Billie Eilish has beat hotly tipped favourite Tones and I to win Australia’s biggest song poll, the Triple J 2019 Hottest 100, with her song Bad Guy.
The 18-year-old pop sensation has become the first solo female artist to top the countdown, in a top 10 that included five songs by solo women. Previously, women have only placed first in the annual poll as part of a band (Angus and Julia Stone won in 2010 with Big Jet Plane) or as a feature artist (most recently, Canadian singer Kai appeared on Flume’s 2016 winning track Never Be Like You).
Bad Guy was one of five songs from the US artist to feature in this year’s Hottest 100.
It was a surprise victory for Eilish. Mornington Peninsula musician Tones and I was expected to take the number one spot with her single Dance Monkey, which has been a record-breaking success in her home country and abroad. The song spent 32 weeks at the top of the Aria charts, making it the longest-running number one song in Australia’s history. It has gone eight times platinum in Australia, hit number one in more than 30 countries worldwide and been streamed almost 1bn times on Spotify.
Dance Monkey placed at No 4. Twenty-year-old Queensland pop act Mallrat took No 3 with Charlie, while Flume snagged second place with Running Back featuring singer Vera Blue.
No 5 in this year’s poll was a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s anti-imperialist protest track, Bulls on Parade. Florida rapper Denzel Curry’s modern update of the 1996 anthem includes a verse from his own song, Sirens, which takes aim at Donald Trump. In an interview with Triple J last year, Curry said he chose to cover the song for the station’s Like A Version series to make a political statement about how Trump’s presidency is dividing America.
More than 3m votes were cast in this year’s Hottest 100, an increase of 16.4% from last year according to figures released by the broadcaster. Sixty-five of the songs in this year’s poll came from Australian artists, with Flume, Tame Impala, Baker Boy, Lime Cordiale, Pnau and Ziggy Alberts among the local acts to feature. Ocean Alley, last year’s winners, won two spots in this year’s poll. Melbourne’s G Flip had four songs in the countdown, peaking at No 6 with Drink Too Much.
Another big winner this year was Thelma Plum, the Gamilaraay singer-songwriter who released her debut album in 2019. Her songs Not Angry Anymore, Homecoming Queen and Better in Blak all placed, with the latter landing at No 9 – making her the highest-ranking Indigenous artist in the history of the Hottest 100.
This marks the third year that Triple J has not held the Hottest 100 on 26 January, a date that marks the arrival of the first fleet and is considered a day of mourning by many Australians. The station began broadcasting the countdown on Australia Day in 2004, but announced plans to shift the date in 2017 after a national survey in which 60% of respondents voted in favour of moving the poll.
The Hottest 100 wasn’t the only countdown under way: on Twitter, the account @OzKitsch provided comic relief with its “Coldest 100”, which looked back on curious Australian music moments, including a high school percussion ensemble performing AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. The Coldest 100 – which was trending alongside Triple J’s poll – was topped, perfectly, by a video of conservative broadcaster Alan Jones singing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Changes Everything.
On Monday, Triple J will air the Hottest 200, revealing the songs that placed 200-101 in this year’s poll.