Every Hottest 100 Winner Ranked From ‘Thrift Shop’ To Good

Not all Hottest 100 winners are created equal.

hottest 100 ranking winners photo

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All Hottest 100 winners were not made equal under God.

It’s easy to think they were. After all, for the last few years, the quality of the countdown has been pretty on point, with subversive and intelligent work getting properly recognised. But that wasn’t always the case. Over the almost 30 years since it was first established, the biggest song countdown in the country has oscillated between the ludicrous and the infuriating.

Not to say that it isn’t fun to remember such past mistakes. For better and for worse, the Hottest 100 is a cultural barometer, measuring our taste, and preserving the sometimes ridiculous things that we’ve been into for all time, so that future generations may laugh at us.

To that end, we ranked every Hottest 100 winner — from the annual countdowns, not the various ‘Of All Time’ ones — from the godawful to the shocking to the inspired.

#27. The Rubens — ‘Hoops’ (2015)

It’s weird this song won the Hottest 100, because it doesn’t exist. Neither do The Rubens. They are figments of your imagination. You’ve been in a coma for ten years. It’s time to wake up and come back to us, Beth.

#26. Vance Joy — ‘Riptide’ (2013)

Vance Joy is a pair of off-white socks who has spent the last half a decade trying to convince the population he is charming despite releasing the least engaging music ever written. I do not care for him, nor this song.

#25. Mumford & Sons — ‘Little Lion Man’ (2009)

Mark E. Smith of The Fall had the last word on Mumford & Sons. “We were playing a festival in Dublin the other week,” he once said in an interview. “There was this other group warming up in the next sort of chalet, and they were terrible. I said, ‘Shut them cunts up,’ and they were still warming up, so I threw a bottle at them. My band said, ‘That’s the Sons Of Mumford [sic] or something, they’re Number Five in charts!'”

#24. The Whitlams — ‘No Aphrodisiac’ (1997)

No more The Whitlams, society has progressed past the need for The Whitlams.

#23. Ocean Alley — ‘Confidence’ (2018)

This is just Thundercat’s ‘Them Changes’. Seriously. That’s all it is.

#22. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz — ‘Thrift Shop’ (2012)

No song better sums up the sheer idiocy of American pop culture than this one, and I am surprised that it wasn’t elected President.

#21. Chet Faker — ‘Talk Is Cheap’ (2014)

A song that defies object permanence — sounds lovely when it’s on, is impossible to recall when it’s not.

#20. Alex Lloyd — ‘Amazing’ (2001)

In some sense, it’s not that bad, but it beat both ‘Clint Eastwood’ by the Gorillaz and ‘Chop Suey!’ by System of a Down, so in another equally important sense, it can proceed directly to Hell.

#19. Bernard Fanning — ‘Wish You Well’ (2005)

Sure, this Bernard Fanning song is boring as ten hours spent staring at a wall, but it’s the only thing that stopped Ben Lee’s ‘Catch My Disease’ from hitting number one, and for that reason we should be ever thankful for it.

#18. Franz Ferdinand — ‘Take Me Out’ (2004)

The only song in all of recorded history that has both soundtracked a Kia Sportage advert and topped the Hottest 100.

#17. Jet — ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ (2003)

The second best thing associated with Jet after that Pitchfork review of Shine On that was just a video of a monkey pissing in his own mouth.

#16. Powderfinger — ‘These Days’ (1999)

This is what it sounds like when dads cry.

#15. The Offspring — ‘Pretty Fly (For A White Guy’) (1998)

Not even The Offspring wanted people to vote for this song when triple j organised a repeat of the 1998 Hottest 100. Which just goes to show how horseshit winners usually are, given it’s better than about half of them.

#14. Kings Of Leon — ‘Sex On Fire’ (2008)

Yes, this song is about as lively as an elephant moving through tar, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that chorus fucken’ slaps.

#13. Powderfinger — ‘My Happiness’ (2000)

A fridge full of VB and some cling-film wrapped watermelon slices.

#12. Muse — ‘Knights Of Cydonia’ (2007)

I love Muse. I don’t know why, given that they make music that sounds like Pablo Honey, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and a fedora all got put in a blender and then poured like treacle over some of the dumbest riffs imaginable. But there’s just something so exuberant about their idiocy — and no song demonstrates that more clearly than ‘Knights’.

#11. Spiderbait — ‘Buy Me A Pony’ (1996)

1:42 is the perfect song length, do not @ me.

#10. Denis Leary — ‘Asshole’ (1993)

It’s so infuriating that this song topped the first ever Hottest 100, beating both Radiohead and ‘Killing In The Name’, that it actually goes right around and becomes funny again.

#9. Augie March — ‘One Crowded Hour’ (2006)

This song’s as twee as an old sweater. But I don’t care. I love it with all of my heart.

#8. Angus & Julia Stone — ‘Big Jet Plane’ (2010)

Listen, I know people give this song a lot of shit, but Angus & Julia Stone are an interesting act purely by virtue of how not interesting they are. They have turned blandness into a superpower. Their idea of going hogwild is spending tens of thousands of dollars on smoothies, and also releasing this, a children’s song with a pretty cool riff. Good on ’em.

#7. Gotye feat. Kimbra — ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ (2011)

Gotye has the only truly interesting career in modern Australian music: play a bunch of songs at house parties in Melbourne, get famous, never release anything ever again. A legend.

#6. Flume feat. Kai — ‘Never Be Like You’ (2016)

Flume’s been so canonised by the Australian music industry that it’s easy to think he’s boring, or overexposed. And then you put on a song like ‘Never Be Like You’, and his real genius washes over you once more.

#5. Oasis — ‘Wonderwall’ (1995)

Anyway, here’s the best song of Oasis’ entire career, bar none.

#4. Billie Eilish — ‘bad guy’ (2019)

Not only is ‘bad guy’ great because it stopped ‘Dance Monkey’ from reaching the top spot, it’s also great on its own merits — a work of slick, gonzo art that combines the tonal control and production chops of Run the Jewels with the ingenuity of peak Britney Spears. It’s perfect, and deserves every ounce of acclaim it’s ever gotten.

#3. The Cranberries — ‘Zombie’ (1994)

It’s wild not only that a song this legitimately good and influential topped the Hottest 100, but also that the listening public chose it over the slew of Offspring tunes that were released that year. Sometimes we do have it in us to be surprising, clearly.

#2. Queens Of The Stone Age — ‘No One Knows’ (2002)

By the early two thousands, Josh Homme had dusted off the subversive, unique charm of his work with Kyuss and Queen of the Stone Age’s early, distinctly horny material, and attempted to make something more mainstream. The result, Songs For The Death, is one of the slickest, most immediately pleasing albums of the band’s entire career. And the breakout single, ‘No One Knows’ is pure magic, a leather jacket set on fire. God bless every second of it.

#1. Kendrick Lamar — ‘HUMBLE.’ (2017)

A paean to self-worth that demonstrates Kendrick’s usual disregard for the norms of the age, ‘HUMBLE.’ was a radical table reset after the more cerebral, complex pleasures of To Pimp A Butterfly. In its singularity and its intensity, it is one of the greatest rap singles of the last three decades, and as good as mainstream radio fodder gets. Oh, and voting it in at number one was a kind of make-up award, following the sheer disrespect ‘King Kunta’ was shown years before. King Kendrick, indeed.

Joseph Earp is a staff writer at Junkee. He tweets @Joseph_O_Earp.