Tuesday, December 4, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 8, 2018

So I've talked before about deceptive weeks on the Hot 100, where there seems to be a lot of activity at first glimpse before a closer look reveals a more stable week - and I think if that assessment is appropriate for this week, it's entirely coincidental, a culmination of three stories that all seem to either cancel each other's impact or will be rendered irrelevant by the next week. Somehow this also wound up giving me a second shorter week, so I'm not complaining, but it's still worth pointing out.

But here's the big news: despite not being dominant on streaming or YouTube, thanks to a sales discount and abrupt second wind at radio, Travis Scott's 'SICKO MODE' has taken the #1 spot - and the reason I'm not exactly pleased about this is because I still think it's the worst song on Astroworld and even if he's not credited we don't need to be giving Drake any more hits in 2018! But let me assure you all this won't last: the only reason that 'thank u, next' did not hold #1 is because the video didn't get a full tracking week and its sales dropoff was a bit sharper than expected - it'll rebound and retake #1 next week, especially going into the holidays. That's the first story of this week, and that also means the rest of our top 10 is just not that interesting. 'Happier' by Marshmello and Bastille is holding at #3 thanks to strength pretty much across the board, and thankfully has the airplay margin to keep 'Without Me' by Halsey at #4 despite that song's better sales and streaming. Then we have 'High Hopes' by Panic! At The Disco rising to #5 on airplay dominance and strong sales - without streaming it's not getting higher, but still respectable - and on the flip side we have 'Mo Bamba' by Sheck Wes up to #6 on pretty much just streaming. Then there's 'ZEZE' by Kodak Black ft. Offset and Travis Scott up to #7 thanks to its video boost - it did get a rebound, just not a big one - and then we saw a modest gain for 'Drip Too Hard' by Lil Baby and Gunna up to #8, thanks to a slight sales boost to accent the streaming. Granted, I'd put more of their gains to big losses for 'Girls Like You' by Maroon 5 and Cardi B down to #9 as it bleeds in every category except YouTube, but even worse for 'Lucid Dreams' by Juice WRLD down to #10 as it lost in all categories as well, especially on the radio.

And with that pleasant news, we just need to look at our losers and dropouts and the story gets even better. Yeah, I might be a bit irked that we lost 'Lucky You' by Eminem and Joyner Lucas early, but when it takes out 'I Like Me Better' by Lauv, 'Psycho' by Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign, 'W O R K I N M E' by Quavo, and 'SAD!' by XXXTENTACION, I have to consider that a net positive. And to continue in that lane, it seems like 'tis the season', and since most people don't want to listen to forgettable trap, a whole lot of it took steep losses. Drake in particular got it bad, with 'In My Feelings' down to 37, 'Nonstop' at 46, and collaborations with Lil Baby like 'Yes Indeed' at 44 and with Lil Baby and Gunna with 'Never Recover' at 85. Then we have the expected losses for Metro Boomin, with 'Space Cadet' with Gunna falling to 91 and 'Don't Come Out The House with 21 Savage hitting 95, and then the continued dropoff for posthumous XXXTENTACION songs with 'BAD!' falling to 54 and 'Falling Down' with the late Lil Peep hitting 98. And while we're going through the list of mediocrity and junk falling off, 'I'm A Mess' by Bebe Rexha continued to 78, 'That's On Me' by Yella Beezy hit 67, 'Rich' by Maren Morris hit 87, and 'I Love It' by Lil Pump and Kanye just crashed at 97, and if we want to take out forgettable country too 'Hangin' On' by Chris Young hit 79 and 'Blue Tacoma' by Russell Dickerson hit 89. The only songs I'm even somewhat regretful took losses were 'Backin' It Up' by Pardison Fontaine and Cardi B falling to 76 - hoped it'd have a bit more staying power - and 'Best Part' by Daniel Caesar and H.E.R. at 93, which has never had much traction to begin with.

So what's replacing all this? Well, this is where we have to talk about our sparse gains and returning entries, and at first glimpse it's proceeding as expecting: 'Be Alright' by Dean Lewis is plugging the Ed Sheeran hole up at 65 and 'Better' by Khalid is up to 29 because it's a good song, but there is a gain and returning entry that should be considered together: 'STOOPID' by 6ix9ine and Bobby Shmurda is up to 61 and 'BEBE' with Anuel AA back at 86. Yes, the questionably big story of this week is the 6ix9ine Dummy Boy album bomb, but thanks to getting released midweek it didn't nearly penetrate as much as it should and thus seems a bit muted. But do you want to know what held it back even more? That's right, folks, the avalanche of Christmas music is back on the charts, buoyed by good streaming and a comfortable sales boost as 'Last Christmas' by Wham! returned to 43, 'The Christmas Song (My Christmas To You)' by Nat King Cole is back at 39, 'Jingle Bell Rock' by Bobby Helms hit 33, 'A Holly Jolly Christmas' by Burl Ives is at 26, 'Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree' by Brenda Lee is back at 23, and 'It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year' by Andy Williams is at 21 - and of course, Mariah Carey's perennial holiday hit 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' is up to 14, making a very credible top 10 run as pretty much the only modern Christmas song I ever want to hear!

But before we get into our new arrivals this week - elbowed back by the onslaught of Christmas music and I'm generally okay with that - I think it'd be nice we highlight another Ideal Hit, my new miniseries where on shorter weeks I highlight a song that given the right promotion and positioning for this week could have also broken onto the Hot 100. And while the easy shortcut for this series is just looking down at the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart for the songs that would be an obvious fit, I'm going to try and avoid that for the most part... but sometimes, you get that song that makes you do a double take, especially given how it is being marketed and you just have to hear it. And then you realize that in a just - if not entirely sane world - I'd see this on the Hot 100...

Okay, look, you're going to have to follow me through why this is so crazy to me. If you're not familiar with this song - well, congrats for being born in the 21st century, but 'When You Believe' was the most recognizable song from the animated movie The Prince Of Egypt, which surprisingly holds up way better than it should upon a rewatch. Hell, the song may have eclipsed the actual popularity of the movie at some point, mostly thanks to getting remade with Whitney Houston teaming up with Mariah Carey for a cover which wound up winning an Academy Award! So to see Pentatonix for their annual holiday project team up with Maren Morris - who you might as well not even consider a country act at this point - for a cover of this recontextualized for a Christmas album... there are few realms where this makes anything close to sense, it's the wrong goddamn testament! All of that being said... I think I kind of really like this cover, maybe even a bit more than the Mariah and Whitney version, which has always tipped too close the godawful, sanitized R&B interpretations of classic Disney songs that I've always hated. Even though Pentatonix is about the furthest thing from a capella at this point, the arrangement still opts for a minimalism that allows the build-up to build more space amidst the multiple key changes and giving Maren Morris some room to actually showcase some vocal chops. And when you factor in a song that has a fundamentally great melodic structure that slips into minor key progressions more than you'd expect and allows the build to the choral swell on the outro to actually develop... yeah, I don't expect this to chart on the Hot 100, especially given that Pentatonix already has 'Hallelujah' coming back.. but there's a part of me that loves the bewildering greatness of this song that would love to see it happen.

And now onto a list of new arrivals that's a lot less promising...

90. 'You' by Jacquees - I really wish someone would explain to me what the hell Jacquees is trying to do with his career right now, because between the Ella Mai flipping fiasco and doing an entire album with Birdman, I keep expecting him to be bigger than he is. But we did get a single out of this, and... honestly, this should be better than it is. The drippy minimalism is not a bad fit for Jacquees and he does have charisma - although why he drops behind a vocal filter for the entire bridge and final prechorus - but then we get to the lyrics and am I the only one skeeved out by how he insists she got all sorts of silly issues in her head that he can fix, even despite the fact that he probably shouldn't be... it's got this weird air of condescension to it that doesn't match the muted sensuality of the song at all - and dude, if you're emphasizing all the bullshit that you'd rather be with despite passwords being changed, I'm starting to think the problem isn't her, it's you! So yeah, not all that good... but I'd probably take this over...

71. 'WAKA' by 6ix9ine ft. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie - so four of our six new arrivals are 6ix9ine songs off of Dummy Boy, which I won't be reviewing because the overblown legal drama has long eclipsed the music and I just don't care, especially when you realize this project was riding way more on people cashing in on 6ix9ine's hype train than any sort of sane artistic development. So here's the first song with A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and the first thing you'll notice is that these songs barely feel like the blaring hellscapes that characterized 6ix9ine's first and arguably 'best' hits - if anything, this Scott Storch elegant synth feels way more comfortable for A Boogie than 6ix9ine, who bursts onto the scene with a blast of gunshots... and that's about it when it comes to his content. Seriously, A Boogie's half-formed story about shooting people and not screwing this girl whose trying to play him is actually more interesting... but it never coalesces because the song is two minutes long and 6ix9ine is more peripheral than anything else - oh well, next!

69. 'come out and play' by Billie Eilish - alright, I'm actually a little stunned how well Billie Eilish's songs have crept onto the Hot 100 - she doesn't have a smash just yet but as of now she's got four songs that have charted without a full album out yet. And this one... hmm, I'm not sure. Rooting the entire song in a generally pleasant acoustic line amidst the piano, thicker bass beat and drippy percussion touches before after the hook the song breaks into a much more propulsive rumble that makes you wonder how the song is going to explode... only for that not to happen because then you discover this is a song made for an Apple ad and it was probably not allowed to get truly weird by corporate mandate. That said, the soft reassurance for someone to go out and find someone else, something that Billie Eilish is capable of holding back despite her own feelings, it adds a subtle sadness to the song I really admire... even if I do think this is her most forgettable track to date. Still good, though.

62. 'TIC TOC' by 6ix9ine ft. Lil Baby - look, the last three songs here are all 6ix9ine, you've been warned, so let's start with the one with Lil Baby... and oh god, we're getting the warmed over, pop-crossover 6ix9ine that has precisely no charisma or flair matched with a gutless acoustic loop that doesn't match with the bass or trap hi-hat at all! And of course the only way Lil Baby can ride it effectively is if they chop the groove into slivers which just feels awkward as he talks about abandoning the girl in his rooftop condo so he can pick apart your girl, and then we get 6ix9ine talking about your girl buying him everything he wants before he steals her money and then calls her to go out to 'eat-eat' with her pussy on 'leak-leak'. You know, even by the standards of meme and absolute joke that I think everyone seems to treat these songs from 6ix9ine, this is just embarrassing, flat out - this sucks, let's move on to...

59. 'KIKA' by 6ix9ine ft. Tory Lanez - so now we get rinky-dink steel drums from Scott Storch and a big hook from Tory Lanez - seriously, does any of this sound like it fits with the tones that made 6ix9ine big in the first place? I mean, he's at least trying as he's blasting pretty much the entire crew he dumped en route to prison, but with the overstuffed syllables on the first verse, it almost sounds like this was a verse intended for something else that was dropped in here. And that before we get the second verse with wonderful dropped rhymes and lines like 'Ray Charles, John Cena shit, I can't see the bitch' - which is sort of a punchline if you squint sideways at it. I will say it got pretty funny when Tory Lanez realizes he couldn't say Tr3yway' and throws in whatever words he could think of to plug the gap - and if you want something emblematic of how tossed off this project is, it might be that. But now onto our last song...

58. 'MAMA' by 6ix9ine ft. Nicki Minaj & Kanye West - you know, it's very telling that of the stars clinging to 6ix9ine for clout and relevance and yet seem to be nowhere in sight now that he's in jail, it was Nicki Minaj and Kanye West, both of whom saw themselves flailing in more ways than one. But it's hard to deny that if there's anyone worth caring about this song, it's them and not 6ix9ine, who drops into his boring flat tone which somehow sounds sloppy even against this gross blurry mush of a melody and your standard trap beat. Although that isn't saying much: Kanye's oddly mediocre vocal layering that has him peak in the mix and shouting about unfaithful Instagram models - you do realize many of them are getting paid for those posts, right Kanye? - and then there's Nicki... look, it's her choice to embrace the plastic Barbie doll thing and getting dressed up by Kanye, but by playing into how young 6ix9ine himself is and then spending the first half of her verse talking about sex, it all comes across as faintly icky. And when you also consider the song is called 'MAMA'... yeah, no, I'm not for this one.

So yeah, this week was pretty bad... but let's be honest, with a DUMMY BOY album bomb, it wasn't about to be good. So best... yeah, it's not great, but I think 'come out and play' by Billie Eilish just wins this by default, leaving 'TIC TOC' by 6ix9ine and Lil Baby as easily the worst. Next week... likely a Meek Mill album bomb, although he faces the bulwark of Christmas music, so it'll be intriguing what actually gets through.

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