Musical McCool Season 3, Week 8 (Heaven, A&W, Whistle and more)
Hey guys, welcome back to Musical McCool!
Wow, I guess the rush of activity last week was a hint of more to come! And this one was arguably much more impactful, because not only did we get several new arrivals, one in the Top 10, but the ACR victims this week were not only plentiful, but also quite pivotal.
The Top 10
Right, from the jump, we're looking at a very different Top 10 this week!
1. Flowers - Miley Cyrus [LW: 1 / WOC: 6]
2. Boy's A Liar Pt. 2 - PinkPantheress (Ft. Ice Spice) [LW: 3 / WOC: 9]
3. Kill Bill - SZA [LW: #4 / WOC: 11]
4. Heaven - Niall Horan [LW: - / WOC: 1]
5. ceilings - Lizzy McAlpine [LW: #11 / WOC: 8]
6. Sure Thing - Miguel [LW: #6 / WOC: 8]
7. Players - Coi Leray [LW: #7 / WOC: 9]
8. Calm Down (Remix) - Rema (Ft. Selena Gomez) [LW: #8 / WOC: 26]
9. 10:35 - Tiësto (Ft. Tate McRae) [LW: #9 / WOC: 16]
10. Escapism. - RAYE (Ft. 070 Shake) [LW: #2 / WOC: 14]
Yeah, as predicted, Boy's A Liar Pt. 2 went up to number 2. Although I didn't see such a big drop coming for Escapism.... shame, it's probably the most interesting song in the Top 10 at the moment.
Of course, the other big story is the long-awaited return of Niall Horan, whose new single Heaven debuted in the Top 5, SO happy for him! We'll get to the song itself a little later, but alongside Lizzy McAlpine's ceilings vaulting up to number 5, the Top 10 is currently looking pretty damn talented!
The Punished and the New
So yeah, as you've probably guessed, Escapism. was moved to ACR this week... but it certainly wasn't the only one:
Escapism. by RAYE (Ft. 070 Shake) - #2 -> #10
Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift - #5 -> #16
Creepin' by Metro Boomin (Ft. The Weeknd & 21 Savage) - #14 -> #31
Miss You by Oliver Tree & Robin Schulz - #12 -> #33
messy in heaven by venbee & goddard. - #16 -> #35
Let Go by Central Cee - #18 -> #46
Kiss Me by Dermot Kennedy - #21 -> #50
All For You by Cian Ducrot - #19 -> #55
Jeez, what a bloodbath, and there are some big names here too! The only ones I'm a bit annoyed by are Escapism. and Creepin', as the others have either had fairly good runs, or I just hate them... or in All For You's case, both!
The insanity doesn't stop there though, because after some fairly inconsequential weeks, there is some real momentum building up across the chart right now! Thanks to that new P!nk album, TRUSTFALL leaped back up to 18, and Never Not Gonna Dance Again rose up to 32. And similarly, thanks to the new Skrillex album, Rumble returned to the charts at number 86.
We also saw several big gainers as the next wave of 2023 hits appears to be solidifying... wish some of them were better: If We Ever Broke Up by Mae Stephens reached number 20, Evergreen by Richy Mitch & the Coal Miners inexplicably rocketed up to 26 (from 99, the fuck?!), and Us Against The World by Strandz continued its upward trajectory to 29.
So yeah, pretty busy, and all before we get to our new arrivals! So without further ado:
Title: Heaven by Niall Horan
This is a comeback that I have been SO excited about. Niall's debut album Flicker was great, but quickly got overshadowed by Heartbreak Weather, his sophomore album in 2020, and easily one of the best of that year! Both highlighted exactly why Niall has always been my favourite One Direction member; despite me coming around on Harry's music, I still think Niall's basic pop instincts are better, even if they don't aim nearly as high in scope or ambition.
So after all that praise... I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by Heaven. Don't get me wrong, it's still good, with some nice multitracking, and a wonderful melodic lilt to it that's so easygoing and smooth! Plus, the lyrics are sweet, as his lovestruck passion threatens to burn with a fire brighter than Heaven itself. And yet... I dunno, I think the hook is a little weak. It's catchy enough, but it doesn't fully conclude, with guitars that sound weirdly compressed.
Personally, I wish there was a bit more to the instrumental. The kick drum is fine, but the string sections sound muted, as does the bass. It's a shift in sound that doesn't really appeal to me, and the writing is a fair bit less interesting than even the weakest cuts from his debut album. And look, Niall's songs have a habit of growing on me, and I am still really pleased for him that this is debuting so high, but I really wanted to love this. And I just don't.
Title: A&W by Lana Del Rey
Oh boy... I can barely stand Lana for the length of a regular song, let alone a 7-minute one! And yet that's what this is, an experimental folk track that - I'll say it - starts out fucking beautiful, with gorgeous piano, multitracking, and subtle bass. That is until it warps into a more electronic sound, where the bass swamps in, the synthetic trap beat takes over, and the lyrics become a lot weirder.
I mean I can still track the narrative easily enough. It's a song about the American experience, from the perspective of a woman in her 30s, who now chases sex for pure carnal satisfaction, and has serious sexual issues! I mean the line about being an American whore getting fucked on a hotel room floor is bad enough, but the line about looking like she asked to be raped... ugh! I'll admit that this has some good elements, mainly in the first half, but the experimental parts do nothing for me and the lyrics make me gag. I know that this is what Lana does, it's why her fans love her... it's just really REALLY not for me. Give me Amanda Palmer anyday!
Title: HOPE by NF
Wow, this week fucking SUCKS so far!
NF has never been my cup of tea. An American rapper with basic ideas, a boring delivery and flow, and production that's miltose at best. He's got a couple of decent songs, but nothing I would return to consistently, or that I can't get from many MANY other better rappers. And this... no. The instrumentation is obnoxiously overdramatic, the vocal production is trying WAY too hard, the flows are as stale as ever and weirdly stiff at that, and the lyrics are mid at best and wince-worthy at worst. It's supposed to be a frenetic reflection on his traumatic life, and how he's only going to get better from here, hoping for the best that the future will be bright. But to me, the sound makes it come across as a less entertaining Falling In Reverse. Sure, Ronnie Radke is technically "worse", but he's FAR more fun, whereas this sounds just as ridiculous while being far less colourful lyrically.
I get that he has his fans and that this will be amazing to some people, but I genuinely hate how this sounds, and nothing about the content elevates it, let alone anything the performer does. Hate this, next!
Title: Glue Song by beabadoobee
I feel bad that beabadoobee will forever be known as "the coffee for your head girl" to me. I've heard her projects and she's got more to her than just that song, but every time I hear her voice, I just want to be listening to that again. Still, it's nice to see her getting some attention for this little diddy. It's a pretty little folk song with a waltzing cadence, and tasteful instrumentation, all filtered through this watery layer that smothers the mix a little bit. It's like a constant buzz in the background from around the 40-second mark onwards, and I still can't decide whether or not it detracts from the song. Either way though, the track is a pretty simple love song, where the "stuck like glue" metaphor isn't really expanded on all that much. Look, it's pretty, it's sincere, but it's nothing special. It's exactly what you'd expect from the title, nothing more or less. Take it or leave it, but I don't see myself remembering this.
Title: Painting Pictures by SuperStar Pride
Well.. somebody's a fan of Big K.R.I.T..
Okay look, maybe that's unfair. After all, he and K.R.I.T. are both Southern rappers, and Superstar Pride is a lot less experimental and interesting... wait, now I just sound mean. But yeah, with the trap percussion and the Faith Evans sample that doesn't do much for me, all I'm left with is his sleepy delivery and admittedly clear vocal tone and flow.
It doesn't help that the lyrics are a bit clumsy, even for a freestyle. I mean the come-up and thanking his mother, wishing he could do more to support her, that's sweet if basic, but the line where he's denying that he's the father to this kid... kind of out of nowhere, and makes me question the hook where he thanks his own dad for his supposed wisdom. Despite those complaints though, this is fine for what it is. I'd be curious to hear this guy over better production, maybe on a song he had more time to flesh out, but while there's certainly better out there, this isn't bad.
Title: Watch This (Pluggnb Remix) by Lil Uzi Vert & AEIZONATEARS
Editor's note: I initially misgendered Uzi during this segment the first time around. My mistake, I'll remember that in the future. It's been 6 years since Lil Uzi Vert first burst onto the scene with XO Tour Llif3 in 2017. And yet even while that song has grown on me, I can honestly say I still don't get this rapper's appeal at all. Acts like 21 Savage have grown, Young Thug and Future have moments of brilliance, but Lil Uzi is the least interesting famous artist working in modern rap to me. And yet, the wider public seemingly disagrees, as they keep trying to make them a star. And this new song is even more desperate than usual, coasting on a Pluggnb remix by ARIZONATEARS that got some attention on TikTok as the modern equivalent of Watch Me by SIlento. It's pretty enough, and the hook is decently earworm-y, but I still think Lil Uzi Vert is the least interesting part of their own song, yet again. Nothing they say has any weight or merit to it, even their delivery on the chorus is uninteresting, the production is far more catchy than they are, and their vocals are frequently buried in the mix. And I don't miss them. In other words, the song is fine in spite of them, which really makes my point better than I ever could.
Title: When I Get There by P!nk
So the reviews for the new P!nk album are out. Spoilers, they're not positive, with many people calling it a sell-out project which betrays her 2000s roots- and okay, slow down! Because let's be real, P!nk hasn't released an album like that since Funhouse, and longtime fans keep waiting for her to change. And I've realised it's not going to happen, but unlike many, I've accepted it. Outside of a couple of loosies, THIS is what we're in for... and it's really not bad at all.
Just like when I praised TRUSTFALL a few weeks back, this isn't transcendent, or anywhere close to her best, but for what it is, it's still really well done. P!nk still sounds fucking gorgeous, the piano is simple but really pretty, and the lyrics... well, I'm torn. Because for a song dedicated to a departed loved one, this is very casual in its tone, nowhere near as devastating as, say, Ed Sheeran's Visiting Hours. But that's because, despite both being songs directed at departed loved ones, they're written from very different perspectives. P!nk's playing someone who's dealt with her grief and has moved on, but still occasionally thinks about her father. Which makes sense, he died nearly 2 years ago. I get that it's not as heart-wrenching or immediate, but it's still full of details that make me feel for this, you can tell it comes from a real place. I love that she portrays him as happy and youthful, laughing and drinking and climbing trees as he did in life, along with the hope that she'll be able to do the same once her time comes as well, and she eventually joins him. I know it's an easy sell, but it's done well, and I could see this really connecting for a lot of people who've lost loved ones - well, maybe not immediately - but after some time has passed.
Title: Whistle by Jax Jones & Calum Scott
Wow, what is WRONG with Jax Jones?!
I already didn't love that this song was sticking to the standard build-and-drop EDM structure, with its interchangeable beat, oddly nasal pianos (how does one even achieve that?!), and the pathetic lyrics about how he'll come running if you just whistle for him like a dog... then the whistling drop starts and this song reaches a whole new level of awful!
No really, for those of you who hated One Republic's I Ain't Worried, this is SO much worse! It's compressed to Hell, Calum's doing this weird fake accent that makes him sound like a huskier Adam Levine, and AGAIN, it does that AWFUL thing of cutting everything out for the drop except the bass and the vocals! Or in this case, the whistle, which... yeah, that was a smart improvement, sure!!! FUCK I HATE THIS, it's everything I hate about how lazy and strangely opposed to dancing this genre can be, and Jax Jones is quickly becoming the poster child for it! PLEASE can we not make this a hit of any sort?!
Title: Roles Reversed by Mimi Webb
Oh, I never thought I'd be so happy to see Mimi Webb, LORD this week has been rough! And you know what, for as much as I've criticised her, this is quite simply the best thing I've heard from her, possibly ever.
And no, it's not just because of how bad so much of this week has been. She sings like she actually cares, the piano-based production has some decent swell to it, and the songwriting is genuinely pretty good! She finds herself at the end of a relationship where he started out broken and she tried to fix him... but in doing so, in fixing him, a part of her broke along the way. And now they're here, roles reversed, leaving her stunned and confused, as he's now left her alone. There are echoes of Olivia Rodrigo's Deja Vu, where all the work she put in has not only been wasted, but has actively left her spent, and is now seemingly being thrown back in her face. And it's genuinely heartbreaking... with an honest-to-God climax on the final chorus, SHE'S LEARNING!
Honestly, this almost feels like a prophecy! At the tail end of the worst week I've reviewed in over a year, Mimi Webb swooped in as the unexpected saviour, with the most improvement I've seen from an artist in quite some time! Genuinely great job Mimi... man, that feels weird!
So yeah, overall, this week sucked hard! I'm tempted to give a tie for the Worst of the week... but as much as NF's complete lack of talent annoys me, Whistle by Jax Jones & Calum Scott is more personally insulting, I know at least one of these men is capable of a lot better. Also, if this becomes a real hit... spoilers, my Top 10 Worst Hits of 2023 already has a guaranteed spot filled in! As for the Best... sadly it's not Niall, but as tempted as I was to give it to P!nk... yeah, fuck it, she earned it, it's going to Roles Reversed by Mimi Webb, for the best underdog story I've got to experience in ages! Keep this up Mimi, and I might stop sabotaging your international rise to fame behind the scenes!
By contrast, the Homegrown Charts were refreshingly quiet... well, unless you count the very top:
1. Heaven - Niall Horan [LW: - / WOC: 1]
2. One Life - Dermot Kennedy [LW: #1 / WOC: 12]
3. Get On My Love - Picture This [LW: #2 / WOC: 13]
4. Call Me - Belters Only [LW: 3 / WOC: 9]
5. Just To Keep You Satisfied - Inhaler [LW: - / WOC: 1]
6. Time To Leave - Darren Kiely [LW: 4 / WOC: 6]
7. Perfect - Moncrieff [LW: 5 / WOC: 6]
8. Northside Arse - Versatile [LW: 10 / WOC: 3]
9. We Are One - Wild Youth [LW: #6 / WOC: 4]
10. My Very Best - The Academic [LW: 7 / WOC: 5]
Unsurprisingly, Heaven is the new number 1, as most Niall Horan songs tend to take over the Homegrown chart on arrival. Only other thing of note was that the new Inhaler album launched a new song into the Top 5, Just To Keep You Satisfied. And for my thoughts on that and... actually, that's all for THIS week - check out my video series National Treasures over on Instagram, go follow me @thesocialtune to hear my full thoughts. Check out the full album actually, and for this song in particular:
Title: Just To Keep You Satisfied by Inhaler
Again, for my thoughts on this 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!
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!