John F Kennedy once said,
Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
I come to you with this same pertinent request, at a time when Australia needs you most. Your country needs you to murder a Taylor Swift fan, and if you’re feeling extra patriotic, kill a couple more. The reason for this call to arms is this – Taylor Swift fans are attempting to hijack Australia Day and ruin the Triple J Hottest 100. To my international readers, Australia Day is the day Australia was ‘discovered’ and marks the British making landfall in 1788 on January 26th in what is now referred to as… Sydney. Let me put this out there first though, I’m not the biggest fan of Australia Day being on this particular day. Why is that, you ask? Well I tend not be an imperialist, racist, ignorant arsehole and I feel a bit queasy about getting all celebratory marking the day we commenced genocide against a whole continent of people (but this is a rant for another post on another day). However, there is one aspect of Australia Day that I – and I know many millions of other Australians, both here and abroad – really enjoy. This is the Triple J Hottest 100. Just to provide some context for my foreign brethren who haven’t been Down Under before, Triple J is a publicly-funded radio station whose target audience is 15-somethings’ to 30-somethings. Because it is owned by each and every Australian (via our taxes) it contains no adverts, no sponsors and no commercial slant. As they say it best on their own website,
While we’re on [the] subject of commercials, you should know that triple j is completely AD-FREE. We ain’t pimpin’ no-one’s shit (unless it’s our own), no matter what the price.
Because it falls under the umbrella of the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – similar to the BBC) the station attempts to play a lot of Aussie content. Furthermore, the radio station focuses on music from a wide variety of genres, and aims to discover and keep on rotation new and indie bands/artists with the hope of seeing them break into the big time. It’s also helped challenge the status-quo of of commercial radio and acted as an avenue to engage the youth of Australia that may feel alienated by the same monotonous crap pushed by the other radio stations. Case in point would be the very first song they hit the airwaves with – by a wicked (and at that time, relatively unknown) Aussie band called The Skyhooks. The song was ‘You Just Like Me ‘Cos I’m Good In Bed’, and keep in mind this was 40 years ago, on the radio in the middle of the day – it would’ve been a sensation to play a song like that! What makes it all the more awesome is that the song reflected the stations’ commitment to Australian content (in contrast to the other commercial pop stations at the time that were heavily dominated by American acts) and was off a banging album that my parents’ still like to reminisce with to this day. The point I’m trying to make is, would my parents (and others like them) have even known about this album were it’s tracks’ not broadcast on this radio station? The answer is most likely no, as this track (along with many of the other tracks’ off their first album) were banned by commercial radio by the industry’s peak body. As Marius Webb, one of the founders of Triple J stated recently in an interview,
Australian kids only had high-rotation commercial radio stations to listen to for their pop music.
With 2 Double Jay in 1975 the floodgates opened and the whole gamut of the world-wide music industry suddenly became available, ushering in a cultural change of massive proportions.
In an era today where neo-liberal ‘rationalist’ economic policy seemingly dictates everything, and every action is done for profit and maximum market-share – it’s nice to know that there is a radio-station we can go tune in to that doesn’t try to cram 15 ads down our throats before subjecting us to the next ‘hot’ track by Chris Brown, One Direction or Guy Sebastian. Now, there is a tradition that takes place every year on Australia Day – we vote. Well that’s not technically correct, the weeks’ proceeding up to Australia Day is when we vote – but we vote for our favourite songs culminated from the year before. We get to pick a maximum of 10 songs, these votes are tallied up (kept secret all the while) and we count down the tunes throughout the day in numerical order – all the way to #1. All the songs that make the Top 100 are played in full across Australia. We get up early, we get donned in our most Aussie gear possible, slap on our thongs (flip-flops or jandals you may refer to them as), chuck some beers in an esky, fill up a shitty inflatable pool in the backyard, roll a couple of jays, play some cricket with a stolen wheelie bin as wickets, chuck some shrimp on the barbie, tune in to Triple J and get drunk soaking in the rays and the epic-day-long countdown. I’ve done this unique experience (in one way or another) in Canada, Egypt and various locations around Australia. You don’t always manage to listen to all the songs (nor would you necessarily want to) but you always want to have a rough idea of what’s going on with the countdown – you never want to be caught out and miss one of your tunes. It makes you remember all the things you like about this country – and if you’ve ever been abroad when it’s been Australia Day, it’s a refreshing reminder how much in common you have with your fellow antipodean brothers and sisters. This is why it is with great dismay that I have learned that there are those among us who wish to destroy the very fabric of who we are. I am referring specifically to Taylor Swift fans, or henceforth known on this blog as Swiftshits. These Swiftshits think it’s a good idea to attempt to get Taylor Swift up the top of the list on the Hottest 100 on Australia Day… for no particular reason other than to taint the only sacred thing left in this country. Now I will be honest with you, I know very little about Taylor Swift, or her personality, or her music. She seems nice enough, and her talent has paid off in spades, with her success making her one of the biggest acts in the world at the moment. Good on her. But doesn’t her worldwide success mean that she doesn’t really need to be on Triple J… like, ever? Mark Di Stefano from Buzzfeed is encouraging the masses of Australia’s Swiftshits to get out there and vote to “teach those music snobs a lesson”. I assume he’s doing this tongue-in-cheek (he did previously work for Triple J), but it makes his action no less reckless – he’s started something very dangerous indeed. Also, his argument with people opposed to the idea of getting Swift into the countdown is pretty flimsy:
Do you know what the Hottest 100 1998 number 1 was? Pretty Fly For A White Guy. Yep.
Umm, what? Just because The Offspring’s ‘Pretty Fly For A White Guy’ won way back in 1998… and [shock horror] was also popular on the airwaves, doesn’t mean it can’t be the winner of the Hottest 100. This argument insinuates that any song shat out by the multinational record labels must therefore be allowed on Triple J. But let’s examine this particular song for a moment, shall we? The Offspring was a band I listened to as a kid – they encapsulated my teenage angst with my borderline ADD perfectly. But my mother frowned upon their music, and only the cool kids at school (the ones with their hair dyed black and the bad-arse attitude) listened to them. They certainly weren’t on 2Day FM with track titles like ‘Demons (A Mexican Fiesta)’ and ‘Beheaded’. If you had listened to their self-titled album and also Ignition, you knew how revolutionary (if not downright crass, in hindsight) their break-through album Americana really was. You were happy with the band for persisting and maintaining their intensity, finding a niche in punk rock and exploiting it – and ultimately reaping the rewards. They typify what the Triple J Hottest 100 is about – this is what the Swiftshits’ don’t quite understand. Also, let us look at the internationally acclaimed artist Gotye. He’s been pumping out music since 2001, with only Triple J really paying any attention. He even made it into the top 100 in 2006, as anybody with a hefty collection of Hottest 100 records sitting at home can attest to. But did anybody in the mainstream notice him? Did anybody from the commercial radio-stations give a shit about his music? Were they as passionate and as patriotic that an Aussie was Grammy-worthy before he released his hit ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ in 2013? I fucking doubt it. That is why Triple J and the Hottest 100 is so important to our country and our culture (however limited ‘culture’ in this country may be). It’s about supporting Aussie music that just can’t crack the big time (because they can’t, or they simply don’t want to), and when Triple J aren’t doing that – they’re showing us new, unique, controversial, unedited and ground-breaking music from abroad – and not just from the U.S or the UK. They’re not perfect, I’ll be the first to admit that. Nobody likes a hipster either, as they seem to know just as little about music as the people who listen to that shit on the commercial stations. But we can’t let the Swiftshits dictate our music tastes’. However, I will agree with De Stefano and the Swiftshits – we are snobs. We don’t want to listen to Justin Bieber’s new track when we can listen to Dappled Cities or Bag Raiders instead. We don’t want to listen to Kyle and Jackie O picking on a rape victim when we could be listening to a lively debate on youth unemployment, internet piracy or some other such pressing subject on the daily radio-program Hack. We don’t want to listen to a DJ set by the cringeworthy Afro Jack or David Guetta, when we could be listening to a sweet set laid down by the likes of the Bang Gang DJ’s or Cosmo’s Midnight. We are the true definition of snobs, we don’t like the vast majority of shit played on commercial radio – we don’t even want to ‘give it a go’ and listen to Fitzy & Wippa on Nova 969 or the new Taylor Swift track for even two minutes – it doesn’t interest us. Are we gunna tune in to Triple J to hear a leak of the new Parkway Drive track that just got dropped on Short.Fast.Loud? Or are we supposed to pretend that we like the drivel served to us by our corporate overlords on the other radio stations? We know what we like and we don’t want it poisoned by your monotonous, mindless, poppy shit. Corporate radio and corporate music are part of the worldwide conspiracy to keep the populous dumb, ignorant and happy; whilst the world turns to shit around us. We’ll give it a miss, thanks. However, despite our fight the battle seems futile. According to Triple J, even though they specifically state that they ultimately…
reserve the right to remove artists from the list who have benefited from competitions or commercial campaigns that incentivise fans to vote for them
… the Swiftshits votes still stand. They’re letting the Swiftshits have it their way – and they’re winning. It seems likely that Swift has already pulled into contention to win the whole damn thing. Some individuals have raised other reasons why Swiftshits should get their way, with the main argument being ’empowerment for women’ and ‘democracy’. Really, that’s the best you’ve got for shitting all over a treasured Australian tradition? I shall tell you a story: For Christmas I bought my girlfriend HAIM’s debut album and the Aussie Megan Washington’s new record… if you’re that much of a raving feminist that you think a woman (or women) must be up the top of the charts this Australia Day, vote for their brilliant music – not that crass peddled by the Swiftshits. Furthermore, the argument that it encourages democracy in other fields (i.e state and federal elections) is false – the rise of voting shows like Big Brother, The Voice and Australian Idol have coincided with a marked increase in youth voter apathy in this country. Thus, that argument is nullified. In an age where shitty pop music has literally been proven to damage your brain, we encourage the Swiftshits to continue their slide into mental retardation – just don’t take us with you. As stated by Jordan Sloan for Music.Mic,
If you’re chiefly a pop music fan, you’re likely to be less creative than any other kind of music lover.
So it’s not just me who thinks Swiftshits are a bunch of narcissistic imbeciles, science thinks this too. It is not the listeners of Triple J who are the music snobs, it is the Swiftshits and their supporters. What is more snobbish than assuming we want to listen to music that the rest of the world deems ‘popular’? What is more snobish than ignoring an artist like Gotye for over a decade until the mainstream commercial stations tell you he’s now ‘cool’? Is this not the definition of a ‘music snob’ – as opposed to painting everybody who listens to Triple J with the same brush? So please Mark Di Stefano and Buzzfeed, go back to what you’re good at and get cracking on another article with captivating titles like ’21 Things Only True Equestrians Will Understand’ and ‘What Type of Horse Are You?’ (seriously, they’re real Buzzfeed articles). So even though I am getting on in age and no longer fit inside the core demographic for Triple J, I still feel it plays a pivotal role in our national character and provides an avenue for the increasingly disenfranchised youth of today to explore and understand the world around them through the avenues of music, art, culture and debate. It is for this reason that I call you to arms: go forth and kill a Swiftshit for us… the real Team Australia.
NB: Please don’t actually go out and kill someone – this is purely satirical and just a bit of fun.