Monday, 13 December 2010

TSP's 10 point plan to save the A-League

First a declaration - my interest in the A-League is more as a dispassionate onlooker than a supporter. The standard of football is terrible, the rivalries are manufactured, the team I supported in the NSL weren't allowed in for being too foreign and the trophy they give out to the winning side appears to be a toilet seat.

Realistically I couldn't give a continental whether or not the league prospers or goes completely tits up and ends up bankrupting everyone involved, but recognising that playing "Fantasy Chairman" is far more interesting than doing actual work I've come up with my plan to at least arrest the violent decline that the competition is suffering.

It might not save a competition where ten of the eleven clubs are either financially bollocksed or well on the way but now that the loss of the World Cup bid has effectively harpooned their Plan A for the future (i.e surely people will get up and about for football sometime before 2022) and there doesn't appear to be a Plan B this might be as good as it gets.

Get your red pens and hate out because it's time to start picking holes in the plan.

1 - Make it look like people care
Where possible order every team in the competition to close the side of the ground with the cameras on it to 'fans'. It's no wonder that matches only have attendances of 3 or 4 thousand when people see highlights on television and there doesn't appear to be a single person in the ground.

Force everybody in the arena to be where the camera can see them, and if you have to change the setup of the place to achieve it then do it and do it quickly. There's a big loser vibe hanging around the competition at the moment and it'll be impossible to shake if it goes on too long. Then people will not only stop going to games they'll stop watching them on TV too, Foxtel will decide that it's not worth it and next thing you know it's Central Coast vs Melbourne Heart on Channel 31. On replay. At 3.30am on a Wednesday.

2 - Accentuate the positive
Start preparing for a long term plan to drop the obsession with gigantic stadiums and look for boutique 10k grounds to play in.

It's hard to pull a stadium out of thin air, and there's no doubt that there were a heap of long term contracts signed in haste during the first years of the competition but other than Victory, Adelaide and Perth you've got teams playing in cavernous stadiums that they're never going to fill regularly. Drop the pipe dream that you're going to get 30k to every single match, at least for now, and pump some money into utilising 'secondary' stadiums in each city.

Split matches between the main ground and the smaller venues as required. Make the state federations fund the creation of a 'home of football' rectangular stadium in each capital city which can be used by the A-League teams and for state grand finals.

3 - Put on games that people care about
Can all the midweek games wherever possible and replace them with a national cup comp - even if it's just the 11 teams + 21 of the top state league/New Zealand for a 32 team knockout. Seed it so the 11 A-League teams can't play each other and make them all play their first game at the smaller side's ground.

If you can't find enough state league teams of a decent standard invite the national sides of Fiji, Solomon Islands, East Timor, PNG etc.. to play, it's not like their players are doing anything else on a Wednesday that they won't be able to get out of.

4 - Take it to the streets
Play more matches 'on the road' in cities without A-League teams.

Wellington have got the right idea playing one or two games a year in Christchurch and Dunedin - they get bigger crowds there than at home. Can't believe they don't play more games in Geelong, Canberra, Cairns, Tassie etc.. If I was the Gold Coast I'd much rather play a game in Hobart and get 2000 people than 1700 at home. The main focus on the comp should be TV and good luck if you get a crowd.

There's building your 'brand' and then there's recognising that right now nobody in your city gives a rats and if they do they're almost certainly watching it on television. When the game is live the majority of people don't give a rats where they're watching it from. What it does give you is a chance to show why they should come to your next (heavily promoted on the coverage) home game.

5 - Know your role
Move the dates of the season so that it goes over the start of the footy seasons more than the end.

There's no point starting the comp during AFL/NRL finals and waiting for people to care comes Round 5, you may as well start it against round 1 or pre-season competitions. It's still not ideal, and there should be as little crossover as possible, but you cannot launch a season against the finals of the two biggest competitions.

More importantly drop the rhetoric about how it's the world game and how it should be so much more important than 'native' sports. Maybe it should be, but in this country it isn't - just like how it will never be in the US and their league is on a long-term upswing because they've been smart enough to target the right markets instead of annoying everyone else with a sense of entitlement.

Junior participation figures are all well and good but it means nothing if all your clubs are bankrupt and the kids chuck it in at 15 to play ping pong instead.

6 - Find teams people care about
Maybe this is an outrageous suggestion, but they could invite massive foreign clubs to field a 'reserves' side as the 12th team. Having 11 teams makes no sense, and they could invite a different side every season.

Even if it's Manchester City reserves playing out of Northcote they'll probably generate more interest and TV coverage where it actually counts than having a team in Townsville. Even if you invited some more money than brains freaks like Red Bull to field a different team every year they'd probably buy enough decent name foreign players to keep it interesting.

It's a grubby path to travel down, and it would be unfortunate to have to go in that direction, but the other option is to keep travelling along with teams being propped up by billionaires until they get sick of wasting their money and let the clubs die, leaving the competition with one or two solid, viable teams and a rotating cavalcade of teams from the same city changing their name and going broke every two years.

7 - Reunite with 'old' football
Don't be afraid of letting the state leagues play during summer. Instead of miring them in the winter in front of empty stadiums, treating them like second class citizens and then stealing their players at the end of the year for free embrace them. Play your reserves and youth teams in the state competitions. Kick out the clubs who are thinly veiled political parties and concentrate on the ones that are being run for the right reasons. Play a limited amount of games as curtain raisers to the A-League games in the same city.

8 - Rewrite the past
Shut the fark up about "the bad old days" and how the NSL was apparently a non-stop warzone of ethnic violence. It had its moments, and it's the fault of the people running the game for not doing better to stamp it out, but the majority of matches were conducted in a completely trouble free environment. I seem to recall them even playing the national anthem before every game, something they don't do anymore.

Next time somebody goes off on a rant about the 'bad old days' (i.e anyone who ever talks about the game on SEN) ask them to name off the top of their head their all-time five best NSL riots. Chances are that they'll struggle to get to three without just making something up.

Just because the so called 'football community' can draw a line between 'old football' and 'new football' it doesn't mean everybody else does and the outright lies that are told about what it 'used to be like' do nothing to get the people who think it still is like that to buy into the game.

9 - Plan for the future
A "B-League" with promotion and relegation might not be viable yet, and it might never be, but identify and nurture the best clubs outside the A-League in Australia and New Zealand. Set up a "Champions League" for the best state league teams to play each other, encourage pre-season friendlies between these sides and the A-League clubs. The league has to stop pretending that everything is rosy inside the tent and a complete nightmare outside of it because they're a couple of bored businessmen pulling out away from being in exactly the same situation and playing in front of cow paddocks.

10 - Admit where you've gone wrong
Don't rush to add any new teams.

Introducing a second team in Melbourne was probably the right thing to do, especially considering how many sides there are in NSW and Queensland, but it's going to take a lot of time and a lot of lost money for it to work. I've always said that they should have had two teams in Melbourne and Sydney straight off the bat from season one - there was very little to be gained in building one up and then (supposedly) cutting it in half to create a second team three or four years later.

It's clear that none of the expansion teams have worked. Wellington just about get away with it despite having ordinary crowds, but they were really just a straight swap for the failed Auckland side that fouled up the average attendances of the first season of the competition. Both North Queensland and the Gold Coast have been failed experiments that are either on their last legs or should be. Instead of adding new sides I'd merge those two teams, rebrand them as Queensland and have them play half their games in each location with an eye to television figures instead of crowd attendance.

The FFA have already given up the idea of adding a West Sydney team for now. Despite the success of the first Sydney side they can barely string a crowd together so it was never going to work except as a tax write-off. There are a lot of places in Australia where you could put a team but you wouldn't make a dime - instead of rolling the dice and hoping for the best pair teams up with these cities and have them share their games with them instead of expensive new sides with barely any support or financial backing.

If all else fails just accept that the whole thing is a massive waste of money and give up.

Frank Lowy, despite spending the last ten years trying to convince people that Chadstone: The Fashion Capital is better than anything Westfield has to offer I'm here to help. I'm happy to drop everything and come work for the league right now but I want to be paid up front.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

How do you solve a problem like Christmas?

For most of my life I've been Christmas skeptic. It's probably got something to do with rumbling the Santa myth at the age of four after laying a trap and springing out of bed to find my mother and grandmother pretending to be Jolly Old St. Nick. “AHA!” I probably didn’t cry, before forcing them to admit that the whole thing was a fraud. The good news was that I got the presents anyway after promising not to go straight out on the first day of the new school year and spill the beans to everybody else. Had it happened today I’d have been whisked off to therapy to the next day and wouldn’t have turned out the bitter, soulless, heartless human that I stand accused of being. Well, maybe not the soul bit. That went when I sold it to some guy in Albury on Ebay for $13.50 in 2001 but that's not important right now.

So, in the spirit of openness and tolerance which should guide everything we do no matter what, if any, religion you follow I'm writing this for everyone. But more specifically, at the risk of turning this into a My Chemical Romance song, I'm writing to the people who have been bullied by society into Christmas against their will and are seeking a way out. You, my friends, are not alone. Follow me and we'll create a world where people can no longer describe you as "Scrooge" in a borderline defamatory way because you don’t want to join their workplace Kris Kringle or drape everything with tinsel.

It’s the enforced gift exchange which troubles me the most. I'm not sure this aspect of the festival was ever explicitly stipulated in the bible. Perhaps it's deep inside one of those clauses that you have to read in Aramaic while hanging upside down from a tree to get the correct interpretation, but never in nine years of paying polite interest at Catholic schools do I remember the bit where they read us JB Hi-Fi 3:16 “thou shalt buy gifts for all or be cast into the fires of social hell”. What I will tell you for certain is that there’s nothing about having to send every person you’ve ever met in your life a card every year. Just like Valentine’s Day and the twenty pages of gushing, embarrassing and frankly hilarious messages between courting couples in the newspapers it’s an invention designed to line the pockets of merchants, keep the Hallmark company afloat and give us all a reason to coo over the fact that there's still some sort of civility in society.

This week alone I've been asked three times "have you done your Christmas shopping yet?" and three times I've said I don't do it only to be greeted with a look like I'd just admitted to butchering a Shetland Pony with a machete. This isn’t some sort of anti-capitalist protest and my next step isn’t throwing rubbish bins at riot police out the front of the G20 summit, I say spend money until you’re utterly bankrupt and forced to live in a cardboard box if you like just don’t do it because you feel that you have to or because you’re worried about social exclusion.

Nobody seems to care if you’re not interested in the religious side of things, which is odd but not as strange as how the 20% of people who identified as being non-Christian or nothing at all in the last census are somehow allowed to skip all the Jesus focused celebrations but are still required, as if by law, to hand over trinkets and Borders gift vouchers to third cousins and garbagemen. You can openly mock the concept of going to a Midnight mass to somebody in one breath and then be cut out of their will for not sending a card. That 20% is not even counting the 11% of people taking the piss and claiming stupid things like being Jedi. How many of us are just doing it to keep others happy? Maybe a majority generally enjoy it, or at least force themselves to, but what about people who don’t? Do you have the right to say no without being abused or having people say they’re “sorry for you”? Of course you do.

I'm as guilty as any child of taking the Sega Master System and running when I was young. I’m certainly not standing on any lifelong moral highground here, and even though I’m still concerned about the morality of telling your kids lying is always wrong and then lying to them about some fat porky climbing down the ceiling and stuffing the sack I can see how going along with the myths and mystical teachings of St. Xbox can be positive for kids.

At least it should be positive, I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where the split came pre-birth and I was never treated to the spectacle of arguments over the table on the 25th and the inevitable divorce-remarriage circuit leading to an interminable Tour De France style quest to fifty gatherings a year with yet more and more presents for half siblings, cousins and other various freaks that you barely know and barely tolerate. Imagine having to go through all that? Plenty of you probably do and if you’re sick of it just say no.

Last night I suffered the biggest grilling of all time about my lack of interest in the season. It was light hearted, but there was a tone of disbelief when I reiterated that no I really don't want to receive presents. Nor do I want to sing carols, put up a tree or drive around the suburbs trying to find obscenely lit up houses sapping the national power grid with their neon atrocities. First there was the suggestion that I’d been scarred by bad experiences with my family, then the idea that it was bad gifts in the past and finally budgetary concerns on my behalf. There’s nothing like people thinking you’ve blown all your money on the pokies to really make you really feel welcome in their holiday season.

But that doesn't mean that I don't want you to do any, or all, of the above. I'm not the December version of Richard Dawkins, hacking down Christmas trees with an axe and leaping out from behind trees to scream at children that their parents are lying to them about Santa. Call me scrooge if it makes you feel better about having maxed out your credit card for no reason, but a true Scrooge would want to ruin the season for everybody else. Not us. We just want to be on the margins, sitting on the kids table looking in this quaint, invented tradition.

If you're into it then you have my blessing to go mad for the season in any way you wish. But if you're only going along with it to please everyone else then I'm here to tell you that you're not alone and it's time to stand up and fight for your right to depart from Christmas.

"You have to give presents" I was told. Why? Is it so wrong to remove oneself from the whole thing? I don't want to be given anything, I don't want to give you anything and we're all happy. There's no need to trawl shopping centres at 3am on the Thursday before Christmas desperately trying to find me something that I might like but if I don't you don't really care because I'll plaster on a fake smile and pretend I do anyway.

If you say you’re not keen get ready for the standard arguments. You shouldn't have the same holidays, you shouldn't be allowed to go to the parties, you should be thrown on a similar bonfire to Joan of Arc etc.. Do they do the same to friends of other religions? Of course not. It would be borderline racist and you’d probably end up with somebody knifing you. I’d be more than happy to show up at work on the 25th as long as meant being able to exercise the democratic right to not go through the rest of the process.

There's a sickening falseness to the whole thing. Even if you're going to give and get with your closest family why do you need to wait until December 25? Surprise your mother with something nice on May 13. Do it again on August 2, hell fire up again on December 24th if you must but why wait until you're told to do it.

Now is the time for all of us who don't want to play the game to say so. No more anxiety about what Aunt Mabel or the guy in the chicken shop will think if you don't give them a gift. Tell them that they're wonderful people and that you don't want them to give you anything either. Instead I say give to charity. This isn't some sort of George Costanza "Human Fund" scam, do something positive in the name of your loved ones and if they don't appreciate it then tough - tell them to go to the Congo and recover their donated duck.

The world is not going to be saved in our lifetime but I'm here to tell you that the path to enlightenment isn't coming from a bag stuffed full of randomly selected crap from Chadstone: The Fashion Capital which you found only after driving around for three hours to get a car park. At the risk of ending up living in a panic room with Danish cartoonists I'm going to suggest that if the old JC chose December 25 to make his shock comeback (and wouldn't that completely ruin up the day for those of us who never believed in the first place?) he'd slap mankind upside the head for being greedy bastards who completely missed the point.

This December just say enough is enough. No matter what the power of commerce compels you to do you've got a choice to say no. See you in social hell suckers.

P.S - I am available to host any Christmas functions
P.P.S – Once you’re shunned by your family you’re welcome to come over to mine on the 25th and watch National Lampoon’s European Vacation. There’s a fit bit o’tit in it.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

TSP's top 50 tracks of 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the most prestigious night in international music. The TSP Top 50 for 2010. Which act will walk away with this year's David Lee Roth medal for song of the year? And here's tonight's host...

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My lords, ladies and gentlemen. Before we start a quick recap of the top fives of previous years. Full counts from 2007, 2008 and 2009 if you're into that sort of thing and broken YouTube links.

Everything else was lost in the Great Blog Hosting Debacle of 2006. '07 was even extended to a top 100, the folly of which is now shown by the fact that nobody can remember how 3/4 of the songs from 51-100 went.

2005
1. Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot
2. Maximo Park - Apply Some Pressure
3. Goldfrapp - Ooh La La
4. The Killers - Somebody Told Me
5. Bloc Party - Helicopter

2006
1. The Young Knives - Here Comes The Rumor Mill
2. Giant Drag - This Isn’t It
3. Silvia Night - Congratulations
4. Lily Allen - LDN
5. Joey Negro - Make A Move On Me

2007
1. The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy!
2. New Young Pony Club - Ice Cream
3. The Teenagers - Homecoming
4. Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent
5. Jack Penate - Spit At Stars

2008
1. Lethal Bizzle - The Come Up
2. Neon Neon - Luxury Pool
3. MGMT - Electric Feel
4. Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream
5. Fryars - Olive Eyes

2009
1. N.A.S.A - Spacious Thoughts (featuring Tom Waits and Kool Keith)
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll
3. Boy Crisis - The Fountain of Youth
4. Bat For Lashes - Daniel
5. Low Fidelity All Stars - The Good Times

As we can see no artist has ever made the top five twice. Most of them have released a follow-up album of three but never managed to scale the heights of their TSP award winning performance. BUT, this year somebody breaks that trend. Who will it be? Sadly for all of us I can confirm that it's not Silvia Knight.

Before we begin, a short explanation of how we got here. Throughout the year tracks are dumped into one big f'off shortlist until December 1 when the list is culled of all the "how desperate was I to get something on the list?" selections and the remainder are pitted against each other in Thunderdome style combat to see what will crack the final fifty. This year's list opened at about 175 and was knocked down to 110ish before the final field.

The usual rules apply. Maximum of two songs per artist and no covers allowed. In the event of a chosen song later turning out to be a cover of an obscure track that nobody has ever heard of I reserve the right to leap from my 11th floor window. Alright Mr. Copperart, let's do it.

50. Savoir Adore - Sarah's Secret
Sounds like a $2 Shop Arcade Fire, but rattles by in 2.42. Given the amount of albums that their soundalikes have sold it's no shame to be the second division version.

49. The Vaccines - Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)
Even better, just ninety seconds worth. Coming on like a multi-gender, pop Ramones the Vaccines have been touted as the next big thing which should mean you never hear from them again.

48. Naive New Beaters - LA Trumpets
The sort of thing that you'd never get away with if you weren't French. Another ninety seconds worth. Prepare for 13 minute dirges later in the countdown to make up for this.

47. Everything Everything - Suffragette Suffragette
The song that brings us the immortal line "who's gonna sit on your face when I'm gone?" Who indeed.

46. SIA - Clap Your Hands
Forget Channel 10 buying the rights to this and then using it for every single promo for about six months and forget the fact that she's a seemingly insane Max Sharam for the 21st century. Most importantly try to forget the amazing similarity to 1979's Get It Up For Love by Tata Vega and concentrate instead on its undoubted pop qualities.

45. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - I Should Have Known It
He's still alive. You'll never get another Free Fallin' or American Girl though.

44. David E Sugar - Party Killer
David E Sugar is not a party killer. The Manson Family were party killers. There's a touch of the hipsters about it if you're touchy on that sort of thing.

43. Lissie - In Sleep
The first time I heard this it was dismissed in the first few seconds, but I got distracted and came back halfway through to discover I'd been dropped in the middle of a Fleetwood Mac reunion. If Stevie Nicks were dead I'd suggest that Lissie were her reincarnation.

42. Paul Weller - Wake Up The Nation
In which the godfather of Mod tees off on Facebook and advises Britain to fire up. Not without some justification too.

41. Aloe Blacc - I Need A Dollar

40. Gonzales - I Am Europe
Containing all sorts of bizarre metaphors for Europe. You'd think there was something sensible and artistic about the whole thing if it wasn't being sung by the same guy who once performed a track called Cum On You.

39. Minitel Rose - Heart of Stone
More French people. God forbid Phoenix could ever do anything half as good as Too Young ever again they'd wipe the floor with the rest of the Gallic contingent. Don't hold your breath.

38. Juliana Pasha - It's All About You
But for those of you who are bored of the French, here's an Albanian straight from this year's surprisingly quality song heavy Eurovision contest. After a few years of disappointment Europe delivered this season. Stand up and applaud Enver Hoxha fans everywhere.

37. Grinderman - Heathen Child
Nick Cave scares the children

36. Shit Browne - Artifice
You'd have to be French to get away with a name like that. Video doesn't show up anywhere on YouTube and you'd be advised to turn ON safe searching before looking for it on Google.

35. Janelle Monae - Tightrope
The video, and her hairdo, is baffling but the track is a triumph. 21st century soul without the need for Autotune.

34. Elton John and Leon Russell - It Wasn't For Bad
Yes, it's Elton but come back it's not fruity prancing on the beach a'la I'm Still Standing or playing a piano dressed as Donald Duck. Will almost take the taste of Candle In The Wind '98 out of your mouth. But not quite.

33. Cee Lo - Bright Lights, Bigger City
Ten times better than the more famous, filth friendly track that you know and love. Does not contain gratuitous obscenity. That would be shithouse.

32. Goldfrapp - Alive
It's not my fault that six months after I'd heard it and decided to like it that Channel 10 would use it in the promo for their new station. Get amongst it in its full version. Or watch SBS.

31. Comanechi - Crime of Love
The sort of low-fi as buggery, sung by women stuff that Kurt Cobain used to whop off over before topping himself. For added effect it ends with the young lady shouting WANKERS! WANKERS! WANKERS! at us for the last twenty seconds, and for that we are all winners

30. Plan B - Stay Too Long
Motown/rap crossover from a concept album about a man in prison. It doesn't end well for him. More news at 11.

29. Hera Bjork - Je Ne Sais Quoi
The other Iceland Bjork, as seen on Eurovision 2010 with her belting eurodance ballad. Have I ever told you how much I love belting eurodance ballads?

28. Egyptian Hip Hop - Moon Crooner
A bunch of English kids with what sounds like Casio keyboards coming on like a 21st century Happy Mondays. Achieves and suggests better is to come in the future. No actual hip-hop or Egyptian behaviour included.

27. Brandon Flowers - Magdalena
The bad news for the rest of The Killers is that this sounds exactly like one of their records but without any of the personnel. We wish the rest of the band well in their future endeavours on the Theatre Restauraunt circuit. Continues to tread the same faux-country path of the last Killers album but without the trouble of having to split up the money. Problem solved and it's hello Centrelink to old mates 1, 2 and 3.
Previous Appearance - #4 in 2005 with Somebody Told Me (as The Killers)

26. The Winter Olympics - Feeling European
Your standard English stodge rock but with interesting European metaphors for shagging and going through your nothing to declare aisle etc.. No passport required for EU citizens. No video available so here's an inferior single of theirs. Warning - he looks like he sort of hipser you'd want to kick in the plums.

25. Ali Love - Smoke And Mirrors
Italo Disco fever! MORE PLEASE.

24. Klaxons - Flashover
"Nu Rave" possible users of hallucenogenic substances add crashing guitar with surprisingly positive effects. Sounds like the Jonestown Massacre - the real one, not the band
Previous Appearance - #26 in 2007 with Golden Skanks

23. Hadouken! - M.A.D
The frantic sound of your car being broken into somewhere in the dodgy part of North London.
Previous Appearance - #73 in 2007 with Superstar

22. Grinderman - Palaces of Montezuma
Nick Cave's hirsuite new band give the world a tender love song where the spinal column of JFK is offered up as a token of affection. Everybody wins.

21. Chromeo - Night By Night
Proof that you can use distorted vocals and Autotuney shit without sounding like Believe by Cher or any of the 500 songs Kanye West has done since he stopped being good.

20. Chanee and n'evergreen - In A Moment Like This
Regular readers will understand my long held fetish for power ballads. Therefore I make no apologies for the Norweigan Eurovision entrant finishing so high in the list. It's like REO Speedwagon cloned as a woman and married to itself.

19. Big Boi - General Patton
The non-Hey Ya portion of Outkast meets what sounds like the Russian Army Choir in the world's foremost rap/choral mashup

18. Manic Street Preachers - A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun
Still angry, and despite diminishing results overall this is the standout from their latest album. Not much left in the tank I'd suggest.

17. Aeroplane - My Enemy
This year's Ghosts 'n Stuff. No lyrics required. Like waking up in a modern Sega Megadrive

16. Keane featuring K'naan - Looking Back
What's this doing here? I hate Keane. Roy, Robbie and the band. But sadly it's my duty to report that they released two tracks this year that were half decent and didn't end up on rotation in every wine bar between here and Western Europe. More to come.

15. Chromeo - Hot Mess
Hello, I've just gone into a Sam Tyler-esque coma and suddenly it's 1987. I'm absolutely thrilled by this turn of events.

14. Electric Six - The Newark Airport Boogie
You'd have gotten 1000-1 on the people behind Dance Commander ever making an appearance in one of my top fifties again last year. The only thing we'd heard from them since was a putrid cover of Queen's Radio Ga Ga, but against the odds here they are.

13 - Scissor Sisters - Night Work
I expect this is the sound of loading up on Amyl Nitrate and going for it openly in San Francisco in 1979. Would have been destroyed like all their other songs if it had been a hit.

12 - Plan B - Welcome To Hell
Right, so now he's in jail and to put not too fine a point on it is in deep shit. Thanks to the album shifting a few copies (which by today's standards was probably about 75) the story is scheduled to continue on the next album. Episodic music. Why not, nothing else is working for them.

11 - My Chemical Romance - Scarecrow
Previous Appearances #55 and #45 in 2007 with I Don't Love You and Mama

Ok, so I'm a moderately ashamed MCR fan. Wanna fight about it? Doesn't mean I'm going to see them in concert, sit on the steps of Flinders Street Station looking like a fuckhead or wear a black trenchcoat and kill my parents. And thankfully neither are they, because the poster children for emo have gone stadium rock and it's glorious.

10. Ou Est Le Swimming Pool - Dance The Way I Feel

Feel free to ignore the messy end that came to the lead singer when he jumped off a tower at a Belgian festival (!?) and concentrate instead on what will go down as their crowning achievement, a perfect slice of pop that didn't even lose its appeal when the radio stations picked it up.

9. Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

I might be the only person in the world not to have gone wild for their first two albums but there's absolutely no doubt that the latest is a solid gold cracker. This is the not the last of them you will see in this countdown.

8 - Angus and Julia Stone - On The Road

An album track that I heard quite by accident in somebody else's car. Sure the rest of the album doesn't stack up and the guy looks like he could do with a wash but this is sublime.

7 - Arcade Fire - Modern Man

This reminds me of something that I can't quite put my finger on despite having listened to it plenty of times in the last week. Whisper it quitely but there's something Hall & Oates-ish about it. Despite that, or in fact because of it, it dominates. There's something sinister about this, like there's a subtext to it that is only told in the music and not the lyrics. Consider me converted to their cause.

6 - Chew Lips - Karen

I have absolutely nothing to say about this other than that it's a top tune and whoever's house they filmed it in needs to put in new carpet.

5 - Paul Heaton - Even A Palm Tree (audio only)
In a year when I rediscovered the genius of The Beautiful South a new Heaton solo album came just at the right time. Against classic era South this would be practically undetectable as a new solo track, and that's a good thing.

4 - Keane - Stop For A Minute (featuring K'naan)

Well there you go. I never thought they'd make it into the top 100 let alone the final five, but finally after all these years somebody finally inserted a rap bit into their song which made sense and contributed positively to the overall project. This is no shonky K. Minogue Shocked By The Power rap section, it delivers the goods. In fact it steals the show so much that they should swap it around and have it as featuring Keane.

3 - Lena - Satellite

Even though I only had it second on the night, trying not to be populist, there's no doubt that this is the best Eurovision track since Silvia Night telephoned god and called him "dawg" in 2006. Almost the perfect pop song. So perfect that if it had been done by say... Kate Nash I'd probably have decried it as slop and kicked the television in. Her wonky German accent is what sends it to the next level. Deserved more.

2 - Goldfrapp - Rocket

Previous Appearances #3 in 2005 with Ooh La La, #46 and #39 in 2008 with Cologne Cerrone Houdini and Happiness.

The 'frapp did the right thing on her latest album and came over all Italo Disco.. and got nothing from the punters. This is a gem though. Perfect Eurodance magic which spent pretty much the whole year as favourite to take home the DLR before a last minute intervention knocked it out of pole position. Ladies and gentlemen, take up thy bottles and assorted garbage because I'm about to make what will undoubtedly be the most controversial #1 selection since Clive Waterhouse. I give you this year's winner *ducks*

1 - My Chemical Romance - Bulletproof Heart


There are two reasons I almost didn't make this #1. Firstly I've spent the last twenty years mocking the Triple J Hottest 100 for always turning up top songs that were released about fifteen minutes before voting started, so how much of a hypocrite does it make me to say a song that I first heard a week and a half ago is my favourite for the year.

The second reason for concern is the blatant grab for stadium rock that they're going for. Usually that should be decried and they should be bottled from the stage a'la Daphne & Celeste at the Reading Festival, but in this case it is absolutely fantastic. Like U2 when they were good injected with glam Bowie and just the slightest hint of their depressive past.

I've got a good feeling that I'm not going to look back in a year and think "oh christ, what was I doing?" Now that the controversy is out of the way let's go back to our Master of Ceremonies.


A toast to the winners and we'll see you next year for 2011's glittering prize. With REM and The Strokes both threatening to release albums they go in as early favourites, but the prospect of a shock in-studio Libertines comeback could blow the market out of the water. Exciting times ahead. Pete Smith speaking*

* TSP accepts that the actual Mr Copperart had nothing to do with this countdown because we couldn't afford him. The role of Pete was played by the former Atlanta Braves pitcher of the same name.