Tuesday, April 3, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - april 7, 2018

And now we get a cooldown week... whew. Sort of what I was expecting, given that there wasn't really any big crossover releases outside of some scattered singles - and really, there are some songs that are lingering longer than I'm personally comfortable - but hey, given how busy I have been, I will take what I can get.


Granted, none of this makes our top ten much better, where once again 'God's Plan' by Drake holds the top - ten weeks now - but now more than ever its margins are becoming tenuous, especially in streaming as radio slows down. Still, it's holding up over 'Meant To Be' by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line at #2, which is still surging on the radio... but sales and streaming aren't close to approaching the margins, unless there's a significant disruption I don't see it going to the top. But then we got the rebound by 'Finesse' by Bruno Mars and Cardi B... and look, as much as I really dig the song and it might get more of a boost with Cardi B's upcoming debut - and the sales were just fantastic this week - it has lost so much streaming and radio is starting to bleed, it's sadly not getting higher. We also saw an increase for 'Psycho' by Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign at #4, mostly thanks to a slight rebound on streaming and it's making gains on airplay... just not really fast enough, and sales aren't recovering. it really only jumped thanks to 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran in freefall down to #5, across the board. And that places it up against the resurgent 'Look Alive' by BlocBoy JB and Drake breaking back into the top ten at #6, mostly thanks to big streaming and some solid radio pickups. Hell, it rose over 'The Middle' by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey down to #7 - as great as its radio is, the sales and streaming aren't quite enough to push it higher. It is thankfully keeping it above 'Freaky Friday' by Lil Dicky and Chris Brown up to #8... and again, for as much as the song is an offensive atrocity, it's only here because of streaming and YouTube, and considering we have major disruptions in that territory down the pipeline, I'm comfortable knowing it won't last much longer. It did rise above 'SAD!' by XXXTENTACION, but you expect the loss there after the album bomb fades - all it has is streaming and again, that's vulnerable to disruption. Finally, we have 'Havana' by Camila Cabello and Young Thug clinging to #10 even as it apparently had a decent week on streaming - too little, and given its airplay losses, too late.

On that note, losers and dropouts. Three pretty considerable ones in the latter category here, all of which have enough points to comfortably make the year-end list: 'Young Dumb & Broke' by Khalid, 'How Long' by Charlie Puth, and thankfully 'Sky Walker' by Miguel and Travis Scott. And when you look at our losses... honestly, while I'm disappointed that 'Five More Minutes' by Scotty McCreery is fading at 72, he's taking out 'Moonlight' and 'the remedy for a broken heart (why am i so in love)' by XXXTENTACION to 48 and 97 respectively. Beyond that... well, Logic is continuing to fade, with 'Everyday' with Marshmello down to 67 and '44 More' to 85, and 'All On Me' by Devin Dawson hit a sudden drop to 62, which looks to be linked to how it ran out its time on country radio. 

Now as I've said in the past, what tends to be more interesting after an album bomb are the gains and returning entries, and... well, in the latter category we got 'This Is Me' from The Greatest Showman back at 87 and 'Rubbin Off The Paint' by YBN Nahmir back yet again to 96, but hey, I'm just happy to see 'Get You' by Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis back at 99 - hopefully it'll get a boost for the hype off of Uchis' album, that'd be nice to see. The gains... they're a little more scattered, but outside of 'Tell Me You Love Me' by Demi Lovato somehow getting another boost to 59 - apparently it had good sales - most of these are at the least tolerable. 'Powerglide' by Rae Sremmurd and Juicy J is continuing up to 38 on streaming, along with 'Delicate' by Taylor Swift up to 52 off respectable radio pickups. Then we had the big gains off debuts for 'One Number Away' by Luke Combs to 73 and 'In My Blood' by Shawn Mendes to 22 - hell, overall Shawn Mendes had a really good week, but we'll get to more of that in a second. Finally, we had a few gains for returning entries, with 'Tequila' by Dan + Shay up to 74 and 'Sativa' by Jhene Aiko and Swae Lee to 80 - no expectations that the latter will gain serious traction, but hey, a guy can dream.

But this takes us to a pretty sparse list of new arrivals, starting with...



100. 'No Roots' by Alice Merton - you know, I've seen this name before as a young artist accumulating buzz, so it genuinely surprised me to discover this is her first single, released way back in 2016 and finally now getting some chart attention thanks to a car commercial and apparently in Season 5 of The Blacklist, a show I don't watch. So alright, what is there to say about Alice Merton? Well, it's certainly got groove - that stalking, fat bassline and sharp percussion has some real swagger that matches how well Alice Merton's alto cuts across the mix with some real theatricality, and the jagged accents of guitar and synth are great accents to it. It oddly reminds me a bit of fellow Canadian Serena Ryder in the similar stomping presence, but this has a much quicker tempo and unlike 'Stompa' this actually makes some sense, with the curt expectation that when you don't have an established sense of place or home, you learn how to live lean and on the road. And while I've become more settled in recent years, given how I've lived all over the country, I certainly can empathize. Of course, it helps the song is pretty kickass too - car companies, more of Alice Merton, less X Ambassadors and Imagine Dragons please!



95. 'For The First Time' by Darius Rucker - it's always a little weird for me to cover Darius Rucker these days, mostly because I keep going into his music with the expectation that'll it be more interesting than it is... and then I remember his best song was a Bob Dylan cover and why the hell should I expect the former frontman of Hootie & The Blowfish to be interesting. And with this... look, Rucker has more charisma than most and he knows his way around a decent hook, but I can't be the only one who finds this sort of production a little too ramshackle for his smoother delivery, despite him trying to play into this more nasal twang, especially when it falls into a pretty by-the-numbers pickup jam that overloads the percussion texture at the expense of everything. I do find it amusing that Darius Rucker's frame of musical reference is R.E.M., which seems like an odd choice for a song like this, but beyond that... look, unless this gets a prime spot on country radio, you won't remember this exists in a day or two. Not bad, but not memorable either.



86. 'Up Down' by Morgan Wallen ft. Florida Georgia Line - see, this is the other big reason I didn't want 'Meant to Be' to blow up as much as it did, because it gives Florida Georgia Line the foothold and influence to cosponsor other mediocre-to-awful acts in mainstream bro-country that won't let the damn genre stay dead! Anyway, you might recognize Morgan Wallen if you watched The Voice a few years back, but after he was eliminated he wound up working with Florida Georgia Line producer Joey Moi, signed to his label, started opening for Florida Georgia Line, and now they're on his big breakout single, which is all about the motion of things going up and down, like fishing lures, swigging whiskey, and people nodding gormlessly to 'Free Bird'. Beyond that, it's bro-country of the pointless list variety with a really ugly guitar lead melody, an organ trying to add some texture to Joey Moi's characteristically overloaded mix, and a drum progression that sounds like the drummer was pounding all the whiskey referenced in the song, because this song has no stable groove or momentum whatsoever, not helped by the drum machines! It's truly stunning that years after the bro-country template was popularized by Florida Georgia Line songs this slapdash are still released, and while I have heard worse in this subgenre, it is far from good - next!



70. 'Japan' by Famous Dex - so apparently I talked about Famous Dex on a song with A$AP Rocky in December of last year... yeah, I don't remember it either outside of a good soul sample and lingering disappointment. But apparently he's back with one of two debuts this week referencing Japan, and... ehh, not bad, Famous Dex is a little more melodic than many of his peers and the roiling bass playing against the faded synth leads is pretty enough, but outside of a modestly catchy hook it's hard to feel like Famous Dex is adding anything all that interesting in his delivery or content here beyond flexing. I will note there's been some controversy surrounding how this hook calls back to a previous verse where he said he wasn't popping Xanax and now he is, but that feels painfully thin - what stood out more is that he didn't seem to be taking anyone's girl... until the end of the second verse, where he references the boyfriend. Ugh, whatever, it's not like any of these vapid trap songs are all that memorable, and this is no exception - next!



64. 'Lost In Japan' by Shawn Mendes - so apparently in comparison with the other single Shawn Mendes put out last week, this is the good one, his 'Castle On The Hill' compared to 'In My Blood's 'Shape Of You'... or did I get that mixed up, because this is certainly the more groove-driven, almost-disco tune from Mendes that's playing into a bassy, glossy synth and piano bounce that's probably closer to vintage Justin Timberlake than Timberlake himself released this year! Granted, Mendes is playing into a more tender side than most of Timberlake's posturing, but he's surprisingly credible in this lane, mostly through the sort of groove that's about the best he's ever had, along with a pretty good multi-tracked falsetto. Even with that, I'm not entirely convinced Mendes can quite pull this song off yet, but it's a solid effort and one I respect a fair bit - nice work, looking forward to more.



60. 'Say Amen (Saturday Night)' by Panic! At The Disco - I'm not going to lie, there's a part of me that's just kind of tired when I see a new Panic! At The Disco track charting... because it's a solo Brendon Urie venture at this point, and even if I really did love 'Crazy=Genius' two years ago, there's a part of me that either Urie go under his own name or bring the band back together for another bout of genre bending experimentation that could showcase what they truly had as a unit. As it is for this song... honestly, it's pretty solid in terms of the horn line and strings, along with the hook and Brendon Urie sounding as fine behind the microphone as ever. But am I the only one who feels like the mix is a little hollow with its chopped collage of samples that don't really build to a stronger groove or anything close to an edge? As for the content, it's playing with the blend of religious iconography and standing on principles juxtaposed against a more raucous party vibe, and that does drive some decent tension into that crazy high note Urie hits... but I dunno, it's not really grabbing me as much as I would like, especially as I know they've made more colourful and striking tunes before. Pretty good, but I think it's a step away from great.

But that being said, the only real bad song we had this week was 'Up Down' by Morgan Wallen and Florida Georgia Line, so why not skip Dishonourable Mention for once for two Honourable Mentions: one to 'Say Amen (Saturday Night)' by Panic! At The Disco, the other for 'Lost In Japan' by Shawn Mendes, with the best easily going to 'No Roots' by Alice Merton. Next week, we'll see how much of an impact The Weeknd will notch with that EP of his...

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