Drunken Speculation

My 20 of the Last 20


Following in the stupefyingly similar footsteps of beer bar band, I also voted in Triple J’s 20 Years Hottest 100, choosing my favourite twenty songs of the last twenty years. By the time this gets published, we should be about halfway through the countdown and I’m likely to have forgotten it was on and missed most of the coverage.

[Turns out I didn’t and the list so far has been satisfactory. A few too many entries from recent years but the 90s are getting a good run too.]

Unlike voting in the 2012 countdown, the last twenty years of music is considerably more familiar ground for me. In fact, it was actually quite a difficult task to narrow it down to just twenty songs. I choose the following simple criteria for determining my votes:

  1. Only one song per year. Either the song had to be in that year’s Hottest 100 or it had to have been released as a single or on an album in that year.
  2. Don’t use the same band twice. I’ve got to share the love around or else it would end up with twenty votes split among Powderfinger, The Killers and Muse.
  3. Songs that are preferably still relevant, although I take a fairly loose attitude to this.

This list was really hard to write about, mostly because I’d run out of superlatives before the millennium, so I ended up cutting a lot of commentary in the interests of brevity:

1993 The Breeders – Cannonball

1994 You Am I – Berlin Chair
Nearly twenty years after that song hit the airwaves, You Am I still kick serious ass. I saw them live at the tailend of last year and Tim Rogers still knows how to bring it to the stage.

1995 Blur – Country House
In the year of Britpop, I probably would’ve voted for Wonderwall, like just about anybody else, except that I’ve spent my whole life correcting people: my name is not “Liam Gallagher”. That guy can suck a dick. Plus Blur is the superior band.

1996 Ash – Girl From Mars

1997 The Living End – Prisoner of Society
I ended owning a copy of the Hottest 100 compilation from this year and there were a number of awesome songs on it – for example, Karma Police, Song 2 and Bittersweet Symphony – but there was always going to be a Living End song on this list and there’s no better place for it to go than with their debut album.

1998 Custard – Girls Like That

1999 Powderfinger – These Days
Powderfinger are easily one of my favourite bands and one of my clearest memories of the Odyssey Number 5 album is when I was 13, putting my feet up on the windowsill and watching the sky change colour as the sun set while listening to it in full.

2000 The Avalanches – Frontier Psychiatrist
I hated this song at the time but I’ve recently come around. Frontier Psychiatrist, and the album Since I Left You, have both held up amazingly well over the last thirteen years. These guys were way ahead of the curve.

2001 Muse – Plug-in Baby
Still an epic riff. Just wanted to point out that I was fan before Muse were really popular, just when they were moderately popular. Unfortuantely, I think they’re on the downswing of their career now.

2002 Sahara Hotnights – Alright, Alright
Swedish babes. Also, their music seems to be at the same level of maturity I am when it’s released, so this was probably more of a teenage-me selection.

2003 Magic Dirt – All My Crushes
I saw Magic Dirt live three times in one summer…pretty sure it was 2004 though.

2004 The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done
While I think Sam’s Town may be the greatest album ever, Hot Fuss was on in the car on the way to school on more than a few occasions and it was huge. Mind you, this was back when it took a lot of effort to pirate music (dial-up, CD burners and WinMX).

2005 Franz Ferdinand – The Fallen
…I would’ve voted for them in ’04 but…Killers… It was either this or the Team America theme song.

2006 The Long Blondes – Giddy Stratospheres
I’m fairly confident this was never played on Triple J, so you can imagine my surprise when it popped up on the autocomplete for the voting form. It’s a tragedy what happened to Dorian Cox but while the band was functional, they put out two pretty amazing albums.

2007 Cold War Kids – Hang Me Up to Dry

2008 Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire
I already hate myself for typing that out. Nonetheless, I did spend my fourth year at university, mostly at the pub and Sex on Fire followed me like the smell of stale beer. One could only embrace the bogan stadium rock – there was no chance of resisting it. While it hasn’t aged gracefully at all, it still totally dominated ’08.

2009 Florence + The Machine – You’ve Got the Love
Kind of wish I’d voted for Death by the White Lies instead. Or I could’ve voted for Undisclosed Desires by Muse and then used 2001 to vote for Something for Kate’s Monsters. Hottest 100 remorse.

2010 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Whenever I hear Arcade Fire songs, always makes me think of Montreal.

2011 The Grates – Turn Me On
This got over the line because I actually remember it from the music video. Made me re-consider the whole Grates thing.

2012 Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine?
In what I felt was a fairly lacklustre year for music, R U Mine? stood out well from the pack for a) being a rock song and b) having an awesome 70s hook.

Well, that was fun. I haven’t actually seen many of those videos before and it’s always nice to walk down memory lane. Also, I just proved to myself that I really have a specific taste in music. My dad was right all along.


  1. Excellent list! (Well…19/20 maybe…but I’ll excuse you for ‘Sex on Fire’…haha)

    ‘Girls Like That’ was actually in my list until the very last moments of finalising my votes. And I would have loved to include ‘Berlin Chair’ too, but went with ‘Good morning’ instead. I’m a big Muse fan too…in at least I have all their albums…and only left off ‘Plug In Baby’ from my votes because I wanted to focus on Australian artists.


    • Sex on Fire was one of the first votes to get locked in. There was simply no way to avoid it. Ugh, I just vomitted a bit in my mouth.

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