Wednesday, June 13, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - june 16, 2018

Kanye album bomb. Yeah, I know there are other things going on right now - a new #1, a sizable amount of activity further down the chart, but the big story is all of Kanye West's 'ye' crashing into the top 40, triggering a shockwave down the Hot 100 that'll likely be a mess to clean up next week... presuming of course Kids See Ghosts doesn't create its own impact!

But we're getting ahead of ourselves, and we do have a story with our top ten, namely that finally 'Psycho' by Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign took the #1. Now again, it's not a strong #1 by any stretch - radio gains were not consistent, it's not dominant on sales, and it got overwhelmed on streaming, but it just had enough groundswell to take advantage for the weaknesses of 'Nice For What' by Drake, which is falling into a bit of a weird place. Sure, streaming is strong enough to keep it at #2, but getting muscled back on sales and consistent radio gains are not quite enough to compensate for Post Malone's lead - again, it's a margin's game. And I'd put money on all of it being for naught in the face of 'I Like It' by Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin, which is steamrolling up the charts with good sales, consistent streaming, strong YouTube, and surging radio - again, I'd put money on this going to #1, probably not next week but likely within the month. But that's not the only thing Cardi B is helping along, because her collaboration with Maroon 5 'Girls Like You' leaped up ninety slots thanks to the video and huge sales, and I'd put money on radio getting on board in a big way. All of this shoves back 'God's Plan' by Drake to #5, but given how it's fading in all categories, I think the bigger surprise outside of the YouTube that will not die is that it's not dropping faster. And speaking of YouTube, 'Boo'd Up' by Ella Mai is continuing to rely on it to push her up to #6, although her radio pickups have been pretty good too. This pushes back 'This Is America' by Childish Gambino to #7 - again, radio pickups are coming too slow to hold off losses in sales and streaming, but it's also where we have to discuss our first new arrival to the top 10: 'Yikes' by Kanye West at #8. What's interesting is that it's the one Kanye track that actually got some sales to match the streaming - although with no radio whatsoever, I'd put money on it not sticking around. I'd like to say the same for 'Lucid Dreams' by Juice WRLD, also new to the top 10 at #9 thanks to enormous streaming... but really, it's hard to put money on this one, the groundswell seems organic with this one. And finally we have 'The Middle' by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey at #10 - all it really has is sales and radio, and given how it's losing on both, it'll be out of the top 10 soon.

And on that note, losers and dropouts, and as usual, album bombs tend to hit a wide swathe, especially ones that land so high. As such, while we have long-running songs like 'All The Stars' by Kendrick Lamar and SZA and 'Ric Flair Drip' by Offset and Metro Boomin both exiting, we also have songs cut a bit short or just muscled off, like 'Everyday' by Logic and Marshmello, 'Most People Are Good' by Luke Bryan, and 'King's Dead' by Jay Rock, Kendrick, Future, and James Blake - it's an open question if it makes the year-end list now, it'll be a margin's game again. But then we have our losers... and let's get rid of a bunch of these quickly, like more Post Malone losses with 'Paranoid' falling to 94 and 'Overdose' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again crashing to 72 and 'Call Out My Name' by The Weeknd continuing to crash at 52. And then we have the debuts from last week taking major hits, like 'Big Bank' by YG, 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Nicki Minaj crashing at 91, 'Praise The Lord (Da Shine)' by A$AP Rocky and Skepta at 70, and 'I'm Upset' by Drake hitting 32 - good. Then we've got the losers that have the points they need for the year-end list and can handle the hit, like 'Pray For Me' by Kendrick and The Weeknd, 'Finesse' by Bruno Mars and Cardi B, 'You Make It Easy' by Jason Aldean, and 'Freaky Friday' by Lil Dicky and Chris Brown - gross. And from there... damn, if you relied on streaming at all you took serious hits, with 'Chun-Li' by Nicki Minaj falling to 46, 'Dura' by Daddy Yankee hitting 65, 'Powerglide' by Rae Sremmurd and Juicy J at 67, 'Japan' by Famous Dex falling to 68, 'Dame Tu Cosita' by El Chombo fading to 75, and 'Life Goes On' by Lil Baby ft. Gunna and Lil Uzi Vert to 94. The only loser that kind of surprised me was 'One Number Away' by Luke Combs, but it seems to have peaked on the radio and looks like it's got a steady decline ahead.

Now where things get a bit more interesting come in our scant re-entries and gains, because 'Beautiful Crazy' by Luke Combs returned with a vengeance at 77 with consistently good sales, 'Take Back Home Girl' by Chris Lane and Tori Kelly rebounded to 100 because for some ungodly reason radio is behind this instead of Luke Combs, and 'Welcome To The Party' by Diplo, French Montana and Lil Pump is back at 78... and I honestly can't tell why with this one, it's strange. Now for our gains... look, I already talked about 'Girls Like You' and I'd rather not talk about 'Taste' by Tyga and Offset picking up considerably to 59 - thanks, streaming - but then we have 'lovely' by Billie Eilish and Khalid up to 79 thanks to streaming too... huh. Out of our gains I like it the most, so while I'd be skeptical how long it sticks around, I kind of hope it does.

But now onto our mess of new arrivals, but before we deal with all the Kanye, let's start with...

99. 'Sin Pijama' by Becky G & Natti Natasha - so all of you should know who Becky G is - I still remember her most fondly for 'Shower' four years ago, even though she's defiantly left teen pop behind for reggaeton, but I've actually talked about Natti Natasha before as well - she had a song with Ozuna late last year and she was easily the best part of it. So I had hopes this could work... and yeah, it's alright, but it's also falling into a weird quasi-trend this year of songs that could be framed as bicurious at the very least or in this case looking to satirize how guys imagine lesbianism... only for the majority of the song and video to be playing into that same gaze, where the aesthetic execution overrides a lot of the intent. Which is kind of a shame, because I think this is a pretty decent tune - the lyrics keep things sensual without needing to be explicit, Becky G and Natti Natasha have good chemistry, and the plucky, slightly washed out keys touching against the acoustics add a bit more flavor to what could be just another blocky reggaeton song. Can't say it's incredibly memorable, but it's decent, I'll take it.

96. 'Youngblood' by 5 Seconds Of Summer - can someone tell me what the hell happened to 5 Seconds Of Summer? Seriously, they start heading in an edgier, rougher pop punk direction on their last album three years ago with songs like 'Jet Black Heart', and instead of following the natural trend in the underground which is overflowing with great pop punk, they decide they want to follow in the mold of Maroon 5 and Zayn? Seriously, with the guitars drowned in reverb and the blocky focus on bass and kickdrums, it might have a bit more groove, but so much of the production sounds blown out and clunky on the second half of the chorus that it utterly compromises any melodic focus, which used to be one of the band's greatest strengths, instead replaced with these flat buzzy lines of synth that don't help at all. And sure, the lyrics feel a bit more mature in the deteriorating relationship they describe and Luke Hemmings is a capable frontman, but give that groove some smoldering pop rock guitars instead of this desaturated murk and then get back to me - this should really be so much better.

89. 'Africa' by Weezer - I'm going to keep this short: the original 'Africa' is an 80s pop rock classic, coasting on gentle synth grooves and superb multi-tracking that knows exactly when to bring in elements like the gong and marimba and recorders and spikes of guitar... so naturally, the best thing to do is bring in Patrick Wilson's painfully basic drumming that can't remotely handle the subtle tightness of the song, flood the entire hook with blocky guitar phrases, put an ugly gurgling synth that doesn't match the original whatsoever on the bridge, and rely on Rivers Cuomo to... honestly, I have no clue what level of irony he's operating on, only that this arrangement does nothing to truly make this work. Look, I'm as amused as anyone that Weezer notched a song on the Hot 100 in 2018, but the fact that it's this... yeah, not good, next!

85. 'Humility' by Gorillaz ft. George Benson - yeah, if we're going to get excited about an artist re-entering the Hot 100, can it be about Gorillaz? It's been twelve years since 'Dare' hit the charts, and now in the lead-up to their next album - which seems to be coming amazingly fast, at the end of June - they've recruited legendary jazz and soul artist George Benson for backup in a chill, synth-inflected funk tune. And unsurprising to anyone, it's pretty damn slick and enjoyable - maybe lacking a bit of the darker surrealism that I've found so compelling about Gorillaz's best singles, but Benson's buttery vocals and smooth guitar work plays off the slick bass grooves remarkably well as it shows our frontman leaning into the humility to extend his hand, but more as just a plea for friendship in isolation. It's lightweight for the summer but well-balanced... maybe a little too breezy for a lead-off single, but it's got potential - I dig it.

81. 'Must've Never Met You' by Luke Combs - okay look, I want to stick up for Luke Combs, he's got a solid neotraditional impulse and he's got the texture in his voice to really stick the landing... but I can't mince words, this sounds like a Jason Aldean song. The sour melodies in the electric guitars, the overdone percussion, the odd oily touches around the production and backing vocals, and while Combs can write and sell a good break-up song, a post-breakup misery track can just doesn't strike me as the best use of his talents. I'm not quite sure if this is the worst single he's released, but at least for me, it feels like the least essential. Next!

55. 'Simple' by Florida Georgia Line - not going to lie, I heard about people making fun of this song before I heard it myself - Florida Georgia Line realizing they need to pivot to make rootsier music, so they decided to rip off Mumford & Sons and the folk sound of the early 2010s, that sounded like a genuine riot, especially with a whistle that I'm fairly certain was stolen straight from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. And man alive, it's doofy as hell - I mean, come on, these lyrics celebrating how simple it can be are pretty much exactly what someone making fun of Florida Georgia Line's meat-headed dumbassery would use! And yet... I'm not going to mince words, I kind of like this. Part of this is the fact that I do have a weakness for this jaunty folk sound and leaning into plainly organic tones is about the best thing this duo could do... even if it only further proves how much High Valley and Brothers Osborne run circles around these guys. Still, I don't mind this, and while I can't see country radio getting on board with it, I wouldn't mind it sticking around.

36. 'No Mistakes' by Kanye West - okay, the next seven songs are all from Kanye West and if you already saw me review ye, you'll be familiar with this already. And like with other album bombs, I'm going to try to keep this brief... so let's start with one of the songs I liked the most on the album. And a lot of that comes down to the hook from Charlie Wilson and Kid Cudi playing off the pianos and horns and fragments of the Slick rick sample - it's almost reminiscent of older Kanye West joints. And yes, I've already said how I'm not a fan of Kanye saying he doesn't take advice from people less successful than him, but I think what's funnier is him implying he has shooters in Chicago, especially after his beef with Rhymesayers earlier this month. But as it is, the majority of this song is fine enough, generally likable, unlike...

28. 'I Thought About Killing You' by Kanye West - I swear I spent entirely too long arguing about Kanye's opening monologue in the comments of my review, so let me get my story straight. Yes, I've seen the interpretation that Kanye's talking about killing his ego or artistic self, and I'm not sure I buy it because any of its provocation is built upon the audience saying the words aloud to hear how it feels, and most of us don't care about killing our own ego in the same mold as Kanye. Now my hypothesis has always been that it's focused on Kim, the person he loves most, but it could be focused at the audience... but that would imply he loves his audience and his concert antics always seem to contradict that... but given how much the idea seems completely abandoned by the second half of the song which mostly neuters the tension, I suspect this song will always fall in ambiguous territory. And even beyond that, the autotuned warbles as a backdrop just don't do much for me, and when we get lyrics about how he calls up the Muslims on a song where he talks about murder/suicide and 'Don't get your tooth chipped by Frito-Lay' all against a sound effect that sounds like Marth's counter from Super Smash Brothers... yeah, regardless of where you stand on this one, it's a mess. Next!

27. 'Violent Crimes' by Kanye West - ah, the other song I mostly liked on this record, where Kanye West follows in the wake of Nas and Jay in discovering how to value women thanks to his daughters against a minimalist synth and piano background and a pretty nice hook from 070 Shake and Ty Dolla $ign. And look, Kanye is over forty, you'd like to think he'd have learned this lesson by now, especially given a lot of the self-awareness that characterized his earlier work, and I'm really not a fan of how so much of the framing of this song focuses on his angst and worries driven off of this being the only real consequence to any of his actions, but in the end Kanye's heart is in the right place and there is a grain of truth that guys do act like this. But here's the problem...

(not available on YouTube... not complaining with this one...)

24. 'Wouldn't Leave' by Kanye West - let's not mince words: I can't stand this song, and it's really the moment where ye falls apart utterly for me. I don't like Kanye's ugly Young Thug impression against these half-formed pianos and keys, Jeremih's bridge adds nothing, and while the choral moment of triumph is pretty, it's celebrating the fact that despite all of the asinine things Kanye has said, the one woman who could potentially call him on it and make him stop chooses to keep quiet and stick by him, and Kanye turns it into a celebratory moment for all the women who choose to stand by guys who intentionally continue to fuck up in real time, uncaring of the consequences of their actions... because at least for Kanye, there is no real consequences. It's the centerpoint of the record, and the turning point from the darkness into some form of light, but it's so bafflingly lacking in greater stakes, which leads to... well...

16. 'Ghost Town' by Kanye West - okay, there are parts of this song that works - the squonking, overblown guitars that actually click with Kanye and Kid Cudi and aggressively don't work with PARTYNEXTDOOR, all against the warbling organ and bass sample, the lyrics that seem to be all about fighting to preserve some sort of deeper happiness including the greatest focus on the outro being a regression to childhood, and, as already memed, 070 Shake saying how she doesn't bleed if she puts her hand on the stove. And basic lack of any biology aside against the overblown percussion and flashes of spacey synthesizers, am I the only one not really a fan of her delivery? It sounds like she's singing through a bad head cold and the fact that Kanye thought it was a good idea to imitate it on Kids See Ghosts... well, we'll get to that soon. But before that...

11. 'All Mine' by Kanye West - you know it's very telling that two of the darker songs on the record are the ones that charted the highest, so let's start with the less tolerable one, which is most recognizable by Ant Clemons with his breathy falsetto leading into Ty Dolla $ign as they talk about screwing girls. And I get that for Kanye it's an adolescent fantasy - how else do you explain that line about how he loves this girl's titties because they prove he can focus on two things at once, or how nobody would be here without cum, or how much he seems to relish the opportunity to cheat against this incredibly minimalist production - but again, you place this song right before 'Wouldn't Leave' and you see Kim giving him a pass... yeah, hits a bit of a sour note, even Kanye's flows connect. And on that topic...

8. 'Yikes' by Kanye West - you know, I was actually trying really damn hard to like this song - the darker synths on the hook, bassy trap rumble, super smash brothers counter noise, there's at least some chilly ambiance to the track that could pull you in as Kanye threatens to go off the deep end... until you get lines about Yeezy's just OD trolling and about how he's praying for Russell Simmons who got '#MeToo'd', where Kanye then wonders if that'll ever happen to him, which is something I feel maybe deserves a little more examination than just a cursory reference about the publicity, given that the movement was about addressing those guilty of sexual harassment! But for Kanye it's all about feeding into his persecution complex and paranoia for being edgy and out there... and no, I'm not impressed, I'm not onboard with this. I might like the production, but everything else, not a chance.

So yeah, Kanye's getting worst of the week with 'Wouldn't Leave', with Dishonourable Mention going to Weezer for absolutely bastardizing a great 80s classic on 'Africa'. Now the best... yeah, 'Humility' by Gorillaz clinches it here, but Honourable Mention... yeah fine, 'Violent Crimes', although it's more for the production and hook and some competent construction than much else. Next week... the aftermath, or will Kids See Ghosts be as disruptive as this? Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. i think the 'me too' line on Yikes might be about the girl that Kanye sent pictures of his dick to (on Runaway)