Showing posts with label frank ocean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frank ocean. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - november 16, 2019 (VIDEO)

And here we go - bit of a messy recording process to get here, but here we are.

Next up, I think I'm ready to talk about Emotional Oranges, so stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - november 16, 2019

You know, it feels like it's been a while since we've had a week that I'd otherwise describe as 'normal' on the Hot 100 - a respectable number of entries, everything seems somewhat stable, only the rapidly fading remnants of an album bomb that's best forgotten. And it's also one of those 'normal' weeks that seems deceptively busy - more of a correction to what the equilibrium of the chart should have been the past few weeks, at least to me.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - november 2, 2019

...okay, look, they can't all be good weeks. And what's frustrating is that in a week with new cuts from both Frank Ocean and Selena Gomez, the larger story is our new #1, but at least it's short enough to go down quickly and the album bomb coming next week will probably disrupt enough to render this week irrelevant quickly - good riddance.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

the top ten best hit songs of 2017 (VIDEO)

Always the one that's the most entertaining to put together, a real treat here. Enjoy!

the top ten best hit songs of 2017

So as I said in my last list, I haven't considered 2017 nearly as bad of a year as some critics have, especially when it comes to the hits. Yeah, there was a lot of stupid, misinformed, or just outright offensive garbage that clogged up the charts, and I can see if you weren't willing to dig beyond the top ten you might dispirited in the dreary trap slog, but the truth is that the songs that did break away from that sound or mold - or hell, even a few of the tracks within it - were true gems across multiple genres. Yeah, country struggled in the mainstream this year, but there was real greatness in pop, hip-hop, EDM, R&B, and even some rock-leaning tunes. I wouldn't quite say the overall quality or sheer number of hits is comparable to 2015 or 2012, but it is up there. 

And what surprised me in a great way was the truly amazing hits of this year were strong enough to maybe even reach my year-end list of my favourite songs of 2017, not just the hits! And you know, for as many obscure or weird albums as I cover and then love, this is still a great feeling, that sometimes quality does win out and rise to mainstream prominence for everyone to share, and that's good for culture everywhere! Yeah, I know some of these picks might be controversial - especially in my Honourable Mentions - but as always they debuted on the year-end Hot 100 for 2017, and I did manage to find some quality here. So let's start with the Honourable Mentions, particularly one that if you saw my worst hits last year might shock you a bit...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - july 29, 2017 (VIDEO)

And this episode took WAY too long to finish... but overall pretty good, I think.

Okay, next review on the way, stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - july 29, 2017

Okay, I'll be very honest: I was not expecting this week to be as chaotic as it was. I expected that Kesha would cross over and we'd maybe get a few tracks from 21 Savage and maybe one or two from Jay-Z - after all, it's not really a radio-friendly record, I didn't see a lot of crossover potential. And boy, was I wrong, because nine out of the ten songs from 4:44 hit the Hot 100 - along with the expected Kesha and 21 Savage, along with singles from Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato and the point is that this week turned out way busier than I expected. I clearly underestimated the still-remaining star power from Jay, because it took out a swathe of the charts - and in the middle of the summer, it'll be fascinating to see what even has a chance of recovering.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - april 1, 2017 (VIDEO)

Hey, sometimes it is actually possible for me to get this up early!

Anyway, Zara Larsson next, so stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - april 1, 2017

So I was hoping this week was going to be where things started to get back to normal. Of course it wasn't all going to get there - Nicki Minaj is working on rolling out her newest record while beefing with Remy Ma, and as such we got the results of that showing up, but otherwise it looks like we have a breather - at least until Drake swamps the chart next week, but we'll get to that.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - march 18, 2017 (VIDEO)

Weird week. Busy as hell, but weird all the same, I have to say.

Next up, though, is finally Sun Kil Moon - enjoy!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - march 18, 2017

So this was a weird week. I wouldn't call it a bad week - any chart where we get less Future than expected is a net positive - but the new arrivals and shifts reflect not quite a lull but a Hot 100 where nothing is quite as stable as it seems. There have been a lot of fluctuations here - and with a big debut from Ed Sheeran coming next week I can definitely see that continuing - which I tend to see as a net positive overall, it keeps things kinetic to avoid the massive stalls that did considerable damage in 2014 and 2016.

Monday, September 5, 2016


Well, this finally happened. Long video to render, which is giving me the unsettling feeling that my computer is finally starting to give out on me - not a good sign, but given the problems I've been having with the processors, it's only a matter of time. Plus, in the meantime I've got so many reviews to cover before next weekend...

Eh, Billboard BREAKDOWN is next, followed by Travi$ Scott, Isaiah Rashad, Angel Olsen, De La Soul... suffice to say, I have a lot to cover, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - september 10, 2016 (VIDEO) (VACATION REVIEW!)

This is the first video I've ever shot that's entirely handheld... not sure it entirely works, but I'm overall pretty happy with it, especially in terms of the picture quality. And plus, Barcelona!

Next up... ah, okay, Glass Animals soon, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

video review: 'blonde' by frank ocean (VACATION REVIEW!)

And here's the controversial review... look, it's a good record, it's got some fantastic high points, but there are some really rough points as well, and the lack of stronger, more cohesive ideas means that I'm not even sure it holds together as well as Endless. 

I'll have more to say when I get back from vacation (and this godawful sunburn I've got), but until then, Billboard BREAKDOWN is up next, so stay tuned!

video review: 'endless' by frank ocean (VACATION REVIEW!)

Well, this happened... and of course, it happened right as I went on vacation. Look, ultimately I appreciate what this visual album is and it's got some fascinating ideas, but separate any piece from it (with the exception of some really sharp production from Arca), and I'm not sure how well it holds together.

Next up, the actual album, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

video review: 'doris' by earl sweatshirt

I can't honestly say this is one of my best reviews, but that's mostly because I still don't quite know how to feel with Earl Sweatshirt. Still, I tried to review the album and I think it turned out okay.

The album is pretty damn good too.

album review: 'doris' by earl sweatshirt

I have an odd relationship with Odd Future.

Keep in mind it's not like I dislike any of the associated acts, because for the most part, from what I've seen of Tyler The Creator and Frank Ocean, I've liked what I've seen. Hell, I was almost on the cusp of reviewing channel ORANGE last year, arguably one of the best albums to come out in 2012. But I didn't review channel ORANGE and I probably never will, mostly because it represents a bit of a strange problem I have when approaching Odd Future-associated acts: I have no idea how on earth I'm supposed to feel about them. 

Let me try to explain this. For starters, as good as Tyler The Creator can be, I'm not quite sure whether I should buy into the exaggerated elements of his persona or treat them almost as a parody. There's something strange about the way he delivers his lines that's very much unlike Hopsin or Eminem, who are straightforward and direct in their assaults - Tyler The Creator just seems oddly comfortable in the way he goes to shock, and once you get your brain on the same wavelength, he lacks the same ability to surprise. It's even not that I don't doubt that said things he's saying are true, either, but I'm not sure how I'm supposed to react to them, which adds that extra second where I pause to think about that, which kind of stifles my enjoyment of his material. I definitely appreciate the rawer, rougher production on his beats, but too often his flow does nothing to engage me and his content tends to feel strangely distant. 

Frank Ocean also tends to feel distant and isolated (except on heart-wrenching songs like 'Bad Religion'), but that was half of the point with channel ORANGE, most of which I remember listening to in a spaced-out haze of heat exhaustion wandering through the woods outside my house. I'd argue that on the sensory overload alone, channel ORANGE is an incredible success - which really does a disservice to the lyrics, which contain some of the most incredibly descriptive, cripplingly honest poetry put on record in a long time. Combined with the fact that channel ORANGE had plenty to say about the state of modern youth, sexuality, faith, and love, and I'm not surprised at all that people fell in love with the album.

And yet... for some reason, it never truly landed with me beyond a few songs. It's not an album I return to again and again, and for the life of me, I don't really understand why. I want to love it, but yet I feel distant from it, unable to truly connect. Part of it might be that so much of channel ORANGE feels alternatively very personal and then very disconnected from everyone, a bit of a passive observer in his own life. And strangely, I feel the same thing with Tyler The Creator as well, even despite he and Frank Ocean's wildly different deliveries and choices of subject matter. And while it might make for impeccable and effective artistic framing, it also can make for a bit of an odd listening experience that might have kept me away for this past year. 

So will the same be true of Earl Sweatshirt, the oft-absent member of Odd Future who has finally released his debut studio album Doris? Will this be the Odd Future member I finally connect with, or the first I must unfortunately consign to the trash?

Friday, July 5, 2013

album review: 'magna carta holy grail' by jay-z

For those of you who don't follow the Billboard charts and industry news, let me inform you of a recent development that has led to some controversy on music forums. 

Namely, that Jay-Z executed a business deal with Samsung, with the company buying one million copies of the record in order to distribute them to Samsung customers through a downloadable app three days early. In terms of a marketing strategy, it's kind of brilliant, and exactly what you'd expect from Jay-Z, but it led to an interesting controversy, for Jay-Z argued that every sale should be counted through the RIAA charts, giving an instant platinum record before a single CD hit shelves or iTunes. Through this move, Jay-Z would have the sort of instantaneous sales boom that would immediately outstrip his frequent collaborator Justin Timberlake on the Billboard 200 charts, a number one platinum album that sold at a speed unprecedented since the late 90s boy band wars.

Given this completely unprecedented business move, the RIAA moved swiftly to respond - although not precisely the way one would expect. In order to accommodate Jay-Z's scheme, they made it clear in a recent press release that platinum records could indeed be issued before the 30 day evaluation period in order to reflect the changing digital sales climate. Billboard, on the other hand, wasn't nearly so gracious, already stating that Jay-Z's plan would not be permitted to impact the charts. But then again, this is Billboard, whose choice to include YouTube streaming in response to PSY's 'Gangnam Style' about six months too late led to the motherfucking Harlem Shake leaping to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and staying there for five goddamn weeks, so I have no illusions regarding their competence.

But all of that said, I really do admire the business logic behind Jay-Z's scheme here, and the win-win-win spirit in which it was designed. He gets another platinum record, potent sales gains, and a boatload of cash (he's releasing the album on his own label), while Samsung gets an exclusive ad campaign that can potentially rope in new subscribers eager to grab Jay-Z's newest hit, and Samsung customers get the album a couple days early and for a reduced price. To be honest, I think Jay-Z gets the best deal of the three, but that doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Unlike, whose marketing strategy seems to be to annoy everyone attempting to hyperlink his name or get his album/songs to trend on Twitter, Jay-Z has enough business sense to utilize old school deals with modern delivery methods. If is the 'marketing savant', Jay-Z is the Forbes-topping CEO.

And make no mistake, that's not just an appraisal of the man, but his music as well. Jay-Z may have started in the same pit of gangster rap as Nas (who he held an intense rivalry with for several years), but he always aimed higher, with a crisp professionalism that definitely makes him stand out among his peers. He's called himself the 'new Sinatra', and as treasonous as this might sound, I definitely buy it. Like Justin Timberlake, he has the same blend of class and respectability, and with the intelligence to recruit top-of-the-line producers and performers for his material. His frequent collaborations with Kanye West might not make much sense until you realize that Kanye's one of the best names in the game when it comes to production, and Jay-Z knows he can exploit that while lending Kanye some dignity and class the younger artist has always craved, to say nothing of friendship. And while I wasn't a big fan of their collaboration album Watch The Throne, I was definitely appreciative of the elements that worked and how Jay-Z was more on point than he's been in a long time. And this isn't even touching his relationship with Beyonce, one that makes all too much sense when you consider the thesis of both their respective discographies: 'I'm better than you in every single way'. 

So if I have so many good things to say about Jay-Z, why is that I haven't ever really been able to connect with his music? Well, as I said with Justin Timberlake, sheer unbridled arrogance can really put me off if it isn't delivered with the talent to back it up - and make no mistake, there are swathes of Jay-Z's discographies where he hasn't been trying as much as he could have. And while I will admit Jay-Z's refusal to deal with stupid people or incompetence is admirable (particularly the persistent rumors that he was responsible for sabotaging Chris Brown's career for 2009 and 2010 after the assault on Rihanna, who was one of Jay-Z's proteges), it would help Jay-Z's case more if he managed to keep some distance from the collaborators who can't exactly deliver at his level (the collaboration album and tour with R. Kelly spring to mind). 

But it's not just that. As I've said before, I like when artists delve deeper, actually go for some challenging material that might expose vulnerabilities or humanity in the respective artists. It's ultimately why Kanye West, despite all of the many, many problems I have with him, remains interesting enough to entice me to listen to anything to which he's attached. Jay-Z, on the other hand, always seems to be holding the audience at arms' length. He doesn't open up or reveal much about himself beyond the positive or shallowest of subjects. Sure, he'll talk about major issues and he tends to have a greater breadth of songwriting topics than most (as I've said before, the man is seriously smart), but I don't really feel like I know Jay-Z in the way I know other rappers. Sure, he's has personality and some foibles, but outside of that, it can be hard to relate to the problems of a man who is stupefyingly rich and married to Beyonce. And you can definitely tell that Jay-Z is forcibly creating this distance, which makes it hard for me to get past the mask, presuming there is one.

So what does this mean for his new album, the intriguingly-titled Magna Carta Holy Grail?