Tuesday, June 6, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - june 17, 2017

So I was predicting that this week would actually be a little slower going in - after all, it didn't look like the top ten was shifting at all, there wasn't any major album releases on the horizon, we'd have another week in a holding pattern... and yet that's not what we got, pretty much thanks to the record that never hit my schedule and that I would have had no interest in covering if it had. Yep, folks: this is the week of Bryson Tiller, accounting for half of the new arrivals... joy.

But before we get to that, let's talk about our top ten - which as I said, barely shifted at all. Most of this seems to be a factor of nothing really breaking through the margins: 'Despacito' by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and the remix courtesy of Justin Bieber is holding #1 thanks to sales and streaming, and with its continued airplay fortunes, it seems secure at the top. And yet where I kept predicting that 'That's What I Like' by Bruno Mars would fall off, it's still at #2 on sales gains and airplay that's hasn't quite collapsed the way everyone predicted. I'd still say it's vulnerable to 'I'm The One' by DJ Khaled and crew, but it's still at #3 as radio traction is slow and it actually slipped on streaming despite a sales pickup. Granted, it's not like 'Humble' by Kendrick Lamar is going to pass it at #4 - it also had a good sales week and I'm still amazed how strong its radio is, but overall on streaming it's not quite the titan it used to be. What surprises me more is that 'Shape Of You' by Ed Sheeran still hasn't fallen off here from #5 - yes, it had a decent sales week, but it's still losing in every category... it's just that the airplay margin it has is so large it prevents easy mobility. I still think 'Mask Off' by Future has a shot, though at #6 - streaming is stronger than ever, it picked up good sales... and yet the radio remains unstable. Then there's 'Stay' by Zedd and Alessia Cara at #7 - no surprises, it's got solid traction on radio and sales, I don't see this moving. What I do see moving is 'Something Just Like This' by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay, holding #8 on good sales despite radio peaking and streaming only getting worse. But again, it's holding over 'XO Tour Llif3' by Lil Uzi Vert at #9, which actually slipped on streaming this week despite monstrous YouTube. And finally - something which everyone thought I was going to get so angry about - our new #10 is 'Congratulations' by Post Malone and Quavo. And look, I don't like Post Malone at all, I think he makes lifeless, lazy trap bangers that only highlights how mediocre of a rapper he is, but I honestly can't see him sticking around much longer once the sales peter out, given that he has no radio traction, and I'd give more credit to Quavo pushing this up than anything else.

So on that promising note, losers and dropouts, and there aren't really that many in the latter category worth mentioning: 'At My Best' by Machine Gun Kelly and Hailee Steinfeld, 'Any Ol' Barstool' by Jason Aldean, and yet most surprisingly, 'Chained To The Rhythm' by Katy Perry and Skip Marley. In fact, this was a really bad week for Katy Perry all around, as 'Bon Appetit' with Migos crashed to 96 and 'Swish Swish' fizzled off its debut to 78 - none of which is a good sign for that album dropping in a few days. Granted, debuts and previous gains had a bit of a rough week here: 'Bad Liar' by Selena Gomez fell hard to 45, 'Crying In The Club' by Camila Cabello went to 61, and 'Strip That Down' by Liam Payne and Quavo lost to 65, although given the - in my opinion, unfair - buzz that last song got, I'm not surprised. Beyond that, the only other loser is 'ELEMENT.' by Kendrick Lamar continuing down to 96 - again, I'm surprised it lasted this long.

Then we cut to our gains and returning entries... and at least in the latter category, I'm not surprised, as the album boost lets 'Me Enamore' by Shakira return to 83 and 'Peek A Boo' by Lil Yachty and Migos rebound to 80, although given their critical reception I can't say how long they'll last. The gains are a little more odd here, though: sure, 'Felices Los 4' by Maluma going to 70, you expect that because of how well 'Despacito' is doing, but the rest of these? For one, why is 'Weak' by AJR gaining any traction at all to 86, or out of nowhere we got a boost for 'Everyday We Lit' by YFN Lucci and PnB Rock to 47. 'Rolex' by Ayo & Teo I get, we finally got the video, but with 'Slow Hands' by Niall Horan with the big boost to 33... I dunno, I still dig the song, I'm just surprised it picked up as much as it did, it's not that good.

But really, everyone is here for me to talk about Bryson Tiller... but we aren't getting to that yet in our new arrivals, starting instead with...

100. 'Strangers' by Halsey ft. Lauren Jauregui - so as I already covered Halsey over with Jon at ARTV, and this song in particular at length, there really isn't much for me to say here. Because honestly, it's a damn solid pop song. Solid wiry groove with some great synth accents, Halsey and Lauren Jauregui have good chemistry, and for a song about two women having hate-sex, it actually nails the balance between bitter contempt and legit passion surprisingly well. Hell, it's probably the first thing Halsey has done that I've got no issue endorsing without question, and that's worth something, right? So yeah, no idea if this'll have staying power, but I kind of hope it does.

99. 'Butterfly Effect' by Travis Scott - so for those of you who are surprised about this, no, it doesn't sound like there's any new Travis Scott record on the horizon, but we do have this song that may or may not be showing up on his planned collaboration with Quavo - because of course that's happening. And well... I can't be the only one who is missing when Travis Scott's production and delivery actually had some muscle and smoky snarl to it, am I? This sort of watery autotune and dreary tones just are not all that interesting, especially if Travis Scott is going to ramble through a few disconnected drug references. Honestly, I'm struggling to find anything remotely distinctive about the song: the production fades into the background, the beat is nothing special, and Travis Scott's lyrical shortcomings are all the more prominent given the weak delivery. I'd say pass on this, but that assumes you remember it enough to bother.

98. 'No Longer Friends' by Bryson Tiller - so now the Bryson Tiller story starts here, with him stealing some other guy's girlfriend including an extended monologue in place of a hook midway through the song featuring said girl arguing with the boyfriend and it's as uncomfortable and voyeuristic as you might think. None of this is helped by Tiller straddling the line between Chris Brown and Drake in his delivery, complete with autotune and pitch shifting on the outro to boot - I don't think I'll ever be a fan of his vocal tone - but beyond that, the only noteworthy thing about it is how weirdly possessive Tiller becomes in the final verse after blasting the boyfriend, which if I thought he had real self-awareness might have been interesting commentary... but we never get that text. Beyond that, we've got some warped samples and hollowed out samples behind the trap beat that do hold a decent melody, at least before the beat switch, but nothing that feels all that interesting or special - next!

94. 'There For You' by Martin Garrix & Troye Sivan - you know, it's funny how Martin Garrix has an uncanny knack for finding mid-tier pop acts and actually giving them quality production that compliments them while not really diluting his future bass production style. Between Bebe Rexha and especially Dua Lipa, he's been on a bit of a roll for me. And while I'm not the biggest Troye Sivan fan, I figured he could probably get some real quality out of this collaboration which debuted at Coachella... and yet, I'm only just lukewarm on this. Maybe it's a function of Garrix trying to bring a little more restraint to compliment Troye Sivan's very understated delivery with the weedy flutes and warping fragments behind the snap, but the only real moment of excitement I get with this song comes when the guitars come through on the final bridge, and even they they don't really build into the drop. As for Troye Sivan... look, I get reciprocity in relationships is important, but it hits a bit of a bum note when he ends the hook reasserting that his partner has to be there too. It's a hard ask in any relationship, I get it, but I feel there's a way that doesn't feel as clunky as it does here. Look, again, this isn't bad - Garrix's production compliments the vocals here, it certainly sounds pretty good... but again, he's done better.

91. 'Run Me Dry' by Bryson Tiller - so here's something everyone wants to hear: Bryson Tiller warbling against the bassy wobble and faded vocal samples and a tiny bit of organ, sing-rapping about dumping a golddigger, and am I the only one who hears a modern Drake retread with somehow even less personality or punch? Say what you will about Drake, but he's got a little more lyrical imagination than this song does, which runs through the most basic situation for two verses before dropping out - it doesn't even reach two minutes. And what's weird is the mood - it just feels muted, perfunctory, no real anger or loathing or intensity, almost a routine moment not helped by a melodic tone that just feels kind of chintzy. In other words, another song I'll quickly forget - next!

90. 'No Such Thing As A Broken Heart' by Old Dominion - so did you know that Old Dominion were working on a sophomore project? Better question: do you care? Even better question, does anybody actually care that these guys are shoveling out more material, even if it's being produced by Shane McAnally? Credit there for at least bringing in a beat that doesn't feel as stiff as their previous record, but in comparison with other modern country bands, Old Dominion continues to frustrate me - between the handclaps piling over the staccato bassline and wonky blend of deeper guitars that clash really awkwardly with the too-clean-by-half backing vocals, there's little actual groove that punches through, and frontman Matthew Ramsey doesn't do much to impress me beyond that. Yes, I liked that there was an actual guitar solo, but then we get to the lyrics... and look, Old Dominion have certainly written worse, and their odd fascination with the music of the past does lend some character, and there is something to be said about just barreling through regardless of whatever the world is doing, but it has the same feeling of thinness to the writing that I've always found frustrating - the Sam & Diane reference is the most interesting thing about the track, and that just makes me want to listen to John Mellencamp. As it is... look, this isn't bad per se, but I fail to see what Old Dominion adds to the country conversation, and this song isn't improving their case.

89. 'Don't Get Too High' by Bryson Tiller - okay, for as much as Bryson Tiller takes inspiration from Drake, this is the sort I really wish didn't happen - the sort of concern trolling where Bryson Tiller keeps needling this girl not to drink too much or get too high, because the only drug she should need is him, not because he's trying to kill her buzz, but because he wants to be the first person she sees when she wakes up. Probably not good to mention a few lines later that there are indeed other women in the picture who are after him, and since it's Bryson Tiller, we get nothing close to subtlety. Beyond that, the only thing we really get in terms of melody is a chopped up sample of Travis Scott behind the trap snare - I swear, without samples, Tiller would have nothing for these instrumentals at all, they're so barren and dry! But yeah, this is the sort of trap I have no use for whatsoever, pass!

88. 'Met Gala' by Gucci Mane ft. Offset - so I've made it no secret that I'm not a fan of Gucci Mane, but at the same time I did hear that the collaboration project he did with Metro Boomin called - I'm not kidding about this - Droptopwoptop actually had some fire, so I was hoping in a week full of tedious Travis Scott we'd get something with punch. And believe it or not, I think we got it, more because Offset just goes off on this track! Sure, it's ridiculous, and Offset probably shouldn't brag about his dick being edible or even reference his boogers at all, but he's riding the faster triplets well and he does manage to sound pretty imposing against the hollowed out bells and eerie keys and rumbling bass. I actually kind of feel bad for Gucci Mane here, because it's clear that he's trying to keep up with Offset's delivery and can't quite handle the same galloping flow, but he holds his own well enough to cram in a few ridiculous punchlines and overall turns it into a pretty solid banger. I do wish it had a little more fire, but for a Gucci Mane song, this is arguably about as good as it gets, so I'll take it.

85. 'Self-Made' by Bryson Tiller - so I think I understand why I never really got any requests for Bryson Tiller's new record, because man, this is pretty formulaic and forgettable. Maybe it's not a good thing that outside of the blocky trap beat and any melody in Tiller's delivery, there barely any tones behind him that compliment him or flatter the opulence that he's bragging about for the next two and a half minutes - hell, at least Rick Ross understood that! Hell, the most interesting thing I got out this beyond the brand names is that Tiller thinks that money makes him a better version of himself, a lesson that was last satirized on The Wolf of Wall Street! The larger problem is that for me, outside of a couple moments highlighting how basic of a rapper Tiller is - he rhymes various permutations of 'self' on the first verse about ten times - is that it's just forgettable. No recognizable tune, no interesting or likable personality, nothing to remember or care about, next!

74. 'Somethin' Tells Me' by Bryson Tiller - so okay, this is the song that's intended as the single, where Bryson Tiller gets his Chris Brown on and recognizes that the relationship is doomed, partially because she's being cold, but also because she finds a condom in his bag and it just doesn't seem like there's much hope of any trust being restored. And beyond that, we get these elongated ebbing synths that spark off the snaps and hi-hats before some brittle plucked pieces on the outro and I'm sorry, just like every other Bryson Tiller song I've heard this week, the production just isn't interesting or compelling, and Tiller's dispassionate delivery isn't helping. It's not even that this track is bad - props for at least showing two sides of the situation and letting things fade realistically, but Tiller isn't a sharp or interesting enough writer to make that mundanity compelling, and that's a problem.

So as a whole... honestly, there wasn't a lot that struck out to me as truly awful, which means I'm giving the worst and Dishonourable Mention to 'Don't Get Too High' and 'Self-Made' by Bryson Tiller respectively - there's just so little here worth caring about. Whereas for the best... yeah 'Strangers' by Halsey and Lauren Jauregui gets the best without question, with 'Met Gala' from Offset and Gucci Mane taking Honourable Mention for at least being ridiculous and streamlined enough to hold its own. Hoping we might get a little more flavor on the charts next week, because I can't see a lot of this sticking around.

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