Tuesday, October 8, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 12, 2019

So last week I said that I expected an album bomb from DaBaby - I did not expect one of this size, I'll admit that! Yeah, while the majority of it fell below the top 40, all of DaBaby's KIRK hit the Hot 100 this week, and given that's comfortably over eight new songs, the album bomb rules are in effect. Shame it's about the only thing interesting to happen to the Hot 100 this week, but since I wasn't really planning to review the album at length, this'll give me a good opportunity to get caught up, I guess.

But starting with what might be the most static part of this conversation, the top 10, where once again 'Truth Hurts' by Lizzo has a hold on the #1, and while it seemed like its radio peaked this week and streaming wasn't the best, I'm not seeing what can beat its sales margin or its consistency in all formats. The only other song that seems to get close is 'Senorita' by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello at #2, and while its radio was promising, it just lags in every other category by too big of a margin to seriously challenge. And that's what I'm holding onto with 'Someone You Loved' by Lewis Capaldi at #3, as the radio run is not stopping and its sales are strong... but its streaming is thankfully not making serious inroads, thank god. On the flip side, 'Ran$om' by Lil Tecca is still dominant on on-demand streaming to keep it at #4, but even as radio seems to have finally gotten moving, it still has no serious sales presence to speak of. Compare this to 'No Guidance' by Chris Brown featuring Drake at #5, which might have weaker presence in nearly every category, but it has presence in all of them... which means sadly we won't be getting rid of it any time soon. Now I'll admit to being a bit surprised that 'bad guy' by Billie Eilish picked up a slot to #6 - I guess a good sales week will make up for weakening streaming and radio - but I put more of its gain, and the consistent strength in all channels for 'Circles' by Post Malone up to #7, down to the abrupt losses for 'Panini' by Lil Nas X down to #8, which might still have a ton of YouTube and streaming but lags hard on sales and radio has been a little sluggish. Finally, our last two haven't moved from last week despite being in freefall in all channels: 'Goodbyes' by Post Malone ft. Young Thug down to #9, and 'Old Town Road' by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus at #10 - the big question will be what the hell replaces them, because I'm not see the immediate breakthrough just yet.

Now you'd think with an album bomb the list of losers and dropouts would be beefy and interesting... and yet I'm not sure that's quite the case. Yes, there were some bigger cuts that clinched their year-end spot being forced off this week - 'Pop Out' by Polo G ft. Lil Tjay, 'Beer Never Broke My Heart' by Luke Combs, 'Speechless' by Dan + Shay, and 'Knockin Boots' by Luke Bryan - and a bunch that missed the cut - 'It's You' by Ali Gatie, 'Queen Of Mean' by Sarah Jeffery, and 'Rearview Town' by Jason Aldean - but when we go to our losers? Yeah, the list is bigger, but that's more because there's a bunch of residual Post Malone that we haven't lost yet: 'Take What You Want' with Travis Scott and Ozzy falling to 40, 'Enemies' with DaBaby at 52, 'Saint-Tropez' at 68, 'Hollywood's Bleeding' at 74, 'Die For You' with Future and Halsey at 80, and 'On The Road' featuring Meek Mill and Lil Baby at 87. Then we have cuts like 'If I Can't Have You' by Shawn Mendes down to 41 and 'The London' by Young Thug, J.Cole and Travis Scott to 50 having clinched their year-end list spot - along with a loss for 'Bad Bad Bad' as a Young Thug leftover with Lil Baby at 93 - but I'll admit I'm a bit more surprised 'Boyfriend' by Ariana Grande and Social House skidded down to 36, or that 'Otro Trago' by Sech and Darell fell to 78, or that 'Callaita' by Bad Bunny and Tainy slid to 82, or 'The Ones That Didn't Make It Back Home' by Justin Moore dropped to 92 - all of these need some consistent success to hit the year end list, and this wasn't a good sign. Beyond that... eh, 'Don't Call Me Angel' by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey continued to flop at 71, 'Right Back' by Khalid lost all of its gains at 88, 'Self Control' by Youngboy Never Broke Again sputtered at 96, 'No Me Conoce' by Jhay Cortez, J Balvin and Bad Bunny slid to 97, 'Adicto' by Tainy, Anuel AA and Ozuna lost hard off the debut to 98 - bad week for reggaeton here - 'What If I Never Get Over You' by Lady Antebellum slid to 99, and 'Did It Again' by Lil Tecca crashed at 100 - not surprising there, to be honest.

Now unsurprisingly on an album bomb week, we didn't get any returns and only a few gains: 'Good As Hell' by Lizzo is continuing to surge to 30 because of residual connections to 'Truth Hurts', 'On Chill' by Wale and Jeremih is up to 23 because the radio needs to fill time, and 'Trampoline' by SHAED is at 18 because... I honestly have no idea. Yeah, radio is consistent and it had a good sales week, I'm surprised an otherwise minimalist non-entity of a song has this much traction. But given this is an album bomb week, the rules are in effect: for me to cover the new arrival, the song has to either hit the top 40 or be among the best or worst of the week, so with that in mind, the other album bomb debuts are 'THERE HE GO' at 89 - although that gargled hook made it probably one of the worst here - 'PROLLY HEARD' at 73, 'XXL' at 69, 'REALLY' with Stunna 4 Vegas at 63, 'GOSPEL' with Chance the Rapper, YK Osiris and Gucci Mane at 55, 'RAW SHIT' with Migos at 51, 'POP STAR' with Kevin Gates at 49, 'OFF THE RIP' at 47, and 'iPHONE' with Nicki Minaj at 43.

But now for the list of our new arrivals proper...

86. 'By My Lonely' by Kevin Gates - so am I the only one a little perturbed that Kevin Gates didn't really break through more songs this week? I get that some of his moment has faded since 2016, but this is the only song that broke through, and... you know, I don't mind this, and I feel like I probably should. For one, the content isn't all that deep once again, with a lot of gunplay and drug hustling from Kevin Gates, and for as much as he tries to embrace melody he's got an oddly jerky and contorted way of doing it, where it sounds like he's straining to force every word out. It feels forced and it almost reminds me of Lil Uzi Vert at his worst... and yet I don't hate this. Part of it might be the creaking bombast of the melody behind the trap knock, part of it might be Gates being a more naturally expressive rapper with his lower register and a knack for a hook that actually sticks a little better even cutting through the autotune, part of it is the grisly focus to detail that Gates always tries to bring. So yeah, I'm not going to call this great or all that distinctive, but in comparison with most trap, I don't mind this - not bad.

84. 'Heartache Medication' by Jon Pardi - now I am surprised that even though he's riding album success that Jon Pardi managed to push a song through, and easily one of the better ones on the album. And given I already reviewed the album, I don't have a lot to say about this one: the fiddle and pedal steel sound great as melodic accents to warm, jaunty guitars off live drums, and while the song feels a bit rote in its subject matter - just getting drunk to get over a girl as he knows the cycle is just going to continue from here - it hits the mark to do it well in this lane. So yeah, no complaints, just a damn good song; I'll take it!

81. 'Chicken Noodle Soup' by j-hope ft. Becky G - okay, let me try and explain this... apparently as tied to a TikTok challenge, BTS member j-hope and Becky G teamed up to interpolate a 2006 forgotten crunk song from Webstar that basically sounded unfinished at the time, and yet somehow sounds even worse over a decade later! For one, what is that gummy synth drizzled over what sounds like a garbled guitar as in the grand tradition of BTS songs the song whiplashes across a half dozen different genres, most blatant across the attempt at a sweet, chimes-touched R&B pre-chorus from Becky G that matches with nothing! And it's not like the content redeems this - for all the marketing promoting a cross-cultural exchange, this is a badly produced interpretation of a twerk anthem with a nonsense hook that didn't make sense thirteen years ago and somehow sounds even worse now! To me it sounds like a cheap attempt to go viral in the laziest way possible - in other words, pretty damn bad - next!

56. 'Writing On The Wall' by French Montana ft. Post Malone & Cardi B - is there anyone else who thinks that all French Montana is bringing to the table is connections to bigger acts? Outside of collaborations with Drake that do far better than they ever should, he simply grabs a few big names and proceeds to say nothing without even a lot of energy, and in recent years he doesn't even vary the production much, just trying to get the reverb-saturated tropical scratch that worked on 'Unforgettable' two years ago. And yes, I liked 'Unforgettable', but this doesn't come close, the most blatant example coming with how the clipped tap somehow peaks at the top of the mix off the desaturated guitars and general swampy reverb that might work for Post Malone but nobody else, especially given the muddy vocal mixing. And when you consider the entire song is a brand-name flex - that doesn't match the 'writing on the wall' phrase that's trying to add a foreboding vibe that just isn't here - I wound up looking to Cardi to deliver something that'd work... and man, that Ike and Tina reference stands out in a really ugly way, because what you want to bring up on a flexing song is a comparison to domestic violence! Yeah, let's not mince words, this is pretty damn bad as well, especially given the talent here - and French Montana, but let's go on forgetting he exists - next!

28. 'TOES' by DaBaby ft. Lil Baby & Moneybagg Yo - so I'll admit of the DaBaby songs I have to cover this week, this is the one for which I expected the least... and yet it turned out surprisingly fine. Yeah, nothing Lil Baby or Moneybagg Yo say is all that interesting and the faint whistle of the melody off the lumpy trap beat is nothing special even if it sounds better mixed than most of what DaBaby works with, but DaBaby's flow and cadence is a little better structured, with a bleak sort of pragmatism that clicks better than it should. The girl says she's going to kill herself if he leaves... well, she's dead then, and if she comes at him with a knife, he's settling this with a gun - dark stuff amidst a song filled with flexing, but the straightforward brutality does kind of work. It's probably one of the more lean and effective cuts from KIRK, and I don't mind it - not bad.

21. 'VIBEZ' by DaBaby - so maybe it's just me, but I kind of expected a song called 'VIBEZ' to have something close to a groove or a relaxing cadence... not an increasingly brittle flutter off the leaden trap beat and a load of increasingly forgettable flexing overstuffed with ad-libs. Yeah, DaBaby seems to be rotating through girls at a frankly alarming rate and the way he describes sex can be kind of funny, especially given how quickly he bounces from the scene, but beyond that... look, there's just not a ton here that really jumps off the page. Hell, going through this project it seems like all DaBaby was asked to do was crank out more slight variations on 'Suge', ignoring how it's a template that can get stale really fast without much in the way of serious wordplay or storytelling or introspection, and that leads us to...

19. 'BOP' by DaBaby - might as repeat what I said about 'VIBEZ', because it's hard not to hear a lot of my same frustrations with this, but with an Indian flute riff opposite an even cheaper trap skitter. And the content... it's DaBaby getting money, buying things, and playing hard to get with girls until he flies them across the country, none of which is all that interesting. I guess here there's a bit of a slowdown for an interlude, but outside of that... yeah, if there's a song that highlights that DaBaby has charisma but a disappointingly limited range, it might be this, especially when he's asking for the variety he's not providing. Not terrible, but I'm going to forget this in record time. 

And that's our week... not precisely bad, but DaBaby gives me precious little to actually talk about here - as an album KIRK might knock but it's strikingly one-dimensional and lives up to very little of the hype that 'INTRO' sets, especially given production inconsistencies that hurt otherwise solid songs like 'GOSPEL'. He is getting the Honourable Mention for 'TOES' with Lil Baby and Moneybagg Yo though - believe me, I'm as surprised as you are - with 'Heartache Medication' by Jon Pardi easily snagging the best of the week. But DaBaby will also avoid the worst of the week, with 'Chicken Noodle Soup' from j-hope and Becky G handily getting that with 'Writing On The Wall' from French Montana, Post Malone and Cardi B as the Dishonourable Mention. Next week... I'm guessing it's the fallout alongside that big new release from Travis Scott, we'll have to see...

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