Hey guys, welcome back to Musical McCool!
Welp, I don't know whether to put all or no effort into this post. Fact is, this is the same weekend I'm making my grand return to scripted content on YouTube, having posted my video the day before writing this. Honestly, the reception to that video has been so touching and I've received so many wonderful comments and messages welcoming me back, and it leaves me feeling like I just want more people to check that video out. So if you haven't already:
So with that out of the way, let's tackle a bit of a quieter week.
The Top 10
No really, the Top 10 shifted around a bit, but it's still the same 10 songs as last week:
1. Flowers - Miley Cyrus [LW: 1 / WOC: 4]
2. Escapism. - RAYE (Ft. 070 Shake) [LW: #2 / WOC: 12]
3. Kill Bill - SZA [LW: #3 / WOC: 9]
4. Anti-Hero - Taylor Swift [LW: #4 / WOC: 16]
5. 10:35 - Tiësto (Ft. Tate McRae) [LW: #9 / WOC: 14]
6. Calm Down (Remix) - Rema (Ft. Selena Gomez) [LW: #5 / WOC: 24]
7. Made You Look - Meghan Trainor [LW: #6 / WOC: 16]
8. Sure Thing - Miguel [LW: #10 / WOC: 6]
9. Pointless - Lewis Capaldi [LW: #7 / WOC: 10]
10. Miss You - Oliver Tree & Robin Schulz [LW: #8 / WOC: 18]
While no new songs arrived, it is nice seeing 10:35 and Sure Thing rising up the ranks. Partly because they're not 2022 hits, partly because they're both pretty great.
The Punished and the New
So the big story of this week would be the Grammys, which had a small but somewhat noticeable impact on the Top 50. Most of it was fairly minor, with Harry Styles seeing a boost to some of his 3 big hits from last year (sidenote: Harry's House winning albums of the year is just odd to me, it's really not all that great), and Queen B getting a well-deserved boost to CUFF IT, which jumped all the way back up to 18, FUCK YES!
Also, while I'd normally dive straight into the ACR victims, I did want to highlight 3 HUGE jumps in the past week. The first was PinkPatheress' Boy's A Liar, which after getting a remix with Ice Spice, cracked the top 20 this week at number 14, gaining 48 whole spots! Sounds impressive... until you see that, AS I PREDICTED, TRUSTFALL by P!nk leaped up by 57 spots to number 27, I TOLD you this was going to be a hit over here! What I didn't see coming was Strandz' Us Against The World rising to 63... unexpected, but cool, I'll take an early 2000s hip hop throwback!
But as I said, we mainly highlight the songs that moved to ACR in this section, and we had a couple of big ones:
About You by The 1975 - #41 -> #60
Rich Flex by Drake & 21 Savage - #34 -> #78
I'm not all that surprised by the former, it's a bit mid as far as that album goes. The latter is HUGE though, because it essentially means it's going to get caught between years, it's NOT making the Irish year-end Hot 100 for 2023! ... I dunno about you, but I'm shocked!
Aside from that though, we also had a few smaller stories, be it Ireland's official Eurovision entry, a certain controversial American Country star crossing over, and of course:
Title: You Only Love Me by Rita Ora
Oh yeah... I guess you're still a thing.
Snark aside, while I've never been much of a Rita Ora fan, I do think this whole story with her label is inspiring. She left Atlantic because they wouldn't let her own her masters on future music, and I personally think that's a very smart reason to leave a label for a better record deal, which BMG seems to be willing to concede to her. That's great news... but I was kind of hoping all of that would translate to a far more interesting comeback single.
Look, this isn't awful, but it's incredibly safe. I can guarantee you've heard this exact song done before, except likely with far more interesting production and lyrics. It's a song where she feels neglected by a fickle lover, where she's worried that he only loves her when he needs her, drunk and desperate. She knows she shouldn't keep going back, that it's unhealthy, and yet she still tries to justify his behaviour because she's terrified of being alone. That's some potent drama... but my GOD does that chorus fall so flat!
There's this big dramatic pre-chorus and these pretty evocative verses, and while it is familiar, it's still somewhat effective! Then the "drop" comes in and the song smacks into a brick wall, with think clunky, 2-note, slow, repetitive mantra that is so bare-bones and lifeless. It's not even a word, it's an unfinished sentence, and it's one of the worst conclusions to a build-up that I've heard in a LONG time! Again, the song around it is okay, nothing special, but that chorus just annoys me, it's just SO lacklustre! And especially when placed in contrast to RAYE and her experimental comeback single... yeah, this sucks.
Title: Who We Love by Sam Smith (Ft. Ed Sheeran)
Kinda surprised this didn't cross over last week to be honest. It's the other obvious crossover hit, where instead of Calvin Harris, Sam Smith pairs up with Ed Sheeran to make a fairly generic song about how goshdarn cool love is, and that "If a lot of people love each other, the world would be a better place to live." Like with Rita Ora, you've heard this done before, likely much better... but I will say, this one did wear me down a bit.
Sam's vocal delivery here is a lot closer to their 2014 era, but that's not a bad thing, as they pair surprisingly well alongside Ed's higher vocal tones. And while I tend to roll my eyes whenever I hear these types of songs, knowing the very real place this comes from for Sam Smith, as a queer, non-binary artist who's put up with their fair share of derision and ridicule (even LAST WEEK, AGAIN, WHAT THE ACTUAL FU-), and it does make lines about holding hands in public hit a little harder. And while I don't personally think Ed adds much to this, he does sell these kinds of songs well, and I just plain like the sound of his voice, along with his evocative writing.
Again, as with most Ed Sheeran collabs, I'm not sure how well he fits here, but the earnest lyrics, Sam Smith's heartfelt delivery, and a pretty melody do all put a smile on my face, especially as the production doesn't go too over-the-top. I could absolutely see this becoming an anthem around Pride this year, and I wouldn't mind seeing that.
Title: Last Night by Morgan Wallen
Ah... remember how I said last week that Ireland seems to be trending more towards American country with the likes of Luke Combs? Well, with the good comes the distasteful... aka Morgan Wallen.
I can't tell you how happy I am that I was spared from songs like Wasted On You, You Proof and especially Broadway Girls last year, 3 abysmal songs that would have certainly made my Top 10 Worst Hits of 2022 a fair bit more boring! But it's also worth noting that I didn't always dislike Morgan Wallen. Hell, before the incident from early 2021, I actually liked songs like Chasin' You, More Than My Hometown and Whiskey Glasses. Hell, I still think he has good melodic instincts and decent lyrical chops... I just think that his production team SUCKS, and his PR team is even worse! Because ever since his "comeback", it seems whoever's managing him wants him to double down on the trap elements and singing from the point of view of the most unlikeable assholes!
Anyway, after all that, cut to this song, the only one to chart from the multiple he dropped in the past couple of weeks, thank God. And I'll say this: unlike some of his 2022 hits, I can see the appeal here. This is a legitimately good hook, with a cyclical guitar and pedal steel that creates this really nice, melancholic sound that matches Morgan's hangdog, mournful delivery. Then the trap elements come in... and look, it's not the worst, but the bass, the handclaps, and especially those tinny backing vocals echoing "last night" REALLY do nothing for me! You could argue it's intentional, to emphasise the sour tone... but that's the other problem, this song is just unpleasant!
The song is as depressing as it sounds, where they get drunk, argue way too much, and she leaves him in a fit of rage. And yet even though he can't remember everything they said, he knows that this won't be their last night. It's just toxic, and not in the entertaining way, where he sounds just as miserable about it as she likely is, which I don't think was intentional! I dunno, I could see someone liking this as a song about reveling in your own bad habits, but to me, the production ruins it! If you'd kept all these elements but just stuck with the production on the first verse, maybe you might have something, but as is... nah, believe me Morgan, I WON'T be coming back to this again.
Title: Rush by Arya Starr
Well, I'm not too shocked that Andre Vibez is getting more attention. For those not aware, Andre produced Rema's Calm Down, which I may despise, but many other people love. And he's back again today with a MUCH better beat on this new song, Rush by Nigerian singer Arya Starr. This 20-year-old woman has been an up-and-coming name since 2018, having collabed with the likes of Don Jazzy & CKay, signing a brand deal with Pepsi, and earning several hits and accolades in her home country.
All of that brings us to Rush, her hit single she released back in 2022, but which is only crossing over here now. And as Afropop songs go, this is a pretty decent attempt. The melody is bouncy, with some gleaming synths, a pretty danceable beat, and Arya delivering the whole thing with easy charisma and a voice that sounds well beyond her years. It's not just that she sounds older, her level of comfort as a performer is impressive too, where both her lyrics and demeanor seem self-assured and convinced of her own success. So yeah, I do like this. I do wish the hook itself were a little stronger, as it does blend into the verses a little easily, and I'll admit the content is by no means revolutionary, but all things considered, I'm glad this crossed over. Pretty good, check it out.
Title: We Are One by Wild Youth
Oh boy... look, it's no secret that one of the biggest European events every year, if not THE biggest, is the Eurovision Song Contest. And while anyone with half a brain could have told you last year's winner was going to be Ukraine, I actually think Ireland's entry was pretty solid. A full-on pop song, which Brooke delivered really well, and honestly should have qualified for the final round ahead of some of the countries that did! All of that to say that I think Ireland might have a chance to make it to the finals this year... because this is disposable trash!
For context, while some Eurovision songs are amazing and creative, there's a lot of generic fodder with positive, cookie-cutter messages that are intended to unite the world together. These songs show up every year, they usually do well, and they usually suck! And that's what this is: a generic, boring song with standard chords, a standard build, and interchangeable lyrics about how we're not actually so different from each other and none of us are walking alone- OH FUCK OFF! Call me cynical, but these songs usually just cause me to roll my eyes derisively, especially coming from THIS band! I mean I LIKE Wild Youth, Champagne Butterflies was one of my favourite songs of 2021, it had a shot at my top 50 songs of that entire year! So why would they default to such a shallow and lazy level?!
I'll tell you why: because it works. Truth is, Ireland's Eurovision entries haven't pushed the boundaries since Riverdance nearly 30 years ago! So the only way they can ever hope to qualify is by pandering to the lowest common denominator. Say what you will about this song, but the moment I heard it, I knew it would win, it would be Ireland's official entry for 2023! And while, sure, it's not really as bad as the utterly trash Maps in 2021, the disappointment still stings, possibly even more so, to see a band I like phone it in this hard!
Title: Dawns by Zach Bryan (Ft. Maggie Rogers)
See, this is what I mean, Ireland is really catching the American Country bug! And hey, if that means we get Zach Bryan to chart more, I'm not complaining.
Like most people, I thought the US had a really strong year for Country last year, and none were bigger break-out stars than Zach Bryan. I mean sure, Something In The Orange was a huge international hit, but he also released several projects in 2022, including a 34-track one! So with all that craziness, I was excited to see him here this week, especially with Maggie Rogers in tow... and yeah, this is awesome!
To be clear, it's far from accessible. It almost feels like the live version of itself, with its raw instrumentations, Zach Bryan's free-flowing delivery with no coherent tempo till the first chorus, where his voice has rarely sounded raspier, and Maggie Rogers providing subtle backing vocals that soothe the mix back into those strings after that ramshackle crescendo, before taking center stage for the second pre-chorus and commanding the mix just as well as Zach did! It's like a war of attrition, where its raw delivery and lack of proper structure adds to the emotional turmoil of 2 people burning a relationship to the ground, hooks be damned!
And even with that, it manages to be catchy, their vocal chemistry is on point, and the instrumentation manages to be engaging and kind of gorgeous in spots. They're both such great forces of personality on this that they make me believe their relationship, their frustrated anger feels real, and it actually gave me chills the first time heard it!
So yeah, of course the Best of the week is going to Dawns by Zach Bryan & Maggie Rogers, the structure alone makes it way too engaging to ignore! As for the Worst, there were several candidates who disappointed me, so ultimately, I decided to give it to the one I'm least likely to revisit... and that's You Only Love Me by Rita Ora! Yeah, some of you might be surprised Morgan Wallen or Wild Youth didn't get it, but at least those are competently constructed songs! The chorus really is THAT badly put together!
Unlike the mainstream Top 10, we got 2 new arrivals to the Homegrown Top 10 this week:
1. I'll Be Waiting - Cian Ducrot [LW: #1 / WOC: 13]
2. One Life - Dermot Kennedy [LW: #2 / WOC: 10]
3. We Are One - Wild Youth [LW: #8 / WOC: 2]
4. Get On My Love - Picture This [LW: #3 / WOC: 11]
5. Superstar - Belters Only & Mickey Modelle (Ft. Simone Denny) [LW: #4 / WOC: 12]
6. Perfect - Moncrieff [LW: 6 / WOC: 4]
7. Northside Arse - Versatile [LW: - / WOC: 1]
8. Time To Leave - Darren Kiely [LW: 5 / WOC: 3]
9. If You're Gonna Break My Heart - Inhaler [LW: - / WOC: 1]
10. Mayday - CMAT [LW: 9 / WOC: 4]
That's right, 2 returning names on this series, one I've praised, and one I've said is one of the most unlikeable and despicable acts I've ever reviewed in any capacity... FUCK I hate Versatile!
And hey, for my thoughts on them and more, check out my video series National Treasures over on Instagram, go follow me there @thesocialtune to hear my full thoughts. You can listen to them here ahead of time:
Title: Northside Arse by Versatile
Title: If You're Gonna Break My Heart by Inhaler
As ever, 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!