Wednesday, January 23, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - january 26, 2019 yeah, it's another slow week, and again, I'm not about to complain, especially when we're all staring down the barrel of that Future album bomb coming in - and while I'm not at all convinced it'll be that big, given the mixed reception at best, the lack of serious competition means it has the capacity to do a lot of damage. But in the mean time, not only did this seem like a slow week, but also the sort specifically designed to irritate me regardless.

And that means we have to start with our top ten, where thanks to consistent radio gains that only seemed to sputter out by the end of the week, along with strength across the board, 'Without Me' by Halsey retook the #1. And really, as much as I don't want it to last, I'm not confident next week that 'Sunflower' by Post Malone and Swae Lee will be able to force it out, even despite better sales and streaming. Again, I still think this song has legs, but without the same radio momentum it's going to see its streaming margins cut thanks to Future and that's not a good sign. And even despite the gains for 'SICKO MODE' by Travis Scott up to #3, it's just as true here, especially as the radio and streaming started dropping off. Then we have 'High Hopes' by Panic! At The Disco up to #4, but it did not pick up a spot on its strength, especially as radio and sales are starting to decline. Nope, it's because 'thank u, next' by Ariana Grande tumbled to #5 - good radio can only hold up for weakening sales and streaming so much. This places it against 'Happier' by Marshmello and Bastille holding at #6 as its radio tumbled, which only held its position because 'Girls Like You' by Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B held at #7 with failing radio but still somewhat consistent YouTube. Kept it above 'Drip Too Hard' by Lil Baby and Gunna still at #8 - streaming gains won't hold up much next week, I'd put money on it - but then we've got a new entry to the top ten: 'Wow.' by Post Malone at #9. Now I called this song being a hit a few weeks back - hell, of Post Malone's hits it's probably one of the best - but it'll be interesting to see how it holds up against the album bomb, especially given that it seems to have consistent strength across the board, especially in sales and the radio. Whatever the reason, I'm happy it jumped over 'ZEZE' by Kodak Black ft. Offset and Travis Scott still at #10, which might see its streaming margin seriously hit next week and that could lead to its downfall - good.

And on that note, losers and dropouts! As expected, a fair few losers from last week took their exit - 'Smile (Living My Best Life)' by Lil Duval, Snoop Dogg and Ball Greezy, 'Dip' by Nicki Minaj and Tyga, and 'Lost In Japan' by Shawn Mendes & Zedd, along with the abrupt removal of 'Last Shot' by Kip Moore - this looked like it had a bit of traction last week but it fell right off the charts here. And on the topic of 2018 songs stalling out, we had 'Uproar' by Lil Wayne fall to 49, 'Blue Tacoma' by Russell Dickerson drop to 91, 'TAlk tO Me' by Rich The Kid and Tory Lanez slide to 72, and 'Fine China' by Juice WRLD and Future to 83, along with the residual album bomb loss for 'can't leave without it' by 21 Savage to 93. And then we had the two losses from debuts - although 'Crushed Up' by Future will rebound from falling to 59, whereas 'Undecided' by Chris Brown... hopefully will keep falling from 56, the sooner the better.

But as expected, the gains and returning entries still look pretty paltry. Hell, the only reason 'Twerk' by City Girls and Cardi B rebounded to 54 is the long-overdue music video and the only reason 'Saturday Nights' by Khalid came back to 57 is a remix with Kane Brown of all people. And the only gain we got was... 'Envy Me' by Calboy, rising big up to 41 because it picked up a lot of streaming traction and will likely be forgotten just as quickly. But sliding over to our new arrivals and on the topic of forgettable hip-hop...

99. 'Splashin' by Rich The Kid - at this point I have to wonder how on earth Rich The Kid is sticking around beyond having better than average connections, because I sure as hell wouldn't say it's the music. And in this case... let's call it like it is, this is a blatant rip-off of Post Malone's 'Wow'.'. Between the overweight beat, the admittedly solid groove and desaturated melodic fragment, the only real difference is how little melody and consistent flow that Rich The Kid has, which makes the song measurably worse! Seriously, there's little modulation between the actual hook and the verses, which means that we're stuck with a lumpy song with no distinctive content amidst the flexing, gunplay, and taking your girl. But when we already have 'Wow.' and especially when Rich The Kid is such an underwhelming and forgettable presence, why do we need this again? Just asking...

80. 'Jumpin On A Jet' by Future - so this was a Future song I didn't mention when I reviewed The WIZRD... mostly because there's so little to say about it. Yeah, the synths have a bit more gloss and Future tries to fuse a bit more melody into his awkward warble on his verse that got really annoying really fast, but the muted and repetitive sample that carries the hook runs through the entire song, and that only serves to highlight how undercooked and abortive the track really is. Beyond that... you know, I'm reminded of an old George Carlin sketch about airplane terminology for as much as Future is jumping on and off the jet: 'fuck you, I'm getting in the jet'! Otherwise Future might wind up joining the past a hell of a lot sooner, that's all I'm saying!

79. 'Let Me Down Slowly' by Alec Benjamin ft. Alessia Cara - heh, so this is awkward. See, when I took the advice of a few peers to pick this as the Ideal Hit last week, I had no idea that it'd get enough of a sales push to wind up here. Granted, it's got no radio and I don't see the raw force of personality that is Alec Benjamin carrying this to the top 40, so I don't really expect it to stick around, but it is a really solid pop song, and I kind of hope I'm proved wrong. Check out last week's Billboard BREAKDOWN if you'd more, but this is a damn good song, check it out.

75. 'Thotiana' by Blueface - this is one of those songs where I heard about the joke, the meme, and the backlash before I heard a second of the actual music, and it was one of the reasons I wasn't exactly looking forward to this week - but at the same time, if we're going to take to task all the rappers who can barely structure an interesting bar to task, it's not like Rich The Kid isn't right there! And if I'm being completely honest, I might actually prefer this to Rich The Kid, because while he's absolutely off beat which is likely the wrong choice for your average strip club ass anthem, but his half-rambling flow is off in the same way an Ol Dirty Bastard or mixtape Chance The Rapper verse might be and you can tell there is some syncopation to this song regardless. That said, when you get into the actual content there's nothing here all that distinctive or worth mentioning, and it's not like the production is that special either... so yeah, it's not really good, but I've certainly heard worse.

69. 'Nights Like This' by Kehlani ft. Ty Dolla $ign - so apparently we're getting a new Kehlani album soon... and in all due honesty, I'm struggling to care. Frankly I've had better luck with Kehlani guest verses than her own material and I never cared that much for SweetSexySavage, so even with Ty Dolla $ign here I didn't precisely have high expectations for this. And yet going through this... yeah, in terms of pop/R&B, this is actually pretty damn solid, a post-breakup commiseration between the two against smoky guitars, flutes, and an understated groove that can build to a real hook. And sure, Kehlani's getting a lot of support from good multi-tracking and some chemistry with Ty Dolla $ign - especially off the heavier beat that comes off the second verse - to compensate for writing that doesn't exactly have much beneath it - you can't rhyme 'granted' with 'Adams', Ty. But beyond that annoyance, this is a good song - I like it.

33. 'Dancing With A Stranger' by Sam Smith & Normani - and now we've got our second pop duet - well, third, if we're counting Alec Benjamin and Alessia Cara - and honestly, I might actually like this one most of all! I've always liked Normani's husky alto and while I was concerned how well it'd play off Sam Smith's voice, I think they've got pretty damn solid chemistry too! And when you pair it with the fizzy crack of the beat, the murky swell of the vocal sample, and the sort of spare guitar that adds just enough organic groove to really move things, it gives the song a decent amount of tightness. But where I think this song picks up some actual punch are the lyrics, because while we all know that nothing will really happen between Normani and Sam Smith, it's all about setting up the image to get someone else back and finding some melancholic relief between the two of them. It's a more naturalistic fit, and while I could nitpick and say the song runs a little short, it's effective. Definitely a strong pairing, and if we get 'Love Lies' part two out of this with a even tighter groove, I could really get onboard - great song!

27. 'Lost In The Fire' by The Weeknd & Gesaffelstein - so look, I've got nothing against The Weeknd going back to making murky, miserable music, provided that the distorted edge actually cuts through and we get a bit more of the storytelling that can make him distinctive. And while I had reservations about Gesaffelstein showing up again - I wasn't exactly fond of his contributions to My Dear Melancholy - I was hoping this could click... and yet somehow I wound up getting the sort of electronic dance cut that was pretty much exactly the last thing I was expecting! And it's a shame it's not better, because for as much as i like the wiry electro groove that seems to be starkly reminiscent of similar sounds The Weeknd used on 'Pray For Me', the content is what really soured me on this song. I get that he reunited with Bella Hadid and doesn't want to lose her again, especially if he thinks Drake made a run at her, but the entire cut feels really clingy and lightly toxic, especially if she was contemplating her sexuality and The Weeknd's response is to have her bring a friend while he 'fucks you straight'. And yes, I get that could be perceived in a few different ways, but given the build-up in the verse and how possessive he seems, it certainly can come across in a really ugly way. And given how he outright says he's been rotating through a girl a day... yeah, the groove might be alright, but it's derivative and the content really taints the track for me. Not quite his worst, but it's close.

And honestly... yeah, I think it might be the worst of the week too, especially when you tack on an underwritten hook and the weird lack of self-awareness to redeem any of it, with Dishonourable Mention to 'Splashin' by Rich The Kid. Now for the best... man, I've got three really solid duets to pick, but I think I'm sticking with 'Dancing With A Stranger' by Sam Smith and Normani for the best and 'Let Me Down Slowly' by Alec Benjamin and Alessia Cara as the Honourable Mention - yes, just because it was the Ideal Hit last week doesn't mean it's disqualified here, or was guaranteed the top spot. Next week... enough putting it off, let's see how hard Future's album bomb will really hit...

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