Why #tay4hottest100 is good for Triple J

Matt SaraceniThe campaign to get a Taylor Swift song into the Triple J Hottest 100 has created a lot of column inches in recent days. Matt Saraceni argues the controversy is good for the station and how it should capitalise on #tay4hottest100 come Australia Day. 

If Taylor Swift places Number one in the Triple J 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?”

KFC's hijacking of the campaign has thrown Swift's eligibility into doubt

KFC’s hijacking of the campaign has thrown Swift’s eligibility into doubt

“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 eight 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.

hottest 100 logoTaylor 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 three 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 Saraceni is the head of content at Omny Personal Radio. This post was originally run on Saraceni’s personal blog and has been republished with his permission.


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