Wednesday, July 5, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - july 15, 2017

This was one of those weeks where I expected a lot more activity than what actually happened. It's actually a little uncanny, given how busy I am right now I was almost expecting there to be more here thanks to big album releases - and sure, that did make an impact to the charts, but it felt oddly muted, not quite causing the upheaval that could really change the direction of the summer.

And nowhere is that more apparent than in our top 10, where to my surprise 'Despacito' by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, featuring Justin Bieber is still at #1. Really, I don't know why I'm all that surprised it's here - it took the top spot on the radio, it still rules sales and streaming... except the details are a little more telling, as it did slip in on-demand streaming and YouTube, which might show a possible sign of weakness in volatile territory. And you can bet that DJ Khaled and his posse will reap the rewards of this, with 'I'm The One' holding at #2 thanks to strengths across the board, streaming gains, even better YouTube, and slowing but still rising radio strength, and 'Wild Thoughts' with Rihanna and Bryson Tiller rising up to #3 on even better streaming and real radio momentum, even if the sales did slip a little. It'll be a major question that after the sales boost for the album how long this will last, but for now it shoved 'That's What I Liked' by Bruno Mars down to #4, where good sales and streaming wasn't enough to compensate for YouTube steadily slipping. It also kept 'Shape Of You' by Ed Sheeran from returning any higher, but the bigger surprise is that it's still here at all... until you look at its airplay and YouTube which aren't dropping as fast as you'd think. Then you have our big new arrival to the top 10, boosted by the release of the album and plenty of sales: 'Believer' by Imagine Dragons at #6, a song that somehow grates on my nerves more with every listen. Now how long it'll last here is an open question: good radio, okay streaming gains, but no YouTube as a buffer and if the sales drop... well, we'll see. Then we have 'HUMBLE' by Kendrick Lamar forced back to #7, and I honestly am not certain how much longer it'll last, given streaming took a hit, sales aren't great, and airplay looks to be dropping - which is not the case for 'Congratulations' by Post Malone and Quavo staying at #8, where streaming gains and decent YouTube compensate for a bad sales week, but it's picking up radio too, so it could be viable going forward? It did hold steady compared to 'Mask Off' by Future down to #9 - again, as it loses streaming and airplay, it'll be gone soon. And with 'Something Just Like This' by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay down to #10... it might be propped up by its sales, but weak streaming and declining airplay means it probably has the same fate.

And on that note, losers and dropouts! Only two major ones in the latter category, 'Scars to Your Beautiful' by Alessia Cara finally making its exit, and - much to my surprise - 'Look At Me' by XXXTENTACION, leaving just shy of the points it'll need to make the year-end list. And while I'm not fazed by that, I am a little unnerved by the continued losses for 'Sign Of The Times' by Harry Styles down to 58 - it'll probably be fine given how many weeks it has left before recurring, but it's still not a good sign. The other losers... 'Cold' by Maroon 5 and Future continues on its way out to 91, 'Good Drank' by 2 Chainz, Quavo and Gucci Mane loses the album boost to 97, and 'How Not To' by Dan + Shay actually gets a premature loss down to 80.

Granted, country radio does have a reputation for hard shifts in airplay rotation when the seasons change, which takes us to our gains and the three sharp spikes for 'Do I Make You Wanna' by Billy Currington up to 72, 'Small Town Boy' by Dustin Lynch up to 65, and 'My Girl' by Dylan Scott up to 45. Beyond that, of course Imagine Dragons yanked 'Thunder' up to 54 with the release of the album, but the surprise came with 'The Cure' by Lady Gaga up to 46. I guess a good sales week would do that, but still, it was a surprise how that song has not tanked as everyone seemed to assume it would. And then when we get to our returning entries, they all makes sense: 'Shining' by DJ Khaled with Jay-Z and Beyonce is back to 98 thanks to the album drop, 'ELEMENT.' by Kendrick Lamar is at 89 thanks to the video, and - in the best possible news - Bruno Mars chose 'Versace On The Floor' as the next single so it's back to 78, with a remix with David Guetta for added crossover boost.

But speaking about new arrivals... again, pretty sparse week, but I hope you all can excuse me for keeping it short given how jammed my schedule is right now, so let's start with...

94. 'Crew' by Goldlink ft. Brent Faiyaz & Shy Glizzy - so okay, this was one of those songs that I had expected to hear about before now, mostly because Goldlink's debut record dropped back in March... and I got precisely zero requests to cover it, so maybe that explains that. But hey, beyond that, maybe this lead-off single would have some promise, right? Well, I think he does - Goldlink's vocal tone reminds me of a more toned down Big Sean, but his much faster flows have a certain easy-going charisma that's generally pretty likable opposite the cracking percussion, thicker bass, and glossy cushion of vocals. Sure, he's not really saying anything all that interesting or distinct, but it's a nice enough contrast to Brent Faiyaz's hook. But then you get Shy Glizzy... and while he might have a little more colour in his lyrics, his vocal tone and more basic flow doesn't remotely flatter the groove in the same way. So yeah, there's a part of me that's not remotely surprised I didn't get requests to cover this, but beyond that... eh, not really all that bad, but not all that distinctive either.

88. 'On Everything' by DJ Khaled ft. Travis Scott, Rick Ross & Big Sean - so this is one of two DJ Khaled songs that debuted off the record this week - and what frustrates me is that both of them feature Travis Scott. And it's an issue of trying to balance production that tries to anchor a vocal sample with more bombastic skittering percussion that already feels cluttered, and then Travis Scott putting his autotune through the works and it just ends up sounding messy as hell. Now to be fair, both Big Sean and Rick Ross step up on their verses - Ross tends to sound good against Khaled's production, and to his credit Big Sean doesn't actually embarrass himself in his bars; not brilliantly clever or challenging, but they're certainly passable. Shame the hook feels like such a mess against production that for Khaled sounds way more ramshackle and overstuffed than it should, but again, this is tolerable - mostly.

71. 'No Complaints' by Metro Boomin ft. Offset & Drake - am I the only one who finds it weird when hip-hop producers take the main billing on a song and then don't even rap on it? I get it, all the more common in the era of an act like DJ Khaled, but at least Khaled has his meme and oversized personality, which Metro Boomin' doesn't have, at least not compared to getting both Offset and Drake on this. Really, it's more of an Offset song overall... which is a bit of a shame, because compared to Takeoff's more complex punchlines and the color that Quavo can bring, Offset doesn't really impress me as a solo artist on a song like this. Granted, he gets this sort of triplet flow and structure much better than Drake does, and i can't be the only one who thinks that he just sounds awkward here, am I? These short little staccato fragments, that's not in Drake's wheelhouse, especially when they don't really highlight any distinct or interesting detail! As for the production... look, I've heard plenty of Metro Boomin's desaturated, slightly atonal synths against grimy bass and your generic hi-hat, and slight melodic shifts or the beat-switch after the final hook doesn't do enough to win me over! Granted, there's nothing outright awful about it, but it's not anything I'm going to remember in a day - just saying.

68. 'Don't Quit' by DJ Khaled & Calvin Harris ft. Travis Scott & Jeremih - you know, it's funny listening to this when at this very moment I'm working on my review for Calvin Harris' new record, especially when this song's broad funky bass and guitar are so much more reminiscent of his production than anything in DJ Khaled's wheelhouse, only really touched by jingling percussion. And while I'm no fan of Travis Scott's hooks on any of this production - spoilers, this applies to Calvin Harris too, he just doesn't ride these grooves well - the hook is marginally better, even if the autotune feels wonky against the squonking bass, at least until you realize it's all about how this girl's butt is so big it just doesn't fit in any of her pants. At least Jeremih feels a little more comfortable against this groove - and it is one hell of a groove, until you notice the slightly trilling bell that cuts through the entire mix - but man, of the DJ Khaled songs that could have crossed over, while there were definitely worse options, there were better ones too, especially as we're probably going to get a lot of Calvin Harris next week. But as it is... it's fine enough, I guess.

(it's in the background of this video)

36. 'Signs' by Drake - so I can't be the only one who thinks that 2017 has not been a good year for Drake, right? Sure, More Life was a thing for a few days, but it sure as hell didn't seem like for long, as most of the singles underperformed and rappers like Kendrick Lamar smashed through for far more consistent success. Sure, he had 'Fake Love' - which sucked - and 'Passionfruit' - which was fine enough - but beyond that? Maybe it's an issue of overexposure, which I've been citing for years now as a problem for Drake, just to take a little time to come back fresh, but instead we have 'Signs', a non-album single that apparently is tied into a Louis Vutton promotion - seriously. But okay, just because it's tied to a promotion doesn't mean the song has to be bad, right, especially if he's sticking with his R&B mold? Well, it's not bad - the groove still feels a little sterile and muted with only hints of a backing sample buried in the mix against the tapping percussion, but Drake sounds checked out and it definitely serves to drag down the energy of the track. Sure as hell doesn't sound lovestruck, as he realizes this girl wants so much from him and he just can't say no as much as he should... again, he doesn't even sound angry at this point, just tired. And look, I don't doubt there's a certain low-key restraint I can admire, but considering how much the groove reminds me of 'One Dance' except with less color and melodic spark, I really don't see this having as much crossover appeal. Again, not bad, but pretty flat for me.

So yeah, that was a pretty short week. Pretty damn underwhelming too... I guess best goes to 'Don't Quit' by DJ Khaled and Calvin Harris with Travis Scott and Jeremih for having the most actual groove and spark to it, and worst... yeah, 'No Complaints' from Metro Boomin, Offset, and Drake, mostly because Drake really did not deliver his best on that verse, really disappointing. Eh, it happens, and we're bound to get more flavor next week from Calvin Harris - and I can't believe I'm citing that as a positive!

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