Tuesday, August 25, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - september 5, 2015

You know, I wish the summer months would just make up their damn minds if they were interested in being slow or not, it'd definitely make my scheduling a hell of a lot easier! Because this week, so little happened on the Hot 100 - no recurring entries, barely any shifts in the top 10, five new songs, and only a few changes - that I was seriously considering whether or not I should include the Canadian charts. And you know, it might have been close - we have returning entries from Drake and twenty-one pilots, and a charting hit from the Cold War Kids that was pretty decent - but then I saw we also had a song featuring Chris Brown and I think I filled my quota for that about six months ago.

So, onto our Top 10! Frankly, I'm stunned that 'Cheerleader' by OMI held onto the #1 slot for another week, given, again, it didn't top sales or streaming and peaked in airplay behind our #2 - again, the only reason it's here is because of YouTube propping it up. But while I said it last week, I think it's all the more true now that it'll be unseated by 'Can't Feel My Face' by The Weeknd, currently at #2 despite topping streaming, sales, and an airplay peak. The album's dropping this week - yes, I'll be reviewing it - that'll probably reverse the airplay pattern to give it a boost, smart money is on it going to #1, even if YouTube isn't quite there yet. Behind it, we have 'Watch Me' by Silento, which holds #3 thanks to sales, gains in streaming, and a ton of YouTube presence - and outside of slightly softer sales, I don't see any signs of this falling off, no matter how much I'd like it to happen. Similar case for 'Lean On' by Major Lazer, DJ Snake and M0, which rules YouTube, gained airplay and held steady on streaming, only being held back by some soft sales. It could be facing a challenger, though, with 'The Hills' by The Weeknd bringing potent sales, gains on streaming and airplay, and even some YouTube. I'll be talking more about this song in a few days, but suffice it to say it's eerie how strong this song is holding on. And this takes us to our first Top 10 shift: 'Good For You' by Selena Gomez & A$AP Rocky climbs to #6, likely off of the fact that A$AP Rocky released a video with his verse onto his channel on YouTube for a quick boost to push the modest sales, airplay gains, and solid streaming even higher. It was enough to push 'Fight Song' by Rachel Platten back to #7 despite solid sales, which is really all that's keeping it afloat thanks to losses in streaming and starting to fall off on airplay. What caught me off guard was the newest Fetty Wap song to crack the Top 10 - and it's arguably the worst of them. '679' hits #8 off of sales, airplay gains, and huge streaming, and it was enough to push 'Trap Queen' even further down to #9, basically holding on thanks to big streaming and whatever meagre YouTube it's got left. Finally, we have an unexpected reentry: 'Shut Up And Dance' by Walk The Moon jumps up to #10 basically because it's not falling as fast on airplay than its competition and its here on inertia and nothing else. Definitely not complaining, but it is a little odd.

What isn't all that odd are our losers and dropouts this week, most of which have been long in coming. In the latter case, 'The Night Is Still Young' by Nicki Minaj completes its premature dropout here, along with 'Commas' by Future and 'You Know You Like It' by DJ Snake & AlunaGeorge after respectable runs in their own right. And most of our losers this week are continuing their downward trajectories: 'Fun' by Pitbull & Chris Brown tumbling prematurely to 96, 'R.I.C.O.' by Meek Mill & Drake aborted down to 80, and 'Rotten To The Core' from the Descendants cast continuing to fall like all terrible Disney songs down to 60 - in my opinion, not fast enough. Beyond that, we've got a slew of losers that are on their way out naturally and have been fading gracefully: 'Tonight Looks Good On You' by Jason Aldean dropping to 93, 'One Hell Of An Amen' by Brantley Gilbert going to 91, and 'Sangria' by Blake Shelton slipping down to 82. All country hits, but they weren't the only ones taking losses, because 'Kiss You In The Morning' by Michael Ray falling to 76 and 'Loving You Easy' by the Zac Brown Band dropping hard to 55 are signs that country radio is cycling songs out even faster than one would expect. And that leaves our debut from last week that took a loss: 'High By The Beach' by Lana Del Rey. No surprise this doesn't make an impact - it's got no bombast or swell, and even if Lana is intending it as a metaphor about her testy relationship with the press - which doesn't make a lot of sense as to why the guy would consider himself a badass or why Lana thinks fiery revenge would make things better or fits with her desire to get high - Lady Gaga already did this a hundred times better with 'Do What U Want' even if it had R. Kelly on it!

So putting aside songs that'll inevitably start arguments in the comments, let's talk about our considerably smaller list of gains. Unsurprisingly, Little Mix's 'Black Magic' rides the wave of controversy about its video to 68 and 'Love Myself' by Hailee Steinfeld takes the trend of self-esteem anthems to push it to 74, even if the way it presents its message doesn't work for me. Beyond that, our other two gains are 'Comfortable' by K Camp, a song I forgot existed until making this list and is generally enjoyable, and the other is Drake's concern-trolling on 'Hotline Bling', which soared up to 34 and I suspect it'll follow in the path of 'Hold On, We're Going Home', which basically played this formula a lot better back in 2013 with a much better groove, melody, and vocal performance from Drake. Ugh, if this is a sign of what's coming from Drake's View From The 6, I'm not exactly looking forward to that album.

But putting that aside - and since we have no returning songs this week, let's focus on the five new tracks, starting with...

(no video, lyrics or otherwise, because these guys apparently hate their own publicity)

100. 'Fly Away' by 5 Seconds Of Summer - you know, guys, you can start sending those royalties to Blink-182 and Sum 41 any time now. I'm being serious here, because with the exception of the glam rock vocals and the inclusion of that 'brap' sound effect and how your acoustic texture just does not sound good, especially on the prechorus, this is a Blink-182 song and not a particularly interesting one. Part of the problem is the production: forget being too clean, that bassline has no solid presence in the mix. And as for the lyrics, it's forgettable material about leaving the past behind to travel the world and have fun that doesn't describe what actually happened in the past so the audience can't care. I will say that 5 Seconds Of Summer is getting better, but they need to find a way to rise above their inspirations and they need to find it fast.

86. 'The Fix' by Nelly ft. Jeremih - look, I like Nelly, but I'm shocked his career has lasted this long at this point. A fixture of the 2000s that was stuck collaborating with Florida Georgia Line to get a hit in the 2010s, he decided to team up with DJ Mustard - because of course he did and Nelly's apparently not aware it's not 2014 anymore - and Jeremih for another hit. Because Jeremih and DJ Mustard love to ruin classics, the foundation of this song is an interpolation of Marvin Gaye's 'Sexual Healing' - and yes, the sample was cleared. Now if you haven't heard the original 'Sexual Healing'... well, frankly it's a slinky, sexy as hell R&B ballad that if I'm being painfully honest with myself, could potentially have worked interpolated by DJ Mustard, with the plinking interweaving melodies and tight minimalism. Of course, you'd have to have someone as soulful as Marvin Gaye fronting it, and a combination of Jeremih and Nelly can't pull this off... but I'll give them credit for trying. And yet, this was never going to be remotely as good because a.) it focuses on some girl cheating on her boyfriend with these guys, b.) Nelly saying the girl made the bed so wet it's like a slip-n-slide, c.) it focuses on being explicit rather than sensual and d.) DJ Mustard only got the low-end foundation of the melody and completely neglected everything else! Instead, we're stuck with a by-the-numbers Jeremih sex jam appropriating from the past to make up for the fact he has no charisma or distinct personality and that Nelly hasn't been relevant in years. Next!

50. 'Boyz-N-The Hood' by Eazy-E - so let's talk about movies for a second - yeah, I know! In case you don't know, the biggest film for the past few weeks has been the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, which has become a commercial smash detailing the rise and fall of the famous gangsta rap group. As biopics go, it's easy enough to like, even despite the fact that I'm always sceptical when the men portrayed said movie are still alive and are multi-millionaires who can clean up some of their own legacies, which probably explains why the Dee Barnes incident scene was cut from the script or why MC Ren and DJ Yella didn't get as much screentime. To the film's credit, it doesn't shy away from showing the truly hellish state of the late-80s and early-90s gangsta rap scene and the impoverished state of the black community in L.A., and while the film can get cameo-happy to land pops from the audience, especially when it comes to Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, and Aftermath, the acting was solid and the direction was great, especially when it came to the leads. Now I had expected that given the promotion Dr. Dre threw behind his supposedly final album Compton, inspired by this film, we'd see a few songs from it... instead, for the first time ever, almost thirty years after the song was recorded, we have tracks debuting on the Hot 100 from that era, two this week! The first is 'Boyz-N-The-Hood', a solo track by Eazy-E, written by Ice Cube and released in 1987, which is basically Eazy-E chilling with other gangsters, shooting a guy who stole from him, doing drugs, beating up his girlfriend and her father, crashing his car into a telephone pole, and trying to bail his friends out of jail, in the last case with said friend having his girl shoot up the courtroom and then get sent upstate. To the song's credit, it opens with an intro that this song basically is 'crazy, stupid shit' - and to some extent, it is exactly that, over a plinking beat with an oily sizzling groove and Eazy-E spitting a pretty basic oldschool flow. And sure, I'm not going to deny there's more storytelling on a song like this than most modern gangsta rap, which is definitely appreciated... but maybe it's the beat or the way that Eazy-E uses the chorus to try to avoid implicating himself, but it's not one of their best, a good snapshot from the old school but not quite a great one in my books.

41. 'Hit The Quan' by @iHeartMemphis - then again, when the alternative is this, Eazy-E's crazy debauchery doesn't sound so bad. I'm going to bring back a term I coined a few months ago that's proving eerily appropriate: nu-crunk. Mostly because this song screams of its worst traits: a repetitive chorus about a dance that doesn't exist, a bass-heavy beat with sparse percussion and an oily synth line, and a frontman who doesn't belong anywhere near a microphone - and so of course Pitchfork called it one of the strongest dance records in recent memory. It's a waddling embarrassment of a song with a pathetic melody and lyrics that are so clumsily delivered that the actual content tends to escape notice. Because no, @iHeartMemphis, your quan does not make anyone panic, your references to older bad dance songs do not make you witty and calling anyone's CEO Master Splinter is not really an insult, because you're equating me with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - which is awesome. Oh, and nobody's stealing your lingo, mostly because it's cribbed from other rappers or because your song is about a rap dance that you didn't even make up! Yeah, this is embarrassingly bad, and enough evidence for why people hate mainstream rap. thankfully, we also have...

38. 'Straight Outta Compton' by N.W.A. - the title track of their debut album and their new movie, it's widely hailed as one of the best rap songs of all time. And they aren't exactly wrong, because this song kicks ass. Huge amount of credit has to go Dr. Dre and DJ Yella for structuring a beat with dusty percussion, choppy scratching, and the ominous melody holding over the subtle interweaving melody, part blaxploitation introduction, part gritty eruption of personality as Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Eazy-E define distinctively violent personalities. Ice Cube is raw, brutal aggression that in my opinion structures the best flow, MC Ren's flow is choppier but no less hard-hitting, and Eazy-E's the more sly yet no less violent and reckless. The song is anthemic for hypermasculine gangsta violence that paints all three as villains, and while I wouldn't quite say it's at 'Fuck The Police' levels of iconic or socially relevant, it's still a killer gangsta rap track from the oldschool that runs roughshod over the majority of mainstream rap. And I have to admit, there's a part of me that absolutely loves that this was the biggest debut of this week - it may have taken twenty six years, but N.W.A. are on the charts with one of their best, and to me, that's kind of awesome.

So yeah, short week but some good stuff here. I'm not giving out Dishonourable or Honourable Mentions this week - only five songs, not really any point - which makes Best and Worst painfully easy. The worst is 'Hit The Quan' by IHeartMemphis by a mile, with 'Straight Outta Compton' delivering the pimp slap to that song that it so richly deserves. I'm genuinely curious whether or not some old school hardcore gangsta rap landing on the charts sparks a change, but that might be hoping for too much. Let's see next week what happens...

1 comment:

  1. Very surprised that you didn't mention Locked Away making the Top 20, although that one has had pretty weak YouTube currently. It'll be interesting watching that one!