Close this search box.

Hot or not

As Triple J’s Hottest 100 of the last twenty years is released, Tara Watson revisits some of the questionably ranked songs, from Chumbawamba to Pauline Pantsdown.

While some music memories should be salvaged and appreciated again, others are best left behind.

With the release of Triple J’s Hottest 100 of the past twenty years, artists and bands that have stood the test of time are bound to be remembered, while there are others we would all sooner forget.

Popular, and albeit deserving, acts such as Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and Foo Fighters, along with Aussie bands Powderfinger and Silverchair are sure to head to the top of the list.

However, other Triple J past short-time favourites are destined to fade into obscurity.

These are the kind of tracks that may have been huge at the time, but now make us recoil with shame.

Lawrie Zion, the original initiator of the Hottest 100, says that charting novelty songs just reflect what was once popular.

“The original intention behind the whole Hottest 100 was that people should vote according to what they like, irrespective of whether you think it’s great or not. So that to me provides a rational for the novelty songs having a real place in those charts,” says Zion.

So without further ado, here are some memories of novelty songs and one-hit wonders that were much loved in their time, but now seem strange, silly and in many cases just plain sad.

We kick off the list in 1997, after a few straight years since 1993 of solid tracks, out of the blue came a bunch of Brits singing about ‘getting knocked down’ and ‘pissing the night away’.



Charting at number three of the hundred claimed ‘hottest’ songs of the year was “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba, or the better known title “I Get Knocked Down”.

The song was ranked number five by Rolling Stone’s list of Worst Songs of the Nineties, and in another poll conducted by the music magazine, it scored number twelve of the 20 Most Annoying Songs.

While the ultimate underdog anthem still remains a much loved tune at any rugby or football match, there is little chance of it reaching its earlier heights in popularity with Triple J listeners.

Another entry that featured this year at number five was by the often forgotten Pauline Pantsdown, appearing in the 1997 and then 1998 Hottest 100 with songs “Backdoor Man” and “I Don’t Like it”.

Simon Hunt’s alter ego Pantsdown was much adored in the late 90s by those against Pauline Hanson, the One Nation party and their anti-multiculturalist sentiments.

Following on from Pantsdown, sadly 1998 was not a great year for music.

Labelled by many Triple J devotees as the worst number one ever, the track deemed as song of the year in 1998 was The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)”.



Many label this dubious crowning a turning point in the radio’s list going commercial. Especially since The Offspring had many quality songs, such as “Self Esteem” and “Gone Away”, that had in the past not charted as favourably.

“Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)” was even named number thirty in AOL Music’s Worst Songs Ever poll. Furthermore, out of all the past winners of the Hottest 100, the song was also least favoured to chart in the current Hottest 100, with odds sitting at $201.

Another regrettable music phase in 1998 was songs from Southpark, with Chef’s “Simultaneous” and “No Substitute” both voted into high positions.

While this was merely a reflection of how popular the television program Southpark was at the time, whether a cartoon chef singing about love-making should sit above the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins and Placebo on the 1998 chart is highly debatable.

As we head into the following year, do these lyrics sound disturbingly familiar?

“You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery channel.”



Named as number six on the 1999 Hottest 100 was the Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch”.

The track was just as well known for its video as it was for being a terrible song. It was even ranked number twenty-two in NME’s chart of the 50 Worst Music Videos Ever.

The final track on the list of regretful chart toppers, earning number four in the Hottest 100 of the year 2000, is Wheatus’s “Teenage Dirtbag”.

Admittedly this song is still a cult classic, pub favourite and permanent fixture on any cover band’s set list, but the band itself hasn’t exactly lit up the music industry since.

The chance of the song being voted in a similar position from the last twenty years is as likely as anyone being able to remember what film the song was originally from. (The answer is Loser, for those playing at home).



So as we leave the noughties and head on through the tenties, how far have we come?

While some pertain that last years winner Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” fits the old novelty template, the duo’s continual dominance in the charts since might provide the exception.

Furthermore, Zion says that these kinds of songs serve a purpose within the Hottest 100.

“You get songs that really have a limited shelf life but they are a part of what pop music is. It reflects all kinds of different tastes and it reflects the spirit of pop music being for the moment.”

As for the past twenty years of Triple J Hottest 100 charts, at least we can be thankful that listeners’ ears never had to withstand tracks such as “Who Let the Dogs Out” and “The Crazy Frog Song” as a part of their voted-for music democracy.


Tara WatsonTHUMBTara Watson is a postgraduate journalism student at La Trobe University and is one of upstart’s staff writers. You can follow her on Twitter: @taraswatson

Featured Image: Triple J


Related Articles

Editor's Picks