Tuesday, January 30, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 3, 2018

...okay, you know what? I'll say this for Drake: despite him being the biggest story of the week by a mile, there's a certain cold comfort in knowing it came from only two new songs and not twenty. And when Migos are coming next week with the sort of streaming numbers that indicate an album bomb, I'll take whatever the hell I can get!

But okay, that's next week: let's start with the top ten here and the big story: a new #1 from Drake with the first of two songs from that EP he dropped from out of nowhere, 'God's Plan'. Now I'll be covering this at length much later, and I will say I called this, but apparently the U.S. has been craving new Drake much more than I have, because the streaming numbers this got on Spotify were literally record-breaking. And when you combine big YouTube and topping the sales charts, it was the #1 breakthrough I've been predicting would come for some time. Now if it wasn't for Drake, 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran would have risen back to #1, but as of now it's at #2 as it got unseated at every position except radio... and yet even there it's shaky. I'd say 'Havana' by Camila Cabello & Young Thug might be in a better place at #3 as its radio losses stabilized, but whatever streaming heights it reached Drake blew past and then some - I don't see this going back to the top. Similar case for 'rockstar' by Post Malone and 21 Savage, especially given its bigger losses in every category, it's not rising beyond #4. And a big part of that comes with 'Finesse' by Bruno Mars and Cardi B - yeah, still lagging behind in most categories, but with that radio surge and the coming bump from the Grammys, it's going to be rising soon. And that's something I won't be saying about 'Bad At Love' by Halsey, which slipped to #6 - which might have happened anyway, given as its radio has tipped into outright freefall. And this places is opposite our second new top ten entry: 'Diplomatic Immunity' by Drake at #7. Now this I don't predict will last nearly as long - it's here because of sales and streaming, and once that bounce ebbs away, it's not been picked up by radio at all, especially when Migos blitzes the charts next week. What will hold the line is 'New Rules' by Dua Lipa at #8 - again, it's only here because of the radio, but at this point, it might just be enough! Doubtful that'll be the case for 'Thunder' by Imagine Dragons, though, as despite some sales stability the radio is bleeding fast - seriously, who is still buying this song? Finally - and in a similar dire boat - we have 'No Limit' by G-Eazy, A$AP Rocky and Cardi B at #10, where despite radio pickups, it looks like too little, too late.

And on that promising statement, losers and dropouts... and honestly, it's a little dispiriting what we got here. Yeah, for dropouts I didn't care for 'Krippy Kush' by Farruko, Nicki Minaj, 21 Savage, Bad Bunny and Rvssian, but 'Silence' by Marshmello and Khalid was fine and 'The Weekend' by SZA was legitimately really damn good - shame it's going to fall between years. Now for losers... okay fine, 'I'll Name The Dogs' by Blake Shelton is continuing out naturally at 98 and I'm not complaining we're losing 'KOODA' by 6ix9ine at 86, or that Maroon 5 and SZA are seeing 'What Lovers Do' fall to 41 - hell, I'm generally indifferent to 'Like I Loved You' by Brett Young at 63 or 'End Game' by Taylor Swift, Future and Ed Sheeran losing all the gains back to 30. But 'Echame La Culpa' by Luis Fonsi and Demi Lovato was fine enough as it fell to 68, and despite being a late album single 'Round Here Buzz' by Eric Church falling to 80 kind of stings a bit, especially as I don't know when we're getting new music from him.

But I think it's more when placed in contrast with our gains and returning entries - seriously, did anybody want 'Wait' by Maroon 5 to come back at 88? Or when we go to our gains, why in the Nine Hells is anyone giving more traction to YoungBoy Never Broke Again with both 'Outside Today' up to 51 and 'No Smoke' up to 61? His debut record isn't dropping until March, why is anyone streaming this mediocre garbage? And on that topic, we also saw 'Keke' by 6ix9ine, Fetty Wap, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie rise up to 43... again, pretty much entirely on streaming. At least 'Five More Minutes' by Scotty McCreery went up to 64 off of real sales and radio gains, let's pray it holds some ground a little longer.

But now we're into our list of new arrivals, and before we get to the Drake at the top, let's start with...

99. 'Rock' by Plies - so let me get this straight - we're still giving Plies singles on the Hot 100... and not even lead-off singles, promotional tracks from a mixtape? Is there seriously an audience for this? He doesn't even have Kodak Black for help this time, which means the only thing I can assume is grabbing people is that choppy-as-hell hook where he awkwardly says 'ock' over and over again against a piano line that goes nowhere and the by-the-numbers trap beat. Now I guess I can say that it's a nice sentiment that Plies is talking about one girl who stands by him as his 'rock', and the verses make it clear it's sincere, but when the song decides to stick in minor chord progressions, it sure as hell doesn't feel as complimentary as when Fetty Wap made 'Trap Queen' three years ago. So yeah, kind of novel in one regard, but no way in hell this sticks around.

82. 'No Name' by NF - so this guy frustrates me a fair bit. He's not a bad rapper by any stretch - he's plenty capable of switching up his flows and delivering real intensity, and he doesn't have bad production instincts, like with the darker pianos and heavier trap beat here, clearly going for some symphonic bombast for which I'm normally an easy sell. But the second I start digging into the content... well, there's two big issues, the first being he's nowhere as tight of a rapper as he thinks he is in terms of flubbed rhymes or a structured flow, and secondly, the self-aggrandizing self-pity gets increasingly obnoxious and that's before you even tack on the Christian angle. What, you don't like when people say you're only popular because of marketing or because someone thought G-Eazy needs some competition? Then bring some lines with actual flair and personality instead of non-punchlines and empty flexing that has no distinctive character. There's potential here, this guy has talent... but he desperately needs something to say and whinging about it here doesn't help his prospects.

71. 'Supplies' by Justin TImberlake - so there are already a lot of people lining up to crucify Justin Timberlake's upcoming record... and no, I'm not going to be among them, at least not yet. I still don't dislike 'Filthy', and his follow-up here... well, it's interesting, to say the least. Like 'Filthy' there are issues here - why Justin Timberlake is using a bunch of Young Thug-esque adlibs behind the sparse acoustic guitar and leaden beat is beyond me, as they don't help the atmosphere at all... but then the atmosphere flips for a quicker acoustic line on the bridge before diving back into darker, thudding territory. And the mood of the song overall is kind of strange too - the vocal melody is closer to country than anything, as well as the murky, doomsday prepper-esque lyrics, as well as the multi-tracking that seems to emphasize the most nasal elements in Timberlake's vocals... and yet the strange thing is that I can see this working. If the mix had more texture or genuine grit, or was willing to embrace a more sparse mix, this could have been haunting as hell. As it is... no, it doesn't get there, but I can see this growing on me all the same, maybe even more than 'Filthy'. Strange, but not bad.

65. 'Sick Boy' by The Chainsmokers - ...look, can I just copy what I said about these guys on Twitter when the song first dropped - it's not like it feels like any less of a cheap twenty-one pilots ripoff now, except with no guts, ugly shrill synths and vocal layering, no significant groove, and shockingly clumsy musical dynamics in their crescendos and piano. And let's put aside how Andrew Taggart is no Tyler Joseph, the real issue is the songwriting: just like NF it's self-flagellating but self-aggrandizing at the same time, except throwing on empty shots at coastal pretensions as if The Chainsmokers aren't just as vapid - seriously, 'how many likes is my life worth'? That's a line that would play in the parody of this song but The Chainsmokers are expecting us to take completely straight, on a song where they expected us to feel sorry for enabling their narcissism. Ugh, this is starting to reach AJR-levels of privileged delusion, and while it's not quite as ear-shreddingly annoying, it's still insufferable - next!

56. 'Mine' by Bazzi - ...okay, I thought we were done with artists who broke off of Vine, the goddamn platform doesn't even exist anymore! But apparently this guy has stuck around... and honestly, I can kind of see it? He's a solidly affable singer with a good knack for melody and he plays into the euphoria of this track really effectively, especially against the organ, deeper liquid tones, and gleaming flutter of chimes. Unfortunately, there are some traits emblematic of his Vine days that definitely rise to the forefront here, most notably in the structure. As a whole, the track just feels misshapen - awkward electronic moments wedged onto the hook, and ending on a surprisingly abrupt note - we could have easily gotten a bridge or a third verse and I think this track would have stuck the landing. But with just this... yeah, it's pretty decent, I'll take it.

(not available because Drake)

7. 'Diplomatic Immunity' by Drake - okay, this was the first of the tracks from the Scary Hours EP that apparently blew everybody's mind enough to land in the top 10... and seriously, that was it? Yeah, the horns sounded pretty and added a little more opulence to the track, but if you're looking for a semi-coherent rambling update from Drake without any actual hook and more forced rhymes than should ever be excused, this is not it. In a weird way it kind of reminds me of late period Jay-Z circa-Magna Carta Holy Grail, all the pomp and circumstance but impressively little to actually say - seriously, beyond name dropping all the artists around him, talking about all the regulations he's flaunting in Rosedale to build that goddamn mansion of his and his security detail, and more than a few non-punchlines - that stencil/pencil line was pretty damn cringeworthy - there's just nothing that sticks with you, a detailed picture but no clear focus. So yeah, I won't be surprised if this doesn't stick around, so let's move on to...

(also not available because Drake)

1. 'God's Plan' by Drake - so this is our new top charting hit, the second half of Scary Hours, the first time Drake has ever gone to #1 by himself... and seriously, are we doing this again? A lazy glossy oscillation against an overweight bass beat, Drake phoning his post-choruses in with slapdash autotune, and the only moment the song comes close to picking up energy is the second verse. Seriously, this is a song where Drake is telling off girls from coming around to cuddle and saying he needs to struggle to stay peaceful... and yet from the near-total lack of intensity, I kind of doubt that! What's more discouraging about 'God's Plan' is that it's indicative of the same listless paranoia that's characterized Drake's work going back to at least Views, and all the more sign he's only further creatively stagnated as he talks about loving his bed and cribbing more grime slang as he talks about 'crashers' coming to his party... yeah Drake, I just don't hear that happening, because with listless stuff like this, nobody will care.

And yet drab and underwhelming isn't quite enough to make this the worst of the week - Drake has made worse, after all, I'm not forgetting 'Fake Love' or 'Starting From The Bottom' anytime soon - so worst of the week is going to 'Sick Boy' by The Chainsmokers, and I sincerely hope twenty one pilots drops a project soon to wash out this gunk. Best of the week... yeah, I like 'Supplies' more than most, but despite its misshapen composition 'Mine' by Bazzi is really the most agreeable. Unfortunately, I don't expect the majority of this to stick around, because next week... the Migos are coming.

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