making it to the podium two years in a row, only to be outvoted by fans of The Wiggles? Was it the golden combo of nostalgia from our childhoods and the overwhelming love of Kevin Parker? Perhaps these questions will continue to bubble away in our brains until the Saturday before invasion day 2023. It’ll be sure to inspire another essay full of unsolicited opinions, fuelled by the flow of cocktail specials.

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Isabella Ross

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