Tuesday, October 22, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 26, 2019

You know, it's probably good that I didn't predict this, it would have made the past week all the more dispiriting going into the last sort of album bomb I'd want to cover. And yet since he's barely on my radar, I'm not even sure I could have probably predicted the baffling success of a Youngboy Never Broke Again album release, and at this point I should really stop being surprised. And yet since he's one song short of my qualifications of an album bomb... yeah, talking about all of it, folks, strap in.

But first, our top ten, where to nobody's surprise, 'Truth Hurts' by Lizzo retook the #1 - but I'm going to restate what I said two weeks ago, it's not exactly stable here. Strong sales but not on-top, streaming is far weaker, and while it has the top spot on the radio, it is losing spins. Now that's not saying that 'Senorita' by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello at #2 is in better straits - slightly better streaming is not compensating for far weaker sales and radio presence that spent all week bleeding hard. Now I'd normally be worried that 'Someone You Loved' by Lewis Capaldi would make a move beyond rebounding to #3, especially with solid sales and radio... but that radio growth is slowing hard and it's not a streaming presence at all, I don't see this making the #1 push. Now this places 'Circles' by Post Malone in an interesting position: sales aren't that far behind, it has streaming traction and still has radio upside, this could well make that play. Hell, it remains above 'No Guidance' by Chris Brown ft. Drake at #5, which still has more YouTube and radio than it really should, but it's not in a position to make a run at this point either. Now this takes us to 'HIGHEST IN THE ROOM' by Travis Scott tumbling to #6, because I do see it rebounding at least a little in the coming weeks - yeah, the sales collapsed but it's a streaming monster that's picking up a bit of radio, I don't see this going away any time soon. Hell, it blew right past 'Ran$om' by Lil Tecca down to #7, which seems to be finally losing streaming and with radio on the downturn... yeah, not a great sign. Nor is it good for 'bad guy' by Billie Eilish at #8, which is losing in all categories except - strangely enough - streaming. Now 'Panini' by Lil Nas X did gain a spot to #9 thanks to solid streaming and surprisingly steady radio, but I'll admit I'm a lot more worried about our new top ten entry: 'Bandit' by Juice WRLD and YoungBoy Never Broke Again at #10, which is absolutely monstrous on streaming and YouTube even if he's not selling and radio wants nothing to do with it. So while I expect this'll fall off after YoungBoy's album bomb fades, this sort of consistent streaming might just keep this around, and with collapsing songs above it... yeah, I can see this sticking to the top ten, just warning you.

Now to those losers and dropouts... only a few big ones in the latter category this week, with 'If I Can't Have You' by Shawn Mendes and 'The London' by Young Thug, J. Cole and Travis Scott comfortably clinching their year end spots and 'Southbound' by Carrie Underwood... not. And our losers might as well be described as album bomb losers, so let's run through them in turn: from Post Malone we have 'Hollywood's Bleeding' at 96 and 'Saint-Tropez' at 88; from DaBaby we have 'BOP' at 54, 'INTRO' at 55, 'VIBEZ' at 58, and 'TOES' with Lil Baby and Moneybagg Yo at 85; and from Summer Walker last week, 'Playing Games' lost to 26, 'Come Thru' with Usher at 74, and 'I'll Kill You' with Jhene Aiko at 89. Beyond that... eh, it's kind of scattered, with 'Bad Bad Bad' from Young Thug and Lil Baby at 99, 'Writing On The Wall' by French Montana ft. Post Malone and Cardi B continues to flop at 90, 'The Bones' by Maren Morris lost off its big return to 67, and 'Boyfriend' by Ariana Grande and Social House continues its shocking freefall to 78 - the way it's going, it could miss the year-end list, I'm genuinely shocked with this one.

Now as we expected given the abortive album bomb from Youngboy, we don't have a lot of gains or returns... but more of the latter than I did expect, with 'We Were' by Keith Urban back at 97, 'La Cancion' by J Balvin and Bad Bunny sliding back to 95, 'What If I Can't Have You' by Lady Antebellum back again at 92 - seriously, that song has no staying power - and most strangely, 'Hot Shower' by Chance The Rapper ft. MadeInTYO and DaBaby at 91. You'd think 'We Go High' would have gotten here instead, but we'll have to see there. And yet when we go to our gains... I'll be honest, I'm the most excited with what we're getting here than I've been in a while. Outside of the expected boost for 'Self Control' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again to 50, I'm pretty pleased with 'F.N.' by Lil Tjay getting a big boost to 56 and especially 'Even Though I'm Leaving' by Luke Combs surging to 39 - it'd take a minor miracle for this to clinch the year-end list over the next five weeks given the gains it'd have to pick up, but who knows? What I'm more intrigued by is the nice boost for 'Dance Monkey' by Tones and I to 75 - this song might just be a bonafide hit if pushed properly, so I'll be keeping an eye on this one.

But now for our list of new arrivals, and be prepared for a long of YoungBoy Never Broke Again, starting with...

100. 'Rich As Hell' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again - so let me make this clear: as I've said a number of times before, YoungBoy Never Broke Again is profoundly uninteresting to discuss given his one-dimensional subject matter and haphazard delivery, so I'm going to endeavour to keep this brief for his entries. So we're starting with a song where he might imply he's rich as hell... and yet he spends more time bragging about killing people, putting guns in girls' mouths, and some sexual subtext that he might not be intending? Yeah, that happens twice, on the first verse talking about getting that dick for real and on the second after following a line about him screwing his girl's best friend, he has the line 'fuck your man man ho, I'm lit' - probably more about taking your girl, but that's what clumsy phrasing will get you! I will say the piano line is fine enough and the trap beat is a little more crisp than usual, but when we have a guy who's rhyming 'bentley' with 'lenses', maybe it's a bad idea for him to reference Griselda, who can rap circles around him - just saying.

79. 'Time I'm On' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again - okay, you had a perfectly decent piano line, why are you now trying to blend it with a muddy guitar line and weirdly jingling percussion that with the overdose of autotune sounds like a really sloppy Young Thug impression? And beyond that, we get more brand name flexing, gunplay, a line about blowing a guy right on the scene in the first verse - again, he's talking about shooting people, but this is where I have to stress the second draft would have helped, especially given how clumsy and warped the cadence of this song feels. So yeah, not impressed.

73. 'In Control' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again - I'm always a little perturbed when we get streaming album bombs where the songs fall on the album's tracklist, because sometimes you just wind up getting the first four or five cuts and you just know the majority of listeners stopped after those... whereas here we have a song fifteen tracks in, so it has to be fire, right? Well, no, because who thought that oily pileup of gurgling synth against that messy bassline was a good idea was wrong, especially because YoungBoy has no convincing command of grit or intensity, mostly because he ends most of his bars with a melodic flourish that somehow doesn't capture any real rawness. And beyond that... look, he's talking about shooting people and even if there's a solid cadence build on the pre-chorus, it doesn't lead to any potent crescendo or truly killer punchlines, so I'm just not impressed, especially when the production is this bad. Next!

70. 'All Dat' by Moneybagg Yo & Megan Thee Stallion - I'll admit that since we got a feature from Moneybagg Yo two weeks ago, I expected it might not be long before we heard from him again... but I will say I'm a little stunned he snagged one from Megan Thee Stallion for this. And yet I'm not quite sure this works as well as I'd like - the sandy whirs against the sharper knock of the beat and very light trap touches off the watery Project Pat sample is an odd choice, and the changeups in flows and tempo between the verses and hook feel a little too jerky for comfort, which doesn't match with Megan's dominant but assured command of anything. But I wouldn't even say either verse is as punchy as it should be - for one, Megan's got buckets more expressive charisma than Moneybagg Yo, and yet we're expected to buy into this hookup between the two of them, when they're both running through plenty already? This is going to sound crass, but this feels like a favour called in for Megan to lend her considerable starpower to Monegybagg Yo for a quick boost to keep his momentum going... and yet I don't think this is all that good, so I'm not sure how much it'll help, just saying.

66. 'Hot Now' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again - and we're back to YoungBoy but not for long, given that he only has a single verse on this cut that barely runs over two minutes. And yet of the YoungBoy songs I've covered thus far, I can see the appeal of this one: there's a lot of heavily overlayered crooning against the very spare keyboard with enough melody to keep the paranoid gunplay moving, and I do like how despite the spitting on the hook, the verse has the girl actively questioning his brand of pragmatism. You can tell that like YG the flex isn't exactly natural for him compared to his guns, so he's trying to find any appeal in the shopping and when the girl asks him about his car, he actually admits it doesn't cost much. Now granted, that Fortnite reference at the end of the verse feels forced as all hell, but beyond that... honestly, not bad, I can tolerate this.

64. 'Kinfolks' by Sam Hunt - okay, honest question: who in the Nine Hells was asking Sam Hunt for the comeback? I'll admit I'm surprised it took this long after his one album in 2014 and his scattered singles the past few years, where several other acts in country built way more momentum, but with Hunt saying he was going to embrace slightly more organic tones, I was morbidly curious where on the mainstream spectrum between Luke Combs and Kane Brown he'd find himself. And yet he somehow finds himself lacking the relative quality of both, because even if there's banjo, pedal steel and a little more acoustic melody, it's still muddied behind the overweight drums, enough programmed percussion to that does nothing for groove, and let's not forget a gurgle of synth that contributes nothing! What's odd about 'Kinfolks' is how damn clumsy it feels, from the oddly placed vocal lead and sloppy backing vocal blending, the lack of groove, to the oversold pickup lines that have him wanting to introduce this girl to his 'kinfolks'. It's awkward in a way that none of Sam Hunt's questionably 'good' songs were, and if he's expecting this will catch fire... yeah, I'm not sure this'll get him there.

62. 'Carter Son' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again - okay, just three more YoungBoy songs, this being the album opener... and wow, I'm a little shocked how much I like this! For one, the production on this song is goddamn terrific: the seething bass, the ominous guitar line, the blasts of horns echoing off the hook that support a pretty solid hook with real melody - and again, when YoungBoy gets into something beyond paranoid gunplay and fucking your girl, he's got decent subject matter! The lean, self-made independence is a consistently good look for him, especially against racial prejudice, and leaning into old-school gangster archetypes along with cussing out Vevo will win over any YouTuber in record time. Yeah, the second verse is more threats and gunplay, but the sense of danger seems more hard-edged and ruthless, but with the stronger structure to the rhymes, I'm digging it regardless. So yeah, I can't remember the last time I actively praised a YoungBoy song, but this is really damn good - I dig it!

57. 'Make No Sense' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again - and now we're back to this... and yet I didn't find this precisely bad. The bassline is legit solid, and while I'll never see the appeal of Gucci Mane in any era, especially not 2006, he's at least right in that it doesn't make any sense. But then we get the content on the verses... and look, outside of the paranoid threats and shooting, there's just very little here that stands out besides a good hook. Not one of his worst this week, but I'm not sure I'll be seeking this out either.

44. 'Lonely Child' by YoungBoy Never Broke Again - okay, one last one from YoungBoy Never Broke Again, another deep cut on the tracklist, and... wait, the song that blew up the most here is the sensitive Young Thug-riff where he's making an extended letter to his mom against a pretty decent guitar and low piano line, even if the percussion sounds a little cheaper than it should? But again, it's proof that when YoungBoy gets away from the content we've heard dozens of time, we get some introspection where he wishes he could show more vulnerability and feelings beyond anger. The paranoia is there as always, but it's tempered with a look into the roots of loneliness, missing his family and the girls who actually cared, a hard realization that he never intended for this lifestyle so young to hit him so hard, and the admittance that he's paying for therapy to help himself. It's sad that he feels he has to go out slinging, but that's the real tragedy here, and I'll admit he can actually sell it. So yeah, I feel like I've been waiting for this deeper element of dimensionality from YoungBoy for a while, get a slice of the humanity he's clearly wanted to show... and it looks like he got rewarded for it. And justifiably so, because this is a really good song too, check it out.

17. 'Lights Up' by Harry Styles - let's be real, I think a lot of folks were probably looking forward to me talking about this the most, the biggest debut and laying the hope that Harry Styles might chart another hit... and I'll be honest, for as much as I expected this to probably be the best song of this week, I'm more underwhelmed by this than I'd like to be. Yeah, the acoustic strumming building into that elegant swell is an immediate winner, especially as it builds into that thicker groove... but the second halves of the verses and hooks seem oddly positioned to kill the momentum building into a pretty solid bridge, even if the symphonic vocals are set to get there. But what I find more distracting is the vocal layering - for a song that's primed to be more organic, you'd think he'd stay away from the filmy and compressed layering on the second half of the song and all the hooks that just doesn't hit nearly as hard, especially given that the second hook doesn't build to more of a climax and the song doesn't even reach three minutes. I dunno, for as anthemic as it is set up to be, it feels weirdly abortive in its crescendos - an odd choice, especially given as Styles himself is by far the best part of the track with his liquid delivery and writing that seems to focus on coming into the light, which many have interpreted as his coming out as bi. Which is an interpretation that works, but the song is also pretty oblique with its language to just sound like another self-esteem anthem, and if we're comparing this to the grand, dramatic scope that characterized 'Sign Of The Times'... yeah, it's not on that tier. A good cut, but I've heard better.

And that leaves me in a bit of a weird position for picking the best and the worst, because I sure as hell didn't expect that YoungBoy Never Broke Again would sweep the best easily, 'Carter Son' clinching the top spot and 'Lonely Child' grabbing the Honourable Mention - shit, if he made more music like that, he might actually win me over! Now for the worst... yeah, Youngboy is actually getting both of these too, with 'In Control' as the worst with Dishonourable Mention to 'Time I'm On'. Next week... honestly, not sure, it's been a pretty slow couple of weeks this October, so we might get a cooldown, we'll have to see.

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