Tuesday, August 4, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - august 15, 2015

So I think last week was a bit of an anomaly when it comes to the summer slowdown - a glut of new tracks and very minimal changes within the chart itself. This week made more sense - a whole slew of shuffling and not many new arrivals, which reflects the pretty sparse release schedule right now, especially when it comes to mainstream album.

Of course, all of that doesn't excuse the Top 10 being as static as it is. Once again, 'Cheerleader' by OMI holds onto the #1 slot thanks to topping sales, strong streaming, still gaining airplay and even picking up a boost in YouTube - and somehow, it was enough to hold back 'Can't Feel My Face' by The Weeknd to #2, even despite the latter song ruling streaming, extremely strong sales, and actually being ahead in airplay despite slowing gains. I suspect in this case it's a factor of The Weeknd's video not making quite a big enough splash to take the top spot. It didn't hold back 'Watch Me' by Silento, which somehow picked up more YouTube, held steady in streaming and had good sales - again, it's only not picking up speed on radio, and thank God for that. The song that's slipping on radio is 'Bad Blood' with Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar, #4, because despite having the peak it's only where it is thanks to stable YouTube and decent enough sales - if airplay slips anymore, it'll be gone soon. Similar case with 'See You Again' by Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth at #5 - rules YouTube and decent streaming, even as airplay falls and sales aren't worth mentioning. The first noticeable shift comes with 'Lean On' by Major Lazer, DJ Snake and M0 rising to #6, thanks to a big surge on airplay balancing against good streaming, great YouTube, and decent enough sales. It was enough to push 'Trap Queen' by Fetty Wap back a bit to #7, but that probably would have happened anyway thanks to losses in streaming and weak sales, which really is everything that's propping it up at this point. It'll probably be replaced by 'My Way' by Fetty Wap at #8 soon, as it picks up airplay to match a solid streaming debut and huge sales, but that'll take some time. It's interesting how it managed to pass 'Fight Song' by Rachel Platten, forcing it back to #9 even despite better sales and growing airplay... but its weakness in streaming and its insufferable blandness is holding it back. Finally, we've got 'Shut Up And Dance' by Walk The Moon holds on to #10, which is slowly losing airplay and had not bad sales, but losses in streaming guarantee it'll be out of the top ten soon enough.

And speaking of losers, let's talk about our dropouts! Not that many this week, as 'Baby Be My Love Song' by Easton Corbin and 'Sippin On Fire' by Florida Georgia Line complete their chart runs and 'Tear In My Heart' by twenty one pilots unfortunately exits way too early. And that's also indicative from our considerable list of losers this week, with 'Yoga' by Janelle Monae & Jidenna slipping to 97 and 'Fun' by Pitbull & Chris Brown dropping to 57 as their momentum looks to be evaporating. Similar case with a few of our country losers like 'Tonight Looks Good On You' by Jason Aldean sliding to 59 and 'Crushin' It' by Brad Paisley falling to 86 - the latter I thought might stick around longer but considering how ridiculously corny it is, to say nothing of the atrocious video, I'm not that surprised. And that's mostly the case with the rest of our losers too: debuting tracks last week like 'She's Kinda Hot' by 5 Seconds Of Summer falls to 54, 'Where Ya At' by Future & Drake falling to 81, and 'How Deep Is Your Love' by Calvin Harris & Disciples going to 82, but that doesn't surprise me given how typical that is with new debuts not able to pick up steam. And then there's our natural exits, with 'Bright' by Echosmith tumbling to 92 and 'Love Me Like You Mean It' by Kelsea Ballerini dropping to 87 - they'll both be on their way out soon after solid runs, no complaints here.

And for the most part, I don't have any complaints about our gains this week either. 'Should've Been Us' by Tori Kelly picking up to 72, 'Locked Away' by Rock City and Adam Levine surging to 60, 'I Don't Like It, I Love It' by Flo Rida, Robin Thicke & Verdine White rising to 46, these are all solid pop songs. Hell, even though 'Stitches' is not Shawn Mendes' best, I don't have a problem with it going to 41. What I do take issue with is 'Marvin Gaye' by Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor going to 36, mostly because I find it one of the most gutless and limp songs about having sex since 'Afternoon Delight'. Seriously, when did we as a society say we wanted easy listening trash like this to come back over adult alternative - yes, I know there was a lot of light rock just as bad as this, but this faux-retro veneer is so transparent with the terrible gang vocals and fake vinyl fuzz and awful lyrics and production that might as well come from a Glee rip-off. It's not sexy, it's barely even sensual, Marvin Gaye's estate should sue, and if 'Dear Future Husband' didn't exist, it'd be the worst thing Meghan Trainor ever touched.

Unfortunately, most of our returning entries aren't that much better, starting with...

Okay, if I'm being honest, this song has grown on me a fair bit, and by that I mean a lot. I still find Sam Smith a not particularly interesting or soulful vocalist when we have George Ezra or Hozier or James Bay, and the second you look into more acoustic leaning acts on the alt-country scene Jason Isbell blows him out of the water, but 'Like I Can' at least has him trying to bring more passion. And 'Like I Can' at least tries to bring some groove and dramatic swell and energy with the groove and the organ trying to lend this song some soul. Most of which is squandered by his edgeless production and lyrics that definitely step into petulance, but this is easily Sam Smith at his most likeable, and if this becomes a hit, I think I'd actually be okay with it. 

I'm still surprised this song hasn't been a bigger hit, given the lightweight rubbery synth, breezy beat, lyrics in both English and Spanish for crossover, and combination of Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez to give this song as much mainstream appeal as possible this summer. But it's not a good sign when J.Lo is the one who sounds the best on this song, with Pitbull completely misunderstanding what dancehall is and delivering a worse verse than usual and Prince Royce... you know, I've been wanting to like this guy more for a while, but he just does not have enough presence to really grip me. And you can tell he's trying, but he's easily the least interesting part of his own song, and that's a problem. Overall, I still like this, but the more I think about it, the more I'm not that surprised it hasn't been huge.

God, I keep trying to like this song a lot more than I do. The guitars do have swell and snarl and Eminem is still a rapper that draws my attention with every word... but everything he says feels like a leftover from the least memorable parts of Recovery, where I can put on 'Cinderella Man' which even did the boxing thing so much better than this soundtrack hit. It doesn't help matters that every single one of the musical elements trying to complement the smoulder - the guitar stings, the chinty horns and strings, any of the synths, the hollow claps, all of Eminem's singing - it does nothing to give the song any real punch. Sorry Em, I don't like this, and even if I did I've heard you do this better. At least when B. Dolan and Doomtree and Sage Francis and El-P get on aggressive, nasty production they have more interesting bars than this that doesn't feel this recycled - at this point I'd take any of them on the radio over this any day.

I did not expect this to come back, but I sure as hell am not going to complain about it, courtesy of the music video which pairs her with a guest verse from J. Cole. And honestly, I'm a little conflicted about it. It's not that J. Cole's verse is bad - definitely not, it's got the right balance of slick cool and earnestness that balances Janet well, but the content feels a bit iffy to me, less on focusing on sex and more on how J. Cole's schedule is getting threatened and how he might want to go back to being friends with benefits again because he doesn't want to hurt her. Yeah, okay, I can appreciate that the underlying sweetness of the song remains intact, but it still feels more awkward than a song this polished and effective deserves - and just a nitpick, am I the only one irked that J. Cole throws in 'uh' whenever he's trying to fill up space on a bar. Just seems clumsy, and that's the last thing this song needs. In any case, though, it's still damn slick and I definitely like it, but I'm not sure it's better than the original, just saying.

So that was pretty quick, and it's going to get even shorter because we only have two new entries and they're both from albums I've covered, so let's start with...

90. 'Cheyenne' by Jason Derulo - really, dude, you couldn't have released 'Try Me' with J.Lo or even 'Painkiller' with Meghan Trainor to at least give me something on which I can compliment her? But to be fair, this is definitely a solid second choice as a new single from Everything Is 4, and provided you can get over Jason Derulo's shrill attempt at crooning over the chorus with his voice painfully breaking at the edges, there's a lot to like about this song's tightness and edge with a great bassline with enough guitar sizzle, an icy synth line, and some very well-chosen wet effects that make this song a pretty potent pop track stepping in Michael Jackson's footsteps but doing it surprisingly well. Hell, I even like the lyrics, focusing on a hookup that now has consumed Jason Derulo's attention - although the usage of the name 'Cheyenne' means my mind immediately goes to the character from Reba, which is just hilarious to me. But overall, definitely not complaining about this, it's a good song - hell, give it to someone besides Derulo like Usher or Miguel or even Justin Timberlake, it could have been a great one.

78. 'Fire N Gold' by Bea Miller - you know, I'll say one thing about acts like 5 Seconds Of Summer and Shawn Mendes and even Bea Miller, they're at least trying to bring real guitars back into pop, even though in Bea Miller's case she's saddled with Syco Music production that takes a pretty solid guitar rollick and builds to this gargantuan, fuzzy-heavy chorus that's overloaded with such lumbering percussion that it swamps the melody and even some of Bea's vocals. It strikes me as a complete misstep, and while 'Fire N Gold' is definitely one of the better tracks coming from her debut, the song could have benefited from a looser chorus and real drums and more actual groove to support some of those guitars. Overall, it's not a bad song, but it's not something I'm all that driven to revisit.

So that was our short week, and wow, not a lot to choose from. And I hate to repeat myself but 'Kings Never Die' by Eminem and Gwen Stefani runs away with the Worst of the Week again... but no Dishonourable Mention this week. Instead, I'm giving two Honourable Mentions, the first to 'Cheyenne' by Jason Derulo and the second to the 'No Sleeep' remix by Janet Jackson ft. J. Cole. And that means, yes, the Best of the Week is going to 'Like I Can' by Sam Smith. Yeah, I'm as shocked as anyone, but the song really grew on me, it happens! Let's hope we get more like this next week!

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