Hey guys, welcome back to Musical McCool!
Oh boy... I knew this week had the potential to be busy, but not THIS! Miley's new album was set to drop and do big numbers, but it didn't quite have the impact you'd expect, at least not based on the success of Flowers... possibly because it's her most boring and safe release to date. Instead though, a huge amount of songs dropped out of the Hot 100, causing a slew of new songs to rocket up to fill in the gaps, meaning we have a huge number of new entries to discuss!
The Top 10
As for our Top 10 though, there was only really 1 piece of news.
1. Flowers - Miley Cyrus [LW: #1 / WOC: 9]
2. Boy's A Liar Pt. 2 - PinkPantheress (Ft. Ice Spice) [LW: #2 / WOC: 12]
3. Miracle - SZA [LW: - / WOC: 1]
4. ceilings - Lizzy McAlpine [LW: #5 / WOC: 11]
5. Die For You (Remix) - The Weeknd (Ft. Ariana Grande) [LW: #3 / WOC: 18]
6. Calm Down (Remix) - Rema (Ft. Selena Gomez) [LW: #6 / WOC: 29]
7. Heaven - Niall Horan [LW: #8 / WOC: 4]
8. Players - Coi Leray [LW: #7 / WOC: 12]
9. Sure Thing - Miguel [LW: #9 / WOC: 11]
10. 10:35 - Tiësto (Ft. Tate McRae) [LW: #10 / WOC: 19]
As predicted, Flowers remained at number 1, only strengthened by the album dropping. Though again, not as absolute as you might expect, time will tell where this will go. The bigger story is the new Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding collab Miracle, where I'm kind of shocked to see it debut this high! More on that in a bit, but otherwise, the Top 10 seems happy as it is right now. And I'm not too mad at it either, to be honest.
The Punished and the New
As I mentioned, we had quite a few drop-outs this week, not least of all because of a number of new songs moving to ACR:
Kill Bill by SZA - #4 -> #15
CUFF IT by Beyoncé - #16 -> #49
Just Wanna Rock by Lil Uzi Vert - #23 -> #90
Lavender Haze by Taylor Swift - #24 -> #93
Not gonna lie, this kind of sucks! I mean 3 of these had really good runs, but I was really hoping Lavender Haze would last a bit longer, it's one of the better songs on Midnights!
There were some other notable shifts though: Nicki's Red Ruby Da Sleeze rose up to 28 because for some reason we like to encourage artists when they display their worst tendencies, Whistle by Jax Jones rose to 37 because the gods hate me, and Trance by Metro Boomin rocketed all the way up to 42 because I deserve at least 1 good song this week, damn it!
So not exactly a net positive... let's see if our 14 new arrivals can change that! ... Yeah, this is going to be another l-l-l-lightning round, strap in!
Title: Miracle by Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding
I'm very torn on Ellie Goulding. Beautiful voice, some genuinely great songs, and yet I just realised I don't give a shit about her artistic integrity or persona, she's just a jack of all trades. And considering her most famous collab with Calvin Harris is on one of my least favourite hits of the past 10 years, I was NOT looking forward to this... but colour me shocked, this is kind of gorgeous.
It's possible that I'm being worn down by drum-and-bass through sheer overexposure, but while the drop on this should infuriate me as the most obvious genre pivot Calvin could possibly choose to chase, I'm just kind of in awe of how much is going on! Sure, the initial build-up and lyrics are nothing particularly revolutionary, although Ellie sounds ethereally pretty on this, but after the initial drop, when those pianos come in, the song really kicks into gear! The melody is beautiful, the vocals are dynamic instead of just repeating the same 2 bars over and over again, and rather than the standard build-and-drop structure, it opts to let all the elements build up to one final drop that sounds pretty damn great!
Okay, I do wish the song were a bit longer, if only to see where else the instrumental could go, but unlike so much of this genre from 2022, I'm on board with this. I genuinely hope this sticks around, I really like it!
Title: River by Miley Cyrus
So yeah, I didn't like the new album all that much. it may have debuted at number 1 in Ireland, but I don't know how long that could possibly last with how disposable so much of the project is. That being said, this is one of the better songs on the album, certainly more interesting than Flowers.
Now, it has problems. The production is weirdly mixed, with gummy guitars, kooky sound effects, and minor synth tones creating this weird contrast between the vocals and instrumental at points. But I honestly find that part kind of fun, it throws you for a loop, especially on that bridge. And while Miley's delivery and lyrics remind me eerily of Lady Gaga circa 2010, it's certainly interesting, and gives the song a lot more identity, where his love is so intense it almost washes her away, for better... and possibly for worse?
I'm aware that my opinion on this album is a bit contentious... I mean my favourite song on the album is the overtly sexual and bizarre Handstand, for fuck's sake, but each time I listened to it, River was always the first song to make me light up and pay attention. And I have to appreciate that!
Title: Jaded by Miley Cyrus
To many, this is an easy stand-out on the album, probably the most typically Miley song on it... and I hate it.
Look, this isn't the era of Miley I ever liked, I only started getting into her music around Plastic Hearts and Nothing Breaks Like A Heart. Most of what she released before this, with rare exceptions like Wrecking Ball, just rubbed me up the wrong way. She sounds nasal as fuck, and when you project that nasal tone across the word JAAAAAAAAAADED and HAAAAAAAATE it, I instantly switch off.
Instrumental's fine, but otherwise, this is a big fat nope from me!
Title: Mother by Meghan Trainor
Oh no. NononononoNO!
I was JUST praising you for Made You Look, WHY would you make a song like this AGAIN?! Believe it or not, I don't think this is similar to Dear Future Husband at all. That song was dated and regressive, while this is just pure CRINGE! And the doo-wop production is actually pretty enough, except when they pitch or chop the vocals, where it instead sounds like the matrix glitching in the ugliest way possible! But the lyrics, FUCK!!!
The title and hook are based around queer slang that she CLEARLY doesn't understand! And that's not even getting into the individual lines, like the way the hook resolves into "you're just a bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum"! Or "Ain't tryna control me like an old man on CSPAN?!" And why is she still insisting on using this half-rapped delivery, it does NOT work with this type of sound!
Look, it might play well to certain audiences, and you know, sure, fuck condescending men! But doing it this way just makes you look ridiculous, it feels like I'm hearing out-of-touch Hilary telling people to "Pokemon Go to the polls" again, just ARGH, I'm wincing!
Title: Energy by Digga D
I find Digga D quite frustrating. Even aside from his toxic behaviour, I find his music always tends to fall short in 1 way or another. Sometimes the beat slaps, but the lyrics suck. Occasionally he really puts his pen to paper, but this production falls short. And sometimes he makes a turd on all fronts like Bluuwuu. Overall, he's never a name I'm particularly thrilled to see on the charts.
And this is yet another mixed bag. The chorus sucks, a plodding and predictable dirge where he talks about protecting his energy from those around him who might drain it. But then the verses are pretty decent, with some really solid flows toward the end in particular! But I also don't love this drill-adjacent production, it does very little to stand out from the pack.
Ultimately, I think your liking of this will depend heavily on how much you care about Digga D's mental health. Personally, I'm not saying I don't care, but I find it hard to ignore that he's probably the most toxic person he knows. Nuff said.
Title: Tattoo by Loreen
So Eurovision is fast approaching. Ireland's entry sucks as always, but I have to say, covering the songs on this weekly series has given me a newfound appreciation for the contest, and I was excited to talk about the most recent crossover entry.
Well, first off, WOW that's a name I haven't thought about in about 10 years! For those who need reminding, Loreen was responsible for Eurovision 2012's Euphoria, a song that lives in my head rent-free. And to be clear, Tattoo isn't quite the same... but it's not that dissimilar either. The structure's quite similar, with the hushed verses, the slow build, the belting on the pre-chorus, and the huge hook that hits full force- no, wait, never mind, FUCK! See, this is the problem with modern pop trends. When Euphroria's hook hit, she went for it, hammering "EUPHOOOOORIA from now until the end of time" into your head forevermore. Tattoo, on the other hand, doesn't have that big release, it just builds and then abandons the drop to return to the verses. It's been well-documented how much I hate this song structure and it really pisses me off here too! Now, this isn't a You Only Love Me by Rita Ora situation, there are some good elements here! The production's mostly really good, the pianos and strings sound great, the synthesisers are well incorporated, and Loreen's sheer power is still damn impressive. It's just that song structure that drives me around the bend. Conclude your songs, people!
Title: Where You Are by John Summit & Hayla
Maybe I'm just old and out-of-touch, but I had no idea who John Summit was before today... which is weird because I recognise several of his songs! Apparently, he's a Chicago-born DJ who's been making a lot of noise in the EDM scene over the past year or so. So having given a few of his songs some listens, I can appreciate that it's fairly well-produced and danceable, but it's just not anything I would typically choose to listen to.
This though, I can safely say stands out in a good way. The budget on this one is clear, and Hayla's powerful voice, which alternates between a husky lower range and a belting, rich upper range, makes for a really nice contrast. The lyrics are pretty disposable, but that matters far less here, as the centre of attention is clearly supposed to be the instrumental and the singer, both of which really shine! Hell, I'll even say that the build-up to the final chorus is one of the best I've heard hit the charts in a while, it builds that tension beautifully before releasing it on the last hook, TAKE NOTES LOREEN!
I don't think this is quite unique enough to stick around, and I don't think it's as creative as something like Human with Echoes, but I do enjoy this, nice job!
Title: Home For My Heart by ArrDee & Cat Burns
These are not 2 names I ever expected to see on a song together. Cat Burns is an indie pop singer, while ArrDee is a rapper best known for making music about being a massive asshole. That being said, I do have a weird kind of respect for both of them. Cat Burns has yet to really impress me, but I appreciate her attempts at writing music about tricky topics, while Arrdee's dickweed persona is well-balanced against some real charisma, making me genuinely enjoy how much of a dick he is on songs like Oliver Twist, Flowers and War. But the 2 of them together just seemed like an odd mesh. And it really is. ArrDee apparently approached her because his mum's a big fan, and Cat Burns reportedly came up with the melody. And BOY does it show because I really don't think this flows well! ArrDee's bars are pretty introspective, and I appreciate that he wants to try something different (he seems intelligent enough and even somewhat likable in interviews), but Cat Burns' chorus just seems at odds with it, almost written like a desperate plea to a lover to keep faith in them while they struggle to get their life under control. But that sort of clashes with Arrdee, who despite his best efforts, seems to be ready to give up already. Look, it's not bad, and the framing ALMOST works, but I can't help but hear See You Again Part 2, a collaboration between a rapper and singer from 2 very different styles who don't seem to be operating on the same page. Decent in pieces, and catchy enough, but I don't think it works as well as they wanted it to.
Title: Can't Tame Her by Zara Larsson
I'm about ready to give up on Zara Larsson. She hasn't released anything I've liked since 2017, last year's Words with Alesso was atrocious, and she seems to have lost sight of her own strengths as a performer. And sadly, Can't Tame Her doesn't break that losing streak. It has some decent elements, like the defiant lyrics and Zara's attempts at some real firepower, but WHY are Zara's vocals quieter in the mix than the percussion? The vocal production is pretty baffling on the whole, with the scattered multitracking, the bratty call-and-response, and the noticeable LACK of multitracking or power on the main chorus line. But it's really the damn 80s synths that rubbed me the wrong way here, because I think I'm finally losing patience with this trend! Just because a song blatantly copies the 80s production tricks doesn't automatically make it good, especially when it feels like a last-ditch stab at relevance!
Nice try Zara, but this still didn't convince me your career has any more longevity. Why do you think it took over a month to cross over?
Title: MOTTO by NF
It's worth noting that Macklemore's new album dropped last week, and while no song from it charted anywhere near the mainstream, it did cause Can't Hold Us by him and Ryan Lewis to return at number 87, 2 spots above the brand-new NF song... I don't think that's a coincidence. I know this guy has his fans; I know that because a few of you really didn't like how I tore into HOPE a couple of weeks ago. But I just don't see the appeal at all! And this is arguably even worse than THAT song!
MOTTO is another self-referential, bitter track where NF is yelling about how everybody but him lacks integrity, sounding like a weird mash-up between Logic's insecurity, modern Eminem's misdirected angry shouting, and AJR's production. And if that sounds like a nightmare... it is. Hell, unlike HOPE, this song has SOME lines I like! I like the lines about how he enjoys thumbing through CDs, I relate to that. But the chorus is FAR more obnoxious (sounding weirdly like Lost Cause by Billie Eilish btw), he's even more condescending, and the backing vocals and production are atrocious.
I haven't heard that new Macklemore album - based on the last one he released, I'm not sure I want to - but I have to imagine it's better than this! At least I respect that he has a sense of humour, unlike this self-righteous dullard!
Title: Lovers Rock by TV Girl
Colour me confused... As far as I can tell, this American indie rock band is only seeing this boost thanks to TikTok, I couldn't find any other reason why this, a 2014 song, should be hitting the charts this week. Especially since the band is relatively small, with a dedicated fanbase and an upcoming tour, but no new music since 2021.
Whatever the reason may be, this is just okay at best. The strings are grandiose, but very repetitive and way too loud, frequently drowning out the vocals. The title also comes from a 70s reggae subgenre, which is entirely unrepresented here, and samples an episode of a 1944 podcast... yes, really.
Sorry, this just doesn't give me anything to work with. Never mind why this is charting now, I can't see the appeal in this to begin with! It's barely a real song, the melody is fine but kind of basic, I can't make out the lyrics most of the time, and even the band seems to hate that they're TikTok-famous. Not awful, but I just don't care.
Title: Blue Hair by TV Girl
See, THIS I get. There's a more defined melody, you can hear what's being said, and it actually seems to be about something!
Specifically, it's a teenage romance, where a boy falls in love with a girl with blue hair. But with her mounting insecurities, she eventually outgrows her hair and cuts it off, just like she does with their relationship. Sounds clunky, but it's not too in-your-face, showing off the parallel quite nicely and only revealing he's been left alone in the final verse. It's pretty, it shows off the angst and helplessness of teen romance pretty well, and while the vocal mixing and production still feel quite shoddy, I do see this as an improvement.
Title: Flip A Switch. by RAYE
Gotta be honest, RAYE's album wasn't quite everything I wanted it to be. A really good and highly ambitious album, but had more ideas than good sense, with a lot of wild and inconsistent experiments. Take this song, which is more hip-hop-oriented and displays an understanding of the genre, but not quite a mastery of it.
RAYE's flow switches between being really good and kind of awful and off-beat, and I just don't think the hook works all that well. It's fine enough, but compared to the devastation of Ice Cream Man., or the sombre catchiness of Black Mascara. or everything about Excapism., this just falls a bit short.
That being said, her lower tones are genuinely great, and the production's quite good, so I suppose this is fine, if rather forgettable. I mean as I'm writing this, the melody to Black Mascara. is all that's playing in my head, that's not a great sign!
Title: Weekends by Freya Ridings
Ah Freya, it's been a while. I'll admit I don't know much about this UK singer; I always thought she was the cheap man's Florence Welch to be honest, but admittedly that might be because I only know her for her breakthrough hit Castles and not much else. Still, that's a pretty great song, so I'm happy to see her back!
And this is fine, pretty good in fact. The production is painfully basic and underwhelming, but Freya's powerful voice makes up for a lot, a rich, full croon that packs a lot of poise and dignity into this lament of a lost lover. Okay, it doesn't quite bring me to tears, but it's not trying to, it wants you to admire her strength of character as she endures this. And I do, even if I wish they'd given her the instrumentals to back it up!
Overall, with a good chorus and a ton of talent, I am inclined to praise this, but I do think she needs to switch out her production team. Only then will she be able to reach her full potential.
And after all that jerk-off of an outro, let's get to the weekly Best and Worst segment! This week was honestly pretty underwhelming in some ways, but the Best is pretty clearly Miracle by Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding. I hope it doesn't shrink on me, but even if it does, it's still miles ahead of most of these. As for the Worst of the week, I'm taking a leaf out of last week's book and handing out a tie: Mother by Meghan Trainor, and at the risk of getting swatted, MOTTO by NF, I can't decide which makes me grimace harder!
And another hugely busy week on the homegrown front, ARGH!
1. Heaven - Niall Horan [LW: #1 / WOC: 4]
2. My Mind - Belters Only [LW: 3 / WOC: 2]
3. Innocence And Sadness - Dermot Kennedy [LW: 3 / WOC: 2]
4. Giving Me - Jazzy [LW: - / WOC: 1]
5. Full of The Blade - Marty Mone [LW: 4 / WOC: 2]
6. YOU - LYRA [LW: - / WOC: 1]
7. I Left My Heart - Lucy Blue [LW: - / WOC: 1]
8. Perfect - Moncrieff [LW: #6 / WOC: 9]
9. Heart In The Water - Kingfishr [LW: - / WOC: 1]
10. ' Cello Song - Fontaines D.C. [LW: 5 / WOC: 2]
Even after multiple new songs last week, we got 5 more this week, 4 of which were in the Top 10!
Well, it's quite a bit to get through, but for my thoughts on all of these and much more, check out my video series National Treasures over on Instagram, go follow me there @thesocialtune to hear my full thoughts. And if you want a sneak peek at what hit the chart this week:
Title: Giving Me by Jazzy
Title: YOU by LYRA
Title: I left my heart by Lucy Blue
Title: Heart In The Water by Kingfishr
Title: CooCool by Róisín Murphy
Again, for my thoughts on these songs and more, simply head over to my Instagram @thesocialtune, where I will be reviewing EVERY SONG that hits the Homegrown Top 20 over the course of 2023! Plenty ready to go with a lot more on the way!
As always, let me know in the Comments what you thought of the songs covered this week, and leave a Like if you enjoyed! Please make sure to follow me everywhere so you don't miss a thing, and Subscribe to the blog to keep up with my weekly chart reflections. Stay safe and happy everyone and until the next time, I'm Fionn and this is The Social Tune signing off!