Tuesday, December 5, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 16, 2017

So this is a point we typically hit around this time of the year: the charts start to slow down for the holiday season, we get a few extraneous songs from The Voice - just one thus far - and a sense that barring a major disruption, we're going to have some stability. Granted, said stability could be disrupted by that Eminem record dropping in just over a week, but that'll remain to be seen.

For now, our top ten... and for yet another week, 'rockstar' by Post Malone and 21 Savage holds the #1 - but this time, I have some serious reservations about its longevity. Its sale boost was based on a discount, radio seemed inconsistent overall, and even its streaming seems to be softening a bit. It'll probably hold up over 'Havana' by Camila Cabello and Young Thug at #2 with its own sales discount, because even despite racing to the top on the radio, it hasn't been able to close the streaming margin yet. What has is 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran, now with a remix from Beyonce to punch up sales, get closer on streaming, and it's already overtaken 'rockstar on the radio' - again, it's a margins game up to #3, but I think it's got the best shot as of now. Hell, it put it above 'Gucci Gang' by Lil Pump down to #4, which again is only here thanks to streaming, and with competitors rising on YouTube, it could be facing real trouble. Then we have 'Thunder' by Imagine Dragons at #5, which might still be selling well but it peaked on radio and will likely be tumbling pretty quickly. Then we have the slight boost for 'Too Good At Goodbyes' by Sam Smith to #6 at some modest boosts across the board, but it likely took this spot as 'Bodak Yellow' by Cardi B slipped harder, falling to #7 as on-demand streaming and sales took serious hits. Fortunately for Cardi B, she's already got her replacement with 'No Limit' with G-Eazy and A$AP Rocky breaking into the Top 10 at #8, and while sales aren't great and radio is wavering, it does have real streaming traction, I can see this holding pretty strong. It leaped over 'What Lovers Do' by Maroon 5 and SZA, but even that rose up to #9 thanks to a really good week on radio trumping some rough sales. But it likely got its spot thanks to the collapse of 'Feel It Still' by Portugal. The Man down to #10, as sales and radio continue to dry up fast - it had a good run, I'm still amazed it did as well as it did.

And on that pleasant topic, our losers and dropouts, and we don't really have that many of the latter - it's not like 'Relationship' by Future and Young Thug or 'Questions' by Chris Brown or even 'Every Little Thing' by Carly Pearce were huge hits, anyway. The losses are a fair bit more interesting, and I really have a hard time complaining about any of them. Yeah, I'm not exactly thrilled that 'Slow Hands' by Niall Horan is at 50 and probably gone next week, but it had a good enough run, and 'Walk On Water' by Eminem and Beyonce wasn't much of a hit either falling to 79. And even though I didn't mind 'Echame La Culpa' by Luis Fonsi and Demi Lovato, I'm not surprised it fell off the debut to 76. The rest here... when the best of them is 'Ghostface Killers' by 21 Savage, Offset and Metro Boomin taking a dip to 75, this isn't bad news. 'Congratulations' by Post Malone and Quavo finally drops to 45, 'Love So Soft' by Kelly Clarkson continued to lose traction to 70, 'Fix A Drink' by Chris Janson drains even more down to 90, 'Look What You Made Me Do' by Taylor Swift continues its freefall to 60, and most pleasing of all, 'GUMMO' by 6ix9ine is at 54. Now thanks to its YouTube, it'll probably rebound, but that'll likely be all it has and I'm okay with that.

Now for our gains and returning entries... it's always weird when we have more of the latter than the former, because these lists are small indeed. The only two significant entries here are 'LOVE.' by Kendrick Lamar and Zacari up to 27 - which is a great song - and 'Let You Down' by NF, which is significantly less great but is still tolerable enough. But the returning entries deserve some scrutiny, the biggest of which being the annual comeback for Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' at 21. But that is to be expected, as is the pop country rebound for 'All On Me' by Devin Dawson to 93. Nope, what really turned my stomach was thanks to a remix with Gucci Mane, returning to the charts we have 'It's Everyday Bro' by Jake Paul and Team 10. And with that Christmas EP he dropped that features rappers who have had real success this year, we can't rule out that Litmas could happen on the Hot 100 - pray for my soul, this could get ugly indeed.

But we're not there yet, so let's go through our list of new arrivals, starting with..

100. 'Perro Fiel' by Shakira ft. Nicky Jam - at this point I have no idea why Shakira is continuing to release singles from El Dorado. Ever since I reviewed it months late it was abundantly clear that her heart wasn't in it, and even if Latin music has increased market share, Shakira not trying is not something I want to hear. And coupled with the fizzy but too heavy by-the-numbers beat matched with only faint hints of melody behind it, it's a duet with shockingly little chemistry with Nicky Jam promising to treat Shakira like a faithful dog even as he protests he doesn't know what to do and promises that she won't suffer... am I the only one bewildered how anyone finds this attractive? Hell, the entire song feels like a confused mess, and with any luck, this'll hopefully flop like 'Me Enamore' did - next!

99. 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' by Chloe Kohanski - I have a complicated relationship with 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' - I love the Bonnie Tyler original written and produced by Jim Steinman, but I've also heard countless godawful versions of this song at karaoke and without adequate production bombast that was what I was afraid this would become. Thankfully, even despite shifted down a key, Chloe Kohanski does have the right vocal register and most of the firepower to convincingly deliver this... but can I say for as much as this is doing a lot right, I wish this was way more raw? The song is high melodrama, and if you're going to play it as reserved and tasteful as it is, you're kind of missing the point. I dunno, the original composition is so damn solid it's hard for me to dislike this, but I do wish I liked it more. As it is... eh, I'm fine with it, I guess.

98. 'Legends' by Kelsea Ballerini - so Kelsea Ballerini put out a new record... and to be honest, I probably won't have a chance to cover it beyond a short form review at the end of the year, if even that. Which is kind of a shame because she does have a few decent songs and if she had managed to fix how damn plastic and stiff so much of her production felt, she could have something special here. And honestly, she gets a fair way there here. Yes, I'll always wish her material was more organic and grounded in guitars and country instrumentation instead of the blur of liquid tones behind the heavier drumline, but for this sort of pop country it certainly is an improvement in that it feels looser and smoother, even if I have the suspicion if she had released this a decade ago, it'd fit snugly among a lot of mid-2000s teen pop. That said, there is a surprising amount of gravitas that she's trying to bring to the table here, with the sort of reasoned yet wistful reflection on a long-gone relationship that carries more maturity than you'd expect. Again, I wish this was a lot more country overall, but there is a part of me that has a soft spot for this sort of song, so yeah, this gets a pass.

86. 'Krippy Kush' by Farruko, Nicki Minaj, Bad Bunny, 21 Savage & Rvssian - okay, time for some context on what the hell this is. The first credited artist on this song is Farruko, and he's a Puerto Rican singer-songwriter/rapper who has already released a fair number of records in the 2010s and has had some success through collaborating with acts like J. Balvin and Daddy Yankee. Now for this particular song he got Bad Bunny for the hook - you might recognize him for being utterly forgettable on that Becky G track a few weeks ago, and with his producer Rvssian teamed up with Nicki Minaj and 21 Savage to give this track a little more longevity. And... look, it's hard not to see this as just another desaturated and hollow trap banger focused on weed with Bad Bunny played with a delivery that's not far removed from a more energetic Travis Scott and Farruko hopping on triplet flows, but I honestly don't think this is bad. As much as the lynching line from Nicki Minaj just makes me shudder, she's still by far the most interesting part of this song and even gets a little closer to her more manic delivery that I'm surprised how much I missed, and as much as Farruko is hopping on a very conventional style, he can certainly rap fast enough to keep up. If anything, I think the real drain on the song is 21 Savage, mostly because he sounds incredibly lazy in his generic hedonism, and his verse being the last one does not help the song's faltering momentum. Overall, it's not really good, but it could be worse, like...

52. 'Codeine Dreaming' by Kodak Black ft. Lil Wayne - I can't tell you how exasperating it is to see Lil Wayne trying to gain traction in the mainstream with Kodak Black, but you might as well tack up to a rapper who has always managed to find new ways to disappoint us, and with this... it's a really bad sign that the best thing I can say about this is that Lil Wayne sounds sober even as he raps about his new new. But I'd take Lil Wayne over Kodak Black flubbing a rhyme right on his damn hook or his nasal flow that always seems about to slip off the beat or how he disses someone for doing morphine despite it and codeine having the same root chemicals, or how he actively brags about dumping his black girl for a white girl and that's just sleazy in the least attractive way possible. And you're throwing jabs at Future for being too 'geeked' and being in the past and claim you're distinguished against that ugly-ass badly tuned synthesizer that somehow doesn't manage to be drowned out by the bass, but does manage to drown out the majority of your awful singing. Yeah, this sucks, and let's leave Kodak Black in irrelevance where he belongs - next!

28. 'MIC Drop' by BTS ft. Desiigner - okay, the reason why this song did as well as it did are frankly huge sales from a diehard fanbase, because it's not like the radio or streaming is going to pick up to the same degree to a song from a Korean boyband and a Future ripoff that hasn't been relevant in over a year! That said, this sort of sales boost typically implies at least some crossover, so is the song any good? Honestly, this is the sort of trap and k-pop fusion that really does not click with me whatsoever, and a lot of that I have to put down on the production, ditching both the moody atmosphere or intensity that makes the best trap connect as well as the sugary hook that I can like in k-pop, instead plugging shrill squonking synths that sound a good two years out of date against an overextended stare, Desiigner's ubiquitous ad-libs, and pitch-shifted vocal samples that got annoying in record time. And that's before you get autotune tacked onto BTS' vocals that really clashes awkwardly with how rough and hard they're trying to be, which is kind of undercut by them trying to plug a smoother section in korean at the end of the song. Even beyond all of that, it's not like BTS is bringing authoritative or interesting bars to go back at their haters or even a witty punchline - the most interesting lyric here is when Desiigner says his girl likes apple jack and yet he likes apple sauce - which in any other rap song I'd say was a joke, but seems to be played straight here! No, I'm sorry, this is a trainwreck that highlights some of the sloppiest elements of both genres, and a pairing that really does no act any long-term favors.

And yet, it's still not the worst: that's going to 'Codeine Dreaming' by Kodak Black and Lil Wayne, easily. Best of the week... I would give it to 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart', but the new arrangement and delivery doesn't really flatter it, so I guess it's going to 'Legends' by Kelsea Ballerini, which yes is more of a pop song overall but seems the most likable here. Again, there doesn't seem to be much in terms of quality coming down the pipes unless Miguel blows all of my expectations and projects out of the water, but we'll see.

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