Tuesday, May 24, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - june 4, 2016

So we're now settling back into routine - well, as much routine as we can expect, especially when Ariana Grande is coming around the corner next week - and this has led to something of a bizarre case that I've observed happen to big debuts in the past. They have tons of songs smash onto the Hot 100 the first week, and yet while things cool off dramatically the second week, the third week a whole group of them seem to bounce back. Now there are a lot of reasons for this: initial fatigue after a binge feeding into renewed interest; the radio picking up a few for rotation; or even the case of compensation against a reset to equilibrium...

My point is that a huge chunk of Drake songs caught a second wind, and while we'll get to them all in a second, it also meant that going into our top 10, 'One Dance' with Kyla and Wizkid went back to #1. And the big reason is streaming - sure, it picked up airplay traction and had strong sales, but with still no video the only reason it retook the top spot is streaming dominance. Similar case for 'Panda' by Desiigner being strong at #2 - good sales and decent YouTube, but if it wasn't for streaming compensating for only okay airplay, it'd be a fair bit lower. All of this was enough to push back Justin TImberlake's monster gains on radio and sales with 'Can't Stop The Feeling!' to #3 - although you could definitely make the argument a complete collapse in streaming hasn't helped matters for that track. And speaking of collapses, let's talk about '7 Years' by Lukas Graham clinging to #4, which hit the airplay peak and started dropping hard, with only okay sales propping up losses on streaming and radio. This gives 'Work From Home' by Fifth Harmony ft. Ty Dolla $ign a chance to advance to #5 on dominant YouTube, but I'm not sure if it has more staying power, given shakier airplay, weak sales, and getting muscles back on streaming. This allowed 'Don't Let Me Down' by The Chainsmokers ft. Daya to advance to #6, but it might have gotten there anyway thanks to solid airplay, sales, and holding its own on streaming. It rises above 'I Took A Pill In Ibiza' by Mike Posner, which yes, took heavy airplay and streaming losses and only had okay sales, but YouTube is giving it that added staying power that I think nobody could have predicted in the long term. And beyond that... well, you could easily predict the last three. 'Work' by Rihanna and Drake continues to fall thanks to steady but small losses in all categories so it holds to #8, 'Pillowtalk' by Zayn is in the same boat just without Rihanna's residual streaming at #9, and - speaking of Rihanna - 'Needed Me' holds at #10 thanks to huge streaming and steadily picking up radio. It just doesn't have the momentum to get higher at this point, and against stronger competition, I'm not sure it'll last long here.

And on that note, losers and dropouts. A fair few this week in the latter category: 'Really Really' by Kevin Gates completes its second wind, taking with it 'Youth' by Troye Sivan off an erratic chart run and two country songs too nearing the end of their run: 'I Like The Sound Of That' by Rascal Flatts and 'Confession' by Florida Georgia Line. Granted, for a nice change of pace country has a pretty slow week overall, as only 'Lights Come On' suffered in the losers, dropping to 91. Beyond that, the losses were a real mixed bag: the only songs with any real longevity taking hits were 'Promise' by Kid Ink & Fetty Wap falling to 100 and 'Might Not' by Belly ft. The Weeknd slipping to 80. I guess you could argue that 'Light It Up' by Major Lazer and Nyla falling to 87 and 'Kiss It Better' by Rihanna skidding to 78 are similar cases, but that would imply that short gain they got last week was momentum. The real sad case were the continued losses for Beyonce, as 'Formation' fell to 63 and 'Hold Up' went down to 74. Granted, I'd probably say they were the songs I liked the least off of Lemonade, but they're still decent, and Beyonce not picking up traction here is a bad sign for future single pushes.

Now some of you are probably wondering why Beyonce didn't get that second wind revival that Drake got this week and that I desperately want to avoid discussing... well, my guess is that it's a bad case of getting crowded off, a shade late picking up momentum, and that Beyonce's songs weren't necessarily tailored/sold out for easy radio play. Whereas for Drake... let's start with the returning entries, because I want to blow through this fast. 'Redemption' goes to 83, 'Weston Road Flows' returns to 84, 'Keep The Family Close' rises to 85, and 'Faithful' with dvsn and that Pimp C sample Drake should never have gotten cleared rises to 90. And for gains... ugh, 'Controlla' goes to 22, 'Hype' surges to 35, 'Grammys' with Future climbs to 50, that reprehensible 'Child's Play' rises to 55, 'With You' picks up to 59, dragging along PARTYNEXTDOOR because why not, '9' flips up to 60, 'Feel No Ways' scrabbles up to 61, 'U With Me?' icks up to 68, and 'Fire & Desire' goes to 75. I can't say how long any of this is going to last, but at this point, I'm so thoroughly sick of Drake that however long it is, it'll be too long The only other non-Drake gain comes from a debut from last week, with Carrie Underwood's 'Church Bells' rising up to 79. Not entirely surprising: it's accessible, it's in her wheelhouse, and it is a good song, but there is a part of me that thinks country is hedging its bets by pushing it now - again, it's no 'Blown Away' or 'Two Black Cadillacs'. 

But enough of all of that, we now have our surprisingly diverse list of new arrivals, starting with...

99. 'Unsteady' by X Ambassadors - so I can't be the only one who is a little surprised that it took so long for X Ambassadors to follow up 'Renegades', right? Well, not that surprised - I didn't cover VHS because all signs and buzz indicated that it was boring as tar, but this... eh, it's okay. It's got a little less rollicking energy, playing off a rougher drum progression that seems borderline trap with the hi-hat and a very muted piano, but it's playing for a different vibe, from the position of a child trying to convince his parents to stay together when they're on the verge of splitting up. Not a bad premise and frontman Sam Harris sells the hell out of it, but the writing is very thin, we don't get a lot of details into the situation or why these two are better together or apart. I can appreciate the 'for the sake of the child' arguments, but I can't be the only one who thinks the 'if you love me, don't let go' is such a blunt way of delivering that message that I can't quite buy into the situation. I dunno, it's not a bad track, but again, I don't think I'm going to care about this a day or two. Sorry.

94. 'I'm Sorry' by Adam Wakefield - so as longtime followers of Billboard BREAKDOWN probably remember, normally I'm stuck covering a lot of songs from The Voice. This season... not so much, and I can't say I'm complaining. Like it or not, The Voice as a cultural phenomenon has boosted the careers of the judges more than any contestant, and at this point it's not even subtle - Adam Wakefield is quite literally performing an album track from Blake Shelton, his coach! Now this song was originally a ballad he made with Martina McBride, but it's really a solo track because she's playing a glorified backing vocalist - also because the song sucks. I can appreciate Blake Shelton flipping the expected script and not accepting this girl's apology for whatever she did, but the middle of the road tone and presentation doesn't make it all the believable or likable. To be fair, Adam Wakefield makes the best of a bad song by trying to play it more raw and stripped back, but it's also very clear he's trying to be Chris Stapleton and he's nowhere near as raw or emotive - 'Whiskey & You', this is not. I might prefer it to Blake Shelton's original, but I'm still not that wild about this track.

93. 'Blessings' by Chance The Rapper - okay, now we've got some quality here, with one of the best songs from Chance The Rapper's pretty damn good mixtape Coloring Book. And yeah, the song totally holds up - Jamila Woods adds some good balance against Chance's meandering flow, Nico's horn sprays across the mix but is never too processed or obtrusive, and Chance's bars about accepting success and then being able to move forward into whatever tribulations might come have real weight to them. But really, the impact of this song comes right after the second verse where the trumpet blasts and we quite literally get the sounds of collapsing masonry and the song blowing through, and while I initially wished the song would just explode after that, I appreciate Jamila Woods downplaying it, otherwise that exaltation might have gone over the top in a way that wouldn't work for Chance. But yeah, this song is great, definitely a favourite this week.

(no video because they didn't want to debut higher - figures...)

92. 'That Part' by Schoolboy Q ft. Kanye West - you know, as much as I liked Oxymoron released back in 2014, it feels like it's been a while since Schoolboy Q's last record, longer than it really has been. So thus to see him back and with a Kanye West feature of all things is kind of encouraging... and yes, it's nice to see Kanye rapping, but I'm not really wild about this track. Part of this is the instrumental - another bass-saturated slog where the melody seems constantly on the edge of falling off key, and while I dig the even darker hollow switch-up, it's not quite enough to win me over here, especially considering how hollow the content is. Maybe it's just because I've heard Schoolboy Q do so much better, but lazy flexing on a flow that doesn't remotely come close to getting visceral doesn't really interest me. At least Kanye is kind of funny as he talks about Kim being pissed off at him being at the strip club and then he still screws her doggy style and talks about her breast implants and wow, Kanye, you just keep writing those divorce papers for her! At the end of the day, though... I've never really been wild about Schoolboy Q's choice of singles, and this is not exception, because it really is just okay, at best.

86. 'No Problem' by Chance The Rapper ft. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne - this track keeps growing on me with every listen... probably more than it should, if I'm being honest. I'm not really wild about Chance's enunciation - he's playing to a very slurred, Young Thug-esque style - but I do mostly like his content thrashing major labels who keep trying to screw with him. And to his credit, Lil Wayne mostly stays on topic and joins in... even if midway through the verse he calls himself Jesus Carter and goes off about finding a warm vagina. And then there's 2 Chainz... look, I said it before and I'll say it again, when you have a hook this propulsive I can normally excuse from flubbed rhymes, but 'run shit like diarrhea'? That's gross, you don't need to hop on the poop jokes now that Lil Wayne is pulling himself together. But really, the reason this song works is that pre-chorus and hook, and the blended crowd of gospel vocals might be a tad shrill or lacking in more background, but it works for what this is. And yeah, though it has many problems, it's still a decent song, I'll take it.

69. 'The Fighter' by Keith Urban ft. Carrie Underwood - so apparently this was a good week for Carrie Underwood, because now she's showing up on this non-country song with Keith Urban. And no, I don't want to hear it - no organic percussion, a backdrop of synth, a lot of airy guitar flutters to try and flesh out a melody, and absolutely no organic texture to remotely make this feel country except for maybe four bars on the bridge. But okay, on the standards of pop music, does it work? Eh... barely - Carrie Underwood is not bringing her a-game to match Keith Urban, and I don't remotely buy that she's going to be running to Keith Urban for emotional support - it'd probably be the other way around! Look, as a pop song it's okay, but it's certainly not all that interesting, and I know both artists can do better, whether in pop or country... as it is, kind of mediocre.

67. 'Wherever I Go' by OneRepublic - on some level, the progression of OneRepublic's career has been kind of fascinating, where they started off pumping out the sort of middle-of-the-road adult alternative blandness I found either boring or insufferable, but Native saw a change in the band. It seemed like Ryan Tedder himself was getting restless and bored - can't really blame him - and that led to him actually making some decent music, like 'Counting Stars' and 'Love Runs Out'. This... well, it doesn't really continue down that path, or any path that OneRepublic has ever taken, because this is a weird track. I could start with the odd reverb saturation around any melody that breaks into an oddly muddy acoustic guitar line that takes way too long to rise out of the murk with the thicker synths. And none of it really matches Ryan Tedder trying to balance his rougher mid-range with his full falsetto, or the lyrics that could be speaking about faith and religion but I suspect run closer to finding passionate love for someone or something. What's more important is that, well, it's nowhere near as interesting, propulsive, groove-driven, or visceral as OneRepublic tried to be for certain songs on Native... and yeah, that's a disappointment.

39. 'Me Too' by Meghan Trainor - and ladies and gentlemen, we have for everyone's general annoyance one of the worst songs to come out in recent memory. I don't think I gave 'Me Too' enough of my bile when I covered Thank You, so let's get into it in detail: this song blows. The blubbery bassline that sounds imported from a bad will.i.am production - it sounds like 'Scream & Shout' pitched down, and that's not a compliment - that only breaks in snippets for a hint of a groove that evaporates as soon as the hook comes in, complete with pitch-shifted fragments to complete the headache. But it's the ego about this track that pisses me off, because this song is so satisfied with itself for no good reasons. I'm not wild about flexing songs in general - see my comments on Schoolboy Q and Kanye earlier - but Meghan Trainor adds in a hook specifically targeting you and she's not remotely interesting in any of her bragging. I don't care if she has an entourage or has flashy jewelry, when she follows it with 'my life's a movie, Tom Cruise' - because apparently hashtag rap is still a thing - and 'so bless me, baby, achoo'... I shouldn't even have to tell you why that line is asinine! So yeah, this song, one of the worst I've heard thus far this year, considerably worse than 'No', and I can only hope will never be a hit!

So yeah, that's our week, and the worst of the week you should already know. But moving Meghan Trainor, Dishonourable Mention is trickier...I'm going with 'Wherever I Go' by OneRepublic, if only because it feels like a total mess and really is a disappointment. The best of the week is easy: Chance The Rapper walks away with both for 'Blessings' and Honourable Mention going - despite its many problems - to 'No Problem' with 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne. Next week, it's probably going to be Ariana's week, but who knows what madness awaits us if Drake's material sticks around...

1 comment:

  1. Do you see Dance Off from Macklemore debuting high if at all?