Wednesday, May 23, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - may 26, 2018

I'm not sure how to evaluate what happened on the Hot 100 this week. Obviously there was going to be some slide towards conventionality as Post Malone's album bomb continues to fade, but there seemed to be more going on here, songs from artists I've never heard of showing up and other songs changing in ways I wouldn't predict or expect - or in some cases, not really changing much at all.

Case in point, the top ten, where for a second week 'This Is America' by Childish Gambino is at #1. Now as I said last week, I like this song, I'm happy it took #1, but I can't be the only a little amazed at its dominance lasting a second week, right? It's finally picking up airplay, sure, but its margins on YouTube are shrinking compared to the competition... but apparently this week it picked up in on-demand where it needed to match the huge sales, so it's very much still dominant. That's not to say 'Nice For What' by Drake isn't a challenger, though - a lot of upward radio momentum, right behind in sales and streaming... although really, if you look closer at the YouTube numbers, you see that 'God's Plan' still remains bigger. It's at #3 for another week as airplay and sales are slowly declining, but again, only slowly, and it's still a streaming force to be reckoned with. This places 'Psycho' by Post Malone in an odd position at #4, as it's picking up more radio than it ever has before and the streaming has always been big, but sales are just not there to put it over the top in the same way... although it'll certainly keep it above 'Meant to Be' by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line, which despite holding #5 thanks to sales and residual radio is just in freefall in airplay right now, it's not pretty. Then there's 'The Middle' by Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey at #6, which actually spent the week wavering on the radio... but thanks to weaker sales and streaming probably won't get higher. What will is 'No Tears Left To Cry' by Ariana Grande up to #7, and while I don't want to oversell how big this track will get, the radio momentum and streaming has been considerable - probably won't be a smash hit, but given the weaknesses above her, I can see this breaking the top five. Certainly puts it above 'Look Alive' by BlocBoy JB and Drake down to #8 as it flails on the radio and is only recovering on-demand thanks to Post Malone fading, or 'Never Be The Same' by Camila Cabello down to #9 hitting a hard peak on the radio as sales faltered, or 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran clinging to #10 despite losses across the board.

And on that subject, losers and dropouts, where in the latter category the only song worth caring about is 'Bartier Cardi' by Cardi B and 21 Savage finally exiting - shame she's promoting 'Be Careful' as the next single, but that's a different conversation. As for our losers, it was another bad week for Post Malone, so let's blow through these quickly: 'Ball For Me' with Nicki Minaj dropped to 51, 'Paranoid' fizzled to 54, 'Rich & Sad' drooped to 55, 'Stay' lost to 65, 'Over Now' fell to 89, 'Zack & Codeine' crashed to 90, 'Same Bitches' with G-Eazy and YG hit 93, 'Takin' Shots' dropped to 97, and '92 Explorer' crashed at 98. Then we had previous album bomb recipient J. Cole taking a loss for 'Kevin's Heart' to 68 - good. And from there... well, it was pretty scattered. No, I'm not pleased that 'Say Something' by Justin TImberlake and Chris Stapleton fell to 100 - at this rate it's going to be out of the Hot 100 too early - or that 'Beautiful Crazy' by Luke Combs utterly crashed off the debut to 99, because apparently country radio isn't giving it any support whatsoever. But the rest of these... I'm not going to complain that 'Dame Tu Cosita' by El Chombo is down to 57, or that 'Watch' by Travis Scott ft. Lil Uzi Vert and Kanye West fell to 42. What's intriguing is that Nicki Minaj's 'Chun-Li' fell hard to 29... mostly because streaming has really underperformed for that song, which... oh well.

Look, I'm not going to get bent out of shape about that when I have the gains and returning entries to care about - yeah, 'Moonlight' by XXXTENTACION is back at 88, but at least 'Cry Pretty' by Carrie Underwood came back to 95 along with it. And when I look at our gains... honestly, it's hard to get all that annoyed with any of this. The worst is probably 'I Like Me Better' by Lauv rising to 61 - mostly because it seems like it's getting a radio push - but beyond that, I'm not going to complain that 'Red Roses' by Lil Skies and Landon Cube rebounded to 87, or that 'OTW' by Khalid, Ty Dolla $ign and 6LACK rose to 66, or that 'I Lived It' by Blake Shelton picked up to 70, or even that 'Sit Next To Me' by Foster The People picked up to 72 - the song has real problems, but the groove is at least decent. Then we have our gains off debuts, like 'Mercy' by Brett Young to 86 and 'Done For Me' by Charlie Puth and Kehlani to 53 - that last one is considerable, I did not expect it to pick up as much as it did, but good sales thanks to the album will help and it's got radio momentum. And finally we have two gains that are actually maintaining momentum: 'One Kiss' by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa up to 39 - mostly because radio adores it - and to my shock 'Delicate' by Taylor Swift up to 36 - again, radio and sales traction, it might actually stick around a bit.

But we now have a pretty reasonable list of new arrivals, so let's start with...

92. 'All Girls Are The Same' by Juice WRLD - okay, maybe I'm just completely out of touch, but this guy wasn't even on my radar. I was expecting Playboi Carti to get something off of Die Lit - and trust me, we'll get to it - but apparently Juice WRLD is the newest act from Soundcloud to nab a major record deal with Interscope and get two singles through this week, with this one apparently netting him critical acclaim... whereas all I really hear is a Post Malone-wannabe with somehow even drearier production as he bitches about all the girls that did him wrong with some of the most flat emo-rap content I've heard in a long time. Seriously, if you gave this to a pop punk artist in the late 90s or early 2000s I'd probably laugh at it but at least there'd be sweet guitars or a real hook instead of really cheap autotune filters and desaturated pianos, and even then, it'd still probably be pretty insufferable. So yeah, no chance in hell I'm going back to this - next!

91. 'Lust' by Lil Skies - okay, so I've actually been pretty forgiving of the more melodic trap that Lil Skies has released before, so I was actually kind of looking forward to a new single here... and like with his past few songs, I didn't mind this at all, mostly because Lil Skies can connect his rhymes consistently, the flute is generally pretty jaunty feeding into the melody, and he at least seems to acknowledge that all of this is a lot of lust and not love - hell, when he admits he screwed your girl, he actually seems a little regretful of it, actually seeing consequences when guys start taking shots at him. And again, the flexing is pretty shallow and I'd still say that Lil Skies isn't an especially compelling or expressive MC - we're still talking about trap that's actively cribbing references from Young Thug songs from a few years ago - but this is tolerable, I'll take it.

77. 'Me Niego' by Reik ft. Ozuna & Wisin - whereas this track was absolutely something I was not looking forward to, because Ozuna has continued to be one of the most annoying reggaeton singers charting hits these days and the last time he teamed up with Wisin it didn't go all that well. And this time... man alive, if there was a song that could have afforded to get rid of both of its guest stars immediately, it's this one, because Reik steps up to the microphone with the sort of natural charisma and smooth natural vocal range that neither Ozuna and Wisin can credibly match. Granted, it's not really helped by the fact this song has to lean into flat, buzzy reggaeton rather than the acoustic foundation it starts with and integrates on every pre-chorus, but whenever Reik gets back to the microphone, the song actually gets interesting! Shame the lyrics don't really get there - it's basically a song where none of the artists can accept the relationship is over and just wallow in angst, with Wisin's verse being particularly overdone and embarrassing - but again, I can see a place where some of this could have worked. Unlike...

74. 'Lucid Dreams' by Juice WRLD - round two with this guy, the big single Interscope is pushing with very brittle plucked synths operating as a foundation - it's actually a sample of Sting of all people - to a lumbering bass and trap snare... and my god, if I thought the melodrama of the last song was pushing it, Juice WRLD doing his blocky Post Malone impression on his single verse somehow got even worse. The autotune still sounds flat and lacking any deeper body, but really, the bigger issue comes in the insufferable bitchfest that is the songwriting which includes lines like 'I cannot change you so I must replace you' and that apparently this girl wants him dead - doubt it's not without good reason - because apparently she's just evil and plastic and fake and that her heart is full of mistakes and that despite all of that he won't let her forget him. So here's the thing: if he's implying some darker ending for this girl, there's little actual tension conveyed by his delivery to sell it, and yet without this implication, it comes across so overdone to feel like underweight Tumblr bait! No, if I want this, I'll stick with pop punk and emo with some actual intensity and introspection, not this dreck - next!

50. 'Back To You' by Selena Gomez - so much to my surprise, this is not a song tied to Selena Gomez's next album, but instead from the soundtrack of the second season of 13 Reasons Why, a Netflix series that I know more for the avalanche of controversy that's associated with it than having watched it myself - frankly, if I want my teenage melodrama I'll stick with Riverdale. Now what surprised me is that Selena Gomez has been an executive producer on the show, and she's now curating the soundtrack for the second season, with this being her big song for it... and yet much of the drama surrounding the track has been the lingering questions whether it's about Justin Bieber. Honestly, it seems like there's a real possibility that's true, especially with how it seems like they wound up separated yet again and possibly for good this time, but given that she's not even the main writer of the track, I'm more inclined to just consider it on its own merits. And on that note... honestly, I like it a lot. The acoustic foundation provides great gentle texture playing off the stuttered drums and pop-EDM beat and shimmering synths, Gomez is growing into a more expressive and subtle performer and the subtle multi-tracking on the hook is a huge asset for her, and I like how the lyrics acknowledge in the subtext how the relationship is very clearly over, but she wants to acknowledge the unfinished business and a lack of regrets, which honestly feels healthy. It's nothing all that sophisticated, but really between this and 'Wolves', Selena Gomez is landing some of the better pop songs charting in 2018, so I'll take what I can get - damn good song.

49. 'Yes Indeed' by Lil Baby & Drake - I literally forgot that Lil Baby had another song on the Hot 100 before this collaboration and that I actually covered it. Now for the life of me I can't remember anything about it, but apparently he's getting a second chance with the big Drake feature... and how is this week we keep getting references to Pikachu, because Lil Baby does it here too! Not a good idea either, given how similar his style is to Young Thug... and he's also inherited his penchant for awful lines like about how lawyer is 'a Jewish like he voodoo' and the line 'wah wah wah bitch I'm Lil Baby' - seriously, is anyone expecting to take you seriously after that? I guess the best thing I can say is that the muted melodic sample behind the trap beat sounds alright, but with Drake flexing in an utterly flat monotone with nothing interesting to say and Lil Baby still sounding like a less interesting version of what Young Thug does when he's not trying to be interesting, why does anyone need to care about this? And on that note...

46. 'Shoota' by Playboi Carti ft. Lil Uzi Vert - look, I get why people praise Playboi Carti, a rapper of such fundamentally limited skills that he's most well-known for ad-libs and better-than-average production. And believe it or not I'm not explicitly against this, providing there is something there that remains compelling - I've defended crunk music on the same level of lyricism. And with this... my god, if this was a stronger week and the production wasn't as good, I'd be way harsher on this. Again, the flexing is painfully shallow for as much for as much as both emphasize they're taking your girl - charming - and neither can ride this beat all that well - although Playboi Carti is arguably better with his oddly crunchy flow - but really, what anyone cares about is the production, a glossy skittering strings oscillation picking up off a darker keyboard line that actually breaks into the blocky trap beat really well with some higher shimmering elements, it sounds really sugary and pleasant. Shame nobody's saying anything worth while with any significant presence... but for what this is, it's passable - barely.

So yeah, not really a good week here... yeah, I can't pick an honourable mention, so we'll go with the best going to 'Back To You' by Selena Gomez and the worst to 'Lucid Dreaming' by Juice WRLD for just being utterly insufferable. Next week... hard to tell what'll happen, I don't see any upcoming album bombs, but we might get new Camila Cabello and BTS... eh, who knows.


  1. This week SUCKED

    Best Of The Week:Mi Nigeo
    Worst Of The Week:Shoota

    1. A month later, I now would give Best Of The Week to Lucid Dreams, HM to Back To You, HM to Mi Nigeo and Worst to Shoota