Triple J have been supporting indigenous hip hop duo A.B. Original and their protest song January 26 , which is said to be polling strongly in the Hottest 100
Triple J have been supporting indigenous hip hop duo A.B. Original and their protest song January 26 , which is said to be polling strongly in the Hottest 100 Contributed

This could be the last Australia Day Hottest 100

WILL this be the last year Triple J's Hottest 100 is heard on Australia Day?

The radio station will announce later this year if they're moving the biggest music poll in the world to another, less divisive, date.

Ahead of this year's countdown, the station, which is always very careful with how the topic is broached, stated "we will continue to talk to indigenous communities, artists and our audience about the date of the Hottest 100 in future years. The consultation process will continue throughout the first half of 2017".

That's the biggest indicator that things may change come 2018.

The network is giving listeners the chance to share their thoughts on a potential move and say they are consulting with the ABC Bonner Committee (the ABC's primary advisory body on issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, content and communities), some of the indigenous artists featured on Triple J's airwaves, and contacts from organisations including Reconciliation Australia, National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, Recognise and the National Australia Day Council.

Privately, sources say the station has been seriously investigating the logistics - and ramifications - of vacating January 26.

The station has a huge rural listenership, as well as a left-leaning "hipster" audience wired to be sensitive about social issues and injustice. The mere suggestion of considering a date change has already prompted intense online feedback from both the "stay" and "move" camps.

Whatever they decide to do with the biggest day in Australian radio, someone will be upset - it's just a matter of which group.

Clearly, Triple J could make a major statement to all Australians if they decide to find the Hottest 100 a more "inclusive" home.

It would start a major debate - a potentially very ugly one - as this forces people to clarify, or at least think about, their position on what is viewed by some as "Invasion Day", a day of mourning, not celebration.

Before the Hottest 100 this year, Triple J will dedicate an episode of their current affairs show Hack to the "differing points of view" around Australia Day.

Triple J have been supporting indigenous hip hop duo A.B. Original and their protest song January 26(with guest vocalist Dan Sultan) which is said to be polling strongly in the Hottest 100.

This week, more local hip hop acts including Urthboy, Birdz and Thundamentals released the song Change the Date in partnership with NITV (National Indigenous Television).

Queensland Greens councillor, and former professional musician Jonathan Sri, has called for a "respectful, nuanced discussion".

"It's not constructive or fair to argue that everyone who happens to go to a backyard barbecue on 26 January is racist...

"Every year, more and more young people are recognising that 26 January should be a day of sombre commemoration and reflection rather than boozy partying. Triple J should move the Hottest 100 to a less controversial date in the interests of promoting unity and inclusiveness...

"Moving the date of the Hottest 100 would be a great step - it would open up the conversation about how and when we should celebrate modern Australia, and it would make the Hottest 100 a more inclusive event, not least for the growing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians getting airtime on Triple J."

Others see the day as simply a chance to celebrate Australian culture - and since 1993 the Hottest 100 has been an increasingly integral part of that celebration, with many holding listening parties on the Australia Day public holiday.

Some either ignore or are unaware of the controversy, or just want to hear their favourite songs with their friends on their day off and glaze over any political messages.

Make no mistake, the Hottest 100 is big business for Triple J and the Australian music industry. The station has revealed 2,255,100 votes were cast for this year's poll (voting closed on Monday) with 66 Australians making the final 100 - the most ever.

While Triple J is not ratings-driven like commercial radio, the station often out-rate their mainstream competitors in certain timeslots like breakfast.

Hottest 100 countdowns also spawn wildly popular albums and other lucrative merchandise.

And for artists, songs and albums featured in the countdown will soar on the ARIA chart and hundreds of thousands of listeners may be introduced to new music, resulting in not only album sales but concert ticket sales. Everyone wins.

Could that all happen if the poll moves to another date? And which date? January 1 has been mooted, but many listeners are coming home - or coming down - from New Year's Eve festivals and gigs. Theoretically, it could be on any weekend but a public holiday makes it more of an "event".

Still, you'd hope that the rabid passion for the Hottest 100 would follow the countdown to any new date.

If Triple J does move the Hottest 100 from Australia Day public holiday, other radio stations will instantly fill the void with a Clayton's countdown. Triple M already have an Aussie rock fest to soundtrack January 26 barbecues.

Things are clearly changing in mainstream Australia - and by extension, the radio stations we listen to.

This week we've already seen Triple M (the spiritual home of the bourbon-slugging, Barnesy-loving no-rap-crap bogan) post a slap-down editorial on their homepage saying Donald Trump "is not a real man". It said the new President is "a man that sees women, first and foremost, as sexual objects who sole purpose is to gratify him" and one who "lies, cheat and jokes about grabbing women's genitals without their permission".

The message to their predominantly male audience was that Trump should not "become the male template".

Oz rock hero John Farnham has told Reclaim Australia to stop using You're the Voice at their rallies. Jimmy Barnes, who also black-banned his songs from such events, has become incredibly politically charged in regards to modern day Australia. So much so that his anti-racism and pro-immigration stance has seen the singer slammed by his own fans on his Facebook page. But his stance has also, arguably, won the veteran rocker new fans.

Will Triple J move the Hottest 100? They've already done all they can - indigenous messages before and during the show - without officially making the call.

A new date could open some minds about why this is an issue at all. But it could also, ironically, cause many to feel something they love dearly has been taken off them.

They've got six months. The clock's ticking.

News Corp Australia


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