Look. I understand that Triple J’s Hottest 100 is sold as “the world’s biggest music democracy”. I understand that women were severely underrepresented in this year’s poll. And I also understand, that like me, you think that there was a lot of crap in this year’s Hottest 100. Well, none of that matters! Triple J did the right thing by excluding Taylor Swift, and though I hope they’re not forced to do it again, I hope they do.
I don’t vote in the Hottest 100. Why? Because I don’t listen to the station. This is despite the fact that I’m well aware of many of the songs that are listed on the Hottest 100 website. Hell, I would have probably even put Chet Faker down as my number one; the guy is a boss and writes some awesome tracks. But my overall favourite songs mostly don’t get played on Triple J, therefore I don’t listen to the station. Sure, the Hottest 100 is supposed to be a democracy, but America is a democracy and I don’t have a right to partake in any of their democratic rights. If you thought that Taylor Swift had the number one song of 2014 that’s fine, I have no problem with that, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that anyone who has Taylor Swift as No.1 is not a citizen of Triple J.
Taylor Swift is massive. And I’m talking superstar massive. She released her first album when she was 16 and it sold 5.5 million copies. She’s now 26 and has just released her fifth studio album which to date has sold nearly 5 million copies, which is a massive achievement given that pretty much no one is buying music anymore. If you want any more proof of just how massive Taylor Swift is, just go to the Billboard website and check out their news section. The first thing you notice is that there a disproportionate amount of news about Taylor Swift (although nothing about Triple J). For example, Taylor Swift is headed back to number 1, Taylor Swift’s Twitter got hacked, Taylor Swift is playing the Superbowl. WTF! Taylor Swift is playing the Superbowl! She’s about to get the biggest gig that any pop artist can possible get and yet her Aussie fans are complaining that Triple J excluded her! The whole purpose of Triple J is to give a leg up to fringe bands, to Aussie bands, to alternative bands, to bands that aren’t going find airplay on many other stations around Australia. By allowing Taylor Swift onto that chart, Triple J would have gone against its very purpose.
Ok sure, there has been some pretty embarrassing tracks in the Hottest 100. U2 got a go one year and they’re in that category of artist that’s supermassive stupid big. Pretty Fly For a White Guy by The Offspring was an embarrassing song that should never have been played on Triple J. But the major difference is that Triple J did play their music. This made them eligible. Alternatively, Taylor Swift never got played, not even once. This makes gives her the same amount of eligibility as the crummy ass rock band that rehearses down the street from me.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that the gender inequality is a problem in music. Sia was the only female artist in the top 10, and only 37 songs had some resemblance of female involvement. But including Taylor Swift in the Hottest 100 for this reason does nothing to address the fact that this is a problem that exists categorically across all areas of music performance. Females are severely underrepresented and have been for a long time. And whilst there needs to be more encouragement and promotion of strong female artists such as Taylor Swift, this was not the right forum. What’s more, Swift’s inclusion at number 12 would have excluded Tkay Maidza, which would have made no difference to the proportion of female artists, but excluded someone who is much more worthy and appropriate of inclusion in the poll of Triple J listeners.
Triple J is not perfect. It doesn’t always get its music selection right. It often misses what is actually happening. It can be annoying and embarrassing to listen to. But it’s there, and it serves a purpose. Not always perfectly, but always with good intention. Including Taylor Swift in the Hottest 100 would not have helped this purpose, in fact, it would have made it harder to achieve. The consequences in the long run could have been devastating. The vast majority of Australian bands who are played on Triple J are just ordinary run of the mill musos – quality musos – but far from the heights and crossover success that Taylor Swift has managed to achieve. Let’s let Triple J do its job, the Taylor Swift’s of the world do not need them.