Thursday, April 2, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - april 11, 2015

So here's the issue with weeks like this one: when you have a half-dozen songs from one artist that debut thanks to streaming, they aren't going to last. Sure, you might get a song or two that sticks around, but the majority won't, no matter how good they might be. Such is the case this week with Kendrick Lamar, who lost all but one new song from the charts - and that one took a big hit that we can only hope a boost from the newly released video will save. But unlike with Drake a while back, we don't have the new release of Big Sean to compensate for all that was lost, which leads to a backfill of old tracks and new tracks to fill the slot along with our list of regularly scheduled debuts. In other words, it was a busy week this week, and unfortunately not all for the better, but we'll get to that.

Hell, there was even some more action than usual on the Top 10... well, outside of the top, that is. Of course 'Uptown Funk' by Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars is at the top, but the significant thing is that as of this week, it has been at #1 for thirteen weeks, thus making it the biggest number #1 of the 2010s thus far. Sure, it's fading on airplay and a little in sales, but it's still ruling streaming and YouTube, and it's not dying off as quickly as some of its peers - does this mean it could have a chance at challenging the mammoth Mariah Carey/Boyz II Men collaboration 'One Sweet Day', which held the #1 for sixteen weeks back in the mid-90s? We'll have to see about that, but beneath it not much has changed. 'Sugar' by Maroon 5 holds steady at #2 thanks to inching up in airplay and respectable sales, but at this point it's too far back to catch up even with 'Uptown Funk''s slowing pace. And Ed Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud' is even worse off - fading on airplay, and with only respectable stats across the board keeping it from being unseated. With that, I'm a little surprised 'Love Me Like You Do' by Ellie Goulding hasn't beaten it thanks to some good YouTube and decent airplay gains, but again, it's a matter of the lead 'Thinking Out Loud' already has, and it'll be a question of whether it fades fast enough. But beneath those songs, we actually do have a sizeable bit of activity, starting with 'Earned It' by The Weeknd, which rides a serious airplay boost to #5 and has the sales and streaming to back up weak YouTube presence. Beneath that we've got another boost for 'Trap Queen' by Fetty Wap, which went up to #6 thanks to monstrous streaming and some decent gains across the board, only held back by its late growth in radio at this point. 'Style' by Taylor Swift manages to hold onto #7, mostly thanks to enough airplay to balance out another rough sales week. The song that got it worse was 'FourFiveSeconds' by Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney, which is hemorrhaging airplay and streaming even despite a better sales week as it slipped down to #8. My guess is that if the trend continues, 'G.D.F.R.' by Flo Rida, Sage The Gemini, and Lookas will continue its steady rise as it climbed to #9, as gains across the board made up for its painfully lacking YouTube stats. And finally, we have our new entry to the Top 10 - 'Somebody' by Natalie La Rose ft. Jeremih. It almost makes a twisted amount of sense that one of Flo Rida's proteges is right behind him, and like Flo Rida, this song is boring as tar, opening lifting from a Whitney Houston 80s classic to disguise the fact it's such a thin, underwritten and underwhelming track. As such, while it's doing well enough on airplay and sales and even gaining on streaming, there are more interesting and potent songs rising up on the charts that might have a fair shot and unseating it, and not a moment too soon.

But before we get to some of those, let's talk about our losers and dropouts, and we had a few this week. None of the dropouts especially are surprising - 'The Heart Wants What It Wants' by Selena Gomez and 'Mean To Me' by Brett Eldredge hit the end of their run, 'I Lived' by OneRepublic simply ran out of steam, and 'Chandelier' by Sia and 'No Type' by Rae Sremmurd finally dropped to recurring, although in the latter case it's simply getting replaced by something worse. But before I talk about that, the rest of our losers are more of a mixed bag. Yeah, it sucks that 'King Kunta' by Kendrick Lamar took a hit to 78, but I reckon it'll recover quickly when the video comes. Beyond that, though, most of the drops make a fair amount of sense. 'She Knows' by Ne-Yo and Juicy J falling to 46, 'Believe' by Mumford & Sons continuing not to make an impact at 79, and 'Just Gettin' Started' losing even more energy to 94, all of these songs are on their way out naturally. The one surprise was 'Prayer In C' from Lillywood remixed by Robin Schulz slipping to 56, but its chart run is fading and I wasn't exactly a huge fan of the song anyway.

Now where things get more interesting is in the gains, and we have quite a few this week. Some are to be expected - 'Want To Want' by Jason Derulo follows its video and vaults up to 17, 'Budapest' by George Ezra nicely gains some presence to 48, and 'Worth It' by Fifth Harmony and Kid Ink follows off of its video to hit 58. It's not all great news - the reintroduction of Florida Georgia Line's 'Sippin' On Fire' gains to 81, and 'Where Are U Now' the Skrillex/Diplo/Justin Bieber collaboration the world was apparently asking for rose up to 82. Nah, for me the great news was 'She Don't Love You' by Eric Paslay getting a boost to 86, which I'd like to think is a damn great song getting a just reward. I'd say that, but then you see the mediocre 'Post To Be' from Omarion, Chris Brown, and Jhene Aiko going to 22, or the far worse 'Throw Sum Mo' from Rae Sremmurd, Young Thug, and Nicki Minaj going to 33, and you realize things aren't always so great. The big story this time around are the gains of 'Girl Crush' by Little Big Town to 45, following a wave of controversy surrounding radio stations getting angry phone calls asking to pull it for promoting the "gay agenda" or some nonsense like that. Normally that would cause a country track to sink like a stone - radio is still fairly dominant in country - except the Governor of Indiana decided to ram through legalized discrimination under the guise of 'religious freedom restoration', which as a Catholic might be the most offensive piece of regressive, hateful, politically ruinous bullshit I've seen a long time. Yeah, I'm going to get political here for a minute, but when your brand of intolerance is so badly marketed that more conservative states like Alabama are backing away from similar legislation and you get condemnations from the bastions of liberal thought Wal-Mart and NASCAR, not to mention surrounding yourself with the hardline religious right coming up on election season and restarting a culture war the GOP desperately want to avoid, especially as your state moves towards recession, your political career should be over. So I can't help but chuckle that 'Girl Crush' vaulted up on the waves of controversy alone mostly thanks to digital gains, especially considering that said lesbian subtext is very much downplayed in the song and could have been so much stronger - it's not Kacey Musgraves' 'Follow Your Arrow' here! And the hilarious thing is that it's not even Little Big Town's best track off of Pain Killer!

But whatever, now let's talk about returning entries!

Not exactly surprised to see this back with a boost from its video, but if I'm being honest, it's not a song I've revisited since I covered it last time on Billboard BREAKDOWN. It's fine enough as a simple song to your stereotypical hipster dream girl and the guitars have a surprising amount of acoustic texture, but I'm a little irked Grace Potter doesn't really do much beyond breathy coos over the chorus. I'm just saying, if she's the girl represented as said 'wild child', I'd have liked to hear more from her.

Another song I haven't cared about since I covered it on Billboard BREAKDOWN, and not because it's bad, let me stress that. Another simple enough love song with a bunch of space references that basically feel like I'm listening to a very polished indie folk version of The Band Perry. Now on that episode I got a surprising number of comments defending Echosmith - and sure, if that's your thing, I get the appeal. For me, though, I prefer my indie pop with a little more texture, energy, and fire - it's very safe, and as such doesn't raise much of a reaction from me.

Not a lot to really say about this one either - definitely of the returning entries it is my favourite, but that's more because of the moral ambiguity and swampy texture than Tim McGraw stepping outside of his wheelhouse. I will say that I've probably come back to this song more than the others, but that's because it's a solid neotraditional country song and that tends to work for me. A little surprised it's back, though, but then again, Tim McGraw's always had a draw on the charts.

Now this song has actually grown on me a fair bit, mostly because Carrie Underwood seems to be one of the few country stars who wants to inject some incendiary subject matter into the scene. I still wish she had a little more raw aggression beyond the belting and country rock instrumentation that's striking reminiscent of the early-to-mid 2000s, but she's got a workable formula that I don't see changing much soon, especially for a single that's being dropped from a soundtrack album. Damn good song, though.

And now the rest of the list - in other words, these are all the songs that replaced Kendrick Lamar, so keep that in mind.

100. 'Like A Wrecking Ball' by Eric Church - so as some of you probably know, I wasn't the biggest fan of Eric Church's last album The Outsiders. In fact, that's probably putting it mildly, considering while I respect Church as an artist willing to experiment, the album was a complete mess. What it has also meant is that radio success has been limited, which makes a certain amount of sense. And yet out of the blue we have the fifth single from the album - and honestly, it's not very good. I'm sorry, but Eric Church saying he wants to love a woman like a wrecking ball is patently ridiculous - it's telling that when Miley used the same metaphor it made more sense. But that's not the reason this is charting... nope, that's because of 'Girl Crush', in that the instrumentation does share a lot of common elements. The washed out guitars and organs, the lounge vibe of the percussion - hell, the biggest difference is Jay Joyce slathering on the reverb, which makes it that much worse. And the fact that Eric Church is playing it very seriously... yeah, not good.

99. 'You Know You Like It' by DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge - I guess I shouldn't be surprised that DJ Snake wanted to follow up 'Turn Down For What', but I am surprised it took this long to get here, this time teaming up with English electronic duo AlunaGeorge. And like that song, I'm a little conflicted about it. For as much as DJ Snake pulls from trap-influences and pitch shifting, the addition of Aluna's vocals make the Purity Ring comparison painfully obvious, and while I don't mind the lyrics emphasizing assertion against impulse, it doesn't really have the same impact. DJ Snake isn't a bad producer, but this sort of song doesn't really play to his strengths, especially considering how thin the crescendo is. It's got a good mellow mood, but not a song I see sticking with me.

96. 'Love You Like That' by Canaan Smith - you know it's getting bad when even the country music critic is having a hard time picking the new class of male bro-country stars apart, in this case going from the painfully weak template that Sam Hunt has suddenly made popular. The sad fact is that this is barely country at this point, the production being so sterile and toothless, especially in the guitar and rigid drum machines. And yeah, the lyrics aren't as leering and ugly as most bro-country, but the rural hook-up track is still very much by the numbers, and honestly doesn't leave me a lot to say. His debut EP dropped last week, so I'm not surprised to see him here, but I don't see him lasting. Sorry.

91. 'Baby Blue' by Action Bronson ft. Chance The Rapper - so I've been a fair number of requests to cover Action Bronson's most recent album Mr. Wonderful, and when I saw he had a new song on the Hot 100, I was enthused, mostly because I haven't had a huge amount of time to get into Action Bronson deeper, who I'd never expect to see on mainstream radio. The reason why this song is here is because of Mark Ronson who produced it, or possibly because the YouTube music awards gave it a major boost... but I don't see it lasting. And honestly I don't know what it is: the instrumentation is fine enough, a lot of horns and piano with some glitz to it, and it's not as if Action Bronson's bars are bad. Hell, Chance The Rapper steps up and he's actually pretty damn funny - hell, Bronson's funny too, and while I don't love the over-the-top humour, his delivery does a lot to sell it. But maybe it's the poorly sung hook or the schlubby context of the song trying to smack talk a girl who screwed him over, and that it doesn't really feel so much triumphant as underwhelming. I dunno, maybe the album is better, but this does not present a good picture. 

80. 'Failure' by Breaking Benjamin - okay, who the hell let this happen? Is it 2002? Why is this here? Okay, for those of you who don't know, I never had an angry white boy phase - I pretty much jumped straight from pop and hip-hop to power metal, and I never had the misfortune to listen to many bands in this vein, and looking back on the rock charts in the 2000s now I'm glad, because most of them sucked. Anyway, Breaking Benjamin briefly hit it big in the mid-2000s and after their last record in 2009, they dropped off the face of the earth. To this day I have no idea what audience they were after, because they weren't exactly heavy or aggressive, they weren't as experimental as an act like Linkin Park became, and yet their guitar tone sounds like bad nu-metal and so did their lyrics. To their credit, they had a solid frontman in Benjamin Burnley, so they're not Staind or Our Lady Peace, but outside of their singles I have never cared about this band. Well, for some ungodly reason they dropped a new album and this is the lead-off single, and unsurprisingly it sounds like something that could have been dropped a decade ago except with underweight drum machines. And sure, Burnley sounds fine enough of the song, but it's not like the lyrics rise above their pseudo-nihilistic attempt at an anthem. I'm sorry, but if I want rock music from that era that actually stood the test of time, I'll listen to Poets of the Fall. Next!

70. 'Hey Mama' by David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj & Afrojack - so when I reviewed Ludacris' comeback album Ludaversal a few days ago - check it out, it's awesome - I commented that I was surprised David Guetta had opted for more of a textured soul sound, mostly because it was such a far cry from his usual EDM material. Well, it turns out this is not a one-time thing, because his new collaboration with Nicki Minaj and Afrojack falls somewhere in the middle. And it's one of those songs where I'm really conflicted, because there are great moments - the instrumentation has a lot of clattering energy in the horns outside of a few points where the mix feels a little cluttered on the chorus, the sample is fantastic, and I don't mind the Jamaican feel to it either. The problem comes in the lyrics and in Nicki Minaj herself - because she does not belong on this song whatsoever. I'm sorry, but Rihanna should have been singing this, not Nicki, because we barely get any rapping and when we do, we find sloppy lyricism to fill up space and themes of domestication where Nicki stays home to cook and clean. And I don't buy it for a second - if that what she wants, I'm not about to judge it, but Nicki built her career as a firespitter and on most of her bangers she's more dominant than this. It doesn't work for her, and thus, the more I think about it, the more this song just falls apart.

67. 'Trouble' by Iggy Azalea ft. Jennifer Hudson - it's been almost a year since I first reviewed The New Classic by Iggy Azalea, and while it has cooled in my eyes, for being a lightweight pop rap album it mostly accomplished what it was trying to do. The question I've always had is where she was going to go next after she established a persona, but it turns out the question I should have asked was how she was going to evolve when the internet decided she was the worst thing ever for co-opting a southern accent. Well, with her newest single it seems her approach would be to play down any attempt at being hard and make a lightweight relationship song with a goofy video and Jennifer Hudson to basically own this track. Which is what happens - lot of brass and piano, add some heavier percussion, and Iggy musing about some trouble-making bad guy while casting her as the good girl - which is slightly more believable. But Jennifer Hudson just owns this song - I've always liked her as a singer for having buckets of charisma to balance her fiery lower range. I'm not sure how well this song will do - the mainstream has cooled on Iggy a lot - but with this instrumentation and vibe, I can see it doing well. And honestly, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. 

66. 'El Perdon' by Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias - and now we have our second song to get a big boost from the YouTube music awards, and while I recognize Enrique Iglesias, the more interesting name on this track is Nicky Jam. Originally he got his start thanks to an association with Daddy Yankee - and there's a name you haven't thought about in years - before suffering a decline in the late 2000s and dropping off the face of the earth. From my research, it seems like he has parlayed a lot of strong guest appearances into a comeback album, with this being his lead-off single, using Enrique to get crossover appeal because this song is entirely in Spanish. Which is fine, I translated the lyrics - and honestly I'm not all that impressed, because it seems to be a track begging a girl for forgiveness and the only details provided don't paint him the best of light, with the disapproving father and him howling in grief. It doesn't help that for as much as he apologizes, he never explains why, and that hurts the overall story of the song. As for the rest... eh, it's okay. The instrumentation is pretty basic with the keyboards and stuttered drums, and you can tell both men are trying, but overall this doesn't blow me away and it does seem like a step down from 'Bailando', Enrique's last hit. Sorry.

23. 'Bitch Better Have My Money' by Rihanna - ever hear the title of a song, look at the artist, and realize it's not going to work, at all? Yeah, that was the feeling I got all throughout this song with every listen, because apparently Rihanna wants to take a hard left from the synth-driven pop that made her famous and instead try for gangsta-leaning trap-flavoured hip-hop? It reminds me of when Beyonce decided to make '7/11' for no adequately explained reason beyond 2014 being a year everyone made ass anthems and Beyonce didn't want to feel left out. But at least Beyonce has the vocal presence and meticulous poise to pull this off - Rihanna might be raw, but it's completely unrefined and you can hear her voice nearly breaking multiple times. The best part of this song is when she stops singing, the tempo shifts and the decent enough synth line develops some texture, but then we get Rihanna's voice pitched down for the chorus and who the hell wants this? And on that note, the lyrics suck too - not only do I not buy Rihanna in this role for one second especially if her vocal delivery reminds me of Rae Sremmurd, but if she spends her lyrics and prechorus saying she's so successful to spend thousands of dollars on alcohol, why does this bitch need to give her money? It's a pose in the cheapest, most obnoxious way possible, and I don't buy it for a second.

So that was this week and wow, I miss Kendrick Lamar, because we barely got any good songs this week. The best goes to 'Diamond Rings & Old Barstools' by Tim McGraw, but for honourable mention it's a tossup between 'Trouble' by Iggy Azalea ft. Jennifer Hudson - mostly for Jennnifer Hudson - and 'Baby Blue' by Action Bronson ft. Chance The Rapper - mostly for Chance The Rapper. As for the worst... hoo boy, Dishonourable Mention I've giving to 'Love You Like That' by Canaan Smith, because while Eric Church's song is messier, at least it's trying harder and doesn't feel nearly as sterile. Worst of the Week is Rihanna's 'Bitch Better Have My Money', and it's not even a contest. Please God, let next week be better than this!


  1. Breaking Benjamin have a few good songs but I only like the fast ones like Blow Me Away, anything else is just dreary.
    Our Lady Peace are actually one of my favorite bands of the 90s - and I have to stress "of the 90s" because they've pretty much been on a decline since then. Clumsy is a favorite song of mine for a reason I really can't place, it just resonates with me. Never liked the "a woo woo" falsetto runs though.
    Aaron Lewis of Staind released a country album once. I have absolutely nothing to add to that.
    I have a feeling this isn't the song Rihanna recorded for the Dreamworks alien movie.

  2. Wow, this week was pretty crappy for you, it seemed, huh?

    And i'm still surprised for no mention of Shut Up and Dance, it's very close to the Top 10.

  3. Ok i know that you will probably not listen to me but whatever, echosmith never copied the band perry is a fact that both videos they got a lot of soundstracks songs and kinda like cool kids they have a lot of songs with meanings we're not alone nothing's wrong march into the sun and safest place and bright that isn't about love look behind the scenes however their album has mostly the love songs surround you tell her you love her,up to you, ran off the night and the teen-agers ones cool kids and come together if you wanna power look at her old stuff that was funk like stop messing with my heart tonight we're making history i dont wanna be a fanboy just to say echosmith have songs with enffort not the ones released as singles....
    As for the top you should see the goodbye three music videos that it's pretty close to chart..