Wednesday, March 28, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - march 31, 2018

You know, given how the past week has been it's been very tempting of me to just step up in here, say the Billboard Hot 100 shit itself inside out like most of the rest of this year - and let's not mince words, it's about as bad as I've seen it in the past few years - but hey, it could have been worse, right? We didn't get a full album bomb from XXXTENTACION, and while I sure as hell don't think our replacements are anything close to good, I have to keep reassuring myself with the thoughts that this could be a much more miserable experience than it is.

And if you want a glaring example of this, take a look at our top ten, where Drake is still sitting on top with 'God's Plan' for another week. But while I don't quite see it getting unseated with all of that streaming, its sales and radio are looking a little shakier - but honestly, I'd probably still prefer it than our #2, 'Meant To Be' by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line, and let's put aside the pointless circling conversation whether this is country or not, it's vapid, flatly produced, and has no significant flavor... and yet the radio loves it and people keep buying it, even despite streaming slipping back a bit. It rose above 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran at #3, but that would have happened anyway, given how sales and radio were dipping... but I genuinely thought this would be an opportunity for 'Finesse' by Bruno Mars and Cardi B to advance! But no, given how much its sales dropped and how all it really has is radio and residual YouTube, it stumbled back to #4. At least it held above 'Psycho' by Post Malone ft. Ty Dolla $ign, up to #5 with radio pickups compensating for streaming slips, but really, I can see this rebounding next week. Hell, it'll probably take 'The Middle' by Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey up with it to #6 given how good its radio is... but those sales dropped off and the streaming isn't great... interesting. But now we have to deal with the first new arrival and one I predicted: 'SAD!' by XXXTENTACION at #7. Now the good news is that it doesn't seem to have longevity here: the sales aren't really there and radio is non-existent, and once the album bomb fades most of the streaming will fade with it. But it still put it above 'Havana' by Camila Cabello & Young Thug at #8, which is just bleeding across the board... and makes it vulnerable to our second new top ten entry which I'll be discussing in more detail later on the show: 'Freaky Friday' by Lil Dicky and Chris Brown at #9. Again, the good news is that all it has is streaming and sales... but the fact the sales numbers are as high as they are is a pretty scathing indictment of whoever buys this. And finally, 'Pray For Me' by The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, which did not have a good week across the board but is still clinging to #10 overall - I suspect it might rebound when the chart resets next week, but we'll see.

But on that note, let's dig into our losers and dropouts, and in the latter category, aside from all the Logic getting swept away, there's only three big ones: 'River' by Eminem ft. Ed Sheeran, 'Plain Jane' by A$AP Ferg, and finally 'Sorry Not Sorry' by Demi Lovato - don't feel back about the latter two, they're going to wind up on the year-end list in 2018, for better or worse. But when it comes to the losses... man, it's all over the place. We have the expected slips off debuts like 'Zombie' by Bad Wolves to 68 and 'NBAYoungBoat' by Lil Yachty and YoungBoy Never Broke Again to 77, and the collapses for Logic's gains with '44 More' down to 70 and 'Everyday' with Marshmello down to 56, but then we have the continued loses like 'Written In The Sand' by Old Dominion to 92, 'Top Off' by DJ Khaled, Jay-Z, Future and Beyonce to 62, and 'GUMMO' by 6ix9ine to 63 - hell, 6ix9ine as a whole didn't have a good week as 'BILLY' fell to 61. But the rest of our losses... well, 'Nowadays' by Lil Skies and Landon Cube kind of fizzled to 81, and 'How Long' by Charlie Puth is fading out naturally to 48, but what kind of stung was seeing 'Broken Halos' by Chris Stapleton falling to 55. It's not surprising, given that radio will probably fizzle on this soon, but still, I did wish it'd stick around a little more.

But hell, if you're going into re-entries and gains right now, it's a mess too! In the former categories you do get nice returns like 'Tequila' by Dan + Shay to 87 and 'Sativa' by Jhene Aiko and Swae Lee to 91 - hell, I'll even stump for 'La Modelo' by Ozuna and Cardi B at 98 - but then you get 'Tempo' by Chris Brown back to 94 as well. Now our gains... there's more than you'd expect on a traditional album bomb, but I'd struggle to really get excited by their prospects going forward. Yes, I'm pretty happy that 'Delicate' by Taylor Swift got a boost off the debut to 66, and that 'Lemon' by N*E*R*D and Rihanna jumped to 40 thanks to the Drake remix that got traction, but on the topic of Drake he also pushed 'Walk It Talk It' with Migos up big to 20 as I predicted. And then we had the XXXTENTACION gains - I already mentioned 'SAD!', but also as I predicted 'changes' went up to 37 - and on the train of bad songs, 'Friends' by Marshmello and Anne-Marie continued up to 28 and 'X' by Nicky Jam and J Balvin went up to 59, lovely. The rest... eh, 'Powerglide' by Rae Sremmurd and Juicy J is up to 51, arguably the best any lead-off single they've had for SremmLife 3, 'All On Me' by Devin Dawson got a boost to 52 thanks to decent radio, and 'I Lived It' by Blake Shelton went to 85 for most of the same reason.

But hey, we've avoided the true garbage for a while, so let's start off with the surprise for me with...

100. 'Everybody Hates Me' by The Chainsmokers - okay, I get that The Chainsmokers might have picked up on the fact that their brand of overly earnest EDM-pop isn't winning them any fans - I sure as hell didn't like the full-length debut and the backlash they got was pretty severe - but I'm also not going to deny that one of the reasons they did so well was looking past the critical consensus to tap into a very basic emotive core. And thus when I see then wanting to be twenty-one pilots and pile on the angst, I'm not only thinking this is a regression, it feels increasingly insufferable - you made shallow music, guys, self-reflexively bitching about it after you made your paycheque somehow makes you look even worse! What more awkward is how they're now trying to pair it with their by-the-numbers hyper-earnest glittery EDM drops and a crooning hook where they say everyone hates them when they walk into the club... and not only can the duo not really sell this noxious side of their self-pity, they can't even effectively deny that's what they're doing on the second verse, even when they follow it with the acknowledgement they did make it! Yes, it's probably going a little far to hold all the dumb shit The Chainsmokers said in the past against them, but if you're trying to 'stay normal' implying a connection to the past, you yourself are reinforcing that connection! And when you consider none of it reflects any desire to take responsibility - and another girl who cheated on them to further frame them as victims - all against production with no palpable intensity or punch even against those flimsy guitars... no, I'm not down with this at all - next!

95. 'Going Down!' by XXXTENTACION - look, there's only five XXXTENTACION songs that broke through this week, and considering I already spent over fifteen minutes eviscerating that record at length, I'm going to keep this brief: this was easily one of the worst tracks on the record thanks to its ugly gummy synths, the faux-Lil Uzi Vert vocal delivery, blocky percussion, the lines 'I am the shit need a diaper', 'beating the pussy like viking', all of which is set up against a clumsy flow switch and him talking about how he feels like fighting when he's drunk, which might just be the worst possible subtext for that last line! So yeah, this is garbage, but you already knew that - pass!

86. 'Sit Next To Me' by Foster The People - I literally had to force myself to remember that Foster The People put out a record last summer - hell, I reviewed that record and I remember listening to it close to when I went to a convention and yet it left so little impact on me I seriously thought this might have been a new single. Going back to my review I did actually mention this song for having a pretty slick glossy new wave groove that plays off a languid groove and solid synth bounce on the hook - actually, I really like a lot of the synth elements and the key shift midway through the bridge actually had some potential. But then you dig into the lyrics and you realize this is a song about Mark Foster stealing some girl from her boyfriend which he threatens to have outlined in chalk - and putting aside the murderous implications, the larger problem is that Foster just doesn't have the presence and charisma to anchor that, especially when he dips into his squawking falsetto on the hook. I mean, it's not a bad tune, but in an indie rock scene with so many others approaching this sound, Foster The People are middle-of-the-pack - at best.

84. 'One Number Away' by Luke Combs - so I've generally been ambivalent to positive on most of the singles Luke Combs has released thus far - he's got a solid mid-2000s sensibility to his delivery and production that's kind of charming and he tends to put more details into his songwriting than many of his peers. And yet this song plays to different territory, with the acoustics exposing a much darker, brittle edge... but then it pivots to a much brighter, thinner acoustic line for the hook and it can't help but feel kind of odd against the spikes of electric guitar and touches of pedal steel. I won't deny it kind of fits the frustrated, regretful feel of the song thinking about an ex he left behind - almost reminiscent of Jake Owen's 'Ghost Town' from about five or so years back - but it feels really clunky, especially with the pivot into the hook. Not bad, but of his singles thus far, I can't quite get behind this one.

83. 'infinity (888)' by XXXTENTACION ft. Joey Bada$$ - it leaves a really sour taste in my mouth that it required goddamn XXXTENTACION to get Joey Bada$$ on the Hot 100, but I wasn't lying when i said that this is the best song from ? - although that's really not saying much. Again, I really dig the touches of horns from the Bill Evans sample and old-school boom-bap that Joey Bada$$ can ride effortless, and his verse is really damn good - although that intro talking about how he's capturing all the sexually transmitted diseases in the world to save others is probably the sort of idea he should have shelved - but even when XXXTENTACION drops into the double-time flow on his verse he just doesn't have the flexibility and potency Joey has, even with a similar brand of hermetic self-flagellation and numbness. But even with that... yeah, this is tolerable, and if there was to be a song to get big from ? I'd probably prefer it be this, but on the topic of numbness...

82. 'Numb' by XXXTENTACION - am I the only one who feels that the content of this song just doesn't match the tone or idea of numbness? For the obvious comparison, let's go to the song of the same name by Linkin Park, which yes, still had plenty of intensity, but it leveraged it to crank up the curdled anger and still had the glossy synths to match that tone. And not only is XXXTENTACION not even close to being as good of a songwriter in composition or writing - repeating the same barebones strummed chords and lines do not a good song make even if you tap on hints of electrics guitars and strings to crank up the melodrama - but there's not even a trace of numbness as he wallows in how he causes other people pain and how we should feel sorry for him. Uh, no, that's not happening - next.

72. 'In My Blood' by Shawn Mendes - not sure it's a good sign if I'm looking forward to a new single from Shawn Mendes, but hey, he surprised me last year with 'There's Nothing Holding Me Back' and I had heard that this song was even more of a step into quality, so I had reason to be excited... and yeah, it's not bad at all. For one, even though I'm not sure the blocky percussion helps the acoustic groove, I do like how this song pushes Mendes towards real raw intensity that I'd say is close to rock if the guitars were allowed to really roar. But again, it kind of makes sense it doesn't quite get there - this is a song about facing one's own anxiety and getting out of one's own head if one even can, and Mendes does a palpable job encapsulating that trapped feel, especially as he knows very much that it's not intrinsic to who he is. If anything it kind of reminds me of Jason Isbell's track 'Anxiety', which plays a very similar dynamic just with way more power and pathos, but hey, if Shawn Mendes can make the mainstream pop version of that and deliver credibly, I'll give him credit for it - decent song, I'll take it.

67. 'the remedy for a broken heart (why am i so in love)' by XXXTENTACION - okay, I didn't really bring this up in the review of the record, but on this song, but for as much as it's trying to get over this girl and snap how his sadness cuts deeper than all of the money and freedom because it's not worth it if it's not love... why then is the hook acutely focused on getting the weed and cash to recover from it? Seriously, there's no ironic juxtaposition or implication it's not enough beyond that lo-fi mumbled drone against the barebones acoustics and blocky beat, and even on that verse he still mentions the expensive watch he bought this girl who is he one to save... nope, not buying this, this is incoherent and barely having any real meat to it, skip it.

49. 'Found/Tonight' by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Ben Platt - so, some context: you might know who Lin-Manuel Miranda is from In The Heights or Moana or most likely Hamilton, but Ben Platt is also a Broadway actor who had the starring role in the musical Dear Evan Hansen, and this is a mash-up of a cut from that musical with 'The Story Of Tonight' from Hamilton, created to raise money for the March For Our Lives... and it's the best thing that came out this week, without question. And yeah, it's almost strikingly on-the-nose in the lyrics against the barebones piano and strings, but the two stage veterans have superb chemistry and hell, if you know the context from the musical for both musicals, it's striking how much it captures youthful desperation in the face of loneliness, collective affirmation, looking to the future, and a drive to make a real change. And it's a goddamn tragedy this is the closest thing the Hot 100 will see to either musical amidst a swathe of self-indulgent bullshit... but my god, I'll take what I can get. Genuinely beautiful tune, and while I have no expectations it'll stick around, it's still excellent, check it out.

35. 'Moonlight' by XXXTENTACION - okay, last one... and seriously, we're doing this, another amateurish undercooked tune with awful clicking percussion, bubbly fragments of a melody, a limp hook of flexing that's longer than the single verse where XXXTENTACION talks about stabbing people and alternately bitches about and pines for the girl that left him behind... a girl who if we believe the court documents he abused. Again, he gets no sympathy from me, and when the song is this incompetent, I have no desire to hear any more of this - next!

9. 'Freaky Friday' by Lil Dicky ft. Chris Brown - let me make this abundantly clear: there is a part of me that's genuinely enraged that Lil Dicky has a top 10 hit, but I think it's instructive to place culture vultures in context: this is a novelty song based off of a body-swapping gimmick that was tired in the Lindsey Lohan comedy featuring it fifteen years ago. That's all this is, that's all it's ever going to be, and it's only worth getting angry at these two walking punchlines - for different reasons, of course - if the song truly sucks. And wow it does, in so many interesting and excruciating ways! For one, Chris Brown verse - from Lil Dicky's perspective - is all about the euphoria of being able to sing with gratuitous autotune, say the n-word, and highlight how he's 'light-skinned black'. Oh, but it gets better, because then we get Lil Dicky - from Chris Brown's perspective talking about Lil Dicky's balls and saying nobody cares if he was black or about his past or how he can wear blue now despite questionable blood affiliation and wow, we're just going to blow past how over-his-head Lil Dicky is with any questions he's trying to highlight. But somehow it's not over because then Chris Brown as Lil Dicky breaks into the club where Dicky as Chris Brown is, discovers that Chris Brown needs to love himself, and then they switch back... only for Dicky to then hop into the bodies of Ed Sheeran, DJ Khaled, and Kendall Jenner, who sounds fucking awful as Dicky's now saying he's going to explore her vagina - and I don't recall any consent. And aside from the pile-up of incredibly unsettling implications and non-rhymes on the third verse, it's also screamingly, painfully non-funny. Seriously, what is the joke here - a white guy being able to say the n-word, Chris Brown being able to escape his awful life choices without any consequences and get the white privilege to be ignored, making comments about colourism that shows nobody here has a damn clue what they're talking about, more jokes at the expense of Lil Dicky's dick, and then him hopping into other bodies with the really unsettling context of sexual consent with Kendall all in the name of self-love? Because that's what it feels like: masturbation against the cheap facsimile of a joke and by continuing to put a spotlight on all the gross implications Dicky continues to make it worse - not to the point of Aristocrats-esque absurdism because the production is cheap DJ Mustard-isms that go nowhere. It's not funny, it reeks of the privilege and freedom from accountability neither artist has earned, and in a just world this would end their careers. Can we have that happen, please?

So yeah, much to my amazement XXXTENTACION is only getting Dishonourable Mention with 'going down!' this week, because Lil Dicky and Chris Brown are getting the worst with 'Freaky Friday'. And for the best... yeah, 'Found/Tonight' by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt gets the best, and I think 'In My Blood' by Shawn Mendes will get the Honourable Mention... not really a great song, but on a week as bad as this, I'll take what I can get. Next week... the aftermath.


  1. It looks perfect

  2. Best Of The Week: In My Blood
    HM(tie,sorry):Freaky Friday
    HM(tie):Everybody Hates Me
    HM(tie):One Number Away

    1. I'd give the Radio edit of Freaky Friday Worst Of The Week, because i'm streaming a station from Manchester, and the jokes make no sense in the radio edit

    2. BotW: One Number Away
      HM: Sit Next To Me
      WotW: Freaky Friday
      DM: The three X songs

    3. That don't have Joey Bada$$

  3. Is Spectrum Pulse going to be happy now that XXXTention is dead?