Tuesday, February 12, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 16, 2019

You know, in the four-plus years I've been doing this series, I'm not sure I've ever encountered a week this slow. We only have two new songs, not a lot of change elsewhere, and while I'm sure next week's Ariana Grande album bomb will change that, I'm going to enjoy having a short episode on Billboard BREAKDOWN - it's a rare occurrence to be savoured, that's all I'm saying!


Hell, the most interesting things to happen this week might have been in the top 10 - and no, I'm not talking about '7 rings' still being at #1 thanks to sales and streaming and some frankly gross radio gains. No, the biggest top ten shakeup comes with 'Happier' by Marshmello and Bastille surging to #2 because they released a Fortnite music video - and I goddamn wish I was kidding. And while the radio fell off the entire week, the sales, streaming, and YouTube all surged. And that pushed it past 'Without Me' by Halsey at #3 - good radio and solid sales, but the streaming weaknesses are starting to show through, and I still think 'Sunflower' by Post Malone and Swae Lee have a chance to pass it at #4, given how its growth is pretty robust in every category. Then we have 'SICKO MODE' by Travis Scott at #5 - thanks to the Super Bowl it wasn't going anywhere across the board - but then we saw the slight revival for 'High Hopes' by Panic! At The Disco up to #6... although given how its radio is steadily falling off along with its sales, I don't predict this to last. Hell, I'm just surprised it held over 'thank u, next' by Ariana Grande falling to #7 - this will rebound next week - on a surprisingly soft week across the board, although it did hold up over 'MIDDLE CHILD' by J. Cole falling to #8 as the sales crashed and it's only reliant on streaming. Then we have 'Wow.' by Post Malone at #9, and I have to say, I'm shocked it hasn't picked up more traction given the turbulence above it, but airplay hasn't gotten all the way on board and sales were down this week - I still think it's got upward potential, but it'll depend on how much damage Ariana will cause. Finally, we have 'Girls Like You' by Maroon 5 and Cardi B clinging to #10 on Super Bowl notoriety alone, and that's about as much credit as I want to give that song.

And on that hopeful note, our losers and dropouts... and we don't have much, again. In the latter category we're losing 'Best Shot' by Jimmie Allen - for a starter single he had a good run - and 'BAD!' by XXXTENTACION - not complaining there, but the losers list is a bit more scattered. First we had the continued dropoffs for Future with 'Crushed Up' falling to 97 and 'First Off' with Travis Scott going to 80, along with Logic losing with 'Keanu Reeves' going to 91, but I was probably most pleased to see 'Mixed Personalities' by YNW Melly and Kanye slide to 86 and 'Good Girl' by Dustin Lynch take a hit at 71. Then there are the songs I don't quite care about - 'No Stylists' by French Montana and Drake went to 92, 'Saturday Nights' by Khalid and Kane Brown went to 75, 'Beautiful' by Bazzi and Camila Cabello went to 47, and 'Speechless' by Dan + Shay lost a surprising amount of traction to 44 - interesting, especially given how well 'Tequila' held on this week. But the most interesting story is the loss for Ariana Grande with 'breathin' - I said this in the review, the rushed release of thank u, next is cannibalizing from her own singles, and that might be a more worrisome sign than her camp realizes.

But on a more positive note, we did have a lot more returning entries this week: 'On My Way To You' by Cody Johnson returned to 100, 'Close Friends' by Lil Baby hit 99, 'ocean eyes' by Billie Eilish is back again at 96, 'Pure Water' by DJ Mustard and Migos hit 64, and thanks to the goddamn Fortnite boost, 'Alone' by Marshmello returned to 28... and it can leave at any time. But our gains list is more stripped down: of course we have crap like 'TAlk tO Me' by Rich The Kid and Tory Lanez at 83 and 'Take It From Me' by Jordan Davis somehow continuing up to 58, but the rest of our gains have a lot of promise. For one, 'a lot' by 21 Savage got a boost thanks to the video to 12, but the more welcome surprise came with Billie Eilish. And I'll admit I'm kind of stunned that 'bury a friend' surged up to 14 thanks to big streaming, but with the radio having no clue what to do with her, I'd say she has to maintain traction there to stick around. But in the mean time she brought boosts for 'lovely' with Khalid to 66 and 'when the party's over' to 61, so I'm not complaining!

But we only have two new arrivals this week, so I think it's time for an Ideal Hit... and that's difficult because so little that's mainstream accessible has been released, probably out of fear that its traction will get stomped out by Ariana next week. But hey, the Grammys just happened and since a man can dream, let's talk about a little something from that show that has every excuse to get traction now...



Let's not mince words, I've been saying for years that Kacey Musgraves should be so much bigger in the mainstream than she is. But given the fact that most Nashville stations don't bother to promote women on their airwaves in favour of interchangeable bros riding dead trends, plus the media fiasco with Bobby Bones which I'd put money only further soured the radio on her - because he's a petty, spineless hack - Kacey Musgraves hasn't gotten proper radio promotion in years, and without a ton of streaming that matters in the genre. So with Golden Hour she didn't bother with the huge radio push, releasing singles that won her a small pop crossover audience but nothing that would snag major attention... and then she won Album Of The Year at the Grammys and performed her newest single 'Rainbow'. And make no mistake, this would be huge for Nashville if they bothered to throw weight behind an artist who wants to drag the genre forward kicking and screaming... which is why I'm talking about the single here, to make a point! Now this was not my favourite song on the album - when you have 'Slow Burn' and 'Lonely Weekend' and 'Space Cowboy', you've got stronger picks than the power ballad, and I can't help but compare this to the other piano ballad of the same name that Kesha made back in 2017 that I truly adore. But for a moment of understated optimism and for the sort of self-esteem anthem... look, it's a cut above most, and this is what Kacey needs to get on the Hot 100, I'll take it.

But that's just the ideal hit - if we're looking towards the two new arrivals, we've got...



95. 'Miss Me More' by Kelsea Ballerini - you know it's funny, I just was talking about how country radio is reticent to play women and then we get a cut from Kelsea Ballerini, so let me rephrase this: they'll play women... with an explicit pop-country sound and who are willing to play nice, which fits Kelsea Ballerini to a tee. That said, it feels like I was one of the few people who actually dug her sophomore album and saw a pretty measurable improvement, and this is one of the best songs off of it, the sort of track that tears into an ex for everything she sacrificed to satiate his ego, and it turns out that she misses her own stuff more. It's a good conceit, it leans into the darker edge I've always thought was a good sound for her, and while I do think the hook is overproduced with a bit too much reverb and I wish the guitar edge crackled a little stronger, the track is carried on a better groove. In other words... yeah, no real competition this week, but I like this song - good stuff.



56. 'One Call' by Gunna - I mean, come on, is this even fair? Gunna is the sort of utterly derivative artist who owes his career to an underwhelming fusion of Future and Young Thug and he's never had anything interesting to say... which is true here too. Seriously, it's a flex anthem that sounds like album filler, there's nothing to say about any of the bars here - if this is the lead-off single for a solo project, he's in real trouble! The best thing I can say is that there's little precisely bad about this song either, aside from sloppy diction, and I don't mind the production - the thicker, murky tones filling the atmosphere behind the lump trap beat would be pretty solid behind a rapper who isn't so heavily reliant on empty adlibs to fill up half his hook! But beyond that... look, nothing really to say, I don't expect this to last.

And that was our week, it was short, and let's not waste any time. Kelsea Ballerini has the best, Gunna has the worst, and I'd put money on Ariana Grande's album bomb nuking the both of them, especially with those streaming numbers. I dunno, we'll see next week...

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