Tuesday, October 13, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 24, 2015

Don't be deceived by this week. Those were the words that were running through my head across this week as the initial sense of relief flooded through me. Yes, no more Drake and Future songs to cover, yes, we actually got more returning songs than new tracks on a reasonably short week, and hell, a song from one of your favourite albums of 2015 came back to the charts. But the more I pored over the charts, the more I got the feeling that the current rising 'stars' aren't exactly on the good side, and we could be in for a world of problems across the rest of the fall.

But maybe I'm just getting paranoid, so let's focus on the Top 10 instead! As expected, 'The Hills' by The Weeknd is holding the #1 spot, mostly thanks to topping airplay and strong streams, even though sales and radio are slowing. I do expect it to hold on at least a few more weeks until after Halloween, because while 'Hotline Bling' by Drake is a real threat rising to #2 thanks to topping streaming and sales, it's still working its way up airplay and the Weeknd might just have enough of a lead here. Seems to have held off 'What Do You Mean?' by Justin Bieber to #3, which did gain airplay and has solid sales and streaming, but it actually slipped a bit on YouTube. Unfortunately, some of that might to do with the unwelcome resurgence of 'Watch Me' by Silento to #4, which somehow picked up enough sales with its YouTube to claw its way back up. Let's pray it's temporary, but what really has the strength to beat it at this point? '679' by Fetty Wap and Remy Boyz might seem like the obvious contender at #5 thanks to good sales and solid streaming, but airplay gains have been slow. 'Can't Feel My Face' by The Weeknd is in worse straits as it fell to #6 on losses across the board, even despite okay sales. More worrisome are the losses to 'Locked Away' by Rock City ft. Adam Levine to #7 - sure, it finally charted on YouTube and it had good sales, but streaming has never really taken off and it looked to have peaked in airplay this week. That leaves our next best option, one I never would have expected: 'Stitches' by Shawn Mendes rising to #8, which is riding a wave of solid sales and airplay gains to compensate for no YouTube and only okay streaming. Hell, it was enough to push back Taylor Swift's 'Wildest Dreams' down to #9, which despite even better sales and airplay gains lost YouTube and has no presence on streaming. And to round it all out, we've got 'Good For You' by Selena Gomez ft. A$AP Rocky, which I'm assuming is clinging to its spot on hype for her album on okay streaming and sales, because airplay is in freefall - it'll be gone soon.

And on that note, losers and dropouts! Not many big ones in the latter category this week, both naturally on their way out: 'Kick The Dust Up' by Luke Bryan for the good news, and 'Black Magic' by Little Mix for the bad news. Outside of that, it wasn't a good week for Fetty Wap, as both of his non-single album cuts took big hits, with 'RGF Island' sliding to 67 and 'Jugg' going to 98. The more concerning news is the losses of 'Cool For The Summer' by Demi Lovato to 32. To some extent, yes, it was expected, it's no longer the summer, but in maintaining hype for her upcoming album, this isn't what you want to see.

And that disconcerting feeling really doesn't go away when you look at the gains this week. Some are easy enough to expect: Selena Gomez has hype behind her album, so no surprise 'Same Old Love' picked up to 38. Similar case with Chris Young, 'I'm Coming Over' and his upcoming release which pushed up to 60. And Alessia Cara got a boost too, with the Streamys giving her enough momentum to push a big boost to 29. Outside of that... well, 'Powerful' by Major Lazer ft. Ellie Goulding & Tarrus Riley went to 84 and 'Antidote' by Travi$ Scott surged up to 51, but I don't have any more good news. Let's start with the least objectionable: 'Gonna' by Blake Shelton rising to 85 and 'Die A Happy Man' by Thomas Rhett rising to 69 - wow, it's amazing how ripping off 'Thinking Out Loud' can net you such success. But it gets worse: 'Come Get Her' by Rae Sremmurd rises up to 78 and 'Blase' by Ty Dolla $ign, Future, and Rae Sremmurd somehow regained energy to go to 80. And worst of all - and seemingly without anyone noticing - 'White Iverson' by Post Malone went up to 53 and I have to ask you all: why? I've covered a lot of terrible trap-flavoured hip-hop and nu-crunk this year, but at least the majority of it had energy! This is crossing the basic white-boy wackness of old Jason Mraz with the limp gutlessness of new Jason Mraz that only draws more attention to how white and lame it is! Can this guy get curbstomped by, I dunno, Asher Roth and Kreayshawn or something? I wouldn't recommend any of their material, but it's easily better than this!

Fortunately, on the topic of better songs, let's talk about our returning entries!

No complaints about this song coming back - A Great Big World are solid as hell melodic composers, I really appreciate the symmetry of the relationships in each of the situations, and the performances ring as heartfelt. And that makes a certain amount of sense, given that Chad King utilized his verse to come out as gay, which works just fine in a modern pop song - gay marriage has been legal for nearly a decade in Canada, it should be considered normal. I guess I have a mixed and sadly cynical view of some of these songs, considering they can easily generate a lot of buzz, especially on YouTube, but it's not fair to criticize a good and legitimately sincere song for the response it gets, especially considering I don't think this is explicitly pandering.  So yeah, I like this.

It seems like this song comes back whenever there's space that needs to be filled on the Hot 100, and that's primarily how I view it: a placefiller. Yeah, I like the underlying piano and the explosive swell of the chorus, but as I said the last time I covered this, in Canada these songs are dime-a-dozen, and when we have Walk Off The Earth, James Bay, Scott Helman, and Of Monsters And Men charting hits up here, I know when I'm looking at a track that's desperate to find a spot on mainstream radio wherever it can.

Yeah, I get why some people don't like this song - the naked self-aware awkwardness, the off-kilter vibe with all of the pitch-shifted vocals, the fact it's an overwritten song that probably owes more to emo in its second-guessing music about making music. And yeah, that's all true - it's one of the reasons 'Stressed Out' is one of my least favourite songs off of Blurryface. That being said, I'd still argue it's a damn good song in terms of perfectly capturing that awkward vibe especially with those murky keys, the lyrics are very well-written, especially on a technical level, and that hook is surprisingly sticky. Again, not my favourite from that album and of the twenty-one pilots songs that have charted I'd prefer to see 'Fairly Local' or 'Tear In My Heart' come back, but I'll take this.

I literally forgot this song existed until I had to cover it again here and I'm assuming the only reason it's here is because of the video that dropped a few weeks ago. I also forgot how much it annoyed the hell out of me for stripping out a great layered melody line from Marvin Gaye's 'Sexual Healing' and repurposing it for another convenient hack job from Jeremih and DJ Mustard. Yes, I know that Gaye's estate gave permission and Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor's track is a far bigger insult, but this strips out all of the subtleties of one of the best lovemaking jams ever written into just another overly sleazy R&B tune, no matter how well the vocal harmonies might work. Again, it's not exactly terrible, but it's not good either.

So, now onto our three new songs, starting with...

99. 'Stay A Little Longer' by Brothers Osborne - when I first heard this song, I could have sworn it was Toby Keith - and yes, I'll be getting to his new album, give me a week or two! Turns out this is a song from new country duo Brothers Osborne, who released an EP last year, with this song recorded being their newest and biggest  country hit. And look, this is far from perfect - it's got the characteristic overmixed muddiness that you've come to expect from Jay Joyce's production, and I do wish the vocal harmonies didn't feel so blatantly synthetic, especially with that electronic fuzz around the beat, especially considering there's real drums on this song anyway! But there is a lot to like about this song - the lyrics focusing on a hookup that they're trying to play casually and yet fragments of feelings are coming after the girl leaves, the solid acoustic groove, the great vocals that have gravitas and some real subtleties coming through in the baritone, and the fact the song ends with a really damn great guitar solo. I'm not going to say I want all of my modern country sounding like this, but if country radio is looking to fill time, I wouldn't say no to more of this.

90. 'Break Up In A Small Town' by Sam Hunt - and what I will say no to is all of this! And the worst part is I saw this coming: I knew Sam Hunt wasn't going to be able to coast off of good time vibes like 'House Party' forever, and we'd eventually get one of his pseudo-rap disasters - dude, this sing-talking thing, you're not R. Kelly on 'Trapped In The Closet', you're not pulling this off! It doesn't help that production is a complete mess - you're never going to convince me this is country, even with the painfully thin acoustic guitar on the hook that's more content to bounce off a faded out beat and strings, but by the standards of pop or R&B, it's too stiff and lumbering and lacking in groove to really stick well, especially with that weedy and painfully weak melody line. And that's before we get to the subject matter, which is basically the only thing on this song that remotely approaches country, and I could almost appreciate the awkwardness of watching an ex hook up with someone in your circle. But here's the underlying problem: Sam Hunt was the one who dumped this girl in the first place, and now he spends the entire song acting pissy because he's not over it - he says in the song he has to move or move on, and throughout the course of the track, he does neither! I accept that most songs don't have to tell the complete story, but when the entire song is spent in bitter petulance, it gets a lot harder to swallow! Coupled with the fact that everything else about it fails painfully as pop and especially as country, I'd definitely skip this.

83. 'Back Up' by DeJ Loaf ft. Big Sean - you know, for as much hype and for as big of guest appearances as she's gotten, I've had a hard time seeing DeJ Loaf's appeal. Yeah, it's odd to hear violent gangsta lyrics coming with such lightweight delivery, but it always seemed like she'd be better on a hook than fronting her own material. And for the past year, that's what she's done, but now she's teamed up with fellow Detroit MC Big Sean - and it just sounds weird when I say it like that - for the first charting hit off of her EP she dropped back in July that has had no buzz. It's here because of the video... but honestly, I'm a little surprised it didn't get more press earlier, because this is actually a fairly decent song. The grimy low-end balances pretty well against the sandy beat and muted twinkle is a pretty solid foundation that works for both of their deliveries, and I did like how DeJ held together a solid flow calling out guys who prefer to brag about what they bought her than actually drop bars. Hell, even though it's fairly clear Big Sean is playing to a very Drake-esque delivery, his bars are actually decent even if they are just shallow bragging about blasting girls trying to hook him. And yeah, it's not exactly a flattering portrayal - if you keep wanting people to leave you, be careful what you're wishing for - but it mostly comes together. If I were to take issues with this track, they'd be technical - both have flubbed rhymes and bars that don't really connect, and I keep wishing DeJ Loaf would deliver her bars with a little more grit or presence, but honestly, this is okay, not a lot to complain here.

So that was a pretty short week, and a pretty easy setup for best and worst too. For the worst, 'Break Up In A Small Town' by Sam Hunt runs away with it, with 'The Fix' by Nelly and Jeremih sliding into Dishonourable Mention. And for best, we don't exactly have the greatest of contenders, but I'm giving it to 'Hold Each Other' by A Great Big World ft. FUTURISTIC, with Honourable Mention to 'Stay A Little Longer' by Brothers Osborne. Overall, though I've got some worries about coming weeks, this wasn't that bad - let's hope for more!


  1. The rise of Watch Me currently is all about School Dances ran around the holidays, especially for Halloween

    1. Yeah...//cringes That means "Hit the Quan" will reach the Top 10 soon as well...

    2. It gets worse. Soulja Boy just dropped a new track, it's called Diddy Boy. God help us if it ever gets anywhere close to big, but I wouldn't be too surprised. If the Soulja Boy wannabes are getting Top 10 & Top 20 hits, the original could too. Hope not, though.

  2. Sorry, it's "Diddy Bop", not "Diddy Boy". Either way, don't make it big. Please.

  3. I doubt it. We give stuff like that a cult following. After all, I remember the big thing in HS was a song about Pikachu and I'm sure as hell it never charted