Wednesday, February 17, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 27, 2016

So after two weeks of pretty hectic movement, things seem to have finally settled down a bit on the Hot 100. Now this didn't mean we didn't get new debuts or a few big shifts, but with the resetting positions in the top ten, it looks like we got a week of calm before the aftermath of the Grammys and Kanye's release blows the chart into complete chaos. Eh, you take them when you can get them.

So might as well get to our top ten, and as I expected, Justin Bieber retook the top spot with 'Love Yourself', but I'm not sure how long it's going to last. Yes, it's dominant in airplay and has great YouTube, but sales are starting to level off and it isn't hugely dominant on streaming. Then again, with 'Stressed Out' by twenty-one pilots coming in at #2, it might not need to be, as that song's sales and streaming are also levelling off, with really its best gains coming on the radio. It is enough to hold off Justin Bieber's 'Sorry', but there are other factors there: shrinking airplay, weak sales, thinning streaming, it's really where it is thanks to continued YouTube dominance. But it's facing competition from 'Work' by Rihanna and Drake, which to my surprise pulled up to #4 on the back of streaming, sales, and something of a radio push - nothing huge, but if a video drops, expect this to become a real contender. Of course, we're also got the sales leader of this week: 'My House' by Flo Rida, which rose up to #5 on the back of respectable gains across the board. And it was enough to shove back 'Hello' by Adele down to #6, which is burning off its established airplay at a quickening rate, only helped by YouTube and okay sales. And now we've got our former #1 from last week: 'PILLOWTALK' by Zayn, sliding down to #7 as the sales and streaming cooled off significantly and the radio didn't pick up nearly enough to compensate and support the strong YouTube. Next we have the continued strength of 'Me, Myself & I' by G-Eazy ft. Bebe Rexha, which has quietly picked up a pretty meaty chunk of streaming, sales and airplay gains - nothing huge, but certainly respectable across the board. Slightly similar case for 'Roses' by The Chainsmokers ft. ROZES, which would be weaker across the board except for what looks like an airplay peak, so its future could be uncertain in weeks ahead. Finally, we've got a song re-entering the top ten: 'Stitches' by Shawn Mendes, which I'd argue is here on airplay inertia and something needed to fill the gap when Drake's 'Summer Sixteen' fell out - I wouldn't expect this to get any bigger any time soon.

And on that note, our losers and dropouts! The majority of the former category you could have seen coming, as long slow descents from 'No Role Modelz' by J.Cole, 'Again' by Fetty Wap, and 'Big Rings' by Drake & Future finally met their end, along with the recent expected losses for 'Walking On A Dream' by Empire of the Sun and 'Back Up' by DeJ Loaf ft. Big Sean. The only track that fell out that surprised me a bit was 'Play No Games' by Big Sean, Chris Brown, and Ty Dolla $ign, but it's been dipping in and out of the Hot 100 for a while, it's never really been a smash. Our losers, however, are a bit more mixed. Sure, you get losses like 'The Fix' by Nelly & Jeremih to 97 and - sadly - 'Irresistible' by Fall Out Boy and Demi Lovato to 86, which are slipping out anyway, and you knew that Drake's 'Summer Sixteen' wouldn't last in the top ten, so seeing it fall to 26 isn't surprising. And then there's 'I Love This Life' by LoCash, which is clinging on, but country radio will likely rotate it out soon. What I'm thrilled to see is 'White Iverson' by Post Malone finally on the path out, falling to 34 this week as I have to hope people are getting sick of this dreary, asinine nonsense.

Granted, I can't discount that people are suddenly getting sick of bad music, because if we look at our re-entries, it's not exactly good to see 'Somewhere On A Beach' by Dierks Bentley return, even if only to 100. On a slightly better note, 'Bake Sale' by Wiz Khalifa and Travi$ Scott also came back to 74, although I'd argue it's probably more off of Travi$ Scott's popularity than Wiz Khalifa's, even though he did drop his newest album to profound indifference. People were probably a lot more interested in the Super Bowl, which you can plainly tell given the huge success of 'Adventure Of a Lifetime', which leapt up to #13 this week. Now I don't predict this will last - the song's not very good, and Coldplay was overshadowed at the Super Bowl... which surprises me that given all of the internet hype that 'Formation' by Beyonce didn't take the charts at all. You'd think at least the controversy would have given it some hype! In any case, the other two gains aren't all that exciting - 'Down In The DM' by Yo Gotti picks up major steam off the video to 21, and 'I Took A Pill In Ibiza' by Mike Posner continues its surge up to 33 - considering the song is actually pretty good here, I'm excited to see how high it actually manages to get before its momentum dies out.

And now onto our considerable crop of new entries, starting with...

99. 'Little Bit Of You' by Chase Bryant - look, I've probably discussed bro-country more than any other critic should for the sake of their own sanity, but sometimes there are acts that even slip the net for me. Chase Bryant is one of those guys - I roughly remember 'Take It On Back' for becoming one of those filler radio staples, but he hasn't actually dropped an album. This second single, finally nabbing a little traction thanks to a video released this year, was originally released eleven months ago! And on some level I can see why it might have struggled to get traction - in comparison, this is a much breezier track that seems gunning straight for the pop country territory Keith Urban monopolizes. And honestly, it's not bad for it - outside of the intro and some backing vocals that are thinner than they should be, it's got a refreshingly organic feel, even in the percussion. Where the song struggles a bit is in the content - it's pretty generic in its yearning, even if I do think Bryan is sincere. Overall, while I don't mind this, I can see this falling into the same filler category very quickly.

94. 'Whisper' by Chase Rice - I'd like to start this off with an apology. No, not from me for subjecting you to this, but from Chase Rice himself, who actually posted an open letter apologizing for the blatant shallowness of this song and promising more actual content on his upcoming sophomore album. Now I'm taking all this with a grain of salt - while I think Rice has promise, the question of whether it'll ever make the record is a very different one, and this song... yeah, it's bad. The jerky lumpy percussion, the faux R&B feel, the completely out-of-place banjo, Chase Rice trying to sound husky and 'sexy' and failing miserably, the sort of detail-focused writing that focuses in all of the wrong places - why would you care about the price of all the plates you broke - and the line 'what if I shut you up with my hand on your lips'... dude, do you hear what you're singing? But really, this is just the worst parts of a Chase Rice song crossed with the worst production you'd get out of Sam Hunt, yet with an even uglier vocal performance. So yeah, Chase Rice, I expect an apology for this!

85. 'Don't Let Me Down' by The Chainsmokers ft. Daya - I can't be the only one who finds it weird that of the EDM acts that still have traction these days, it's The Chainsmokers who are sticking the landing. Despite the wild instrumental shifts, 'Roses' does continue to grow on me, and with this track, they scoop up the girl who made the headache-inducing 'Hide Away' to continue reputation repair. And yet, I get the feeling this track won't do quite as well, even despite elements I do like. I like the liquid guitar melody that anchors the very sparse beat and Daya herself doing her best M0 actually works pretty well... but dear God, that post-chorus nasal riff that sounds like The Chainsmokers doing their best DJ Snake impression gets irritating as hell. I will say, when the horn layering picks up a little momentum for the final chorus, it's got some real groove to it that I admire, but I can't help but feel if The Chainsmokers had a bit more restraint in their production I'd like it a lot more. Eh, 'Roses' did grow me, so we'll see what happens here, but as it is, it's okay, I guess.

83. 'Die A Happy Man' by Nelly - let me start by saying that this makes more sense than it arguably should. Nelly has always had a fondness for country music that goes back over a decade to when he collaborated with Tim McGraw, so to see him cover the 'Thinking Out Loud' rip-off that Thomas Rhett wrote doesn't surprise me. What does kind of surprise me is how much more I liked it than Thomas Rhett's version - the switch from guitar to piano makes it feel more distinctive to highlight the pretty damn good underlying melody, especially when the organ comes in, and while I feel the percussion is a little heavier than I'd use, it kind of fits the broader feel of this track. And that's the thing: Nelly's ballads have always been a little more overstated than they probably should be, especially with his backing vocals - it was the same thing with 'Just A Dream' six years ago, same thing here. And just like that song, I kind of dig track more than I likely should, and at the end of the day, I'd probably prefer Nelly's clumsy stab at soul than anything Thomas Rhett does, so I'll take it.

78. 'Ophelia' by The Lumineers - it's weird we're getting a new song from The Lumineers. Keep in mind it's been probably three or four years since anyone really cared about the group that made 'Ho Hey' or 'Stubborn Love', and their peers of the folk boom of the time - Mumford & Sons, Philip Phillips, maybe Of Monsters And Men - have either faded, gone back to the indie scene, or sputtered out entirely. And yet for The Lumineers, it's like they've never left, swapping out acoustic guitar for a jaunty piano and sparse percussion with odd moments where it seems like wind is swelling over the mix. It's the lyrics of this song that feel a little weird to me, seeming to focus on a relationship left behind and now permanently cut off, where he logically knows things must move on and yet he still has feelings left... which is a little exasperating when he says they both have new partners already. It might not be as obnoxious as 'We Don't Talk Anymore', mostly because the tone is more benign and self-aware, but if this is what The Lumineers want to return with, I can't say I'm all that impressed.

69. 'Jimmy Choo' by Fetty Wap - can I state for the record that I'm amazed that Fetty Wap is still charting singles? You'd think that after at least four hits last year that his lack of lyrical content would start to push against him, but here he is again! And while this track does have slightly different content from his usually call-outs, I can't exactly say its a turn for the better, this time sliding right towards the same brand name porn that bores me with luxury rap. And it's not like the more subdued chorus or the dinky production do this song any favours, with the xylophone, a limp tapping gurgle of a low-end, and a chorus synth line that doesn't have nearly enough elegance to match the vibe of the song. Look, I've talked about Fetty Wap a lot, and this is the sort of pivot towards mainstream content that worries me, because even with all of his personality, running out of things to say might be the real problem.

67. 'Fly Shit Only' by Future - so Future dropped a new record out of nowhere, and I'm not going to review it. Look, I get that he's one of the biggest names in hip-hop right now, but between Billboard BREAKDOWN and covering DS2, I get Future's schtick, and there's only so long you can stretch that sort of thing before people get sick of it. I'm currently trying to ride it out and ignore as much of it as I can, but here we have the first of two new Future tracks... and honestly, by the standards of Future tracks, this is actually pretty solid. For one, it anchors most of the melody in guitar until it swaps out for strings on the final hook against a trap beat that actually hits some crashing cymbals pretty effectively. I might think the beat is a tad overmixed with that watery warble that runs through the bottom of the mix, but this is probably one of the few Future beats where I can really get into the vibe, a little reminiscent of a early 2000s hard rock or metal ballad. And further points should be given to the flow on the pre-chorus, where if Future actually threw up a more explosive hook, I might have gotten on-board even despite the lyrics. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen, and thus we're left with a parade of brand names and Future rapping about screwing white girls. Believe it or not, I want to like this more than I do, but as a whole this week, I guess I'll take it.

52. 'Low Life' by Future ft. The Weeknd - in a sense, a collaboration between The Weeknd and Future makes too much sense, as they're both self-loathing characters indulging in reckless debauchery to cover up empty darkness within. So you'd think they'd be able to mine more actual content than this dreary excuse for a song, swamped out in bass with a muted keyboard line that shows them ruining hotels, doing drugs, and wallowing in it all. And again, I think it's the hook that's letting both of them down - I get how the song is supposed to sound faded, but it's not a good sign when Future puts in more energy than The Weeknd does. And sure, the keyboard melody does stick in your head and there is some solid mood to the track, but you'd like to hope that the song could build more momentum and punch than this, especially when the content feels mid-tier at best for both artists. I don't hate this song, but for this sort of collaboration, I was expecting more.

So that was this week, and overall... hmm, a little tough to evaluate. The bad songs are easy: 'Whisper' by Chase Rice runs away with the worst thing I've heard in recent memory, with the Dishonourable Mention probably going to 'Jimmy Choo' by Fetty Wap just for being a real disappointment. But the best... see, there wasn't really a single standout, but the ones I probably enjoyed the most were 'Die A Happy Man' by Nelly snagging the best, followed by - and I can't believe I'm saying this - 'Fly Shit Only' by Future for the Honourable Mention. What can I say, the instrumental really did click for me! Let's enjoy the breather now before the insanity of next week...

1 comment:

  1. This was the first week where I could say I really liked a song from Future.