Tuesday, September 15, 2015

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - september 26, 2015

So one of my general assumptions going into this week is that since we had so many new songs courtesy of The Weeknd's Beauty Behind The Madness, we'd have a comparable number of dropouts. It's a good rule of thumb, after all, as most album cuts don't tend to stick to the mainstream charts for long. And it's true that a few of them dropped out - but not nearly as many as I was predicting. In other words, we have a pretty lightweight week here - a fair amount of movement within the charts, but not nearly as many new arrivals as I was expecting.

And a similar sense of inertia seemed to apply for our Top Ten - well, outside of the very top, that is. As I expected, 'Can't Feel My Face' by The Weeknd rallied hard to knock Justin Bieber back off the top with solid sales and streaming, but really, it held the top pretty much thanks to still maintaining huge radio presence albeit incremental slip-ups. And it's not alone in that regard, because in a rare consecutive 1-2, The Weeknd also has 'The Hills', which followed up another airplay surge with strong sales, hefty streaming, and even picking up gains on YouTube. My guess is that The Weeknd will probably replace himself on the top, but Justin Bieber's 'What Do You Mean?' is still a contender at #3 - dominating sales and streaming and with heavy YouTube, he's only here because his radio hasn't caught up yet, and it'll be interesting to see how fast he picks up steam. And yet beneath all the action here, there's a lot of stasis, so let's blow through these fairly quickly. Silento's 'Watch Me' holds onto #4 basically on sales and YouTube, and even there it's losing steam - not fast enough - while 'Cheerleader' by OMI faces some steep losses in sales, airplay and streaming, holding onto #5 basically on radio inertia. #6 goes to 'Lean On' by Major Lazer, DJ Snake & M0, which balances its weak sales with more inertia on airplay and streaming and a sudden rebound to top YouTube, where 'Good For You' by Selena Gomez & A$AP Rocky compensates for its weak sales in even more gains on airplay and streaming. Beneath that we have '679' by Fetty Wap, which had good sales and even picked up a bit of airplay, but it's really here thanks to heavy streaming, and little else - and yet it still held out against 'Locked Away' by Rock City ft. Adam Levine at #9, which continued to pick up airplay and had big sales... but that streaming isn't quite there yet, which is holding it back from growing faster. Finally, we've got our new Top 10 entry, and wow, it's a snoozer: 'Photograph' by Ed Sheeran. You know, it's bizarre, you'd think after Ed Sheeran released two groove-heavy pop songs he'd want to keep up the momentum instead of this treacly bore - or at least if he was gunning for sentiment, release 'Afire Love', easily the best gutpunch track of his career! Anyway, this is here because somehow it managed to pick up a stupid amount of airplay without anyone really noticing it, and that's pretty much it - no sales, no significant streaming or YouTube, just the radio. Shocker.

So moving away from those depressing numbers, let's talk about something more uplifting, the losers and dropouts! Not many big ones in the latter camp this week, just 'Young & Crazy' by Frankie Ballard sputtering out and 'Hey Mama' by David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha and Afrojack finally exiting. We had more in the camp of losses, in the majority of cases from songs by The Weeknd losing hard. 'Shameless' dropping to 99, 'Real Life' dropping to 79, 'Prisoner' with Lana Del Rey dropping to 77, 'Acquainted' falling to 72, and 'Tell Your Friends' hitting 70. Beyond those, there's only one other loss that genuinely surprised me - I expected 'One Man To Change The World' by Big Sean with Kanye West and John Legend to fall back to 94, the song has never had much momentum, and 'Should've Been Us' by Tori Kelly falling hard to 68 isn't a surprise either - VMA recognition doesn't last that long. No, the loss that surprised me was 'Cheyenne' by Jason Derulo falling to 95 - great groove, decent lyrics, not the best vocals people have overlooked that with Derulo before, so why hasn't this been bigger? Maybe it plays a little too dark for the end of summer and beginning of fall, but that hasn't stopped 'The Hills'. Instead it drops hard again to 95, which I'll admit is a disappointment.

And speaking of disappointments, I don't have a lot of kind words for most of our gains this week either. If 'Let Me See Ya Girl' by Cole Swindell going to 78 and 'Gonna Wanna Tonight' by Chase Rice rising to 86 a sign that this is what country programmers are trying to plug the gaps with, that's not a good sign. Nor is it good that 'No Role Modelz', one of J.Cole's worst ever songs rose up to 76. Fortunately, we do have some gains that aren't that bad - 'Nothin' Like You' by Dan + Shay holds steady for pop country going to 81, 'Comfortable' by K Camp rises off of lightweight ease to 54, 'How Deep Is Your Love' by Calvin Harris & Disciples goes to 45 proving he can make deep house just as boring as his EDM, and most encouragingly, 'Levels' by Nick Jonas keeps its momentum to 60. You know, if this is what the mainstream public chose instead of 'Cheyenne'... I think I'd be okay with that, to be honest, so let's hope it keeps up!

And on that note, let's head to the surprisingly sparse list of returning entries...

Okay, yeah, last time I covered this, I mistakenly attributed 'You're So Vain' to the wrong person. I should have remember it was Carly Simon, considering I should remember who to blame for a surprisingly annoying song. This, fortunately is a lot better, taking the tinkling slick melody that modernizes the opulence of the original recording and pairing it with one of Trey Songz's more downkey performances that really is pure fanservice all the way through, but it's the right kind of fanservice. So ladies, if you want to be Trey Songz's girl even in a room full of women who want him, and especially if you want this song to be about you, he delivers here.

On the other hand, ladies, if you've ever fantasized about getting Chris Brown so drunk even the autotuned warble sounds unattractive and potentially slipping something in his drink which makes consent questionable against a synth line that's burbles off beat and only barely works with the dusty percussion, and all of it so minimalist that it lacks any sort of punch or even heavy bass where all he wants to do is 'drink and fuck'... well, I'd question your tastes. And frankly, I'd be questioning whatever fans are giving him a pass for it, because this sure as hell isn't attractive. Or likeable. Or good.

So now onto our new arrivals - and we've only got four new songs this week, starting with...

98. 'Ginza' by J Balvin - you know, for as much rhetoric as you hear in the States that the rate of Hispanic population growth will make Spanish required to get by, you wouldn't know by the state of pop radio, where a song can notch #2 on the US Latin charts and break onto American radio near the very bottom. In this case, it's from Colombian reggaeton artist J Balvin, who is most well known for his album La Familia, which led to two Latin top five hits. This is his newest hit, entirely in Spanish and the first of any of his hits to crack the Hot 100 - and I'll admit my unfamiliarity with a lot of reggaeton puts me at a disadvantage here, but this is pretty good. The skittering tap of the melody is pretty damn catchy, even if I do think that faint noisy percussion and occasional thin buzzing squeals detract a bit. As for J Balvin himself, he's a bit smoother than I usually expect in reggae, at least vocally... until you get to the lyrics, which admittedly whatever translations I was able to find basically show this song as a pretty skeevy hookup track on the dancefloor, where they're going to screw like animals. And with the growls, it reminds me a bit of when Justin Timberlake tried it on The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2, and overall it felt a little overdone to me. As a whole, not a bad track, but I'm not sure it's one I'm looking to hear again.

84. 'White Iverson' by Post Malone - I'm inclined to blame Iggy Azalea for this. Sure, we've had white rappers before, but she was probably the first to explicitly co-opt flows and accents to make herself sound black to all manner of controversy that her public persona didn't help. Now in her case at least she did have technical skill in terms of constructing flows and some personality, enough so that I'll probably end up covering her sophomore release, but I don't think I'll be doing that for Post Malone here, mostly because it fuses the autotuned melodic brand of modern rap popularized by Fetty Wap and Young Thug and their ilk with the tepid presentation of an artist like Jack Johnson - in other words, the worst of both worlds. Not only is the mix a washed-out, reverb-drenched bore, the trap beat against the limp piano does nothing to support a "rapper" who sounds like Justin Bieber on cold medicine trying to fake a Jamaican accent. And that's before we get to the content... and look, white rappers have a tendency to try and explore their whiteness in contrast to a traditionally black artform. And where Eminem and Yelawolf found white trash roots and Asher Roth found college dormroom dumbassery, Post Malone finds the limp, spaced out cod-reggae that completely lacks anything remotely interesting or political and only draws more attention to it by calling the song 'White Iverson' and loading it with clumsy basketball references! I may have considered Asher Roth's RetroHash a complete disaster - because it was - but this doesn't even have the ideas or thematic ambition to go as far as that, and unlike Riff Raff, it doesn't even have the energy or ridiculousness to deliver any interesting flows! This is tepid bland garbage of the basest variety, and in a just world, this novelty will be the end of his career. Next!

83. 'Burn Slow' by Wiz Khalifa ft. Rae Sremmurd - you know we haven't had a good week on the Hot 100 when a Wiz Khalifa song with Rae Sremmurd might be one of the better songs... and really, it's nothing that special when it comes to weed songs. I'd still argue that Wiz Khalifa doesn't exactly sound great against this brand of heavier, darker production, and his flossing of wealth and getting high doesn't do anything for me, especially when there's the implication he screws girls so hard they 'break'... but beyond that, it's not a bad track. For once, Wiz Khalifa finally looks like he's tightened up his wordplay and his rhymes almost all connect against the hazy, oscillating vibe. On top of that, Swae Lee's normally insufferable voice is downplayed considerably, even as the coughing that punctuates the chorus sure as hell doesn't make it feel glamorous. As it is, I don't hate this, but it does feel generic over Mike Will Made It's eerie, bass-heavy trap production, and all the more sign that any relevance Wiz Khalifa had from 'See You Again' is more because of Charlie Puth than him.

75. 'Antidote' by Travi$ Scott - you know, I don't remember saying anything about 'Antidote' when I reviewed Travi$ Scott's debut Rodeo - mostly because there's so little to say. The second song this week about getting high and partying, it suffers the same issue I run into with many of these songs for being suffocated in dreary, bass-heavy synths and distinctly not feeling much energy to get hyped with. Coupled with the gratuitous autotune slathered on Scott's vocals and the completely unnecessary faded shouts behind his lines to operate as his own hype man, and the fact he's talking about taking your girl, there's only two things I can really recommend about this song. The first is the third verse where he snaps awake to deliver a solid flow, and the second is the suffocatingly thick atmosphere of the song that does anchor itself in a melody. But beyond that... nah, I get nothing from this.

Well, that was our week, and wow, it's been a long time since I've heard one this bad. With only six songs, I'm dropping the Honourable and Dishonourable Mentions this week, but even then picking a worst of the week is a doozy. Sure, Trey Songz runs away with 'About You', but beyond that... well, Chris Brown has already gotten it once before, but 'White Iverson' is more stunningly bland and incompetent, so it's snagging the worst of the week here. Dear god, let's hope for better next week.

1 comment:

  1. BEST: About You
    3RD: Ginza
    4TH: Burn Slow
    WORST: Liquor