The Hottest 100 began as an idea in 1988 when 2JJJ staffer Lawrie Zion suggested polling listeners to discover their favourite songs. They called it the Hot 100 and started the first poll in 1989, the same year the station went national. Listeners submitted their 10 favourite songs of all time via the postal system. This was very labour-intensive to tally, and it wasn’t until March that the results were announced.
— Lawrie Zion
Joy Division topped the first countdown with the classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. Something about the song resonated with listeners so much that it won the following year’s countdown. It was only beaten in 1991 by Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit”, which went on to take out top place in the 1998 and 2009 Hottest 100 of All Time polls as well. After 1991, the poll took a year off as the station decided to change the rules so the same tracks didn’t win every year.
See more: Triple j top 100 winners
From Hot to Hottest
The poll came back in late 1993 with a new name and new rules. The freshly-named Hottest 100 was relaunched as a yearly poll of the top tunes from the past 12 months. Denis Leary’s comedy anthem “Asshole” made it to number 1 in the new countdown, followed by The Cranberries’ “Zombie” for 1994 and Oasis’ “Wonderwall” the next year. While Britpop was topping the polls, US artists dominated the countdown overall.
Entries by Country
The first Australian act to reach number 1 in the Hottest 100 was Spiderbait in the 1996 poll. By 1999 Australia surged ahead as it took out the majority of places in the poll and since then, Aussie acts have made up the majority of each year’s countdown. To date, Powderfinger is the only Australian artist to reach #1 twice.
— Richard Kingsmill
Who is the Hottest?
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Like Lawrie Zion said – it’s about your favourites. You can still vote for any artist you like in our online voting system, even if it’s not played on triple j. But if you crunch the numbers from all past countdowns, you’ll see a few familiar faces. Looking at all of the yearly polls (not All-Times), the artist with the most songs in all the countdowns is Powderfinger, followed closely by the Foo Fighters.
The rare “Of All Time” polls came back in ’98, ’09, and a special Australian Albums themed one in ’11. If you include these countdowns in the mix, the act with the most appearances over the years is The Cure. Pretty cool considering Foo Fighters reappeared in the 2011 countdown, Robert Smith was in the 2010 countdown as a guest vocalist with Crystal Castles, and Powderfinger topped the 2011 Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time (with four of the band’s albums being listed plus Bernard Fanning’s solo album too).
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