Tuesday, February 5, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 9, 2019

There's a part of me that wants to invest this cooldown week with a bit more significance than it probably deserves. Sure, none of the debuts seem all that big and the song rising to the top ten isn't all that interesting and more of the story seems to come in the returns than the new arrivals or dropouts, but I get the impression that the current relative stasis is more unstable than it appears, especially with the number of 2018 songs that are lingering a bit longer than expected.

And nowhere is that more apparent than in our top 10, where for a second week '7 Rings' by Ariana Grande held onto #1 - and I'll admit I'm a little surprised by it. Yeah, the sales and YouTube are there and her radio gains are enormous, but the on-demand streams are a little soft and the fact they're rushing that 2 Chainz remix out does not speak well to the label's faith in its staying power. Still better than 'Without Me' by Halsey, though, which remains at #2... but it seems to have peaked on airplay and it is starting to tip in all other categories, which is not a good sign. If anything I would still put money on 'Sunflower' by Post Malone and Swae Lee at #3 - streaming is stronger, sales are pretty good, and it still has consistent radio traction, I think it might stay around. Where things get interesting comes in our breakthrough to the top 5: 'MIDDLE CHILD' by J. Cole at #4. Now I'll admit I might be in the minority being mostly unimpressed by this song, but its on-demand streaming is massive and it has real sales - still no radio traction so I'm not sure how long this'll last, but we'll see. What I predict might rebound past it is 'SICKO MODE' by Travis Scott down at #5 - as much as the Super Bowl halftime performance can have mixed impacts on performances, Travis did sound good and I can see him avoiding the Maroon 5 backlash mostly unscathed, and while I don't see his radio rebounding, he'll probably get a bump on sales and streaming. Next is 'thank u, next' by Ariana Grande at #6, which spent the week wavering on airplay even as it's starting to slip in other categories - '7 Rings' might be cannibalizing its longevity, which I'd argue isn't a good sign. Then we have 'High Hopes' by Panic! At The Disco at #7 - somehow it's still dominant on the radio but I can see this eventually fading a bit faster when faced with any real competition, and I honestly put 'Happier' by Bastille and Marshmello in a similar camp at #8, especially as it's losing in all categories. Now 'Wow' by Post Malone also fell to #9, but I expect this to hold its position or gain spots - it held its spot in all channels and radio is picking up traction, this is going to stick around. And sadly, I think that might be true at least for one week with 'Girls Like You' by Maroon 5 and Cardi B at #10 - look, I'm not happy about it either, but even despite the Super Bowl backlash, I can hear a boost coming. 

Now compare this to what we have in our losers and dropouts... which in the latter category mostly consists of Future, 'Electricity' by Dua Lipa and Silk City, 'Consequences' by Camila Cabello, and 'Natural' by Imagine Dragons - about time. And the bad luck continued for Future here, with 'Crushed Up' collapsing to 71 and 'First Off' featuring Travis Scott going to 57. Beyond that... eh, 'Twerk' by City Girls and Cardi B slipped to 46 - that radio can't pick up fast enough - and 'Keanu Reeves' by Logic fell to 62, mostly because it's mediocre and I want to imagine everyone else is as sick of Logic as I am.

Now the bigger story comes in our returning entries, which given we didn't really have any major mainstream releases saw a lot of songs that came back to plug up holes - 'Burn Out' by Midland at 95, 'Let Me Down Slowly' by Alec Benjamin and Alessia Cara at 100 - and a bunch that probably shouldn't have, like 'Blue Tacoma' by Russell Dickerosn at 99, 'BAD!' by XXXTENTACION at 97, 'Here Tonight' by Brett Young, and 'Splashin' by Rich The Kid at 92. The big surprise for me was the massive resurgence of 'Tequila' by Dan + Shay at 29, which looks to have made a sudden return based on the release of the acoustic version of the song and the fact that its radio presence hasn't really faded - honestly, I find it hard to complain, because even if it's overexposed, I still mostly like the song. And we're in a similar situation with our gains surging up to plug the holes of Future's faded album bomb, and while I've already mentioned 'MIDDLE CHILD', the bigger story looks to be 'Thotiana' by Blueface surging to 28 - again, my issue with this song isn't the offbeat rapping which is nowhere as annoying as the memes have made them to be, but rather how they don't add much to a generic ass anthem. And in a similar note, we saw a lot of big rebounds: 'Pure Cocaine' by Lil Baby shot up to 56, 'Saturday Nights' by Khalid and Kane Brown rose to 61, 'when the party's over' by Billie Eilish up to 76, and 'Roses' by Benny Blanco, Juice WRLD and Brendon Urie rose to 85 - I may have spoken too soon that this song is failing, although I still think it will. And on that topic, why are we giving traction to 'Take It From Me' by Jordan Davis up to 68 - the song is concentrated mono-genre trash, it should not be getting anything on country radio! At least 'Dancing With A Stranger' by Sam Smith and Normani is up to 31, and on the note of pleasant surprises, it was nice to see 'Murder On My Mind' by YNW Melly go to 78 instead of that trash Kanye collaboration - sometimes even the barest level of quality can rise.

Sadly, I'm not sure I can really invest our new arrivals with even that level of excitement, starting with...

98. 'Night Shift' by Jon Pardi - okay look, I get making the most out of an album, but is Jon Pardi so far from releasing a new project that we're still mining singles from California Sunrise, an album that came out in mid-2016? That's not saying this is precisely bad - the fiddle and pedal steel sounds good and the groove sounds mostly organic, but Jon Pardi does not have the vocal timbre to sell 'sexy' in the vein many of the guys are demanded to by mainstream Nashville, and the song is way too broad to nail the mood anyway - and unlike when Brad Paisley put out 'Go To Bed Early', it's being played mostly straight. So yeah, while I understand why this is getting pushed, it's about two years too late and I'm not all that interested.

90. 'Con Calma' by Daddy Yankee ft. Snow - well, this is a thing. For those of you who remember the 90s at all, that's a prominent sample of 'Informer' by Canadian rapper and reggae artist Snow, a song that I've got something of a mixed relationship with given that it's catchy as sin and a fair bit harder than folks remember, but delivered by a guy who probably shouldn't be forcing the patois delivery. Yeah, there's a pretty sizable Jamaican population in Toronto and that's probably still the crew where Snow hangs, and yes, Drake does it too, but I'm also fairly certain Drake shouldn't be doing it either, and I'll admit I couldn't help but wince when Snow dropped a verse on this song using it. Thankfully that's only a minor part of the song, and flipping the song to a straight reggaeton song for Daddy Yankee to bray over in a hookup jam is actually pretty inspired: it punches up the groove with more textured percussion, the melody line has always been great, and Daddy Yankee has the charisma to match both the urgency and silliness of the song. In other words... look, I don't expect this to be a hit, but I'm not going to complain it's here, that's all.

89. 'Sauce!' by XXXTENTACION - ...you know, it's very telling that people are realizing how just how much the labels and other artists are milking XXXTENTACION's legacy, notably how this song debuted as low as it did off the fourth installment of the Members Only compilation series, now framed as 'XXXTENTACION Presents'. It's also telling because this song was originally built off a 2018 remix of the Lil Yachty and Quavo song 'Ice Tray', a remix that was notably so bad that the instrumental had to be rebuilt entirely to fit the beat! And spoilers, it's still pretty bad - the spongy production, more of XXXTENTACION's slapdash singing, and when he's rapping it's one of the laziest and most rapacious verses about women I've ever heard out of him. Seriously, it's more ad-lib than actual bars where he claims that he's not being disrespectful... just if they talk too much, he's going to pass them around. Seriously, this wasn't good a year ago, moving to more mediocre production doesn't redeem it, and only serves to cast his dubious legacy in a worse light - let's move on.

88. 'Shot Clock' by Ella Mai - okay, I'm going to try not to be that annoyed with this - Ella Mai probably doesn't have that much choice over what singles get pushed, and while I think she'd be right for a ballad right now and 'Easy' is right goddamn there, 'Shot Clock' isn't precisely a bad song. Granted, it's not one of the better songs from the album either - the glassy synth doesn't really flatter her off this lumpy bass especially given how much the song coasts on an interpolation of 'Legends' by Drake and an ugly pitch-shifted voice around the hook, and all the backing vocals sound compressed, but there's a little more strident personality and I'd probably listen to this over 'Trip' - although not 'Boo'd Up'. As it is... I dunno, I can see this doing well, but I can also see this tanking with the wrong promotion, so we'll see.

86. 'I'm So Tired...' by Lauv & Troye Sivan - look, I'm not surprised these two teamed up - from what I know they run in similar circles and Lauv might be the guy to give Troye Sivan's smoother vibes the idiosyncratic flair they need - hell, even though I never really liked 'I Like Me Better', that drop was distinctive. This... well, I dig the subtler acoustic groove and the general exasperation comes through enough in the writing highlighting the post-breakup angst, but I can't help but feel like Lauv and Troye Sivan don't make the most of their interplay and the song feels a bit undercooked as a whole - maybe a little more melody, flesh out more of a tune, it'd help this stick out more. As it is, it's far from bad, but I'm not sure it's as distinctive as it should be, that's all.

74. 'bury a friend' by Billie Eilish - okay, so the end of March is the release date for Billie Eilish's debut album, and right now I'm pretty excited, especially as the singles continue to get creepier and amping up the unease. And 'bury a friend' is absolutely a step in the right direction - the subtle tapping beat against the muffled screams, the quaking warp of the synth, the pitch-shifted vocals, and all paired with an alarmingly catchy hook. And that's before you dig into the actual content of the song, a shockingly graphic back-and-forth conversation with a monster lurking beneath her bed, where the monster is almost bemused that she's more scared of real life horrors and loss - to say nothing of her own mind - than the unknown terror lurking deeper. And honestly, I have no goddamn clue if Billie Eilish can turn this into a sustainable hit - it's certainly catchy and unique enough to get there - but if she's going to keep trying to push a pop structure in darker, more twisted directions with this sort of subtlety... hell yeah I'm onboard, this is excellent!

65. 'Put A Date On It' by Yo Gotti ft. Lil Baby - and to end off this week, we're seeing something we've seen plenty of times before: Yo Gotti making a return with a new single on the back of a more popular artist! Now in this case he's at least a marginally better MC than his guest - even if he tries to force the rhyme describing someone's father as a rat, so you're a 'mice', his rhymes at least connect a little better on this song about hustling drugs, shooting people, and screwing girls, whereas Lil Baby will just keep mumbling over the non-rhymes on his verse and assume people don't notice. That said, the off-key trumpet loop blaring behind the trap beat does at least add some distinctive tune to this and kind of fits the darker vibe, and at least there's nothing here about stealing your girl... but that's more because the content isn't really all that distinctive or interesting here either, and I'm not sure the Lil Baby cosign is enough to get Yo Gotti what he wants. Eh, not bad, but not precisely good either.

So yeah, tough to say much about this week outside of some clear entries for the best and worst. 'Sauce!' by the late XXXTENTACION runs away with the latter - it wasn't good last year, new production doesn't make it good here - and 'bury a friend' by Billie Eilish easily clinches the best of this week - really looking forward to that album, I see a ton of potential there. Next week... honestly, it's looking pretty quiet, so outside of a major single breaking through, we might have some breathing room before Ariana smashes in, we'll see.

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