If Taylor Swift places Number 1 in the Hottest 100 – I will eat a hat. Any hat you care to name I will consume it. There is absolutely no way that will happen. I’d bet a nudie run on it. In fact I am.
However, “Shake it Off” appearing in the countdown will be one of the best things to happen to Triple J and its audiences and everybody should be hoping it happens. Let me explain….
A lot has been made lately about Taylor Swift’s potential entry in Hottest 100. This is the largest democratically voted countdown that is traditionally broadcast on Australia Day to barbecues and pool parties all around the country. Because it is audience voted- what if the fan-base of one of the world’s biggest singers invaded the popularity contest and caused the unthinkable to happen.
Disaster! And so, the questions have been rolling in-
“Will she earn enough votes to get into the Hottest 100?”
“If she does, should Triple J ever play Taylor Swift?”
“How could the sanctity of the Hottest 100 be allowed to be violated by her?”
“Does *insert corporation here* being involved invalidate her entry?”
Some people argue the divinity of the countdown – “you have everything else, please let real music have this”.
Some argue the inevitable commercial crossover of previous Hottest 100 hits – Kings of Leon, Macklemore and Mumford and Sons all spring to mind.
But everybody agrees that letting the pop princess place anywhere in the one hundred greatest songs of the last year is taking things to a whole new level entirely.
Now, full disclosure, I worked for 8 years in the hulking commercial beast that is Nova and loved and hated different parts of the playlist like anyone would. I too grew up listening to Adam and Wil in the morning and Merrick and Rosso in the afternoon so Triple J holds a very special place in forming my love of radio. In short, I adore Triple J. I have a lot of good friends who work and have worked very hard there.
In the scheme of the radio industry, Triple J holds a very important place. It is a government broadcaster and is therefore not held to the ratings success of their “evil” commercial brothers and sisters. There is a reason Taylor Swift is played every 30 minutes on a different station- because, by a pure numbers game, people want to hear it. With the odd exception of Perth, commercial stations have to and want to out-rate Triple J. If Triple J was rating number one everywhere – you better believe Short, Fast, Loud would start appearing on night time radio across the country. But, it doesn’t. It is less listened to than most radio stations, and most would agree “maybe that’s a good thing”. I certainly do – where else will an Australian band get some airplay if it wasn’t for Triple J. 2Day doesn’t have time to break the next Powderfinger when Pitbull is racing up the charts. So yeah, thank fuck for the J’s.
I think of all the many and great things that have come from that stations glorious 40 year history and I wouldn’t dare see it hurt.
Taylor Swift placing in the Hottest 100 does not hurt Triple J at all. If the jangly pop drum beat eminates from the speakers (I predict somewhere between Number 10 and Number 20) it will be a big win for the station and another great moment in its history. Let me explain why…
I have never seen so much chatter about the Hottest 100 in all my experienced years of the countdown. Even the fucking travesty of “Get Lucky” not appearing at #1 (one of the greatest songs of the last 25 years) which garnered some irate attention does not even come close to the amount of newspapers/blogs/Facebook posts that this controversy is attracting. Also, you’ve got to hand it to James Keogh – his ukelele number wasn’t that bad. Now EVERYBODY is talking about the Hottest 100- its role in music history, the responsibility and position of Triple J as a broadcaster and the “will they, won’t they” intrigue to rival a Big Brother promo. And mark my words, everybody will be listening on January 26 to see if and where that song places.
Triple J being listened to by millions for many hours on end – what a dream! Finding a new audience to discover and maybe even love the world’s best radio station – superb! Showing the relevance of Triple J to create a movement in an increasingly digital age – amazing! Don’t forget there are 99 other songs that this new audience will hear, probably for the first time. If I’m a little known Newcastle band placing at number 82 – I’d love to think that a lot of people are hearing my song because I was lucky and skilful enough to have it appear in this countdown.
For only 3 and a half minutes of air time given to a pop song – Triple J just won big. At worst it’s payback for all the times Triple J have attempted to prank the pop-tastic ARIA charts, at best it’s as harmless as the time Adam & Wil garnered enough support to get Salmon Hater in at Number 26. No matter what though, everybody got fired up about a little radio station. Triple J just proved how important it is to our culture and national identity.
So what would I do if I was running Triple J?
First of all, I’d do exactly what they’re doing right now. No comment. The only way to really know the answer is to listen to the countdown.
Second of all, Triple J has some of the brightest, funniest and most talented young announcers and shows I’ve ever heard. Let them talk, poke fun and laugh about the circumstance. It’s what the station has always done best and people will laugh at their jokes because the whole situation is hilariously absurd.
Third, play the song when it appears. Laugh, joke, even interrupt it. Fuck it, summon the best musicians to cover different parts of the song, assemble it in a montage and talk about how amazing Australian music is. Ask Taylor Swift to rap a verse in the middle about how great Triple J is. She’s pretty funny actually, she might do it.
Who does this hurt? Nobody, everybody wins! Oh, except maybe the person or people who place at Number 101 in the countdown. I guess they lose. So play their song right after Taylor Swift, apologise to them and make them the hero of the day. Everybody will remember their moment in history too- the day where a pop star entered the greatest countdown the country has ever known.
Matt can be found on Twitter.
He is currently the Head of Content at Omny Personal Radio.
*clap* *clap* *clap*
That was for Canberra. My good friend Luke took nearly all weekend to tell me about Skywhale. What were you waiting for Luke? This is the kind of thing I need to know about IMMEDIATELY!
In case you missed it, Skywhale is an enormous hot-air balloon shaped like a whale with giant tits. Norks. Nipples. Funbags.
The original $150,000-ish price tag has since ballooned (ha!) to in excess of $300,000. If I wanted to go on a balloon adventure on that kind of budget I would recreate a live action version of Up. Still, Canberra’s defending it and so will I, by pointing out the other bad public art all around Australia. This, my friends, is a collection of the worst of the worse.
(Side note: I am not an art expert/critic/boffin. In pottery class I made my mum a gaudy gold-painted pig. Heck, I can’t even get a Magic Eye to work. To me they are a trick everyone pretends to be able to see. A la “The Emperor’s New 3D Dolphin.” So I’m sure there’s something “I’m not getting”. I’m just choosing to be ignorant for the sake of comedy.)
New South Wales
This piece in Manly by Loui Fraser entitled “Crawl” is terrifying. It’s meant to be “inspired by the artist’s fond childhood memories of swimming at Manly”. But this Han-Solo-In-Carbonite nightmare statue has given me no reason to believe that there is not some paralysed mid-freestlying body still screaming inside. Whereas Michaelangelo famously removed everything “that wasn’t David”, Loui seems to have taken away everything that was oxygen.
This black and white squiggly line is called “Arch” and it’s by Lorenna Grant. I figure she put the actual drawing of her sculpture down on the table for a minute, and turned around to see her 7 year old graffiti something that she thought was “actually pretty good!” If I picked up a Pictionary card that said “shit lightning”, we would arrive at pretty much the same thing.
I’ve never been to Brisbane. But my girlfriends from there, so when I texted her and asked “what’s an example of bad public art in Brisbane?” She replied “there’s a giant sculpture that looks like a Penis in West End!”
And whaddayaknow! There is!
Oh gosh! Will I go with the pigs in Rundle Mall? The letters that spell out “The Forest of Dreams” in four corners of a small park? The only thing I hoped for in that forest was to avoid receiving a handjob from a homeless man after 9pm.
But you just can’t go passed the classic.
I don’t even know their real “art name”. I just know them by the colloquial “malls balls”. And yes, I have lived in Adelaide so I know the joy of walking down the Rundle Street Mall and seeing their glistening stainless steel curves poke up at you in the horizon. But let’s be honest: they’re pretty crap. It’s like the artist drew the number 8 on a blank piece of paper and said “so where do I pick up my cheque?”
Adelaide loves them though! Once they took the sculpture away for cleaning and forgot to give forewarning. There was an outcry! That’s why you should always announce when you need to polish your balls. ZING!
NONE! Melbourne just does Art so perfectly. There’s absolutely nothing to fault about our glorious graffiti sprayed laneways, or lanky copper business men, or Federation Square.
Just kidding. This giant purse is a bit fruity.
You’re all right Canberra.
My mum called me on the phone in tears today. There had been no family tragedy, no evidence of infidelity or no overly emotional episode of “Packed to the Rafters”. My mum is just feeling fragile because the unthinkable has happened to the endearingly overprotective parent. The final little birdy has flown the nest. That’s right, my little brother Peter has begun his “it will take 6 months but I’ll have the photos rotating on my desktop background for 6 years” trip of his lifetime. From what I’ve gathered, his itinerary will be half a year of tomato throwing, contiki tours and battling his strong resolve not to cheat on his girlfriend.
Faced with an empty four-bedroom home for the first time in 21 years, my mum turned the waterworks on. I have become used to seeing my mother cry. I’ve witnessed her salty tears mix with the detergent as she moaned nobody was helping her clean bottles for our annual “make enough tomato sauce for the whole year” event. This yearly obligation was Nonna’s proudest moment as the entire family gathered unreasonably early to crush cooked tomatoes into recycled bottles to be used in Lasagnes for weeks to come. As a kid I used to hate the 6am starts, heavy lifting and awkward cheek pinching from the older Italian Aunties. As a young adult I realised the lunch that followed the work was easily the best of the year. Nowadays I realise homemade tomato sauce beats Dolmios hands-down and I’m lucky to enjoy my entire close family engage in a Abruzzese ritual ironically falling on every Australia Day. I don’t think mum’s tears came from the same love of family tradition, but more what dad thought he was cleverly describing as a “period of change”. The double meaning was lost on me as a thirteen year old. I was just looking forward to lunch.
I remember hearing the tale of a similar three-child family and their moving out of home policy. After the two eldest children had left, the parents hung a sign on the youngest child’s door saying “check out time is 21”. My mum obviously did not share this enthusiasm for repurposing bedrooms into sewing rooms. For her, the idea of being forced into retirement from parenting is worse than losing the home to a fire. At least in an inferno we would all be together… saving the photo albums.
I had been the first of the children to move out. It was a life-defining move to Melbourne to make the law degree I was losing enthusiasm for more “enjoyable”. To celebrate living out of home for the first time I ate coco-pops for dinner. For once in my life I felt truly independent- no longer bound by the rules of bedtimes and nutrition. I was living with my two best friends in a house that could best be described as a “rental inspectors worst nightmare”. Since we didn’t own a vacuum cleaner we would wait until we could physically see dirt before we would scoop it up with our hands and wash it down the bath we never used. When mum came to visit her housewarming gift was small, yellow and saved our bond.
My sister was next to go. However her newfound independence only lasted six months and she quickly moved back to where the “internet was free”. One of the rules of living under the roof of my parents was that the single bed was non-negotiable. I once mentally feng-shui’d my room to try and create the dimensions required for a Queen bed. Annoyingly, there was a jut in the wall which prohibited anything bigger than a king single from possibly fitting in the space. Knowing full well that my dad had never poorly designed a thing in his life, I asked why this obvious flaw was overlooked. He simply replied “it wasn’t a mistake”. I believe I was… as the kids say… “cock-blocked” by my parents.
And now my brother is gone as well, leaving mum to face the agony of setting the table for only two. Receiving her phone calls is now a russian roulette of emotions. I’m sure I will never hear the end of how my brother immediately messaged his girlfriend to say he had landed safely, but at the time of writing, still hadn’t contacted my mother. On pointing out my brother’s check-in overseas mum dangerously commented that she “might need to get this Facebook”. Time for me to tighten my privacy settings. Zuckerberg hasn’t taken away my right to hide tagged photos yet has he? Some of those snaps would really make my mother cry.
I’m sure mum will be fine. We will just visit her often enough to remind her that our separation has not dwindled our fondness for her company. Still I will point out that tears should be saved for truly sad occasions like funerals, or when you’re extremely hungover and encounter a broken escalator. Finally, in what is conclusive proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I just collected a call from my sister. A guy at work talked her through creating an excel spreadsheet too quickly and now she’s crying. This outwardly emotional response is fast becoming a hallmark of the favourite women in my life. But as esteemed philosopher Jessica Simpson said in her seminal 2009 tweet- “every tear should live its purpose. Don’t ever wipe the reason away.” Thank you Jessica. Thank you.
Sometimes people ask me, “have you ever had a stalker?”
The answer is Yes. To me this is surprising: having a regular listener astonishes me, let alone a stalker.
My first ever stalker came when Dan and I were doing our weeknight radio show in Perth. I arrived at work before Dan to find this envelope in our pigeon hole:
First of all the envelope is addressed incorrectly. It’s “Action Battle Team” not “. Action Battle .” I know it’s a ridiculous name for a radio show but get it right. In retrospect I should have been impressed that the author of the envelope managed to get that much right.
Inside the envelope was a DVD and this poorly expressed letter.
I think the vibe of the letter is “thank you for providing me with hours of entertainment, here is a small amount of entertainment in return.” Oh Lesley… you have provided me with a lifetime of entertainment with the contents of that DVD.
When Dan finally arrived at work, we huddled around the jock’s room computer and watched the video spring to life. The first shot is a standard suburban living room. The walls are painted greenish, an open glass sliding door is to the right of frame and a blockmounted picture of ‘generic waterfall’ hangs proudly. The only other thing to see is a stereo sitting atop a TV, pumping out the radio station I work for.
Next a person, who I assume is ‘Lesley’, enters the left of frame. Lesley is wearing mismatching underwear and eating a chocolate bar. Lesley begins to dance. Lesley does not stop dancing for the next 45 minutes except to run her hands through her long hair and stare distantly at generic waterfall. Her dancing consists of a lot of sweating and rubbing. Lesley really, really loves to rub. I can only assume she is on a pill, because as the movie progresses the sweat gets heavier and the rubbing more furious. She loves the sound of her bangles in her ears and to shout “ABT!” over the sick tunes. Every time she leans forward her pointy face casts eerie shadows and her wobbly gut hangs freely.
Want to see it? Here is the first 2 and a half minutes of the video.
The only variation to the above is at about the 28 minute mark where Lesley inexplicably undergoes a costume change. Her garments change from red bra and mismatching black underwear, to red bra and mismatching turquoise underwear. And yes, thankfully this costume change does happen off camera.
Four things concern me about this entire affair:
- The whole putrid rave occurred in daylight hours.
- At times there appears to be some sort of dog outside the glass door. This means, this woman is in charge of a living creature.
- This lady is alone recording her semi-naked self unsupervised. Is she crazy? Maybe she has a day job? Maybe she is the office weirdo? Maybe she is just ‘kooky Lesley’ to her friends – that ‘chick who always does crazy shit on a Tuesday’.
- She mailed this letter to me.
Now I occasionally suffer from non-sobriety and have done some messed up things because of it. However, I have never obtained a video camera, recorded myself for an hour, burnt that video to a DVD, written a letter, printed the letter, obtained an evelope, found the address for Nova, addressed the envelope and posted the whole package completely fucked up without once thinking ‘maybe I’ll regret this in the morning?’
The whole thing is mesmerising. I’ve only seen it start to finish once, so I can confirm there is no nudity or other clues to her personality outside of sweating and rubbing. If you want to see the rest, come over some time and I’ll show it to you.
In Februrary 2008 I interviewed legendary porn star Belladonna. Well, what she is able to do with a baseball bat certainly is legendary.
Me, Belladonna and Dan Debuf backstage at the Voodoo Lounge in Perth
Belladonna had been flown in by Australia’s most famous adult exhibition, “Sexpo”. So when she was in the studio, what do you get one of the world’s dirtiest people to do? Well, you call a sex line… of course! The challenge was – whatever the person on the phone line said, you had to go dirtier.
So who is filthier? The sex line operator or the world-famous porn star? (Extremely NSFW)
At first, I thought I might be able to put this on-air with a few well placed censorship “beeps”. However, as it rapidly descended into perversity, I knew this interview would never see its day on-air. Apparently the question: “would you be willing to suck a dog dick?” is used as a practical joke on newcomers in the porn industry.
The rest of the interview is here. Please excuse my amateur stylings: this was one of my very first radio interviews ever.
By the time this interview was over, I was genuinely charmed by the lady who provides adult entertainment for a living. Off-air we spoke about Australian restaurants, how her entertainment enterprise was developed and her desire to “buy an island” with the spare cash she has kicking around. Her ‘husband’, who is also her webmaster, sat happily and quietly in the corner listening to me awkwardly flirt with her. She seemed down-to-earth, switched on and endearing. I actually had to keep reminding myself that she has taken two 9-inch penises in her poo-hole at once.
The following year I was asked to interview two other pornstars: Ree Petra and Keisha Kane
Compared to Belladonna, these two behaved more like you’d expect porn-stars-who-have-been-allowed-out-from-in-front-of-a-camera to behave. They certainly didn’t appear to possess Belladonna’s business savvy. I believe their native Englishmen would call them “chavvy”.
Sitting downstairs in my house is my most cherished possession. It’s a framed picture of Belladonna and I, plus a mounted signed baseball bat.
Oh, and the “kiss” in the top-left corner of the poster… that kiss was not made with her mouth.