Tuesday, October 9, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - october 13, 2018

Well, I was half right with this. I knew there'd be some form of album bomb with Lil Wayne - the sales and streaming numbers made it practically undeniable - but what I didn't expect that it kept Logic from charting anything with the entire album dominating the Hot 100 with a full twenty-two debuts from that album alone. And since I already reviewed the album... well, you'll see in a bit, but suffice to say that considering album bombs are now the norm in the streaming era and have been throughout 2018, I'm going to be putting in some new rules on how to properly handle them in a way that's reasonable to the health of this show, so stay tuned for that.

In the mean time, the top ten... and let me register my surprise that 'Girls Like You' by Maroon 5 and Cardi B somehow clung to #1. Make no mistake, it was close, but I think it comes with this song just having enough sales and radio dominance to compensate for weak on-demand streaming, and the fact that our first new top ten entry, 'Mona Lisa' by Lil Wayne ft. Kendrick Lamar at #2, just didn't have the radio penetration or YouTube to truly put it over the top. But without any radio push for this song, I have to wonder if it'll have any hope to get higher, especially given that there is real streaming competition with traction in other lanes. Take a look at 'Lucid Dreams' by Juice WRLD, only down to #3 because it still has considerable streaming and real radio, which is a similar case for 'Better Now' by Post Malone down to #4 but supported by even stronger, if unstable radio. But then we have 'Don't Cry' by Lil Wayne ft. XXXTENTACION at #5 as our second new entry... and while it does lag 'Mona Lisa' in all categories and also doesn't have a radio push, there's a part of me that does have the unsettled feeling that it'll stick around regardless simply on posthumous name recognition. Then there's 'SICKO MODE' by Travis Scott somehow clinging to #6, and I have to think some of that comes back to radio, where it holds just enough traction to remain stable. But now let's consider the Lil Wayne track that has radio momentum and will likely stick around in the top 20: 'Uproar', and while many don't expect the challenge to take off, it does have some single traction, at least for now. Then we've got a surprising gain for 'Youngblood' by 5 Seconds Of Summer up to #8 - yeah, a good week on radio and sales were solid, but I reckon the boost came more from streaming infighting than any real traction beneath it. Not the case for 'In My Feelings' by Drake, though, falling to #9 as it bleeds on all fronts and will likely be out of the top 10 fast. And finally, one last Lil Wayne entry with 'Let It Fly' ft. Travis Scott at #10 - like 'Mona Lisa' and 'Don't Cry', it doesn't have radio so it'll probably fall out fast, but it's very telling how much Travis Scott's name will hold chart momentum, even outside of competition with Nicki Minaj.

And on that note, losers and dropouts! And we had some BIG ones this week in the latter category, with the three most notable being 'God's Plan' and 'Nice For What' from Drake and 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran, finally being forced out after over a year on the Hot 100. What I find more notable are songs like 'All Girls Are The Same' by Juice WRLD and 'Apeshit' by The Carters being muscled off, both likely to miss the year end list, and that's before you get some okay runs sliced short like 'Barbie Dreams' for Nicki Minaj, 'STARGAZING' from Travis Scott, and 'Life Changes' by Thomas Rhett. That actually did catch me off-guard a bit when it came to our losers, they weren't all just strong streaming cuts getting hit: 'Simple' by Florida Georgia Line fell to 53, 'She Got The Best Of Me' by Luke Combs hit 58, 'Hotel Key' by Old Dominion falling to 69, 'Break Up In The End' by Cole Swindell broke to 73, 'Drunk Me' by Mitchell Tenpenny hit 80, 'Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset' by Luke Bryan fell to 85, 'Hanging On' by Chris Young fell to 96, 'Drunk Girl' by Chris Janson dropped to 97, and 'Drowns The Whiskey' by Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert hit 100. And that's just the country losses - R&B and pop had it just about as bad even with radio support, as 'Boo'd Up' by Ella Mai dropped to 33, 'no tears left to cry' and 'breathin' by Ariana Grande hit 43 and 68 respectively, 'You Say' by Lauren Daigle lost its gains to 70, 'The Way I Am' by Charlie Puth fell to 77, 'Ring' by Cardi B and Kehlani broke to 61, 'Drew Barrymore' by Bryce Vine hit 63, 'Jackie Chan' by Tiesto, Dzeko, Post Malone and Preme dropped to 65, 'Promises' by Calvin Harris and Sam Smith broke at 85, 'Better' by Khalid continued down to 87, 'Medicine' by Queen Naija stopped working at 89, 'Best Part' by Daniel Caesar and H.E.R. slipped to 91, and 'Head Above Water' by Avril Lavigne lost hard off the debut to 93. Then you have hip-hop and trap and as I predicted it was a bloodbath: 'No Brainer' by DJ Khaled, Bieber, Chance The Rapper and Quavo went to 30, 'Falling Down' by the late Lil Peep and XXXTENTACION lost hard to 40, 'Wake Up In The Sky' by Gucci Mane, Bruno Mars and Kodak Black fell to 51, 'New Patek' by Lil Uzi Vert lost all its gains to 54, 'That's On Me' by Yella Beezy went to 88, 'W O R K I N M E' by Quavo slipped to 91, 'Leave Me Alone' by Flipp Dinero lost all its gains to 98, and 'No Stylist' by French Montana and Drake plummeted off its debut to 94. Hell, even rap beef couldn't hold up as 'Lucky You' by Eminem and Joyner Lucas continued down to 55, 'Rap Devil' by Machine Gun Kelly slid to 79, and 'KILLSHOT' by Eminem hit 34 - frankly, it's higher than I expected. Oh, and 'Africa' by Weezer fell to 67 - good riddance.

Now we don't have any gains this week - just a return for 'Lost In Japan' by Shawn Mendes which seems to be getting a radio push thanks to a remix with Zedd - but we do have a ton of new arrivals, and now I think it's appropriate to discuss something about Billboard BREAKDOWN that I'm sure you all have noticed over the past year: namely, that it can get really goddamn tedious when I'm just rattling through a list of songs on which I already spoke in a review at length when an entire album impacts the Hot 100. It's a pain in the ass for me to put together these mostly redundant pieces, but more importantly, I've literally seen comments from folks where they check out because it's just another album bomb week. And as such, in the interest of your time and my sanity, I'm putting my foot down and introducing a set of rules for Billboard BREAKDOWN album bombs specifically. In the event of an album bomb event with eight or more new entries impacting the Hot 100 in the same week from an album I've already reviewed on my channel, my coverage will be as follows: full discussion of all new songs from the album landing in the top 10, and my best and worst entries including Honourable/Dishonourable Mention candidates if they happen to land on songs from the album. The rest... look, the Lil Wayne album was an ocean of underwhelming filler, so here is where the Lil Wayne tracks I'm not covering landed on the Hot 100.

'Dope New Gospel' by Lil Wayne ft. Nivea at 90.

'Perfect Strangers' by Lil Wayne at 86.

'Demon' by Lil Wayne at 81.

'Used 2' by Lil Wayne at 78.

'Start This Shit Off Right' by Lil Wayne ft. Ashanti & Mack Maine at 76.

'Mess' by Lil Wayne at 74.

'Took His Time' by Lil Wayne at 65. 

'Open Safe' by Lil Wayne at 62.

'Hittas' by Lil Wayne at 59.

'Problems' by Lil Wayne at 57. 

'Open Letter' by Lil Wayne at 47.

'Dope Niggaz' by Lil Wayne ft. Snoop Dogg at 39.

'Famous' by Lil Wayne ft. Reginae Carter at 36.

'Dark Side Of The Moon' by Lil Wayne ft. Nicki Minaj at 26.

'What About Me' by Lil Wayne ft. Sosamann at 24.

'Can't Be Broken' by Lil Wayne at 17.

and 'Dedicate' by Lil Wayne at 14.

And now for a much more reasonable list of new arrivals for which we'll be selecting best and worst...

75. 'Let It All Work Out' by Lil Wayne - so there are three legitimately great songs that debuted from Tha Carter V this week, and by some miracle two of them wound up in the top ten, so we'll be talking about them soon. The last of them is the album closer and it's a pretty great song in its own right. The vocal sample from Sampha, the piano riding off the thick low end and sandy percussion that does feel a bit tinny, but the real star as with many of these songs is Lil Wayne himself, who might start his first verse on balancing pride and longevity in the game and his second verse as a tribute to his mother and a lesson to never hit women - kind of contradicts what he said on 'Open Safe' but whatever - as well as a half-formed reference to a member of TLC, but it's the third verse that truly cuts, where the tempo picks up and he talks about when he shot himself... which he now reveals was a botched suicide attempt, given a second chance to keep living. And for an album arc where Lil Wayne has finally released Tha Carter V, it's a powerful capstone, and a great song to boot.

56. 'If I'm Lyin I'm Flying' by Kodak Black - I'm starting to come to the unpleasant realization that the only reason we weren't seeing more Kodak Blacks hit on the Hot 100 was because he was in jail, not because the collective public came to the rightful conclusion that he sucks. Now to be at least somewhat fair this is a better song than most from him, mostly coasting on that lumpy Pointer Sisters sample and the fact it's just over two minutes long, and that the content doesn't have any truly egregiously bad punch lines. But between the multi-tracking and Kodak Black's utterly lousy diction, and the hard rhyming and rhyming words with themselves, there's just not enough to praise about Kodak Black either as a performer, especially when Lil Wayne came out spitting hard on track over track. So yeah, this isn't precisely bad, but I'd be hardpressed to call it better than average, especially these days.

28. 'Shallow' by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper - so yes, I'll be looking to see A Star Is Born, probably this weekend ahead, and from some cursory reading surrounding the soundtrack I've discovered that a song like this one develops most of its weight from the larger context within the movie, which makes it a little hard to judge on its own here, especially when I checked the writing credits and didn't notice any of the heavyweight alt-country names attached like Natalie Hemby, Lori McKenna, or Jason Isbell. And so with this... okay, I'll give points to Bradley Cooper right out of the gate for having a pretty solid baritone with a solid twang that works opposite the acoustic guitar... but it's clear that when the piano kicks for Lady Gaga, she's operating on a different level when it comes to dramatic presence and vocal firepower, especially moving into her upper register. And the lyrics pick up that resonant power too, with Cooper fitting well into the decaying Americana star and Gaga's sharper rejoinders showing the risk of the give and take in their relationship. And outside of some nitpicks of how the vocals are layered... yeah, I can't complain, this is a goddamn great pop song, and while I was curious about the movie before, now I'm actively looking forward to it.

27. 'Taki Taki' by DJ Snake ft. Selena Gomez, Ozuna & Cardi B - you know, I'd like to say I'm surprised this is how DJ Snake would get his next crossover single, but I'm not. Sure, Ozuna for the reggaeton crossover, Cardi B for the rap cred, and Selena Gomez because she's about the only pop singer who has had any consistent record with producer-driven songs in recent years. It's just a damn shame for some ungodly reason they gave the hook and first verse to Ozuna to play off the fizzy beat, weedy but muted flute, and thicker bass before switching to Cardi B delivering a pretty underwhelming luxury rap verse and Selena Gomez sounding way better than I was expecting against this production by leaning into her sultry side. And it's strange, her limited personality almost reminds me in concept of Britney Spears, namely in how mostly synthetic vocal production enhances her presence on the groove, where Cardi B brings all the personality and overwhelms it and Ozuna tries to project personality and fails. Overall... look, with that many names attached I can see this doing well, but radio isn't onboard yet, so we'll have to see.

10. 'Let It Fly' by Lil Wayne ft. Travis Scott - of all the Lil Wayne songs I'm covering in full this week, this is the one for which I have the least to say... basically because it sounds like a Travis Scott song from 2015 with a particularly murderous closing verse from Lil Wayne. Seriously, I was shocked to discover this was actually finished in 2018, the mixing on the pianos and Travis' autotune feels lacking the lush, suffocating atmosphere of Astroworld, and while the beat is alright, Travis doesn't really add much before Lil Wayne shows up for some of the tightest rhyming on the entire damn album! Yeah, it's not much beyond some a bunch of ways he's going to kill you, but the connectivity of the rhyme pattern is enough to just put this in higher territory and elevate the song as a result. So yeah, damn good cut, happy it debuted this high.

7. 'Uproar' by Lil Wayne - not going to lie, I'm a little stunned this broke as high as it did. Yes, I know there was a challenge associated with this song but it doesn't sound like anything that's come out in 2018 so much as a cut from Tha Carter I or II from the early-to-mid 2000s. Part of that is the Swiss Beatz production with the sharp treble pianos and the crowd noise flooding the mix against the beat, from a sample that Lil Wayne has used before and said he doesn't even like, and while I think the track could afford Lil Wayne to sound a little more hungry than the oddly dazed affectation he has here, his bars all consistently connect for pretty much exactly what you need for a banger of this stripe. It's nothing revolutionary, sure, but it's a blast from the past in exactly the best way for my preferences with Lil Wayne, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Unlike, say...

5. 'Don't Cry' by Lil Wayne ft. XXXTENTACION - so I'm getting the nauseating feeling that snippets of XXXTENTACION's recorded output are going to be tacked onto a lot of songs for the easy name recognition, as it was apparently done so here. And I could restate again my opinion that this money grab is gross and wrong and put together by people who should know a lot better, I think what's more infuriating is how sloppily the vocals are mixed, especially on the second verse with Lil Wayne's awkwardly tacked on autotuned ad-libs. Pair it with how I've never liked X's singing, dreary clanking production, and Lil Wayne's slower, introspective but rarely hard-hitting bars that uses X's name as a punchline for his own life... yeah, nope, it remains the worst song on Tha Carter V and a pretty lousy song in its own right, especially in comparison to, say...

2. 'Mona Lisa' by Lil Wayne ft. Kendrick Lamar - man, I wanted this to go to #1, because it's the sort of superstar team up that almost seems destined for it, with Kendrick comfortably stepping into the supporting role of this murderous story song in the same way he did on Eminem's 'Love Game' five years ago. And while Lil Wayne is a more creative killer than most on the mic, what I love about this is the storytelling and context wrapped around this song... which yes, probably leans a little heavier than it should on the girls who seduce, rob, and kill their boyfriends under the command of Lil Wayne, but then Kendrick shows up as said boyfriend consumed by paranoia and jealousy and you see another side of the story where nobody is completely innocent in this. Oh, and the haunted pianos and symphonic swell of the production adds a ton of gothic melodrama in the best way possible, and both Kendrick and Wayne sound fantastic against this production with tremendous flows, even if I'm not the biggest fan of Kendrick's 'crying voice' delivery that he used on 'u' a few years back. 

But yeah, there's a reason why pretty much everyone has praised this as the obvious highlight of Tha Carter V and for me it's the clear standout as the Best of the Week, but for me there's a tie for Honourable Mention, with 'Let It All Work Out' by Lil Wayne matching 'Shallow' from Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Worst of the week, unsurprisingly, is 'Don't Cry' by Lil Wayne and X... and honestly, I'd struggle to give out a true Dishonourable Mention, as even that Kodak Black song wasn't terrible, and there wasn't any obvious song from Tha Carter V that'd fit in that slot either, so let's just pass on it. Next week... the fallout - or maybe twenty-one pilots might spring a few cuts onto the Hot 100, who knows.

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