Tag Archives: hottest100

Hottest 100 for 2011

Another year, another Australia Day. Another Australia Day, another Triple J Hottest 100. And that, of course, means an excellent excuse to  set R to work on the chart data.

For those outside Australia, the Hottest 100 is a chart of the most popular songs of the previous year, as voted by the listeners of the radio station Triple J. The tradition began in 1991, but initially people voted for their favourite song of all time. From 1993 onwards, the poll took its current form* and was restricted to tracks released in the year in question.

Since the Hottest 100 Wikipedia pages include country of origin**, I thought I would see whether there is any pattern in whose music Australians like best. Since it is Australia Day, it is only appropriate that we are partial to Australian artists and they typically make up close to half of the 100 entries. Interestingly, in the early 90s, Australian artists did not do so well. The United Kingdom has put in a good showing over the last two years, pulling ahead of the United States. Beyond the big three, Australia, UK and US, the pickings get slim very quickly, so I have only included Canada and New Zealand in the chart below.

Number of Hottest 100 tracks by Country

If you have excellent eyesight, you may notice that 2010 is missing from the chart. For some reason, this is the only year which does not include the full chart listing on the Wikipedia page. There is a link to a list on the ABC website, but unfortunately it does not include the country of origin. Maybe a keen Wikipedian reading this post will help by updating the page.

I make no great claims for the sophistication or the insight of this analysis: it was really an excuse to learn about using the XML package for R to pull data from tables in web pages.


results <- data.frame()
col.names <- c("year", "rank", "title", "artist", "country")

# Skip 2010: full list is missing from Wikipedia page
years <- c(1993:2009, 2011)

for (year in years) {
    base.url <- "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_J_Hottest_100,"
    year.url <- paste(base.url, year, sep="_")
    tables <- readHTMLTable(year.url, stringsAsFactor=FALSE)
    table.len <- sapply(tables, length)
    hot <- cbind(year=year, tables[[which(table.len==4)]])
    names(hot) <- col.names
    results <- rbind(results, hot)

# Remap a few countries
results$country[results$country=="Australia [1]"] <- "Australia"
results$country[results$country=="England"] <- "United Kingdom"
results$country[results$country=="Scotland"] <- "United Kingdom"
results$country[results$country=="Wales"] <- "United Kingdom"
results$country[results$country=="England, Wales"] <-"United Kingdom"

# Countries to plot
top5 <- c("Australia", "United States", "United Kingdom",
  "Canada", "New Zealand")

# Create a colourful ggplot chart
plt <- ggplot(subset(results, country %in% top5),
    aes(factor(year), fill=factor(country)))
plt <- plt + geom_bar() + facet_grid(country ~ .)
plt <- plt + labs(x="", y="") + opts(legend.position = "none")

Created by Pretty R at inside-R.org

UPDATE: there is a little bit more analysis in this follow-up post.

* Since the shift to single year charts, there have been two all-time Hottest 100s: 1998 and 2009.

** There are some country combinations, such as “Australia/England”, but the numbers are so small I have simply excluded them from the analysis.

Rolling Stone vs Triple J

Last month Rolling Stone published a revised list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The last version of the list was published in 2004 and, while the update brings the count of 21st century songs from 3 to 28, there have not been too many significant changes. The top ten songs remain the same.


1 Like a Rolling Stone Bob Dylan
2 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction The Rolling Stones
3 Imagine John Lennon
4 What’s Going On Marvin Gaye
5 Respect Aretha Franklin
6 Good Vibrations The Beach Boys
7 Johnny B. Goode Chuck Berry
8 Hey Jude The Beatles
9 Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana
10 What’d I Say Ray Charles

Rolling Stone Top 10 Songs

The Beatles still have more tracks in the list than any other band.

Artist Song Count
1 The Beatles 23
2 The Rolling Stones 14
3 Bob Dylan 13
4 Elvis Presley 11
5 U2 8

Rolling Stone Top 5 Artists

But what interests me most is what this list has to say about Rolling Stone, its readers and the compilers of the list. A while ago I wrote a post about Triple J’s Hottest 100 of All Time where I noted that the Triple J’s list was heavily skewed to the 1990s. This chart shows the distribution by decade.

Triple J tracks by Decade

So how does the Rolling Stone list compare? Here is its distribution.Rolling Stone by decade

The difference between the two should be clear, but just to labour the point, here are the two distributions side by side (and converted to percentages since the Rolling Stone list has five times as many songs in it).

Rolling Stone vs Triple J by Decade

I suppose it should come as no surprise that the baby-boomers love their 60s and 70s music and the Gen-Ys love their 90s music. But, having spent my formative music-listening years in the 80s, I cannot help but feel that decade is under-represented by both charts. Or is that an accurate reflection of the quality of music in the 80s?

And another question: how likely is it that this post will end up in the headlines of Bubblepedia? Fortunately, not very.

Data: the list was obtained from here, a reference obtained from the Wikipedia entry. I fixed some typos, added years and loaded the data into a Google docs spreadsheet. Let me know if you see any remaining errors.

Visualizing the Hottest 100

Today radio station Triple J finished broadcasting their Hottest 100 tracks of all time, the first all-time vote since 1998. For those outside Australia and not familiar with the tradition of the Hottest 100, it began back in 1989 and results are determined by listener votes. After two more years the format changed and votes were restricted to tracks released over the previous year, presumably because the top 10 became a list of the usual suspects. Since then 1998 and this year have been the only all-time hottest votes. A traditional favourite, Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, which was #1 in two of the first three all-time charts only made it to #4 this year, but Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was #1 in the third and again in 1989 1998 and this year it made it to #1 for a third time.

Thanks to the wonderful collaborative spirit of Web 2.0, this year’s full list is already up on Wikipedia, complete with the year of release of each track. This allows me to indulge in my data mining hobby, which is why I am posting here rather than over on the The Music Blogs. So, inspired by a suggestion from Mark Lauer, a regular Mule reader (and careful sub-editor), here is a look at the distribution of the hottest 100 tracks by year of release.


Hottest 100 Track Ranking by Year of Release

While the density certainly increases after about 1995, reflecting a lot of new entrants since the early charts, there is no clear trend along the 45 degree line (and, for the technically-minded, the R2 is about 0.1%). So, while there are not as many oldies in the chart, those oldies that do make it in are just as likely to rank well as the newer entrants. To make the most of the R code I wrote to produce this chart, here is the same thing showing artist name rather than track name.


Hottest 100 Artist Ranking by Year of Release

To get a better sense of the distribution of rank and year, here is a chart that just shows the location of the tracks by year and rank.


Hottest 100 Rank versus Year of Release

Seeing the data just as points like this shows a concentration of tracks released around the mid-90s. A histogram of the year of release confirms this.


Of course, I’m sure this says more about the demographics of voters than the preponderance of true classics in the 90s.

UPDATE: In this tweet, @nicwalmsley suggested an artist scoring system: 100 points for ranking 1st, 1 point for ranking 100th. As he notes, this system puts Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and Nirvana in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Here are the top 10 artists by this measure.

Radiohead 343
Jeff Buckley 269
Nirvana 188
Powderfinger 154
Metallica 152
The Beatles 149
The Smashing Pumpkins 139
Pearl Jam 138
Michael Jackson 135
Pink Floyd 13

FURTHER UPDATE: @Warlach has laboured hard to assemble the full Hottest 100 as a blip.fm playlist.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: In case you are wondering about the geographic mix, as expected the list is dominated by the US and the UK.

USA 45
UK 37
Australia 15
France 2
Jamaica 1

The pedants should note that I’ve counted System of a Down in the USA (rather than USA/Armenia) and Crowded House as Australia (rather than Australia/New Zealand). I hope that doesn’t offend our Kiwi cousins!