Tuesday, October 1, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 5, 2019

The prediction I made last week was that this week would be relatively quiet - I was not expecting it to be this quiet. Sure, next week could well see a small album bomb from DaBaby or maybe a smattering of Kevin Gates, but this week? Yeah, one of the fewest numbers of new arrivals I've seen in 2019... and yet I'm not really all that thrilled about it, given that the current Hot 100 feels kind of shaky to mediocre on average, and I'm not seeing what's going to make it better.

Anyway, top 10, where for yet another week Lizzo holds the #1 with 'Truth Hurts' - and yet if I'm convinced that its spot might be more precarious than advertised, it's this week, where it lost the top spot in sales and gains on streaming were offset by a shaky radio week. I'm not saying 'Senorita' by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello did much better - YouTube can only prop up streaming numbers for so long as its sales and on-demand numbers start slipping - but in both cases, I don't consider them 'dominant' hits the same way that others have been. And that's worrisome given that 'Someone You Loved' by Lewis Capaldi is continuing to climb to #3 on robust sales and radio - can we stop that, please? Then there's the rebound for 'Rans$om' by Lil Tecca at #4 - being a streaming monster will do that - and a slight rebound for 'No Guidance' by Chris Brown ft. Drake to #5, getting its position basically on the strength of streaming and YouTube that will not die, despite the radio clearly getting tired of it. All of these elbowed back 'Panini' by Lil Nas X to #6, which I'll admit was a surprised given how robust its streaming and YouTube seems to be... but any radio gains are slow to catch up, so while I think it'll hold its position a little better, it might be a slower climb. All of this surrounds 'bad guy' by Billie Eilish tumbling to #7, which is still pretty consistent in all channels, except the radio where it's slipped into outright freefall - again, it might be a slow drop but it is on its way out. The next two are from Post Malone, with 'Circles' unsurprisingly rising at #8 riding radio swell and good sales over 'Goodbyes' with Young Thug at #9 - kind of expected, given how its sales and radio are dissipating. Finally, holding up #10 we've still got 'Old Town Road' by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, which thanks to YouTube that will not die and yet another sales rebound held its spot... and I've stopped predicting how this'll rise and fall, so who the hell knows if it'll last.

Now for our losers and dropouts... again, we're still seeing a lot of residue from the Post Malone album bomb two weeks ago, which in this case translates to drops that have been long coming, like 'Press' by Cardi B and 'All To Myself' by Dan + Shay, both which seem likely to miss the year-end list. And the majority of our losers are Post Malone too, as expected: 'Enemies' with DaBaby at 36, 'Saint-Tropez' at 48, 'Hollywood's Bleeding' dripping to 53, 'Die For Me' with Future and Halsey at 59, 'On The Road' with Meek Mill and Lil Baby crashing to 63, and 'A Thousand Bad Times' skidding to 88. And the rest... well, outside of 'Queen Of Mean' by Sarah Jeffery making its long-deserved collapse to 98, the only other serious losers are debuts from last week, with 'Graveyard' by Halsey sliding to 60 and 'Don't Call Me Angel' by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Rey falling to 52 - it'll be fascinating to see if that rebounds, especially as you'd think a radio push would make waves, but we'll have to see.

Now I would say our gains and returning entries are more intriguing, but we're also reaching the dead zone where unless songs make massive gains and fast, they could well miss the year-end list and wind up getting caught between years. And I'm not talking about returns like 'Higher Love' by Kygo and the late Whitney Houston back at 92 or 'The Bones' from Maren Morris at 100 so much as gains like, say, 'Only Human' by the Jonas Brothers at 28. With its trajectory this half-finished thing will probably get there... but likely just barely. But a song like '223's' by YNW Melly and 9LOKKNINE surging to 38 likely just won't have enough time to scrape there, and the rest of our scattered gains aren't even close. 'Baby Sitter' is riding DaBaby's hype with Offset to 71, 'Playing Games' by Summer Walker is probably coasting on album hype to 74, 'Tip Of My Tongue' by Kenny Chesney is up to 76 because we need something sedate to fill Nashville radio time - probably the same with 'Remember You Young' by Thomas Rhett up to 85 - and 'hot girl bummer' by blackbear is up to 79 because nobody has taste or decency anymore; seriously, the only reason I can see this picking up gains is streaming playlist payola bankrolled by the worst people imaginable, screw that song with a potato peeler.

But to move onto much better topics, since we have such a small list of new arrivals, I think it might be a fun idea to bring back my World Hit segment, where I focus on a song that's huge abroad... or my Ideal Hit segment, where I look at a song that could well be big on the Hot 100 with the right promotion and placement. Actually, here's a better idea: why not find a song that can do both?

So let me make this clear: I completely get why this isn't huge in the United States - grime has always had inconsistent crossover rates, and from the subject matter and guest stars specifically you can tell that Ed Sheeran was intended this for his U.K. audience only - which paid off in spades given that it's been #1 for five weeks over there. And yet that's kind of a shame, given that it's not only the best song on No. 6 Collaborations Project, it's also probably the song that resembles the original grime collaborations EP that inspired Sheeran in the first place! And let me also make this clear, while I'm featuring the video of the remix, I actually tend to like the original a fair bit more - Stormzy and Ed Sheeran have good interplay, and while Jaykae and Aitch bring different voices to the mix, I'm not convinced any of their verses are strong enough to hold against the original, where the flex just feels more convincing, hitting that tight balance between raw ego and the rough scene in which both sprang. And I've always thought the production had a surprising amount of punch to it - the rubbery strings against the atmospheric whooshes and the very spare trap stutter has a chill tightness that might not feel as raw as underground grime or trap, but for this sort of crossover hits precisely the right vibe. So yeah, a song I've enjoyed consistently ever since the album dropped... we can make this a hit on this side of the Altantic? Please?

Anyway, to our limited list of new arrivals, so let's get things started with...

96. 'Loco Contigo' by DJ Snake, J Balvin & Tyga - so we only have five new arrivals - two of them are reggaeton, one is disposable trap, and one is the just-as-disposable Maroon 5, so we've got slim pickings here, this time opening with DJ Snake teaming up with J Balvin and Tyga of all people. And I'll say this, it's very telling how quickly DJ Snake can desaturate his sound for a generic, autotuned reggaeton tune with perhaps the most generic Tyga verse I've heard where he describes his old girl as an antique, but because this new girl has a new body, she's an 'art piece', and if this isn't objectification, I don't know what the hell is. And translating J Balvin's verse isn't much better, especially given how tuned out and oddly dejected he sounds... not surprising when you're doing a song with Tyga and DJ Snake a couple years past his prime - next!

93. 'Stuck In A Dream' by Lil Mosey & Gunna - remind me again, why are we keeping either of these guys around? Neither have much in the way of personality or lyrical competence, and without that, even mindless flexing has to get tedious, right, especially against this muddy guitar loop, standard trap line, and a brand of mumble rap I thought we left in 2016? And when the song barely runs over two minutes, I'm stuck gravitating to two lines: where Gunna says how he's saucy 'no soy' - a terrible and rather revealing double entendre - and how Lil Mosey says how his crew pulls up to shoot like the Magic, referencing the basketball team that got thoroughly routed in the playoffs in the first round by the Raptors. But as always, I'm going to forget this exists in a day - next!

86. 'Adicto' by Tainy, Anuel AA & Ozuna - oh boy, three artists I've never liked team up for a reggaeton song I'm going to forget in record time, how delightful... and yeah, that's exactly what this is, with spongy percussion, underweight synths, Anuel AA croaking through watery autotune, and somehow leaving Ozuna with the most compelling part of this song - a bad sign. And the content is beyond overplayed - where both men are apparently so lovesick that they want this girl to come back to what sounds like a mildly toxic back-and-forth relationship, where I'm left thinking on vocal layering alone, this girl would be better off anywhere else. But like with most reggaeton in this lane, it's not anything close to organic or interesting, and I'm going to forget it exists - next!

22. 'Memories' by Maroon 5 - okay, I know it might be a low barrier to expect that Maroon 5 would make an interesting pop song in 2019 - hell, right now I'm stunned that it debuted as high as it did, you'd think the mainstream public would have used the Super Bowl performance as a springboard to dump the band for good - but I did have some hope. And that hope was promptly squandered when you hear Adam Levine sing with the mushy conviction of wet cardboard against the faint guitar and keyboards in a desaturated mix - again, I grew up in the 2000s, I remember when this band used to be interesting or at the very least provocative or obnoxious. But instead we have an utterly tepid song that's too flat and generic to conjure any sense of genuine regret that this girl is not here, and it feels painfully basic in any lyrical framing to boot. What threw me offguard is that apparently this was cowritten by Jon Bellion and I can kind of hear it in the vocal cadence Adam Levine uses, but it absolutely sounds like a rejected demo that he'd never cut himself - in other words, the lead-off single for a Maroon 5 album. I can't even get angry at this given how flat and forgettable it is - ugh, let's just move on.

17. 'INTRO' by DaBaby - so look, from everything I've heard about that new DaBaby album we're probably going to get something of an album bomb on the Hot 100 next week... even as I'm not all that interested in it and given that 'INTRO' has been widely praised as the best song here, I was curious to tackle it now. And you know, maybe I was expecting something a little more bombastic to set the tone, but DaBaby taking a slightly more somber approach to this intro off the spare vocal sample and clicking trap beat as he refocuses on some losses in his family, particularly that of his father who passed away around the same time his album went to #1 on iTunes. And if there's a song that captures the jarring emotional whiplash that comes with trying to parse these emotions on the fly, DaBaby gets this, especially as none of this was built to flex so much as help his family. So to open his album with more of an aspirational focus, even if I'm not entirely crazy about how he tries to cram so many syllables into the end of his bars, it's a change of pace but one that he has the range to land. I do feel like the second verse is also a bit underdeveloped as well, and I'm not quite convinced his singing really clicks... but at the end of the day, it's a good tune, I'll take it.

So that was a short week - thank God - and the best and worst fell out pretty quickly, with 'INTRO' by DaBaby handily taking that slot with the worst... see, most of these are just goddamn tedious, but I have to go with the biggest disappointment to me right now, and that's 'Loco Contigo' from DJ Snake, J Balvin and Tyga - no way this should be as undercooked and weirdly boring in its leering as it is, it's lazy in a way that I don't excuse. Anyway, next week I expect things to pick up a little more, we'll have to see...

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