Tuesday, November 7, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - november 18, 2017

Okay, second last week of the Billboard year, where the final list of songs that have a shot of clinching a spot narrows all the further... and where one album smash made an utterly exasperating non-impact on the Hot 100, somehow we got even less when Without Warning by Offset, 21 Savage, and Metro Boomin crashed through this week. Now again, how much any of this will matter in a few weeks when the rest of Taylor Swift's reputation destroys everything in its path, I can't tell you, but for now, I wouldn't put money on the Hot 100 remaining stable, even into next week.

And nowhere is that more pronounced than our Top 10. Yes, 'rockstar' by Post Malone and 21 Savage is clinging to that #1 with steadily growing airplay, good sales, and holding the top in on-demand streaming... but now more than ever it faces a challenger, and that is 'Havana' by Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug - and with its gains, it's really on a margins game if and when it can overtake 'rockstar', because its sales and YouTube are better and it is dangerously close on the radio. Now this places 'Bodak Yellow' in a weird position down to #3 - it's doing well on YouTube and had a good sales week, but thanks to weakening radio and streaming, it might have fallen back regardless of 'Havana'. Similar case for '1-800-273-8255' by Logic ft. Alessia Cara & Khalid at #4, as its radio seemed to peak this week and it took hits across the board regardless - it has enough radio and YouTube for a slow descent, but prospects aren't great. Where they're a fair bit better is 'Thunder' by Imagine Dragons at #5, which rules sales and spent the week charging up the radio, which even despite lousy streaming was enough to hold against 'Feel It Still' by Portugal. The Man, down to #6 as sales remain only okay and its radio finally peaked. And it now becomes a question of margins when we take a look at our new top ten arrival, one that I depressingly predicted: 'Gucci Gang' by Lil Pump at #7. And as usual, it's here because of streaming and YouTube and pretty much just that, because sales are still low and the radio refuses to touch him. Compare this to a radio powerhouse like 'Sorry Not Sorry' by Demi Lovato... but even that presence is wavering, and with the sales dropoff it's no surprise this fell to #8. Then we have 'Mi Gente' by J Balvin, Willy William and Beyonce down to #9... and really, I have no idea what this is doing, with radio all over the place and everything else pretty static, it probably just got overtaken. Which is probably a similar case for 'Too Good At Goodbyes' by Sam Smith down to #10, which near the end of the week picked up some traction and with the album dropping I'd put money on this picking up more radio spins.

And on a very different note, losers and dropouts... and most of these you could have seen coming. 'Friends' by Justin Bieber and Bloodpop is out after consistently underperforming, as is 'Escapate Conmigo' by Wisin and Ozuna, and 'Love Galore' by SZA and Travis Scott exits after just getting enough points to land the year end list. What probably will just miss the cut are 'It's A Vibe' by 2 Chainz with Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz and Jhene Aiko, and 'Butterfly Effect' by Travis Scott... man, he did not have a good week here. And it's a similar case for our losers - you could likely call that 'More Girls Like You' by Kip Moore is continuing down to 99, or that off their debuts 'Gorgeous' by Taylor Swift fell hard to 69 and 'Patek Water' by Future, Young Thug and Offset went to 77. Then there's 'Glorious' by Macklemore and Skylar Grey at 87 - this song has stuck around a lot longer than I think anyone could have predicted - and finally 'All The Pretty Girls' by Kenny Chesney is at 97 - probably exiting a bit early, but it was never a big hit or a good song, so I'm fine with this.

Now where things get a fair bit more interesting comes in our gains and returning entries... well, okay, mainly returning entries, because you could easily explain all of our pickups. '...Ready For It?' by Taylor Swift surged to 19 off the video, 'Love So Soft' by Kelly Clarkson moved to 47 off of the album, as did 'Questions' by Chris Brown to 79. Then you have NF capitalizing on momentum to rise to 61 with 'Let You Down', and somehow 'Wolves' by Selena Gomez and Marshmello had a monster sales week, which put it at 35. The only real surprise in our gains is 'Sky Walker' by Miguel and Travis Scott, but that could be linked to better radio traction than I think anyone expected... interesting. Now our returning entries always tend to be a bit of a mixed bag after an album bomb, and some like 'High End' by Chris Brown ft. Young Thug and Future to 100 you expect, especially as Chris Brown is trying and mostly failing to get more of that double album monstrosity on the Hot 100. But the others... well, Macklemore and Kesha got 'Good Old Days' back to 72, likely on some quiet radio pickups, but I'm not sure why we got 'Mayores' by Becky G and Bad Bunny back at 83. Then we have 'You Broke Up With Me' by Walker Hayes at 91 - let's pray it doesn't get any higher - but the real surprise for me was 'Ask Me How I Know' by Garth Brooks at 90 - according to my sources this is actually doing pretty well on country radio, which actually is a pretty significant surprise!

But now onto the matter at hand, our new arrivals, starting with...

98. 'All On Me' by Devin Dawson - so like most pop-leaning country tracks, this is one following in the straightforward but relatively likable wake of Brett Young and charting a good eight months after it was first released. Now if you know this guy at all, it's probably for a Taylor Swift mashup he put together, but he landed a record deal and with the support of producer Jay Joyce, he got this to chart. And honestly, it's pretty decent: the guitar tones are warm and well-balanced and I like those touches of organ, and while I think the multi-tracked vocals might have a tad too much reverb, for a gentle 'hey, you can lean on me girl' track, I've certainly heard guys make far worse songs, mostly because Dawson sound pretty likable and sincere. So yeah, this is decent - not all that memorable, but definitely passable, check it out.

94. 'My Choppa Hate N****s' by 21 Savage & Metro Boomin - so now we're getting into the thick of Without Warning, and just like Super Slimey we're getting a selection of cuts where 21 Savage and Offset work together and some solo joints. We're starting with the latter, and... really, if 21 Savage is trying to deliver a creepy track touching on gang violence, I'm not really all that impressed by this. I get that the slightly atonal warping synths around the brittle trap beat is supposed to intensify the atmosphere, but 21 Savage is such a limited rapper in terms of bars and delivery that I can't really feel anything all that intimidating or dark, especially as in the second verse he feels the need to reassert that just because he raps he'll still kill you... even as a few lines later he's bragging about his Bentley as if that's remotely relevant. Look, I don't hate this, but it's really too short and lacking in distinctive personality to click more - just kind of forgettable.

74. 'Rap Saved Me' by 21 Savage, Offset & Metro Boomin ft. Quavo - so now we have the whole crew together with even Quavo along for the ride... and again, I'm finding myself gravitating a lot more to Metro Boomin's production than a lot of the content here. It's got the foundation of that warping sample against the bassy trap beat and distant screams and tires squealing, but I particularly like how with each verse you get distinctive melodic elements that set the mood: the binaural rattling shifts of guitar for Offset, the piano for 21 Savage, and the muted bass swells that kick into more prominent melodic tones for Quavo. But the second you start looking at the actual content... hate to say it, but all the brand name flexing kind of undercuts an atmosphere that's trying to be so damn menacing. I'd take both Offset and Quavo's verses over 21 Savage's here, but again, I keep having the sneaking suspicion this should be better than it is.

71. 'Ric Flair Drip' by Offset & Metro Boomin - okay, so now Offset has the solo joint with Metro Boomin... and wow, I like this a fair bit more. Again, Metro Boomin's production is the standout here: solid creeping keys that develop into a more interesting melody than you'd expect, all against a bass bounce that has a surprising amount of groove. And yeah, Offset is not delivering anything but raw hedonism, brand name flexing, and shooting people... but if Offset is using this project to make a case for his own solo career, he's certainly showing the skill to pull it off with his triple time flow on that second verse, and he's definitely improved in terms of structure and his diction. Hell, while at the end of the day I probably still prefer Takeoff's gruffer delivery, if Offset keeps delivering tracks like this, he could be pretty credible outside of Migos and proof that Quavo didn't deserve all of the guest verses. So yeah, this is decent, I'll take it.

57. 'Ghostface Killers' by 21 Savage, Offset & Metro Boomin ft. Travis Scott - so let me make this very clear: if you're going to title your song after a rapper who'd argue has multiple classic records both with Wu-Tang and solo, I'm going to expect the bars to be on point. I already dug the production thanks to bells and dreary keys against that oily progression on the hook, and Offset was certainly going to be spitting on the hook and his verse... and he certainly is, but let's be real, this is not so much Wu-Tang as content that you'd hear on any other Migos record - hell, he even references dabbing, and it doesn't excuse trying to force the rhyme of 'Italy' and 'pitiful'! Now 21 Savage is intimidating enough on his verse, but then you follow it with Travis Scott telling us to watch our fingers because the 'cactus is dangerous' - that's right, he took one of the stupidest lines of his entire career referring to his dick and is trying to turn it into a thing! Beyond that - and the fact that Travis Scott makes a point of saying he's repping Nike not Adidas like Offset, which doesn't seem like it'd help branding - this is fine enough, but worthy of matching up with Ghostface proper? Yeah, not a chance.

14. 'MotorSport' by Migos, Nicki Minaj & Cardi B - okay, so when Cardi B beat Nicki Minaj to the solo #1, I think everyone was expecting it to get catty... and yet to my pleasant surprise, that didn't happen at all. In fact, Nicki seems to be playing things with Cardi B in good spirits, props Cardi B seems overjoyed to get, and the fact that both are now hopping on a track together with Migos seemed pretty promising to me. Of course, Migos are now using it as the lead-off single to their next record Culture II so they were bound to take more time on the track... even if I'd definitely argue that Quavo's hook and verse are by far the worst things about this song. Seriously, what sort of Travis Scott impression is he trying here, drowning in autotune won't make your verse feel anymore painfully underwritten and that Deflategate reference is painfully dated! Thankfully, Offset shows up to stabilize things with a decent verse that shows a little more lyrical detail... but then Cardi B shows up and pretty much runs away with the entire damn song. Seriously, if you're looking for a sharper contrast between why I've never been a big Nicki Minaj fan and yet could back someone like Cardi B, it's here: bars and rhymes consistently connect, her flows are genuinely good, and she's bringing the sort of hard-edged personality that used to be the standard from Nicki, who here... seriously, the first bar is rhyming 'mouth' with 'mouth', and that's not the only double rhyme here? And yeah, it takes Nicki a while to pick up speed to match with Migos and Cardi B, but she does get there... the problem is that many of her lines can't help but make me cringe, like telling guys to get a straw because 'you know this pussy is juicy' or telling this person to go sit on the potty - and yes, at this point she's a more detailed writer, but Cardi B is more consistent and bringing more energy.... Anyway, we finally hear a verse from Takeoff and again, I like this guy's tone and his bars connect at least as well as Offset, so the song as a whole... look, if it was just Offset, Cardi B and Takeoff, I probably still wouldn't love it because the faint tinkling and flutters of the production aren't great against your by-the-numbers trap beat, but it'd have more of a shot. As it is... eh, it's okay, I guess.

So that's our week... and hmm, honestly it feels pretty clear cut here, with both best and worst being the solo joints from Without Warning. 21 Savage easily clinches the worst - even though I will say it's more mediocre than outright terrible - where Offset will get the best - the groove of that song really clicked, I must say. But yeah, next week is the last of this Billboard year, who will manage to get just enough points to clear to the year-end list, we'll find out soon!

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