The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown

Updated 23 January 2014, 13:56 AEST

All you need to know to take out triple j’s Hottest 100, the world’s largest song competition. 

triple j’s Hottest 100 is the world’s largest international musical democracy. It’s also an Australia Day tradition. Every January 26, after hundreds of thousands of votes pour in (535,056 last year), friends get together at parties to hear a countdown of the top 100 songs released in the last twelve months.

But the countdown isn’t just an Australian affair. The Hottest 100 is broadcast live on ABC Radio Australia each year, and votes are registered from all corners of the globe. In last year’s countdown, 9,180 votes came from the United States, 432 from Thailand and 179 from India.

So is there a secret to making the perfect Hottest 100 hit? Is it in the beat, or is it all about when a song was released? We’ve taken a look back at the last twenty years of winners to see if we can spot any trends, and we present to your our not so scientific findings to see if we can calculate our way to taking out the number one spot.


1. Is there a magic song duration?
Is there a magic song duration?
Source: ABC
According to a Brazilian study, the average song length has grown from two minutes and 36 seconds in the 1950s to four minutes and 26 seconds in this decade. But how long will your fans be prepared to listen to your next big hit?

While Muse’s 2007 winning entry may have pushed the limit (clocking in at just over six minutes), averaging out all past winners suggests that people are more likely to fall in love with your tune if it hits the four minute mark.
2. Beat it. Just beat it.
Beat it. Just beat it.
Source: ABC
The average BPM (beats per minute) of all winning songs is 119.9, or in other words, the tempo of a solid groove. Sound familiar? That’s the BPM of such classics as Tom Jones’ ‘She’s a Lady’ and Crystal Waters’ ‘100% Pure Love.’ In other words, if it’s the type of song both you and your dad would dance to, it’s got a fighting chance at winning.
3. Who wore it best? And does it even matter?
Who wore it best? And does it even matter?
Source: ABC
Short answer? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try and glean some insights into how outfits affect the outcome of the Hottest 100.

Looking at the cover art of the winners, we can see that it really doesn’t matter what you wear. Or even if your band appears on the cover at all - 12 out of the 20 winners feature no band members on the covers. Notable mention should be given, however, to the two appearances of the traditional rocker outfit, the leather jacket, and one appearance of ‘fur fox skin’, obtained for a dollar by 2012’s winner Macklemore at a thrift shop (the American word for op shop).