Tuesday, March 1, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - march 12, 2016

I've said before there are certain weeks on the Hot 100 that are deceptive, appear quieter than they actually are because nothing seems to be really shaking up the top. And hell, it'd almost make sense, the week between the Grammys and Academy Awards, nothing really exploded here, right? Well, not quite, because if you delve deeper you'll find a fair few big shifts and dropouts, setting the stage for what could be the new songs of spring to flood in coming weeks.

And yet if you looked at the Top Ten, you wouldn't see it. Right now 'Work' by Rihanna and Drake has an absolute stranglehold on #1, with gains across the board but especially coming from YouTube where the video charted major presence - as I said last week, it'll be at the top for a while. Coming behind it is 'Love Yourself' by Justin Bieber, which somehow is still picking up airplay and has solid stats across the board, even if the rate of gains is starting to shrink. Nearly identical case for 'Stressed Out' by twenty one pilots at #3, just subtract YouTube from the equation entirely. Then we've got 'Sorry' by Justin Bieber at #4, which somehow still rules YouTube with solid streaming - sure, the sales are miserable and it's losing airplay, but not quite as quickly as I was expecting either. 'My House' by Flo Rida comes in at #5, having lost the sales lead to Rihanna but picking up streaming and some major airplay to compensate - which is also analogous to 'Pillowtalk' by Zayn, which might have been shoved back a bit in YouTube and sales, but picked up a lot of airplay and still can hold its own on streaming. And yet none of these songs have budged from their positions last week - to see that, we get 'Me, Myself & I' by G-Eazy ft. Bebe Rexha rising to #7, and yet I'm not certain that it's because the sales and streaming were strong enough on their own. I suspect more is thanks to the continued weakness of 'Hello' by Adele at #8, forced back on YouTube, slipping on sales, and continuing to nosedive on airplay and streaming. Of course, it's also got competition coming up from 'Cake By The Ocean' by DNCE rising to #9, which spent the week gaining airplay and picking up a bit of sales to compensate for shaky streaming - I have to hope it's a sign it's not getting higher. Then again, it also might only be here thanks to the weakness of other songs, in this case 'Roses' by The Chainsmokers ft. ROZES, which spent the week losing airplay with miserable sales - don't expect it long in the top ten, I can say that.

And on that note, losers and dropouts, and in the latter category, we got a bunch this week! Of course 'Uptown Funk' left after its abrupt return, but it also took other unfortunate leftovers like 'Dessert' by Dawin and Silento and 'Bet You Can't Do It Like Me' by DLOW and 'Break Up In A Small Town' by Sam Hunt - all good news! Unfortunately, it also saw twin losses for Demi Lovato, as both 'Confident' and 'Irresistible' with Fall Out Boy took their expected exits. As did 'On My Mind' by Ellie Goulding, a track that has actually grown on me a fair bit as it quietly slipped away. Beyond that, the only other two worth mentioning are 'Stay A Little Longer' by Brothers Osborne and 'Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah)' by Andy Grammer, but even then, both have been shaky for weeks now. And you can see similar signs in most of our losers too: 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' by Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello is on its way out naturally at 51, but 'Out Of The Woods' by Taylor Swift is continuing to underperform at 77. Beyond that, we've got our debuts that failed to catch fire: 'Cheap Thrills' by Sia and Sean Paul falling to 96 and 'Make Me Like You' by Gwen Stefani sliding to 68, but I'd like to point out 'Hollow' by Tori Kelly for confirming a theory I've had about her: she's one of the most instantly forgettable acts you'll come across, snatching brief high points on the charts off of a live performance before being immediately forgotten right after - kind of fascinating in a tragic way, to be honest.

Where things get busy - and kind of weird - is when we look at our gains and returns, and there were a bunch of them. I expected 'Don't Let Me Down' by The Chainsmokers & Daya to slip back in at 81, but can someone please explain to me why 'Walking On A Dream' by Empire of the Sun returned to 90? The song is eight years old and would have been forgettable then! But really, the bigger story is the gains, and where do we even start... Well, let's consider our debuts first - as you'd expect, 'Never Forget You' by Zara Larsson and MNEK jumped up to 58, and 'Promise' by Kid Ink and Fetty Wap proves that people might not be that sick of DJ Mustard as of yet. And then there's 'Think Of You' by Chris Young and Cassadee Pope, which picked up to 74 along with 'Humble & Kind' by Tim McGraw to 73 to show country easing back into mid-tempo territory - hell, 'Break On Me' by Keith Urban is also evidence of that as it went to 54. Then we had the sudden spurts of activity for songs that kind of surprised me, like 'Something In The Way You Move' by Ellie Goulding jumping up to 43, 'Youth' by Troye Sivan rising to 67, and unfortunately 'Middle' by DJ Snake and Bipolar Sunshine rising to 57. But really, the gains this week were most dominated by mediocre R&B and hip-hop gaining ground, with 'Needed Me' by Rihanna continuing its rise to 64, '2 Phones' by Kevin Gates rising to 29, 'Back To Sleep' by Chris Brown rising to 36, and 'oui' by Jeremih clawing up to 28. I'd say more about these tracks, but really, a relisten has given me nothing to really sink into, and on some level, I really don't care.

Anyway, let's hope we can find something to care about in our new arrivals, starting with...

100. 'Might Not' by Belly ft. The Weeknd - the one sentence that'll characterize the majority of our new arrivals is thus: 'what the hell is this doing here', with various degrees of inflection. In this case... okay, Belly is a Palestinian/Canadian artist who actually had a top ten hit in 2007 with 'Pressure' ft. Ginuwine, and now thanks to fellow Canadian The Weeknd, he's on the Hot 100 for the first time. And really, it's more The Weeknd's song, to the point where it's probably better if you just consider it a Weeknd song - Belly's got one verse and it's honestly nothing worth mentioning, whereas The Weeknd has the other verse and the hook. And it's honestly pretty decent - I like the dark wiry tone of the synth as the vocal samples warp over the bouncier trap beat, and The Weeknd almost sounds exultant as he pushes himself to the absolute limit where he might not make it. And credit where it's due, while I think this track could have afforded to go darker, it actually lands pretty solidly, I'll take it.

96. 'Panda' by Desiigner - in this case, it's easy to answer the 'what the hell is this doing here' question - and for once, it's actually kind of funny. See, since Kanye West has kept The Life Of Pablo as a TIDAL exclusive - yes, for some ungodly reason Jay-Z is still trying to make TIDAL happen - nothing from that record has charted on the Hot 100. But Kanye sampled a lot on that record, and one of the artists he drew upon was a Future wannabe/ripoff named Desiigner, taking a significant chunk from his song 'Panda', which people then looked up and here we are. And look, I'm not going to deny Kanye's lyrical contributions made the song a bit more interesting when he sampled it, but it's not like there's much here to work with. Sparse muted beat, pretty thin beat, a lot of vocal sample howling, and Desiigner rapping about the same stuff you've heard Future do with at least more imagination. Yeah, he's got a really good flow, but nothing he says is remotely interesting. It's not terrible, but we don't need another Future, so yeah, I'd probably skip this.

94. 'Cut It' by O.T. Genasis ft. Young Dolph - look, I'll admit I probably gave 'Coco' more of a pass than it deserved. Partially because the song just got too stupid to hate, partially because there was a really great meme that Freddie Gibbs made of it that I found hilarious, and partially because I was assuming we would never hear from the guy again. In other words, what the hell is this doing here? Cause here's the thing - this isn't bad, per se - yeah, it's a cocaine anthem that isn't nearly as memetic as 'Coco', but I will say it's better? O.T. Genasis for one is fine on the hook and the bars at least rhyme, but then we have him jump completely off the beat for the final bars and it's not nearly as impressive as it should be. Young Dolph hops on the Migos flow and it's fine, I guess - really, the part I liked the most about the song is the instrumentation, solid underlying piano melody that bleeds into the organ with percussion that honestly could have afforded to be more interesting beyond your standard trap flavour. Give this to a cocaine rapper like Pusha T and I think it'd click stronger, but as it is, while it might be better than 'Coco', it's certainly less memorable.

93. 'Saved' by Ty Dolla $ign ft. E-40 - no gimmicky question for this one - in fact, I'm surprised we didn't see this sooner. Ty Dolla $ign released his debut album Free TC last year, and I didn't review it... mostly because for me Ty Dolla $ign is best on a hook, as his usual concoction of melodramatic autotune didn't seem all that promising for more, especially considering how horrible 'Blase' with Future and Rae Sremmurd was. This is a lot better, mostly because swapping out Future and Rae Sremmurd is an automatic upgrade, even if I do think his verse here is only okay. What's intriguing about this song is that it's very much about how he won't save this girl who's looking for his money - which in a fridge logic sort of way is borderline progressive, and yet it never actually shows him deceiving her about it in order to sex. And yeah, DJ Mustard's beat here is similar to that of Chris Brown's 'Loyal', but it's also a fair bit better, coasting on a rubbery synth and a cushion of breezy backing vocals that sticks in your head surprisingly well. I'm not saying this is a great song, but I also wouldn't mind if it got bigger, so that's a pass.

91. 'Wild Things' by Alessia Cara - I really do feel sorry for Alessia Cara. She had a solid hit with 'Here' that I might have respected more than actually liked, but was more apparent is that her debut record was cobbled together fast in order to hold onto her hype... which months later seems to have mostly dissipated. And this really would not be the song I'd choose as a followup, mostly because it's pretty bland. Good percussion, decent melody, Cara is a good singer... but in terms of content, it's your standard outsiders anthem, only given the hint of personality by Alessia Cara having a better knack for songwriting flow. What's more exasperating is the cool kids stuff - maybe I'm just too old for this, but it was dumb when Echosmith did it a few years back, it's still dumb. Overall, it's okay, but I'm not going to remember it.

88. 'The Sound Of Silence' by Disturbed - okay, why the hell is this here? For those of you who are used to the usual fare you'd see on the Hot 100, let me welcome you back to the early-to-mid 2000s, where this sort of nu-metal leaning hard rock and metal dominated certain subsets of the radio. And while I would never consider myself a fan of this particular subgenre of rock which'll probably invalidate my opinion in the eyes of fans... most of this stuff is unlistenable, especially now. I've always considered Disturbed mid-tier at best, and while they might have hit a bit of a high note thanks to Asylum in 2010, this song... well, it's a stripped back cover of Simon & Garfunkel. Well, as stripped back as you're going to get from Disturbed, which is going for power ballad with strings and hollow pianos and frontman David Draiman pulling his best Poets of the Fall impression. And that's not a bad thing - believe it or not, I actually like this cover, for the symphonic bombast of it all... but the majority of the power from Simon & Garfunkel's original was stripped back and brittle and could still drive that emotion. This is a bit overstated and overdone, honestly a little too smooth, but it's still better than it has any right to be, so I'll take it.

87. 'Look At My Dab' by Migos - okay, why the hell is this here - and by that I mean on mainstream radio at all? To me, Migos will probably go down for having pioneered their triplet flow and then shoved off the stage by other rappers with more interesting things to say using it, and so seeing them on the charts is bizarre... until you realize they're here because of Vine. What surprises me is that it took them so long - and I think I like this a lot more than I should. The only reason you'll ever listen to Migos is for an ignorant dance song, and honestly, it kind of clicks. Cranking up the trap beat into a more dense crunch against a muted melody until it gets a little more flash on the hook, it places the majority of the focus on Quavo and Takeoff, and even though they aren't saying much beyond flexing about their dab - which is pretty much swag and their dance - they do land a few good lines, mostly courtesy of Takeoff stringing together some pretty funny sports and wrestling references. And by the standards of trap and nu-crunk, Migos are doing it better - I think I'll take it.

85. 'Mind Reader' by Dustin Lynch - okay, I know exactly why this is here - it falls into the long list of country artists where their singles gain traction months after release and well over a year after the album was dropped - but it still baffles me why Dustin Lynch didn't release songs that have more personality. 'To The Sky' might barely be country - better fit for rock radio in the Kip Moore vein - but it's the best thing you've ever done and trying to chase a trend is not going to help you stand out! Anyway, this song... points for using real percussion and a decent backing melody in real steel guitar, but the writing is pretty generic, basically with Dustin Lynch being so wowed with this girl's beauty that she must have read his mind for what he liked. Some decent guitar work, but again, he's capable of so much better - next!

75. 'Lost Boy' by Ruth B - at some point I'm going to have to get used to Vine stars getting famous... but I still don't think I'm there yet, so why the hell is this here again? Well, in this case it's closer to Shawn Mendes than Migos, as Ruth B is another Canadian who has spent the past three years building some buzz on Vine before getting picked up by Columbia and dropping an EP - which only got traction south of the border, I should add. And... well, I'm inclined to be nice here, as it's a stripped back piano ballad that clearly shows some of the novice edges in the writing, a little clumsy in its structure and flow, but it's got a sense of sincerity to make up for it. And more points should be given to Ruth B herself, who really does sound great on this track with a clarity and poise you don't often see for artists starting out. Hell, even the lyrics are decent, taking the Peter Pan story and injecting herself as one of the lost boys in order to find a home in Neverland. And yet I can't help but feel we're missing the connecting punchline and moment of nuance to really drive it home - I appreciate escapism, but that misses the larger metaphor of Peter Pan. As a song, it's decent, but I'm not sure it stuck deeper for me.

So that was our week, and really it felt all over the place, with only a few standouts. For the best... yes, it's not as good as the original but I'm going to give it to 'The Sound Of Silence' by Disturbed for being way better than it should be, and on a similar note for Honourable Mention, 'Look At My Dab' by Migos. As for the worst... I'm giving it to 'Cut It' by O.T. Genasis and Young Dolph for more moments of incompetence than I can excuse, but Dishonourable Mention... yeah, 'Panda' by Desiigner, if only because it's such a blatant Future ripoff that does practically nothing beyond it. Let's hope for something interesting next week!


  1. According to most, Walking on a Dream has charted because of it's use in a car commercial, ala Renegades from X Ambassadors

  2. Well I can say this after having charlie puth,rachel Platten and Simple Plan is Alessia Cara that Inmature?

  3. In The other hand ever heard of Madeline Juno?She has a New album and It is quite similar to The Tove Lo Queen of The clouds and Foxes all I need stuff you may like It give It a try atleast