From ‘So Fresh’ to ‘Ministry of Sound’, the compilation albums that changed music forever
06.08.2020

From ‘So Fresh’ to ‘Ministry of Sound’, the compilation albums that changed music forever

Savage Garden
Words By Tammy Walters

We take a trip down memory lane.

Welcome to the age of curation; a period in the music history timeline where each and every average Joe can call themselves a Playlist Curator as they sift through the song abyss of streaming platforms, creating soundtracks to accompany a kaleidoscope of emotions.

Spotify is also on our side offering personal music curation based on your listening habits in the form of the Daily Mix. This transition is pivotal in our evolution as music consumers, giving us unlimited access to not only the charting hits but to the entire underworld of music creation.

Honestly, what did we do before this function?

To celebrate the dark ages of music curation, let’s explore our trusted friend, the easy Christmas stocking gift and valued member of our CD collections – the compilation album.

100% Hits

A collaboration between the EMI Music Australia, Warner Music Australasia and Polystar labels, 100% Hits has been a seasonal showcase of Top 40 Australian singles, that instigated a ’90s CD compilation movement across Australia. Starting in 1991, the 100% Hits history is a messy one – 36 seasonal volumes ran until 2002, along with Best of yearly releases. The 100% Hits name returned in 2013 continuing until 2018.

Honourable mention: 100% Hits: Best of ’99 which brought ’90s kids into the new millennium. Do Sugar Ray’s ‘Every Morning’, Madison Avenue’s ‘Don’t Call Me Baby’ and Ben Lee’s ‘Cigarettes Will Kill You’ ring a bell?

Now

Replacing 100% Hits in 2002, Now is a condensed version of the compilation launch pad. Initially branded “powered by Hot30 Countdown”, it still continues as a yearly release to this day. 2019’s release featured appearances from everyone from Mallrat to Bring Me The Horizon, Ariana Grande and Mike Posner.

Honourable mention: Now Spring 2005 is stacked with Australian artists including Kisschasy, End of Fashion, Missy Higgins, Ricki-Lee, Thirsty Merc and Kylie Minogue. Gorillaz’ ‘Dare’ also featured as well as the James Blunt classic, ‘You’re Beautiful’.

Hit Machine

Commencing in 1993, Hit Machine was the product of Festival Records, Mushroom Records, BMG and Columbia Records and fell in direct competition with 100% Hits. With a seasonal release, Hit Machine included mostly the top 40 hits of the previous season and went on to run for 28 releases. Hit Machine has been regarded as the second most successful compilation in Australian music history apart from So Fresh.

Honourable mention: Hit Machine 14 (1996) included Los Del Rio’s ‘Macarena’, ‘Only Happy When It Rains’ from Garbage, Fugees’ ‘Killing Me Softly’ and the Oasis classic, ‘Champagne Supernova’.

So Fresh

Replacing Hit Machine, So Fresh is widely recognised as the most successful compilation series in Australian music history. Currently in its 20th year of operation, So Fresh continued the seasonal trend, with a double CD edition released annually, combining Summer and the Best of the Year series.

Every So Fresh album from 2007 to 2017 went to No. 1 on the ARIA Chart Compilation Albums chart and ten of the So Fresh compilations went double platinum in Australia.

Honourable mention: So Fresh: The Hits of Summer 2009 and Best of 2008 is full of anthems that still hold up today. Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex On Fire’, ‘Kids’ from MGMT, Britney Spears’ ‘Womanizer’, Leona Lewis’ ‘Bleeding Love’ and Metro Station’s ‘Shake It’ are all big tracks.

Ministry of Sound

The Annual, Sessions, Running Trax, Hits, Clubbers Guide – Ministry of Sound has appeared in many forms since 2009. While a product of London-based multimedia entertainment business, Ministry of Sound has shaped the EDM scene of Australia. Their flagship brand The Annual is the leading electronic dance music compilation in Australia continually topping the ARIA charts for Dance Album and Compilation Album.

Honourable mention: Ministry of Sound: The Annual 2003 sees appearances from Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Groove Armada, Jamiroquai, Basement Jaxx, Felix da Housecat, The Chemical Brothers, Armin van Buuren, Cyndi Lauper and Kylie Minogue.

triple j Hottest 100

An obvious entry into the compilation list, triple j’s Hottest 100 is a national treasure. While the publicly-voted countdown launched in 1989 under the title The Hot 100, the compilation album wasn’t introduced until two years after the name change in 1994. Triple j have also launched a number of spin-offs over the years, including two Hottest 100 of All Time compilations in 1998 and 2009 as well as Hottest 100 of the Decade variations. Hottest 100 albums are still produced yearly, along with the beloved Like A Version collection.

Honourable mention: With so many incredible years to choose from Triple J Hottest 100 of 2000 takes the cake as our rock darlings Powderfinger made history becoming the first, and only, artist or band to have two first place finishes with ‘These Days’ and ‘My Happiness’ in 1999 and 2000 respectively.

Just The Hits, Pump It and the 101 series were also floating around the music stores but not to nearly as much success.

These compilation albums deserve a round of applause for firstly making chart-toppers accessible without paying a fortune for individual albums, and for also shaping an entire generation of music. Without you, school discos wouldn’t have been as lit while early-millennium birthday parties would’ve failed to find their stride.

Never miss a story. Sign up to Beat’s newsletter and you’ll be served fresh music, arts, food and culture stories three times a week.