Musical McCool Season 3, Week 17 (Double Fantasy, Alone, Twust, and more)
Hey guys, welcome back to Musical McCool!
2023 is weird, you guys... The biggest names in music are releasing flop singles that aren't really taking off, old names from a decade ago are ruling the charts alongside relative newcomers, and somehow, a YouTube rapper debuted higher than Ed Sheeran this week... what is happening?!
The Top 10
For the first time in a good while, our Top 10 was relatively uneventful.
1. Miracle - Calvin Harris (Ft. Ellie Goulding) [LW: #1 / WOC: 7]
3. Daylight - David Kushner [LW: #2 / WOC: 2]
3. Giving Me - Jazzy [LW: #3 / WOC: 6]
4. Wish You The Best - Lewis Capaldi [LW: #5 / WOC: 2]
5. People (Check On Me) - Libianca [LW: #6 / WOC: 16]
6. Kill Bill (Remix) - SZA (Ft. Doja Cat) [LW: #4 / WOC: 20]
7. Last Night - Morgan Wallen [LW: #8 / WOC: 12]
8. Heaven - Niall Horan [LW: #9 / WOC: 10]
9. Eyes Closed - Ed Sheeran [LW: #7 / WOC: 5]
10. Flowers - Miley Cyrus [LW: #10 / WOC: 15]
Surprisingly, David Kushner's Daylight held strong. I may not love the song, but I'm happy for him, he deserves the recognition! Our Top 5 barely budged at all actually, with the Kill Bill remix dipping to number 6 being the only reason for much change. That and Eyes Closed by Ed Sheeran fell to number 9... not looking great for that next album, gotta say... is Ed Sheeran fatigue finally setting in?
The Punished and the New
On a sidenote, in case you're wondering why this is a little late, my new Top 10 list is up on YouTube, check it out!
And with that out of the way, our ACR victim for the week:
Until I Found You by Stephen Sanchez - #26 -> #73
Not surprised by this one, it's been floating around the middle of the Top 40 for a while now. Good song though, glad it got a decent run.
With how busy the past week has been (and with Monthly Musical Marvels also needing to be put out), this is going to be a bit of a shorter post, definitely racing through my thoughts on all our picks here. So with that in mind:
Title: Double Fantasy by The Weeknd (Ft. Future)
So weird thing... I have a reputation for calling 2016 the worst year for hit music in recent memory. I'd like the officially change that stance! Because while the terrible songs of 2016 are still AWFUL, 2018 had even more terrible hits and fewer good ones to compensate. All of this to say that Low Life by Future and The Weeknd is legitimately one of my favourite songs of the past decade, I genuinely can't fathom how it missed my Best list in 2016!
So yes, I do think these 2 have weirdly good chemistry, and when they collaborate, I do tend to pay attention. And I have to say, the moment those horns and the blur of synths came in, I immediately started paying attention! Even more so when the bass and trap percussion kicks in after that languid build-up, RIGHT as I was thinking the song was dragging a little. So yeah, I love the production... I wish I could say the same for our performers though.
Believe it or not, I think Future's fine, in fact I think his verse is pretty good and energised, with a few poignant lines ("bringing the venom with the charm" is likely a play on being a snake-charmer, and I am HERE for it), but as for Abel, I just think the production emphasizes the nasal tone of his voice a little too much, causing it to blur in with the synths at points. I don't think it sounds bad, but on a slower song like this, it just gets a bit old after some time. So yeah, it's no Low Life, but in spite of all my criticisms, I do think it's still pretty good for what it is. Maybe not quite radio-ready, but this could KILL in the strip club, especially for the slower dancers. I tentatively recommend this.
Title: Alone by Kim Petras & Nicki Minaj
Fuck's sake, what is this, the 3rd or 4th song from Nicki where she's hopping on an obvious sample that's been overused to death?! It's really starting to get old and looking increasingly desperate.
What annoys me about this is that she doesn't NEED this. Almost all her songs in the past year have been a huge step up in terms of energy and bars (except Red Ruby Da Sleeze, FUCK that song), you've been doing alright Nicki, even if I can't stand you as a person, you seem incredibly petty and downright unpleasant!
And here, teaming up with Kim Petras and Dr. Luke (who still hasn't been placed in front of a firing squad for whatever reason), she still comes out of this as the easy highlight. The song itself is obnoxiously shrill, with Kim Petras' voice and the synths grating on my every nerve, where her invitation to fuck her sounds less and less appealing with every whine - Jeez, forget I said anything Abel, your voice is fucking beautiful, always - and the sample feeling increasingly pointless, so when Nicki's perfectly average verse comes through, it's like a breath of perfectly stale air, but after you've been held underwater for 2 minutes, you'll take anything. So um, yeah, I kinda hate this and everyone involved in it. Next!
Title: Be The One by Eli Brown
Before you ask, no, this isn't the Pretty Little Liars actor. THIS Eli Brown is signed to Polydor Records, and has been putting out music since 2016. Growing up in Bristol, his sound was apparently very drum-and-bass-focused, which likely why I've never really paid attention to him, it's just not quite my thing. That is until this track, which is blowing up right now!
And I'm not going to lie, I do lie this a fair bit! Be The One is clearly pulling much more from 90s house music, but with that oddly sinister pitching on the sample, it makes the build-up feel dangerous and exciting, before really breaking free on the hook. Okay, it's nothing revolutionary, but the bass is very danceable, the drop - while repetitive by design - is still quite propulsive thanks to those synths, which never let up throughout the track but feel more grounding than iritating.
Ultimately, again, this isn't quite my genre, but for what it is, it's a fair bit more interesting than a lot of the interchangeable drivel that hits the charts on a weekly basis. I certainly prefer this brand of acid house or the trance song Miracle that's currently topping the charts than the generic deep house we've got over the past couple of years.
Title: Twust by HStikkytokky & General G
Not gonna lie, I've been dreading this. HStikkytokky has been a name I've heard multiple times from my younger brothers, and I believe Mode Reviews once referred to him as "England's Jake Paul", which set off all kinds of red flags in my mind! So when I saw that this song was charting, let alone this high, after going viral on TikTok, I was bracing myself for the worst.
And yeah, this is pretty awful... but not in the way I was expecting. When YouTubers make music, especially in hip-hop, it always feels a bit off, sure, but usually the lower production quality or the amateurish bars tip you off that these guys aren't professionals. This, on the other hand, is just painfully generic, to the point where even after hearing it multiple times, I can barely remember it! I certainly don't think it has any chance of sticking around, with the forgettable sample that serves as a sad excuse for a hook, the flimsy dance beat, the boring bars from HStikkytokky heavy Essex accent, as he brags about stealing your girl and being rich, none of it stands out. That is, until General G, who is NOT a musician or a rapper and BOY does it show, with the stilted flow, flubbed rhymes, and the complete lack of knowledge of what the kids think is cool.
Apparently, these 2 only connected because General G clips some of HStikkytokky's reels sometimes... what a sad fucking excuse for a collaboration! And since then, the 2 are apparently beefing over some girl, who I hear sat on HStikkytokky's lap at a party, which hurt the General's feelings... what the fuck is this and why should I give a fuck?! The song isn't even as bad as some of the viral rap hits from this year alone, but the drama behind it is so fucking stupid that it kind of makes me hate the song more by association. It's really bad, but also boring and forgettable, I'm more angry it got big than at the song itself.
Title: Boat by Ed Sheeran
So maybe it's because of chart-watching, but I'm still surprised how soon Ed Sheeran's next album is dropping. It's been less than 2 years since = (Equals), but the run-up to it and the singles felt a bit more scattered. For - (Subtract), it feels like he's rushing into it... which makes some sense I you consider this as a reaction to the grief he's been processing. That certainly makes it more understandable, even if history has shown that albums made this way can be divisive... just look at Ariana Grande's thank u, next and how it split the critical discourse.
Due to this, I have to recognise that this album is likely made less for you and me, and more for him, which is why Eyes Closed, despite still feeling like a bit pandering with its rather forced hook, has grown on me a little since it dropped. Thankfully, I have no such hang-ups about Boat, because it's just a genuinely endearing song. No, the hook isn't nearly as pop-focused, hence its lower debut, but the message resonates much more strongly! It's a song about how life sucks, where your entire world can be rocked and shaken, and some scars may never fully heal. And yet despite all that, the final line of the hook still holds on to the hope, the belief, that he'll stay afloat, the waves won't break him or his boat. Look, I'm a sucker for a well-written pep talk to yourself, especially one that acknowledges the bad with the good, and wraps the whole thing up in a simple, but clear analogy. And Ed's willowy, earnest voice sells it, along with some genuinely pretty instrumentation and multi-tracking. My only issues are how short it feels, with only 2 verses, and that it really isn't a good choice of single. Time will tell, we'll see once the album drops, but this song makes me curious to hear more. Good job Ed, hope you're doing okay.
Title: Tony Soprano 2 by Nines
I've encountered Nines in the wild a few times, but can't recall if I've ever talked about any of his songs. Forgive me, I just find him rather forgettable. His delivery is usually rather flat, with an easy-going flow that blends in with a lot of the London rap scene, and production that rarely grabs my ear.
That being said, I do like this. The beat is great, a haunting echoing singer behind beautiful, minimalistic piano, and steady bass with rattling high hats that create this really gorgeous instrumental, big fan of how this sounds. It even causes Nines to perk up, as his flow gets mildly more engaged and animated as the song goes on, even if I do think his first few bars are pretty mid. But once the "Siri and Alexa" line hits, he seems to start feeling himself and gets way more fun, with fun punchlines packed with pop culture references, all while musing on his place as a modern don in the rap scene.
What can I say, it's halfway decent storytelling rap, packed with references I actually get, over gorgeous production AND it got Nines to sound like he cares. Take out the first 4 bars and I'd call this great, and even those first 4 are just kind of forgettable. It doesn't need a hook, it just engages me, and I have to praise that. Well done Nines, this is your first song I can genuinely call a banger.
Title: SEE YOU AGAIN by Tyler, The Creator (Ft. Kali Uchis)
Well, this is a throwback. I've praised Flower Boy many times, citing it as my former favourite Tyler album, and I gotta love some Kali Uchis! That being said, when I saw that See You Again was charting, I didn't immediately rejoice as you might expect. Because to me, See You Again is one of the lesser tracks on Flower Boy, certainly no November or 911/Mr. Lonely.
The fact is that Tyler has made much better versions of this song since then, juxtaposing a sweet chorus with a sudden beat switch into a more aggressive flow, but on this one that roughness is only there for a couple of measures before returning to the overly lush production. And frankly, I just don't think the hook's that great either, certainly not compared to others on the album.
Despite all that, this still sounds beautiful, Kali Uchis and Tyler each sound individually really good, and none of the bars are bad by any means. It's still a good song by your usual standards, I just can't help but wish we'd got another one of the better songs on the album to chart... or you know, just kept some of Tyler's newer song around a bit longer, the man deserves to be on the radio more, damn it!
Title: Mermaids by Florence + The Machine
My most loyal readers may remember that I placed Dance Fever on my list of the best albums of last year. And indeed, I adore that album, I think it's far-and-away her best and most cohesive album, an opinion only reinforced by seeing Florence live in Dublin just a couple of months ago. Fun fact though, that concert was originally supposed to be on last year, but was canceled when Florence broke her foot on stage. So fair, witha bit more free tome on her hands while she recovered, it would make sense for Florence to return to the drawing board and finish some of her draft song... which brings us here.
Mermaids is on the extended or "complete" edition of Dance Fever, as it was originally cut for not quite fitting the exact vibe sonically or lyrically. Personally, hearing it now, I think its placement on the project is a bit odd (I think The Bomb and Morning Elvis are a great cooldown way to close things off), so maybe placing it before Restraint would have made more sense? The song itself is pretty great though, even if I do think it's one of the weaker tracks. On an album jam-packed with phenomenal hooks, the slower build of this song is a more acquired taste, even if I do think the instrumentation and tangled poetry alone really make it stand out.
Ultimately, this may be a "lesser" cut from the album as a whole, but with a talent like Florence Welch behind it, writing and instrumentation that remain pretty stunning, and a halfway decent hook, this is still pretty great. Not her best, but still worth your time.
Title: Haegum by Agust D
So the BTS boys continue their onslaught of solo hits, with the newest one coming from Suga under the pseudonym Agust D. This appears on his debut rap album D-Day, filled with drill beats, bombastic hooks, and a mix of aggressive bars and singing that amounts to a project I actually had a bit of fun with. It's got some halfway-decent songs and some pretty great production and spitting, even if I do think it feels a bit generic in the first half.
And personally, Haegum was one of the stand-outs on the project. Sure, the production is a bit too close to the British drill scene to not feel a bit pandering, the hook is a little weak (why should I care that this song has a Haegum, a traditional Korean instrument on it, and how does it tie into the revolution?), but the content is on point, preaching about liberation and fighting the power, while making sure to remember you're fighting for more than just yourself. And I genuinely think Suga/Agust D's flow is impeccable, spitting in double time on that second verse and weaving rhymes together extremely effectively, with this great, aggressive delivery!
So yeah, colour me surprised, but I really enjoyed this. Shout-out to Aengus, who recommended I check out more k-pop, because I genuinely enjoyed this and the album it's from.
So yeah, this was a pretty good week at the end of the day. I didn't absolutely adore or despise anything here, but the Best of the week had a lot of competition. Still, a B-side off one of my favourite albums in recent memory is still going to win most days, so that does to Mermaids by Florence + The Machine! Yes, I know I'm predictable. That being said, here's a curveball: HStikkytokky isn't winning Worst of the week, Twust is more pathetic than awful. Unlike Alone by Kim Petras & Nicki Minaj, which a mediocre Nicki verse doesn't come close to saving. Hate the sample, hate the shrill everything, easily the most annoying song of the week to me!
As for the Homegrown charts, they're probably the busiest they've been in a while:
1. Giving Me - Jazzy [LW: #1 / WOC: 6]
2. Heaven - Niall Horan [LW: #2 / WOC: 9]
3. Part Of Me - Cian Ducrot [LW: #4 / WOC: 4]
4. Eat Your Young - Hozier [LW: #3 / WOC: 6]
5. Innocence And Sadness - Dermot Kennedy [LW: #7 / WOC: 8]
6. My Mind - Belters Only [LW: #6 / WOC: 8]
7. Song To Myself - Picture This [LW: #5 / WOC: 6]
8. Whatever's Inconvenient - CMAT [LW: - / WOC: 1]
9. YOU - LYRA [LW: #9 / WOC: 7]
10. Full of The Blade - Marty Mone [LW: #8 / WOC: 8]
Yayyyy, new CMAT song, always a joy to see her back here!
For my thoughts on this and the other new songs, 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:
Title: Whatever's Inconvenient by CMAT
Title: Meet Me At The Record Store by Pa Sheehy
Title: Claddagh Lady by Ger O'Donnel (Ft. Trevor Sexton & Maria Ryan)
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! Oh, and don't forget to check out the new Top 10 list, I put a lot of work into it!
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!