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'Shoulda Been Higher’: New Book Celebrates 30 Years Of Triple J's Hottest 100

10 October 2023 | 1:47 pm | Mary Varvaris

“A visual and hilarious detailing of Australian music history. Tom W Clarke is a madman and a historian.”

'Shoulda Been Higher' by Tom W Clarke

'Shoulda Been Higher' by Tom W Clarke (Source: Supplied)

Shoulda Been Higher: A Celebration Of 30 Years Of Triple J’s Hottest 100 – a perfect title for anyone who follows the Hottest 100 every year – is the new book by writer and comedian Tom W Clarke, released on Tuesday, 3 October.

While it’s been out for a week, the Readings bookstore in Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne, is hosting a book launch at 6:30 pm tonight. Tickets are free, but registrations are essential – you can register to attend here.

Tom W Clarke is a Hottest 100 enthusiast, every year asking essential questions: “What makes a great cover song?” and “Who owned the Hottest 100 without winning?”

Clarke is the ideal author for such a topic, with the synopsis for Shoulda Been Higher describing triple j’s Hottest 100 as “iconic of modern Australiana as sausage sizzles and leadership spills. It has become so much more than music. It’s beaches, barbeques, and bonfires. It’s joy and despair, drama and debate, friendship and community.”

The synopsis calls Clarke’s book “an insightful, light-hearted and deeply respectful celebration of the colourful history of ‘the world’s greatest musical democracy’.”

Clarke has also received some compliments from Aussie artists, with singer-songwriter Odette praising the author’s work: “A visual and hilarious detailing of Australian music history. Tom W Clarke is a madman and a historian.” Hottest 100 and Like A Version favourite, Something For Kate vocalist Paul Dempsey, is on the front cover, with the singer writing, “Incredibly thorough and thoroughly enjoyable”.

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You can order your copy of Shoulda Been Higher here.

Shoulda Been Higher traces 30 annual Hottest 100 countdowns and examines the social, musical and cultural impacts of the annual celebration of Aussies’ favourite music over three decades.

In July, triple j aired the first-ever Hottest 100 of Like A Version, with DMA’S taking home the crown for their cover of Cher’s Believe.

Upon discovering they had won with their cover, the trio told triple j, “It’s daunting doing Like A Version - what it has become has been so amazing. Listening to it today, there are so many great covers in there. I’m speechless.”

Check out the Hottest 100 of 2007 below.