As the festive season finally winds down, there is one event on the annual Aussie calendar that I am still looking forward to.
Every year as people head back to work and the normality of everyday life resumes, I cannot wait to celebrate Australia Day.
No, this is not because I want to adorn myself in the Australian flag and drink endless amounts of booze.
It is because there is nothing I look forward to more on the music calendar than the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown.
However, this year, as I enjoy the Australia Day public holiday on January 26, I will not be boogying along to the best tracks of last year.
Triple J announced in November, after surveying its listeners, that it would move the date of the famed countdown to the fourth weekend of January each year.
This year, as fanatics madly whittle down their shortlist of songs to a top 10, listeners are gearing up for the Hottest 100 on Saturday, January 27, with the Hottest 200 to follow on Sunday, January 28.
On its website, Triple J said most of those surveyed — 60 per cent — were in favour of moving the countdown to a different date.
It is a move that has been largely praised by music industry professionals, particularly the likes of indigenous Triple J heavyweight hip-hop duo A.B Original.
The move came after a large national discussion about Australia Day being celebrated on January 26 each year, marking the anniversary of the First Fleet’s arrival in 1788 — a day the indigenous community remembers as one of terror and heartbreak.
According to Triple J, the Hottest 100 countdown has not always traditionally coincided with January 26.
Its website explained the first countdown was on March 5, 1989 and did not regularly match up with January 26 until 1998.
‘‘In fact, the 2004 countdown was on January 25. So, the date of the countdown has moved around and though the Hottest 100 has mostly been held on Australia Day, it’s not about Australia Day,’’ the website read.
As an avid Triple J listener for many years, I was pleased to hear the station had decided to survey its listeners about the countdown date.
With a largely progressive, young audience, the station had heard the cries of its supporters to continue the debate and reassess when its annual Hottest 100 was played.
Almost 65000 of its listeners responded to the survey, where just one per cent had ‘‘no opinion’’ and 39 per cent wanted no change.
For myself, although I was not born into the indigenous community, I can most certainly try to empathise and recognise how January 26 would make their people feel.
While we are all getting to soak up the sun and drinking a cold one to our favourite tunes, they feel sadness and treat the day as one of mourning.
Why should indigenous fans of the station feel left out of something that unites so many of us each year?
Why shouldn’t they get to feel the excitement of waiting for their top pick to be played?
Why is it fair that we can continue to enjoy the annual countdown royalty with a huge smile on our faces while they stay at home waiting for the day to end?
So Triple J, I too praise the move, and not just because of the politics behind it all ... but now we can party to our heart’s content without having to worry about going to work the following day.
I am sure each year in the past fans of the station have dragged themselves into work with a pounding head, in need of sleep and hydration, on January 27; and, we had to wait another whole week until we could see if our reject picks had at least made it into the Hottest 200 — but now we can keep the countdown party going for the entire fourth weekend in January.
I know there have been listeners who are far less accepting of the date change than me, but to those people I ask: did you take the time to voice your opinion in their survey?
There have been tweets expressing listeners’ eagerness to boycott the countdown altogether, and to those people I say: Grow up and continue to support a station that supports independent and upcoming artists.
Triple J and its Hottest 100 are institutions that have launched Australian and international artists alike into the public eye.
The countdown should be a celebration of amazing independent music, not an event to celebrate January 26.
And to those who still have their knickers in a knot about the change, calm down — the fourth Saturday in January will in fact be January 26 next year.
Tara Whitsed is a journalist at The News.