Wednesday, February 7, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 10, 2018

...well, we all knew this was coming. There were two pretty disruptive events on the Hot 100 this week and we all had a rough idea of the ramifications: the Grammys would trigger some shifts, and more importantly, Migos would unleash the album bomb of Culture II. Friendly warning, since I already covered that release my recaps of individual songs are going to be pretty short, and given we have seventeen new arrivals and there really isn't much to say about individual tracks from that record, I'm sure you'll understand.

For now, though, top 10, where for a second week 'God's Plan' by Drake holds the #1. Sadly, this is not all that surprising as its competition isn't quite in place yet - yes, it dropped back on sales, but with such mammoth streaming and YouTube and real airplay traction, its spot looks pretty secure for now. Certainly more secure than 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran, holding #2 thanks to airplay dominance and recovering on sales, but it got forced back a fair bit on streaming and that airplay crown is diminishing with each week. This definitely makes it vulnerable to 'Finesse' by Bruno Mars and Cardi B at #3, which has more than enough traction across the board to be a real force - it'd need 'God's Plan' to slip on streaming a tad, but that'll happen with time, I can see this being a #1 contender. Not so much for 'Havana' by Camila Cabello and Young Thug at #4, which after getting the top spot spent another week diminishing, having peaked on the radio - although its strength in YouTube will guarantee a slower decline. Not so much the case with 'rockstar' by Post Malone and 21 Savage at #5, which hit an even harder peak at the radio and is declining even faster. This puts 'Bad At Love' by Halsey at #6 in a bit of an awkward place, because it'd be set to make a play here... if its radio wasn't also declining pretty quickly too, which makes it vulnerable to 'New Rules' by Dua Lipa up to #7, which may be close to peaking on the radio which is all it has, but it's not outright falling off just yet. Next we have the expected reentry of 'MotorSport' by Migos, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj to #8 thanks to the album bomb... and really, it's just on streaming at this point and some residual airplay, but that's enough. But now we have our first new top ten and one that genuinely surprised me: 'Say Something' by Justin TImberlake ft. Chris Stapleton at #9. And look, I know it's here thanks to enormous sales and a bit of streaming, and that Chris Stapleton is only in the top 10 thanks to J.T., and I'll talk about the song in more detail much later... but my god, if the only thing we get out the Man Of The Woods album cycle is Chris Stapleton having a top 10 song, that'll be enough! Oh, and then we have 'Thunder' by Imagine Dragons at #10 as it also loses sales and airplay, nobody cares, let's move on.

So now we're in the losers and dropouts, and like with every album bomb, this is where the real damage shows up, as we got a bucket of big losses and major dropouts thanks to Migos here, especially of long-running songs: 'What Lovers Do' by Maroon 5 and SZA, 'Mi Gente' by J Balvin, Willy William and Beyonce, 'Bank Account' by 21 Savage, 'Unforgettable' by French Montana and Swae Lee, 'Pills and Automobiles' by Chris Brown, Yo Gotti, A Boogie Wit Dat Hoodie & Kodak Black, 'KOODA' by 6ix9ine, and 'I'll Name The Dogs' by Blake Shelton. And the losers were just as vulnerable, albeit for different reasons and more if you got the majority of your traction off streaming. So as expected you saw losses off the debut for 'Diplomatic Immunity' by Drake to 55 - called it - and for 'Sick Boy' by The Chainsmokers to 90 - good. Then you had the gains abruptly halted by the Migos swarm, like 'KEKE' by 6ix9ine, Fetty Wap, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to 63, or 'No Smoke' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again to 77. Then you had the tunes which were more reliant on streaming muscled back, like 'Nowadays' by Lil Skies and Landon Cube to 68, 'Codeine Dreaming' by Kodak Black and Lil Wayne to 86, 'Rubbin Off The Paint' by YBN Nahmir to 91, 'MIC Drop' by BTS and Desiigner to 98, and 'King's Dead' by Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future and James Blake to 99. And finally, you got the songs that were going to see hits either on their way out or just weak as it is, like 'End Game' by Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Future to 43, or 'Sorry Not Sorry' by Demi Lovato to 42, or 'River' by Eminem and Ed Sheeran to 44, or 'Filthy' by Justin Timberlake to 51 - expect this to rebound next week. Hell, Migos even pushed back other Migos tunes, like their collaboration with Gucci Mane 'I Get The Bag' down to 37!

Now when we get to the gains, this is where the Grammys had a little more of an impact, giving a boost to Logic, Alessia Cara, and Khalid's '1-800-273-8255' to 33... but if you were expecting, say, 'Praying' to return to the charts for Kesha, great sales just aren't enough. The other gains are more straightforward: 'Stir Fry' by Migos gains a huge boost off the album bomb to 12, 'Wait' by Maroon 5 picks up to 56 on sales and radio off the return, 'Mine' by Bazzi rises to 41 thanks to a streaming surge, and 'Broken Halos' by Chris Stapleton picks up to 62 half because of the Grammys and maybe a bit of radio long in coming - and hell, with him notching a top ten hit, that can't hurt either!

And since we've got no re-entries this week, let's not waste any time and get to our lengthy list of new arrivals, starting with...

(no video because Migos)

96. 'CC' by Migos ft. Gucci Mane - so we're starting with a track Quavo produced himself, and I won't lie, some of the synths don't sound bad against your standard bassy trap knock... but then you hear Quavo try to rhyme 'it' with 'her' on the hook with some really ugly autotune, Gucci Mane struggling to keep up, and Takeoff sounding like he'd rather be anywhere else as they rattle through brand name porn. Sorry Quavo, decent synths aren't enough to make this interesting or passable - next!

94. 'Most People Are Good' by Luke Bryan - I feel like critics talking about Luke Bryan these days are grading on a curve, especially when it comes to this track, which takes high crooning backing vocals against some warm guitarwork and with Luke Bryan settling into optimistic dad mold. And you know, there are some good sentiments here: everyone should love who they love and never feel ashamed, learn how to forgive and learn to have fun, these are fine enough. But then you get the expected 'put away technology' sentiments for kids on the second line of the first verse, and how if you just go by the nightly news you'd lose faith in mankind - and look, I'll be blunt, the reason all that bad stuff shows up on the news is because there's an audience that enables it, and the privilege to just turn it off and live in ignorance, that's something a lot of people can't afford in a rapidly changing world sometimes set against them. And when you hear this sort of shallow sentimentality... look, his heart is in the right place, but this doesn't resonate for me at all, and there were better songs on his last record - pass.

92. 'El Farsante' by Ozuna - serious question, what does anyone see in Ozuna's vocal delivery here? His delivery is so frail so when he's now expected to hop on triplet flows and a blocky trap beat against oily keys, synth flutes and watery plucks, it just sounds ugly and clunky. And the content doesn't help - so what, you're apologetic that you cheated and you now want a relationship with this girl because you think she's going to dump you, and yet nowhere in the song do you actually apologize? No, none of this works for me, and I'm not remotely convinced this guy can carry a song on his own - at least with Cardi B we had some balance...

(no video because Migos)

87. 'Emoji A Chain' by Migos - do you ever get the impression that Migos might not be trying all that hard, or going for a cheap gaudy idea that they can't pull off? 'Emoji A Chain' is a prime example - aside from the asinine conceit, they're also describing their diamonds like McFlurries amidst the brand name porn and coke dealing against an incredibly basic hollow synth melody and flat bass beat - seriously, was Metro trying here either? The only thing interesting here is how Quavo thinks he can turn his emoji into a whip, which doesn't even pretend to make sense - next!

(no video because Migos)

85. 'Auto Pilot' by Migos - hey look, it's what's Migos were on for the majority of this album! This time, we get an even more brittle plucked synth from Quavo playing off slightly more discordant elements as he talks about being like a 'GI Jew'... seriously! And when he follows it with just repeating lines ad nauseum on his verse and Takeoff admitting it's probably for the best he broke this girl's heart and moved on - which I'd probably agree with - I've already lost interest. Better than the last few, though.

(no video because Migos)

83. 'Higher We Go' by Migos - okay, let me give Migos some credit for a slightly more developed instrumental here: the guitars playing off the warping sample at the back against the bells, it doesn't sound bad. But then you have all the autotune drizzled over Quavo's hook and verse, Takeoff making a pun off of Post Malone's name that only barely makes sense as he brags that he's bigger than both Floyd Mayweather and Oprah, and even with that it feels like Offset and Takeoff's verse were less than Quavo's combined, and what sense does that make? Still, it's tolerable - I can listen to this.

75. 'New Freezer' by Rich The Kid ft. Kendrick Lamar - so okay, when I saw Kendrick Lamar collaborating with Rich The Kid, I was a little perturbed - for as much as Kendrick might phone it in on a pop verse or when he's putting together the Black Panther soundtrack, when he teams up with a rapper he tends to snap. And Rich The Kid... I wasn't all that familiar with him, but he's been flooding the market with mixtapes for the past few years and he's gotten some big cosigns, so maybe this might stand out... and nope, not a chance in hell! Yeah, the trap snares have a little more sharpness than average against the blocky bass against the repetitive backing melody, but what in the Nine Hells does Rich The Kid's choppy flow add to anything here, especially when the content is just more forgettable flexing? And of course Kendrick shows him up with a verse that's more melodic, but you can't tell me that he put more than five minutes into his bragging - this is some phoned in, slapdash shit from a rapper who is really capable of better! Granted, by his verse alone this is passable, but I will not call this good and I really wish that Kendrick would be a little more careful with his cosigns, because Rich The Kid on his own? Not impressed.

(no video because Migos)

73. 'Gang Gang' by Migos - ah yes, the Migos song that was pretty much derided by even the fans off of Culture II... and yeah, there's kind of a reason why. The weedy trap skitter, the desaturated melody with the faded female voice, the autotune drizzled over everything, Takeoff crooning about how he wants nachos, a near complete lack of momentum, and what might be the laziest hook Migos have ever made, especially when if this song is all about 'gang shit', there's very little actual detail beyond the average. So yeah, pretty bad - pass.

(no video because Migos)

64. 'White Sand' by Migos ft. Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign & Big Sean - okay, why in the Nine Hells did you get both Travis Scott and Ty Dolla $ign on this - they effectively fill the same role in the Autotune-swamped hook, and it's not like their content is remotely interesting. And that's before you get Big Sean coming up to sound even more basic and lazy than usual - he adds nothing to this song that Migos couldn't already bring, and you can tell they're not remotely trying here either against this underweight, oily production. Talk about a waste of talent and money, next!

53. 'Supastars' by Migos - you know, Quavo, just repeating your adlibs to open up your hook doesn't make it interesting against that glossy synth and grinding bass, and it's a little jarring keeping that production when Takeoff is talking about blowing off people's heads and Offset talking about hoes addicted to faucets. And when you pile up all the brand name porn and how the hook just seems to run into the flows with no significant shift or impact in the production, we somehow have yet another forgettable tune - next?

(no video because Migos)

52. 'Notice Me' by Migos ft. Post Malone - at this point I have no idea why Migos gets other autotuned crooners on their tracks, especially when for as much as they rant about people jacking the culture, we have the main offender front and center here! And when you pair it with that ugly, grainy click of the beat, some really horrible mixing as a whole, Quavo sleepwalking through a post-chorus, and no significant melody, the only saving grace is Takeoff snapping on his verse... and even that, that's barely saying much, as this is still pretty bad.

(no video because Migos)

48. 'BBO (Bad Bitches Only)' by Migos ft. 21 Savage - okay, I'll give some credit where it's due, Kanye West bringing production with a little more opulence in the blended horns is a better beat that Migos or 21 Savage really can use well. And nothing that's more indicative of that than 21 Savage's autotune-assisted but still monotonous hook and how none of the trio really deliver any distinctive content or edge that could flatter this - hell, for as much as this song rambles about 'bad bitches only', none of the Migos can stay focused on just that before bragging about brand names and cars! Seriously, although the production might save this, I'm getting irked by the wasted potential here.

(no video because Migos)

36. 'Narcos' by Migos - ah yes, the very rare song where Migos might actually stay on topic and infuse some Latin elements to play against the darker, thicker beat... shame the guitar is never given any real presence in the mix, but it does help this song stand out a little more, especially as it seems like Migos are a little more focused when they're talking about killing people in increasingly gory fashion, especially from Takeoff and his chainsaw. Although I have to ask where the hell Offset is copping a pterodactyl - how the hell is not getting more attention, Offset knows where to find dinosaurs! But yeah, for what this is, it works pretty decently, I'll take it.

28. 'You Make it Easy' by Jason Aldean - it always strikes me as a little weird when I see Jason Aldean tracks making a big splash on the Hot 100 - and he sold a lot of units with this one, which is why it debuted so high. So okay, I've been very hit-and-miss with Jason Aldean throughout his career - mostly miss - so did this stick the landing? Honestly, I'd argue he did - although let's get real, this is exactly the sort of song I'd expect Aldean to make after hearing Chris Stapleton once, it's damn near a ripoff. The organ, the live vocal pickup, the 3/4 time, Aldean actually making an effort to emote vocally on a love song that isn't so heavily reliant on minor tones... but at the same time, Aldean does it well. It's not complex in its composition or writing - and I'm not wild about how he claims God 'made this girl for him', it's kind of self-serving - but as a pivot away from inorganic production to something with a little more soul, along with a very welcome guitar solo - nice stuff, I dig this.

23. 'The Middle' by Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey - okay, as you all know, I'm Canadian, and we don't have Target in Canada - they tried to expand up here, failed miserably, and filed for bankruptcy in 2015. And thus when I heard this song was gaining traction based upon its usage in a Target commercial... well, to me I hoped it wouldn't matter, because it's not like we have the damn store, maybe I'd be able to enjoy it without the lingering knowledge it was more commercial than song. But really, after listening through the song, that was the least of this track's problems - for one, who thought that ugly, autotuned vocal production was a good idea for Maren Morris, she doesn't need it, especially against that underweight beat, the unceasing ticking, and guitar and synth fragments that sound flattened and gross? It's emblematic of all of Zedd's production work these days, in that it's choppy and lacking any sense of groove or momentum or cohesion, and it's not like any midpoint reached in this relationship feels listenable! Oh, and to hammer this in: there's not a damn thing country about this, and we might as well just add Maren Morris to the list of pop starlets, because anyone claiming this has any country foundation is wrong. In a stronger week, this would easily be one of the worst... but given that we're dealing with Migos, it'll just settle for grating mediocrity - next!

(no video because Migos)

18. 'Walk It Talk It' by Migos ft. Drake - this is the last Migos song we're talking about this week, and it's almost fitting it's with Drake utterly phoning in a guest verse - after all, he was one of the first to really push this idea of stream trolling on the Hot 100... but again, I can't really blame Drake for this, like Migos he saw an opportunity and he took it. No, the blame here lies with two groups: the playlist makers who decide to frontload every single track from the projects onto their lists the week they drop, and the listeners that won't find or build a better list - at the end of the day, if you're sick of Migos and Drake, some of this is on you. As for the song... hollow desaturated keys, an incredibly choppy hook, by-the-numbers trap beat, Quavo bragging about giving himself scoliosis, Takeoff thinking about buying a faucet, and Offset talking about hitting a bitch on a verse that's better constructed than anything else here. In other words, it's just more Migos, and good luck remembering anything beyond the isolated references I called out here once this stuff falls away.

9. 'Say Something' by Justin Timberlake ft. Chris Stapleton - we're at the final song, one I've already referenced in my Justin Timberlake review as being one of my 'favourites' off the album... but let's get real, it's more because of Chris Stapleton than J.T. himself. Even underplaying and mixed more as a backing singer, Stapleton has more presence in the mix, even as the mix struggles to merge the skitters and blubbery low-end with the acoustic groove, and that's before we get to the backing segments that sound like they're underwater. But even then, the hook has some muscle to it and Stapleton and Timberlake have good chemistry... but now we have to get to the content. And as I said in the review, this is very much a song about taking a stand and saying something, or perhaps the best way to say something is to say nothing at all and stand back and listen... but of course they can't help themselves and they have to say something. And you know, the more I go through the song, the more I wish the 'something' described actually had some detail to it, not just held as abstract and thin. 

But as a whole... you know, it's a two horse race between this and Jason Aldean... and I think I'm going to give it to Timberlake and Stapleton, where the production doesn't quite click and the lyrics could build to more, but that hook connects and if this is the chance for Stapleton to finally hit a real mainstream breakthough I'll take what I can get. Aldean definitely gets the Honourable Mention though with 'You Make It Easy' - it's easily the best thing he's put out in a few years, I'm actually a little encouraged for the record. As for the worst... yeah, it's all Migos and it's got to go to 'Gang Gang', with Dishonourable Mentions being a tie between 'Notice Me' with Post Malone and 'White Sand' with Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign and Big Sean. Dear god, this week was a slog, and next week... the fallout.

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