Wednesday, July 26, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - august 5, 2017

Well, if you're all looking for more evidence that I'm just crap at predicting what's going to happen on the Hot 100 these days... well, okay, maybe it's specifically Jay-Z related, because just as I underestimated how much 4:44 would have an impact, I also overestimated how long people would want to hear it, as the majority of that record left the charts and a weird cluster of songs rushed in to fill the void, leading to a week that in some ways feels oddly leaden but in others feels way more busy than I expected - more returning entries than new arrivals, a lot of gains, and a top ten that stubbornly refuses to move all that much.

So let's start with that, as 'Despacito' by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Bieber holds #1 yet again - and here's the thing, if you look at its radio and streaming numbers, it's not exactly stable, it's actually starting to fall off. The problem is that there's nothing solid in its competition to knock it off the top spot, and nowhere is that more apparent than 'Wild Thoughts' by DJ Khaled ft. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller at #2 - sure, strong airplay momentum, great streaming and YouTube... but its sales stats are surprisingly weak. And that's the closest competitor: returning to #3 we have 'That's What I Like' by Bruno Mars despite losses across the board... and yet it still has enough radio presence to hold over 'I'm The One' by DJ Khaled and his posse slipping to #4 - yeah, YouTube is great but streaming overall is looking especially shaky. Compare to 'Unforgettable' by French Montana ft. Swae Lee, which is actually doing pretty well up to #5 on better streaming and YouTube, real sales momentum, and some solid airplay gains... the question is whether it's rising fast enough to be a real threat. What it did do was knock 'Shape Of You' by Ed Sheeran out of the top 5 to #6 - and here's the funny thing, it might be losing radio, but it actually had a semi-solid week, it didn't quite lose as bad as you'd expect. It'll hold steady against 'Believer' by Imagine Dragons for a little longer at #7, which might have the sales and airplay edge and even a bit more streaming... but without YouTube, it might not get there. And that's a similar case for 'There's Nothing Holding Me Back' by Shawn Mendes at #8 - radio loves this guy and sales are considerable, which is not bad considering the song is tolerable - but it's also analogous for 'Body Like A Backroad' by Sam Hunt up to #9, because for some ungodly reason sales and radio aren't dying here! And finally we have a new entry to the top ten that honestly surprises me a bit, despite being here for all of the same reasons: 'Attention' by Charlie Puth at #10. Look, I'll be the first to admit it's a decent song, but I'm surprised it actually got up this high - pretty much entirely on big sales and radio, just like the rest of the young white guys here without much likable personality or charisma!

Okay, that's a little mean, so let's not dwell on that and move to the losers and dropouts. In the latter case... well, putting aside all the Jay-Z dropouts, the only two worth noting are 'Hurricane' by Luke Combs and 'Slide' by Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean and Migos, both of which had respectable runs and will make the year-end list regardless. I find the losers this week much more interesting, as they either come from debuts that lost traction or are tracks where Jay-Z started a downward spiral. In the latter case, we saw 'First Day Out' by Tee Grizzley drop to 69, 'Swalla' by Jason Derulo, Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign to 79, and 'God, Your Mama & Me' by Florida Georgia Line and the Backstreet Boys to 80, but it's not like Jay-Z had a great week here, as even his two surviving songs took hits, with '4:44' down to 61 and 'The Story Of O.J.' down hard to 72. The last two losers didn't really surprise me much: 'Glorious' by Macklemore and Skylar Grey down to 99, mostly because it won't have traction, and 'Praying' by Kesha to 40 - which is to be expected, she debuted higher than I expected and with radio traction I predict she'll turn losses around here, especially if sales or on-demand streaming recovers.

Where the charts were a lot more chaotic are in the gains and returning entries, mostly as more songs than I expected rebounded from Jay-Z to recapture old positions. In particular the returning entries kind of surprised me, as they were all over the map: 'No Complaints' by Metro Boomin, Offset & Drake to 100, 'Rollin' by Calvin Harris, Future and Khalid to 97, 'Subeme La Radio' by Enrique Iglesias, Descemer Bueno, Zion & Lennox to 95, 'El Amante' by Nicky Jam up to 92, 'Whatever You Need' by Meek Mill, Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign to 89, 'Down' by Fifth Harmony and Gucci Mane to 78, and best of all, 'It Ain't My Fault' by Brothers Osborne back to 94! Granted, when we go to our gains it's not all good news - in fact, what's telling is that the only songs that made serious recoveries were 'Thunder' by Imagine Dragons to 59 and 'You Look Good' by Lady Antebellum to 67, and the only songs I consider great that picked up are 'Versace On The Floor' by Bruno Mars to 47, 'LOYALTY' by Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna to 62, and 'Feel It Still' by Portugal. The Man to 63 - what can I say, it's grown on me. Then we have the songs that debuted that picked up bigger than I expected: 'Fetish' by Selena Gomez and Gucci Mane up to 27 and 'Sorry Not Sorry' by Demi Lovato to 23 - likely off the strength of the video and seemingly so much she pulled up 'No Promises' by Cheat Codes featuring her to 68 by association! Then we have the gains that are continuing: 'Rake It Up' by Yo Gotti and Nicki Minaj to 41 and 'Mi Gente' by J Balvin and Willy William to 42 - lovely - although the gain that'll probably grab more attention is 'Bodak Yellow' by Cardi B picking up considerably to 49 - as much as I'm not really a fan, I can see this becoming a hit. From there, the rest of our gains are pretty scattered: 'Butterfly Effect' by Travis Scott up to 60, 'What Ifs' by Kane Brown and Lauren Alaina to 65, 'Yours If You Want It' by Rascal Flatts up to 71, 'Heartache On The Dance Floor' rising to 81, and finally 'Crew' by Goldlink ft. Brent Faiyaz and Shy Glizzy up to 82... frankly, I'm surprised it stuck around at all.

And now before we get to our very sparse list of new arrivals - there's only four here, folks - I think it's time to bring in a world hit. And while there's a part of me that wanted to just put 'Power' by Little Mix on this list for how utterly silly and overblown it is, I'm not sure I'd put it in my top five favourite Little Mix songs from Glory Days, there's simply other tracks I'd pick first. So instead, let's talk about something that's bound to be even more controversial...

Can I say something? For as much as it's not better than Tracy Chapman's original, I actually really liked Jonas Blue's remixed cover of 'Fast Car' with Dakota - it reflected a tightness and restraint that captured so much of the husky power of the original, even if I think it does lack the gut punch of the final verse that was on the original. But regardless of that, I wanted to keep an eye on Jonas Blue. And while I wasn't really crazy about his second UK hit 'Perfect Strangers', which always felt like the hook was a little too overmixed, 'Mama' is a much more potent track. And sure, part of it is because William Singe's vocals are multi-tracked to sound like a one-person boy band and I'm an easy sucker for that sound, but I think there are two bigger reasons why this song works: a strong, well-defined tropical synth melody that plays counterpoint to the vocals that builds its layers well, and lyrics that kind of temper their go-wild instincts with a reassurance that they still want to live tomorrow morning and will somehow make it home. It's an interesting pivot you don't often see in this sort of track, and in terms of grounding the song a little, it works for me, even if I do think the track runs a bit short at barely making three minutes. But overall, solid tune - hope it eventually crosses over!

But now onto our sparse list of new arrivals...

96. 'Woman' by Kesha ft. The Dap-Kings Horns - this was the second single that Kesha rolled out to support Rainbow, and I'll admit while 'Praying' was the song she had to make, this one might've intrigued me more, the first snippet of what Kesha would tap into with more creative control. And what we get... honestly, I wish I liked this a bit more than I do. Sure, there is something ramshackle and intentionally sloppy about Kesha's giggling delivery that can be endearing, but I kind of wish she had opted to play this a little more straight-faced, especially considering how the chorus plays itself more seriously with the Dap-Kings bringing the horns against the choppier guitar grooves... and that's before we get a more staccato organ and sax infused bridge that doesn't quite help the groove - tilting more towards frenetic, nasty blues rock might have worked better. And the lyrics... look, I get the power of making a direct empowerment anthem complete with cursing definitely fits in the Pink mold, but I wish the details felt a little more fleshed out or rooted in Kesha's style, even though I did dig the reassertions that she does actually write this shit, which given how many pop stars in her mold still don't... hell, that has weight. But as a whole... it's a good track, but I liked 'Praying' a lot more, and I'm all the more intrigued where this album will go, so we'll see.

91. 'Young Dumb & Broke' by Khalid - you know, there's a part of me that if I have time at some point I want to sit down and cover Khalid's debut record American Teen, mostly because the wildly divergent critical opinions on it have left me pretty curious. And I remember finding 'Location' something of a fascinating track when I covered it here six months ago and I liked his hook on 'Rollin', so does his follow-up rope me in? Well, there's more actual groove to it, courtesy of the more stable bass and hi-hats against the swells of organ, and I do like that Khalid seems somewhat self-aware that flimsy relationships and hookups and self-absorption are a factor of being young, dumb, and broke high school kids that doesn't quite give them a pass but enough of an explanation. That said, I can't exactly say I'm entirely wild about him just dropping into his falsetto to repeat the hook with more mumbling, and while it's definitely catchy, it kind of undercuts how anthemic it can be, at least to me. But okay, while I'm not really crazy about this, I definitely get its appeal and I can see it doing pretty well. But speaking of an artist who is young, dumb, and deserves to be broke...

86. 'Jerika' by Jake Paul & Erika Costell ft. Uncle Kade - there's a part of me that knows that simply by placing Jake Paul's name in the tags and description of the video that this will do better than average - and I'm faintly repulsed by that, because even by talking about this bullshit I'm perpetuating his reach. I don't even want to acknowledge that I know the backstory behind this song, that Jake Paul 'married' his girlfriend Erika Costell and if you think this is anything beyond a transparent attempt to drive up views you must be new to YouTube. So when they decided to make a song to 'commemorate' this 'event', immediately it felt gross, and not just because Jake Paul is such a terrible rapper who can't stay on flow and can barely rhyme. Even if he wants to spit over a blurry mess of a guitar and stuttering trap rhythm that even Post Malone would say needs work, the consistent issue is that Jake Paul is so clearly a spoiled little fuckboy who can't differentiate Future from Quavo, who admits in the first line he used to call his 'wife' Team 10's mom - not helped by Erika outright demanding he put her ass in a Tesla and all the flossing about her and her husband, and you can tell by all the vocal layering that she can barely keep a tune - and then Jake Paul saying 'if you were a dude, I think I'd die' - which is a sentiment I don't think demands the mental fortitude to unpack further! There's also someone named Kade Speiser who is on this - apparently he's famous on Instagram and his verse is somehow even more pitiful as he tries to hype up Jake Paul as a 'family vlogger' now - okay, am I the only one really creeped out by how much this is trying to reinforce settling down and cranking out babies to his young fanbase who can't tell how much of this is staged, even as Jake Paul talks about eating his girl like a chicken thigh... which no, that's not sexy, AT ALL? So yeah, it should be no surprise to anyone that this is awful, and as for Jake Paul... it might have been partially staged, but there's a part of me that got a vicious sense of satisfaction when David Dobrik cracked him in the back of the head with a baseball bat as Jake Paul tried to fake placing David's house up for sale - ironic because it wasn't David's house but his friends', and there's a part of me that think David wanted to make it hurt for real. I'd prefer a meme of that chart than this song!

73. 'A Lie' by French Montana ft. The Weeknd & Max B - I don't think anyone was preparing on French Montana to have as much success as he's had this year, but even I can't deny 'Unforgettable' is a solid enough song, and if he was pulling in The Weeknd this time around... hey, he basically got Swae Lee to rip off The Weeknd for that song, maybe getting the genuine article would work well! Unfortunately, 'A Lie' winds up being a not particularly good song all around, and no, it'snot redeemed by grabbing an old Max B verse that was written eight years ago to tack on. To be fair, it's better than French Montana's verse, which is most distinctive for rhyming a bunch of words with themselves and threatening to choke someone from their choker - and since guys don't really wear those that adds a connotation that gets ugly fast - along with a bunch of gang posturing I don't buy for a second. The only other thing is The Weeknd saying he reps Canada like Trudeau, which is amusing enough for the reference, but beyond that it's not like the production or hook is distinctive enough to click, beyond a bunch of blurry synth and flute tones against a percussion line that actually sounds pretty well textured and organic. But beyond that, like the majority of French Montana songs, I'm never going to remember it.

So that was our pretty short week, and wow, the best and worst fell out easy here, because even while I'm not wild about Kesha's 'Woman', it's the biggest standout here, especially opposite something as awful as 'Jerika' by Jake Paul and Erika Costell! Up next... well, we'd have had a full tracking week for songs coming from Linkin Park, and I expect a fair few of them to return despite very unfortunate circumstances. But I'll save that for next week...

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