Tuesday, December 3, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 7, 2019

So regardless of any scattered tidbits of information we might get the next week or two, I'm at least confident that this week is in the 2020 Billboard year - a pretty busy week too, mostly thanks to the abortive mini-album bomb of Trippie Redd and the return of Christmas music, but I guess I'll take what I can get here as the charts continue to slow down as we head deeper into the holidays?

Anyway, the top ten, where for a second week 'Circles' by Post Malone secures its hold on the #1 - it's not on top on the radio or streaming, but it has narrowed its margin considerably in both category and it is dominant on sales, which means that while it's a pretty weak #1 overall, it's more robust in multiple channels than its competition. Compare this to 'Someone You Loved' by Lewis Capaldi still at #2, where the radio and streaming are actively fading - an only okay sales week can only prop this up for so long. Again, I would not be surprised to see this eclipsed by 'Good As Hell' by Lizzo at #3 - better sales, dominant on radio... but those streaming numbers are not promising, and are more revealing than I think her label would want to admit. And I'd like to say the same thing for 'Memories' by Maroon 5 at #4 given its radio run and even better sales... but it actually has better streaming - not good streaming, but it is there. Compare this to 'ROXANNE' by Arizona Zervas breaking into the top ten at #5 thanks to monster streaming and even a modest push on radio and sales... the question whether it'll be too little, too late, especially given the onslaught of what's coming, but we'll get to that. Hell, it blew right past 'Lose You To Love Me' by Selena Gomez at #6, which I said last week might have potential to stick around more... until the majority of its streaming evaporated this week, which is a worrying sign. Still keeps it above 'Senorita' by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello at #7, which clung to its spot thanks to a good sales week despite losing in all channels, even though I expect it's going to be eclipsed by Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber's '10,000 Hours' at #8 pretty soon, which blew past it on the radio and sales, but is lagging in streaming... again, there are a lot of these, and that's not promising. Then we have the slight rebound to #9 by 'Truth Hurts' by Lizzo - don't be fooled, this is still bleeding everywhere - and finally taking a hit, we've got 'No Guidance' by Chris Brown and Drake down to #10, where both streaming and radio losses finally took their toll - good riddance.

Of course, where things get a little more interesting here comes in the losers and dropouts, mostly with a pretty robust list of new arrivals and the expected Christmas returns - which we will get to - it did do an effective job pruning away some long-running songs, most of which handily clinched a 2019 year-end list spot like 'Sucker' by the Jonas Brothers, 'Money In The Grave' by Drake ft. Rick Ross, and especially 'Dancing With A Stranger' by Sam Smith & Normani, alongside the ones that fell pretty short like 'Liar' by Camila Cabello and 'Every Little Thing' by Russell Dickerson. And as such we saw a fair few losers as well, from the expected drops off debuts like 'Reply' by A Boogie wit da Hoodie and Lil Uzi Vert to 85, 'Watermelon Sugar' by Harry Styles at 77, and 'None Of Your Concern' by Jhene Aiko and Big Sean to 89, to the expected collapse as hype evaporates for songs like 'everything i wanted' by Billie Eilish down to 26, 'What If I Never Get Over You' by Lady Antebellum to 61, and 'Jerry Sprunger' by Tory Lanez and T-Pain to 80. Beyond that, we've got the expected continued collapse of 'Follow God' by Kanye West to 79, a slight drooping for 'Nice To Meet Ya' by Niall Horan at 82, the twin collapses for YoungBoy Never Broke Again with 'Make No Sense' at 91 and 'Lonely Child' at 97, and the expected falloff for 'Hot Girl Summer' by Megan Thee Stallion, Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign at 96 because it's months away from the summer months. And then there's 'Tip Of My Tongue' by Kenny Chesney at 86, which racked up a solid number of weeks and will probably make its graceful twenty week exit without having achieved much of anything - unsurprising.

Of course, the majority of this was triggered by our expected return of Christmas music, so let's go through that quickly: 'Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree' by Brenda Lee at 29, 'Last Christmas' by Wham! at 46, 'Jingle Bell Rock' by Bobby Helms at 47, 'A Holly Jolly Christmas' by Burl Ives at 48, and 'It's The Most Wonderful Time' by Andy Williams at 49 - along with 'Love Me More' by Trippie Redd back at 81, but that's not associated with Christmas, that would be silly. And on that note, 'Death' with DaBaby also saw a considerable boost off the album to 59, a similar phenomenon I can also attribute 'We Back' by Jason Aldean getting a lift to 78. And then outside of the expected mild surge for 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' by Mariah Carey at 18 - it'll be in the top 10 soon, just wait - the only other gain was 'Falling' by Trevor Daniel at 42, and if Post Malone ripoffs like him are getting that much TikTok success... yeah, I'm not going to say I'm not a bit concerned.

But we did get a pretty stacked list of new arrivals, starting with...

99. 'Show Yourself'' by Idina Menzel & Evan Rachel Wood - so look, I haven't seen Frozen 2 - back when I was growing up, the Disney sequels that weren't about to take a major or interesting chance with their characters got sent to home video, so I don't have a ton of interest in seeing it either? Anyway, we've got two-ish songs from the movie hitting the Hot 100, here's the first, and... look, from the original soundtracks of RENT and Wicked I've liked Idina Menzel's delivery especially as she leans into her more operatic side, and the piano work on this cut is genuinely impressive for as frenetic as it is. I will say that at some point Disney might as well move some of the queer subtext of songs like this straight into the text, because it's goddamn blatant here, but I think my larger issue is tied into my consistent issue with Frozen songs to date: they don't pace themselves well or show off a lot of dynamics. For as many change-ups as this song has, it could easily run another minute or two and I'd be fine, and tacking on the acoustics at the front of the mix feels like texture that doesn't match the symphonic swell a song like this could properly command. I dunno, the minor key pivots are good, but until Frozen remembers transitional passages are a thing, I'm going to be lukewarm on these songs at best.

98. 'Into The Unknown' by Panic! At The Disco - see, the reason I said 'two-ish' is because the version of this song that was actually in the movie debuted considerably higher, and I'd prefer covers like this just not exist. Frankly, I have no idea why Disney continues to pay for pop covers of movie songs when the vast majority of their fans will just prefer what is in the movie, but here Brendon Urie is up for hire and... look, Urie's got the theatricality to make a song like this work, and the fact that we've got a pretty potent chugging riff behind him makes me question where the hell this has been in Panic!'s sound for years. Sadly, this song isn't allowed to become a full symphonic rock song as the riffs collide with the garish horns, and along with Urie's increasingly shrill falsetto, the song just sounds messy, especially with those compositional issues I already mentioned. Suffice to say, this isn't good, and about as irrelevant as covers like these always are, it'll be forgotten in record time - for good reason.

95. 'Cuban Links' by Rod Wave ft. Kevin Gates - so 'Heart Of Ice' is becoming a bit of a minor hit for Rod Wave, and thus I was intrigued how he'd push follow-ups, especially given this one has his mentor Kevin Gates hopping onboard - and there was a time I remembered liking Kevin Gates so I was interested in this. And honestly, this might be two in a row Rod Wave has landed, fleshing out the background texture with the sax and slight sizzle of guitar - the bassy groove might feel a little more clunky, but there's enough here that I can appreciate, and he's got a voice with the sort of power to match and mirror the meatier instrumentation. And this is the sort of come-up story that both men can sell credibly as well, from the real focus on poverty and past due bills from Rod Wave that has him cling to his success so tightly, to Kevin Gates' bitterness at being left behind by his girl when he went to jail, especially when it seemed like they were hustling together. So yeah, two for two across the board... this Rod Wave guy looks to have a lot of promise, because this is really damn solid - maybe have to keep a closer eye on him, there's something real here.

87. 'Candy' by Doja Cat - so I noticed that there are some Doja Cat fans who are frustrated that this is getting pushed as the next single instead of other cuts from the new album - that's what you get when you sign to Kemosabe, folks, hate to call it like I see it. But anyway, this song... huh, someone saw the run that Summer Walker was making and wants to cut in! Now of course Doja Cat is a lot less subtle, from her coo that's passing through more filters to the sharper synths and whirring trap hi-hat, to how he;r lyrics are a lot more focused on calling out some other girl as fake and shallow compared to her - which I'm not sure you can convincingly deliver with this sound and references comparing herself to candy as well, which feels weirdly incoherent the more you think about it. I dunno folks, nothing I've heard from Doja Cat has really wowed me and this isn't getting there either - not terrible, but really kind of forgettable. Next!

84. 'Hate Me' by Trippie Redd ft. YoungBoy Never Broke Again - so we got three new songs from Trippie Redd this week, and I had no idea how to feel going in. Yes, that 'Death' song with DaBaby was cool and teaming up with YoungBoy Never Broke Again had potential given his direction in the last few months, but I was still skeptical here... and that was mostly for good reason, because this is another case where Trippie Redd is thoroughly outclassed in both singing and rapping off the keening warp of the mix and spare trap beat. I'm not going to say YoungBoy is much better - especially as a whole the song is tonally incoherent in splitting between shallow flexes and insecurity that this girl is lying about how much she really likes him, and his third verse tries to blow it off rather unconvincingly, but he's at least better than the leaden, clumsy shouts that Trippie Redd tries on his verse. As a whole... the indictment here is that this is just more forgettable than outright bad, but if this was the most I was hoping for from Trippie Redd... yeah, not good.

64. 'Suicidal' by YNW Melly - so am I the only one that's a little shocked we're actually getting an album from YNW Melly, given that he's in jail and yet somehow this dropped a few weeks back... and that there's been zero hype for it? Yeah, '223's' has stuck around and was tacked onto the album, but I immediately had the bad feeling this was going to be cobbled together from dated leftovers that 300 was releasing for a quick buck. And sure enough, all we got is a single verse bordered by a few extended prechoruses... and after listening through this, I get why this hasn't gotten hype, because it's not good. The flow is painfully basic and clunky no matter how much melody YNW Melly tries to squawk through in trying to wring out melodramatic self-pity in this breakup moment... which he kneecaps by calling her a stupid bitch at the end, charming. And that's not even getting into how he squeaks through elongating the word 'Hennessey' against a mix that's all swelling strings and muddy guitars, all of which draws attention to how shallow and juvenile the writing feels, especially with saying how she took his soul and how they were supposed to be for 'eternity'. If anything, this feels more like an undercooked cash-grab as relevance fades and YNW Melly sits behind bars - 'Murder On My Mind' might be the murder hit, but this'll likely be what kills his long term career, just saying.

63. 'Loyal' by PARTYNEXTDOOR ft. Drake - okay, help me out here: besides Joe Budden, who the hell was looking for a new single from PARTYNEXTDOOR any time soon? I've never thought his writing or delivery was remotely interesting and thus coming into this years after I thought his star had faded... and nothing about this proves me wrong. Let's run through the obvious: PARTYNEXTDOOR has always been an underwhelming, mumbling presence cribbing from Young Thug and Future only further swamped out in autotune, and when melody is generally ignored for a mostly empty mix with a shuddering tropical beat that feels overweight in its bassline, you're left with a song that would have felt played out in 2016, let alone the end of 2019! Drake is the only presence who is remotely interesting on this, and even he sounds checked out, mostly because PARTY's pleas seem more rooted in a weird clingy desperation that he's loyal - he's got money! But frankly, even that observation is giving this nonentity more attention than it deserves - pass!

60. '6 Kiss' by Trippie Redd ft. Juice WRLD & YNW Melly - granted, when the follow-up is pairing Trippie Redd with two embodiments of mismanaged careers in 2019, you might find yourself wishing for Drake to come back. The weird thing is that I have no clue what atmosphere this song is trying to cultivate - peppered with what sounds like video game power-up sound effects off the dreary keys and a few odd cartoon and movie references - Transformers, Harry Potter, Coraline - you'd think it'd be targeting a younger audience. Probably is, given the overheated melodrama of all their whinging, but then Juice WRLD is droning through taking your wife and calling you pussy despite never being inside one - which doesn't make any sense because presumably you've been with the girl he's trying to take even as he calls people virgins and dear god this guy is one step away from going full manosphere - to the point where YNW Melly's shallow flexing and still taking your girl is more tolerable! And then Trippie Redd is talking more about killing people than anything else here, proving that once again he's the least interesting person on any track and he still struggles badly with tonal coherence. So yeah, this is pretty lousy - next!

58. 'Who Needs Love' by Trippie Redd - okay, last song from Trippie Redd, maybe he'll have something interesting to say... and seriously, we're going with the clunky, XXXTENTACION-esque guitar pickup off the cheap trap beat before he starts shouting about nothing remotely interesting, and that's before the chipmunk squeals slide in? Honestly, it just sounds so cheap and unpolished you can hardly notice that Trippie is going full blackbear in telling every scrap of love to fuck off because he's going to flex - and look, I'm not against this sort of song in principle, but the way this kissoff works for me is if the emotionality has some complexity, or the bragging has some flair or creativity, instead of Trippie Redd croon-croaking through basic flows with none of that. So yeah, still pretty crappy here, and still questioning what the hell he really brings to the table that's all that special or potent; let's just move on.

55. 'Into The Unknown' by Idina Menzel & AURORA - okay wait, so the song that Brendon Urie tried to inflate into this symphonic rock cut, where the original is more reliant on strings and creepy atmosphere - and hiring AURORA to deliver that is almost cheating - it was this? Yeah, talk about missing the damn point... but yeah, this is better, mostly thanks to the bouncy but slightly off-kilter minor progressions that build into the hook. It's not the second coming of 'Let It Go' as you can clearly tell some people want it to be - and I do think the lyrics being a little bland doesn't help - but Idina Menzel can sell paranoia and self-doubt effectively and leaning into the recklessness that made her delivery on the Wicked soundtrack work so effective is good for her. I still think a song like this could have a little more room to breathe and I'm not wowed by it... but yeah, this is pretty good. Still lukewarm, though.

33. 'Vete' by Bad Bunny - I really wish that there was a part of me that could work up any sort of excitement for a new Bad Bunny song. Maybe it's the fact I don't speak Spanish and haven't been impressed with his delivery or any of his content, or the fact that I'm fairly certain he's just going to hop on another by-the-numbers reggaeton groove and I'm going to wind up underwhelmed... and yeah, that kind of happened again. Yes, there's a few more trap touches to his percussion - seemingly that came at the expense of any interesting tune in this reverb-touched emptiness before something tries to resolve for the final hook - and he's certainly singing more to command the mix; his flow is fine enough, I guess. But for this sort of angry kiss-off, I'm left thinking there's got to be a little more beyond passive-aggressiveness, miserable mixed feelings, and an attempt at being a little better that he gives up midway through. I dunno, I've yet to be sold on Bad Bunny convincingly, and I expect that without much of a tune, I'll forget this in record time - sorry. 

32. 'Heartless' by The Weeknd - it feels like it's been longer since the last Weeknd songs than it's actually been - he had those bad songs with Gesaffelstein near the beginning of the year, let's not forget how he comfortably put expectations right back at rock bottom! But really, after another lackluster week, I had to hope that 'Heartless' would be at least somewhat good... and I'm not going to say this is among his best by any means, but I don't mind this. For one, the more dense trap swell that Metro Boomin delivers actually captures some brittle, smoked out atmosphere off that warping gurgle of bass, and while I prefer The Weeknd in his lower register, the twisted layering of his crooning does work, even if a lot of the content is just the nihilistic debauchery we always get and he refers to his stomach curdling off amphetamines as his 'stummy'. That said, if there's a guy who can sell miserable hedonism and make it convincingly hit while still sounding just dangerous enough to know you should avoid it, 'Heartless' gets there. No, it's not among his best - he's yet to take a risk as potent as 'False Alarm', but for mid-tier Weeknd this week, I'll take it.

In fact, for me 'Heartless' is going to snag the Honourable Mention behind Rod Wave and Kevin Gates handily taking the best of the week for 'Cuban Links'. But worst... yeah, to the surprise of nobody Trippie Redd is getting both of them, with '6 Kiss' with YNW Melly and Juice WRLD getting the worst and 'Who Needs Love' as the Dishonourable Mention - I know none of the kids who like this guy watch my content, but can I get an update when his fifteenth minute is up? Anyway, with so few releases I can see the charts getting overrun even further by Christmas music in the next week or two, so that's coming... probably for the better.

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