Tuesday, July 11, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - july 22, 2017

Okay, maybe I'm just not as in-tune with what will cross onto the Hot 100 as I thought as I was, especially when it comes to album tracks. I knew that Jay-Z's 4:44 would take the wide release to land on the Hot 100, but I did think that there'd be at least a few album tracks from Calvin Harris' last release that'd have a chance, or maybe a bit of traction for Kesha's big comeback single 'Praying'... but while of course it landed on the Canadian charts, thanks to not getting a full tracking week it just missed the Hot 100, and what we got instead... well, it's interesting, I'll say that.

So okay, before we get to all of that, Top 10, and once again, 'Despacito' by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and the remix with Bieber is holding onto #1 - and again, this should surprise nobody, given that on-demand streaming and YouTube recovered and it's now back to being dominant in every format. And really, at this point it's out so far in front that barring a sudden drop I'm not certain what's directly challenging it. I've predicted that 'I'm The One' by DJ Khaled and his posse could make a play beyond #2, as it still seems to have momentum on the radio along with YouTube and streaming, but sales slipped this week, and it might not have enough. Compare this to 'That's What I Like' by Bruno Mars, which actually recovered up to #3 despite weaker sales and YouTube thanks to staying a little more solvent on radio and streaming than expected - but likely more because DJ Khaled's 'Wild Thoughts' with Rihanna and Bryson Tiller lost that big sales boost and just didn't manage to make up enough airplay to compensate, so it fell to #4. Then - somehow still in the top 5 - we have 'Shape Of You' by Ed Sheeran, and again, it's still fading, but it's got enough weight on the radio that any losses will take time, especially if nothing below it can challenge. And yeah, that's the case for 'Humble' by Kendrick Lamar back up to #6, where the slips on streaming and unstable radio are compensated for by a good sales week - although again, it's probably more because 'Believer' by Imagine Dragons lost the album boost and dropped back to #7, although its good radio prevented it from dropping that hard. Then... re-entering the top 10, almost purely for the purpose of pissing me off, we have Sam Hunt's 'Body Like A Backroad', which has sustained longevity thanks to pop radio thinking this is deserving of any attention, and when you combine it with inexcusable sales... yeah, gross. It also forced back 'Congratulations' by Post Malone to #9, and considering it didn't really have a good streaming week and airplay is wavering, it might have stalled out. On a better note, in our second top ten entry and a brand new one at that, 'Unforgettable' by French Montana and Swae Lee hit #10. It's here primarily on streaming and YouTube, but it's also got more airplay traction than I expected, so providing it doesn't stall out, I actually don't mind that it's here, it's a solid tune.

On a different note, our losers and dropouts! In the latter category, the only ones worth mentioning are 'Cold' by Maroon 5 and Future, 'Good Drank' by 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane & Quavo - both on their way out naturally anyway - and 'If I Told You' by Darius Rucker - which did catch me off-guard, I thought it might have a bit more gas instead of getting caught in the seasonal change for country radio. But it's also probably why 'How Not To' by Dan + Shay plummeted to 100 in our losers this week. Beyond that, most of our other losers are non-singles fading naturally: 'Signs' by Drake off the debut last week to 54, 'Portland' by Drake with Quavo and Travis Scott to 90, and 'LOYALTY' by Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna down to 72. The one that continues to concern me is the alarming drop for 'Sign Of The Times' by Harry Styles - it's down to 73 already, and at this rate, if it doesn't slow down soon, it'll have a shot at missing a year end list that could really use it!

Meanwhile, if you take a look at our gains things are most characterized by success for Calvin Harris and the Latin boom that seems to be blossoming in the wake of 'Despacito'. In the latter case, we had the returning entry for Nicky Jam 'El Amante' to 58 and the considerable boost to 'Escapate Conmigo' by Wisin and Ozuna, but I have to say I'm a little surprised Calvin Harris didn't get more traction. Sure, 'Rollin' with Future and Khalid came back to 76, and 'Slide' with Frank Ocean and Migos rebounded to 32 and 'Feels' with Pharrell, Katy Perry and Big Sean especially got a boost to 26, but there were no new songs that showed up from the record... which is disappointing because there was real quality there I'd like to see either come back or debut! Thankfully, we still got the gain for 'Versace On The Floor' by Bruno Mars, which picked up considerably to 56 and seems to have some legs beneath it - good to see, the song is great!

But I want to get to our list of new arrivals, which I have to admit seems a little strange, starting with...

99. 'Extra Luv' by Future ft. YG - so for those of you who are not aware, no, this is not a new lead single for a third record Future plans to release this year - instead, it's an added single digitally tacked on to the first, self-titled album that was released, and I'm honestly not sure if that's worse. I'm already not a fan of deluxe-edition rereleases and this takes that bad practice into even worse territory, a nightmare for critics at least trying to get a handle on when to cover a record. But anyway, this was the song tacked on, Future's first ever collaboration with YG... and if I'm supposed to be impressed by this, I'm not. More confused than anything, especially as the sandy cracks against the skittery cascades and synths and deeper synths seem a far bit lighter and hazier than Future's used to, and it doesn't really have a stable enough groove to flatter YG. But when you get into the content, the confusion continues, because for as much as Future seems disgusted that this girl is just using him for his money, YG seems entirely okay with it, including far too many cheap rhymes to tell that he really phoned this in. The two artists don't have much chemistry, the mood feels disjointed, and I'm not sure if there's enough here to benefit anyone. In other words, it's mediocre - next!

89. 'Heartache On The Dance Floor' by Jon Pardi - okay, there's a part of me that wants to find whoever at Capitol Nashville who is picking singles for Jon Pardi and beat them with a crowbar - this is an artist who has had success playing to explicitly neotraditional country tones, and yet for some godawful reason they keep trying to saddle him with tones that play more towards pop. So instead of the title track of California Sunrise or 'She Ain't In It', we're stuck with this - which yes, does pick up some choppy guitar groove and is actually matched by fiddle and steel guitar, but you're not convincing me that handclap that opens up the song isn't programmed, or that echoed multi-tracking doesn't sound slicker than it should. Hell, it's not even that this is bad - the writing on trying to recapture a girl he saw on in a bar and never really connected with actually does have a bit of wistful charm to it - but he's got better material, and I don't know why his handlers are pushing him in this direction. But if I'm being honest with myself, this is actually pretty good and I'm just nitpicking, and in comparison to most bro-country, I'd easily take more of this. Good track.

87. 'Who Dat Boy' by Tyler, The Creator - so here's something you might not know - all throughout the early 2010s when Odd Future's buzz was big, Tyler The Creator never had a solo song chart on the Hot 100. He had a featuring credit on a song with The Game and Lil Wayne, but beyond that, nothing crossed over. And yet years later Tyler's got a song crossing onto the Hot 100 with an uncredited verse from A$AP Rocky, and... well, it's something, that's for sure. The very sparse synth fragments that open things up and touch against the squeals and strings before the massive drippy bass cut in and Tyler's hoarse growl tries to crank up that intensity... and I'm not sure it works as well as he thinks it does. Don't get me wrong, his verses do catch some of the balance between violence and flossing that could potentially work and he's certainly got the voice to hit the intensity against the atonal and unstable melodies, but am I the only one who thinks that A$AP Rocky just doesn't have the presence to match him, to say nothing of wordplay that just feels lightweight. Granted, Tyler's not exactly impressing on that front either, with a few obvious flubbed rhymes that make this song a little harder to appreciate as moody and intense than just a little unfinished and sloppy. I dunno, it's listenable and it's got me curious for the album, but I've heard Tyler do better and I have to hope his experiments pay bigger dividends than this going forward.

85. 'Bodak Yellow' by Cardi B - you know, one thing I have noticed in the newest crop of MCs is that there aren't that many women with considerable buzz, at least to match their male counterparts with a similar style. Young M.A. seemed like she would be a thing for a brief time, but her hype has evaporated, so now we have Cardi B, who you all might know more from her time on Love & Hip-Hop than any actual recording career. And it's a bad sign going into a song when she cites her major inspiration being Kodak Black, but honestly, I might actually prefer her flow than his. Sure, the flow is basic as hell and there's entirely too many words rhymed with themselves - and no, trying to say you 'arove' somewhere instead of 'arrived' is not clever - but it seems like she's got a better grasp of his slippery delivery than she does, and her voice is certainly more appealing. Yeah, the hollowed glossy synth and trap hi-hats aren't anything all that special and it's not like there are any appealing punchlines or wordplay I haven't heard before, and if she's making so much you have to wonder why she's still getting guys to buy her things, but it also avoids most of the obvious slip-ups and asinine wordplay that cripples Kodak Black so often, and while Dreezy does this sort of material much better, this is at least tolerable. I'd say it'd pick up more traction, but i really can't predict what'll happen with most trap songs these days, so we'll see.

78. 'Rake It Up' by Yo Gotti ft. Nicki Minaj - so apparently Yo Gotti is going back to what got him success off the back of his breakthrough single: collaborations with Nicki Minaj! Okay, that's a little crass, but let's be real: while I might have preferred that 'Law' had been a bigger single, the only reason you're hearing any buzz about Yo Gotti's collaborative mixtape with Mike Will Made It is because this song hit the Hot 100. And... honestly, I'm not sure if it's got the same stupid meme potential that at least helped get 'Down In The DM' so popular. For one, it's not really as melodic, with a tiny fragment behind the thicker beat, and even then it's pretty slow and doesn't really give Yo Gotti much to push a very Gucci-esque flow on the verses. Now it's clear he's got a bit more of a sense of humor here in his verses - although I'm fairly certain the only good joke on the third verse comes from sampling Too Short saying the word 'bitch' - but again, the only reason anyone is here is Nicki Minaj's verse, which rhymes China with itself five times along with rhyming it with 'vagina'. But she's got delivery with a little more variety to it even beyond the punchlines... but still, without the central concept it really does feel like a less-interesting attempt to replicate a song that wasn't all that good to begin with. In other words, I can see the environment where this is getting played... and it's not on my speakers.

70. 'Mi Gente' by J Balvin & Willy William - okay, so I've been mostly ambivalent on the rising tide of Latin songs crossing over to the Hot 100 - most of the time they just don't make much of an impact with me or just start to blur together, especially when you dig into the lyrical subject matter, which can feel pretty flimsy. It's been a while since I've heard a song that actively annoys me, but J Balvin and Willy William managed to create one and yes, it's that goddamn squawking at the root of the melody that sounds like the warbling of a castrated alpaca. And it never changes or evolves, just more layers of noisy, clattering percussion are piled on, with choppy stutters intended to mimic guitars trying to add groove to a song that has none. It almost makes me feel that it's unfinished, needing something to accent J Balvin's utter lack of personality or swagger to really have kick, but then you hear Willy William trying to do his best Pitbull impression, complete with opening whoops... and yeah, let's not mince words, it's a pretty blatant ripoff of what Pitbull was churning out in 2009 on Pitbull Starring In Rebelution, except somehow with less personality and more annoying noises! The best thing I can say that the lyrics aren't as embarrassing as your average Daddy Yankee or Pitbull verse, but at least they have varying degrees of personality that you remember the idiotic lines, whereas all this song has is an annoying loop that goes through your skull like a meat tenderizer.

So yeah, to surprise absolutely none of you, 'Mi Gente' by J Balvin and Willy William is getting worst of the week - dear god, I know this is getting some viral swell right now and people are buying it, but let's hope that it stalls out fast. As for the best... meh, the only song I'd consider good rather than just passable this week is 'Heartache On The Dancefloor' - sorry Tyler, the rhymes need to be more on point next time around. And coming up next week... I'd like to say Jay-Z, but these days, you can never tell.

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