Wednesday, December 27, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - january 3, 2018

I think I was expecting a lot more to actually happen this week than actually did. Sure, it's the holiday season and that usually meant things were slower - with the exception of The Voice, but we'll get to that - but we had big releases from Eminem and G-Eazy that had hype, and also from N*E*R*D, which with the continued single success could have streaming crossover... and yet that didn't happen. Sure, Eminem got a few songs, but people must have been satisfied by what they got otherwise because this was a slow week on the Hot 100. Not complaining, mind you - sorting out year-end lists is pretty difficult as it is - but still, I was expecting more.

But let's not waste time, our top ten... where once again, 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran and Beyonce sits confidently at #1, with the holiday slowdown firmly entrenching it. Sure, it doesn't quite rule YouTube and while it's racing for the top spot on the radio it's not quite there yet... but man, it's close, as it took the lead in on-demand streaming and sales have always been huge. At this point I really don't see any play 'rockstar' by Post Malone and 21 Savage can make, as its YouTube, radio, and streaming margins are inconsistent, I don't see it rising beyond #2. And 'Havana' by Camila Cabello and Young Thug might be even worse off: streaming overall might be stable, but on-demand and sales are suffering, and if it didn't peak on the radio this week, it soon will. This leaves 'Gucci Gang' by Lil Pump once again in an odd position, as it reclaimed its top spot on YouTube, but it's down in all other categories that matter and radio is still very slow to get onboard if at all at #4. This leaves it vulnerable in a big way to 'No Limit' by G-Eazy ft. A$AP Rocky and Cardi B, storming up to #5 thanks to its streaming and the album release... but the radio never stabilized and its YouTube is surprisingly tenuous, I'm not quite sure whether it can play for the margin here. It did overtake 'Thunder' by Imagine Dragons down to #6, but that might have happened anyway, with radio and sales crashing hard, which was a similar case for 'Motorsport' by Migos, Nicki Minaj & Cardi B down to #7 - where stable streaming couldn't compensate for weak sales and radio - and yet it still kept above 'Too Good At Goodbyes' by Sam Smith, which may have swung into a slight radio recovery at the end of the week but was down everywhere else to #8. Then we had a song actually holding its spot in the top ten, 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' by Mariah Carey at #9. Now after the holidays are over, this will be gone, but I will say it's a bit impressive that despite some losses across the board, it still held its spot, even over 'Bad At Love' by Halsey which fell past it to #10 thanks to a sizable sales drop, even despite good radio.

But now we need to get into our losers and dropouts... and there were some considerable ones in the latter category as more of 2017 falls away. 'HUMBLE.' by Kendrick Lamar, 'There's Nothing Holding Me Back' by Shawn Mendes, 'When It Rains It Pours' by Luke Combs, 'Unforgettable' by Thomas Rhett, 'Jocelyn Flores' by XXXTENTACION, even 'Ghostface Killers' by 21 Savage, Metro Boomin and Offset. And yet we didn't have that many losers, and I can't really say I'm upset about any of these falling back, with 'Never Be The Same' by Camila Cabello hitting widespread indifference at its mediocrity, down off the debut to 98, and on a similar note 'Dark Knight Dummo' by Trippie Redd and Travis Scott collapsing to 94. The other two losers don't really surprise me either: '...Ready For It?' by Taylor Swift continues to fall apart at 59 and '1-800-273-8255' by Logic, Alessia Cara & Khalid started falling fast at 34.

But when we flip back to our returning entries and gains, things don't quite make as much sense, and let's start with our returns. Yeah, 'Walk On Water' by Eminem and Beyonce back at 87 is no surprise - with the YouTube it got, it's going to surge big - and seeing 'Feliz Navidad' by Jose Feliciano and 'Jingle Bell Rock' by Bobby Helms back to 49 and 50 respectively... it's the holidays, they won't last. And hell, even though I've heard the movie is completely crap, I'm not surprised that 'Home' by Machine Gun Kelly, X Ambassadors and Bebe Rexha is back at 90 - the real crime will be if it sticks around. No, what threw me was the return for 'The Race' by Tay-K to 68... until I discovered that he had hopped on a remix with 21 Savage and Young Nudy, which... fine, it won't last, and thank god for that. But even against that, our gains feel all over the place - yes, I'm not surprised that 'Him & I' by G-Eazy and Halsey is up to 15 thanks to the album, as is 'Lemon' by N*E*R*D and Rihanna at 46. And hell, I'll definitely shout out the natural growth for 'The Weekend' by SZA up to 29 and especially 'Marry Me' by Thomas Rhett up to 63 thanks to the video - again, I hope the latter becomes a hit, it's a terrific song and it seems to have legs. But our last two... 'Plain Jane' by A$AP Ferg up to 26 on big boosts to streaming and sales and 'No Smoke' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again to 80 on I don't know and I don't care... look, neither song is particularly good, let's hope the upswing doesn't last.

And on that promising note, our pretty small list of new arrivals, starting with...

92. 'Believe' by Eminem - so if you're looking for what non-singles typically chart off a release week, it tends to be the first few songs in the track listing, especially if they're more accessible - sometimes you might get the deep cut standout, but that's rare, especially if the album is nineteen tracks and a fair number of them suck. 'Believe' is definitely not the worst of them, but it only got here based on where it was in the album, and it's indicative of many of the problems on Revival. Choppy staccato triplet bars that might rhyme but barely flow, a chorus that drowns itself in some of the muddiest vocal production I've heard on a rap record, and content that might reflect Eminem fading into obsolescence unless his fans believe, but then doesn't really give us much to make us wish he would come back, especially if it's of this quality. Now that's not saying there aren't some tight bars and real intensity, but the sloppiness of the production is extremely distracting, especially when Eminem's bars should be at the forefront and often aren't. It might not be bad, but I can't really get behind it. 

84. 'I Pray' by Red Marlow  - so, the finale of The Voice happened recently, and apparently because middle America still cares about a show that has done more to revitalize existing artists than launch any real careers, we've got three new songs to fill up our new arrivals this week. Our first is from Red Marlow, a country artist who has been dropping singles intermittently in the past few years, and he came in 4th this year. And for his solo cut... eh, I see why Blake Shelton would like this guy, but I'm not entirely convinced. I've always found this brand of faith-driven country song to miss the mark for me - I'm not expecting moral complexity coming off The Voice, but this is a little too safe and polished for me, especially considering Marlow's voice would probably sound better against rougher country production, not the very polished guitar and organ he gets. Still, it's passable - but it won't be memorable.

82. 'Ice Tray' by Quavo & Lil Yachty - so let me explain this: late this year the label Quality Control put out a compilation project and for once actually decided to give the credits to the artists on the song - it's still only available on Quality Control's YouTube channel instead of either the channels of Migos or Lil Yachty, but baby steps. Still, there wasn't much that got me thrilled for this collaboration - it might just be me but 'Peek A Boo' was proof that Migos and Lil Yachty don't exactly bring out the best in each other - and it turns out I was mostly right, because I was not impressed by this. Let's get real, the only reason that this got any significant attention is that the video spoofs Everyday Struggle and Quavo calls Joe Budden a hater and the pussy on the hook - the rest of the content is just shooting people, flexing, and brand name porn, nothing we haven't seen before done in a way that's remotely interesting. And sure, the glossy flutes playing off the more elegant strings is an interesting production choice - not helped by your by-the-numbers trap beat and Quavo rattling through most of his flows with increasingly drab delivery and Lil Yachty sounding like he'd rather be anywhere else - but I'm more amused by them thinking this was a good idea. I'm not the biggest Joe Budden fan, but if Quavo and Lil Yachty think they can remotely stand up to a member of Slaughterhouse on the mic, they're in for a world of hurt, especially with Joe having more clout in hip-hop culture than he's arguably ever had. I'm not sure where this'll lead, but I hope it gets interesting.

69. 'Wish I Didn't Love You' by Chloe Kohanski - so I talked about Chloe Kohanski a few weeks ago and I did like her husky vocal tone and presentation... but I can't say I'm not a little irked that she decided to hop on a by-the-numbers piano ballad that yes, might show off her unique voice but doesn't exactly flatter her either. And that's frustrating because most of this song genuinely works: the writing is above average in capturing her anger at still having feelings for someone, especially when she was the one who screwed it up, I like the choice to play in minor keys, and with maybe a rougher tone overall in the production it could have clicked... but the arrangement Kohanski has only seems to accentuate points where her voice sounds forced, and maybe with some tight multi-tracking or greater arranged bombast this could have clicked. But that would have also blown this song into something it probably shouldn't be, so... eh, it's a good track, but I'm not entirely won over. It won her The Voice, though, so congrats - shame I'll probably never hear from you again.

67. 'Tennessee Rain' by Addison Agen - this was one of those years on The Voice where the winner actually gets overshadowed by the runner-up, and for the most part I tend to be on the fence about it. Sometimes the winner is better, sometimes the runner-up got shafted, and this year... well, here's the thing, Addison Agen actually put out a record in 2016 called New Places and it's actually pretty good, the sort of ramshackle, clumsy but mostly charming indie folk that reminds me a little of First Aid Kit. Of course, The Voice can't have anything with actual texture, so we got this. And honestly, I like it - it's spare - I'm not surprised this didn't win, it's not really a showy song - but for this sort of framing and delivery, just Agen and her guitar singing a painful but potent breakup song, and while I think Kohanski had better writing, this arrangement and presentation is a fair bit better. I will say it's not better than anything on New Days, but if I had any hope in Addison Agen getting mainstream crossover - which she won't because it's The Voice - this would be a good shot for it.

11. 'River' by Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran - it genuinely bothers me that the bigger reason why this charted as highly as it did is because of Ed Sheeran, an artist that fifteen years ago Eminem would have viciously targeted. At this point, you've made so much money you can offend pretty much whoever you want and still have a fanbase, are these artists you want to link to your brand - and this is speaking as someone who likes Ed Sheeran and who thinks he put in a halfway decent performance here! And the production, while kind of colourless and lacking any real grit, it fits the sort of downbeat, grubby song that this is, even if it feels like a bit of a retread of tones he already explored better with 'Love The Way You Lie'. But the most frustrating part of this song is Eminem himself: in a track about a love triangle gone sour in all directions that directly references abortion - and really kind of overplays it - maybe you leave the ex-lax and Spider-Man jokes for later? On top of that it includes a vocal line on the bridge that sounds like an interpolation of Rob Thomas' 'Lonely No More', which was weird and distracting until someone on Twitter pointed out who it was... which somehow made it even worse! And here's the most grating part: it's not even a bad track, but it has just enough irritating elements that if this sticks around or gets any airplay traction - which is very possible, given its huge sales and some slow growth on the radio and streaming - it'll get insufferable quick.

But I'm not there with that yet, so with our best and worst of the week... best is going to Addison Agen for 'Tennessee Rain' and worst to 'Ice Tray' by Quavo and Lil Yachty. Honestly, it's hard to identify any standouts in either direction here, and I can't promise any of it will really stick around.

1 comment:

  1. After the top 25 albums,i know i might be the only one suggesting you a movie but could you review Lady Bird?It is one of the most critically acclaimed movies of all time in Rotten Tomatotes and i think it would be interesting to see your thoughts on it.