Tuesday, April 19, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - april 30, 2016

Okay, so normally after a week with a ton of debuts, the following week tends to be a real pain, as everything resets to compensate. And given the massive falloff from Kanye's Life Of Pablo - which yes, we'll be talking about here - you'd think that it'd mean this week was incredibly busy. But while it was turbulent across the board, it was so in a way that we had enough returning entries to keep the new arrival list relatively small, and since I no longer cover returning entries in as extensive detail as I did last year, this might actually mean I'll get a breather, at least before the top ten collapses in upon itself.

And make no mistake, that's coming soon, because right now I don't think I could make a prediction about who'd take the #1 spot in coming weeks. 'Work' by Rihanna and Drake might be holding it for now, but with it being in freefall in all categories, including miserable sales and being dethroned on streaming, it should be replaced by something next week. And against all expectations, its biggest challenger is 'Panda' by Desiigner, which rose up to #2 basically thanks to stability in sales, YouTube and monster streaming as airplay struggles to catch up. Its biggest competition is '7 Years' by Lukas Graham at #3, which has much stronger sales and airplay, but it's being overtaken on streaming and Youtube - at this point, it's a margins game. And it's not just there: 'No' by Meghan Trainor is right behind at #4 as it steadily picks up airplay, streaming, and YouTube to match its huge sales, it's only pushed back because of 'Panda'. Then comes 'Pillowtalk' by Zayn, and that's an odd case, mostly because it seemed to get a second wind this week, with an airplay boost to support decent sales, streaming, and YouTube - I don't see it being a huge player, but it's holding its own for now. Then we get the gain I did not expect but am definitely happy to see: 'I Took A Pill In Ibiza' by Mike Posner rising to #6, which rode a consistently strong week all around - again, no huge gains, but against instability, it's holding its own. Similar case for 'Work From Home' by Fifth Harmony and Ty Dolla $ign at #7, which has actually picked up more airplay to match its big streaming and huge YouTube, just not quite enough to offset slightly softer sales. Then we've got 'Love Yourself' by Justin Bieber - at this point, it slid to #8 because it holds airplay, a bit of YouTube, and pretty much nothing else, and airplay definitely has peaked. Now all of this instability has lead to other songs making a play, like 'Cake By The Ocean' by DNCE rising up to #9 on a big streaming boost while holding its airplay against rough sales - again, I don't see it lasting, but it is making an impact. And finally, we have 'Me, Myself & I' by G-Eazy & Bebe Rexha clinging onto #10, basically thanks okay streaming and airplay, but the latter has peaked and against more competition it'll be gone.

Granted, this wasn't exactly a week overflowing with competition, but that doesn't mean we didn't get losers and dropouts. And in the latter category we got a fair few of them, the majority of which you could have predicted: 'Heartbeat' by Carrie Underwood, 'Beautiful Drug' by the Zac Brown Band, 'Best Friend' by Young Thug, 'When We Were Young' by Adele, and - finally - 'Hotline Bling' by Drake. And most of the losses you could have predicted too and can be split into two categories: country and Kanye. In the latter category, 'Ultralight Beam' with The-Dream, Kelly Price, and Chance The Rapper slides to 90, 'Waves' with Chris Brown goes to 86, 'Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1' with Kid Cudi slid to 54, 'Pt. 2' with Desiigner went to 73, and 'Famous' with Rihanna and Swizz Beatz skidded down to 49. In the latter category... well, I expected 'Drunk On Your Love' by Brett Eldredge to continue down to 65 and 'Nobody To Blame' by Chris Stapleton to lose momentum to 80, but I am surprised that 'Lights Come On' by Jason Aldean didn't pick up any momentum at all off its debut last week. It fell hard to 93, and that baffles me - it's got energy, solid enough instrumentation - is it not playing on country radio because it's leaning more towards rock, because that would be wrong on every conceivable level!

Granted, when you look towards our returning entries and gains, it starts getting a little less predictable. I mean, sure, with The Lumineers releasing an album it makes sense 'Ophelia' would come back to #66, and same with 'New Level' by A$AP Ferg and Future at #100. And I guess I can see why the 'Fast Car' cover from Jonas Blue and Dakota came back to #99 - it's huge in the UK, I see the appeal. Beyond that... okay, even though I liked 'Moolah' by Young Greatness and don't mind that it's back at #87, it's not the sort of song you expect to have chart appeal beyond the hook. And 'Uber Everywhere' by MadeinTYO doesn't even have that and it came back to #82. Granted, I'm not really wild about any of our gains this week. At best, we get 'Body' by Dreezy & Jeremih finally getting momentum to #77, or maybe 'Lost Boy' by Ruth B continuing its inexplicable rise to #41, but beyond that? Okay, for one I'm shocked 'New Romantics' by Taylor Swift has any traction, let alone a jump to #46 - how many singles are we into from 1989 again, this is just looking excessive! Then we have hip-hop - and sure, I don't mind 'Saved' by Ty Dolla $ign and E-40, but if we're also getting boosts to 'Cut It' by OT Genasis and Young Dolph to 44 and 'All The Way Up' by Fat Joe, Remy Ma, and French Montana to 69, there's a problem here! And while I get the appeal of both songs, with 'Light It Up' by Major Lazer ft. Nyla jumping to 75 thanks to being a solid summer song and 'Never Be Like You' by Flume ft. Kai for being just off-kilter enough to draw attention at 76, I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of either of them. That leaves us with two tracks: 'Mind Reader' by Dustin Lynch, which really is playing catchup to the country gains from last week going to 67, and 'Needed Me' by Rihanna continuing its steady rise to 33 basically because she needs to replace 'Work' with something, so why not pick the DJ Mustard cut?

So on that promising note, let's talk about our pretty sparse list of new arrivals, shall we?

94. 'If It Ain't Love' by Jason Derulo - you know, I'm starting to get the impression that Jason Derulo has no idea to manage his career. If you take a look at his successful songs in recent years like 'Talk Dirty' or 'Want To Want Me', they're tracks that have colour and spark and personality to them, and while I might lament the fact that 'Cheyenne' didn't do better, it might have just been too dark and edgy for the audience that Derulo has been chasing. Hell, as godawful as 'Wiggle' is, the cartoonish vibe of the video implies that even Derulo wasn't taking it that seriously. And yet instead of leaning into that - or just making the blindingly obvious choice to release 'Painkiller' with Meghan Trainor for the crossover smash that's better than it has any right to be - we get his newest single playing off a cavernous bass, rattling tropical percussion, flashes of synth, and a pile-up of pitch-shifted vocals that very quickly grate on the nerves. More than anything this reminds me of a low-rent Chris Brown song, especially with the hip-hop inflections on the bridge, and considering Derulo can be an artist who at least has more imagination than that, I can't help but think that not only is this not good, it's not going to be successful either.

92. 'Ain't Your Mama' by Jennifer Lopez - and on the topic of Meghan Trainor, this is a song that she cowrote for Jennifer Lopez... and wow, it sounds like a Meghan Trainor song, because of the few J.Lo songs I like, this is not doing it for me. Now to be fair it sounds like a better Meghan Trainor song, positioned as an 'anti-housewife anthem' where it blasts guys who expect women to do everything and not pitch in - broad caricature aside, I'm basically fine with this, relationships need to be a two-way street. What I question is giving this song to J.Lo, because it strikes me as a weird fit - I mean, does anyone remotely buy that the same woman who made 'Jenny From The Block' would have let things get to the point in a relationship where she'd need a song like this? And beyond that, even by the low standards I hold modern day Jennifer Lopez songs, I'm really not wild about this instrumentation: the percussion groove is blocky and stiff, the backing textures have no warmth or flair until the guitar tries to kick into a groove, and even then, there's no flair to this. Forget the overblown controversy of Dr. Luke giving this song to J.Lo - it was originally intended for Meghan Trainor two years ago before being passed over, but from what I remember of Title, Meghan Trainor would have been better off taking this than 'Dear Future Husband'! As it is... I get this song's appeal, but Jennifer Lopez is not the right performer to pull it off, just saying.

91. 'Faded' by Alan Walker - see, I knew I had a good reason for not putting this as a World Hit a few weeks back! Because let's face it, it was only a matter of time before Alan Walker's world wide smash made it to the States, remixed with vocals from fellow Norwegian Iselin Solheim in 2015 before exploding this year. And as I said when I briefly mentioned it in World Hit, I wasn't entirely fond of it. Yeah, the piano that opens the track is pretty and it compliments Solheim's wistful vocals well, but am I the only one who thinks that synth that comes in to replace it starts off way too thin before breaking into an oddly flat progression against a beat that can't really support it? And that's before the vocals are chopped into fragments before the final chorus... but then again, it's not like the lyrics really say much all that unique, another melancholic reflection on a breakup. Again, not quite a bad song, but nothing I really care about either, if I'm being honest.

85. 'Law' by Yo Gotti ft. E-40 - I've been expecting Yo Gotti to release a second single for months now, ever since 'Down In The DM' did way better than I think anyone could have reasonably expected, becoming by far his biggest ever hit. And even though I doubt this follow-up will be as big, I kind of like it more, mostly because Yo Gotti is pivoting back to his more gangsta zone where his voice is a more natural fit. And maybe I'm just a bit of a sucker for this sort of gangsta bravado, but many of the 'laws' that Yo Gotti and E-40 drop on this song are surprisingly solid - don't forget your crew when you come up, don't mess around with your crew's girls, don't start beef over bad bitches, when your girl is getting it support her, don't rock all white if it looks dingy... all of this makes sense and is generally agreeable! Sure, he does push it - as much as anyone might want it, getting head on the first date is probably not going to become 'law' - and that odd slowdown in the second verse doesn't help the momentum, but then E-40 brings things back on his verse where it's clear he sees his rivals and gives them a fair amount of respect, along with a few lines about knowing the number of your bail bonds man and lawyer by heart - again, this is sound advice! And while I do think the beat is probably the least impressive part of the production - feels a little overworked, especially with the layers of eerie melodies piling against the thicker beat - I do think the way the echo is placed on the gang vocals will probably become huge, because it sounds great. Overall... yeah, I definitely enjoyed this, the sort of heavy gangsta banger that I can definitely get behind.

70. 'Messin' Around' by Pitbull ft. Enrique Iglesias - if you had asked me in 2011, I wouldn't have said that Pitbull wouldn't have lasted out the club boom.... and yet here we are, five years later, and he's got another new song on the charts, this time with Enrique Iglesias. And it's a bit of a weird case, mostly because it feels oddly heavy and overmixed for a Pitbull song, especially with all of the filters piled on Enrique's vocals, interpolating an old REO Speedwagon song 'Take It On The Run' - although, oddly, not the hook of that song, which I've always found a lot more memorable. And while we're doing comparisons, while REO Speedwagon was never the most impressive group in the 80s, they at least could throw in a guitar solo and a nifty acoustic groove. What Pitbull gets instead is a much thicker, lumbering progression with some terrible hollow pitch-shifted vocals behind the hook and a truly stupid lyrical conceit: why would you want her friend to tell her you've been messing around too, even if you're trying to hook up? Wouldn't that give her plenty of reason to never trust you? In any case, I don't want to say this song is outright awful - it's a good foundational melody, but at the same time, it also reminds me that the REO Speedwagon song is considerably stronger, so I'll take that instead.

So yeah, overall it was a slower week, and arguably a pretty decent one. Best of the Week is easy with 'Law' by Yo Gotti & E-40, but worst... I wouldn't say there was an outright bad track here, but the one that squanders the most potential is 'Messin' Around' by Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias, which seems to miss the point and the strengths of both performers, so it's getting the Worst. Expect some insanity next week, folks, the storm is coming.

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