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Steve's comments on Australia's top 10 songs of 2016 Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 January 2016

This is an interesting piece Steve wrote for The Guardian. He gives his thoughts on the top 10 songs as voted by listeners to Australia's national radio station "Triple J". I find it interesting to see what Steve thinks about other people's music.

 

Originally published at https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jan/27/steve-kilbey-i-listened-to-triple-js-hottest-100-so-you-dont-have-to

(Ed: I can't get the videos to embed here, but I'm sure you can find them on youtube if you want to see/hear them)

10. Magnets (featuring Lorde) by Disclosure

Disclosure is a great name for a group.

Magnets is urbane, swinging, cool electropop, with some really good lyrics too. Unbelievably catchy and yet always still believable – one must admire this song. Yet it’s almost too perfect for its own good; could it be that sometimes too much sheen is a bad thing? What does it matter? This is an inexorable hit.

9. Can’t Feel My Face by the Weeknd


To argue with a song that’s had 400m hits on YouTube is to stand before a tidal wave with a bucket and spade. The sheer massiveness of this song eats criticism for breakfast.

This is insipid yet totally infectious pop, of the type we’ve had since the 1950s. There will always be songs like this, at any given time – huge hits that burn bright and then are seemingly forgotten. Until very, very late at night, when people at parties find it in your collection and stick it on the player. Some people will cheer ... but many more will groan.

8. The Buzz (featuring Mataya and Young Tapz) by Hermitude

OK, how’s this for an idea? You get a soulful female voice singing to a TR-808 drumbeat thingy and add in some handclaps. Then follow that with a bit of rap. Then follow that with one of those ironic instrumental sections that sounds like an entire Mickey Mouse cartoon is assigned to each key on the sampler, and throw in some Moogy funky bassline. Let that go round a few times. Yeah, sure it’ll work! The kids will love it!

What’s that you say? You’ve heard this all before? They’re your words, not mine.

7. Do You Remember by Jarryd James

A superior, polished pop song – just like the two above. It’s as if someone said, “I’m gonna write a hit!” and then sat down and wrote a hit. You have to admire that, but often these kind of songs have little resonance with me, and then I become disappointed with myself. Why don’t I like something that umpteen squillion people just adore?

Beyond its obvious charms, I find no undercurrents of intrigue here that would make me want to listen to this song twice. I thought Triple J would have a lot more edge than this smooth, manufactured fare.

6. The Trouble with Us by Marcus Marr and Chet Faker

I thought this was gonna be more authentic than the others (whatever that means). Instead, it’s kinda like a lot of other catchy, bouncy songs that have a sort of calypso feel and are cheerful and wry. It’s like, I’m not surprised it’s a hit, but in another universe I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t a hit. Are you still with me? 

It’s very pleasant pop, but a simple glimpse of C Faker’s beard made me expect something more ... visceral.

5. Let it Happen by Tame Impala

Seriously impressive, no buts about it. Kevin Parker reminds me very much of a modern Todd Rundgren: an amazing wunderkind who plays and sings and engineers everything himself; a bona fide genius without a doubt.

The brilliant chord progressions summon lush sweetness and light, and remind me a bit of Brian Wilson. If you could be churlish enough to have any criticism of this pop perfection, with its groovy bass guitar and chic retro strings, then it would be the slight lack of personality that pervades the vocals, which is by turns delightfully ambiguous and then a bit ... namby pamby.

4. The Less I Know the Better by Tame Impala

Look, I’m glad there are songs like this in the top 10. An enigmatic song with high-pitched blurry vocals, another great bass riff and cool electric piano playing sevenths and stuff. It’s a long way from some of the more predictable tunes in the top 10. It sounds just like prog rock; it’s as if punk rock never happened. Which is fine with me, by the way.

Having said that, he could turn up the “edginess” on the next record just a smidgen.

3. Lean on Me (featuring MØ) by Major Lazer and DJ Snake

Meaningless machine-age pop that could have been and probably was written by someone’s laptop while they were getting a tattoo of a skull on their calf. “Blow a kiss, fire a gun, we all need someone to lean on!” the song exhorts, reaching new depths of shallowness. Yes folks, that’s a paradox right there, and it’s a lot more interesting than anything you will find in this synthetic turkey.

This song – why bother? You’ve heard it a million times before already.

2. King Kunta by Kendrick Lamar

Sometimes the older generation can’t dig the new trip or remain hip to the latest groove, but if this is second only to the bee’s knees at No 1 then I am flummoxed, because it sounds like a million other things I’ve seen and heard before.

The Oedipal conjunctive, and some gangsta malarkey. Girls shakin’ their booties and homies gettin’ down. I guess rap causes me to suffer cognitive dissonance. I bet for someone who understands it this is the last word in cool.

By this point I’m kind of hoping the Rubens, who I can see sitting there at No 1, are gonna rock.

1. Hoops by the Rubens

Nope, my readers, the Rubens do not rock.

It’s another wry bouncy (little) song, pleasant and innocuous and harmless and twee. No electric guitars were harmed during the making of this record, and no revolution is preached. Catchy to the max, but no oomph or grunt or even twist. This old curmudgeon shrugs his shoulders.

Why this song is No 1 eludes me. Triple J listeners have gone a bit soft, I guess. It’s been easy-listening romantic pop almost all the way, except for Tame Impala’s weirdness and Kendrick’s rap (an almost inexplicably random inclusion).

And so popular music continues to, uh, baffle the pundits. Tell me what the youngsters who like a bit of bite listen to these days, ’cause it surely ain’t Triple J ... is it?

File under: mostly forgettable.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 07 October 2017 )
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