Was 1997 The Best Hottest 100 Ever?

Was 1997 The Best Hottest 100 Ever?

best hottest 100 90s
R: Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, 1997 (Photo by Jon Super/Redferns/Getty Images), Middle: Pauline Pantsdown, R: Daniel Johns of Silverchair, 1997 (Photo by Martin Philbey/Redferns)

I turned 18 in November of 1992. Nearly every weekend of that year was filled with friends 18th birthdays. It’s truly a crazy year for parties. Rolling into school on a Monday through that year was the best because those days were wasted telling stories of the Friday and Saturday night events that shaped future couples, random hookups, police visits and fights.

However, there was one constant. The music. Depending on whose party you were going to, the music would change. Some liked golden oldies safe stuff, some people liked metal, some people liked the pop music of the day, but music was always prevalent, more so than ever in my 18th year because friends were getting their licenses and cars were blasting their favourite music, loud. The formative years were special like that.

And, so was Triple J

The Hottest 100 (or Hot 100 as it was originally known; an idea pinched from 4ZZZ in Brisbane) was a listener survey to find out the most popular songs. It wasn’t until 1993 that the countdown was made up of songs that were released in that particular year, ie: songs from 1992 were decided on and played at the beginning of 1993. 

As it is now, the Hottest 100 was an annual event with barbecues and parties, a celebration of mates and music, trying to guess the #1 song and hoping your favourites would be near the top. 

The added bonus of listening to the Hottest 100 was knowing that the CD release wouldn’t be far away and was a must-buy. A compilation of the songs featured in the countdown, not necessarily the top songs in order. They were a hot commodity in everyone’s cars, and, after being dubbed onto cassettes, walkmans too. The ritual of buying the Hottest 100 CD’s became a ‘no brainer’. You just did it. Usually on the day of release. THAT’S how good the music was. 

It’s hard to decide on what year was the best or most definitive double CD, because when you look back at who was featured on them, it’s essential musical history. Absolutely legendary bands, for the most part, and some who have ceased to be. Normally there was approximately 32 songs spread across two discs, that’s about 2 hours and 10 minutes of non-stop banging music, so when you start collecting these each year, by the time everyone’s 21st birthdays rolled around you had 6-8 hours of music (depending on when your birthday was) ready to go!  It was brilliant and explains why the Hottest 100 CD’s became some of the highest selling albums in Australia.

For me, the 6 years of releases from 1993 to 1998 will always be the best. But as I wrote earlier, deciding on which year, in particular, is hard. Some of you would agree, some would strongly disagree. After serious consideration, the years that tickled my undercarriage the most were from 1997 and 1998. 

For a couple of years, I was singing in a covers band and the songs that ended up on the 1997 release were heavily included in our repertoire (and just about every other cover band at the time). Here’s just an example: 

Blur – Song 2, Blink 182 – Dammit, Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People, The Living End – Prisoner Of Society, Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench, Spiderbait – Calypso, Live – Lakini’s Juice, Grinspoon – DCX3, Third Eye Blind – Semi-Charmed Life, Bloodhound Gang – Fire Water Burn, Reef – Place Your Hands.

I mean, c’mon. In the late 90s or even today, if you went to see a cover band and they played those 11 songs, you’re having a good time, right? Damn right.

So I think by process of elimination, I’ve decided that the 1997 release is my favourite.

Here is the full list of Hottest 100 songs from 1997 as played on Triple J. 

1 The Whitlams - No Aphrodisiac 
2 Blur - Song 2 
3 Chumbawamba - Tubthumping 
4 The Verve - Bitter Sweet Symphony 
5 Pauline Pantsdown - Back Door Man 
6 Blink-182 - Dammit 
7 Radiohead - Paranoid Android 
8 Marilyn Manson - Beautiful People 
9 Radiohead - Karma Police 
10 Jebediah - Leaving Home 
11 Smash Mouth - Walkin' On The Sun 
12 Ben Folds Five - One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces 
13 Silverchair - Freak 
14 The Superjesus - Down Again 

15 The Living End - Prisoner Of Society 
16 Quindon Tarver & Lee Perry - Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) 
17 Cordrazine - Crazy 
18 Nick Cave - Into My Arms 
19 Regurgitator - Every Day Formula 

20 Cake - I Will Survive 
21 Foo Fighters - Monkey Wrench 
22 The Verve - The Drugs Don't Work 
23 Spiderbait - Calypso 
24 Korn - A.D.I.D.A.S. 
25 Green Day - Hitchin' A Ride 

26 Nine Inch Nails - The Perfect Drug 
27 Silverchair - The Door 
28 Dana Lyons - Cows With Guns 
29 Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life 
30 Tool - Forty Six And 2 
31 Faith No More - Ashes To Ashes 
32 Pendulum - Coma 
33 Jebediah - Military Strongmen 
34 Grinspoon - DCx3 
35 The Sundays - Summertime 
36 Ween - Mutilated Lips 
37 The Mavis's - Naughty Boy 

38 Metallica - Memory Remains 
39 Something For Kate - Captain (Million Miles) 
40 Bloodhound Gang - Why's Everybody Always Picking On Me 
41 Beck - Deadweight 
42 Cornershop - Brimful Of Asha 
43 Ammonia - You're Not The Only One 
44 The Tea Party - Temptation 
45 The Cure - Wrong Number 
46 Bloodhound Gang - Fire Water Burn 
47 Filter & The Crystal Method - {Can't You} Trip Like I Do 
48 Custard - Anatomically Correct 
49 The Living End - From Here On In 
50 Arkarna - Eat Me 
51 Everclear - So Much For The Afterglow 
52 Garbage - #1 Crush 
53 The Whitlams - You Sound Like Louis Burdette 
54 Everclear - Everything To Everyone 
55 Red Hot Chili Peppers - Love Rollercoaster 

56 Prodigy - Funky Shit 
57 My Drug Hell - Girl At The Bus Stop 
58 Diana Ah Naid - I Go Off 
59 White Town - Your Woman 
60 They Might Be Giants - New York City 
61 Chemical Brothers - Block Rockin' Beats 
62 Smashing Pumpkins - The End Is The Beginning Is The End 
63 Grinspoon - Repeat 
64 Faith No More - Stripsearch 
65 Lemonheads - Outdoor Type 
66 Powderfinger - JC 
67 The Offspring - I Choose 
68 Jamiroquai - Cosmic Girl 
69 Ween - Waving My Dick In The Wind 
70 Reef - Place Your Hands 
71 Robyn Laou - Sick With Love 
72 Front End Loader - Pulse 
73 Live - Lakini's Juice 
74 Rage Against The Machine - The Ghost Of Tom Joad 
75 Space - Female Of The Species 
76 Imani Coppola - Legend Of A Cowgirl 
77 Cardigans - Lovefool 
78 Mark Of Cain - Degenerate Boy 
79 Portishead - All Mine 
80 Ben Harper - Faded 
81 Kylie Minogue - Did It Again 
82 Primus - Shake Hands With Beef 
83 Lard - I Wanna Be A Drug-Sniffing Dog 
84 Dave Graney - Feelin' Kinda Sporty 
85 Brainbug - Nightmare 
86 Blackeyed Susans - Smokin' Johnny Cash 
87 Sneaker Pimps - 6 Underground 
88 Beaverloop - Nothing 
89 Dandy Warhols - Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth 
90 Pennywise - Society 
91 Blue Boy - Remember Me 
92 Sidewinder - Titanic Days 
93 Skunkhour - Weightlessness 
94 Rebecca's Empire - Way Of All Things 
95 Faithless - Don't Leave 
96 Local H - Bound For The Floor 
97 Arkarna - Future's Overrated 
98 Daft Punk - Da Funk 
99 Luscious Jackson - Naked Eye 
100 Effigy - I Give In

There are just too many highlights of years gone by, songs that were special because of the friends I was hanging around with at the time, birthday parties, engagements, births, deaths - the Hottest 100 CD’s really were, in those years that I mentioned - the soundtrack to my life, and my friends lives. Not only did they contain the songs I loved dearly, but also introduced me to music I wasn’t that familiar with, like on the 1996 release that featured Eels' "Novocaine for the Soul". What a seriously great tune. Later in life, I would share a house with a girl who loved this band and introduced me to more. Music is great like that.

If like me, you collected the Hottest 100 CD's through the 90s, I urge you to find them, and play them in full. Either at home or in your car and transport yourself to a younger more innocent time.  The 90s were a great time and with the help of Triple J’s Hottest 100 we had the best soundtrack. 

If you loved our local legends of that era, check out our 90's Oz playlist on Spotify. 

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