From One ‘Normie’ To Another: A Love Letter To Triple J

Written by Jackson Langford.

Dear Triple J,

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, hasn’t it? With the monumental change of date for the Hottest 100 to the announcement of your stellar 2018 lineup, you’ve really given us a lot to digest, haven’t you? But, to be honest, you’ve really been feeding me with delicious and salivating moments for years now. Growing up in a non-capital city with non-musical parents shouldn’t logistically result in a hardcore music lover, but here I am. With parents who probably liked a total of five acts between them (Skyhooks, Mariah Carey and Alice Cooper spring to mind), my love for music wasn’t really a seed that was planted in optimal growing conditions.

But, a ray of sunlight in way of my cousin, found her way to my ears, and she introduced me to two of my biggest personal influences: Kanye West and Limewire. I still remember where I was when I heard ‘Jesus Walks’ for the first time. Being a young criminal was a thrilling life of danger and deceit, but I didn’t care – because suddenly I was accessing entire realms of music I had never knew existed. However, as I grew older and iPods got smaller, music was entering a weird shift, post-Limewire and pre-Soundcloud. All I was exposed to was what commercial radio and Channel V told me to like. While Lady Gaga, Ne-Yo and Rihanna were fine, it wasn’t enough - there was still a thirst that needed to be quenched by more, and I didn’t know that more existed.

Some friends told me to listen to Triple J – which I’ve heard of but never paid attention to – and at the time it was very much the pinnacle of coolness as a teenager. Holy shit, you were edgy if you listened to the J’s. So, in my never-ending quest to seem cooler than I actually was, I adjusted my dial to 102.1 and my life changed forever. From Little Red to Lily Allen, We Are Scientists to Vampire Weekend, Sia to Florence & The Machine – my horizons were broadened beyond anything I could possibly believe.

Now, some near decade later, I’ve cried tears of joy because The Rubens won the Hottest 100 and tears of despair when Lorde didn’t. I’ve still got a Triple J poster on my childhood bedroom wall that I stole from a Griswolds’ gig, and I’ve still got a tune rag sitting above my shelf that I found dirty and torn on the ground at Splendour In The Grass last year. And my love for Triple J and everyone involved has never beamed harder.

Through working in the music industry in a role that allows me to discover new music by the minute, I’ve noticed that we’re starting to morph into a post-radio society. Soundcloud, Spotify and the Internet at large has given us this cluttered junkspace where anyone can upload anything, and those speckling gold nuggets get lost through the dirt. But, also through working in this industry, an opinion I’ve noticed that runs pretty deeply through the bloodline of writers, blogs and fans alike is that Triple J is for “normies.”

How the mighty have fallen, hey? While you’re still my one true love and so important to the culture of young Australians, it looks like those around me think that I should move on. It would seem that we’re beyond making snide, undercutting remarks about each other’s music tastes, and have now progressed/regressed into making snide, undercutting remarks about HOW we consume our music.

Not everyone has the luxury of being emailed new music by various PR firms across the country and premiering it on their blog. Not everyone has the luxury of getting an exclusive invite to a music showcase that is gonna make their Instagram story look beyond lit. But everyone with access to a radio has the luxury of hearing the delightfully pure banter between Ben & Liam, or the warmth that radiates out of Zan Rowe’s mouth when she talks about music she loves. Everyone has the luxury of being able to physically hear the smile across Linda Marigliano’s face when she’s bumping that new Mallrat song, and everyone has the luxury of hearing Bridget Hustwaite soundtrack your smoko and making their work day just that little bit brighter.

Now, you’re not without your faults. You could’ve changed the Hottest 100 date a little bit earlier, and you’ve interviewed actual Nazis a little more than my liking (once). Sometimes I feel like you don’t embrace pop music as much as you should (although Beyoncé’s ‘Hold Up’ coming in at #66 in last year’s Hottest 100 was a big moment for me) and other times I worry about a lack of diversity across genders and races.

But, for the most part, you’ve been that sieve to find those golden musical nuggets for our country for decades. Without you and your beautiful smol gren drum baby Triple J Unearthed, we simply wouldn’t have Flume or Tkay or Courtney Barnett. Who knows if Lorde or Gotye would’ve picked up those Grammys had you not thrown your support wholly and passionately behind them? And I don’t even want to think about how dark my life would be if “pack ‘er up, boys!” hadn’t become part of my daily vernacular.

Because not all of us think a Pitchfork review is the be all and end all of music criticism. Not all of us think that doing a shoey should result in prison time. And not all of us come from capital cities and have the privilege of having a plethora of live music to attend every single night just to hop on Twitter and complain about how bad they were live.

But, whether people like it or not, all of us have you, my big red drum-shaped lover, to thank - in some degree – for breathing hope and opportunity to so many young artists across the country. And I will be the first to admit that my love for you is undying, unwavering and unscathed by anything anyone has to say. If that makes me a normie, then so be it.

Love,

A boy who is already trying to figure out how he’s going to get Hottest 100 day off work.

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