Tuesday, July 14, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - july 25, 2015

Yes, I'm going up a Tuesday - no, not like that. What sort of rampant insanity is this?

See, this is what many of you probably don't know about Billboard - often with only the slightest hint of warning that only the most dedicated of chart nerds will notice - is that they make slight revisions and changes to their charts throughout the year, attempting to rebalance in order to better fit shifts in listening demographics or sales patterns. It's why in recent weeks, the regular 'day of release' for albums has now been shifted to Friday instead of Tuesday, which I think was a choice made solely to annoy the piss out of me and Noel Gallagher. The problem becomes is that Billboard doesn't do these changes at the end of a chart year, but often completely in the middle, which means that some years have no consistent chart demographics. 2013 was one of those years, where they factored in YouTube data during the middle of the Harlem Shake nightmare and it spent five weeks at #1. This shift, done in order to align with the album charts that were recently realigned, is thankfully more restrained, but it does mean that anyone scrambling to compile numbers is trying to align which tracking periods align with which.

Thankfully, while I do compile my own private analytics, I report more on the numbers than track them, so let's talk about our Top Ten, where we have a new #1. Yes, satisfying the majority of our predictions, 'Cheerleader' by OMI took the #1 slot this week, thanks to a surge to top sales, a big boost in streaming, consistently strong airplay gains and even a small jump on YouTube. Not all that surprising - it's a summer song in every way, shape, and form, but it's nice to see 'See You Again' by Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa dethroned and pushed to #2. In that case, while streaming is static and it rules YouTube, airplay slipped even further and sales were not stellar, which finally gave enough of the advantage. Although the question of how long 'Cheerleader' will stick at the top is different, which takes us to 'Can't Feel My Face' by The Weeknd at #3, which took the top streaming position and spent the week gaining sales and as much airplay as its closest rival - if it had a video, God only knows where it'd be. This keeps 'Bad Blood' by Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar stalled at #4, even despite solid YouTube, ruling airplay and very respectable sales - again, if it had Spotify, it'd probably be in better straits. And all that meant is 'Watch Me' by Silento was shoved back to #5. Yes, it gained on YouTube and streaming and had a good sales week and for some ungodly reason it started picking up steam in airplay, but as long as there are more powerhouses ahead of it, we should be good - at least I hope so. And one of those powerhouses is not - at least anymore - 'Trap Queen' by Fetty Wap, which slipped again to #6, likely off of the loss of its streaming throne and only okay sales, as it's barely an airplay presence anymore. What holds there is 'Shut Up And Dance' by Walk The Moon, which had a surprisingly decent sales week and held mostly static for airplay - yeah, it lost streaming, but it held on just enough to hold at #7. This leads to 'Fight Song' by Rachel Platten, which gained another two spots to #8 this week thanks to airplay and very strong sales - and pretty much those alone. No YouTube, no real streaming, and while without those it probably won't go over the top, it's still enough to be a presence - a bland, completely generic presence. It was enough to shove back 'Where Are U Now' by Skrillex, Diplo and Justin Bieber to #9 - although shaky airplay and losses in YouTube against strong streaming and sales probably contributed - and 'Hey Mama' by David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha and Afrojack to #10, gaining in airplay and solid in YouTube but losing hard in streaming and sales.

And on the topic of losing, let's take a look at our losers and dropouts - and it's a short week because we had no major losers this week. In this case, our big drop-outs were all on their way out naturally, with 'Know Yourself' by Drake, 'Budapest' by George Ezra, and - finally - 'Blank Space' by Taylor Swift. Not really any surprises here - all three have been on their way out for a while, and I reckon 'Shake It Off' will be gone all too soon too and good riddance.

We did a few gains this week, though. Meek Mill continues to have a good week with 'R.I.C.O.' with Drake rising to 43 and 'Bad For You' with Nicki Minaj boosted to 78 - seriously, with the other two Meek Mill songs that debuted this week, there really was no point for me to review that album. Outside of that, 'Renegades' by X Ambassadors got a nudge up to 59 and '679' by Fetty Wap ft. Remy Boyz followed its debut to 19 - shame, 'My Way' really was a lot better. And finally, we have 'Marvin Gaye' by Charlie Puth ft. Meghan Trainor, a song that remains one of the stiffest, whitest songs to ever try to appropriate Marvin Gaye's name, doesn't convince me anyone involved in this has ever had sex, and has the production of a bad Glee cover. The fact it's gaining is definitely not a good sign.

But whatever, let's take a look at our solitary returning entry!

I'm not quite sure why this is back on the charts, but I sure as hell am not complaining. And the funny thing is that since I talked about this song two months ago, not a lot has changed: it's still a damn solid country song with a welcome guitar solo, a lot of steel guitar, real drums, and one of the best voices in modern country. Sure, it's not quite among the man's best, but in the swarm of overproduced and stiff pop country, Chris Young shows exactly how to make it work with a melodic focus and real presence. Recommended it once, happy to recommend it again.

Well, that was a nice touch. Now onto our pretty short list of new arrivals, starting with...

99. 'Break Up With Him' by Old Dominion - okay, my rule when it comes to complicated relationship songs is that you need to have good framing to make it work. Let's be honest, the dicey situations that come when there's break-ups or cheating are complicated, and if you're not careful, you can really come across like an asshole. If you want an example of doing this right, look at Jesse McCartney's 'The Other Guy', one of my favourite songs of 2014 because it took everything into consideration and was delivered with passionate sincerity. Want to know a song that goes straight into outright douchebaggery in the other direction? Yeah, it's this, a single from new bro-country band paradoxically called Old Dominion. And while they don't adhere to checklist lyricism or cheap production - the slick melodic presentation in the guitars and piano is actually pretty solid - I don't think I've seen an example of asshole bro behaviour this bad in a while. Part of it is the presentation - the lazy, borderline-unfinished lyrics are delivered so flatly from frontman Matthew Ramsey that it can't help but rub me the wrong way - but the majority of it is the content, a drunk dial where he's trying to get this girl to break up with her boyfriend and 'stringing him along is just a waste of precious time', just like ripping off a band-aid. And I have so many questions: how does our narrator know she's not in love with him, or in love with the narrator? How does encouraging lies help anyone? And doesn't the narrator's meat-headed intentions scream out when you say 'no pressure' - it doesn't even hide how manipulative the song is. And just because she's still on the line doesn't mean she's considering it - my guess is she just whispered, 'what an asshole, leave me alone', went back to sleep, and forgot to hang up. Regardless, this song is manipulative and framed to make it look romantic, which is pretty goddamn contemptible - avoid it 

96. 'Ex's & Oh's - Elle King - well, took her long enough! For those of you who don't know, Elle King is the daughter of former SNL member and unfunny hack Rob Schneider, but given she grew up on the other side of the country with her mother after her parents divorced, he thankfully didn't have much influence on her music. She spent a fair amount of time immersing herself in all sorts of music spanning country, soul, and alternative rock, and after an EP in 2012, she dropped her debut album Love Stuff, with this song being the lead-off single. And honestly, it's pretty solid, with a chunky, ramshackle groove, some buzzing guitars, frail whistles, and an abundance of texture in the mix and Elle King's huskier tones. It's honestly incredibly likeable as a solid, retro-leaning rock song, even though I do wish the lyrics were a little sharper, basically focusing on establishing Elle King as a heartbreaker femme fatale - and to her credit, she makes it pretty damn believable. But yeah, a song with this sort of grit and groove does a ton to win me over - let's hope it's as big of a hit in the States as it was in Canada, we could use more rock on the charts.

95. 'Like I'm Gonna Lose You' by Meghan Trainor ft. John Legend - well, it was probably the best song on Meghan Trainor's debut album, and even then, I'm left wishing that I could be listening to Pink's collaboration with Steven Tyler 'Misery' from 2001 instead, which was basically better in every single way. Meghan Trainor opts for a very acoustic presentation for her lovestruck ballad with John Legend, and while it's definitely clingy given that he's given her no reason to imply he's leaving, it's basically passable. Probably the biggest issue is that John Legend blows Meghan Trainor off the stage in terms of vocal texture, charisma, and presence, so there's no balance. And it's kind of hilarious how much Trainor is trying to pull off sultry retro vixen, and it's got the overly-polished theatricality of a high school play, where with someone like Elle King, it feels real. Overall, the song is fine, but there's a reason I haven't listened to it since I reviewed Title six months ago, just saying.

91. 'Jump Out The Face' by Meek Mill ft. Future - you know, I think Future might be getting better. It's not saying much, and dear God it gives me no inclination to review any upcoming albums or that mixtape Dirty Sprite 2, but I can acknowledge if you can get around the autotune, the slurred delivery, and the completely empty content, his technical construction is getting a little better. But this, a bass-saturated song with melancholic strings and your standard trap hi-hats that's basically luxury porn... I'm sorry, I get nothing from this. The production is too dreary to do Meek Mill any favours or make it sound like anyone's having fun, and while his writing is pretty tight here in terms of technical construction, the subject matter bores me completely. I'd skip it.

88. 'Lord Knows' by Meek Mill - so of the five Meek Mill songs I've covered over the past few weeks, this is the only one that has no credited features, the opening track for his new album... and it's easily the best of them. Sure, it's all bragging, but it's done with the sort of intensity and bombast that almost demands respect. Opening with a chorus from Tory Lanez, it's got symphonic swell from sampling a segment of Mozart's Dies Irae with the bass-saturated trap beat where 'Jump Out My Face' just felt turgid. And it helps that Meek Mill actually shows some rapping technique to match his furious spitting, switching up flows multiple times to match the insane crescendo. And sure, he does stumble during his second verse with the staccato switch-up, but overall, if all trap bangers went as hard as this does and could back up their darkness with that sort of fire, I'd probably be a lot more fond of them.

75. 'Love Is Your Name' by Steven Tyler - and speaking of Steven Tyler... look, I'm not too much of a music snob to admit that I love Aerosmith. Yeah, they've got barren tracts of their discography that have not aged well, but they made great hard rock that I'll always love. Steven Tyler on his own is a different story, especially considering his voice has taken a hell of a beating since his heyday. And when I heard he was going to make country music, it's not exactly surprising, because what genre is as accepting of aging stars as rock than country? Shame there's barely anything to it, a fairly generic pop country ditty that does have some good fiddles and rollick to it and lyrics that are incredibly empty and thin. And yeah, Tyler does have a distinctive voice, but it's been shredded down to mid-range and it sounds painful whenever he tries to push it, especially during those whistles on the bridge. Not precisely bad, but it's definitely forgettable.

So that was our week, and it was a pretty quick one. Worst of the week is easy: 'Break Up With Him' by Old Dominion gets worse every time I hear it, with 'Jump Out The Face' by Meek Mill & Future taking the Dishonourable Mention. As for Best of the Week... well yeah, 'Ex's And Oh's' by Elle King gets it, but I'm giving Honourable Mention to Meek Mill's 'Lord Knows' - if it wasn't for that second verse stumble, it would have ruled this week easily. But overall, even despite the major changes, it was a pretty reasonable week - let's hope for more.

No comments:

Post a Comment