Tuesday, July 16, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - july 20, 2019

So am I the only one who feels like all the album bombs I've been predicting just are not happening in the same way they used to? Maybe it's a matter of diminished hype or maybe the charts hitting equilibrium surrounding streaming so that larger numbers are demanded to break through, or hell, maybe it's just a lack of the truly big names shaking up the charts, but I was expecting impact from Dreamville and while we got a couple of songs, it really wasn't that many, which led to another slow week this summer for which I'm not complaining, but still seems bizarre.

Of course, that means more of the story has to focus on our top ten, where for another week 'Old Town Road' by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus has the #1 spot - but now more than ever it's looking shaky, even with its second remix coming with Young Thug and Mason Ramsey. For one, it's not dominant in on-demand streaming anymore, and with radio in free fall, what's really keeping this afloat are its discounted sales and YouTube, and that margin is getting smaller every week. Now the big question is whether 'bad guy' by Billie Eilish, with its utterly unnecessary remix with Justin Bieber will make a play past #2... and as of now, pre-remix impact, I'm not sure it's close enough to do it. Yeah, radio is better, but deficiencies in sales and streaming might not be enough to cut it, and the fact that nobody liked Bieber's remix probably doesn't help. So okay, will it be our newest arrival into the top 10 at #3, "Goodbyes" by Post Malone ft. Young Thug? Honestly, I doubt it - it might have beat out 'Old Town Road' on on-demand streaming, but I can't see it making up the margin in the other categories on its second week to be a serious challenger, especially given how much it has to catch up on radio. On the flip side we have 'Talk' by Khalid at #4, which has easily outstripped its competition on the radio... but precisely nowhere else, it's not making a run here. Then we have 'Senorita' by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, and make no mistake, I think this song has potential to go to the top eventually - it's robust in all categories and narrowing the gap, but it's probably three or four weeks away from being a serious contender. Then we have 'I Don't Care' by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber at #6, and normally I'd disqualify this pretty quickly from the conversation - good radio, but the sales and streaming aren't what they should be... except if there's an artist to have an album bomb in 2019, it'd be Ed Sheeran with his collaborations project next week, which I predict might be more disruptive than you'd expect, not to overtake 'Old Town Road' but to pull away some of its current gains - and right now, looking at early Spotify numbers, that could very well happen. Now this might seem to be at an inopportune time for 'Truth Hurts' by Lizzo back to #7, but she's another act with strength across the board - timing will be the big question for her here. It's certainly not an issue for 'Sucker' by the Jonas Brothers tumbling to #8 - radio's in freefall, and that's its strongest asset - and 'Sunflower' by Post Malone and Swae Lee to #9 - frankly, I'm surprised this got a brief revival in the first place, as the sales actually went up this week to compensate for its streaming slipping. Finally, we have 'Suge' by DaBaby at #10, which holds its spot as its streaming slips thanks to radio - huh, didn't see that coming...

Anyway, now onto our losers and dropouts... and while I wouldn't call it a steady week, I wouldn't say there's much that's out of the ordinary here. Yeah, 'Please Me' by Cardi B and Bruno Mars left the charts after clinching its year-end spot - and 'Eyes On You' by Chase Rice fell out while missing it - and for the rest of our losers, it's a mixed bag. Yeah, 'Pure Water' by Mustard and Migos slid to 39 after its brief boost last week, as have the debuts for J Balvin and Bad Bunny with 'Ques Pretendes' to 94 and 'Beautiful People' by Ed Sheeran and Khalid to 40 - expect this to rebound big next week. Then we have the continued losses for 'Rodeo' by Lil Nas X and Cardi B to 51, along with the downward slide for 'ME!' by Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie to 52 - it'll likely still make the year-end list, but it certainly has underperformed. Then we have the dropoffs for 'Press' by Cardi B to 58, 'Out the Mud' by Lil Baby to 85 - good - and most intriguingly, 'Look What God Gave Her' by Thomas Rhett to 65, which as this rate could be at risk of losing its year-end spot, which is not something I expected I'd say given how well it was doing a month or so back.

Now for the gains and returns, this is where we're seeing a bit of impact from Revenge Of The Dreamers 3, because outside of 'Only Human' by the Jonas Brothers inching back to 100, the big return came for 'Down Bad' with JID, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG and Young Nudy at 64 - which I actually don't mind, the song has grown on me. And of course when we go to our gains 'MIDDLE CHILD' got a healthy boost to 32... and it's a shame there's not much else here worth discussing. Yes, 'Cash Shit' by Megan Thee Stallion and DaBaby continuing to rise to 74 is promising, the rebound for 'Trampoline' by SHAED is welcome at 78, and I'm not going to complain about 'My Type' by Saweetie surging to 67 off the debut. But I sure as hell am going to complain about 'Lalala' by Y2K and bbno$ rising as well to 68, or 'The Ones Who Didn't Make It Back Home' by Justin Moore rising to 84, or 'Someone You Love' by Lewis Capaldi continuing to stick around at 36 like a fungus - this could well become as big as it was in the UK if we're not careful, that's not a good sign.

Anyway, we've got a pretty trim list of new arrivals, so let's get started with...

98. 'I Don't Know About You' by Chris Lane - I've said this a couple of times, but I've long thought that I should dislike Chris Lane way more than I do, because he represents exactly the sort of interchangeable, sterile bro-country that has monopolized this decade damn near to a tee... and yet at his worst, he and his team could assemble a good tune, which is likely the reason he hasn't been forgotten yet. Anyway, this is a song he released over a year ago with a blatantly synthetic snap beat but since it's produced by Joey Moi it's overmixed, run through too many filters, and compressed way more than it should be - maybe a bad idea when Lane's knack for a tune is his best asset. And when we get to the content, it's a bargain barrel hookup song complete with a Bud Light reference and a hook ripped straight from a "pickup artistry for schmucks" book pushed in 2009. In other words, disposable and mediocre even for Chris Lane, and that's a really bad sign!

95. 'No Me Conoce' by Jhay Cortez, J Balvin & Bad Bunny - you know, I'm really looking forward to the day one of these reggaeton cuts get interesting, because in the grand tradition of getting synths that sound like extended farts, we've got a reverb-saturated clunker with your by-the-numbers percussion and our various artists yelping over the majority of it. It just sounds uncomfortable, and translating the lyrics don't exactly make it better - from what I can tell it's a sex song with the emphasis on 'sex' and avoiding any long-term hookups, and yet it's got the non-innuendo and wish fulfillment of pornography, and not good porn either. So yeah, it's not quite the worst of this genre I've heard and it's more just sleazy, but why does it have a vibe such that nobody's having any fun? Ugh, next!

75. 'Costa Rica' by Dreamville ft. Bas, JID, Mez, Guapdad 4000, Reese LAFLARE, Jace, Smokepurpp, Buddy & Ski Mask The Slump God - honest question: would it have killed someone assembling this song to make it a bit longer than three and a half minutes? Seriously, when you have nine people on your song and even if you're only expecting them to contribute eight bars apiece, and the content and flows are not that distinctive or spcial, you run the serious risk of everyone piling up to the point where you can't tell anyone apart - hell, even the guitar line sounds a bit like it's piling up the background behind the leaden trap beat, even if the horns try to provide some stability! Granted, I say this with the admission that Ski Mask The Slump God slides onto the final verse and easily brings the most distinct personality, and I do think J.I.D. sounds good - certainly better than Buddy talking about sticking his thumb in the girl's ass, which I can't imagine is comfortable for anyone if the hook is all about putting diamonds in your watch, but I want to come back to that hook and an observation I made in my review of the album: J.I.D ends his verse saying he got mistaken for Swae Lee, and then we get a shift to Guapdad 4000 sounding like a Swae Lee wannabe, and isn't that a bit ironic for a label trying to distinguish themselves on this compilation? As for this song... it's overstuffed and yet bizarrely underwritten, but neither the best nor the worst from the project, and I doubt it'll stick around.  

60. 'BLOW' by Ed Sheeran ft. Chris Stapleton & Bruno Mars - you know, I said this on the Podcast That Rocked a few days ago and I said it when I reviewed the album: I don't think the song works at all. And it's not for the lack of trying from all three artists, who are at least trying to credibly sell a trashy rock star cocaine anthem that's trying for swaggering funk rock and winds up a lot closer to Lenny Kravitz - they can all howl their lungs out well, and while it's a weird combination, I can buy it coming from all three artists. But this song is utterly kneecapped by two major issues, the first being the production, which demands a fat bass riff and guitars with genuine muscle and sizzle that aren't going to be compacted and compressed to lose that texture. And more to the point - and understand this is me being a rock snob who has listened to way too much of this sort of cock rock - if the writing isn't going to rise above utterly banal dad puns and the most basic of rock star iconography, it feels like something I've heard hundreds of times before, and not something that stands out. Sure, it's been a while a song like this has hit the Hot 100 proper, but that doesn't make it special, or interesting, or all that good. Because yeah, folks, I'm not on board with this one.

44. 'Under The Sun' by Dreamville ft. J. Cole, Lute & DaBaby - so I'll say it: this is probably the Dreamville collab song I've liked the most that has charted thus far, likely thanks to DaBaby's rising star, the chopped-up soulful backing sample, and that uncredited hook from Kendrick Lamar that is really damn infectious! I certainly think it's that in comparison with J. Cole saying how he's got your girl sucking her thumb for a cheap Lil Baby reference or Lute sounding utterly forgettable - Cole, other than sounding like another version of you, are you ever going to help give Lute some hype because you weren't even on his album! DaBaby really is the star of the show here with some genuinely solid wordplay and some swaggering detail in being underestimated that reflects a level of hunger that I honestly wish I heard more of on the project. So yeah, if only for him, I'm hoping this holds a little bit - good song, I like it.

3. 'Goodbyes' by Post Malone ft. Young Thug - welcome to the newest entry in songs that are blocked by 'Old Town Road'... but in all due fairness, I'm not sure Post Malone and Thugger could have made the run anyway, especially if it can't make up the margin in other places. Which for this song... honestly, I'm kind of stuck in the middle with this one. For one, it's yet another sour breakup song where Post Malone compares himself to Kurt Cobain - maybe don't remind me Nirvana exists when I'm listening to this - but I do appreciate that the framing at least seems balanced in the acknowledgement they're both toxic and probably shouldn't be anywhere near each other... at least until Young Thug comes in to juxtapose him bitching at her touching the TV with crazy possessive lines and then saying he wants to 'slice and dice her' - I know he's just referring to words, that's still creepy and toxic! Now to Post Malone's credit, I do like the swells of ethereal backing texture and watery reverb for having more of a tune... but man, the mixing on this song is bad! The percussion and layering aggressively peaks and blows out chunks of the mix, which when you have a song that is so dependent on vibe just wrecks its impact - a shame, because I think there's a credible hook here, this could have possibly worked. But as it is... not terrible, but man, it should be much better.

And that leaves a week that's honestly pretty rough, to the point where I can't pick any Honourable Mention for the best of the week going to 'Under The Sun' from J. Cole, Lute, and DaBaby. Now the worst... see, for me it's a bit of a tossup, but I think I'm going to give it to Chris Lane and 'I Don't Know About You' for being actually a little disappointing in failing to deliver any sort of hook and probably being the most embarrassing - it looks creepy when you want to learn everything about someone in the first hookup, dude, you're not playing it cool whatsoever! Anyway, next week Lil Nas X has a chance to tie the record for the #1, but the big question is whether Ed Sheeran actually manages to deliver a real album bomb and that streaming activity becomes disruptive - we'll have to see.

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