Musical McCool Season 3, Week 2 (Rumble, Bel Mercy, Very Few Friends and more)
Updated: Jan 20
Hey guys, welcome back to Musical McCool!
2023 is off to a great start for The Social Tune. Between last week's Musical McCool getting a large amount of eyes on it and my work on Instagram reviewing a bunch of Irish artists (lots more to come, follow me there), we've really hit the ground running! Hell, this post probably would have been out sooner if I didn't have a bachelor party to attend which took up the lion's share of the weekend. Thankfully, things are a bit quieter, as we mainly saw things adjust heading into the New Year.
The Top 10
Looking at our Top 10, things may seem a little stagnant at first glance. 1. Escapism. - RAYE (Ft. 070 Shake) [LW: #1 / WOC: 8]
2. Anti-Hero - Taylor Swift [LW: #2 / WOC: 12]
3. Kill Bill - SZA [LW: #3 / WOC: 5]
4. Made You Look - Meghan Trainor [LW: #4 / WOC: 12]
5. Miss You - Oliver Tree & Robin Schulz [LW: #5 / WOC: 14]
6. I'll Be Waiting - Cian Ducrot [LW: #12 / WOC: 9]
7. Calm Down (Remix) - Rema (Ft. Selena Gomez) [LW: #7 / WOC: 20]
8. Another Love - Tom Odell [LW: #5 / WOC: 96]
9. All For You - Cian Ducrot [LW: #13 / WOC: 35]
10. Pointless - Lewis Capaldi [LW: #19 / WOC: 6]
So yeah, the top 5 songs stayed exactly where they were, and we traded Let Go by Central Cee for I'll Be Waiting by Cian Ducrot, a song I reviewed over on Instagram last week. Which is an improvement... until you realise he also brought All For You back into the top 10 with him, followed closely by Lewis Capaldi's love song masquerading as a break-up song, Pointless. And when you then consider we lost both messy in heaven by venbee & goddard. AND Kiss Me by Dermot Kennedy in the process... yeah, this top 10 is looking considerably weaker than last week's.
The Punished and the New
So along with the songs that dropped out of the Top 10, we also saw a bunch of long-time hits making their exits, some more gracefully, and some plummeting under the weight of ACR. As a reminder to any newbies, once a song on the Irish charts reaches its 10th week AND has not seen increased streaming numbers for 3 weeks in a row, it gets moved from ISCR (Irish Standard Chart Ratios) to ACR (Accelerated Chart Ratio), meaning its streaming value is essentially slashed in half when counted towards digital downloads:
Premium account: 1 digital download = 100 streams (ISCR) or 200 streams (ACR)
Ad-funded account: 1 digital download = 600 streams (ISCR) or 1200 streams (ACR)
Since the Irish charts are primarily based off of downloads to calculate chart positions, a song which isn't being bought and downloaded much and is more reliant on streaming will plummet. You can get back on to ISCR if your numbers go back up enough (look at Another Love), but it's essentially a way to always have a fairly fresh flow of new songs coming through and to avoid the stagnation of having a song top the charts for nearly half a year.
So with that in mind, here are the songs which are now officially on ACR and on their way out:
Afraid To Feel by LF System - #46 -> #61
Mr Brightside by The Killers - #51 -> #65
Heat Waves by Glass Animals - #59 -> #70
Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) by Elton John (Ft. Dua Lipa) - #57 -> #75
Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush - #71 -> #85
About Damn Time by Lizzo - #55 -> #86
Crazy What Love Can Do by David Guetta (Ft. Becky Hill & Ella Henderson) - #76 -> #90
To be clear, not all of these songs were necessarily moved to ACR as of this exact week, but with the chaos of Christmas music, it's a little hard to tell. That being said, I don't have a problem with any of these leaving, as they've all had long runs on the chart, and some much longer than they deserved.
But with all that clearly re-established for you, let's start highlighting the new arrivals on the charts this week, starting with:
Title: Rumble by Skrillex, Fred again.. & Flowdan
I'll be honest, Skrillex is one of those artists who's grown on me over time. When he first came out, I, like many people, thought he was just loud, obnoxious and kind of the worst thing to happen to music. However, at the time, I knew very little about dubstep as a genre, he was the face of it as far as I was concerned. Since then, I've not only been exposed to more dubstep, but have also grown to appreciate his older stuff a bit more. I don't think he's the gold standard by any means, but I think he's actually a fairly good artist, who's even thrown his audience some curveballs with anomalies like Where Are Ü Now.
So this return after a fairly long hiatus was unexpected, but honestly pretty great! It's a different style of dubstep, almost more like something you'd hear out of the industrial scene. I mean with Flowdan's husky voice, fast staccato rapping and the haunting refrain of "killers in the jungle", the closest approximation might be some of clipping.'s material, albeit a tamer-sounding version... but not by that much. I love the stuttering bass and the chopped-and-screwed sample that it flips into with the chipmunk vocals - which I'm assuming was Fred again..'s contribution - and that crescendo towards the end, WOW! It makes for a really interesting sonic experience that I definitely never expected to hear this high on the charts!
Look, if Skrillex is willing to use his position at this stage of his career to make music this weird and get it to chart, I'm all for it. This is off-kilter, kind of haunting, and while I almost wish Flowdan was allowed to get a bit more explicit and political - he's done it before - even the lyrics here are evocative enough to hold my interest. Great song, I really like this!
Title: Bel Mercy by Jengi
So it's becoming common knowledge that if you're looking for interesting DJs working in today's scene, The Netherlands tend to be a fairly safe bet. Enter Jan Berendsen, a young man of my age who operates under the stage name of Jengi. Having amassed a pretty decent following over the last few years, he was unfortunately robbed of his laptop while in Berlin. Having lost all his progress and beats, he came home and started from scratch, which would result in one of the things he's proudest of in a long time. And honestly, I can see why, because this kind of kicks ass.
Most of you will probably recognise the sample here as the same one Kanye West used on the posse cut Mercy back in 2012. But in fact, this samples both elements from Mercy as well as the original song, Dust a Sound Boy by Super Beagle. And in my opinion, it incorporates those samples incredibly well, into a hiphouse beat that really shouldn't work as well as it does, but is insanely danceable. Hell, with the way the beat switches up and kicks into gear, as well as the Legend of Zelda soundbite that made me laugh out loud, this is almost approaching plunderphonics in the way it relies on my nostalgia, but turns its components into something entirely different.
Don't get me wrong, it is a little bit repetitive and cyclical, but that's kind of part of the genre. And either way, the fact that he can keep your attention so well throughout the runtime, switching up the pace at intervals to keep you on your toes, but still leaving you enough time to appreciate the main groove... I think we're 2 for 2 this week! 2 great songs in a row from genres I don't typically love, let's try and keep it up!
Title: Sure Thing by Accelerate, Creamy
Okay, there's not really much I can say about this song. At first I thought it was just a sped-up version of the Miguel song due to a TikTok trend driving it into the Top 20. In fact, this is a 2021 cover of that song by Creamy. It's not a great cover, basically a lower budget copy-paste that can't really match Miguel's charisma on the original (especially when he says "boom", man that's weak).
Here's what's interesting though; this was pushed by 11:11 Music Group, an independant business who runs a number of Spotify playlists where they highlight their members' music. I'll admit I don't have much info on it, but it mainly seems to give a platform to artists who do covers, remixes and the like. And they don't seem too fussed about people just pushing snippets of songs on Spotify lifted from TikTok soundbites; if you've ever Spotified a song name followed by "sped up", you've likely come across these guys before without realising it. I suppose that's a noble, if easily exploitable kind of business and I guess I'll tentatively support anyone trying to give new artists more of a push. None of that changes this song though, which is too similar to the original to be bad, but lacks its greatest strengths without adding anything of its own to replace it. Not bad, but unnecessary.
Title: People by Libianca
Whereas the story behind this one is one that many of you are probably aware of. Libianca is a singer who first came to prominence after starring on The Voice, with Blake Shelton as her vocal coach. Now unfortunately, she didn't win, being sent home despite her truly impressive command of her own vocal range, which I personally put down to her song choices being hit-or-miss during that competition. Good Days by SZA; absolutely! Everything I wanted by Billie Eilish... not quite.
So I kind of assumed that she was a singer with a beautiful voice but not much emotive power... but then I heard this! This gorgeous little song that pulls from a lot of African influences, which makes sense since Libianca, while being born in the States, moved to Cameroon at the age of 4. But for as much as those elements enrich the production and even some of the lyrics on the second verse, I think the real killer is her delivery. While the sound is so relaxing that this could have easily become background music, she delivers it with such subtle but raw emotion, that you can tell this is someone who's heartbroken and having a quiet meltdown.
And the lyrics reflect it. She's drinking too much, her eyes are red though she doesn't smoke -indicating she's been crying - and walking around a lobby of people who are ignoring her and/or not checking in to ask how she is. Because people don't really know you or want to hear when you're in pain or suffering. It's a surprisingly potent track, and while I didn't think she'd have what it takes to deliver it, Libianca really impressed me with this one. Nice job! Also, I'm calling it, this could be a smash hit with the right push! Can we please make that happen? It would set such a good tone for the year!
Title: Very Few Friends by Saint Levant
Oh my... Mr. Levant, you're trying to seduce me!
I'm a little surprised this is actually crossed over to the mainstream. I first heard of Marwan Abdelhamid from a work friend a couple of months ago, as an up-and-coming young singer based in Jordan. Apparently he spent a good portion of his life living in the Gaza Strip, before fleeing in 2007. And his French-Algerian mother and a Serbian/Palestinian father allowed him to pick up on a couple of extra languages, allowing him the unique position of putting out multilingual music. I mean plenty of people mix English with Spanish or French, but it's rare for trilingual songs to pick up this much traction, especially when significant portions of Western mainstream media have spent the past 20 years demonising Arabic.
Unlike a lot of his peers though, Marwan decided to double down and embrace all of it by rapping in a mix of French Arabic and English. And as a trilingual individual myself, I was stunned how easily he switched between these languages while still remaining completely on beat and in tune! But what's somehow more impressive is that it's still coherently emotive! It's a sex song, to a degree, where he hooks up with this woman who is incredible, ambitious and has expensive tastes - I fucking love the line "We have designer sex in the morning, expensive when you moaning" fucking great! - but as his husky tones seduce her, he knows that this relationship likely won't last. Because he's a driven man with ambitions, constantly chasing success, but also aware of this chase has left him with very few people he can consistently rely on. It's sombre, reflective and I really liked it... but then he made it better.
Because as they continue to spend time together, she highlights that she too has very few friends, she's similarly ambitious and career-driven. They're both lonely people, each waiting for their time together to inevitably end, but the song ends before it gets to that point, leaving it on an oddly playful and hopeful note that puts a smile on my face every time. This song could have so easily become a "money over bitches" song, but the clever framing and the emotional intelligence really pushes it into special territory! Paired with a jazzy guitar, light warping bass and some very subtle percussion elements, and this song took less than 2 and a half minutes to really leave an impact on me! Based on sound alone, this would be considered great R&B, even if you didn't have the complicated framing or the blending of 3 languages, but with all of that together... you might have just unlocked a new cheat code for me, because I think this is fucking excellent.
So yeah, Best of the week has to go to Very Few Friends by Saint Levant, even though it was closer than usual, 4 out of 5 of these songs are definitely going to be in my rotation for the next while, a LOT of greatness this week! Which means yeah, I am giving Worst of the week to the remix of Sure Thing by Creamy, which again, is not a bad song, just kind of unneeded outside of it's very specific TikTok niche.
Much like the Irish Charts, the Homegrown top 5 didn't budge an inch:
1. I'll Be Waiting - Cian Ducrot [LW: #1 / WOC: 9]
2. One Life - Dermot Kennedy [LW: #2 / WOC: 6]
3. Superstar - Belters Only & Mickey Modelle (Ft. Simone Denny) [LW: #3 / WOC: 8]
4. Get On My Love - Picture This [LW: #4 / WOC: 7]
5. Warm - Moncrieff [LW: #5 / WOC: 5]
6. Believe In Love - 49th & Main [LW: #8 / WOC: 12]
7. Don't Say You're In Love - Coronas [LW: #7 / WOC: 7]
8. Forever And Ever And Always - Ryan Mack [LW: #13 / WOC: 6]
9. Fake It - Siights [LW: #14 / WOC: 6]
10. In ár gCroíthe go deo - Fontaines D.C. [LW: #10 / WOC: 12]
I've already reviewed almost half of these on Instagram, but I did specify that I'm only reviewing songs that will have more of an impact in 2023 than 2022. Or in other words, I'm only reviewing songs that spent 6 weeks or less on the Homegrown chart in 2022, since a song can only be on there for 13 weeks before getting switched out anyway (yes, I made an exception for I'll Be Waiting due to it getting big enough on the mainstream charts).
That being said, my quick thoughts on the 2 songs here that will NOT be reviewed on Instagram:
Believe In Love by 49th & Main is a surprisingly wonderful house track with a flipped sample and gorgeous horns that reminds me of the best song that Shane Codd never made
In ár gCroíthe go deo by Fontaines D.C is the opening track to one of the best albums of last year; see my Best Albums of 2022 for more context and go out and buy it today!
As for the rest of these, I've either already reviewed them on Instagram @thesocialtune or will be doing so in the near future, follow me to find out!
Speaking of which, since a lot of songs last week reached their 13th week, they exited the chart to be replaced by new songs and a couple of returning ones. And since one of them only charted for a single week in 2022, I'll be reviewing it on Instagram alongside the new arrivals over the coming weeks. So if you want to listen to them in anticipation of that:
Title: Return My Head by The Murder Capital
Title: I Need Ya by Somebody's Child
Title: Homesick by The Academic
For my thoughts on these, 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, so far so good!
As always, please let me know in the Comments what you thought of the songs covered this week, and leave a Like if you enjoyed! 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.