Hey guys, welcome back to Musical McCool!
Ugh... not gonna lie, the charts kinda suck right now. And that's frustrating, because good things are still happening... just for the wrong reasons, or without lasting impact.
The Top 10
And in the meantime, most of my issues can be traced back to our number 1!
1. Giving Me - Jazzy [LW: #1 / WOC: 11]
2. Miracle - Calvin Harris (Ft. Ellie Goulding) [LW: #2 / WOC: 12]
3. Daylight - David Kushner [LW: #4 / WOC: 7]
3. Tattoo - Loreen [LW: #3 / WOC: 6]
5. People (Check On Me) - Libianca [LW: #6 / WOC: 21]
6. REACT - Switch Disco & Ella Henderson [LW: #7 / WOC: 10]
7. Wish You The Best - Lewis Capaldi [LW: #5 / WOC: 7]
8. Karma (Remix) - Taylor Swift (Ft. Ice Spice) [LW: #41 / WOC: 10]
9. Last Night - Morgan Wallen [LW: #9 / WOC: 17]
10. Eyes Closed - Ed Sheeran [LW: #11 / WOC: 10]
Yes, I absolutely blame Giving Me by Jazzy for most of my problems right now, as every week it remains at number 1 is a reminder that popular music is driven more by asshole boogiemen behind the scenes than any people, because seriously, who the fuck is listening to this nothingness?!
Speaking of nothingness, goodie, one of the least notable tracks from Midnights cracked the top 10 thanks to a truly baffling remix: that's right, it's Karma by Taylor Swift, featuring a VERY random remix with Ice Spice. I've said before that Ice Spice adds nothing to most of her collabs and this is no exception, but at least she kind of works as a hypeman on Boy's a liar Pt.2! This just feels wrong, because who was asking for a rap remix of THIS song, of all things. As is, it makes a song I was perfectly happy keeping in my rear-view mirror a new perpetual question mark in my day-to-day, just lovely!
The Punished and the New
And unlike last week, we had 2 ACR victims:
Kill Bill (Remix) by SZA (Ft. Doja Cat) - #10 -> #38
Heaven by Niall Horan - #16 -> #39
Look, I enjoy both of these song, but I can't exactly complain. One's been a massive hit, getting a second resurgence thanks to the remix, and the other one has certainly secired its year-end spot, I'm satisfied!
There were a LOT of major losers this week though, including several I wasn't expecting! The good news is that MATHEMATICAL DISRESPECT by Lil Mabu continued to plummet to 63 - thank fuck - and I couldn't give much of a shit about Lewis Capaldi's Haven't You Ever Been In Love Before dropping off its debut to 57. The rest though... I'm not happy about any of these: Eurovision's Cha Cha Cha and Queen Of Kings collapsed to 34 and 60 respectively, Ed Sheeran's excellent LIfe Goes On lost more ground at 35, and Post Malone's second great song Mourning immediately TANKED at 83! I mean I know Chemical is still a great song, but we could have had 2 of them in the Top 20, he's been allowed it before!
And the gains and returning entries... well, the sad news is of course the passing of legendary icon Tina Turner, whose tragic passing brings us 3 returning songs: The Best at 45, What's Love Got To Do With It at 81, and the Creedence Clearwater Revival cover Proud Mary at 93... mixed feelings on that last one. Regardless, rest is power, you legend!
And look, there are other songs rising at the moment that I'm not happy about it, but fuck it, none of them are worth my time and I want to end this segment on a note of respect.
So instead, let's dive straight in with the new arrivals:
Title: Dance The Night by Dua Lipa (from The Barbie Album)
Hello, old friend. It's been a while.
That's right, it's the return of "Good Dua Lipa", an artist who has been disturbingly absent for the past couple of years, with flop single after flop single. So I suppose it makes sense that she'd find a way back into our good graces using the upcoming Barbie movie, one of the most hyped-up releases of the year (Across The Spider-who?). But as someone who has yet to see a full trailer for the film, I'm purely here for the music, as this song has been getting a fair amount of praise.
And look, this is clearly an improvement over, say, Sweetest Pie. The melody is really solid, that liquid bass does a LOT of heavy lifting, the dramatic strings still feel smooth as all Hell, and the multitracking is pretty damn good. The song's reasonably catchy too, although I weirdly think the bridge might be more infectious than the main chorus. And yet... I dunno, this still feels a step away from great for me... and the only reason I can think of as to why is Dua Lipa herself.
She could make this song in her sleep, Hell, she's made this exact same song multiple times before. And so, it makes sense that she sounds a bit sleepy and uninvested on this; place her performance on this next to anything on Future Nostalgia, and you quickly notice that her vocal tones and inflections are just a bit sleepier and less passionate. Compare this to Lizzo's About Damn Time, another easy throwback hit, and the difference in effort is easy to hear. So this song IS good, definitely an improvement... but also a bit too hollow for my liking.
Title: Hits Different by Taylor Swift
So the Til Dawn version of Midnights dropped, leading to another slew of streams and causing this song to catapult into the Top 20. And as a vocal critic of Midnights - I'd place it above Lover, but a fair bit below evermore - as an album with a handful of stand-out tracks and a great theme with mixed execution, the extended tracks have been a similarly mixed bag. But I will say this is Taylor's best charting song since You're On Your Own Kid.
The main draw is the production; that shimmering 80s synth is always a guaranteed way to make me smile, especially when paired with some nice guitar touches and really vivid lyrics. No surprise, it's a break-up song, where she's gone through many, many break-ups, but THIS is the one that really hurts... And yeah, not gonna lie, when I heard that she and Joe Alwin had broken up after 6 years, it was the first time I really felt a gut-punch on her behalf... which I know is weird, para-social relationships, yada yada! But I really thought the 2 of them would last, especially with songs like Paper Rings and Mastermind, some of my favourite Taylor Swift songs, documenting their romance.
But this song is clear: they're broken up, and she is devastated. She gets drunk, she throws up on the street, she gets sent home in taxis, and despite being a long-time heartbreaker who always moved on so easily - which even she admits was asshole behaviour that she's trying to grow out of - this one hits different. I mean say what you will about the 1 or 2 awkward lines ("sands hurt my feelings") or the modern slang of the chorus, but it does hit you. Maybe it would have benefitted from a more downbeat instrumental, but if this is what Taylor needed to make to cope with that loss, who am I to say otherwise?
Title: It's Crazy by J Hus
I hadn't heard a peep from J Hus in a good couple of years, as his had become a name I was more used to seeing in police reports than on record. But despite the gang affiliations, the knife fights, and the multiple arrests, it hasn't stopped him from gaining a huge following in the UK rap community, despite being a C-tier MC at best.
Now, I will say that he's got a lot of personality here, and the production is pretty great. The rhythmic, cyclical beat is a good mix of ominous and catchy without being downbeat, the backing vocals and ad-libs are spaced out pretty well, and J Hus sounds pretty good over it, his performance is animated and great... but his bars kinda suck. The lyrics are violent and dull, nothing you haven't heard before... apart from the line "murder gives me a boner"... K. But there are also countless flubbed rhymes, or moments where he bails on an idea halfway through ("Been feeling evil recently, not recently, forever"), and the entire sentiment of the song about him being realer than the posers because he actually will kill people just isn't engaging or impressive to me, it's just tired.
Yeah, hopefully this opinion won't get me stabbed, but even with a pretty engaged delivery from J Hus, this song gets old by the second verse, especially with no real hook or switch-up in his flow. Had the potential to be good, but decidedly mid at best.
Title: Good Love by Hannah Laing (Ft. RoRo)
It's still weirdly rare to see women find much success on the charts as DJs. Usually they're relegated to singers or the deepest recesses of backwater nightclubs. Thankfully, the success of this song might shift that, even if I predict every interview starting with "So how did YOU get into this industry?". Which is ironic, because Hannah Laing has already been dubbed Dundee's queen of House, who's already nabbed several notable festival spots and Scotland's "Best Alt Act of the Year" award.
And based purely on this song, I do get why. Singer RoRo's breathy delivery has some real personality to it, she sounds genuinely invested, especially when she's pitched up for the build-up before the drop. The synths and bass also make for a nice bit of tension at this point, really driving home the big build. I do wish the drop were a bit more special though. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, but the house beat is nothing I haven't heard before, and it does that thing where the "drop" is just the same beat instead of the big explosion of sound that we would have got in the early 2010s.
Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the style of Martin Garrix or Avicii, where like it or not, the drops felt HUGE. Here, it just defaults back to that muted beat, as is seemingly the norm nowadays. It's better than average, and I love elements of this, but I'm sadly not sold on the song as a whole. So close though!
Title: Ella Baila Sola by Eslabon Armado & Peso Pluma
About time this crossed over! Despite me claiming last week that Ireland has a thriving Spanish-speaking population, it took a really long time for this HUGE States-side hit to cross over here. Both of these artist have charted over there in the past, but this is both of their Irish debuts, and it's a more traditional Mexican tune, with fast-paced, staccato horns, traditional guitar and light percussion to make for a very recognisable sound for anyone who is even passingly familiar with the country's music.
And look, I've seen mixed reviews for this, with many charmed by the novelty of the track (ironically), while others find it to be coasting too much on its basic sounds and not aiming higher. Personally, I fall closer to the previous camp. It's just kind of nice to hear something like this on the charts, something entirely unique in this day and age of slap house and drill hits. But I also acknowledge that the production is very unpolished, the song is mostly instrumental, and the lyrics are minimal to entirely unnecessary, with these 2 playing wingman for each other and not even bothering to fill up the entire length of this under-3-minute track.
On the other OTHER hand though, that's clearly by design. If this sounded too polished, it would lose its charm. And with the spoken-word passage, the tinny tone to a lot of these instruments, and the camaraderie between these 2 performers, the authenticity does end up winning me over. Call them posers, but I enjoy this... even though how often I will choose to listen to it is still up in the air.
Title: Keep Driving by Harry Styles
Remember when I said Satellite wouldn't have been my choice for the next single. Well, one of the songs I didn't mention as an alternative was Keep Driving... primarily because I don't think it's all that good.
The lyrics are a bit too mundane (I mean half of the second verse is Harry listing breakfast items), I found the oscillating synth kind of annoying, the beat switch is really poorly executed, and while the hook and theme are solid - basically suggesting that while the world falls apart around them, they should just move on together, keep driving hand-in-hand - the detachment feels pretty shallow.
It's not as ridiculous as Music For A Sushi Restaurant, or as badly produced, but it's also less fun than that trainwreck. I'm hard-pressed calling it bad, but I'd simply never choose to listen to it.
And that was our mildly underwhelming week! For the Worst, I didn't hate any of these, but I think Keep Driving by Harry Styles has the potential to become the biggest headache for me, especially with that production. For the Best, it's also kind of moot, but I'm giving it to the one that made me feel the most emotion, aka Hits Different by Taylor Swift, a song that's only a couple of tonal steps away from being amazing.
Thankfully, this was a fairly quiet week for the Homegrown charts:
1. Giving Me - Jazzy [LW: #1 / WOC: 12]
2. Meltdown - Niall Horan [LW: #3 / WOC: 2]
3. Eat Your Young - Hozier [LW: #2 / WOC: 11]
4. Part Of Me - Cian Ducrot [LW: #4 / WOC: 9]
5. My Mind - Belters Only [LW: #5 / WOC: 13]
6. Chasing Rainbows (Remix) - The High Kings & Badscandal [LW: - / WOC: 1]
7. Innocence And Sadness - Dermot Kennedy [LW: #6 / WOC: 13]
8. Hypnotic State - SPQR & DecPierce (Ft. Lea Hart) [LW: - / WOC: 1]
9. Song To Myself - Picture This [LW: #8 / WOC: 11]
10. Casper - Robert Grace [LW: #9 / WOC: 2]
Yeah, I've got my work cut out for me alright. My list of songs I need to review keeps on growing. And with that, I'm going to shamelessly plug my review of the new Chasing Rainbows remix and original, both covered over on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CtEWX-6rJbP/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet&igshid=MmJiY2I4NDBkZg==
Again, 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: Chasing Rainbows (Remix) by The High Kings & Badscandal
Title: Hypnotic Static by SPQR & DecPierce (Ft. Lea Heart)
Title: Haint Blue by Bell X1
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!