Tuesday, June 19, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - june 23, 2018

So I'll be honest: if there's a week that feels like a bit of a breather for me, it's this one. Yes, we got an album bomb from Kanye and Kid Cudi, but thanks to it actually being pretty good and not having an avalanche of other new arrivals, this week actually feels a little more restrained for once, and before Scorpion crashes in a few weeks, I'll take what I can get.

So on the topic of Drake, let's start with the top ten, where 'Nice For What' regained the #1 basically on playing the margins: streaming and YouTube gave it just enough of an edge to compensate for peaking on the radio and bypass the stronger sales and airplay of 'Psycho' by Post Malone ft. Ty Dolla $ign forced back to #2, not helped by its own set of radio losses. And while it's not there yet, 'I Like It' by Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J. Balvin is certainly closing in at #3: strong sales, ruling YouTube, and surging on the radio and streaming, all it needs to do is close the gap, and it'll get there in a few weeks, mark my words. Now at this point 'God's Plan' by Drake did rise up to #4 - even despite peaking on the radio it's still a YouTube monster and will have a very slow decline - but I'd put money on it getting overtaken sooner rather than later, and the first suspect will be 'Girls Like You' by Maroon 5 and Cardi B at #5. Yeah, it did slip a bit in the margins, with how quickly it's gaining airplay, it could get there. On the flip side, you have 'Lucid Dreams' by Juice WRLD surging up on streaming alone to #6 - yeah, it's got a bit of sales, but radio is not touching it and while it was projected incorrectly by Billboard that it'd take the #1, without stronger margins across the board I don't see that happening. It did blow past 'Boo'd up' by Ella Mai at #7 which has good radio and streaming numbers and will probably have more longevity, but without sales it's not really getting higher. But thanks to the losses of Kanye's last album bomb we do have some returns to the top 10: 'The Middle' by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey at #8, with good sales propping up radio now in freefall, 'No Tears Left To Cry' by Ariana Grande at #9 which is still pretty consistently strong across the board and gaining, and 'Meant To Be' by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line at #10, which just cannot die fast enough.

So on that pleasant topic, we have our losers and dropouts. In the latter category, the only big ones worth mentioning are 'New Freezer' by Rich The Kid and Kendrick Lamar and 'Finesse' by Bruno Mars and Cardi B, and both had respectable runs, albeit with only the latter likely making the year-end list. But even when you go to the losers the list is a fair bit smaller - multiple album bombs have blown apart weaker hits, and thus the losers are more predictable. Of course Kanye took major hits - 'All Mine' fell to 31, 'Yikes' to 40, 'Ghost Town' to 60, 'Violent Crimes' to 85, and 'Wouldn't Leave' to 92 - but then we had the losses for surprising returns, like 'Beautiful Crazy' by Luke Combs falling to 93 and 'Welcome To The Party' by Diplo, French Montana, Lil Pump and Zhavia Ward going to 100. The only other two losers I'm surprised have lasted as long as they are, with 'Fake Love' by BTS hitting 71, and 'Drip' by Cardi B & Migos dribbling to 96, neither of which I see lasting much longer.

Now what look more interesting are our gains and returning entries, first in the latter category being 'Me Niego' by Reik ft. Ozuna and Wisin at 83 and 'Babe' by Sugarland and Taylor Swift at 95, the latter likely thanks to the video and the album dropping. But our gains are a bit stranger - yeah, I'm not surprised that 'Woman, Amen' by Dierks Bentley got a nice boost thanks to the album to 53, or that 'Taste' by Tyga and Offset seems to have real traction up to 38, or even that 'Delicate' by Taylor Swift has quietly picked up a ton of radio up to 25. But I won't say I'm happy to see 'Better Now' by Post Malone rising across the board to 20, or that I wasn't caught off-guard with 'Youngblood' by 5 Seconds Of Summer picking up early traction to 79 - you'd think the boost would come next week. Finally we have 'Mercy' by Brett Young up to 63 - eh, it's got good sales and the radio seems onboard, we'll see how much higher it goes.

But now onto our slightly more sparse list of new arrivals, starting with...

90. 'I Know You' by Lil Skies ft. Yung Pinch - it's funny, I've tended to be a fair bit kinder on Lil Skies than most critics have - yeah, his content is not reinventing the wheel when it comes to this sort of melodic trap song, but he's got a better grasp of melody than most and I tend to gravitate to that. That being said, that relies on the melody being good, and the second we get into these oily, off-kilter tones playing off the flat and oddly cheap sounding trap beat, I'm a lot less forgiving, especially when the entire track is all about bashing girls as gold-diggers... that they still feel compelled to brag that they're getting and taking from you. A big problem with this is Yung Pinch, who leans much closer to the desaturated mumble rap lane and is a huge drag on Lil Skies who actually has a personality, but when he's describing his diamonds as piss and saying he'll hit girls who test him... yeah, there's a way to burn good will in a hurry, and it's this song. Not good, next!

88. 'Rich Sex' by Nicki Minaj ft. Lil Wayne - so is there anyone else who thinks Nicki Minaj's single roll-out for her upcoming album isn't making much sense? You'd think that 'Barbie Tingz' and 'Chun-Li' would hold her over, but she pushed back her record to August and instead released a single with Lil Wayne, and... yeah, no, I'm not a fan of this, with Nicki hammering her message of only screwing guys with money into the ground with the bluntest language possible and Lil Wayne making it pretty damn explicit on his verse. And what's exasperating is that there isn't any wit or flair to this - with the sharp piano keys and lumpy trap beat, this almost feels too cold and calculated and about the furthest thing from fun, and Nicki and Lil Wayne rap on flows with a curtness that somehow makes their content feel even less appealing, especially when Nicki makes it plain if this girl is getting it from a broke guy, she's going to out that to everyone. So yeah, it might not be as unpleasant at the Lil Skies track, but it's certainly up there.

84. 'Lose It' by Kane Brown - man alive, I keep trying to give Kane Brown chances and I'm not sure why - he's got a decent voice and while I'm not sure you could tell by the over-emphasis on overproduced drums and guitars that have no significant texture, he at least tries to bring in a banjo and fiddle for country texture. But the problem is that all of it is in service to another by-the-numbers bro-country hookup with the sort of flat, pseudo-rap delivery that can't help but feel clunky without any significant low-end groove, which is a persistent issue with too much bro-country that never gets due attention. Tack on ugly vocal production on the pre-choruses... and no, I'm sorry, I can't get on board for this. Next!

73. 'KIDS SEE GHOSTS' by KIDS SEE GHOSTS - okay, so as with previous album bombs, I reviewed KIDS SEE GHOSTS last week, so I'm going to try and keep this relatively brief... and unfortunately we're starting with one of the weaker cuts here. Oh, don't get me wrong, I like the eerie muffled clink of the production and deeper swells of atmosphere that almost remind a little of 'In The Air Tonight' by Phil Collins, and Mos Def's hook is appropriately meditative, an okay balance for Kid Cudi's verse... but then we get Kanye's verse where despite a good flow we get a stream of bragging that doesn't quite capture the same vibe, especially how he juxtaposes the fact he's got a bible by his bead with the fact that he doesn't read it - telling. Couple it with Mos Def not really being all that impressive on his bridge... eh, it's fine, but there are better songs.

69. 'Cudi Montage' by KIDS SEE GHOSTS - man, I really wanted to like this song a lot more. I liked the Nirvana guitar sample, Kid Cudi has some good smolder on his verse as he looks out at the wider world he can now see removed from his mental hell and pleads for greater salvation, and that juxtaposes with Mr. Hudson's response speaking from the voice of God and it picks up some real swell with the glittery synths. And then Kanye comes in with another good flow describing the real world violence they now face... and ends the line referencing how the pardoning of Alice Johnson will 'inspire men'. And if I thought that sentiment was painfully misguided last week, when I take a look at what the current president and his cronies are pushing now surrounding family separation at the border... yeah, that inspiration's not going to take. Shame because outside of the real world connection I think this is a solid song... but that connection was made in the text. Thankfully, we have something better with...

67. 'Fire' by KIDS SEE GHOSTS - the more I've thought about it, I think this might be my favourite track on KIDS SEE GHOSTS - the rickety guitar phrases against the jingling groove that captures a parched, desiccated vibe before the faint flutes and spacey touches spike around it, if the groove was a bit heavier overall it'd be something close to what Swans has made circa To Be Kind, especially when you pair it with the mental hell both men must transcend. It's a spiritual march, and ending on the fractured guitar sample is a perfect way to capture that. So yeah, great song, definitely better than...

62. 'Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)' by KIDS SEE GHOSTS - look, there are things to like about this track. The choral blending and integration of Ty Dolla $ign with Kid Cudi is excellent, the euphoria captured from the first 'Ghost Town' is palpable and feels more structured against the wiry guitar tones and lo-fi drums, and Kanye includes just enough spacey embellishments to highlight that warped, spiritual vibe. But man, that wonky enunciation of 'free' on the hook can't help but feel goofy every damn time they do it, it's just oversold. I get why they do it - it's clearly intended to sound unconventional and defying established norms - but they don't hit any sort of transcendent timbre with it here, and it just takes me out of the song. Still, there's enough to like about this, I'll take it.

47. 'Feel The Love' by KIDS SEE GHOSTS - I'll admit that like pretty much everyone I wasn't on-board for this song at first - yes, the minimalist synth fizz behind Pusha-T was solid, but his verse wasn't great in comparison to Daytona, and when you follow it with Kanye's trap scatting against Kid Cudi's hook... well, it's a lot! But when you hear how the stuttered percussion kicks into the heavier, nosier march cadence provides some gated foundation for Kanye and then factor in those watery synth flutes and faint guitars before the hook comes surging back, the song hits real pathos in a potent way, especially if you consider Kanye's rage-filled spitting a biting indictment of Pusha-T's nihilism - as Kid Cudi says, he can still feel the love, not succumb to desaturated numbness. So yeah, another great tune... but then we get...

42. '4th Dimension' by KIDS SEE GHOSTS - this is another song that I honestly wish I like more than I do - the flows are solid from both MCs, Kanye takes the absurdity of his bragging about wealth and sex as a juxtaposition against the mental anguish and paranoia - looks like Santa's bringing all sorts of presents this year, especially with the reference to 'swinging' implying a far darker undercurrent especially with the wizened cackles... and yeah, Kid Cudi's verse is good too in making the darkness more literal as those darker figures become more literal to them, but something about this just isn't quite clicking. Maybe it's a little too reliant on the rigid beat around the Louis Prima sample, or needs a little more to flesh it out, or the fidelity of said sample might be even too lo-fi for Kanye to flip effectively, but it just doesn't quite work all the way for me. 

39. 'Reborn' by KIDS SEE GHOSTS - I'm a little surprised that of all the songs from KIDS SEE GHOSTS it was this one that caught traction. I mean, it's certainly the softest with the distant pianos and lumbering knock of the lo-fit beat with the most immediately memorable hook, but it's also the most personal and downbeat, where Kanye speaks plainly about the mingled contradictions he's struggled with having bipolar and how he just doesn't want to be numbed to the experiences in his bubble. And Kid Cudi realizing he has to take those internal steps to claw out of depression is powerful too, especially when the hook emphasizes that sense of space and emptiness, that it's not quite a moment of euphoria to be free, but a lingering ambiguity surrounding what can even come next, and thus he has to keep moving into the unknown. It's a song that carries some weighty topics, but it sticks the landing - definitely one of the stronger tracks here.

And yeah, I think 'Reborn' is going to get Honourable Mention, with Best of the Week going to 'Fire' for just that killer groove, it really connects. Worst of the week... yeah, 'I Know You' by Lil Skies and Yung Pinch, just a complete disappointment and ugly as hell production and writing, with Dishonourable Mention going to 'Rich Sex' by Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne for almost being just about as ugly. Next up... see, I don't expect a Nas album bomb, but it will be interesting how much Jay-Z and Beyonce impact things with their surprise album, so we will have to see.

1 comment:

  1. Best Of the Week: Lose It
    HM: I Know You
    Worst Of The Week:Rich Sex