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Thursday, 20 February 2020

Bombshell

(M) ★★★★

Director: Jay Roach.

Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Rob Delaney, Mark Duplass, Liv Hewson, Allison Janney, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Malcolm McDowell, Ben Lawson, Josh Lawson.

Yes, but who dealt it?
The #MeToo movement officially hit in 2017 with the fall of Harvey Weinstein, but you could argue it began a year earlier with the resignation of Fox News svengali Roger Ailes. In the lead-up to Donald Trump's nomination as Republican candidate, Trump's good pal Ailes faced a growing wave of accusations from past and then-present female staff at Fox News, leading to Rupert Murdoch's insistence that Ailes leave the company Ailes had run for 20 years.

Last year, that important battle fought by a number of brave women was dramatised twice. First as the Showtime mini-series The Loudest Voice, with Russell Crowe as Ailes. And hot on its heels was Bombshell - the first major movie of the #MeToo movement. It too tells of Ailes crimes, but unlike The Loudest Voice, it's biggest focus is the women of the Fox newsroom.

Through the eyes of real-life experienced anchorwomen Gretchen Carlson (Kidman) and Megyn Kelly (Theron), as well as ambitious young producer Kayla Pospisil (a composite character played by Robbie), Bombshell examines the culture of Ailes' Fox. When Carlson launches a sexual harassment lawsuit, it impacts an already besieged Kelly, while Pospisil is also facing her own troubles. In the end, all roads lead to Ailes.


As Carlson notes towards the film's end, she doesn't want you to like her - she wants you to believe her. So let's leave aside the politics of Carlson (and indeed Kelly), much like the film itself does (although Kelly's infamous "Jesus was a white guy" comment does get an airing).

What's important here is the film's truth-to-power storyline, and the way it examines the inadvertent complexities of it all. Characters weigh financial concerns and job security against holding a sexual predator to account. The price of silence, the ripple effect on friends and family, and the notion of betrayal in the sisterhood are all explored in an intriguing, if-not-perfect fashion.

It's an important story that's largely told well. Some early dialogue to camera, as well as its switching narrators is messy but bearable. But once Bombshell dispenses with its tics and gets down to brass tacks, it's continually compelling.

A lot of that comes down its killer cast. Robbie gives an unflashy turn, but it's one of the best performances of her career, while Theron and Kidman are their usual brilliant selves, with Theron and Robbie more-than-worthy Oscar nominees. Credit also to Lithgow for making Ailes both slimy and human at the same time. McKinnon is also excellent in a small role, and McDowell is great in a small cameo as Rupert Murdoch.

It bears repeating that the make-up work by Kazu Hiro (who previously won an Oscar for his work on Darkest Hour), Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker is remarkable, in particular the transformation of Theron into Kelly. Less recognised has been the way Theron nails Kelly's voice. Together it's a mesmerising job by all involved.

Bombshell is flawed but with its triumvirate of talented women out front, it's a strangely riveting and fascinating telling of a story that deserves to be told.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood

(PG)  ★★★½

Director: Marielle Heller.

Cast: Matthew Rhys, Tom Hanks, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper, Maryann Plunkett, Enrico Colantoni.

"Say it again... to the puppet's face."
In this era of milkshake ducks and #MeToo, Fred Rogers feels like a figure from another dimension. The wholesome, gentle children's TV presenter died in 2003, before the time when cynicism destroyed everything. He lived in an age when being pure and edgeless were still admirable and attainable qualities and not merely covers for something horrible and malignant.

Given the saint-like nature of Mr Rogers (whose TV shows were to Americans as Play School is to Australians), there is only one equally wholesome choice to portray him in this quasi-biopic. And that obvious choice doesn't disappoint. Tom Hanks, deservedly earning his first Oscar nom in 19 years, is the real reason to watch this patchy but well-meaning look at an American cultural icon.

If you're wondering why Hanks' Oscar nomination was for best supporting actor and not best actor, it's because the film is based on a real-life article that in places is as much about the writer as it is Mr Rogers. The film follows award-winning journalist Lloyd Vogel (Rhys) as he tries to pen a short fluff piece on Mr Rogers for Esquire magazine. But Lloyd is grappling with his own troubles and is beset by his own cynicism, which makes him wonder if Mr Rogers really is the saint everyone believes him to be.


If you want an in depth examination of Fred Rogers, you'd be better off watching the acclaimed doco Won't You Be My Neighbour, but for an introductory understanding of his impact, this is a good starting place. Making Mr Rogers a periphery character in this story is a surprisingly neat way to explore what made him so amazing (which is what made the original article so great), although if you find Lloyd Vogel's bitterness hard to take it, it will ruin the movie for you.

The idea of making a movie about Mr Rogers without directly focusing on Mr Rogers is one of those things that probably seemed on paper like it might not work, but it does. Unfortunately, some of the other ideas that maybe seemed like good ones on the page don't succeed.

The biggest example of this is the use of one of Mr Rogers' shows as a framing device, right down to the Rogers' Neighbourhood-style miniatures used instead of exterior establishing shots. It's distracting and hokey, failing to deliver the charm it was intending to conjure. For some reason, this kind of thing only seems to work for people like Wes Anderson, when it draws you further into a world, rather than remind you that you're watching a movie.

Elsewhere though, Heller's direction is solid, managing to find a fascinating mix of normal, weird and mythic in Mr Rogers. A lot of this is thanks to Hanks. Getting the most unhateable actor in America to play one of the most beloved American cultural figures is a home run before you even step up to the plate, but Hanks imbues Fred Rogers with a level of humanity that somehow makes him all the more saintly. Hanks' outstanding turn totally overshadows a solid performance from Rhys, as well as fine support from Cooper and Watson.

Much like Mr Rogers' shows, A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood will seem heartfelt but hokey to modern eyes. But the love of its subject matter shines through, largely due to the kind of performance that only Tom Hanks could deliver.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Jojo Rabbit

(M) ★★★★★

Director: Taiki Waititi.

Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Archie Yates, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen.

The reboot of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner was... different.
Seeing the descriptor "Oscar-winner" next to the name "Taika Waititi" is a beautiful thing, and we have this astounding black comedy to thank for that adjective becoming a reality.

The director-writer-actor has been blazing a trail since his second film Boy, which broke box office records in his native New Zealand and highlighted Waititi as an immense talent. To say that talent has blossomed with Jojo Rabbit ignores his previous amazing films - it's more like the Academy has finally caught up to his greatness.

This tightrope-walking comedy/war film follows Jojo Betzler (Griffin Davis), a 10-year-old Nazi living in Germany in the twilight of WWII. An enthusiastic member of the Hitlerjugend (so much so that Hitler (Waititi) is his imaginary friend), Jojo is shocked to discover that his mother (Johansson) is helping a Jewish girl (McKenzie) survive the war.


Hitler as played by Taika Waititi is a comedic masterclass, painting the fuhrer as both figment of young Jojo's imagination and dream father figure/mentor. Part dictator, part absent dad, but all man-child, he’s not a million miles away from the dad Waititi played in Boy. He's also artfully continuing a long line of buffoon Hitlers that dates back to Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator.

It's through Waititi's Hitler, and indeed the rest of his masterful adaptation of Christine Leunens more-serious novel Caging Skies, that Jojo Rabbit laughs at its Nazis and their idiotic beliefs. All the while it walks the fine line of doing this while not laughing at the seriousness of the situation. At its darkest moments it is heartbreaking and even chilling, yet around this, it's hilarious.

This is the core of what makes the film so good and why it is such a worthy winner of the Oscar for best adapted screenplay. Jojo Rabbit is breathtaking in its ability to switch from humour to horror, from dark to light, from thoughtful to absurd. Its snappy editing and canny direction from Waititi also helps, but it is the script that really shines.

It doesn't hurt to have a great cast playing it out either. Johannson is excellent in a difficult role, Rockwell brings beautiful depth to a character that could easily have been cartoonish, while the two juvenile leads of Griffin Davis and McKenzie give turns beyond their years. Merchant is also good in a small role as a Gestapo agent, while Yates is a scene-stealer as Jojo's best mate Yorki.

Topped off with a nicely anachronistic score, Jojo Rabbit is a superb piece of filmmaking on every level. Hilarious yet heartfelt, it is yet another great movie from Waititi.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

REWIND REVIEW: The Castle (1997)

(PG) ★★★★★

Director: Rob Sitch.

Cast: Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry, Anthony Simcoe, Sophie Lee, Wayne Hope, Tiriel Mora, Eric Bana, Costas Kilias, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell.

Blackface on Hey Hey, It's Saturday - always hilarious.
I was invited recently on to Jono Pech's excellent podcast Comedy Rewind, which re-examines funny films from a bygone era and looks at whether they're still funny, and whether they've aged well. Our topic was that great Aussie comedy The Castle. Here are some links where you can listen to us dissect the film in great depth.

Listen via Apple Podcasts

Listen via Spotify

Or you can read this blog. Or both.

An argument can be made (and which I make in the podcast) that The Castle is the greatest Australian film of all time. Sure, it's direction and production values sometimes mirror those of a very competent student film. There is nothing flashy about it and there's not a single shot that isn't covered in the first 10 minutes of an introduction to shot composition.

But The Castle captures the essence of our nation and its people in a manner unlike any other Aussie-made movie. It looks to the edges of its capital cities (and theoretically beyond) and shows us what makes our little Aussie battlers so fair dinkum, true blue and dinky-di, without a crocodile or a can of Fosters in sight.

For those of you who haven't seen it and have stumbled in here by accident, The Castle is the story of the Kerrigan family, who live on Melbourne's fringe next to an airport on contaminated soil in a house that is perpetually under renovation. To others, their home seems like nothing special (or worse), but to the eternally optimistic Kerrigans, it is their castle. And when the airport attempts to compulsorily acquire the Kerrigan house (and the houses of their neighbours) to build a new runway, the Kerrigans decide to fight back.


Made on the cheap (AU$750,000 in 1997), The Castle was the debut film from ABC Late Show comedians Rob Sitch, Jane Kennedy, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner. They had already moved on to "more serious" endeavours after their two-season cult breakthrough sketch show, notably classic satire Frontline. And while The Castle is also a "serious" production, its simplicity and quick gestation make it seem like a summer holiday project, which is part of its charm. The screenplay reportedly took just two weeks to go from concept to completed screenplay, filming lasted 11 days, and editing took another two weeks. Done. Print it.

The Castle works so well because it understands Australians. It's also hilarious (even 23 years on), but its humour comes from this understanding of what makes Aussie suburbia tick. Its characters are caricatures, but they're on message and not too far over-the-top. Everyone is subtly overacting in a beautifully broad and ocker way (especially the never-better Michael Caton), which heightens the hilarity because it still feels real - despite the overacting, most Aussies, especially those out in the country, knows people like the Kerrigans. These "dialled up" performances are most noticeable when legendary actor Charles "Bud" Tingwell turns up. His naturalistic performance highlights the lower-middle class nature of the Kerrigans, making them even funnier, but showing the great Aussie divide between the inner-city and everywhere else.

The Castle's key message is the beauty of those who live in the "everywhere else". The script portrays them as cultureless but passionate, casually racist but caring and compassionate. They're uneducated doers and dreamers, with simple tastes, living lives of simple means. Most importantly, they are trusting, neighbourly, fun-loving, encouraging, big-hearted, and aspirational. They rate family above of all things. with the ability to own their own slice of Australia a close second.

For all the perceived negatives in that big pile of adjectives, The Castle never looks down on the Kerrigans. The only people who do that are the villains, AKA the airport lawyers, and they get their comeuppance. The Kerrigans' flaws (their culturelessness, their casual racism, their small-thinking) are merely part of their make-up and even their charm.

Here's the opening scene:


Their casual racism, in particular, comes with a complete lack of malice. Indeed, it's coupled with a heartwarming level of acceptance of the non-Anglos in their life, including their son-in-law Con (a scene-stealing Eric Bana, in his film debut) and their neighbour Farouk (Costas Kilias, who has since become a magistrate). It also helps to magnify the significance of patriarch Darryl Kerrigan's realisation that "this country's got to stop stealing other people's land" - a beautifully profound moment hidden among the jokes about the Trading Post and Dale digging holes.

For a film that is probably the greatest Aussie movie of all time, it's amazing to think The Castle wasn't even nominated for best film at the AACTA Awards (then the AFI Awards). All it won was a very deserving best original screenplay gong. The actually-quite-good Kiss Or Kill cleaned up that year but when was the last time you heard anyone mention that film?

By comparison, The Castle lives on. In fact, its greatest legacy is its contributions to the Aussie vernacular. Mention that something is "going straight to the pool room", tell someone they're dreamin', say something is about the vibe or Mabo, or admonish someone with a "suffer in your jocks", and everyone knows exactly what you mean, thanks to The Castle.

No other Aussie film has impacted our lingo as much as this. And no other film summed up our people as simply or as beautifully. The equally quotable Crocodile Dundee had as much of a lasting impact, but it traded in stereotypes that failed to speak as eloquently about Australia. The Castle said what it needed to say with wry humour, a big heart, a nicely exaggerated level of observation, and the greatest gag ever written about jousting sticks.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Midway (2020)

(M) ★★½

Director: Roland Emmerich.

Cast: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Keann Johnson, Woody Harrelson, Etsushi Toyokawa, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano, Jun Kunimura, Mandy Moore, Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Brennan Brown, Aaron Eckhart.

A version of The Village People's In The Navy was imminent.
The bar for modern-era movies about Pearl Harbour is pretty low thanks to Michael Bay. Fellow fan of blowing shit up, Roland Emmerich, gets over that bar, but only just, with his take on Pearl Harbour and its aftermath in WWII movie Midway.

The film, which is reportedly the biggest budget independent film of all time, is a weird mix of the historically accurate and the unforgivably fake. It features some surprisingly bad special effects and dire dialogue, weighing down this often compelling war film. It tells its potted history pretty well, and even gives a bit of time over to telling the Japanese side of things, but doesn't do it well enough to overlook its faults.

After a brief 1937 prologue in Tokyo, introducing intelligence officer Edwin T. Layton (Wilson) and Japanese commander-in-chief Isoroku Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa), the film starts proper at the attack on Pearl Harbour, where Japanese planes decimated the then-neutral American forces stationed at Honolulu.

As the American intelligence team, led by Layton and Admiral Chester Nimitz (Harrelson), scramble to strike back and figure out what the Japanese will do next, fighter pilots such as Dick Best (Skrein) and Wade McClusky (Evans) are itching to get revenge.


For those of us who aren't war historians, Midway tells its potentially convoluted tale of battles, tactics, admirals, pilots and boats with a simple ease. A bit more characterisation wouldn't have gone astray - it's introductions for characters and their relationships is perfunctory at best and eye-rollingly bad at worst - but it does a reasonable job of keeping things moving while often bringing in a lot of new information or new faces.

A miscast Skrein (and his hilariously bad accent) gets good support from some good actors, with Quaid, Wilson, Harrelson, a low-key Evans, and even Nick Jonas performing well and elevating proceedings. Also of interest is Eckhart as Lt Col Doolittle, who led the retaliatory Tokyo Raid. His role, and indeed the whole Tokyo Raid subplot is frustratingly brief - frustrating because it proves to be one of the most affecting and interesting parts of the film. Midway's Japanese scenes are also fascinating, and more of those would have been appreciated.

Equally frustrating are the special effects. The dogfights and battle scenes are great, but in between there is some truly awful green screen stuff that looks like it came out of a film from the '90s. The attack on Pearl Harbour is particularly stodgy. This wouldn't be so bad if it didn't pull you out of the reality and horror of the moment and remind you you're watching a bunch of actors in front of a green screen surrounded by some bad fire animations.

But this kind of sums up Midway. For every affecting moment, nice performance, cool sequence and interesting subplot, there is an awkward or just plain bad element to balance it out. These highs and lows help the film feel bloated, and undeserving of its two-hours-plus runtime.

There are far worse war films out there, and Midway could have been a lot worse. As a potted history of pivotal moments of WWII, it's interesting and intermittently entertaining.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Seven things about triple j's 2019 Hottest 100

The Hottest 100 has been run and won. Cue people complaining about this song beating that song, or how the winner wasn't worthy or whatever, or how triple j only plays shit these days and how much better it was 10/15/20/25 years ago.

But whether you love it or hate it, triple j's annual countdown is a snapshot of where young Australia is at musically. So let's deep dive into the 2019 list and see what it says.

(Thanks to Patrick Avenell for some of the research - he's the absolute guru on this stuff.)

Girls to the front

Finally! After 26 years, a solo female artist has taken out the top spot on the countdown for the first time. Billie Eilish's bad guy claimed some other records (more on that in a minute), but that was the big one. She was in plenty of good female company at the top of the list too. Eilish was one of five solo women in the top 10, which is a record, surpassing the previous best of four set last year. There were an additional two female vocalists (Ecca Vandal and Vera Blue) guesting on top 10 tracks, making seven songs with women on the mic, equalling a record set in 2016. In fact the top four songs had female vocals, which also equalled 2016.


Billie's records (and near misses)

Eilish was not only the first solo female to take the crown, but she's also the youngest winner. At 18 years, one month and one week, she was well clear of the previous youth champ Kimbra, who was 21 years and 10 days when she teamed up with Gotye to win in 2011. But Eilish was achingly close to grabbing some extra records. Her song strange addiction landed at #101 - one spot higher and she would have been just third act to top and tail the countdown, following on from Ocean Alley last year and Powderfinger in 1999. It would have also given her six tracks in the poll, equalling Wolfmother's record, which dates back to 2005. So close.

Under the covers

The four Like A Versions that made the countdown equals a record set in 2016, but it's not the greatest number of covers to reach the Hottest 100. That record was set in 1996 when eight covers made the countdown, pipping the previous record of seven set in the previous year. There have also been six covers appearing in a countdown on four separate occasions. Denzel Curry's take on Bulls On Parade is the highest placing by a Like A Version, reaching #5 (the previous best is DMA'S' Believe at #6 in 2016), but it only equals the record for highest cover - a record held by Bjork, Spiderbait and Boy & Bear.

Old metal never dies

If you had to pick the old school metal band destined to return to the Hottest 100 after a long hiatus, odds on you would have said Tool. But it was Slipknot who flew the flag for pre-millenial metallers. Unsainted's appearance at #86 was only the second time they've ever been in the countdown. The last time was in 2000, which means Slipknot 19-year absence broke Paul Kelly's record of 16 years for longest stint between appearances. As for new metal, this year's countdown was a disappointment, with only Bring Me The Horizon's Ludens making the list. It was only between 101 and 200 that you could find more metal, courtesy of Tool, The Amity Affliction, Ocean Grove, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.

Hoods climb the hill

Hilltop Hoods picked up their 21st entry in the countdown, leaving them just two behind all-time leaders Powderfinger and Foo Fighters (mind you triple j only has them on 20 entries, and isn't counting their Thundamentals collab 21 Grams). Can they reach the record on the back of their next album, whenever that might be? As it stands, they were one of the few acts active since the '90s to make this year's countdown, alongside PNAU, Slipknot and Kanye West. Which also means those acts have all been making music longer than Billie Eilish has been alive.

Are the Warm Tunas still fresh?

This social media aggregator has never claimed to be perfect in its predictions, but it does claim to be the most accurate predictor of Hottest 100s. So far it's two from four for picking winners, although it did predict eight of the top 10. So why didn't its prediction of Denzel Curry's Bulls On Parade winning come to fruition? Here's what Hottest 100 guru Patrick Avenell had to say on the day:




Plum position

Among the women killing it at the top of the tree was Thelma Plum. By landing at #9 with Better In Blak, she became the highest ranking Indigenous Australian, overtaking A.B. Original’s January 26 (which came in at #16 in the Hottest 100 of 2016). Plum had three entries in the countdown, which I believe is also a record for an indigenous artist (although I'll stand corrected on that one).


Want to learn more? Check out what triple j had to say about the countdown.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

11 awesome songs that missed triple j's 1999 Hottest 100

There were a lot of great songs in the 1999 Hottest 100 (and you can hear them today when the countdown is replayed on Double J). But there were also some not-so-great songs (The Tenants' You Shit Me Tears for example... at #3!).

So what if some of those not-so-awesome tunes (I'm looking at you, Bevan: The Musical) made way for some bona fide classics? Here are 11 songs that you won’t believe missed the 1999 Hottest 100.

READ MORE ABOUT SONGS THAT MISSED TRIPLE J'S HOTTEST 100 HERE!


Darude - Sandstorm


This meme-worthy Finnish trance tune took a long time to achieve the (slightly ironic) renown it now enjoys, so it's understandable that it didn't make the grade in 1999. In fact, it was only properly released in most countries in 2000, cracking the ARIA charts in July of that year. But I'll bet former triple j presenter Alex Dyson is perpetually disappointed by the fact his signature tune never made the Hottest 100.

Bonus fact: Finland's only entry in the Hottest 100 came in 2000 thanks to Bomfunk MCs and their song Freestyler, which landed at #24.


Eminem - My Name Is


In 1999, triple j was one of the first (if not the first) Australian radio stations to play Eminem, giving regular rotations to this, his breakthrough track. It was edgy AF at the time and unlike any other hip hop being played on the js. Although, to be fair, there wasn't a huge amount of hip hop on triple j back then. In fact, only one hip hop tune made it into the Hottest 100 of 1999 - Everlast's What It's Like. When experts write up lists of the greatest hip hop songs of all time, guess which rates higher - What It's Like or My Name Is? The answer is not What It's Like.

Bonus fact: Eminem had one brief golden year with the Hottest 100 (2002) when he had three songs in the countdown, including all-time anthem Lose Yourself at #7.


Smash Mouth - All Star



Like Darude's Sandstorm, this is all about the memes these days. Back in 1999, All Star was too mainstream to get a lot of airplay on triple j, even though Smash Mouth's Walkin' On The Sun made it all the way to #11 in the 1997 Hottest 100. But have a look through the playlist from the '99 countdown and tell me All Star doesn't belong on there. Is there a song that typifies 1999 more?

Bonus fact: According to IMDb, All Star has been used on at least 15 different movies and TV shows. Meanwhile, YouTube has thousands of insane remixes, mashups, and reinterpretations of it.

Sigur Ros - Svefn-g-englar



I distinctly remember hearing this song for the first time. Triple j guru Richard Kingsmill played it on his 1999 program, introducing it as something coming out of Iceland that was unlike anything you'd ever heard before. He wasn't wrong. I was driving at the time and arrived at my destination one minute into the song, but sat in the car for the next six minutes to hear the rest. For mine, it's one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever, from an all-time classic album. Is it an injustice that Sigur Ros have only made it into the Hottest 100 once (Gobbledigook reached #93 in 2008)? Yes. Is it surprising? Not entirely - this kind of glacial, ethereal music is not to all tastes.

Bonus fact: Sigur Ros was the third Icelandic act to make it into the Hottest 100, following Bjork (of course) and Emiliana Torrini. Frontman Jonsi has also made it into the countdown as a solo artist (Go Do reached #96 in 2010).

The Chemical Brothers feat. Noel Gallagher - Let Forever Be



This has all the hallmarks of a great Chemical Brothers track – an astoundingly cool rock beat, psychedelic noises galore, talented guest vocalist (Oasis’ Noel Gallagher), and a rad film clip (courtesy of Michel Gondry). Yet it’s not one of the 11 songs from the electro veterans to make the Hottest 100 over the 22 years since Setting Sun put them in the countdown for the first time.
For the record, Setting Sun featured another astoundingly cool rock beat, plenty of psychedelic noises, a talented guest vocalist (Oasis’ Noel Gallagher), and a not-as-cool film clip. Had this race already been run? Surely not. There are a stack of great Chemical Brothers tracks not in those 11 songs. Let Forever Be just happens to be one of their best, and for inexplicable reasons, it didn’t make the cut. How does it feel like? Weird – just like the grammar in that sentence.

Bonus fact: Also disappointing is the fact nothing off The Chemical Brothers' 2019 album No Geography landed in the 2019 Hottest 100. Their most recent entry was in 2015 (Go at #46), which ended an eight-year Hottest 100 drought for the duo.

Shihad - My Mind's Sedate




Don't call them Pacifier. Just forget that happened (although the "self-titled" Pacifier is actually pretty good). Let's just remember the less confusing times, when these Kiwi hard-rockers were blowing minds via triple j's airwaves, first with their 1997 single Home Again, then with their ballbusting 1999 album The General Electric. Unbelievably Home Again never made it into the Hottest 100, and the single Pacifier was the only The General Electric track to get voted into the poll. Why not this three-minute burst of raging against the machine?

Bonus fact: Shihad are one of the few bands (Rufus AKA Rufus Du Sol is another) to crack the Hottest 100 under two different names - in 2000 as Shihad with the song Pacifier (#25) and in 2002 as Pacifier with the song Comfort Me (#34).

Muse - Muscle Museum



Muse are one of the most successful acts in Hottest 100 history, with 17 entries including a win for Knights Of Cydonia in 2007. Their first entry was in 2000 with the track Sunburn (#82), but the year before saw triple j blasting a couple of their earlier singles, including this unique rocker. It's a favourite among Muse fans, but obviously there weren't enough of those in 1999.

Bonus fact: Muse's last entry into the Hottest 100 was 2012, when Madness reached #75.

Tom Waits - Big In Japan





Tom Waits. A songwriter’s songwriter. Arguably one of the most daring and influential artists of the past 50 years. Number of Hottest 100 entries – zero. This song is probably the closest he came to scoring a slot in the poll. It was played heavily on triple j when Mule Variations was released, and for many late-Gen Xers/early-Gen Ys, it was their first introduction to the weirdly wonderful uniqueness that is Tom Waits. And what a glorious introduction it is. It’s far from his greatest song (Waits biographer Barney Hoskins doesn’t even rate it in the top 50 Waits tracks in his excellent book Lowside Of The Road) but it sums up so much about the iconic musician. It’s clattering and banging yet hooky and happening, it seems so easy yet oozes class and wit, and it’s strangely timeless and unbeholden to any musical trend of its time or before. And front and centre, is Mr Waits, barking like a carnival hype-man at the end of a long whisky-soaked run on the road, reminding us that, yes, he’s kind of a big deal.

Bonus fact: Mule Variations went to #13 on the ARIA charts, which was his best effort in Australia until Bad As Me reached #11 in 2011.

Ben Folds Five - Narcolepsy



Of Ben Folds Five's six entries into the Hottest 100, one comes from their self-titled debut, three from Whatever And Ever Amen, one from their 1999 farewell ...Reinhold Messner, and one from their comeback The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind. It's the 1999 album that's relevant here, and this song - the opening track - is a prime candidate for inclusion on this list. With its sweeping strings, frantic drums, buzzing bass, and Ben Folds' beautiful piano playing and soul-bearing lyrics, it's a stand-out track on the album. While not a single, it got a lot of airplay on triple j, along with other non-singles Mess, Magic and Your Redneck Past. It's an incredible piece of music, that soars and explodes, yet has incredible moments of fragility.

Bonus fact: Ben Folds has had eight solo appearances in the Hottest 100 (including one tune featuring Regina Spektor) compared to six with Ben Folds Five. He also had one appearance as part of The Bens in 2003 (Just Pretend at #52).



Gomez - Bring It On





Gomez made the Hottest 100 four times, but the year 2000 was their first appearance. They had two songs that year - We Haven't Turned Around (#35) from the album Liquid Skin, and Machismo (#38) from the Machismo EP. That leaves an awful lot of great songs from their first two albums Bring It On and Liquid Skin that didn't make the cut, including this gem, which is from Liquid Skin despite its title. Surely this is objectively a better song than, oh, say, Bevan: The Musical?

Bonus fact: Gomez didn't have a band name when they played first gig in 1996, but stuck a sign out the front saying "Gomez in here" to alert their friend surnamed Gomez to the location of the gig. People thought Gomez was the name of the band, and it stuck.

The Flaming Lips - Buggin' 



Aside from a single guest appearance on a Chemical Brothers song, The Flaming Lips have never featured in a Hottest 100. It's insane when you consider not only how many awesome songs they have, but also how much love triple j has given them over the years. This was the track that got the most airplay off the Lips' classic album The Soft Bulletin, but you could have picked any of a number of tunes from that record for this list.

Bonus fact: This song is not to be confused with the track by the same name that appears on the Space Jam soundtrack sung by Bugs Bunny.