The Rubens Hit Back At Steve Kilbey’s Hottest 100 Diss: “I Don’t Know What It Means To Be Soft”

The Rubens have fired back at Steve Kilbey, frontman of seminal Aussie rock outfit The Church, following his controversial review of their Hottest 100-topping track Hoops for The Guardian.

Kilbey expressed his disappointment at the track being voted in at number 1, saying he was hoping for something a bit edgier.

“Nope, my readers, The Rubens do not rock,” he wrote. “It’s another wry bouncy (little) song, pleasant and innocuous and harmless and twee. No electric guitars were harmed during the making of this record, and no revolution is preached. Catchy to the max, but no oomph or grunt or even twist. This old curmudgeon shrugs his shoulders.”

He continued: “Why this song is No 1 eludes me. Triple J listeners have gone a bit soft, I guess… Tell me what the youngsters who like a bit of bite listen to these days, ’cause it surely ain’t Triple J … is it?”

After sparking a right shitstorm among the J faithful, the rock veteran also took to Facebook to defend his critique, adding: “Even when i was young and very beautiful , let me assure you, i would not have liked the Rubens et al. Its not because i am old that i dont like them, its because i came to review rocknroll and i found limp bland pop.”

The Rubens have now responded to Kilbey’s diss.

“I don’t really understand it. I don’t know what it means to be soft,” keyboardist Elliot Margin told The Music. “It’s a listeners’ poll, people vote for what they like or think should do well, what they’re proud of, and people get angry at results because that’s human, we’re all invested in it and it’s a big thing.

“I don’t really understand how people go soft, or how people vote soft,” he continued. “I don’t get angry at people for eating peanut butter sandwiches when I don’t like peanut butter. Each to his own.”

And of course, he’s exactly right. For those who are upset about The Rubens winning the Hottest 100, slagging off the band and their music won’t accomplish anything except to piss off Rubens fans and distract from a much more important issue.

The question is not whether or not Triple J listeners are wrong for liking The Rubens – musical taste is and always has been subjective. The question is whether or not Triple J itself is doing its job as a taxpayer-funded public broadcaster in exposing its listeners to enough other new music in a variety of alternative genres.

Including those that aren’t so – as Kilbey says – “soft”.

Or that “youngsters who like a bit of bite” can listen to.

Or, to use Elliot Margin’s metaphor, are peanut butter sandwiches on their menu at all?

And if not, why have they stopped supporting peanut butter sandwiches? Is that fair, when we’ve always relied on them for peanut butter sandwiches in the past? And if so, where else can hungry listeners go to get their hands on fresh Australian peanut butter sandwiches?

Either way, you guys think about that. I’m going to go make myself a peanut butter sandwich.

Gallery: 15 Things The Triple J Hottest 100 Taught Us About Ourselves

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