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Musical McCool Season 3, Week 15 (Search & Rescue, Baby Don't Hurt Me, Never Felt So Alone and more)

Hey guys, welcome back to Musical McCool!

The charts have really been interesting during 2023, I'm downright shocked at how diverse the songs have been, with a pretty consistent turnover of new hits. That being said, on average, the quality has been all over the map, and a lot of the songs that are currently gaining traction are downright awful. And full disclosure: this might be one of the worst weeks I've ever reviewed.

The Top 10

I mean compared to just 2 weeks ago, our Top 10 is in total shambles!

1. Miracle - Calvin Harris (Ft. Ellie Goulding) [LW: #1 / WOC: 5]

2. People (Check On Me) - Libianca [LW: #3 / WOC: 14]

3. Giving Me - Jazzy [LW: #9 / WOC: 4]

4. Eyes Closed - Ed Sheeran [LW: #5 / WOC: 3]

5. Flowers - Miley Cyrus [LW: #2 / WOC: 13]

6. Search & Rescue - Drake [LW: - / WOC: 1]

7. Heaven - Niall Horan [LW: #6 / WOC: 8]

8. Last Night - Morgan Wallen [LW: #13 / WOC: 10]

9. If We Ever Broke Up - Mae Stephens) [LW: #8 / WOC: 9]

10. Forget Me - Lewis Capaldi [LW: #58 / WOC: 31]

So let's get the positives out of the way first, because there aren't many of them; Libianca's People rising to number 2 is still shocking, but I'm very happy it is, and the recent Lewis Capaldi documentary boosted his songs and last album in a HUGE way, even returning Forget Me to the Top 10! Good, it's a great song!

From there though, it's all shit! Giving Me by Jazzy (aka Make Me Feel Good Pt. 2) is gaining a staggering amount of traction, to the point where it may genuinely go to number 1 next week! Keeping the shit storm blowing, Morgan Fucking Wallen is in the Irish Top 10(!!!), as Last Night finally rose up to number 8. This has been a long time coming, but I still despise it, even more so than If We Ever Broke Up, which got forced back to number 9 but seems to be here to stay for a while! Finally, our one new debut is Drake, Search & Rescue, still refusing to let his career die, even after one of the most pathetic album runs I've ever seen over the course of the past 2 years! More on that in a bit, but suffice it to say that this Top 10 sucks HARD, what the Hell happened?!

The Punished and the New

And on the topic of the world being against me and my music tastes, just look at our ACR victim for the week:

ceilings by Lizzy McAlpine - #4 -> #16

I suppose ceilings has had an amazing run, especially considering Lizzy's relatively dim star, but it's still such a shame to see this type of well-written indie folk cut down in its prime... boygenius didn't stick around past their first week either, by the way! Also, there's some debate on Flowers possibly moving to ACR this week, but I'm not entirely convinced, so let's put a pin in that for now.

As for the rest of the charts, it was a mixed bag. Aside from Forget Me, Lewis Capaldi also saw How I'm Feeling Now rise up to number 20 (great!) and Someone You Loved resurge to 34 (... severely mixed feelings). For some reason, Cupid by FIFTY FIFTY rocketed up to number 41 (... what?!) and I Know by Kanii shot up to 50... both of these rose by about 40 slots and the latter one absolutely SUCKS, what the fuck is happening?! And the weird gains don't stop there: Flip A Switch. by RAYE jumped up to 53, Here by Tom Grennan's suddenly at 55, Relax My Eyes by ANOTR is now at 68, even the travesty that is Slut Me Out by NLE Choppa jumped 20 spots to 70! The ONLY silver lining is Hell N Back by Bakar rising up to 61, but even its greatness doesn't balance out this torrent of bad quality!

So yeah, I'm not happy with the charts right now, and that's all before we dive into:

Title: Search & Rescue by Drake

Position: #6

Okay... have I ever mentioned that Drake spends WAY too much time on the internet?! I mean sure, that can lead to him releasing music that goes along with the times and stay relevant, but the main reason his career has been in such a creative rut since at least 2018 is because he cares WAY too much about what people think of him, and is way more interested in chasing trends instead of setting them.

And even for Drake, this is just sad and pathetic. Apparently, he's been frequenting Reddit, because the lyrics are about him looking for a mommy to rescue him, to save him from the clubs, the trap (HA, yeah, right!), all delivered in this constant, somewhat melodic drawl that bores me to tears! Specifically, based on the vocal clips scattered throughout this 4-and-a-half-minute track, he seems to be trying to get Kim Kardashian's attention. Honestly, it's so transparent that I'm surprised he didn't go all-out and call himself a gigachad looking for someone to step on him, UWU!

Yeah, this sucks HARD! The piano is weirdly minor and threatening, the lyrics about him looking for someone to make money WITH him, rather than taking it from him, are BEYOND insecure, there's so much repetition that the chorus and verses blend into a meaningless slurry that's impossible to follow, and worst of all, it's BORING, it's SO BORING!!! FUCK! ... SO yeah, not a fan, and if this is the tone Drake wants to set for 2023, I hope this is the last year I have to deal with his sad excuse for music. Go ahead, take him off the market, I'm fucking done.

Title: Baby Don't Hurt Me by David Guetta, Anne-Marie & Coi Leray

Position: #24

So with songs like Red Ruby Da Sleeze, it doesn't look like 2022's trend of flipping classic samples to ride the nostalgia train is dying anytime soon, joy. And my GOD, if you thought I'm Good with Bebe Rexha was bad... well, it's pretty close, but this is JUST as uninspired!

I don't know if this is just me, but I don't think Anne-Marie should sing about sex. She's got her niche, but whenever she tries to get half-heartedly sexual, it always sounds like an AI trying to generate explicit fanfiction! And sure, Coi Leray is more believable, but she's somehow LESS of a presence here, swallowed up by the sample! Not that it's her fault, this is clearly a David Guetta problem! The vocal mixing is so bad that the 2 singers sound pretty identical, neither of their emotions can pierce the generic pitch that he set everything to, and speaking of which, yeah, this pitching does absolutely NOTHING for the original sample!

It renders a fairly iconic synth breakdown with a hauntingly minor tone into just another dance beat, with way more emphasis on the interchangeable dance beat than the synth line itself. Oh, and the chorus doesn't even attempt to change the words of the original, just to make it even more obvious what a hack David Guetta is! Awful song, pretty representative of all the worst elements of this tired trend!

Title: Never Felt So Alone by Labrinth (Ft. Billie Eilish)

Position: #31

This is Mount Everest Light. Can I just leave it at that?

Labrinth's sound is a fairly acquired taste, but one I genuinely got onboard with after certain songs from the Euphoria soundtrack took off last year. Now, I didn't enjoy all of it, as I find his upper register to work far better than his mid-to-low range, and frankly, I don't think he produces well for other people, which is why I'm Tired with Zendaya was so goddamn mid. So when I saw he was pairing with Billie here, I was intrigued, but prepared for disappointment. And... yeah, that was the right approach.

The chilly synths on this sound nearly identical to the ones on Mount Everest, his best song, but where that song built to a huge chorus, this just remains meek and jerky, as Labrinth adopts this staccato flow where the mix is peppered with bizarre and downright goofy sound effects that immediately took me out of the experience! Billie's the only one who attempts to belt on this, but the mix tempers her delivery, drowning her in this slurry of frigid keys that does very little to flatter her vocals. Paired with the oddly major keys, the fact that a song with that title makes NO sense as a duet, and that neither singer is allowed to shine, and you have a painfully forgettable song. Sure, it's the best we've covered so far this week, but that's not saying much at all.

Title: Straight and Narrow by Sam Barber

Position: #46

So I've seen people saying this could be the next Something In the Orange, a song by a rougher, more niche country singer, which takes off on TikTok and blows up far past its humble roots. And I suppose that a part of me can see that, even if I don't think this song is nearly as good.

Now, it's still really solid; the warm acoustic guitar has this really nice groove to it, Sam Barber's Missouri accent is really quite infectious, and the lyrics about sticking to the path of honesty and integrity in a world where people are just waiting for you to slip up are both topical, yet rather timeless. It took me a while to get used to Sam's voice, but his rougher voice lends itself quite well to the father-figure role he's playing here.

That being said, I don't think the chorus is quite as strong as Zach Bryan's best, and the songwriting, while certainly evocative, isn't anything particularly special. Still, in a week where I was honestly afraid I wasn't going to get a single good new song, this is an oasis n a desert. Really good song, check this one out!

Title: HAPPY by NF

Position: #65

So NF's new album dropped, and despite some successful singles, it didn't do amazing numbers here in Ireland, not even debuting within the Top 10. And considering how much I genuinely hated Hope and Motto, I can't say I'm too sad about that. Trust me, I heard the album, it's not good. That being said, it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting, and this song is honestly one of the better ones from the project.

The song revolves around all his success up to this point, showing how far he's come from his humble roots, where he should feel proud or happy... yet he doesn't. Okay, it's nothing new, and it probably doesn't help that slowthai's song of the same name is SO much more devastating to me, but when you look past the somewhat generic writing, the production is pretty decent - the strings were a nice touch - and NF's delivery is fairly believable, even engaging at times.

That being said... I'm sorry, this is still pretty mediocre. The hook is quite weak, I still don't like NF's flow or whiny annunciating, and while the writing's middling, it's only okay in its best moments, more devoid of bad lines than filled with good ones. In other words, it's passable, and that's about it.

Title: Waffle House by Jonas Brothers

Position: #74

I genuinely can't decide how seriously I'm supposed to take this...

The Jonas Brothers reunion in 2019 has, in my opinion, been a net negative, with multiple mediocre singles, the only exceptions being Sucker and Leaave Before You Love Me (yes, it grew on me). And since they seem intent on keeping this up, here's their most recent offering, a song all about coming together and making your dreams come true... at the waffle house.

I'll just say it: this is one of the most ridiculous choruses I've heard in a while. It's so goofy, yet it has enough genuine moments where they chat about the deep conversations they had or the fights they had with their parents. And when I first heard it, I won't lie, I thought it was complete and utter garbage! The lines about "killing each other, but it's all love, HEY NOW" are some of the most simplistic lines about family strife that I've ever heard, and the sound of the song was way too 80s-inspired to not feel like more trend-chasing. And yet over the past week... I don't know what to tell you. Maybe this reminds me just a bit too much of my own family dynamics, or maybe the production is just a bit too good to deny - no, genuinely, I'm kind of stunned how clean this sounds compared to some of their other singles since the comeback, and these are some of their best ever harmonies - or maybe it's because the song strikes that perfect balance of being so ridiculous and so earnest that it somehow strikes gold... whatever the reason, and I may regret saying this, but I kind of think this song slaps. It's certainly terrible in many ways, and if anyone told me they hated it, I would get it! But personally... what can I say? It wore me down. Unlike...

Title: Peaches by Jack Black

Position: #75

Oh boy... I know that, especially after everything I said about Waffle House, there are going to be so many people who defend this song. After all, it's Jack Black, the legend, the closest we'll ever get to a charting Tenacious D song! And while the song itself isn't even 2 minutes long and filled with repetition, it's supposed to be kind of bad and awkward, it's Bowser haphazardly serenading Peach, for fuck's sake. And yet... no, I'm sorry, this sucks! The production is fine, and Jack Black can do no wrong, but the song has no good lyrics or even that good of a melody to it. It's like if Lewis Capaldi released an April Fool's video of himself swearing repeatedly over a piano ballad. (Yes, I know about the Tourette's, I'm not making fun of him, I'm saying HE would do that to poke fun at himself, I could see him doing that!) If that song charted, we'd laugh at it as a novelty, but we wouldn't buy it, right?!

Maybe I'm also just really pissed at how many of my colleagues shat all over Encanto's soundtrack, with its much more ambitious writing and solid hooks, but the fact that so many of the same people are going to give this blip of nothingness a pass... yeah, I can't abide by that. I don't hate it or anything, but I see no reason why it should be here.

Title: This Is The Life by Highstool Prophets

Position: #82

Right, remember a couple of weeks ago when This Is The Life by Amy MacDonald started charting? Well, it's a returning classic that keeps returning to the charts every couple of years, so I suppose it's not that surprising, much like Mr. Brightside or Viva La Vida.

Well, this is a cover, which local Cavan band Highstool Prophets released towards the end of last year, which took off on Irish TikTok because they double the tempo of the song towards the mid-point. Which is both impressive, and also easy TikTok fodder, it means they don't have to make a new sped-up version.

And look, I would easily rank This Is The Life among the top tier of frequently returning legacy hits, so I'm fine with this. It's nowhere near the original (Amy McDonald's voice is on another level of quality), but it's decent enough. Good stuff.

Title: Lost The Breakup by Maisie Peters

Position: #90

Like everyone else, I think I saw Maisie Peters' name and immediately confused her with Mae Stephens. And that's kind of unfortunate because Maisie is a far better singer! Her innocent tone reminds me a lot of Lea Hart, and the instrumental on this feels eerily similar to Freezing, probably the best charting Mimi Webb song to date!

I will admit the song is a bit mixed though. On the one hand, I think the chorus is incredibly juvenile, borderline insecure. He clearly left you, and yet you are so sure that he's going to wake up down the line and realise he's the one who "lost the breakup"... I mean the use of the term already shows you're not the mature one. That being said... I'm sorry "doing press-ups and repress-ups" might just be one of the best zingers I've heard in years, that's GOLD!

So yeah, I'm torn. The melody and production are drop-dead gorgeous, Maisie sounds pretty great if a little young, and there are a couple of scathing lines, but the track as a whole just makes me feel old, like I'm watching teenage drama that's so far behind me. At least Olivia Rodrigo's points, at their best, transcend her age group, whereas this feels VERY twee to me. Pretty good, not quite great!

All in all, that could have been a lot worse... I think me coming around on Waffle House made a big difference, so I guess I can't quite call this the worst week I've covered. It's close though, and I'm still giving out a tie for Worst of the week, because I can't decide what I hate more: the tryhard and pathetic Search & Rescue by Drake, easily one of his worst songs in years, or Baby Don't Hurt Me by David Guetta, Anne-Marie & Coi Leray, because at least Bebe Rexha didn't have a personality to steal, and the drop sounds less ear-piercing! As for the Best, I think I have to give it to Straight and Narrow by Sam Barber, easily the best-produced and -written song of this week. And Sam's voice is a real grower, give this a chance!

National Treasures

As for the Homegrown charts, the biggest news is that we have a new number 1... unfortunately, it's bad.

1. Giving Me - Jazzy [LW: #2 / WOC: 5]

2. Heaven - Niall Horan [LW: #1 / WOC: 8]

3. Eat Your Young - Hozier [LW: #3 / WOC: 4]

4. Part Of Me - Cian Ducrot [LW: #4 / WOC: 2]

5. Song To Myself - Picture This [LW: #5 / WOC: 4]

6. My Mind - Belters Only [LW: #7 / WOC: 6]

7. Innocence And Sadness - Dermot Kennedy [LW: #6 / WOC: 6]

8. Warm - Moncrieff [LW: - / WOC: 6]

9. Full of The Blade - Marty Mone [LW: #8 / WOC: 6]

10. YOU - LYRA [LW: #9 / WOC: 5]

So Jazzy's Giving Me is now the biggest all-Irish song in the country... I don't like this deja-vu!

Otherwise, we only had 1 new arrival outside of the Top 10, and Warm returned to the charts... although whoever's managing the Homegrown Top 20 page, just be aware that you made a mistake, Warm was NOT at number 5 last week.

Otherwise, for my thoughts on the one new song here 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 this week's new arrival:

Title: Breathe Easy by Stephanie Rainey

Position: #16

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! I'll admit I've been putting it on the backburner, sorry.

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!


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