Musical McCool Maelstrom - Weeks 35 - 41 (August 27, 2021 - October 8, 2021)
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune, and FINALLY, a brand new edition of Musical McCool!
So yes, I fell behind and as the end of the year approaches, I find myself playing catch up. It's not exactly a new story for me; in fact, I used to have an entire video at the end of each year where I would go through all the albums that I'd missed. So is it any surprise I can't even do a weekly series even when I really try and put my mind to it?
Now, in my defense, it hasn't exactly been the easiest couple of months, between various personal dramas and people coming to visit. But I will also say that I found myself missing this series, even when things were really difficult. Yes, I actually missed Musical McCool, more than I have a lot of the series that I've done over the years, which does prove to me that this particular idea of mine is one that is quite close to my heart and not one that I was ready to abandon.
So I decided that, rather than fretting over the weeks that I'd missed, I would instead just give you a synopsis of all the songs that I missed over the past few weeks. And there's quite a list of them, 46 songs to be exact! So consider this something like an early top 50: I'll go through each week and all the songs I missed in a slightly abbreviated fashion, and at the end of each week I will also give you my Best and Worst. This way you will still get a very concise idea as to what I thought of all of the songs that I missed this past month or so. And hey, with any luck I'll actually have it out on time before Friday evening rolls around and a brand new week starts, where hopefully I'll be back on track. I make no promises because I have broken those in the past, but I will definitely do my best.
And with that said, let's dive into the first week that I missed.
Week 35 - August 27, 2021
Title: Visiting Hours by Ed Sheeran
So to a lot of you, this was probably a new Ed Sheeran single which you've just started listening to a month ago. Whereas personally, I've actually been listening to this for almost half a year, since he actually performed this live a few months back, and my brother who is a huge Sheeran fan put me on to it early. And therefore, it's had a bit of time to sit with me and marinate. And yeah, I really really love this one.
Ed Sheeran has always had a real talent for making personal songs, specifically when it comes to loss and grief, and while I'm not quite sure this is as instantly soul-destroying as Supermarket Flowers, or as instantly catchy as Afire Love, it kind of brings the best of both worlds together, pairing the devastating delivery of the former with the catchiness of the latter. Maybe it's because I heard this song live so many times, but that live performance is just embedded in my brain as the original version, which is why I decided to include it here. I mean the way his voice cracks and breaks as he performs it here, it really is gut wrenching, a song dedicated to his friend Michael Gudinski, who passed away before he could ever actually meet Ed's daughter. And it doesn't stop there, because you can tell Ed really feels he's lost a stable mentor here, someone he could rely on when he was doubting himself or worrying about the future.
So yeah, if you've kind of been on the fence as to Ed's singles this year between Bad Habits and Afterglow. trust me, this one is something truly special. It's the closest thing the pop charts have seen to Brandy Clark's Since You've Gone To Heaven, and that's worth commemorating.
Title: I Guess I'm In Love by Clinton Kane
Hmm. I guess the Chicken Tendies guy is back. Look, I was a little bit hard on Clinton Kane earlier this year, I'll admit it. I guess I just wasn't as charmed by the aforementioned chicken song as everyone else, and probably should have done more research on it as a whole. Apparently he wrote it as a tribute to his mother and the distance he feels between them, which is certainly an original take, even if it's no Sufjan Stevens song. Buuuut I'm still not a big fan of his voice and I don't really think that his songwriting is all that special. So I wasn't entirely sure about seeing him back on the charts with this new single, and after hearing it... well, it's pretty much exactly what I expected.
It's actually what I originally thought Chicken Tendies was about, a typical song where he's in love with this girl, a girl he can't believe is as good as he had always hoped for, one that he waited for and his patience paid off, finally delivering him someone truly special who gets him! And don't get me wrong, it's tender, it's emotional, it's fairly well-performed, but unlike his last big single, which at least had the ridiculousness factor for me, this one really doesn't bring anything new to the table. I mean it's decently written, but it does kind of tread into cliché territory pretty quickly and I'm still not a big fan of his voice, as emotive as it may be.
So yeah, I guess I would say this is "better" than Chicken Tendies, but I would also say it's nowhere near as memorable... make of that what you will.
Title: Wid It by Tion Wayne & ArrDee
So I guess Tion Wayne did the smart thing and dropped an album this year, entitled Green With Envy. I have no interest in hearing it. After all his biggest contribution of this year has been that Body song, where he really is not the most impressive performer on it, especially not on the remix.
And yeah, I'm pretty numb to this one too. It's taken a couple of singles, but I've kind of gotten sick of ArrDee already, a guy who has more personality than Tion Wayne, sure, but he's also kind of just a general asshole on every song he's on. I mean on this he's basically talking about all the girls he's been shagging and his preferences in terms of their big tits and small waists and hair color, the usual stuff, but it's all just really soured on me much more quickly compared to his previous singles. Possibly because I think the song feels way longer than it is. I mean it's barely three minutes, and yet it feels like five, and long repetitive ones at that!
Although you know what, at least he brings more energy to it than to Tion Wayne, who basically just brings the exact same flow and checked-out delivery that he does on all of his songs. Honestly, the more I think about it, maybe that's why the song feels so long. Even with the two of them trading off bars, which is something that I always encourage in these types of collabs, there's no spark, no genuine enthusiasm, no real enjoyment. Some good points, technically, but they're just not well executed. This is mediocre at best.
Title: Mood Ring by Lorde
Let me say for the record that as of writing this, I have STILL not yet got around to listening to the new Lorde album. There are a few reasons for this: for one, I really don't see how it can possibly live up to the hype of her last album Melodrama, and for another, I will say that the leadoff singles haven't been amazing... although I do still like the title track. And while I haven't read any specific reviews about it because I'm trying to avoid spoiling it for myself, I will say that I have seen a myriad of reactions online that make me a little wary.
But all of that aside, let's just treat this song as its own thing, and... wow, this isn't what I expected. On that first single, she stuck with her trademark lower register for a good part of it, with only slight breakouts into her higher one, which is pretty standard for Lorde. On this one, she sings pretty much all of it in her higher register, which makes her sound weirdly anonymous, or at least a lot more like, say, Lana Del Rey than it does Lorde. Of course, it doesn't help that those Jack Antonoff trademarks that people keep bringing up are here just like they were on Lana's last project.
It's just a very hazy song, one where she's reflecting on how she feels now based on, well, a mood ring, which I think is supposed to be some kind of metaphor? Maybe it's the only somewhat reliable way that she's actually able to figure out how she feels about things because of how complicated her emotions are in this crazy, messed-up world we live in right now, which I get and I like. I just kind of wish the hook was a bit stronger, or that the instrumentation had a bit more oomph to it, but as is, it's a bit too laid-back for my taste. Not bad by any means, but I do wish that she had stuck with her lower register and that the instrumentation got kicked up a notch, even if it was just for the final hook or something. That's all.
Title: Summer Of Love by Shawn Mendes & Tainy
It's a little baffling and a little sad to see how far Shawn Mendes' star appears to have fallen. Sure, he'll still get hits in his home country of Canada and in the US, but that last album really did do a number on his longevity as an artist. Hell, I could just point the fact that this is the lowest debut on the top 50 for this week, while it was the highest on the Billboard Hot 100 the same week. But hey, fuck it, that doesn't really matter in terms of the song itself... no, it sucks quite enough all on its own!
Look, don't get me wrong, I have been up and down on Shawn Mendes as an artist for the last few years, I can never decide whether or not I really like him or really hate him going from one single to the next. For every There's Nothing Holding Me Back and Wonder, there's a Treat You Better or a Senorita, the latter of which he actually references on this song. But my main issue has nothing to do with that. it actually has to do with the fact that the delivery and the subject matter are so... limp! I mean, this is a song about summer loving, but it has none of the joy, nor the lovestruck tone of all of his songs in a similar vein. Instead, his summer love anthem just feels incredibly boring and tepid, where there's nothing new or original. It sounds like he's trying to describe a summer fling that just happened, but didn't really have anything of substance to say about it. Which might be one of the reasons why this doesn't sound anything like a summer song and why he dropped at the end of the season.
Sorry, this is kind of lousy. I can understand that fans will probably gravitate towards it, but I really don't see it sticking around long-term. Sorry guys.
Title: Supernatural by Pastiche, Cronly & DJ Kennedy
And now we transition to the Irish entries for this week, and welcome a brand new name to this series! In comes Pastiche, a 22-year-old Dubliner who first made a splash in 2019 with her debut single Chasing Down the Fame, which gained her entry to Now We're Talking songwriting competition. Since then, she has garnered a fair bit of local attention, even getting comparisons to Sigrid and Robyn! So it would make sense to everyone that she should team up with 2 producers causing waves like Aaron Kennedy and Gary Cronly.
And don't get me wrong, this is very similar to a lot of Shane Codd's output from this year. Stabbing, bright piano leads, a thumping, anthemic chorus that's catchy as sin, but this has an edge over his material in one way, and that is Pastiche herself because she just BODIES this track! Seriously, she has the personality and the force of character to match her great voice in a way that Sarah McTernan WISHES she could match! My main complaint with a lot of EDM songs is that producers will take any personality out of their performers, but these producers sound like they listened to the lyrics Pastiche was writing and wrote the music to match it, knowing exactly when to ramp it up and when to tone it down. If I had any complaints at all about this, and it is a tiny one, it's that this REALLY sounds like Sigrid. Like, to the point you could have placed it on that last album of hers and I wouldn't have noticed. But I see that as more of a compliment because Sigrid's weird energy is one we could use a lot more of in this type of EDM and pop. So massive props to these 3, because this is pretty damn awesome!
Title: Sex N' Drugs by Kojaque
And this week we end on yet another new song from Kojaque! Okay, now that Town's Dead is off the charts, I suppose it was time for another song off the album to take its place. And I suppose it kind of makes sense that it would be, well, the song that has one of the catchiest hooks on the whole project. And you can kind of guess what it's about... or so you may think. But you need to keep in mind that this is Kojaque, he's a little bit smarter than your usual suspects.
So in fact, this is not a song about sex and drugs, but a song about bragging to your friends ABOUT all the sex and drugs he's getting or doing at home, while in reality he's smoking a bowl to get high and then watching a bunch of Internet porn. It's the sobering reality juxtaposed with all the flexing that Kojaque does to all of his friends, which he is expected to do as a superstar rapper. And while again, that hook is so catchy that you might miss it the first couple of times, it's pretty obvious if you pay even a little bit of attention to the lyrics.
That said, the hook is also good enough that even knowing the content, it still works as a sex and drugs anthem, especially as the production is still pretty fucking great, as with the rest of the album.
And props again to Kojaque, because this is still a mid-tier track for him, and that's still saying a lot. Because this is still trying way harder than most of his contemporaries. If you still haven't heard the album, do it!
And yet this week, Kojaque isn't actually getting the Best of the week, because that's undisputedly going to Visiting Hours by Ed Sheeran, for just being an absolute gut-punch of writing, performance, and overall emotion! Supernatural is great, but this is definitely one of Ed's best singles in a while. As for the Worst though. You know what, I was going to give it to Wid It for just being utterly forgettable and seriously wearing down my patience for both of these MC, but on the whole, I'm giving it to Shawn Mendes' Summer Of Love for failing much harder at what it set out to do.
Week 36 - September 3, 2021
Title: Hurricane by Kanye West (Ft. The Weeknd & Lil Baby)
I mean, come on, did you really think that I wasn't going to talk about Donda?
Kanye's long-awaited and much-delayed project finally dropped just over a month ago now, to generally mixed reviews from the public. Many adoring fans saying that it was just what they expected, many critics complaining that they found it very confused and disappointing, and some people agreeing that it had its moments but that it didn't really live up to the hype. Personally, I fall in the third camp; I actually do enjoy the album, and I do think that some of the quirkier moments are very Kanye-like, but as someone who will still call themselves somewhat of a fan of the guy's music, I will also say that it is a very cluttered mess with not enough good ideas to really sustain it for its full runtime.
But thankfully I live in Ireland, where instead of a full album bomb, we only got the top three biggest songs to discuss, which all still debuted really high, within the top 20! Starting with the one featuring The Weeknd and Lil Baby. And as you might expect, I actually like it a fair bit. The Weeknd's chorus is great as he really does kind of make the song his own, Lil Baby's verse is pretty fucking solid, he really has been dropping very consistent material this past year, and while Kanye's verse is ridiculous with the m-m-m-m-mmm that he starts out with, it is still undeniably entertaining to me.
Paired with a gospel swell that really does go above and beyond anything from his last album, and yeah, you find yourself with a song that I think is actually pretty good. Solid song, glad it debuted in the top 10.
Title: Jail by Kanye West (Ft. Jay-Z)
Okay, look, I never really cared much for Watch The Throne. Sure, I think that Jay-Z and Kanye made some pretty good songs together, but other than Otis and Edwards and the one about Paris, I'm not really sure that the album has all that much to offer. So I wasn't exactly super excited for this new collab, even though I will say that I think Jay has been dropping some fairly good guest verses recently if you've been paying attention. But honestly, after listening to this, I don't really know if it was worth it.
Unlike some, I don't think Jay's verse was completely phoned in, or at the very least I think the second half kind of picks up the energy a bit, but the first half really is pretty lousy and kind of unforgivable for just how lazy it is. And then Kanye comes in, and I guess it's fine but it's nothing close to his best. Still, I will say that it kind of makes up for it by having a pretty good fucking hook, with buzzing synths and scuzzy guitars wringing out across the full length of the song. Even the more poppy, anthemic feel of the song worked fairly well because of the production, even if yes, it's weirdly placed on the album, being the second track. But honestly, I didn't think this was too bad.
Not a good song exactly, but I don't hate this. And Heck, at least it's not Part 2 with DaBaby and Marilyn Manson... fuck's sake...
Title: Off The Grid by Kanye West (Ft. Playboi Carti & Fivio Foreign)
Okay, so if we're talking purely production-wise, I think this is actually one of the best songs on the album! This is how you use reputation correctly, it makes for a great hook, especially with the cavernous mix, the drums, the warping bass, and the skittering high hats. Plus, I think that everybody on this song really does deliver, especially Fivio Foreign who absolutely blows everybody else on this out of the water.
Yeah, you can really hear that this is a Playboi Carti reject from Whole Lotta Red, but if it had made that album, it would have been the easy highlight of the entire project, and he's not as awful here as he was on a lot of the songs on that album. And Kanye does hold his own here too; sure, it doesn't really hold a candle to Fivio's verse but it's definitely still solid with a great flow and only a couple of stretched rhymes.
As a whole, I'm not sure this is better than Hurricane, which comes together better and balances the performance a bit better. But most days, it's pretty close, I gotta say. But let's stop kidding around here:
Title: family ties by Baby Keem (Ft. Kendrick lamar)
Oh boy, I know exactly what the comments are gonna say... if anybody actually comments on this post. "Oh, here he goes sucking Kendrick's dick again about just how amazing he is." Well, wait, hear me out, because the first time I heard the song, I really didn't get it. It has a really slow trap feel, it's not really about much, other than flexing, and while I will argue that it is very well-produced with several excellently executed beat switches. I will say that it is the side of trap music that some might consider more pop-friendly... at least at first.
Because despite closing the song trading off bars, most of this is all about contrast. Baby Keem may not have Kendrick's skill, but he makes up for it by having a very unique flow and voice, and having some pretty funny one-liners. He's not trying to be anything he's not, just hopping from one flow to the next and having some pretty good bars and a REALLY consistent rhyme pattern that you might miss if you're not paying attention. Then Kendrick comes in pulling out all the stops: instantly memorable bars, multiple voices, internal rhymes, changing up his flow about 12 times both on and off the beat, and while yes, he is still flexing, every single part of it feels commanding in a way that he really hasn't done before, unless you count the more self-assured moments of DNA! It's a strong look for him and one that really does make me excited to hear that next album of his.
I've gone back to this a lot since it first dropped, it just has the type of chemistry that shouldn't work but does, which is kinda fitting since these 2 are cousins. I can definitely see why it's not for everyone, especially fans of the more lyrical Kendrick from To Pimp A Butterfly. But to me, this really works, it reminds me of some of the more experimental moments on DAMN. And if you know my feelings on that album, you know that's definitely not a problem here.
Title: Meet Me At Our Spot by THE ANXIETY, WILLOW & Tyler Cole
After transparentsoul, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from WILLOW's next big single to hit the top 50. Well, it wasn't this: an anthem to getting high with your friends or with a loved one, away from the crowds and just wanting to escape together into oblivion.
It's a much more poppy song than transparentsoul was, and it definitely feels like it, with a sing-along chorus and much more tepid production. I can definitely see why some critics have come down of her for this, but that being said, it is still pretty catchy and I think that she has fairly good chemistry with Tyler Cole on this... even if I do think that calling themselves "The Anxiety" hurts my soul just a bit. And while the production definitely isn't anything super special, I suppose it does kind of work for that more poppy, summery vibe. Kind of weird that it came out in early Autumn, but I digress.
This is a fairly decent song to me, I don't know if I'll ever seek it out, but I wouldn't mind hearing more from these 2.
Title: Get Into It (Yuh) by Doja Cat
I'm still so confused that I Don't Do Drugs with Ariana Grande still hasn't been one of the songs to cross over from that Doja. I mean I know that people are probably sick of her, but really, it's such an easy single. Of course, it's no Kiss Me More, but there's more to it than... this! Because of all the songs on Planet Her (with the obvious exception of Need To Know because FUCK that song), this might be my least favorite.
Get Into It is just such a basic song: the production is boring, the hook is not catchy and none of the lines really hit all that much, other than the Ed Sheeran and Batman ones which felt like Eminem dad jokes! She's trying to be funny and witty like on other good songs on the album like Ain't Shit, but for some reason, it just isn't funny here... and I think part of it has to do with the delivery, because I don't think Doja sounds good on this at all!
I don't know if this was recorded a bit later than the rest of the album or on a bad day, but her voice just sounds absolutely shredded, which yes, I know she isn't known for her angelic pipes, but my GOD, she sounds even worse here than she did on motive from positions. She seems to have written this as a tribute to Nicki Minaj, and her clear biting of Nicki's flow on multiple parts of this just proves that not everyone can pull off that barbie flow... Hell, half the time Nicki couldn't either!
Overall, this song isn't awful, it's certainly not as bad as Need To Know, but it is the worst thing that I've covered so far on this list, at least to me.
Title: My Heart Goes (La Di Da) by Becky Hill & Topic
Oh joy, another Becky Hill song... I mean this one has Topic, who did impress me with Your Love (9PM), but this... just DOES NOT leave any sort of impact!
This is going to be a short one because this is the kind of song where if you hear the first minute, you've heard the entire song. And not only that, you've all heard this type of song before. Not bad, not good, just completely bland and middle of the road. Hell, we've even had a more interesting "la di da" song this year by Nessa Barrett, which at least gave me pause for thought, at least I remember it!!!
Maybe this will stick around, maybe it won't, I haven't peeked ahead, but believe me, as someone who has listened to it multiple times in preparation for this list, it doesn't leave any sort of impact. If you want to know more about the artists, I've covered them both before, and if you want to know more about the song, I've covered songs exactly like it before. Nuff said.
Title: I Want It All by The Script
Okay, this is probably going to get me in some shit with some of my Irish friends, but I've never really been a huge fan of The Script. I know they've had one or two big crossover hits that everybody knows, but with and even outside of those songs, there's just nothing that I particularly feel I get from them that I don't get from a lot of other bands They're just very meh to me, their production and content are often a little bit tepid, and their songs tend to be underwritten and a bit clichéed... and on top of that I don't love Danny O'Donoghue as a vocalist, he's like a less soulful Chris Martin.
So as you might imagine, when I heard that they had a new song out, I didn't really care. Well, now I'm listening to it.... and this is just more of the same! Another boring love song about everything that they want in love. waiting for that one person who can be everything they need, and who will go above and beyond their expectations, and it's all stuff that I've heard before 1000 times over 1000 other bands, and The Script aren't doing it any differently!
Sure, Danny has some decent personality to his singing and the melodies are decent, but the hook isn't memorable and there's nothing about the lyrics that stands out to me at all. If you're looking for a song yearning for love, there are far better examples in previous editions of this series.
Title: High by Christy Dignam
So I know what some of you younger folks are thinking: "Who the hell is Christie Dignam?" Well, what if I told you he was the frontman of the band Aslan, would that ring a bell? ... I should hope so anyway!
Yeah, much like The Script, Aslan is a band that has a massive legacy in Irish music which is occasionally somewhat overrated. The good news is I actually like Aslan a fair bit more, and they've also been around a fair bit longer, carving out a much bigger place in Irish rock, not just in my opinion.
Now that being said, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from this song. After all, I haven't really kept up with Christy Dignam's solo stuff all that much in recent years. But Hell, it's like when Paul McCartney releases a new album now and again, I'll listen to it purely out of casual curiosity. And honestly, that might be a very apt comparison, because this really does feel like the kind late-60s experiment The Beatles might have put out. Heck, the melody on the verses kind of reminds me of I Am The Walrus! And yes, in 2021 this definitely sounds about half a century too late... and yet I also am kind of down with it.
Something about the imagery of the world just burning down around him while he just wants to get high with his loved ones, it's very tongue-in-cheek and unabashedly endorsing escapism, which isn't always appreciated in music anymore, but I think that he pulls it off, with a rye charm and enough personality that I'm willing to actually get into this.
Not exactly the most original song about wanting to get high, and I could see it falling into a similar vein of patheticness as Do you want to get high? by Weezer... but then again, I really love that song. And this song is pretty good too; give it a listen if that sounds like something you'd be into.
Title: Picanya 2400 by KETTAMA
I don't know if I've ever shared this before, but there was a very, very brief time where I actually worked as a video game tester. I worked on one game for one month, playing it on repeat, and it was a racing game, which played a lot of drum and bass in the background. And ever since then, I cannot hear a single drum and bass song without subconsciously associating it with driving games.
Well, this song really does fit into that genre in many ways. Don't get me wrong, there are elements of EDM and house that rising Galway star Evan Campbell brings to the table here, including bongos to open up the track, clattering percussion that sounds fairly organic, and a synth keyboard driving the main melody. I can see why he's got some pretty good buzz and acclaim within the EDM scene in Ireland at the moment, but it's just not my genre.
It's good for what it is, having a decent build and an aforementioned good mix of instruments, with some nice subtle touches from the piano here and there towards the middle, but it's just not something that I'm ever going to go back to. If you want to add this to your playlist for working out or for gaming, it's going to fit in pretty well and is short enough that it'll come and go pretty quickly whether you enjoy it or not, but it's not something that's going to leave much of an impact on me personally. That's all.
For this week, the Best in the Worst are a little bit trickier, but I think on the whole, I'm going to give the worst to Get Into It (Yuh) by Doja Cat for just not being well put-together and sounding like ass, and as for the best... I know a lot of you probably expected me to give it to Kanye, but nah, the chemistry between Baby Keem & Kendrick on family ties is something that can't be replicated by Kanye at any point on Donda, so I'm giving it to them. Plus that song is a real grower, I've gone back to it way more than I initially thought I would on first listen.
Week 37 - September 10, 2021
Title: Girls Want Girls by Drake (Ft. Lil Baby)
Just like that, we go from one album bomb to another, this time an even bigger one with Drake and his long-awaited album Certified Lover Boy, a title I still can't believe is real. And I will say this for Drake, having listened to the album. I think it's better than Scorpion. In fact, I would say that it's the closest I've come to actually enjoying a Drake album in a while. But that being said, it's a very passive, background-listening kind of enjoyment, one where my attention fades in and out consistently, it runs together far too easily, and is so fucking unnecessarily long!!!
But I digress, let's talk about the first song, and of course, it's the one with Lil Baby. And do I even need to say anything beyond the title? It's a song where Drake is staring at you through your dress, saying he's a lesbian because he too is into girls, and trying to casual and disinterested with his most monotone delivery. After all, he's a mature man who's moved past the pettiness of his younger days where he was just after girls desperately and earnestly, even though it's clear that he's just trying to appeal to a different demographic who will see him as chill and therefore still may want to sleep with him. And Lil Baby's verse, while fine enough I suppose, is nothing to write home about, certainly not his best from this year.
So yeah, this is pretty skippable. If you want something that's a lot better:
Title: Fair Trade by Drake (Ft. Travis Scott)
Okay, of the songs that debuted this week from Certified Lover Boy, this one is easily my favourite. Yes, I'm a little bit annoyed that it isn't about coffee, which is what I initially got from the title "fair trade", but it actually turns out to be a slightly better version of No New Friends, even if I would argue that it's nowhere near as instantly memorable.
Travis Scott and Drake are both talking about the friends that they left behind in exchange for peace of mind and that that's a fair trade, something that I can actually relate to, to a degree. We've all had toxic people in our lives and I'm sure that Drake has more than just a few. And the fact that he actually sounds rather calm and in control, makes the flexing not come across as just insecure overcompensation for a change.
Add to that a pretty great beat, and you have one of the better songs off of the album, and one that I can actually pay attention to whenever it comes on.
Title: Champagne Poetry by Drake
Look, Drake has had some weird samples over the years, but this is really pushing it. I mean, Michelle by the Beatles, a song that I will admit I like more than most Beatles fans, but which is still a very odd choice of sample for a hip-hop song. I mean, it's basically one of the closest things the Beatles have to a deep cut, that's only really known for being ridiculed, and Drake somehow thought it would be a good fit here, even though it doesn't really fit in with anything at all? In fact no, not even that, he decided to sample Navago by Masego, which in TURN samples Michelle... again, why??
Plus... I don't know, with a title like "champagne poetry", I sort of expected more. Maybe I've been spoiled by Taylor Swift's champagne problems, but the subject matter really does fall short and runs together just like most of the album. I will say it's a little bit better after the beat switch, where it goes for more of a soulful instrumental, but it's still nothing to write home about.
Honestly, for a title that I thought had some promise, it kind of lets me down. And the most interesting part about it is a sample that I really don't think fits. That's not a good sign.
Title: Don't Shut Me Down by ABBA
Whooooo boy, this is a weird week!
So, ABBA! They're back with brand new songs, both of which debuted in the top 20 because, well, it's fucking ABBA. And look, don't get me wrong, I fucking love ABBA, I grew up listening to them! They're probably one of my dad's favorite bands, and he is not ashamed of it whatsoever. And while they definitely gained a reputation for being, well, lame, I have always held them very very close to my heart and actually think that they've written some of the most iconic pop songs of all time. If you disagree with that, that's your prerogative. But that being said I wasn't exactly hyped for their return. Their last couple of albums were filled with the bitterness of a band that had gone through a couple of divorces and didn't really want to make music anymore. But I guess with the success of the Mamma Mia films, they realized that there were still people who were paying attention to them, and thought "Sure, why not make another album?"
And you know what, for what I was expecting, this is probably the best-case scenario, because it sounds pretty much exactly like an old-school ABBA song. Okay, probably a B-side from one of those older albums and definitely not something that would rise to their absolute best, but the production and the vocal mixing are very much in the style of their older material, and honestly, I don't think that's a bad thing.
Sure, I think they play it a little bit safe with twinkling pianos and not much in the way of an instrumental breakdown. There's nothing as electric or as instant as the horns on a song like say Voulez-Vous, but it's definitely a pleasant song to listen to with a pretty good hook and some vocals that are very nostalgic to me. So yeah, I like this... *sigh* unlike:
Title: I Still Have Faith In You by ABBA
Look, I got it, this is the one with the music video, the single that has everybody reminiscing about all the good times with ABBA, where even the subject of the song is kind of subtextually about how the band broke up and yet there still a spark between them. But... did they have to make the song so fucking boring?!
Seriously, I've listened to the song a good 12 times before making this post and I still could not tell you how the melody goes, it just flies in one ear and out the other! Even despite some fine writing, there's nothing that remotely stands out to me here, it's just so dull in terms of the melodic progression, it never goes anywhere! Even compared to Don't Let Me Down, this plays it irritatingly safe, definitely not the kind of thing that would have ever become one of their hits.
So yeah, I'm not surprised that, in spite of having a music video, this still debuted lower this week, because I'm not going to remember this a week from now. Or even an hour.
Title: Good Ones by Charli XCX
Man, and the trend continues with acts that I have not seen in a while coming back to the charts! Because lo and behold, it's Charli XCX!
Okay yes, I know she's on that one Out Out hit with Saweetie and Joel Corey, but let's be fair here, that song is utter trash and not at all representative of Charli at her best. Then again, you know what, I don't really know if Good Ones is a good representation of that either...
As someone who was really into Charli, her 2019 album, I'm not exactly sure what purpose something this by-the-numbers serves. It's basically just 80s dance-pop; a good rendition of it, because Charli is a good enough singer and performer to definitely sell it very very well, but it's also something that I can see Dua Lipa doing just as well, if not maybe even a little bit better.
Don't get me wrong, it's still good, but it's nowhere close to her best. I'm probably just nitpicking because I know what she's capable of, and if this were by anyone else, I would probably absolutely love it. So you know what, this still gets a pass for me, but I expect better going forwards.
Title: Love (Sweet Love) by Little Mix
Okay, let me start by saying that I really don't like the way that this is mixed.... ironically. The remainder of what is left of Little Mix has honestly had a banner year, better than I think a lot of us predicted at the start of it when Jesy left. But this is a flop single if ever I've heard one.
There's just no hook, no spark! And while yes, the three girls are still very talented with good charisma, this is one of the first songs where I feel like they're much better individually than they are as a whole. Not because their verses are particularly stellar, but the harmonies are NOT well-balanced at all, blending in with the synths in a way that really doesn't flatter any of their voices. Plus, once again, it doesn't really have a good hook, which is really something you need on a big pop single.
I don't know, compared to their last few songs, even that ridiculous "Uh-Oh" song with Anne-Marie or the halfhearted remix of Confetti, this really isn't anything to write home about. Not terrible, but not good either.
Title: Tru Love by James Vincent McMorrow
You know, I feel like I've been a little bit harsh on James Vincent McMorrow. A lot of people seem to really like his music and they might be a little confused why I keep being so negative whenever he puts out anything that's more electronica-driven than organic and folksy. But then again, he's released a couple of pure folk songs I didn't like this year either, so how is he supposed to win?!
Now while I stand by all my opinions and I feel I've been very fair, maybe the problem is that I just don't like his voice that much. And if that's the case, shouldn't I just admit he's not for me and move on? Well... a funny thing happened. On this song, he completely reinvented himself yet again - seriously, I didn't realize this was him the first time I listened to it - sounding more like a pop/r&b singer in the vein of Khalid... and weirdly kinda nails it!
Seriously, he comes at this like someone who has been doing this for years, with the production to match, especially in the vocal mixing and multitracking! A mellow, low-key, pop/r&b tune where he talks about finding true love. And it's smooth, it's kind of sensuous, and it sounds pretty fucking great. I'm really surprised that he pulled this off because it's not something that I would ever have expected from him, especially considering he's usually warbling or wailing. But yeah, he actually convinced me that he is a certified lover boy, more so than Drake anyway.
So in a weird twist, by going in yet another completely different direction once again. James Vincent McMorrow actually kind of struck gold. This is a really good song. Nice job man.
Title: Let It Go by Bissett
So a few weeks before this song debuted, I reviewed Every Single Time by Bissett, a song that was fine, but which I felt didn't do all that much. It stuck with a very safe, repetitive pattern, the usual stabbing pianos which plague all of house music these days, but didn't really do anything different. A decent song, but not one which I felt deserved to be as big as it was, especially the remix with Silky that I discussed there.
Fast-forward to today and this song... and MAN, talk about an upgrade! Seriously, the piano-driven beat is still here, but otherwise, this is an entirely different beast, with the pulsing beat cranked up way higher, almost sounding more like a dance song from the 90s! Of course, the other thing that lends to that comparison is the vocals! I have no idea who this anonymous force of personality is, but she absolutely dominates this song; a soulful singer with a ton of charisma and swagger, a whoop that reminds me of the best of MJ, and lyrics about releasing your tension, having fun and owning every aspect of yourself! No time for moping around, feeling yourself as you walk past the mirror, and not needing to change your life cause it's just fine!
It's so uplifting, and the mixing and production are excellent, perfectly accentuating her best moments. It's got a great build and a great pay-off, and while I do wish there was a bit more going on instrumentally when the hook hits, that's more of a personal gripe. Because this is miles better than Every Single Time; just shows what 2 years of experience will do I suppose. Great job Bissett.
So yeah, as much as James Vincent McMorrow impressed me, the Best this week is easily going to Let It Go by Bissett. As for the Worst... nothing was completely awful this week, so it's kind of a toss-up. Overall though, ABBA has a larger legacy, so giving them the worst with I Still Have Faith In You won't hurt them too much. Plus that song is sinfully dull, so it deserves it.
Week 38 - September 17, 2021
Title: Shivers by Ed Sheeran
That's right, to the surprise of nobody, Ed Sheeran debuted at number 1 yet again. Because if anything was going to dethrone Bad Habits, it was gonna be Shivers, let's be fair. I remember the week this dropped and everybody was talking about it, and so having enjoyed his previous singles I went to listen to it and... oh, no...
Okay, look, the worst thing I can say about an Ed Sheeran is that it's boring and generic, and while a lot of people would say that Perfect falls into that category, I would politely tell those people to fuck off, because while that song is very simple, it's also very pretty melodically, and at least it still sounds like Ed Sheeran singing to you. Whereas here, it's a similar voice to what he was doing on Bad Habits, where it's sort of pitchy and nasal. But least Bad Habits was about indulging in your worst behaviours despite your better instincts! Whereas Shivers, it feels like a love song that Shawn Mendes or Justin Bieber would put out. Sure, it's slightly better-written or more interesting than their batting average, but it also just doesn't feel like an Ed Sheeran song to me and that's what really bothers me about it, especially as a fan of his.
Look, the hook is serviceable, and while the pop filter slathered all over the vocals irks me, it doesn't sound "bad" per se. But there's nothing about this that jumps out at me, it's probably the worst thing that I've heard from Ed all year. Not terrible, but there's a visceral part of me that just does not like this, and definitely doesn't think it deserves to have debuted at number 1!
Title: Way 2 Sexy by Drake (Ft. Young Thug & Future)
This was definitely a song that I expected to be talking about a little earlier than this, but apparently it wasn't until the second week of Drake's album bomb that one of the worst songs on the album finally broke through to the top 20. And yeah, I'm not gonna mince words this is crap.
The Right Said Fred interpolation is mind-numbingly repetitive, dull and incredibly cringy. The horrible buzzing synth that seems to always accompany Future's collabs with Drake is present here and it sounds as awful as ever. Young Thug continues his unfortunate trend of phoning it in this past year, as he delivers a very subpar and uninteresting verse... other than that prosthetic line which was admittedly kind of funny. And as for Drake, he's slightly better than the other 2, but that's not really saying much because Future ALWAYS sucks!
This is pretty fucking bad, and say what you will about Jumpman or some of their other collaborations, at least they had energy! This has absolutely nothing going for it, it's not even funny! Worthless song.
Title: Obsessed With You by Central Cee
Oh for fuck's sake!!!
You remember that song Just For Me by pinkpantheress that dropped about two months ago now? It was a small, innocent pop song that was very cutesy and poppy, the kind of thing that I knew was probably not going to stick around, but which was obviously going to take off on a platform like Tik Tok, and which I honestly thought was kind of cute and sweet? Well, of all the things to sample, why the fuck did Central Cee go for that?!
I don't care if he got permission from the artist, this just does not fucking fit! Especially when Central Cee is talking about the one thing he is ALWAYS terrible at, that being his relationships with women. It didn't work on Commitment Issues, and it doesn't work here. Sure, there's nothing here that's quite as bad as the worst parts of that song, but that's really not saying much, you're comparing it to one of the worst songs of the year! And never fear, it still manages to be absolutely butthurt and pathetic, alternating between being saying he's not like other guys, but specifically casting himself as a trap boy, and then acting all angry when she turns him down, proclaiming "he is done with these bitches." Gag me!
This takes a song that I found pretty cutesy and sweet, and just completely misses the point of it, flipping it into a song about being obsessed and lusting after some random girl. Plus it's not even two minutes long, it's just a waste of time and not one that I enjoyed a single second of.
Title: 24/5 by Mimi Webb
Okay seriously UK and Ireland, what is your collective obsession with Mimi Webb? It's not like she's a good singer... AT ALL, or that she's a good songwriter, or that she picks interesting melodies! She's basically just Gabby Barrett from last year: a complete waste of the airwaves who kept dropping songs that got considerably worse with repeated listens. Except Gabby Barrett only really had one big hit, whereas Mimi Webb has had two huge ones this year, neither of which are any good!
And now we have a third one, this one about getting over an ex, and yet still suffering through it 24/5... as opposed to 24/7... I don't know, and frankly I don't care either. And look, I'll say this: for as uninteresting as this song is from a production standpoint - a blur of generic pop synths that her voice will frequently blend in and back out of as the track goes on - and very stock lyrics about trying to get over a relationship... I will say that this is the best thing she's put out this year, at least by default.
There's nothing here as awful as the worst voice cracks on Good Without or the unearthly dullness and recycled nature of Dumb Love. Instead, the entire song just feels like kind of a waste of time, a transitional song that is definitely not going to be as big as either of those previous singles because the hook is nowhere near as memorable. At least I don't think so, because I didn't expect Dumb Love to stick around either.
The point is, Mimi Webb is just not a good artist by any metric, and she is fast becoming my least favorite singer to break out this year. I'm not a fan of this or of her. It doesn't deserve to be on the radio.
Title: Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah) by Ckay
Here we are at last, talking about the latest huge viral TikTok hit that actually seems to have some staying power. And as such, I'm specifically going to be talking about the TikTok remix of it, since that's the one getting the most attention. So, CKay, a Nigerian singer known for making Afrobeats, who broke through a few weeks ago thanks to this song going viral. Okay, not sure what I was expecting, since the last massive Afrobeat song I can remember getting huge was Drake's One Dance, but it's a genre that's harmless enough if a bit interchangeable to me. And yeah, this is pretty much what I expected.
The light dance beat, the chinsey synth that kicks in towards the end of the hook, the high hats, even the singing, none of it is all that surprising or different. And while I think CKay is actually a pretty decent performer who creates a nice, slightly sombre atmosphere, it's not like he's saying anything of much consequence, a basic song about wooing a girl. Now, as basic as that sounds, he does it pretty well, especially with some fun lines offering to chop up her nkwobi, a Nigerian delicacy that I believe involves a cow's foot. Then again, he does have a couple of mouthbreathing lines about being obsessed, as well as a fair few clichés too, so it's a mixed bag overall. On the whole, I do like this, it's pleasant and laid-back, but it's also the type of song I'll probably forget very quickly. I dunno, I just don't see this standing the test of time all that well.
Title: Moon by Kanye West (Ft. Don Toliver & Kid Cudi)
More Kanye, and this time it's a cut that sounds like a bonus track from MBDTF, at least sonically. Actually, ONLY sonically, because this feels more like a fragment of a song than a full track. It's basically a Don Toliver song with light touches from Kids See Ghosts in the background, repeating the mantra about wanting to go to the moon, and begging you not to leave so soon. And that's really about it. It's just over 2 and a half minutes long, and while I think it sounds pleasant and nostalgic, it's also a song I frequently forget exists. I'll say it's enjoyable enough - it's 40 seconds longer than that Central Cee song from earlier, yet feels far shorter to me - and for what they're given to work with, all 3 performers do well. There's just not much here, that's all.
Title: Bad Day by Justus Bennetts
I am... very mixed on this.
Another viral TikTok song, this time from a young man from North Carolina who previously only had a few thousand streams to his name. Then this dropped and skyrocketed him to the big- well, bigger leagues. A bitter song wishing your ex a terrible day. After all, he doesn't want to be spiteful, but you're someone he's got spite for. And look, I get it, sometimes break-ups suck, especially when the person who broke up with you was kind of shitty... but my GOD is this lame! Unlike Robert Grace's The Hurt You Gave Me, Justus Bennetts doesn't have the talent to pull off this song. Rather than sounding hurt or even all that spiteful, he sounds almost joyous, which MIGHT be part of the point, sure... but it's just so obnoxious. And 90% of it is just his voice! He just doesn't sound like a guy I want to root for, with his random voice cracks and his in-your-face, annoying delivery! A song like this naturally has some catharsis to it, and he doesn't really say anything that crosses the line in my opinion or embarrass himself like Gabby Barrett on I Hope, but the execution really rubs me the wrong way and takes all the petty fun out of the song.
Again, I have no issue with the song lyrically, we all need to let off steam and vent at our terrible ex sometimes. But when you clearly deserve my sympathy and can't earn it on your song due to an obnoxious choice of tone, not to mention a really abortive, bargain-bin instrumental, then that's on you.
Title: Bluebird by Offica
So, yet another Offica song. I'm getting a little bit used to these at this point, so I was kind of worried the novelty would wear off. After all, his main gimmick is just dropping Naruto references in his bars, that can only go so far.
Well, on this song, in fairness, he does do something a little different, actually flipping a sample from the third opening of Naruto Shippuden Blue Bird into the instrumental. I don't quite know how well it works but it's an original idea. That being said, I don't know how well the song comes together, because the bars here don't really grab me all that much, and it just inherently irritates me whatever he says "long sword like Zabu" when clearly he's referencing Zabuza, who nobody calls "Zabu" in the show... but I digress.
The song is fine, it's serviceable. It's better than some of the Irish drill you get now and again, but for Offica, it's pretty low-tier. I actually do think that he's a very entertaining and good MC usually, but this... this just isn't it. It feels like the recycled remnants of all of his ideas shoved into one song, and while once again, the sample is an original and new idea, it's not enough to really make the song worth much. Sorry.
Title: Don't Say You Love Me by JC Stewart
JC Stewart has had a very interesting year. Between the success of Too Many Nights and Break My Heart, I've actually enjoyed most of what he's put out, and I was kind of expecting this to be more of the same. However, it's a little bit different.
If anything, this reminds me sonically of Demi Lovato's last album/soundtrack Dancing with the Devil. It's oddly dark and cavernous in terms of the production, and not exactly in a way that feels particularly grandiose or gothic or anywhere near as cool as JC Stewart seems to think it is. Now, in terms of the subject matter, that's something that I can get behind, a song about telling someone not to tell him they love him when they don't actually mean it. That's a fair demand to make all things considered, especially when directed at someone you want to put behind you. Plus, it follows the theme of "If you're going to break my heart then do it right, don't leave me hanging on like the last time."
And yet this time... maybe it's because it's the second time around but this just doesn't have the same impact as Break My Heart. I don't think the hook is anywhere near as strong, and while the instrumental once again is trying to be interesting, it's kind of clunky and lacking some organic crunch, I dunno, the more I listen to this, the more it kinda reminds me of a leftover from that last Jonas Brothers album. And that's not a good sign.
Title: Still Gold by Róisín O
Gotta say, I haven't really been impressed by Róisín O during 2021. I know that she has a big fan base and that she has a beautiful voice, but I don't know, her hooks are often just a little bit lacking and her songs don't tend to have much of a punch for me. But I will say this: she is consistent. And in a week like this, that's exactly what I was praying for... and oh thank God, she delivered!
In fact, Still Gold might be one of the better things she's released this year, a song about someone whom you left behind to go live your life, but whom everybody has now lost touch with, doesn't know how to talk to, and who has basically spiraled in your absence. And there is a part of her that blames herself for that, knowing that this person is still gold on the inside and wanting to bring them back to the light, all the while apologizing for leaving in the first place. Yeah, there is definitely a bit of a hero complex here - which I'm not going to say I don't relate to - but it's executed in a way that doesn't feel too big-headed or making it all about her. She still clearly cares about this person, and with a pretty solid hook and some nice crunch to the instrumental that I wasn't expecting, along with Róisín's trademark great voice, it definitely makes the song an easier one to revisit than her last couple of singles, at least for me.
So yeah, Stay Gold by Róisín O might not have got Best the week normally, but in a week like this it's easily taking it! Because most of this week was utterly lousy. To the point where the Worst of the week gets really tough. Lot of contenders, but I think I'm going to give it to Obsessed With You by Central Cee, for taking a song I liked and, well, runing it.
Week 39 - September 24, 2021
Title: THAT'S WHAT I WANT by Lil Nas X
I actually put off listening to this till I heard the full project. After all, I'd listened to all of Lil Nas X's other singles and I wanted to save a little something for the album. And having now listened to the album and this song, I'm not at all surprised this immediately vaulted into the top 10. Because THAT'S WHAT I WANT, just like his last couple of singles, is an absolute banger.
I was a little afraid that we are going to get a repeat of SUN GOES DOWN, which in my opinion is a slight drop off in quality compared to MONTERO and INDUSTRY BABY. But those fears were unfounded, because this song absolutely SOARS, a song about wanting to find someone who can love him. In fact, considering how much I didn't like the earnestness on SUN GOES DOWN, I'm surprised by how much I got sold on the earnestness here. Maybe because it's paired with a much better hook that punches a lot better? Seriously, this has been stuck in my head for past for the past week, especially when the build-up to the hook on the verses reminds me more than a little bit of Living La Vida Loca by Rick Martin.
This is definitely the type of song that I didn't know I wanted from Lil Nas, but which he absolutely fucking nailed! Great song, yet again.
Title: Wildest Dreams (Taylor's Version) by Taylor Swift
YES, we are finally getting to Taylor's reimagining of what used to be my favorite album by her, 1989. And of course, I have no problem with the first one I get to talk about being Wildest Dreams, one of her biggest and most beautiful hits.
And look, I've always thought that Wildest Dreams was a great song that was just on the cusp of being transcendent, maybe by adding a little bit more oomph to it. Well, if there's one thing that this experiment of Taylor's has done, it's made me really appreciate how much more mature and controlled her vocals have become, and BOY does it elevate the track here!
This sounds utterly beautiful; the way that Taylor controls the changes in her tone and voice so much more easily than she did back in 2014, the way that she replaces the light percussive beat of the original with recordings of her own heartbeat, the way the chorus just soars with heavenly multitracked vocals and those touches of strings, guiding it into the ether, reaching an even more climactic high on that bridge!
Yeah, this song has always been fucking gorgeous, and this reimagining takes it to the next level, at least for me. Well done Taylor.
Title: Life Goes On by Oliver Tree
So this is Oliver Tree, a man that you've probably heard mentioned at some point or another if you're into underground music. He's known for his affiliation and on-off relationship with Melanie Martinez, for making music for the meme, and often not really caring what people think about his quality. And I've heard some of his songs in the past; not exactly my cup of tea, but I can see the appeal. But then this drops and lands him a hit in the top 50, so it piqued my curiosity and... oh dear lord, this is horrible.
Luck, technically this is a bonus track, it was actually on the deluxe edition of his last album Ugly Is Beautiful, an album which a few critics seem to like, but where most agreed that all the deluxe bonus tracks sucked. And yeah, that's kind of the case here, because this is just obnoxious. The stupid clunky tempo, the horrible vocal performance that sounds like a really bad and high-pitched Tyler Joseph impression, everything about this is just annoying! People tell me that Heat Waves by Glass Animals is an awful song and I've never really gotten why. Well, this is what those people must be talking about: a song that tries to embed itself in your head with some of the most inane lyrics about how life goes on and repeats itself that you can possibly imagine. Yes, that is the point, the fact that life goes on and on and never stops and keeps repeating itself and is generally just dull mirrors the structure of the song, I GET IT! But I didn't need to hear that in musical form.
Add to that a cheap, dull, 2-not instrumental that never evolves or goes anywhere, and you have a song that is just utter trash. I don't have time for this sort of ironic bullshit that tries to make a point without being remotely clever about it.
And that's it, just 3 songs for this week. Well, that means the Best and Worst is pretty easy to decide. I don't think I'm going to include Wildest Dreams in this running since it is technically a rerelease of an older song, and plus I want to give a Lil Nas X all the props that I can, so THAT'S WHAT I WANT is getting the best of the week. As you might expect, that means Life Goes On by Oliver Tree is left with the worst of the week, and not even by default, that song is just terrible. I know he's capable of better, and I expect more in the future
Week 40 - October 1, 2021
Title: My Universe by Coldplay & BTS
Was anyone really demanding this? Don't get me wrong, I know that BTS has had possibly their biggest year ever and that even Coldplay made somewhat of a comeback this year with Higher Power, but did anyone really want them to collab? In fact, has anyone ever looked forward to BTS collabs?? They always tend to completely take over whichever performer they work with. Either that or the performer blends in with them quite nicely, like on BOY WITH LUV with Halsey, but those are rare exceptions, for the most part I just don't see the point of their collaborations. But then something weird happened... because rather than BTS completely taking over Coldplay, Coldplay kind of took over BTS!
It's a very weird feeling listening to what is clearly a Coldplay song, and then combining it with BTS just being themselves, even switching between English and Korean a few times. And I'm not gonna lie, it works surprisingly well. All the performers stand out fairly well, none of them's a weak link, and they all seem to be having fun. Also sonically, this might be one of the most organic pop crossovers that BTS has ever performed has ever attempted, it actually sounds a lot less sterile and processed than some of their past attempts.
Maybe it's because they collaborated with Coldplay, who have been making arena pop music for the last 10 years of their careers, but whenever that chorus comes back around, it really does soar! Heck, it's arguably the best hook that a Coldplay song has had since Hymn For The Weekend. I actually found myself liking this a lot more than I thought I would. Good song, strangely enough.
Title: Where Are You Now by Lost Frequencies (Ft. Callum Scott)
Well, these are two names I did not expect to see together: Belgian DJ - HEY OH - Lost Frequencies decided to team up with Callum Scott. You know, that guy on Britain's Got Talent who covered Robyn's Dancing On My Own a few years back to the absolutely horrendous results. Well, after that he kept putting out singles and apparently got a little bit of a career for himself. And today he's teamed up with Lost Frequencies to deliver... well, it's interesting.
Not to be biased, but I've always thought that Belgian DJs have a much better grasp of how to make catchy dance music than a lot of British ones do. And in my mind, Lost Frequencies proves it here, with a dark cyclical beat that always seems to come back around in a very pleasing fashion. Which kind of works for a song where the same thought is running round and round in our protagonist's head. And I will say this, Calum Scott delivers it really well, reminiscing about a girl whom he's broken up with, who just keeps getting stuck in his head like a song on the radio that he used to know... Okay yeah, the comparison to the Anne-Marie and Niall Horan song from earlier this year is pretty inescapable. But honestly, I would say this is better, taking a slightly darker tone while not sacrificing its danceability, and putting some real sombre weight behind the lyrics. Yes, the Anne-Marie song was more pop-friendly and was even more mature by some stretch, but at the same time, there's a human element to this that I think really makes it stand out a lot more to me.
I don't know, it's one of those songs where the moment you hear it, it really does get stuck going round and round in your head, and personally I think it's a really good example of one. Nice job guys, keep it up.
Title: Tell Me Something Good by Ewan McVicar
This is Ewan McVicar, a Scottish lad making a name for himself, who one day was presumably listening to Rufus & Chaka Khan and decided "I can make something out of this in 2021." So he released it, and it proceeded to tear up the charts with the help of TikTok.
And while I have seen some derision and hate for this online, there's something charming about this to me.
the sample is actually flipped pretty well with the dancehall beat, of course I like the vocals, and it's kind of reminiscent of that Bissett song we discussed earlier, only switching out the typical piano stabs with a good solid baseline that just loops ad nauseum. And yeah, I get why some people would have a problem with that, as the sound doesn't really progress or go anywhere, but it's so catchy with that repeated mantra that it manages to put a small smile on my face.
Not sure if it's ever something I'd ever actively seek out, but if it came on, I'd bear with it till it finished. I dunno, I'm not seeing the hate for this one.
Title: A-O-K by Tai Verdes
You know, even before the mention of "lemonade" in the lyrics, the song of the same name by Internet Money, Don Oliver and co was the first thing that popped into my head when this first played. There's something so laid-back and fun about it, a post-summer song that still feels like summer, with a bright but simple enough guitar line, a sing-along chorus, some nice multi-tracking and lyrics about just being fucking positive, even when everything is going wrong!
Tai Verdes actually broke out last year with his song Stuck in the Middle when it went viral on TikTok, and has since built his career from the ground up. He was basically working in a shop and was writing music in between his shifts, so it's kind of a nice underdog story. And plus, this new song is just a bundle of joy! Do you know how many songs out there about being happy sound utterly forced or cringe or ironic? But here, it just feels positive, a guy who knows that things are not going to be perfect all the time and whose life frequently is going wrong, as he describes in the lyrics. But at the end of the day, he is going to be a-okay.
Yeah, in a way it's cheesy but again, this sort of positive music does not get made often enough by people of my generation, and it's nice when one comes along once in a while, one which we can all appreciate together. Great little song, I really enjoy this! Please make it a hit.
Now this is a tough one, because there's nothing I really dislike from this week. I guess by default, I'll give the Worst to Tell Me Something Good by Ewan McVicar, and that's only because it really is the weakest of the songs here, it's definitely not bad. And as for the Best... you know what, there were a couple of contenders, but I think I'm gonna give it to A-O-K by Tai Verdes for just putting me in a really good mood for the rest of the day when I first started. It's a real pick-me-up and a song that I really do hope gets bigger.
Week 41 - October 8, 2021
Title: Last One Standing by Skylar Grey (Ft. Polo G, Mozzy & Eminem)
So, controversial opinion: I actually really like Venom by Eminem! Yes, I am well aware that it has been memed to death and that a lot of people in this community think it's an utterly trash song. Fair enough, I think it's very catchy and entertaining, with some really decent bars if you actually break down the lyrics. Plus, I actually enjoyed parts of the movie.
Well, now there's a second movie and with it, a new Eminem song from the soundtrack. Well, it has Skylar Grey on it, which is already a mark against it in my opinion. I can think of one great Skylar Grey and Eminem collab, and that was Asshole, the song where she basically underplayed for once. But here, you've got the usual soaring chorus about being the last one standing, the last bastion refusing to be knocked back by the changing times, or allowing yourself to fade away, and YAWN it's so generic.
I will say the Polo G is a nice addition here; he fits over the instrumental very well, and his bars are as solid as ever. Seriously, in terms of consistency, Polo G really is one of the best in the game at the moment, major props to him this year! Which is more than I can say for Mozzy, who is just a complete waste of time here, contributing nothing beyond the generic flexing on the entirety of his verse, plus sounding distractingly like T.I.! And honestly, I would kind of say the same of Em. I'm not a huge fan of his flow in certain spots, and the 9/11 line was just tasteless. But as for everything else... I mean, you've got some fairly good lines in there, but nothing that's really going to stand out in a big way.
I was kind of expecting more from this. It certainly doesn't match up to the energy or the strong chorus of Venommmmmm, that's for sure! Either way, I don't hate this, but I doubt I'll remember it in a week or so.
Title: Drive by Clean Bandit & Topic (Ft. Wes Nelson)
Oh gods, another reality TV star, are you fucking kidding me?! I'm still not over Didn't Know by Tom Zanetti from earlier this year! But sure, screw it, let's talk about the new song from Wes Nelson, teaming up with Clean Bandit and Topic. Considering the last Topic song I discussed earlier was an absolute waste of space with Becky Hill, I wasn't really sure what to expect or whether I would have anything positive to say about it. But as it turns out... I kinda do.
Because this song is actually kind of really good(?), which is not what I expected. Somehow, Clean Bandit and Topic make a real dream team, balancing out each other's flaws and really heightening each other's strengths, as the song is incredibly danceable and catchy courtesy of Topic, but also has enough organic elements including the strings from Clean Bandit! Also, Wes Nelson is just a lot better than I expected. Again this is a reality TV star who was on shows like Love Island, I was clearly not expecting him to be a charismatic singer! But he's actually pretty good; nothing incredible but definitely able to drive home the point of a song like this. About finding the one that you've just clicked with so well that the two of you can just drive all night... whether that's a euphemism or not is up to your interpretation.
So yeah, I really like this, a lot more than I was expecting. Nice job, all of you, I wouldn't mind that this stuck around.
Title: Orphan Girl by Nicola O'Haire
Aaaaand for our final song, we're going to talk about Orphan Girl by Nicola O'Haire. A young Mayo singer who was apparently supposed to come out with her big breakout single last year, but was delayed due to COVID. Well, here it is, the first lead-off single for her debut album, and it's a cover of the folk song, Orphan Girl, quite an interesting choice. Because this track is actually rather... specific.
It was written in 2012 by Irish songwriter, Brendan Graham at a festival in Sydney honoring the memory of over 4000 female orphans who were brought to Australia from Ireland during the Great Famine in the 1840s. This was part of something that was called "The Orphan and Pauper Scheme", devised by Henry George Gray, the secretary of state of war and colonies at the time, now known as Earl Grey. ... Don't worry, not THAT Earl Grey.
As you might expect, this song is from the perspective of one of those orphan girls, it's even mentioned that she's only "barely turned 16". So you really need to be careful with this song because it needs to be performed with a little bit of class and grace in order to be anything remotely new. And my God, did she pull it off!
Nicola O'Haire is an absolutely beautiful singer, and hearing her voice perfectly command the mix while also still conveying the vulnerability of the lyrics is truly stunning. Plus, the song is really well-produced; nothing garish or over-the-top, just some light touches of accordion, and the rest of it is just a simple piano and picked guitar line. It's as bare as it can be while still not being underproduced, and therefore feels organic and true in such a good way, really making the song her own.
It's not often that a cover blows me away these days, but this one really did, it got to me! Congrats Nicola, this is beautiful!.
So yeah, it shouldn't be a surprise for any of you, but Orphan Girl by Nicola O'Haire is taking the Best of the week for sure! And yes, that does mean that Last One Standing by Skylar Grey & co gets the Worst of the week, if only by default. Again, I don't think it's a bad song, but it's definitely the weakest one here.
And that is everything for... ummm... Musical McCool Maelstrom! ... I'll probably come up with a better name than that. But in the meantime, thank you all for reading this far if you have! I am back on schedule, hopefully starting this weekend, and I am very much looking forward to getting back to this on a weekly basis. Take care everyone, and until the next time, I'm Finn, and this is the social tune signing off.