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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 11 (Ariana's Eternal Sunshine, 4Batz, I miss you I'm sorry, Mariner Boy and more)

Hey guys, welcome back to Musical McCool, my weekly series dissecting the Irish charts!

This feels like the first week in a while that I've been somewhat on top of things; next big video's written up, I got this month's Record Round-up out (check it out), and I got to this week's Hot 100 in plenty of time! And yet it's also pretty busy, with a major album bomb, a new number 1 and quite a bit more to discuss, so let's just get to it!

The Top 10

That's right, we have a new number 1, and sadly it is not Djo.

1. Beautiful Things - Benson Boone [LW: #3 / WOC: 8]

2. End Of Beginning - Djo [LW: #4 / WOC: 5]

3. Texas Hold 'Em - Beyoncé [LW: #1 / WOC: 5]

4. we can't be friends (wait for your love) - Ariana Grande [LW: - / WOC: 1]

5. Lose Control - Teddy Swims [LW: #5 / WOC: 19]

6. Scared to Start - Michael Marcagi [LW: #7 / WOC: 9]

7. Stick Season - Noah Kahan [LW: #2 / WOC: 64]

8. yes, and? - Ariana Grande [LW: #12 / WOC: 9]

9. CARNIVAL - Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign (Ft. Playboi Carti & Rich The Kid) [LW: #6 / WOC: 5]

10. Austin - Dasha [LW: #13 / WOC: 4]

Yep, Benson Boone hit number 1 in Ireland. Benson Boone may have failed to keep Kanye off the number 1 in the US, but here, he did a great job, good boy! That being said, while I still don't hate the song, it is becoming increasingly funny to me, and NOT intentionally.

Now, Kanye's still here, but at the very least he dropped down to number 9, small miracles! More importantly to me, Stick Season has FINALLY seen a dip down to number 7, about damn time, even if I like the song!

And it doesn't end there, as we haven't even gotten to Ariana Grande yet: the new single we can't be friends debuted at number 4, and yes, and? rose back up to number 8, along with newcomer Dasha, who shockingly cracked the Top 10! I like Austin just fine, but I was dead sure she was going to be here one day, gone the next, damn!

The Punished and the New

Aside from Dasha and Ari though, this week saw a few uncanny winners. Unfortunately, Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield jumped back up to 11 because fuck me I guess, What Was I Made For? by Billie Eilish rocketed back up to 16 off of the Oscar win, Whatever She Wants by Bryson Tiller continues its impressive momentum up to 34, Belong Together by Mark Ambor's growing virality enabled it to rise to 44, and Kitchen Stove by Pozer is finally becoming a real hit as it cracked the Top 50! Finally, in smaller but hopeful news, Zach Bryan's Oklahoma Smokeshow also rose back up to 78... please could this be a hit, it'd be awesome?

We did have a couple of losses though: unsurprisingly, DNA (Lovin' You) by Billie Gillies continued falling to 56, and Charli XCX's Von dutch fell immediately to 63. Aaaand that's it, so let's get into our new arrivals, starting with Ari:

Title: we can't be friends (wait for your love) by Ariana Grande

Position: #4

I remember saying that Positions felt like Ariana finding peace and happiness in herself as the much happier sequel to thank u, next that gave me a great amount of joy to listen to. So in terms of good vibes, there's no denying that Eternal Sunshine is a step backwards, as it deals with Ariana's crumbling marriage after she allegedly cheated on her partner. However, I wouldn't say that it's a drop in quality necessarily!

If anything, the stakes here are almost as high as on thank u, next, as her last relationship is ruined, she slept with a married man, and yet she still just wants to be happy, desperate to make her wild decisions result in lasting happiness. And I'm in two minds about this: I think it definitely half-asses or simply ignores certain personal issues, such as the fact that she technically pulled a man away from his wife and child, which in fairness, HE deserves just as much scrutiny for! Or that she doesn't so much address the emotional betrayal or question her own morals, instead once again playing the "fine, I'll be the bad guy" card, which feels far less earned than it did on break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored. And yet, there is intriguing drama and pathos to the album!

Anyway, all of that to say that this song is... confused. Coming right after the very cool and dismissive yes, and?, it's a track where Ari addresses her old partner, and while she admits they can't be friends, she'd like to at least be civil. But see, this is where she should have been at her most vulnerable, the point on the album where she shows off how genuinely sorry and hurt she feels that she's doing this to them,.but instead, she just wants the drama to blow over, to let him cool off till he no longer hates her. Which... damn, that is wishful thinking, and possibly the best way to guarantee he'll hold onto resentment, and honestly, that's his right, you can't control that.

Now, it's suitably sad and resigned, and the little synth pop groove sounds good - as does Ariana of course - but once again, I do think it's a bit of an oversimplification which could have been WAY more fleshed out. Pretty decent, but also kind of deluded in my opinion. Do you know what's a LOT better?

Title: bye by Ariana Grande

Position: #15

So I don't think it's controversial to say that this is the best song on Eternal Sunshine. The production is much more lush and showy, as Ari gives her own take on new disco, and it pays off in spades. It's organic, cinematic, and Ari's great performance leads it all to a damn fantastic hook!

It's a classic "Kiss my ass goodbye" anthem that paints a much more nuanced portrait of her home life, where they were having problems even outside of this one incident, driving her to pack her bags and leave, all tinged with frustration and regret. But ultimately, while leaving him hurts, she'd rather do that than repeat the same mistakes. The strings are awesome, the multi-tracking is tight as Hell and Ariana sounds more commanding on this than she has in years.

It's one of the only songs on the project that makes me feel like she's thought things through and is really doing what's best, backed by a killer vocal performance; great song I really hope this one sticks around!

Title: act ii: date @ 8 (Remix) by 4Batz (Ft. Drake)

Position: #28

So if you've been lurking online on Twitter or Reddit recently, you've probably heard of 4Batz, the latest rapper that everybody is calling an industry plant, and with some fairly decent evidence to back them up. I mean much like Olivia Rodrigo, he went viral off of his very first song, and all 3 of his songs have been moderately successful despite him seemingly showing up from out of nowhere. And while act i was kind of refreshing, and act iii felt a little pissy, of course the one that got the least reaction out of me is the one that hits the charts first.

This is pretty enough, but it's fairly boring, honestly, probably the one I would nominate for a remix too... but Drake! Don't get me wrong. Drake has been known to kill some features in the past... I think... I can't remember the last time he did, but I can tell you that it has happened! But this just gives me NOTHING to grasp into, outside of the Dave Chapelle line and the fact that Drake's sing-rapping sounds okay. It's sleepy, droning and boring.

Still, industry plant or no, I'm curious to see how much 4Batz can maintain and capitalise off of his current momentum, especially if he's getting big names like Drake on board. Again though, this shouldn't have been his first hit, justice for act i!

Title: Forever by Noah Kahan

Position: #43

This song has actually been on Irish radio for months. The only reason that we're only talking about it now is because Northern Attitude lost enough points to get knocked off the charts, and as I've said before, the Irish charts only allow an artist to chart their top 3 best performing songs to chart at any one time.

And honestly, I could have done without this one. By the current standard of whiny white guys releasing overwrought, overproduced and badly-written music, this is actually pretty decent. But by the standards that Noah Kahan has set for himself, it's kind of lacklustre. The first half of the song is all quiet build-up and the second half just breaks into jangling upbeatness, but it feels pretty recycled and it's lacking a strong hook. The message is fine enough, where rather than staying around, waiting forever for his life to get better and for someone to love him, he's actually going to put in the work and build himself up so he can get out of there! Kind of played out at this point, but Noah Kahan is a good enough songwriter and performer that I can somewhat buy it.

But it's not that catchy, the production sounds kind of cheap, and unlike other songs where his perseverance feels ramshackle and messy, here the cheapness feels a little bit too cookie-cutter, and I don't entirely buy the instrumental switch on the back half. Not a bad song, but I haven't sought it out once in the last few months it's been playing.

Title: I miss you, I'm sorry by Gracie Abrams

Position: #45

Despite being released in 2020, the song didn't initially see a huge amount of chart success, but through touring with acts like Olivia Rodrigo, MUNA, and even appearing on the Taylor Swift Eras Tour, it earned her enough attention to even get a Grammy nomination this year for Best New Artist. And while the US gets her collaboration with Noah Kahan, we get this little song: a very standard young woman with a piano singing about a relationship that sounds incredibly toxic, but one that she's still mourning in her own ways.

Been there, done that, I know, but at least some of the imagery here is colourful? I'm not sure why she would mourn a relationship she evokes with breaking plates, that would have been my first sign to get the hell out the front door! It just feels desperate, and not in a way I find very compelling. And I don't want to hear the excuse that it's not for me because I can't possibly relate to these scenarios, that's never been an issue with Olivia's music! The truth is that Gracie Abrams is a fine singer, an okay songwriter, and not all that memorable.

The song came out 4 years ago and I can't really say it was worth the wait, there's nothing about it that really stands out in any way. I'd simply much rather listen to the artists she toured with, all of whom can make songs like this sound much more clever and mature, sorry.

Title: Worth It by RAYE

Position: #74

So of the songs I've praised on 21st Century Breakdown, I have to admit this isn't exactly one of my favourites.

Sure. I think the production is cool, with the little funky guitar, the horns, the backing vocals, Raye sounds great over it, and it works decently well with the lyrics. The content revolves around her using this partner for support, promising that one day, all of this effort and care that he's putting into her will feel like it's worth it. But maybe that's the issue, the production here's a little too clean to match the messy content, certainly in contrast to the rest of the album. The song just sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

Still, I suppose it's one of the few moments where Raye sounds like she's succeeding in feeling happier, which... considering the subject matter: yikes! But as a moment of light amid so much bleakness, it's decent. I just don't personally think it's for me.

Title: Mariner Boy by Amble

Position: #82

OH HELL YEAH! Some of you may have heard me say this before, but I love modern bands using the more traditional old-Irish sounds of the past to create new ballads. And next to Ye Vagabonds and Kingfishr, enter Amble, a group that I actually discussed for their song Lonely Island a couple of weeks back, which is ALSO charting and even higher than this at 73, God is that awesome! And while I don't think this song is quite as emotionally devastating as that one, it's still pretty damn good!

See, Amble follows the proud tradition of Irish folk ballads being fucking miserable. This one is from the point of view of a man who works as a mariner, effectively a sailor, who meets this girl whom he falls in love with and is willing to spend the rest of his life with. But she's sad because she knows that at the end of the day, any mariner's first and last love is The Sea. And sure enough, in the final lines, he's back on the ocean, taking comfort in the fact that he'll always carry her name with him as he sails further and further away. It's a very romanticised version of Irish folklore, where being a deadbeat is totally noble and stoic, yes, but as somebody who LOVES Irish folk that feels fresh, rather than just recording endless covers, I think this is great! Certainly far more interesting than all the caterwauling white boy drama near the top of the charts, at least this one has great storytelling, vocals, and killer instrumentation that knows how to take its time. Again, I do think that it's the lesser of their 2 singles on the charts at the moment, but I still highly recommend this.

That being said, Best of the week is going to bye by Ariana Grande, so glad other people are seeing this song's potential, MAKE IT A SINGLE ALREADY! As for the Worst... I don't really hate anything here, so I guess it goes to I miss you, I'm sorry by Gracie Abrams, it's just too leaden and her apologising to this psycho feels very icky.

National Treasures

And now we reach our new all-Irish entries, which make up the Homegrown Top 20. This is the lead-up to St. Paddy's we're seeing here, so of course we're going to start with:

Title: St Patrick Drove a Honda by 2 Johnnies

Position: #6

Some of you are likely very confused as to who the hell these 2 are. Well, if the title didn't make it clear enough, Johnny Smacks and Johnny B are comedians turn singers. And in this, their newest song, they essentially try to trick a bunch of dumb American tourists - not my words, theirs - that the story of St. Patrick involved him driving a Honda Civic to chase ALMOST all the snakes out of Ireland.

I do like that they poke fun at the Irish too, as St. Patrick wasn't even fucking Irish and he certainly didn't chase all the snakes out of Ireland, you can still find some in the Dáil, and while the production is pretty shoddy and meat-headed, and the refrain of "Go Paddy, go Paddy" feels like a football chant that I would not want to be anywhere near, it's just supposed to be good fun.

Do I personally find it just a tad too obnoxious to listen to and enjoy above, say, a Ninja Sex Party record? Well, yeah, but I appreciate it for what it is, and I respect the lads for trying to have some fun on a day that's all about celebration. Carry on, lads, carry on.

Title: Brown Boots by Danny Byrne Band

Position: #10

The Danny Byrne band is the OTHER kind of traditional Irish bands to Amble, where a lot of their music is more about being upbeat and fun, more in the vein of the Tumbling Paddies. And while there's a place for that, I just find it a lot less emotionally compelling, albeit still being a good time.

This song is a little different though, almost trying to find a middle ground between the 2. The production and tempo are upbeat, but the tones are much more minor, while the lyrics are about an unrequited love that didn't work out, but he still finds himself wandering aimlessly down her road at times. It's supposed to be sad, but their lead singer sounds more constipated than distraught, he REALLY doesn't have the range to pull this off. The song feels like it's trying to be too much, both a song people can sing and dance to in stadiums, but also trying to be more serious and forlorn, and it just doesn't quite work. I like bits of it, but as a whole, nah. If you want an Irish band with a lot more range to them:

Title: Like a Lesson by Pillow Queens

Position: #18

Oh YES! These women have been some of the most acclaimed musicians to come out of Ireland in the past decade, and after their last amazing album Leave The Light On, I've been fully onboard, especially with such killer singles like Be By Your Side and Hearts & Minds! And while Gone was a slight step back after the excellent Suffer, Like A Lesson is a STRONG return to form!

The steel guitars and drums that open this up feel almost Springsteen-esque, an accusatory song challenging a lover who's planning on leaving her after "learning so much", to which she rightfully says "fuck you"! And yet next to the indignation, there's also that fear of loneliness, clinging onto this person in spite of her shame.

It's the Pillow Queens at their best, with a killer riff, writing that makes them look flawed and human, while still being defiant and pissed. Can't wait for that album, April can't come fast enough!

And that's our week! 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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