Wednesday, March 21, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - march 24, 2018

You know, there's a part of me that's really getting sick of the streaming album bombs, mostly because it feels like it makes covering the albums in a full review kind of redundant... even though by covering them at some point on my schedule I'd probably get more traffic overall, which is all the more exasperating. But why get one album when you can get two, because this week, the big competition comes between Logic and Lil Yachty, the latter who I literally forgot dropped a mixtape a week or so back even despite some critics giving it praise. Eh, given that it's less of an album bomb than a scattering of songs in between Logic, we'll see what we get there.

But before that, let's talk about the top ten, and yes, 'God's Plan' by Drake is still at #1 by handily dominating in sales, streaming, YouTube and still gaining radio, you've been hearing this from me for weeks now. I will say that its streaming margin is steadily shrinking, but it's not like 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran is going to make a serious charge beyond #2 - hell, given its airplay has slipped into freefall, it's lucky to hold that slot! That means 'Finesse' by Bruno Mars and Cardi B could make a play at #3... but at this point all it really has is YouTube and the radio, not enough to make a serious charge. What'll be more likely - unfortunately - is 'Meant To Be' by Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line up to #4, because between its streaming, good sales, and real airplay traction, I don't see what's slowing this down. Hell, it overtook 'Psycho' by Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign down to #5, mostly because strong streaming can only compensate for so much if your radio and sales are lagging this much, which makes it seriously vulnerable to 'The Middle' by Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey, which considering its sales and how much the radio loves it, there's no surprise that it's up to #6. This pushes 'Havana' by Camila Cabello and Young Thug down to #7 - again, not really much of a surprise, given its airplay losses are pushing it down, but its mostly stable YouTube prevents it from falling too fast. Now I was a bit surprised that 'Pray For Me' by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar is holding steady at #8, mostly because it seems like the radio has gone all in on pushing this up, which means that 'Look Alive' by BlocBoy JB and Drake may have stalled out down to #9, because it certainly doesn't look like the radio and sales are going to catch up to the streaming any time soon. And Kendrick holds onto the final slot too, with 'All The Stars' with SZA reentering the top 10 thanks to better streaming and what might just be a bit of radio traction - not much, but just enough.

Now this takes us to our losers and dropouts, where like with most album bombs there was some real carnage here, especially among songs that could have possibly gained traction in the future or were cut off before their time. Hell, the biggest example of that in the dropouts is 'Good Old Days' by Macklemore and Kesha - and admit it, none of you have thought about that song in at least a month until I mentioned it - but it took with it 'Rubbin Off The Paint' by YBN Nahmir, 'KEKE' by 6ix9ine, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and Fetty Wap, 'La Modelo' by Ozuna and Cardi B, and 'Candy Paint' by Post Malone. And when we look to losses, there's a swathe here! First let's deal with the debuts collapsing, like 'Top Off' by DJ Khaled, Jay-Z, Future and Beyonce down to 49, 'No Excuses' by Meghan Trainor down to 67, and 'changes' by XXXTENTACION to 59 - don't get excited, he's going to rebound big next week. Then there are the ongoing losers, like 'Gummo' by 6ix9ine collapsing to 52 and 'River' by Eminem and Ed Sheeran imploding spectacularly to 85, and you saw a similar loss for 'This Is Me' from The Greatest Showman to 91 thanks to Oscars hype winding up. The rest are a little more scattered: Migos didn't have a particularly good week, as 'Walk It Talk It' with Drake fell to 69 and 'Narcos' went to 92; 'Written In The Sand' by Old Dominion dripped down to 81, 'Booty' by Blac Youngsta dropped to 89, 'Echame La Culpa' by Luis Fonsi and Demi Lovato skidded to 99, 'Dark Knight Dummo' by Trippie Redd and Travis Scott crashed to 100, and finally 'LOVE.' by Kendrick Lamar and Zacari slid to 37 - no worries there, it's got the points to easily make the year-end list, and it's sadly one of the few songs that are a worth a damn on the Hot 100 right now.

Now do our gains show hope for the future? Well... yeah, it's debatable here, especially with no reentries. Yes, we did see a rebound for 'Tell Me You Love Me' thanks to a decent sales week, but it'll fall off quickly and thank god for that. And on a better note 'Whatever It Takes' by Imagine Dragons continues to surge up to 24... but the rest of these don't give me a lot of hope. Yes, Logic did provide a bounce to '44 More' by 46 as predicted and 'Everyday' with Marshmello up to 29, but did that Marshmello bounce have to carry over to 'Friends' with Anne-Marie up to 41? Or for some ungodly reason 'Plug Walk' by Rich The Kid continued up to 25 - hell, I'd be content just for somebody giving me any explanation why Rich The Kid is gaining at all, it's not like he's different from your average mediocre trap MC!

And on that fun note, let's start our new arrivals, starting with...

98. 'Warm It Up' by Logic ft. Young Sinatra - okay, so let's start off with the fact that Young Sinatra is in fact Logic, and I've always found it really stupid when rappers start giving featuring credits to their alternate personas - Eminem didn't do it for Slim Shady, so why Logic and Lil Dicky have decided it's a good idea, I don't know. What I do know is that this... is actually pretty decent. Yeah, Logic still crams a few too many words into his flows fast or otherwise and he still rhymes words with themselves, but the grittier knock of the percussion against the hollowed synth loop is a great backdrop to Logic spitting some actual punchlines with his flexing, and it's easily one of the more interesting sets of verses he's done in some time... none of which is helped by the shift back to 'Bobby Tarantino' on the hook, where we get a shift to hi-hat skitters and Logic seriously biting from Drake. And I get he has to have some concessions to the mainstream, but if there's a testament to where Logic's greatest strengths and weaknesses are as an MC on one song, it's this one. Still, the verses save it - not bad.

97. 'BoomTrap Protocol' by Logic - so I'm not going to mince words here: I really dig this groove. The subtle horn inflections around the scratchier percussion and more restrained trap knock, it actually hits at the balance that Logic implied on the last song. And even if I'm not remotely a fan of the autotuned crooning he shoves in on the hook - and don't get me started on how Logic thinks he's leaving the pussy 'crucified' - I'd honestly prefer this over many who attempt this style, there's at least a little more texture here. But the unfortunate fact is that most of the actual lyrical details just aren't that interesting, a lot of filler flexing and a second verse that shows Logic half-crooning through the repeated phrase 'I don't know em', when that might well be any additional punchlines to add. I don't know - again, not bad, I like this production style, but I wish there was more to it.

88. 'Boom!' by Lil Yachty ft. Ugly God - and speaking of tracks that go 'boom' but have strikingly little beneath them, here's the first of our three Lil Yachty collaborations, this one with Ugly God. And I can't be the only one who thinks it's not a good idea for Lil Yachty to double down on his questionable rapping prowess instead of the autotuned warbling singing that could occasionally be endearing in a twisted way, especially when he still often feels just slightly off the beat. At least Ugly God seems to be on tempo here, even if it seems like so much of his characteristic personality is missing against this atonal warble of a melody and generic trap production, but then we get Lil Yachty and... look, if you can really brag about here is your money, which you have and I don't, what exactly is the impetus for me to get behind this, especially when your references while distinctive don't exactly sound all that cool - your dick is as long as four fish sticks, for instance. And I can't be the only one who can't really take Lil Yachty's violent flexing as all that believable, right? He's got the deeper delivery to potentially sell it, but it just doesn't click all that well. This... with the slightly off hook and that production, I can't get behind it, next!

87. 'Yuck' by Logic - but on the topic of atonal melodies, here's a prime example of Logic hopping on a really awful bit of glassy shrillness for a song that seems to be a subliminal set of shots at Joyner Lucas that really don't draw much blood - the projected self-examination method really works better if you play for subtlety, trust me on that - along with a hook where Logic references his 'rollie-olex'. And seriously, it's one verse from logic, two hooks, and a self-serving voicemail from Elton John that serves Logic's increasingly bad habit of getting big names to prop up his supposed greatness, something he's been doing for years and that I've never particularly liked. Well, it's rare the title of the song aptly matches my expression to it, so let's just move on.

84. 'Delicate' by Taylor Swift - I said it on Twitter, I'll say it again: of the singles that Taylor Swift has released from reputation, not only is this her best, it's probably her best release since 'Style' and easily one of her best videos, mostly because it tilts into the elements I actually liked on reputation. The restrained pianos and beat, glossy accents, and desaturated autotune all serve to fit the numb downtempo vibe that characterizes Taylor Swift hitting a liquor-soaked rock bottom and finding a guy who actually might like her for her amidst all of it. It's low-key, showcases one of the most genuinely real moments from Taylor Swift in years, and even though it might feel more synthetic around the edges, it's probably one of her most human. Damn good song, really hope it does well.

83. 'Wassup' by Logic ft. Big Sean - when I first saw that Logic was teaming up with Big Sean, I immediately thought it was a bad idea - and really, it's hard not to see why, as they both have a bad reputation of overloading their bars with too many words, slipping into corniness, and biting from Drake. And with Logic's sing-song hook with that squawking sample behind him, you could see this fall in a similar vein... but I actually think both Logic and Big Sean stuck the landing here. No, I'm not kidding, in between the lumpy bass knock against the muted ebbing waves of synth and deeper taps the production works, especially with Big Sean choosing to underplay and stick with his lowest possible register... and for the most part his bars connect! And then Logic follows it up with some actual flair and intensity in his bragging, dropping into double time and his bars connect too! Again, it's really all just a lot of flexing, but when it's not framed at your expense you can actually enjoy it, go figure. So yeah, definitely dug this, check it out!

74. 'Midnight' by Logic - so Logic goes back to his crooning against a scratchy oscillation, flat synth, and trap beat that basically sees him flex his success and complain how girls don't back off him despite the fact he's married - okay then. But then the beat switches to a blubbery, more jagged trap knock that I'd probably like less until Logic goes off on his verse. Again, it's a lot more flexing and bragging, but there are far fewer filler bars, the rhymes consistently connect, and the pileup of double entendres never feel forced or corny - even though I can see some people glancing askance at the biracial reference on the verse, especially after Everybody. But it doesn't feel obtrusive, it fits the exasperated tone, and while this isn't my favourite cut from Logic thus far, it's still solid enough - pretty good, worth a listen.

73. '66' by Lil Yachty ft. Trippie Redd - am I the only one who felt kind of uneasy with Lil Yachty teaming up with Trippie Redd, especially given that Redd's more pronounced, jagged Soundcloud rapper approach might not mesh as well with Lil Yachty's more polished side? But to my surprise, Trippie Redd's flow actually seems to match the production better than Lil Yachty's hook, especially when the glossier keyboards begin to
emerge from behind the skittering hi-hat. But if anything it's Yachty on the hook that really hurts this song, because while his content is nothing to write home about - and you have to wonder how much Trippie Redd shooting people matches this production either - his verse is at least on rhythm, so it seems like an intentional awkward choice. But really, good ethereal production puts this on the side of quality, so yeah, don't mind this, not bad.

68. 'Overnight' by Logic - so look, there are a number of things that bug me about this track - that flat synth that's damn near chiptune against the lumpy bass, Logic crooning on the second verse about how he was a good person and found success and maybe you're just a tool who was bullied or have daddy issues, or how his verse kind of runs straight into his hook where the bragging really isn't all that interesting - yes, we know your success hasn't happened overnight, we get it. But what bugged me more was the irksome feeling of how much his delivery sounds like Kendrick, especially with his more clipped delivery on the rhymes on the first verse, and when you couple it with the sing-song self-aggrandizing... yeah, I'm not behind this, next!

63. 'NBAYoungBoat' by Lil Yachty ft. YoungBoy Never Broke Again - the last of our Lil Yachty tunes, this time with perpetually generic MC YoungBoy Never Broke Again trading verses... and you know, this could have worked if Lil Yachty didn't feel like he was constantly on the cusp of slipping off the overblown beat and those offkilter plucked elements around the keyboards. Granted, YoungBoy trying to force rhymes doesn't help him either: 'her' doesn't rhyme with 'him', 'coming' doesn't rhyme with 'me', and 'Tyson' doesn't rhyme with 'night', dude - but then we get Lil Yachty rhyming 'guns' with 'arm' and no, I'm not giving this sloppy flexing a pass. I will say the one line that got me to snicker was that Lil Yachty was going to screw your girl but he got lazy - his words, not mine - but then in the next verse you see YoungBoy bragging about being seventeen with four kids... and then I just felt sad for what'll happen to them when he flames out in a year or two. Otherwise, this isn't really all that good - next!

60. 'Contra' by Logic - okay, two more Logic songs left, and the first one here... okay, seriously, why are the hooks longer than your first verse? And it's not a great hook either, the sort of wagging finger that nobody could have possibly been low enough to know where Logic came from against flat liquid guitar tones and your standard blocky trap beat. And I'd like to say the second verse is better, but it just feels the sort of flexing that lacks character or detail or punchlines, with flows that aren't all that impressive especially when Logic just repeated words and phrases to fill up space. And when you have the hook, it highlights the difference between flexing on your audience exclusively versus an inclusive celebration of success, and for a song like this, it's a lot less likable.

56. 'Indica Badu' by Logic ft. Wiz Khalifa - I'll admit it, I'm still surprised to this day that Wiz Khalifa is such a draw that this was the biggest new arrival from Logic this week. Granted, it could be partially because it's easily one of the chillest songs Logic has released since 'Metropolis' four years ago, even to the point of sampling the same drum line and then fusing it with an Erykah Badu sample that J. Dilla originally produced. Now again, I loved 'Metropolis' off of Under Pressure and even though Wiz Khalifa absolutely snapped on his verse - seriously, he's improved his technical abilities by leaps and bounds over the years - I was unsure how well this sort of weed song would resonate... but yeah, it really does, from the textured blissful vibe with the chimes, liquid bass, wheedling distant guitar and touches of keys, and how well Logic can deliver his double time flows against this production, it's a great groove. I will say for as much as Logic mentions his wife both here and on 'Midnight' it did throw me a bit to hear they split up just weeks after Bobby Tarantino II was released, which may date a few of the songs here, but otherwise... yeah, smooth vibes, great groove, and I wouldn't mind it sticking around - damn good song.

54. 'Zombie' by Bad Wolves - it goes without saying that the original 'Zombie' by The Cranberries, released in 1994, is a grunge classic, anchored by Delores O'Riorden's powerful vocals splitting the difference between Kate Bush and Grace Slick against a fuzzy seething riff and a phenomenal slow-burn groove. But like many songs later canonized as grunge classics, it never crossed over to the Hot 100 proper, likely because it was very explicitly intended as an anti-IRA song and unless you were U2, songs dealing in Irish politics didn't tend to cross over stateside, especially during the commercialization of the grunge aesthetic in the wake of Kurt Cobain's death that year. So it's jarring to see a male-fronted cover by a little-known metalcore group that has sold ridiculously well... and yes, I get that Delores O'Riorden gave approval and was even set to perform with the group before she sadly passed away, but to see this chart now with all of its gaudy guitar mixing, cheap backbeats, and lyrics pushing the date from 1916 to 2018 gives me the same gross feeling that I imagine those who hated Disturbed's cover of 'The Sound Of Silence' had. What's worse is how so much of this cover guts the slow-burn dirge elements - the guitar melody after the post-chorus is cut in favour of getting back to the desaturated pianos and more bellowing that have nothing close to the cutting power O'Riorden brought to the table. So while it might not be the worst thing to chart this week - a good song can survive a bad cover - but it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

So yeah, if you can't tell it's getting the Dishonourable Mention here, with worst of the week going to 'Yuck' by Logic. Now the best... ooh, it's tricky, but I think Taylor Swift edges Logic out here, with 'Delicate' snagging the top spot and 'Wassup' by Logic and Big Sean getting Honourable Mention - yeah, I'm as surprised as you probably are. But it's likely not going to last, because XXXTENTACION is coming next week... just brace yourself, it'll be over soon.

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