Tuesday, June 14, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - june 25, 2016

So, in the business, this is what we call a slow week. Hell, it's the big reason why I could get away with covering a week of country music and not really have to worry about anything else - which meant that very little worth caring about landed on the Hot 100. But that's fine, I don't mind having a shorter week, and I might as well enjoy it before the end of June happens and happiness goes right out the window - and if you've seen the hip-hop releases scheduled for June 24, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

But enough doom and gloom, let's take a look at the Top 10... where again, very little has changed. 'One Dance' by Drake, Kyla & Wizkid sits at the very top thanks to huge streaming, but it's got enough airplay and sales to be a solid presence for some time. And while 'Panda' by Desiigner might be wavering on airplay and shrinking in sales, the streaming is still so huge it doesn't even matter and it has #2 on lock. At this point it doesn't matter that Justin Timberlake is dominant with airplay and sales with 'Can't Stop The Feelling' - although it's not selling what it was - it's trailing so hard in streaming that it's not moving higher. What did advance a bit was 'Don't Let Me Down' by The Chainsmokers ft. Daya at #4, which rode considerable airplay gains, decent sales, and even a streaming boost to overtake its nearest competition, 'Work From Home' by Fifth Harmony and Ty Dolla $ign. In that case, ruling YouTube isn't quite enough, as sales, airplay, and streaming are all starting to shrink - it might start falling out of the top 10 sooner rather than later. But will it fall faster than '7 Years' by Lukas Graham, which has somehow clung to #6 thanks to picking up a bit of streaming and better than expected sales to compensate for plummeting airplay? Well, only time will tell there, but I expect it'll probably get overtaken by 'This Is What You Came For' by Calvin Harris and Rihanna, which rose up to #7 on good sales, streaming traction, and oddly hesitant airplay gains. Still enough to push past 'I Took A Pill In Ibiza' by Mike Posner at #8, which despite gains on YouTube and streaming didn't have quite enough sales or strong enough airplay to avoid the slip. It's up against 'Needed Me' by Rihanna at #9, which has so much streaming that it barely matters that radio has been slow to catch up and sales are nonexistent. And on the flip side, we have 'Just Like Fire' by Pink holding steady at #10 thanks to sales and significant airplay traction - shame that both songs are so damn mediocre overall.

And on that pleasant note, losers and dropouts! The only ones in the latter category that anyone would care about is 'If It Ain't Love' by Jason Derulo - called it - and '9' by Drake, but the larger story comes in watching him lose en masse. 'Hype' faded to 69, 'Child's Play' mercifully fell to 72, 'Still Here' went to 73, 'Grammys' with Future bowed down to 77, and 'Feel No Ways' slid down to 91. And in contrast to last week, country didn't do well either, although you could definitely make the argument that makes more sense given most are reaching the end of their projected run, with 'Snapback' by Old Dominion falling to 70, 'Mind Reader' by Dustin Lynch slipping to 87, 'Somewhere On A Beach' by Dierks Bentley losing after its boost to 57, and 'Came Here To Forget' by Blake Shelton dropped to 54. Outside of those, the rest are a real mixed bag: 'Youth' by Troye Sivan falls to 100 as its newest revival runs out of steam, 'Moolah' by Young Greatness loses traction to 98, 'Law' by Yo Gotti and E-40 drops to 94, and 'The Sound Of Silence' by Disturbed slips to 66 - frankly, I'm amazed it lasted this long and might be close to having enough points to land on the year end Hot 100, which nobody could have predicted.

Now our gains, on the other hand, are far easier to exlain - and are a lot more depressing. The best of them are pop country tracks like 'Peter Pan' by Kelsea Ballerini rising to 81 and 'From The Ground Up' by Dan + Shay gaining big to 59, but with them comes 'Make You Miss Me' by Sam Hunt to 82, and I'm honestly not sure if that's a net positive, especially if on the pop side we also got a boost for 'Sit Still, Look Pretty' by Daya to 86. Outside of those, we got the debut from Selena Gomez 'Kill Em With Kindness' picking up to 52 - because of course it did - and 'Unsteady' by X Ambassadors rising to 48, but the bigger story comes in our solitary returning entry: 'Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1' by Kanye West and Kid Cudi! It only landed at 97, but apparently this along with 'Pt.2' are intended as 'singles' from The Life Of Pablo. And I have to wonder why, because in the latter case 'Panda' has effectively reduced Kanye's sampling of it to a disjointed afterthought. And why not release a fully formed song like 'Real Friends' with Ty Dolla $ign who is bigger than ever, or 'No Parties In LA' with Kendrick Lamar or even put a full single push behind 'Famous', which had Rihanna on it at least! As much as I've ripped on Drake's mismanagement, for Kanye it appears far worse, and outside of sheer star power, I can't imagine any of this doing well.

But moving away from that, since we have so few returning entries, I think it's time to bring back an intermittent segment to talk about a song that's currently tearing its way up the European charts and yet has a bizarre lineage in and of itself. So for our World Hit this week...

Okay, so you need to follow me on this: like many songs that tend to get big across UK charts, this is a remix, this time by French DJ and producer Kungs. Good luck finding much info on him, as his YouTube channel has two videos and his Soundcloud has only twelve tracks, but this is his first hit, a reinterpretation of a single from Australian funk band Cookin' On 3 Burners, with guest vocals from a uncredited soul singer Kylie Auldist. The combination of all of these elements contribute to 'This Girl' - and I have to say, I really kind of dig it! It's got a pretty sweet guitar rollick that builds off some great horns that ebbs in and out with a ton of groove that the bouncier beat actually compliments pretty well. And hell, the lyrics are pretty slick too, as the girl rebuffs the guy who keeps buying her stuff to win her over when that's not really the way to her heart, which is a good sentiment. I might prefer the bass line getting a little more texture, or with the handclap to not quite feel as stiff, but this definitely falls towards the better side of modern electronic tracks and has real groove to it, so I'll definitely recommend this.

But now onto our regular entries, starting with...

75. 'Nothing Is Promised' by Mike Will Made It & Rihanna - I think it's fair to say that Mike Will Made It might be getting left behind in popular music. Think about it: in late 2012 and throughout 2013, he was inescapable, with a style of bleak, heavy production that was embraced and co-opted by Kanye West before spreading everywhere, from Lil Wayne and Future to Miley Cyrus. And yet trends in hip-hop production change in record time, and a year later DJ Mustard rushed in to fade out even faster, but the damage was already done. After the abortion that was the Rae Sremmurd debut Sremmlife, it seemed like Mike Will Made It couldn't catch a break, with his most number of credits showing up on Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz - yikes. Now this year he seems prepared to make a bit of a comeback, netting production on Beyonce's 'Formation' and a few credits on the upcoming Sremmlife 2, but to finally get a debut album of his own called Ransom 2 off the ground he recruited Rihanna for the lead-off single. Now they've worked together before on her 2012 album Unapologetic on the song 'Pour It Up' - a track, for the record, which is absolutely turgid crap with some terrible synth choices - and this song was originally intended for ANTI, but it got rejected and is now being released as his song. And honestly, I kind of get why it was rejected - not only does it not fit with the album's arc or themes as your standard flexing anthem, it's also not all that good. The synths are hollow and bleak, the beat is by-the-numbers bass and sandy hi-hat skitters, and Rihanna sounds oddly isolated in the mix, with nothing to really support her. Granted, nothing she's saying is remotely interesting - empty bragging where the money seems to be the overwhelming focus where she'll even hug and swim in the money like Scrooge McDuck here! And I'm supposed to find this interesting... because I really, really don't. 

(no video online yet...)

34. 'Treat You Better' by Shawn Mendes - the more I listen to Shawn Mendes the more I wonder what the hell I saw in him. Because I remember really liking 'Something Big' and yet ever since then every song has shown a steady decline in quality. I'm inclined to blame studio hacks like Teddy Geiger who are cowriting his music, but the problem seems to run deeper than that. So does 'Treat You Better' give me any hints? Well, the instrumentation is a step up from 'Stitches', taking the low acoustic rollick and adding some breezy but punchy percussion that might be a tad too compressed but generally has some decent atmosphere... but the problems are two-fold. First is Mendes himself, most specifically on the chorus - I have no idea why he's trying for a Caribbean inflection on the final words of the hook, but it sounds incredibly out of place and not remotely something he can pull off... which might as well be the story for the lyrics too. Because, in the grand tradition of white guy with acoustic guitar music, we have a song where Shawn Mendes is trying to convince a girl to dump her boyfriend and get with him. Now in general I don't like these songs - mostly because they feel manipulative as hell - but at their "best" you have a singer with the swagger and raw charisma to appear as a more attractive character, or the writing to add moral complexity to the situation. Mendes doesn't do either here, and an already pretty hollow song feels all the more forgettable and frustrating. I wish I could say he was better than this... but honestly, at this point, I'm not sure.

(because apparently DJ Khaled couldn't put a video together, bizarrely...)

18. 'For Free' by DJ Khaled ft. Drake - so do you know that guy in your circle of friends who might not be the brightest but somehow manages to know everyone - including people that he probably shouldn't - and throw kickass parties that he can't possible afford? That to me is DJ Khaled, a guy who has never made music that's all that interesting or good but somehow has managed to build relationships with everyone in mainstream hip-hop and parlay that into a larger-than-life persona that seems more and more like a joke all the time. And sure, I can admire his networking skills, but when it comes to music, he's rarely an interesting presence as an artist. So does that change on the biggest single he's released since, well, the last time he worked with Drake on 'I'm On One' five years ago? Honestly, this is a below-average Drake track where any interesting lines he has are cribbed from other people. The opening bars are interpolated from Too $hort, the next few are a subtle jab at Kendrick - the implication is that the song is directed at a girl who is Kendrick's boy that Drake is screwing - and the entire premise of the song is an Akinyele interpolation where apparently Drake is so good in bed this girl wonders that she should be paying for Drake's penis! And in typical Drake fashion, the entire song is loaded with struggle bars and bad implications, like where in the second verse he says he's not putting pressure on this girl but every bar around it is implied pressure to toe a certain line! It doesn't help the production is painfully weak - a scratchy rattle with a jagged fragment and a deeper beat that never really evolves or switches up. And as much as DJ Khaled shouts that this is another anthem, I don't remotely buy it - it's tepid, lacking in punchlines, delivery, and instrumentation, and it's only catchy until you listen to anything else.

In other words, wow, this week's selection of new songs was crap! And I can't in good conscience give out a 'best of the week' because none of these songs even remotely pass as good! Worst of the Week is going to Shawn Mendes with 'Treat You Better' - wow, that track pisses me off with every listen - but best... no, I can't do it! If I didn't have rules otherwise, it'd go to the World Hit from Kungs and Cookin' On 3 Burners 'This Girl'. Otherwise... folks, please let's get some better stuff than this!

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Given how little there was I was thinking you'd find Treat You Better more tolerable than the other two given your distaste for Mike-Will and Drake, guess not. This is not a common occurrence, heh. At least the 6/6/15 and 3/19/16 weeks had a best pick...