Tuesday, September 10, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - september 14, 2019

This week does not matter. Now the natural expansion of that is saying, 'look, the Billboard Hot 100 is a badly constructed fugazi of contradictions and payola, none of it really matters', but let's focus on this week here, because next week Post Malone is going to bulldoze through here with a full Hollywood's Bleeding album bomb, and most of what showed up here will be gone: you've been warned.

Of course, I'm not sure how much it'll impact our top ten, especially as Lizzo still has control of the #1 with 'Truth Hurts'. And while her streaming margins will be hurt next week, thanks to huge sales, robust YouTube, and radio gains that have not slowed down, I don't see her position getting disrupted. Now 'Seniorita' by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello is a little bit more precarious at #2 - sales are strong but as starting to slip, as are streaming and YouTube, but with its radio dominance, it's probably just fine too. Now 'bad guy' by Billie Eilish could be in real trouble - it's more reliant on streaming, and with its radio tumbling, it could well be exposed. But I'd say this even more about 'Ran$om' by Lil Tecca, up to #4 on the strength of a debut album that I didn't know existed - it's huge on streaming, but pretty much nowhere else, and disruptions there will hurt. Hell, it vaulted past 'Old Town Road' by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, holding at #5 as the streaming won't die but everything else is - this collapse might be slower than I expected. Then we have 'No Guidance' by Chris Brown ft. Drake up to #6 - I blame the radio boost - but then we have the song that'll probably pick up significant positions next week: 'Circles' by Post Malone at #7. Strong streaming and sales, and already getting some radio traction - even if I'm no big fan of it, it's probably going to stick around, at least for a little bit. Hell, it blew right past 'I Don't Care' by Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber, which is up to #8 but more because of positions fading above it given how it's collapsing on all fronts, but at least it's holding a bit better than 'Talk' by Khalid down to #9, which only has radio and is bleeding hard. Finally, at #10 we've got the slight rebound for 'Goodbyes' by Post Malone ft. Young Thug - expect this to get even more of a boost next week, as it still has traction in every category and will only get more with the album.

But to flip the script here, let's talk about what's fading away, our losers and dropouts - and sadly, the vast majority of it did wind up being Taylor Swift. Yeah, we got the expected losses of 'Never Really Over' by Katy Perry and 'EARFQUAKE' by Tyler, The Creator - both expected to miss the year-end list, sorry folks - but going to our losers, they're all Taylor this week: 'Lover' down to 23, 'ME!' with Brendon Urie at 54, 'The Man' collapsing at 61, 'Cruel Summer' fading at 71, and 'I Forgot That You Existed' at 74 - yikes.

But on the other hand, we did see a lot of gains and returning entries... most of which won't survive a second album bomb hit from Post Malone, so just keep that in mind here. Don't get me wrong, I'd be thrilled to see 'Higher Love' by Kygo and the late Whitney Houston surge beyond 93, or even 'We Were' by Keith Urban rise beyond 99, but it's not likely to happen - hey, at least we're taking out 'What Happens In A Small Town' by Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell beyond its return at 91, or 'Wish Wish' by DJ Khaled, Cardi B and 21 Savage somehow back at 95. Now for our gains that'll survive... look, I don't want to live in a world where 'Hot Girl Summer' by Megan The Stallion, Nicki Minaj, and Ty Dolla $ign doesn't rebound to 21, or that 'Good As Hell' by Lizzo loses its momentum and falls below 41 - hell, I'll even settle for 'Panini' by Lil Nas X sticking around up to 29 off his video. I'm more worried about 'Motivation' by Normani up at 51, or 'Right Back' by Khalid clawing back to 73 on the remix with A Boogie wit da Hoodie, or even 'Ballin' by Mustard and Roddy Ricch getting hit as its back at 70 - if it's going to drag along 'Baguettes In The Face' with Nav, Playboi Carti, and A Boogie there at 81, I've got to take something. Hell, my biggest consolation is that Post Malone is going to keep wiping out bad songs, because while 'One Thing Right' by Marshmello and Kane Brown rebounded to 42, 'I Don't Know About You' by Chris Lane saw a boost to 50, and especially 'Lalala' by Y2k and bbno$ went to 55, they're all getting crushed next week. And along with them, the rest of the gains I see getting hit hard is 'Did It Again' by Lil Tecca up to 64 - that album boost won't last - 'On Chill' by Wale ft. Jeremih at 45, 'Living' by Dierks Bentley at 57, 'Time' by NF at 60, 'Southbound' by Carrie Underwood at 66 - still a colossal disappointment she released this as a single - and 'Baby Sitter' by DaBaby ft. Offset at 88; although the consolation for DaBaby is that his collaboration with Post Malone will probably chart much higher.

Anyway, continuing on the week that doesn't matter, our new arrivals, starting with...

98. 'La Cancion' by J Balvin & Bad Bunny - I mean, I don't want to act like I can predict everything coming with singles like this, but come on: for as much forgettable reggaeton as I've heard from these two, I've yet to be all that impressed and this... well, okay, it's a bit better. For one it's more melancholic with the piano, flutes and distant horns playing off the standard percussion line as the two men muse about a lost relationship captured in the moment of the song... it's a good enough sentiment, and even if the Kanye West 'dark fantasy' reference feels completely incongruous with the rest of the song, both of these two capture the vibe pretty effectively, even if the song does feel a little sluggish and undercooked in spots. But still... it's alright, I can take this, and that's more than I've said about these two in a while.

97. 'Love Me' by Lil Tecca - I mean, to title your song that is both asking a lot and drawing the unfortunate comparison to that horrible 2013 Lil Wayne song, so to say I had rock bottom expectations is an understatement. And honestly, this isn't doing much to win me over: the plucky clicks of the melody off the cheap trap percussion, the chipmunk vocals, and Lil Tecca lazily questioning whether it's worth falling in love given all the women around him. And yet the more listens I gave this undercooked fragment, the more it snapped into focus: it's not a new observation and I won't claim credit for first noticing it, but Lil Tecca is such an obvious ripoff of A Boogie wit da Hoodie it's distracting - might also be the only reason I can recognize the melody and yet care about nothing being said - next!

96. 'The Bones' by Maren Morris - alright Nashville, enough is enough - nobody gives a shit about that forgettable album Maren Morris shoveled out six months ago when the Highwomen project is right goddamn there, and she's even on it! But no, you have to grab this, which might not be bad thanks to the liquid snap beat and slice of elegant production from Greg Kurstin, but the melody is beyond generic, Morris sounds tuned out, and as much as I want to like the sentiment of how relationships last when built on good foundations, there's little else that stands out. Maren Morris has made better - hell, there's a better song with her on it that could use some circulation right now and it's actually country through-and-through, you don't have to do this. But in the mean time, I'm going to go back to forgetting this exists - next!

94. 'God Only Knows' by for KING & COUNTRY - see, this is what was worried about with Lauren Daigle's success, you wind up getting more Christian crossover acts that think it's a smart idea to crib the title of their song from a classic Beach Boys song! Now for this, it was originally released in July of 2018... and for the life of me, I'm not hearing the appeal of this at all. Like the majority of Christian music the production sounds flimsy and cheap, especially in the gutless percussion, fake handclap, and faint sputters of pitch-shifting next to vocals that went to the X Ambassadors crossed with Rag'n'Bone Man school of delivery. I should also mention at this point that the only real reason this charted is because they tacked on a brittle acoustic line and pulled up Dolly Parton to sing with them... and then promptly swamped her out on the hook because they have no clue how to use a country icon properly or cater to her voice! And then we head into the content... and look, I get trying to play the inspirational comfort anthem, there's a place for that, but there are two major problems. One, why include the line 'god only knows what they say about you', which to anyone suffering insecurity immediately raises the question that they've missed something, and two, am I the only one who feels it's a little sanctimonious to play even heavier on the loneliness of the song's target, especially given that for as much as they emphasize God knows, there's no warmth to the song to emphasize any sense of love or sympathy, with brings out a weird detachment I instantly dislike. So no, this isn't good, and the cynicism behind choosing a Beach Boys title makes my skin crawl - I get more spiritual fulfillment from that song than anything here! But bizarrely while we're in this territory...

90. 'Good Vibes' by Chris Janson - okay, bad transition aside, I know that Chris Janson has quietly built a decent reputation behind the scenes a guy who values good country music and probably would be making it if he could. Sadly, he has to pay the bills and we got this instead. And let me make this clear: it's actually not bad - it feels like a song that Jake Owen could knock out of the park in his sleep, especially with the warmer acoustic and banjo tones trying to sneak past that clunky fake clap and an okay guitar line... at least until the bridge where I could swear Janson hops on the Macklemore flow from 'Downtown' and it utterly kills any good vibe I get! And while I'm not against a breezy bit of disposable fun - which when you at the lyrics that's really all this song is - Janson just isn't as good as selling it as he needs to be, and he can't get away from sounding a little self-satisfied about it all. So no, not precisely bad, but not good enough to be worth caring about - next!

89. 'Bezerk' by Big Sean ft. A$AP Ferg & Hit-Boy - so okay, 'Single Again' kind of won me over and gave me some hope that Big Sean come back strong, even if it tanked on the charts, and A$AP Ferg can get loud when he wants... and here's the thing, I can see the potential to how this could have gone off. The thin sputter of guitar isn't great especially off that glossy thin, but the groove has some rumbling presence... and then while it feels like both Big Sean and A$AP Ferg are cramming too many words in their first verse, there's intensity and swagger as they trade lines... and that promptly dies midway through the hook and never comes back on Big Sean's verse as he works his Drake impression. Seriously, A$AP Ferg is complaining his girl is telling him to shop at Whole Foods, and it's probably the most interesting punchline in the entire song outside of Big Sean talking about getting double teamed! So again, I can see how this could have worked, but it still feels much messier than it should - not impressed.

84. 'Shots' by Lil Tecca - okay, we've got two more songs for Lil Tecca to impress me and prove that there's something interesting to this A Boogie imitation he's doing... and look, I'm not going to say this is all that good or interesting, but if there's a good hook I might like from this kid, it's this one: the fragment that's less than two minutes where Lil Tecca brags about shooting people off a lot of plinking keys and a rickety trap beat. And yet somehow it's enough, with just enough of an edge and rattle to make it stick in my memory, a little more single-minded and focused than 'Ran$om' but also just as catchy. So yeah, it's not much but I do dig this - I'll take it.

80. 'Out Of Luck' by Lil Tecca - alright, he's one-for-one this week, let's see if Lil Tecca can get a winning record... and yeah, this isn't it by any means. And it's absolutely Lil Tecca that's the problem - his pileup of off-beat words on the hook kills the momentum, which when you pile in the backing vocals, the more developed piano line and dense trap beat, it's just incredibly sloppy. Honestly kind of a shame because the build-up off the extended prechorus had potential, but the hook's awkwardness is emphasized by how he knows he's going to screw it up with this girl but tries to blow it off and remain cool regardless... and he fails. It's the same jittery insecurity that makes his flow so damn clumsy on the one verse we get too. Hate to say it, but this might be a case where Lil Tecca might just want to keep it simple, because minus the A Boogie comparisons, complexity is just not working for the kid at this point, and this isn't good. Next!

77. 'Heat' by Chris Brown ft. Gunna - so here's the thing: I'm willing to be a little more charitable to a kid like Lil Tecca because he got huge of a fluke hit and has talent. I'm not going to be charitable to a goon like Chris Brown teaming up with the walking lack of personality that is Gunna for a song this annoying. Seriously, if you're opening with a synth a half step removed from a chipmunk tone before dropping into your standard fizzy trap knock and Chris Brown letting his autotune slur over his delivery - a concession that has to be for Gunna to be utterly void of personality - that's one thing, but what bothers me here is the waste. See, if you pay attention, the backing vocals - not the adlibs - are from R&B singer Tank, who is more talented than everyone else here combined and probably deserved the lead instead of Chris Brown crooning that all that ass is for his people! Beyond that, it's a song about a girl who is interested in fucking Chris Brown just because of his jewelry - that Gunna describes as dripping down to her knees - and what's strange is that Chris Brown seems to be more willing for this girl to give him directions for what she wants in bed, which is good but seems weirdly out of character for him! But at the end of the day, I'm still no fan of this - next!

69. 'Babushka Boi' by A$AP Rocky - okay, so let me get this straight: at an LA gala, to disguise a cut on his face A$AP Rocky wore a babushka headscarf, and now he wants to make it a thing? I mean, there are stranger things I've seen in hip-hop than taking the style of elderly Russian women, especially pairing it with that rumbling Memphis sample flip, blocky synth, and wonky roil behind him, which almost got intimidating until you realize that synth is just a little too thin and clunky to really blend all that well. And then there's A$AP Rocky with his usual brand name flexing... and again, I've forgiven this sort of thing coming from Migos before, so why does it feel weirdly inert coming from A$AP Rocky, especially when he always seems a little more sophisticated? Hell, that might be it - he's clearly creative in his choice of sounds and grooves and he can get a decent handle on atmosphere, but when you expect the content to follow suit, it just feels flimsy and thin. Kind of my feeling with this song as well - intriguing instrumentation, but not a lot of followthrough. But on the topic of attempts at sophistication falling flat...

59. 'Doin' Time' by Lana Del Rey - okay, I brought this up when I reviewed the album last week on my main channel, but it's worth saying again: I can't stand Sublime. I've never been a fan of their meat-headed pileup of genres, and when you pair it in this case with a plinking slice of elevator music, sloppy vocal mixing, and overcooked California ennui, you have a recipe for giving me a headache, even despite the late Bradley Nowell's genuine charisma. So obviously the way to make this better is strip out the scratching and texture, pile in the reverb, and slow the tempo so you can add a snap beat, right? So yeah, sorry fans of both acts, this does precisely nothing for me - an obvious and rote choice for a cover that doesn't do enough to differentiate itself positively from the original, a song I never liked to begin with - next!

7. 'Circles' by Post Malone - so look, I know a lot of people have praised this as a better pop-leaning cut from Post Malone, but am I the only one who is just kind of lukewarm on it at best? The oversatured strumming that kicks into the blocky bass groove and kickdrum groove, the dreary back-and-forth of the relationship that feels as tedious as the seasons, and Post Malone leaning into that damn warble of his on the hook that I've never really liked. Yeah, that's a fat groove and if I squint I can almost hear the Fleetwood Mac vibe in the melody that Post Malone highlighted in the resignation of the writing - think a song like 'Dreams' - but there was a weirdly hypnotic sense of tension to that bass groove and its interplay with the vocal harmonies and lingering spikes of guitar, bringing a tighter focus that Post Malone has never really had. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad song per se, but when it follows 'Allergic' and 'A Thousand Bad Times' on the album... well, wait until next week, you'll see.

So that was our week... again, it's hard to get that annoyed about much here, given how much of it will be wiped out next week, but it was still rough to sit through. If I'm going for the best... yeah, Lil Tecca with 'Shots', and I'm as shocked as anyone, with the surprises still coming with Honourable Mention to 'La Cancion' by J Balvin and Bad Bunny. Worst of the week... see, I'm stuck comparing multiple brands of incompetence, but I think Dishonourable Mention falls to Lil Tecca as well for the mess that is 'Out Of Luck', with worst of the week going to 'God Only Knows' by for KING & COUNTRY, which somehow wastes a Dolly Parton feature, tantamount of high crimes and misdemeanours in my books. But again, next week is Post Malone - y'all have been warned.

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