Tuesday, September 26, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 7, 2017

So we're now in our last two months of the Billboard year - it ends in November, and yes, that makes both more and less sense than you think it does - and yet I'm a little surprised how uncertain the Hot 100 feels right now. Granted, this is one of those weeks that feels deceptively quiet in that we only had a few new arrivals, but again, major turbulence is coming considering the albums on the horizon, and it'll be fascinating to see what cracks first.

Of course, a big part of that instability is only being reinforced by our top ten, where for only the second time in chart history a female rapper on her own has taken the #1 with a rap song. Yes, following the wake of Lauryn HIll, something that Nicki Minaj with all of her pop crossovers was never able to pull off, the #1 belongs to 'Bodak Yellow' by Cardi B. And I can't be the only one who thinks this feels weird, right? A song where Cardi B basically jacked Kodak Black's flow and did it better against your standard bass-swamped trap beat... and that's all you need for a #1? Don't get me wrong, I get the song's appeal - streaming and YouTube took this up the charts with a sales discount to put it on top - but its position is remarkably precarious, because from out of nowhere we have a collaboration debuting at #2: 'Rockstar' by Post Malone ft. 21 Savage. Now I'll have more to say about the song later, but the rise of this track is nothing short of astounding, as it was dominant on sales and streaming... but with no YouTube or radio, you're not going to get that #1 slot, and it would need to pick up a lot of spins to be competitive there. Of course, this leaves 'Look What You Made Me Do' by Taylor Swift in a weird position, shoved back in every category except radio - where she actually regained some stability - but not enough gains to stave off getting pushed to #3, and yet depending what happens when discounts end this could make a play. Of course, it's also facing '1-800-273-8255' by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid at #4, which still has strong streaming and YouTube traction and the radio finally getting on board, but with the sales starting to slip it might be too little too late. None of this is a concern for 'Despacito' by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Bieber at #5, basically propped up on YouTube at this point as all other categories continue to plummet. But that's not quite the explanation for 'Unforgettable' by French Montana and Swae Lee recovering up to #6 - decent sales and some radio stability, but with streaming down my guess is that it went up because Sam Smith dropped out of the top 10 (spoiler alert). Probably also the case for 'Believer' by Imagine Dragons to #7 - a good sales week compensating for losses everywhere else, especially radio. Then you have a return to the top 10 entirely thanks to streaming: 'Rake It Up' by Yo Gotti ft. Nicki Minaj at #8. And while I'm still not a fan of this song and radio seems reticent, the streaming will probably keep it above 'Attention' by Charlie Puth at #9, which is only clinging to its top spot in radio and probably not for much longer. And then we get the weirdest new arrival to the top 10 yet: 'Feel It Still' by Portugal. The Man. I mean, don't get me wrong, the song has grown on me a lot and I like how much radio is pushing it to match the sales, but if you're coming from the indie scene at all and see Portugal. The Man as a top 10 artist... it's just weird, let me say that!

Thankfully, things look a lot less weird when you take a look at our losers and dropouts, and yeah, I'm not really happy that 'Versace On The Floor' by Bruno Mars is gone too soon, but when you promote a crappy remix over the real song that's what happens, and at least 'Magnolia' by Playboi Carti is out with it. And our losers fall in line in a similar way: as I already said, 'Too Good At Goodbyes' by Sam Smith fell out of the top ten to 16 - it'll probably rebound - and really that behavior was indicative for a lot of last week's debuts. 'Dusk Till Dawn' by Zayn and Sia fell to 63, 'Love So Soft' by Kelly Clarkson fell hard to 81, 'I'll Name The Dogs' by Blake Shelton went to 88, and 'No Limit' by G-Eazy, A$AP Rocky and Cardi B went to 97 - although I'd expect this last one to rebound if Cardi B can hold the #1 for more than a week, as she's arguably even better on this song. Then you have other expected losers: 'Everybody Dies In Their Nightmares' by XXXTENTACION sputters down to 96 along with 'Fetish' by Selena Gomez ft. Gucci Mane to 87 - man, Selena did not catch a break this album cycle, yikes. And Taylor Swift's '...Ready For It?' continues to nosedive to 34 - also not a good sign, but what's worrisome is that even despite it falling to 98, 'These Heaux' by Bhad Bhabie got a third week on the Hot 100. Again, I don't think we've seen the last of her just yet, and I can only imagine Cardi B's success might ripple out and give her a boost as well - it's not like their styles or flows or production are that different.

So again, what the hell is going to stand against it? Well it's not a good sign that our only returning entry is 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran at 89 - going for the tried-and-true ballad route given how the States didn't take to 'Galway Girl', and when we look at our gains it's somehow even worse. 'Pills And Automobiles' by Chris Brown ft. Yo Gotti, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Kodak Black up off the debut to 79? 'Gucci Gang' by Lil Pump to 71? 'Bad At Love' by Halsey continuing up to 61 thanks to radio and sales? In any case, I think we might have to wait for a real album bomb to shake things up, especially as our list of new arrivals is pretty small. So why not bring in a World Hit remix that actually features one of those groups that really should have crossed over by now...

And the funny thing is that you might assume I'm talking about Little Mix here, but I think I'd be okay with either group here! For those who don't know, CNCO is a Latin American boy band that like Little Mix was formed as a result of a reality show win. So after they toured with Ricky Martin they dropped an album last year and had the original version of this song rack up a billion views on YouTube. Make no mistake, these guys are a genuine World Hit, in that outside of the US they're goddamn huge... so why not enable that English crossover with the other worldwide smash group that somehow hasn't broken decisively in the states yet? And make no mistake, this is great - acoustic guitar against more textured percussion that lets Perrie use her throaty lower range and Jesy and Leigh-Anne get feisty, with slight synth accents playing off the strings, harmonies that show how well both groups mesh together anchoring the group hookup, and while I'm not hugely familiar with CNCO, that guy Erick damn near sounds like Usher! At this point, I'm annoyed this hasn't hit Canada yet either, just the UK and the rest of the world - folks, can we make this happen please, because I like this more every time I hear it - awesome song.

And now back to the rest of our schedule.

92. 'Homemade Dynamite' by Lorde ft. Khalid, Post Malone & SZA - okay, when I heard about this remix, the first thing I immediately thought is that one of these artists is not like the others. Lorde working with Khalid? Obvious, but workable. Lorde working with SZA? That sounds magical - but throw in Post Malone? Well, much to my amazement, he fits - they all do, as a matter of fact! Now let's get this out of the way, 'Homemade Dynamite' has only grown on me since Melodrama dropped, and while I'm still not wild about the stuttered chorus, all of the guests make the best with it? Khalid plays the driver that might have well ended splattered on the road, SZA plays the party girl who sidles effortlessly in, and Post Malone plays off the swells of organ on the final verse as the clueless guy who is trying to make that connection with whatever faltering sincerity he can muster. It really plays into the party vibe remarkably well and while the track is a little less graphic because of the lyrical shifts - which can blunt a bit of its edge, but pushes it towards party banger remarkably well. Big surprise here, but a good one - check this out.

85. 'DNA' by BTS - I shouldn't be surprised that a k-pop song crossed over to the Hot 100 - in fact, I should be surprised there aren't more of them, given how much k-pop has pushed into popular culture, especially online. But it's hard to get songs that aren't in English or Spanish to chart, and thus while the rest of the world got onboard with BTS, the U.S. only let the one song hit the Hot 100. And... look, the reason I don't cover a lot of k-pop is that for the most part it can feel a little too plastic for me and can occasionally lack a tighter instrumental focus. For the most part that's not an issue here - the mix blending is a little more subtle courtesy of being anchored in acoustic guitar and that whistle, and the more brash rapping delivery plays off the crooning reasonably well... at least until we get the pseudo-dubstep breakdown which I thought we left in 2012! But really, I think my biggest issue comes with the lyrics - not with the segments that are switched to English to enable the crossover, but what I found translated from Korean. Maybe it's just me, but saying that none of this love story is a coincidence and that their meeting is like a mathematical formula to fulfill some sort of DNA-predicted destiny... again, cultural differences and maybe it's a mistranslation, but that just strikes me as a little creepy, just saying! But overall, when it comes to k-pop this is inoffensive enough, I've certainly heard worse... but I'm not seeing that spark that'll keep this around.

67. 'Curve' by Gucci Mane ft. The Weeknd - so Gucci Mane is now in full promotion mode for when Mr. Davis drops in October, and as you'd expect his next release is his song with The Weeknd. And considering I actually liked his track with Migos, I did have some expectations this might work... and it really doesn't, I'm sorry. It's a weird thing how The Weeknd seems to make any song he's on his own, but I don't even think he sounds good on this - that flat nasal synth that doesn't compliment any muted melody or evolve against the knocking trap beat, and The Weeknd sounding utterly miserable on his verse as he makes it very clear your girl doesn't deserve any of the money he's spending on her... which kind of clashes against Gucci's generally upbeat demeanor, where he knows the girl just wants sex and he doesn't seem to care! More importantly, he's not even taking your girlfriend, he's more interested in partying halfway around the world in Dubai, so you have to wonder whether he and The Weeknd were even on the same page when it comes to content! As it is, this is mediocre at best - not exactly a good sign when Gucci Mane outshines The Weeknd, because in that case there's an upper limit on how good the song will be - just saying.

66. 'Too Much To Ask' by Niall Horan - I'll be the first to admit I've been more forgiving of Niall than pretty much everybody, as I thought 'This Town' was a really damn good acoustic pop tune and 'Slow Hands' was generally passable. And this... honestly, it's passable, but it can't help but feel like ground that he already tread better with 'This Town'. Again, it's post-breakup and Niall is trying to wonder what he could have done better and what her regrets were - not bad questions to ask, especially as his delivery doesn't feel tortured or clingy. Probably not the best choice to put it in the hook how he's not over her yet, but at least you get the impression he's heading in the right impression. But if anything I'm more underwhelmed by the production: the foundation of piano against the drum machine and liquid guitars, it reminds me a lot of something you'd hear from mid-tier adult alternative acts like Gavin DeGraw or James Blunt if they were making music today. I mean, it's tolerable, but it's middle-of-the-road in the most obvious way possible, and it gives me the impression that the greatest weakness for Niall going forward won't be making bad songs but bland, unchallenging ones. Let's hope the album is better.

2. 'rockstar' by Post Malone ft. 21 Savage - and here we have the big breakthrough single, the one where two hip-hop artists try to take on a label that would certainly demand more energy if they were to be convincing in that mold... and wow, I'm not impressed at all by this. For one, if you're going to make a song about being a rockstar, you'd think there'd be a guitar somewhere at all, not your standard desaturated synth and barren trap beat! But again, it's not about making rock music, it's about living like a rock star... but even then I don't buy it, because what rock star was pulling up on people with Uzis? But just because you can reference Jim Morrison and Bon Scott doesn't mean you have either of their intensity or firepower, especially when you've got that limp warble at your end of your verse that no amount of autotune can make sound good! 21 Savage... okay, this is a tone that fits his voice more, but it's not like his content is interesting as he raps about stealing your girlfriend and doing coke and rapping like he's the furthest thing from it! At least when Nickelback made the song of the same title it was self-aware and fell roughly in the same genre, whereas I don't like this for the same reasons I couldn't stand 'White Iverson' - it's utterly boring, Post Malone is a shockingly limited performer, and he only gets worse when he's trying to appropriate the success of better artists to whom he can't come close to measuring up! 

So in other words... man, worst of the week is a complete toss-up here between 'Rockstar' and 'Curve', but I think I'm going to give it to 'Curve' if only because the synth is awful and The Weeknd was such a disappointment on it - at least 21 Savage and Post Malone were roughly on topic and there were no egregiously bad lines. Now the best... yeah, 'Homemade Dynamite' by Lorde, SZA, Khalid and Post Malone, no question at all, one of the few cases where Malone's doofy performance actually kind of fits the vibe. Let's see if 'Rockstar' actually can hold any traction into next week or if the charts dissolve into more chaos - it's bound to be interesting.

1 comment:

  1. This is the real and great post which really tells and explains the whole criteria of music plus has posted each video of them. Great share