Tuesday, October 2, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 6, 2018

Okay yes, I'm very relieved it's a cooldown week... but look, in the era of the album bomb and with Logic and Lil Wayne set to do stupid numbers for next week, it's really not that much consolation that I get a breather here, especially if it comes at the expense of any analysis or predictions beyond 'well, Lil Wayne has a shot for a few top 10 debuts and maybe a shot at #1'.

And even then, if you look at the top ten it shouldn't be that surprising, because while 'Girls Like You' by Maroon 5 and Cardi B is holding at #1, it's a weak #1, held back on sales, weak on streaming, and wavering on top on the radio. Hell, if it wasn't for Lil Wayne I'd say that 'Lucid Dreams' by Juice WRLD, currently at #2, would have a shot here, with massive streaming and more radio traction than I'd otherwise expect. And right behind it is 'Better Now' by Post Malone at #3, with better sales making up for weak streaming and how radio is currently tipping into a nosedive. Still more than enough to keep it above 'in My Feelings' by Drake down to #4 - yeah, streaming is still good, but the radio losses are gross and will keep it falling fast. What caught me offguard was the continued success of 'KILLSHOT' by Eminem, only dropping to #5 as it's being propped up by sales and YouTube - I still don't expect it to last much longer, but this did surprise me. What rebounded considerably was 'SICKO MODE' by Travis Scott up to #6, mostly thanks to streaming and consistent on-demand traction... and again, the video still hasn't dropped yet! It held up over 'I Like It' by Cardi B ft. Bad Bunny and J. Balvin down to #7, but you could have predicted that thanks to how much it's bleeding in all categories... except, bizarrely, sales, where it holds a little more steady. Kept it just above 'FEFE' by 6ix9ine ft. Nicki Minaj and Murda Beatz at #8, which pretty much just has streaming at this point... and yet unless Lil Wayne seriously disrupts it next week, it'll hold up regardless thanks to YouTube. Hell, it held over 'I Love It' by Lil Pump and Kanye West down to #9, which is also only on streaming but the margins there are too slim to keep it above other categories. Finally, clinging onto #10 thanks to the radio and sales, we have 'Youngblood' by 5 Seconds Of Summer... and even with that, I question how long the good radio momentum will last.

On that topic, losers and dropouts! The only big one of the latter is 'Mercy' by Brett Young, just on the cusp of missing the year-end list for 2018, and when we flip over to the losers, somehow 'Apeshit' by The Carters is in the same boat at 97! Now the rest of our losers fall out as expected, especially for Eminem with 'Lucky You' with Joyner Lucas stumbling to 28, 'Fall' dropping to 73, and 'The Ringer' slipping to 95 - and for good measure, 'Rap Devil' by Machine Gun Kelly also slid to 40. And outside of 'Better' by Khalid losing off the debut to 57 and 'Remind Me To Forget' by Kygo and Miguel losing traction to 93, the rest of our losers follow from last week: 'Barbie Dreams' by Nicki Minaj continues to sputter at 70, 'Hooked' by Dylan Scott fell to 79, and 'Self Care' by Mac Miller dropped hard to 90. 

And thus we move to our returning entries and gains... and honestly, I'm questioning the point of even covering these, as the concurrent album bombs will likely nuke these from orbit! There's no way that the one return 'Vaina Loca' by Ozuna and Manuel Turizo at 100 will last into next week, and since so many of the gains are heavily dependent on streaming, I can see a lot of positions in jeopardy. And as such, while we had big gains from debuts like 'Falling Down' by Lil Peep and XXXTENTACION to 13, 'New Patek' by Lil Uzi Vert to 24, 'Leave Me Alone' by Flipp Dinero to 81, and 'Noticed' by Lil Mosey to 83, I don't see them lasting - really, the only one I see sticking around is 'Best Shot' by Jimmie Allen at 86, and that's only thanks to the buffer of country radio! And really, radio and sales will be the saving grace for songs like 'Lie' by NF up to 62, 'High Hopes' by Panic! At The Disco to 46, 'You Say' by Lauren Daigle at 53, 'Speechless' by Dan + Shay to 77, and 'Happier' by Marshmello and Bastille to 15... even if you don't want it to be, and even then, they will likely lose positions. The only song I'm skeptical about is 'Mo Bamba' by Sheck Wes continuing to rise up to 31 on streaming, if only because it might have the momentum to hold out, I'm not sure.

But now onto our new arrivals... and since we only have five this week, I think it's time we bring back an old tradition to this channel, something I don't think I've done in months where I venture around the world for a hit somewhere else that could deserve a little shine in the United States. And this time... well, it's tricky, because the big worldwide smash isn't exactly a great song even I think it does provide some good conversation... screw it, let's talk about it anyway!

Backstory: Loud Luxury is a Canadian DJ duo who got a bit of hype thanks to a Martin Garrix remix and this is their first breakthrough single, featuring Brando on lead vocals. And I want to stress how huge this song has been - it's been a top ten hit around the world and a top five hit in Canada and the U.K., this is pretty big... and also distinctively Canadian, which isn't common for worldwide hits not coming from Drake. But the lyrics are arguably the diciest element here: the girl has clearly been going through this guy's friend group and he wants to hook up, but she's more interested in the scene of Toronto in an oddly capricious way. And when you consider how much our protagonist is trying to grind away his innocence and Brando's slightly more soulful delivery, the guy doesn't exactly read as all that sympathetic either - if anything, he feels just as flaky, which would make this song tough to appreciate except for the acknowledgement that the entire song does fit a very specific, King Street West Toronto nightclub vibe. But really, if I'm going back to this it comes from the production: blurry keys against sandy snaps, and then for the drop off the snares, the synth tones pick up this roiling low-end honking tone that has a surprising amount to groove to it. So yeah, it's definitely a flawed song and one that I can see folks who aren't familiar with the vibe kind of dismissing... but in a strange way it works for me, I'll take it.

And onto our lists of new arrivals, unfortunately starting with...

96. 'Rich' by Maren Morris - I'm not even surprised this is charting - because what else is a woman supposed to do to get country airplay these days other than make a pop song! This was the worst song off of Maren Morris' debut album and two years have not improved it. And I can see why some might give this a pass: the lumpy guitars and bass have some actual tune and Maren Morris has attitude, but beyond that it's a smarmy kissoff for all the times she's gone back to this guy and then gotten dumped again and the hook is stuffed with about as many non-country brand names as you'll see in your average trap song! It's just clunky and obnoxious in a really clumsy way, and the central sentiment doesn't even work, because if you were getting money every time you dealt with this guy, you've got the incentive to never stop, and considering the alternative scenario is not even painted, it just feels grasping and undercooked. So yeah, still not a fan - next!

92. 'Backin' It Up' by Pardison Fontaine ft. Cardi B - the only reason this song is on the Hot 100 is because of Cardi B - like with most new hip-hop artists I haven't heard a shred of buzz before he notched a hit and his back catalog is pretty scant... or at least I would have said that before yesterday where Kanye West tweeted that Pardison Fontaine wrote the vast majority of 'Violent Crimes', the final song on ye. Now the ghostwriting admission doesn't surprise me - Kanye's been very open about how much he writes his verses and even if 'Violent Crimes' was intended as more intimate, it does punch a nice hole in Kanye's ream of excuses around the writing on the album. But now the ghostwriter has a hit of his own with Cardi B and... it's not bad? Pardison Fontaine has a surprising amount of vocal personality and presence and his bars connect - although his talk of saran wrapping the pussy instead of using a condom raises all sorts of questions - and then Cardi B shows up with a few solid punchlines and a decent hook. Overall it's solid, although I do think the blocky bass, standard trap beat and very minimalist melody doesn't stand out all that much - decent track, but not great.

74. 'This Feeling' by The Chainsmokers ft. Kelsea Ballerini - look, there's a part of me that can't blame Kelsea Ballerini for this - country radio isn't playing women, she's always had a foot in pop, so why not collaborate? Of course, the issue is that she's working with The Chainsmokers who have been having a miserable 2018, and it's not like this trap-inflected blurry tune does much to elevate any of them, especially as Ballerini doesn't have any writing credits on this and the drop is a squonky, pitch-shifted replacement for a decent hook. Yeah, the acoustic guitar sounds alright and the lyrics aren't bad - basically a song where love overrules the reason of their friends although it's telling how quickly Andrew Taggart mentions on his verse he can see an end - but the truth is that there's just not much to it beyond that. The Chainsmokers have made worse music in 2018, sure, but the fact that Kelsea Ballerini has to dip to this, especially as she tries to harmonize on this song... yeah, she's better than this.

64. 'Head Above Water' by Avril Lavigne - so Avril Lavigne is coming out with a new album, apparently intended for this year, and am I the only one who is actively questioning where she'd fit in modern pop? Because I don't expect her to make another stab at pop rock or pop punk - she's older, and outside of the indie scene that sound is long gone, so we get a piano ballad with big strings embellishments about her struggles with Lyme disease over the past few years. And honestly... I wished I liked this a little more. Yes, I'll freely admit that her more conventional pop material has never interested me as much as her rock or punk stuff, but this is a song that almost seems to be taking steps towards Christian rock territory with the frequent invocations of God and getting saved on the hook. Which to Avril Lavigne's credit, she can still sell - she's always been an underrated and very charismatic vocalist, and she still has enough of an edge to pump up this song, but whenever I was expecting the heavier elements on the hook to drive it home, they kept sputtering out in a really wonky way, and the lack of greater lyrical detail just doesn't get there. Again, I want to like this, I want to see Avril Lavigne make a comeback... but in a pop era where we have songs like Kesha's 'Praying', this doesn't quite measure up. Good tune, though.

47. 'No Stylist' by French Montana ft. Drake - so it's funny, I've mentioned before that I've been watching the Joe Budden podcast a bit and he's expressed some amusement that when Drake gets together with French Montana, the verses Drake unleashes tend to be petty or at the very least pointed... only slightly ironic, because when Drake teamed up with French Montana on 'No Shopping', he was allegedly dissing Joe Budden. So okay, this appears to be something of a sequel and... well, it's a letdown. Yeah, the guitars behind the leaden trap beat and sharp hi-hat skitters sound alright and French Montana is doing his generic brand name flexing and really biting Travis Scott's style, but the verse from Drake... all we have is one subliminal shot about how he doesn't want the girls wearing Kanye's sneaker brand, that's it. The rest is pretty generic bragging which leaves the song as hollow as any other French Montana joint - not bad, but not really memorable either.

So yeah, not a lot to really praise this week... I guess I'll give Best of the Week to Avril Lavigne and 'Head Above Water', but even then it's more decent than great. Worst, 'Rich' by Maren Morris, and even then it's not bad so much as it is grating on my nerves and a squandering of potential. Next week... Logic and Lil Wayne, and a lot of both - stay tuned!

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