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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 1 (Murder On The Dancefloor, Never Lose Me, all-american bitch, and more)

Hey guys, welcome back to a brand new season of Musical McCool!

It's Week 1 of 2024 and as it happens, this will officially be my 100TH BLOG POST!!! 🥳 Thank you to everyone who's stuck with this tumultuous series, maybe THIS will be the year I actually manage to post each and every week without falling behind! Let's find out together.

But yeah, while I am still dedicated to finishing up the Irish Year-end Hot 100 (and compiling my thoughts on it at some point in the not-too-distant future), 2024 is getting off to an interesting start, where the Top 20 primarily contains remnants of 2023, including several songs I haven't discussed yet!

The Top 10

So in service of that, here's the state of the Top 10 and my overall thoughts on it:

1. Stick Season - Noah Kahan [LW: #1 / WOC: 54]

2. Prada - Cassö, Raye & D-Block Europe [LW: #42 / WOC: 21]

3. Lovin On Me - Jack Harlow [LW: #22 / WOC: 8]

4. greedy - Tate McRae [LW: #16 / WOC: 16]

5. I Remember Everything - Zach Bryan (Ft. Kacey Musgraves) [LW: #33 / WOC: 19]

6. Cruel Summer - Taylor Swift [LW: #87 / WOC: 20]

7. Murder On The Dancefloor - Sophie Ellis Baxter [LW: - / WOC: 1]

8. Something In The Orange - Zach Bryan [LW: #39 / WOC: 66]

9. Northern Attitude - Noah Kahan (Ft. Hozier) [LW: #41 / WOC: 8]

10. Houdini - Dua Lipa [LW: #52 / WOC: 8]

Okay, my initial thoughts are as follows: HOLY SHIT, THIS TOP 10 IS INCREDIBLE!!!

First off, Noah Kahan's Stick Season became somewhat of a pseudo-Christmas song, but it's still a real song so it didn't get flushed out with all the usual suspects. And while I know some people have criticised this song... I dunno, despite the guilt-tripping elements, the song is vivid enough in its imagery and that banjo-driven chorus that I've always liked it a LOT more than I probably should. It's absolutely no Dial Drunk - still his best hit so far - but I'm happy it's here, even now. At least Noah Kahan's a more interesting songwriter and has better production than Dermot Kennedy's 101st dirge!

As for the rest, let's quickly start with the ones I've already covered: Prada is fine, greedy is kind of awful but it makes me laugh, Cruel Summer and Something In The Orange are established and incredibly beloved hits (and I'm no exception), and finally I Remember Everything is one of the best hits to get this big in YEARS, and an early contender for hit song of the decade... no, I don't think I'm exaggerating.

Now back to the newer stuff, starting with Jack Harlow's Lovin on Me! Another very divisive song with its fair share of haters, with multiple people comparing it to First Class, right down to the well-known sample... and yet this works way better in my opinion. I think the flow's just much better, reminding me a LOT of Drake's The Motto, for anyone who remembers that. And while that song's also very divisive, I've always found it passively enjoyable, much as I do this. It's catchy, it's simple, and while I would never actively seek it out, I do bounce along whenever I hear it on the radi- well, okay, on Instagram.

Northern Attitude by Noah Kahan & Hozier though... I dunno. It isn't the "worst" song in the Top 10, but it feels the least meaningful. And when your song contains HOZIER, that's a problem! I think the hook is kind of week, the storytelling just isn't as compelling as it wants to be, and the production is a little mid in my opinion. Also I can't help but feel like they're both coasting on this. Compare it to I Remember Everything - as unfair as that may be - where both of the singers are singing with the weight and performances of their lives, MAKING you care and believe in their fictional love, and you'll see why Northern Attitude doesn't work as well, it's just missing the heart.

Finally, Houdini by Dua Lipa, which may well be my favourite thing she's made since Physical! An amazing chorus, great songwriting, personality for days, KILLER production that feels VERY Tame Impala in the best possible way - as well as Madison Beer if you're in the know - and a groove that, once again, is borrowing heavily from the 80s, but it sounds so fucking phenomenal and downright sensual, that I find it really hard to critique all that much! It's a challenging STATEMENT of a song, and I really hope this becomes our first solid new hit of 2024!

The Punished and the New

For this section this week, I'm going to keep it brief. Most of our losers were Christmas songs, as the yearly purge at the start of the year flushed all of it out in 1 fell swoop, which allowed the rest of the hits we'd been keeping on the back-burner to surge up. That's why so many of our current Top 10 was so low down last week, so there's no point rehashing it all. Especially when our new entries are so interesting, starting off with our final remaining Top 10 entry:

Title: Murder on the Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Position: #7

So as luck would have it, I am just BARELY queer and nerdy enough to have heard of this song before now. In fact, as of writing this, I am a mere hour away from watching the famous Saltburn, which is causing such an uproar on the internet. And while I know this song did chart here in Ireland back in 2002, actually getting all the way to number 2, I'm covering it for 2 reasons:

  1. It's a legacy hit debuting in the Top 10 in the first week of January, when there isn't much else to talk about.

  2. There's a fairly good chance that its 2024 run has a shot at dethroning its initial release, similarly to Running Up That Hill, the de facto comparison.

And writing this second paragraph after watching the film... wow, a lot of the people using this soundbite on TikTok clearly have not watched the scene it's used in! And you should all fix that, it's a fantastic film (albeit VERY deserving of its age rating), but even if you don't, MAN is this an amazing song to give a revival to! Again, if you're based in the UK or Ireland or a handful of European countries, you may already be aware of this early 2000s hit, but for those who don't, it's a tight little disco number that is propelled to whole new heights by those playful sharp strings and Sophie Ellis-Bextor's slick vocals. She's really the reason this song goes OFF on any dancefloor, because she nails the balance between alluring and downright threatening. She's going to pull you onto that dancefloor, but you'd better be prepared to kill it, as the DJ prepares to set the place on fire. Obviously it's meant in jest, but her rather chaotic delivery makes you question it for a moment, which I believe is the reason the song resonates so much and why it's such a great fit for the film.

But yeah, terrific song to see a revival, and considering Sophie Ellis-Bextor herself seems absolutely delighted by its resurgence and use in the film, I think we're all winners here. Please make this a real hit, keep up the momentum past the usual January lull!

Title: Perfect (Exceeder) by Mason vs. Princess Superstar

Position: #25

HA! So fun fact, I know people who will swear by this song as the ultimate workout jam, and the fact that it too is back thanks to being included in Saltburn is a point of great joy to myself and them. A coquettish, tongue-and-cheek track, daring you to stare at her as she works it, knowing she's perfect and only doubting YOU, or that you'll rise to the challenge. She's got the look, the lips, the hips, the taste, and more, so just think what she'll be able to do with you at home. Princess Superstar has a ton of raunchy personality that lead her to some fairly sizeable success outside of her home country of the US, with songs like this and Bad Babysitter becoming fairly huge in the UK. And this in particular works incredibly well, with the buzzing production and the stuttering dance beat courtesy of The Netherlands' DJ Mason. The high-pitched vocals, the over-the-top moaning, the half-whispered chorus, it's all incredibly over-the-top and cheesy, but my GOD is it fun!

This likely won't be as big of a hit as Murder On The Dancefloor, it's far less "refined" or in line with current dance trends, but I'm still happy to see it get some love. All that's left is to get MGMT and Block Party to chart, COME ON!

Title: Birds In The Sky by NewEra

Position: #66

RIght, so this NewEra duo is apparently based in Dublin, where the 2 of them made this house track inspired by the sight of a flock of birds captured in the album art, which they thought felt like a really hopeful image to kick of 2024. And honestly, considering how many of these types of SoundCloud, viral TikTok songs that I've reviewed, I'm surprised how not mad I am at this.

Look, it's fairly basic in some points. The keys themselves are very stock-sounding and minimal, but the stuttering and reverb effects are fun, and I really like the dynamic build-ups to each "drop", which each feel quite unique. I do think it's a nice build without much pay-off, but I'm also slightly forgiving of it thanks to the optimistic lyrics, filled with love and hope as 2 wandering souls pass each other, and by some beautiful coincidence in this wonderful words, they happen to meet. And even if they're separate now, that doesn't matter because of how great it is when they ARE together.

Again, it's a pretty bare-minimum type of song, but it tries JUST hard enough to make me smile. I'm not sure if I'll remember it, or if it'll stick around - the chorus really isn't that strong, I doubt it - but while it's here, I'm going to passively enjoy it.

Title: Never Lose Me by Flo Milli

Position: #74

So Flo Milli is an artist I've been aware of for a while, but never discussed myself. After dropping a hugely critically acclaimed mixtape in 2021, her solo album sort of came and went without much buzz, reportedly due to being a fair bit more anonymous. And that's a shame, because I think she has a lot of talent and unique personality, but seemingly is trying more for the safe plays. And whoever is giving her that advice, please stop, because this comeback isn't much better.

Yes, I like the production, which manages to be low-key, trap-heavy and glossy and dreamlike all at once, it's really quite impressive - shout-out to producer gerreaux, who originally produced it for 42 Dugg & Babyface Ray by the way! But the half-whispered lyrics are quite repetitive, and boil down to "I will fuck you and you won't ever want to leave me". Which would be fine if she could sell it - and I KNOW she's capable - but for some reason, Flo Milli plays it really blandly, with none of the energy or cheek she's brought in the past, and instead sounding kind of checked out. The most interesting part of the song is the "thief in the night" line, and that's only because it made me think of Pop Smoke, and makes me wonder if that wandered if that was intentional.

As is, I'm glad to see her actually seeing some charting success, even if it is in the doldrums of January, but I'd love to see some more memorable material from her than this.

Title: MY EYES by Travis Scott

Position: #76

So it's been a while now since UTOPIA dropped, but somehow we're still talking about it. And boy, this sure is a song! ... Can I just leave it at that?

Look, the production is low-key and pretty, but Travis' half-sung verses do nothing for me, the come-up content is generic and dull, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver sounds anonymous and compressed to Hell, and the song isn't even catchy. Even the beat switch and closing verse is very underwhelming, a desperate final attempt to get the song to leave an impact and it still fails.

The best part of the song is Sampha, who legitimately has 3 lines on the whole thing and then fucks off after less than 10 seconds of airplay! That's just criminal, especially in the wake of Lahai! Again, a pretty, but almost entirely disposable song.

Title: all-american bitch by Olivia Rodrigo

Position: #80

Another song I'm shocked to be discussing this late in the album run, but considering the Irish rules of only have 3 songs by any 1 artist charting at once, I suppose it makes sense... I'm just surprised that we haven't gotten to the opening track sooner. And in keeping with the majority of GUTS, I fucking love this song!

It's not the best song from the project that we've discussed so far - not by a long shot in fact - but the guitar loop and Olivia's sweet voice that then transitions so brutally into the kick-ass chorus is awesome, the lyrics are self-aware and witty, and Olivia just absolutely kills it.

It sets the tone for the album so well, encapsulating the album's themes really well over its short runtime, and it immediately set all my worst fears about GUTS to rest on first listen. What more in there to say? Great little song!

Title: Entrapreneur by Central Cee

Position: #88

Am I missing something, Central Cee? You put the "trap" in "entrapreneur"... but you do realise there's no A in "entrepreneur", right? I honestly can;'t tell sometimes.

Regardless, this is another song about his rough come-up, surrounded by gangsters and drug dealers and needing to fend for himself, and yet again, despite this being his hundredth go at this exact song, I still find elements of it new and interesting... or at least colourful and weird. The line about young people not knowing how to trap because they're getting high on their own supply sounds condescending, but I feel where he's coming from, and the lines about selling cocaine to gay men because he doesn't judge is genuinely funny, almost enough to help me forget "how can I be homophobic, my bitch is gay"... almost. But even then, paired with the pretty good beat, I was tempted to call this a mild guilty pleasure.

But the Billie Eilish line was weird, the fact that he STILL has fucking commitment issues and has to hide his passwords from his girl is tiring - and no, Central Cee, you saying you're considering marrying her doesn't magically undo that, especially when your condition is "if she's got nothing to hide, you hypocrite - and again, the name of the fucking song is such a fucking stretch... so ultimately, nah, I can do without this. Not the worst tone he's set going into a year, but certainly not his best foot forward.

Title: Incredible Sauce by Giggs (Ft. Dave)

Position: #97

Is it just me... or is this REALLY creepy?

That's not normally a problem for me, I love a bit of menace in my rap songs... but it depends on the context. If you're trying to intimidate your rivals, or put yourself at the top of the game, but here, these 2 spend half the time talking about women. And it just feels really icky and gross after a while. The beat is REALLY good and effective, but I get the feeling Giggs had no idea what he wanted to do with it, and Dave just decided to mimic him, he sounds SO out-of-place on something this murky!

Of course, it doesn't help that the creepy atmosphere is regularly undercut my these 2. Giggs saying he's "hanging with all of the dogs, we got pet care" already made my coffee go up my nose I laughed so hard - the beat cuts out for that line and everything, you can tell he thought that ridiculous line was SO hard, which only makes it funnier - but then Dave... wow, I know some people who used to call this guy "the UK's answer to Kendrick"...

"All good if her face is pretty, but I'm judging her hands and feet"

"I beef my shadow, I feel like Sonic"

"He saw that comin' like That's So Raven"

This man is so beautifully clueless about his level of badassness. Badassity?

Either way, it makes the song unintentionally hilarious, and makes Incredible Sauce by Giggs & Dave an easy winner for Worst of the week. For the Best though, there are some strong contestants, but I think we all know that Murder On the Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor is running away with it, and it's not particularly close either.

National Treasures

This is the part of the show I'm going to adjust the most for season 4. I'm going to try to commit back to reviewing the new entries on the Homegrown Irish charts here on the blog, much like I did in Season 1. Maybe this will prove to take too much time and I'll adjust it later on, but for now, here are my thoughts on our new entries to the Homegrown Top 20:

... wait, there are no new entries this week... ah well!

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. I hope life treats you kindly, and until the next time, I'm Fionn and this is The Social Tune signing off!


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