Tuesday, April 24, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - april 28, 2018

You know, it's only in the streaming album bomb era where the cool down week gets any sort of appreciation. I can't even say it was a great week here - honestly, doesn't really look like it, especially in comparison with my mostly positive feelings about Cardi B and 'Nice For What' last week - but considering we have J Cole coming in from around the corner for next week and then whatever the hell Post Malone unleashes the week right after... yeah, I'll take whatever slower moments I can get.

So yeah, let's start with the top ten, where 'Nice For What' by Drake reigns at the top for a second week... and yet what's interesting to note is how much it's behaving like a more traditional hit than the overweight smash of 'God's Plan', because it was overtaken on sales and while airplay is gaining to match the streaming, it's still not the biggest on YouTube. Nope, that title goes to 'God's Plan', which only isn't higher because its sales are finally dropping off and good radio margins can't quite compensate for slipping back on streaming. And this entrenches Drake above 'Meant To Be' by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line at #3 as despite better sales and ruling the radio, the streaming just isn't there to match. Then we have 'Psycho' by Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign at #4, which still has radio traction and streaming, but is also falling back on sales, although it's bound to get a resurgence with the album dropping soon. Then we have 'The Middle' by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey at #5, where any radio gains seem shaky and sales are sliding away as its streaming can't compete... and yet it was enough to rise above 'Look Alive' by BlocBoy JB and Drake, where the sales plummeted and YouTube was unstable enough to hold back good radio and on-demand streaming at #6. Then we have 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran still lodged at #7 - it's dropping in all categories yet again, but frankly I'm thankful right now it's holding the line against 'Freaky Friday' by Lil Dicky and Chris Brown up to #8, which notched gains on streaming, YouTube and sales because apparently America hates me. I'm not really surprised, though - 'I Like It' by Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin only slipping one slot to #9 was what caught me off-guard as the sales collapsed but streaming held up, especially in on-demand. And finally, we have a new entry into the top ten: 'Chun-Li' by Nicki Minaj, which rode great sales and streaming up to #10... no idea if it'll survive when J Cole sweeps through, but it'll be interesting to see if it holds traction.

And on that fun note, losers and dropouts! Now in the latter case, most of these songs have been shaky and underperforming for a while: 'All On Me' by Devin Dawson, 'Tell Me You Love Me' by Demi Lovato and 'Broken Halos' by Chris Stapleton. And to be fair it's not like our losers are all that interesting either, with the only ones not coming from Cardi B are 'Hardaway' by Derez De'Shon continuing down to 100, 'BILLY' by 6ix9ine drooping to 91, and 'Wasted Times' by The Weeknd slipping to 76. But the rest are the residuals from the album bomb sliding back... and really, not quite as much as I was expecting, and while it'll be interesting to see how much J Cole blows away, most of these might have some staying power. Sure, you're going to lose tracks like 'She Bad' with YG down to 90 or 'Money Bag' to 87 or 'Get Up 10' to 77 or 'Thru Your Phone' to 75, but 'Bickenhead' at 68? 'Best Life' with Chance The Rapper at 67? 'Ring' with Kehlani at 44, 'I Do' with SZA still at 42, and 'Drip' with Migos still in the top 40 at 33? That'll be more interesting.

Of course, the larger story post-album bomb are the rebounds, and we have a fair few returning entries this week: 'Get You' by Daniel Caesar and Kali Uchis back at 96; 'This Is Me' from The Greatest Showman back again at 83, and 'Woman, Amen' by Dierks Bentley at 81. Of course, the reason that returned was because of the American Country Music awards, and there were a ton of gains propelled by this show: 'For The First Time' by Darius Rucker up to 82, 'I Lived It' by Blake Shelton to 66, 'Tequila' by Dan + Shay to 57, 'Most People Are Good' by Luke Bryan up to 43, and especially 'You Make It Easy' by Jason Aldean to 29, likely helped with a boost thanks to the album. Now the rest... well, it was a good week for Marshmello, as 'Everyday' with Logic got a boost to 63 off the video and 'Friends' with Anne-Marie rose to 21 because apparently it had a crazy good week on streaming. Then there were the gains for Nicki Minaj, and while we already talked about 'Chun-Li', 'Barbie Tingz' also saw a major surge up to 25. Finally, 'Boo'ed Up' by Ella Mai saw a boost to 62, mostly because it seems like she's doing really well on the radio, so we might want to expect this becoming a hit in coming weeks, stay tuned for more there.

But now we have our list of new arrivals, and thank god there's only six this week, starting with...

99. 'GOTTI' by 6ix9ine - you know, there's a part of me that does take a certain amount of comfort that this guy doesn't nearly seem to have the same charting presence as he did and that he's proven just as much of a flash in the pan as I think everyone expected. But I'll admit I wasn't expecting him to try and hop on a more autotuned-crooning vibe that's about as synthetic as possible to try and give him some shred of greater dimension against the soothing pianos and more restrained trap vibe. And yet all of it is immediately betrayed by his content, which features the same sort of drug-abusing, scattershot flexing that culminates in him smacking a girl in the face with a handgun and flubbing rhymes. And while I get why this track exists - 6ix9ine is desperately trying to prove he's not a one-trick pony - I have to ask: does anyone in 6ix9ine's audience want this? Because this is pretty crappy, I'd skip it.

89. 'Anybody' by Young Thug ft. Nicki Minaj - so apparently Young Thug wasn't going to be releasing any music in 2018, a statement which after I'm assuming someone showed him his bank statement or Socialblade trends and suddenly we have a fresh collab with Nicki Minaj, who seems to be going on an offensive of her own. And am I the only one who thinks it might not be a good idea for Young Thug to double down on an autotune-enhanced mumble that has him nakedly flub rhymes as he flexes, especially when said flexing opens with the lines that he never actually killed anybody? Seriously, on the hook he tries to rhyme 'pneumonia' with 'Folgers' - and yet it somehow not as egregious as Nicki's verse where she just throws the rhyme scheme out the window not rhyming 'toes' with 'mad'. Seriously, there's not even an attempt to mush it over with autotune, it's just incredibly lazy! And since the content is utterly forgettable, the only thing that's remotely interesting is the blur of autotuned melody in the damp synths and oddly crunchy trap beat, but it's nowhere close to being lush enough to flatter Young Thug or sharp enough to give Nicki more to work with, because her sing-rapping did not impress me! So yeah, it might be modestly catchy for a time, but I'm not a fan at all.

84. 'Guatemala' by Swae Lee ft. Slim Jxmmi - I'll freely admit I have no idea what Rae Sremmurd is doing with this triple album - yes, I saw Swae Lee make a video to try an explain it, it didn't make any more sense there! But that's the big reason why this song is tagged as 'Swae Lee featuring Slim Jxmmi' than just Rae Sremmurd... all that build-up to such a faint echo of a song. Everyone who has talked about this song has highlighted how much it sounds like 'Unforgettable', and yet it's stark how little it resonates in comparison with that track, which I actually still like! Part of this I'd say is a factor of how little the hook modulates in comparison with Swae Lee's verse, but then when it does shift up a bit for Slim Jxmmi, he tries for a similar melodic flow and proves just how far he's fallen behind. As for content... really, it feels like a loose tropical hook-up jam, but without serious momentum for the hook or distinctive lines, it's just kind of forgettable. Not precisely bad, but you're not going to remember it either.

73. 'Let Me' by Zayn - I'll admit I'm surprised Zayn is charting anything at all these days, given how much his past two singles have underperformed. But apparently that sophomore album is dropping this year and that means we have another hookup jam... but it plays to very different territory sonically. The groove for a change of pace is anchored in a very clear, liquid electric guitar line and supple bassline with only the snaps and snares feeling all that modern - hell, what it reminds me most of is the soft rock and R&B of the mid 80s, at least until the hook comes in with the acoustic guitar and hints of trap hi-hats. And hell, for the most part I like the production... it's just a shame that Zayn's falsetto and hook isn't layered in a way that takes much command of it, and the lyrics feel very by-the-numbers. I dunno, it's far from bad and it'll probably wind up more memorable than the majority of Mind Of Mine, but no guarantees there.

48. 'Cry Pretty' by Carrie Underwood - so let's get this out of the way: there was no way this song could ever be better than the Jason Eady song of the same name - but if Carrie Underwood was looking to get me on her side, seeing that she herself has production credits on this song and recruited Lori McKenna to cowrite it were big steps in that direction. And the subject matter was more personal than Underwood has approached in a while, tying back to a bad fall she had at home where she had to get forty to fifty stitches on her face and how you can't really make grief or pain like that look good. And while I'm not crazy about this power ballad - the lyrical cadence can feel halting and a bit stiff, the big pop country guitars go broad in a way that might feel a little oversold - I also can't deny that if Carrie Underwood needed to make a raw confessional track like this to come to grips with it, this connects pretty well and she's certainly singing her heart out to sell it. I can't say I'd put it among her best singles or even her best power ballads, but it's pretty well done, and I respect it.

24. 'Esskeetit' by Lil Pump - honestly, what is there to even say about this or Lil Pump at this point? Sure, he's rapping a little faster on his second verse and the synths are more bouncy and blaring, and it's so over the top in its flexing of drugs and brand names that nobody can take this seriously - hell, it doesn't even really have the lyrical issues that made 'Gucci Gang' so exasperating. But there's no way around how it's just not interesting in any way and Lil Pump's more aggressive flow can feel increasingly clumsy the more listens you give it, with barely enough melody or intensity to make it feel potent. So as a whole, if this was delivered by any other no-name rapper besides the guy who did 'Gucci Gang', this would flop - and frankly, I don't have high expectations for this either.

But yeah, that's our week, and it was pretty mediocre. Best really can only go to 'Cry Pretty' by Carrie Underwood, with the worst... yeah, 'GOTTI' by 6ix9ine, and that seems pretty undeniable. Next up, a whole lot of J. Cole, but at least we'll get Ariana Grande in the middle of it - thank god.

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