To celebrate 20 years of their Hottest 100 countdown, triple j want you to vote for your favourite songs of the past 20 years. For inspiration, we asked triple j presenter and satirical smartarse Max Lavergne to tell us his 20 favourite songs of the past 20 years.
1. NOFX – ‘The Longest Line’
I wish I could tell you I have always been the hip motherfucker whose words you are currently reading, but like many teens, I was obsessed with pop-punk. A lot of that shit is indefensible now, but I believe NOFX are a good band, and this is without doubt a humble classic of the genre.
2. Tom Waits – ‘Big In Japan’
I will always love Tom Waits and that’s why I’m allowed to say he’s only released one great album in the last 20 years and it’s Mule Variations. I wish he made more songs as raucous and gleeful as this one.
3. LCD Soundsystem – ‘Losing My Edge’
If I could have written any song on this list it’d be this one. Its genius is obvious – it’s funny and sad (a great combo, writers) and you can stand in a corner and nod your head to it.
4. Neutral Milk Hotel – ‘Two-Headed Boy’
Fuck that last one – THIS is the song I wish I’d written. This is my favourite song ever. In November I will piss everyone off by hollering the lyrics as loudly and frequently as I can.
5. Deerhunter – ‘Little Kids’
Like almost every Deerhunter song, this song is perfect. Beautiful production, terrific melodies, a bunch of great ideas, structurally flawless. Fuck this band.
6. Royal Headache – ‘Girls’
As far as I’m concerned, half this list could be Royal Headache songs. (It’s only not because that’d be boring and I wouldn’t get paid.) (Just kidding, not getting paid anyway.) This band is everything I love about music and nothing I don’t. This is my favourite Royal Headache song.
7. Eddy Current Suppression Ring – ‘Memory Lane’
If you play someone this song and they find a reason to dislike it, you can tell by the reason exactly what kind of dickhead they are.
8. Mclusky – ‘To Hell With Good Intentions’
It sucks how few bands are genuinely misanthropic when sometimes it is ALL you need from music, so praise Satan for Mclusky.
9. Hot Snakes – ‘Let It Come’
I’m almost definitely wrong, but I imagine that Reis & Froberg wrote this in the Drive Like Jehu days and it gave them the idea to start a punk band.
10. Shellac – ‘Prayer To God’
This is such a poisonously angry song I don’t know how it could not affect anyone.
11. Blur – ‘Tender’
It’s hard to pick just one of the great pop songs Damon Albarn has written in the last 20 years, but the way ‘Tender’ oscillates from wistful uncertainty to celebration is pretty special.
12. Okkervil River – ‘Black’
I love Okkervil River and this song is such an eloquent and powerful expression of sadness, anger & impotence. I’ve probably listened to it 1000 times and it still gives me a l’il shiver.
13. The Mountain Goats – ‘No Children’
‘No Children’ is the musical equivalent of flipping off the canyon floor as your burning shitbox car hurtles off the cliff, i.e. VERY rude and exhilarating.
14. J Mascis + The Fog – ‘Everybody Lets Me Down’
They’d probably hate it, but I subconsciously lump every Dinosaur Jr. spin-off into one big catalogue of great songs and this is somehow my favourite.
15. Cat Power – ‘I Don’t Blame You’
The simplicity and elegance of this song is so perfect for its subject matter and its melody. It’s a tiny little masterpiece.
16. Fucked Up – ‘The Chemistry of Common Life’
I understand SOME of what I love about this fucking ridiculously brilliant album but it’s so complex and layered there’s a heap of shit I don’t understand and that’s exciting too.
17. Silver Jews – ‘Punks in the Beerlight’
Most bands write lyrics that are competently decent, a small percentage write garbage and even fewer write lyrics that are good enough to be called poetry. Dave Berman of Silver Jews does.
18. Spoon – ‘Jonathon Fisk’
Any list of the best songs of the last 20 years that doesn’t include Spoon is a joke.
19. The White Stripes – ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’
The garage rock boom of 2001 made a lot of garbage famous, but with hindsight we know that The White Stripes were the real deal. I would characterise this song as “glum”, which is a powerful emotion.
20. Yo La Tengo – ‘Don’t Have To Be So Sad’
Yo La Tengo are capable of writing almost ANY kind of song, but the kind they do better than anyone is warm and intimate.
WITH MAX LAVERGNE
Voting closes Sunday June 2. More at abc.net.au/triplej/hottest100/alltime/20years