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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 13 (Too Sweet, Like That, obsessed, Slow It Down, and more)

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

And this week is BUSY, sorry for the delay! Because we had 3 - count them - 3 ALBUMS that impacted the Irish charts in a major way this week, from Metro Boomin, Olivia Rodrigo, and of course, Ireland's own Hozier! And while that last one is just an EP, it is worth noting that all 3 of them got 3 debuts apiece, and Hozier in particular actually had the biggest debut of the week!

The Top 10

Which brings us to our Top 10:

1. Beautiful Things - Benson Boone [LW: #1 / WOC: 10]

2. End Of Beginning - Djo [LW: #2 / WOC: 7]

3. we can't be friends (wait for your love) - Ariana Grande [LW: #3 / WOC: 3]

4. Texas Hold 'Em - Beyoncé [LW: #4 / WOC: 7]

5. Lose Control - Teddy Swims [LW: #5 / WOC: 21]

6. Scared to Start - Michael Marcagi [LW: #6 / WOC: 11]

7. Too Sweet - Hozier [LW: - / WOC: 1]

8. Austin - Dasha [LW: #8 / WOC: 6]

9. Stick Season - Noah Kahan [LW: #7 / WOC: 66]

10. Like That - Future & Metro Boomin (Ft. Kendrick Lamar) [LW: #13 / WOC: 5]

Yeah, while the Top 6 didn't budge at all, Hozier debuted at number 7, and Like That debuted at number 10! Good for them, I'm excited to talk about them both in more detail.

The Punished and the New

Now, considering last week we had a lot of Irish hits celebrating Paddy's Day and the albums bombs this week, the chart was effectively blown up overnight. And this made for a few winners... but MOSTLY losers. Mark Ambor's Belong Together rose up to 14, Von dutch by Charli XCX bounced back to 47, and Never Be Lonely by Jax Jones rose up to 86, all songs growing fairly naturally, barring the second one which gained a boost from addison rae & a.g. cook. Most excitingly of all, local Irish act Amble saw their gorgeous song Lonely Island see a boost of to 73. I'm under no allusions this would be a hit... but wouldn't that be nice?

As for our losers, there was a lot: it's slight, but CARNIVAL did drop to 15, thank fuck! Yes, we also lost bye by Ariana Grande to 25, but if we lose the former, it's worth it! Then Unwritten immediately flopped back down to 33, Murder On The Dancefloor sadly also lost its remaining momentum to number 40, the Drake remix of Act II with 4Batz continued its decline to 45, and Never Lose Me by Flo Milli did NOT maintain its success post-album as it fell to 53. Next there was Lovin On Me by Jack Harlow bowing out of the Top 50 at 56, BURN by Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign thankfully did the same at number 60, and Noah Kahan's starpower finally seems to be waning as Dial Drunk fell to 57 and Forever to 64. I'm not done btw *deep breath* YG Marley's Praise Jah In The Moonlight dropped to 66, Kitchen Stove by Pozer sadly collapsed to 75, local Irish hits like Zombie and The Way I Am naturally trickled off to 80 and 81 respectively, and late-2023 hits like On My Love by Zara Larsson and Strangers by Kenya Grace finally made their exits at 82 and 85. AND let's not forget Lessons by Dermot Kennedy plummeting down to 90, Selfish by Justin Timberlake petered out pathetically to 91, exes by Tate McRae is suddenly down to 95, aaaaand One Call by Rich Amiri is at 96! WHEW!

Finally, we had 1 song that moved the ACR this week... and I'm not mad about it:

Whatever by Kygo & Ava Max - number 15 -> 43

Good fucking riddance, what an absolute waste of space! And now, some far more worthwhile material, starting with:

Title: Too Sweet by Hozier

Position: #7

No point mincing words: the second I heard this, I got a huge smile on my face. I adored Eat Your Young last year as the lead-off single to Unreal Unearth, and to me, this song has that same immediate appeal to it!

No, it's not quite as good as that song - it's missing the biting political message and the grandiose stakes aren't there, the scope is much smaller, boiling down to a love he can't quite return - but it still has that same gothic swell, it arguably fits his vocal range better and and the chorus is FAR to catchy to ignore! As he turns down you love because "you're too sweet for him", as a guy who likes his coffee black, his whiskey neat, and his lovers just a little bit damaged... even if he does describe your mouth as "Heaven's Gate"! Is it healthy? Nope, in fact he admits there are ways in which you COULD actually be very good for him! But there's an undeniable swagger to a guy who knows what he likes that is just undeniably pretty attractive!

It's not exactly a complicated song, but with such a catchy hook, that killer bassline that really brings the mix together, and that expansive mix that makes it feel larger than life... yeah, I fucking love this! Normally I'd be worried that nothing else could compete with a song like this for Best of the week, but we've got some heavy hitters to sort though here, starting with:

Title: Like That by Future & Metro Boomin (Ft. Kendrick Lamar)

Position: #10

I've never been a Future fan. Outside of very isolated moments like Mask Off, Low Life and WAIT FOR U, I really haven't enjoyed his output at all, with certain projects genuienly being among the worst of their respective years. But look, Metro Boomin has been on a tear over the last few years, he is a fantastic producer, so I was curious what they would end up making together. And while the project is undeniably a little bloated, it has quite a few moments that work, and none more so than THIS!

Now I know the song blew up because of the Kendrick verse, which we'll get to, but Metro Boomin deserves a lot of props too, with the careening synths that open it up and which sporadically pop back into the bell-and-bass heavy mix, sampling Eazy E to perfection! It even makes Future seem decent, as his sleepier delivery is really elevated by it. Sure, I think him opening and closing the song feels like overkill, you could have cut the song short after Kenny's verse... and it seems like Metro agrees with me, as he starts to fade Future out before he's done at the end of the track!

But yeah, let's be real, it's the Kendrick verse that steals the show, and for good reason! I like First Person Shooter, but I did always find it funny that Cole called Drake, Kendrick and himself the Big 3, considering that's an awfully chummy way to regard your competition, and how J. Cole utterly BODIED Drake on that track! And Kendrick agrees, as most of his disses seem laser-focused on Drake, with Cole only getting a light diss as he makes it clear they're not "The Big 3", K-dot's just "Big Me". And fair, hip hop was born on this type of competition on who's the best, and in this vicious verse, Kendrick proves that battling him would be career suicide for Drake... maybe Cole would have a shot - I do genuinely prefer Cole's verse on First Person Shooter to Kendrick's verse here, make of that what you will - but again, the lines here are definitely more directed at Drake: Fuck sneak-dissin' - Drake is known for working almost purely in subliminals

Prince outlived Mike Jack - Drake has compared himself to the king of pop on multiple occasions, and yet the much more progressive and stylistically challenging Prince lived longer both in life and reputation, which is what Kendrick aspires to

Fore all your dogs gettin' buried That's a K with all these nines, he gon' see Pet Sematary - ... I mean do I need to spell it out? And for what it's worth, there are multiple references to Drake throughout the entire tracklist of this album, so it seems Future and Metro Boomin are calling Drake out almost as vehemently. And in what's arguably been a tough couple of years for mainstream hip hop, this is the kind of spark that could and SHOULD burn into a roaring fire that could reignite hip hop's relevance in a big way. Let's see if anyone dares respond!

Title: i like the way you kiss me by Artemas

Position: #11

So I ended up enjoying if you think I'm pretty waaaaay more than I was expecting, so much so that it was actually in my highlights of the best tracks released in February, check it out if you haven't! But everything else I've heard has been a little bit lacklustre and this is no exception.

It doesn't help that Artemas himself sort of sounds like The Kid LAROI if his balls dropped an inch, and while his attitude towards relationships seems better at first, this is still a song where his own self-loathing prevents him from being fully vulnerable with a girl who he admits he enjoyed kissing. So he will "hit her from the back", which isn't healthy by any means. Then again, this persona shows some room for growth, not unlike early Weeknd.

What I think is much more interesting is the production, which pulls a lot more from post punk this time around! Shame this isn't quite as experimental or doesn't build up its crescendo the way his last single did, but while the premise here may be less interesting, I still find it more enjoyable than it probably should be. Maybe I just want to see where this guy's career goes, who knows?

Title: obsessed by Olivia Rodrigo

Position: #12

I already named Guts one of the best albums of last year, and while I'm always trepidatious of B-side tracks getting this type of push, I personally think that this project would have been a fascinating addition to the project's narrative, because GOD is this absolutely fire!

That distorted punk rock groove, with just the right amount of industrial distortion, as she details out in comically over-the-top fashion just how much she follows your ex to an obsessive degree, driven by uncontrollable jealousy and entirely unsure if you're thinking about her. It's in-your-face, toxic and certainly not healthy, but Olivia plays it up so damn well!

It's hard to find much to say about it, it's just so full of personality that shows off Olivia's growth as a performer so well. Once again, I kind of wish it had been on Guts, because it's fantastic! MAN does that bass go hard! And between you and me: not even the best songs from Guts (Spilled), that's impressive!

Title: so american by Olivia Rodrigo

Position: #18

And yet from pretty much the opposite perspective, this centers on the guy himself, specifically how everything he does is fucking perfect, to the point where she gets bored at their conversations when they aren't all about him.

Once again, extremely over-the-top, where she loves the books he reads, his accent, and the way he calls her "so American", very much playing up the obsession that people can feel with anything they deem "exotic", except cranked up to 11. And honestly, with those phenomenal guitars and drums, I think it sounds fucking terrific.

I don't think it's quite as funny as the last song - Olivia can play jealousy a little bit better than obsessive love in my opinion, and yes, there's a distinction - but I still think this is really damn good.

Title: Type Shit by Future & Metro Boomin (Ft. Travis Scott & Playboi Carti)

Position: #26

I've seen a few people call this one of the best songs on the album, and not just the Playboi Carti stans. And having listened to it multiple times... I don't know if I get it?

Future and Travis are at least somewhat trying, and the production compliments their styles, especially with that phenomenal beat switch. But the way that almost every line ends with "type shit" gets REALLY old after a while, especially on a song that goes to nearly four minutes! And Playboi Carti once again adds absolutely nothing to this, I still don't understand why anyone gives this guy any credit whatsoever, certainly after the Kanye cosign! But what I will say for the song is the production is fucking excellent! The bells on the first beat, followed by the swampy electric guitars and synths on the second one, I think they sound great!

Metro really knows how to work with his performers to make them sound as good as possible... just not quite well enough to keep me invested the whole way through such a repetitive song.

Title: Cinderella by Future & Metro Boomin (Ft. Travis Scott)

Position: #29

Honestly, this works way better for me as a whole!

Not quite as slow, that low trap bass is awesome, and I actually think Future brings a lot more energy to this than he does on either of the other 2 songs discussed so far. And while yes, it's simplistic and repetitive in terms of the rhythm, I think that the way that he emphasizes certain phrases like the "Rosetta Stone" line elevates it slightly for me. I do wish the Travis Scott hadn't imitated that flow in quite the same way though, it does make the song feel a little longer than it should, yet again. But hey, at least this time it's only up to about 3 minutes instead of 4, right?

So I do think that this is better, but there are better songs on that Metro Boomin album that could have at least been a little closer than Like That than these 2, just saying.

Title: Slow It Down by Benson Boone

Position: #31

Okay, so after Beautiful Things blew up, I was expecting the follow-up to be underwhelming - yes, I stand by Beautiful Things is his best song, even if it does NOT stand up to repeated listens - and yet this song... how are more people not talking about this?! Because make no mistake, this is one of those songs where I don't know if I absolutely fucking detest it, or if it's just a colossal misfire that I kind of admire!

Because Benson Boone aimed shockingly high with this one! It is made explicitly clear that this girl he's eyeing up is a virgin, sworn to celibacy because of her religion. And after they have sex together, she breaks down in tears, as all that guilt at betraying her faith hit her all at once, that's pretty fucking heavy! But how is Benson Boone going to deal with it? Well, to his credit, he doesn't just dismiss her feelings: he attempts to calm her down, to make her realise they're still young, they're allowed to make mistakes, and the overwhelming guilt she's feeling is unfounded, while also not explicitly dismissing them OR her religion, which would be the easy way out that would paint him as a huge asshole. It's ALMOST tactful... except he's clearly panicking, proclaiming the only girl that hasn't left him is his mother - weird - and clearly terrified this girl's going to leave him too.

It's essentially a song where both parties are so in their own heads and overthinking to the nth degree, but it's uncomfortable by design, certainly not something I'd ever expect to see on the charts! It feels too advanced for someone like Benson to make, and I honestly admire the ambition! But I think I respect the balls it took to make this more than I like the song, especially with Benson's caterwauling, the plunky production that feels like it's ripping off Slow Hands by now Horan, and ... yeah, it's just a very weird vibe, I don't exactly feel comfortable or clean while listening to it! We'll see how it ages, but I wouldn't say it's terrible, at least not yet.

Title: stranger by Olivia Rodrigo

Position: #32

Of have the 3 new Olivia tracks that debuted this week, this is definitely the one that feels the most like a B side, but that doesn't mean it's the worst one!

It's probably my second-favourite after obsessed, an acoustic ballad that does sound good, but might just need a couple more re-writes to fully stand out. As is, the lyrics are describing a failed relationship where Olivia can't help but feel grateful for the time they spent together and what the future may hold with these learned life lessons. It could have strayed into same insensitive territory... except Olivia herself such a good performer and the songwriting as is is still SO solid, that I end up enjoying the joy she feels way more than I was expecting.

Either way, it’s certainly better than the fucking Lewis Capaldi song of the same name, and ultimately, while it may not be the best, I think it's still definitely worth your time!

Title: Wildflower and Barley by Hozier & Allison Russell

Position: #35

The buzz I've been seeing around the song has been interesting, with a lot of people actually looking forward to it as the most hyped song on the EP! The long-awaited collab between Hozier and Allison Russell, that could have been the new Nina Cried Power... and instead is a much more mid-tempo tune with, yes, some gorgeous vocals, but lyrics focused less on struggle and more on finding a moment of happiness amid the crushing pandemic during which it was written.

First off, as someone with zero expectations going into this, this is fucking GORGEOUS, a light acoustic ballad where Allison and Hozier's voices blend together beautifully, and her haunting additions to the chorus give me fucking chills! And the song is all about harmony, trying to find a moment of respite in the sanctuary of nature, amid the wildflowers that grow untamed, and the barley that is grown with purpose to serve modern society. The song is all about the balance between the tamed and untamed parts of nature, what we can control and what we very much can't, trying to find happiness in a moment where things are so bleak and dire, a balance that's all the harder to appreciate during a fucking pandemic.

So I do genuinely love this... but I honestly find myself going back to Too Sweet more, it's just the more immediate song, at least for now. But with the gorgeous poetry and acoustic production on this, I personally think this would have been right at home on Unreal Unearth; another great fucking song, what a week!

Title: Empire Now by Hozier

Position: #39

This is another song that received a mixed response, primarily because the crunchier side of the instrumental feels more rooted in electronic elements, missing the pure organic sound of some of Hozier's similarly grandiose songs like, say, It Will Come Back! And yes, I do kind of wish that he had just stuck with those thundering guitars, but I'd argue the choice to bring in those inorganic elements was part of the point.

I love the content here, waxing poetic about the new Irish Empire breaking free of the clutches of its masters in the UK, and yet while there's an inherent sense of nationalistic pride... when your country has been run by oppressors for so long, the society that comes out of it is going to be shaky and almost infantile in some cases! Hence the shortcomings of modern-day Ireland, with its extortionate cost of living, its awful healthcare, and its general sense of dismissiveness when it comes to mental health! I personally think it's a little easy to blame all that on the UK, and I think Hozier agrees, but the line can still certainly be drawn.

It's a song all about that weird double-edged sword called independence, where freedom can leave a vacuum with long-lasting consequences. I think this song is really damn powerful, even if again, I do wish the production had been a little more polished. It could have been on the level of the other 2 Hozier songs covered today, but as is, it's still really good!

Title: Happier by The Blessed Madonna (Ft. Clementine Douglas)

Position: #65

I was looking forward to this! Both of these artists have proven themselves to be experimental and forward thinking, as Asking last year was trying way harder than most, and Marea (we lost dancing) is one of the best Almost Hits of the decade so far! So a collab between the two could have been amazing... and yet I find myself ultimately underwhelmed.

Don't get me wrong. I think that for what this is, it's quite good, as Clementine Douglas looks back on a relationship where in a weird way she both is and hopes that her partner is now happier without her, having moved on. She sounds terrific and I think the drum'n'bass beat is pretty decent. But what frustrates me is that for 2 artists known for innovation, this feels very by-the-numbers and basic. The bridge is the only part that feels like it's really allowed to breathe, and even then, it doesn't really do a huge amount with that freedom.

So again, good song for what it is, I just don't know how much I'm going to be coming back to it.

Title: Been Like This by Meghan Trainor & T-Pain

Position: #79

That is not a collaboration that I would ever have expected, considering they're both inspired by VERY different eras of music! But look, if they're gonna team up to make a fuck-the-body-shamers anthem, there's a chance that could work well. In practice though... sheesh.

For someone who's so obsessed with 50s retro throwbacks, you'd think Meghan would invest more in her production! As is, the horns feel really tacky, she's covered this type of topic before on Lips Are Moving, and she and T-Pain just have NO synergy, as his abrasive autotune clashes pretty jarringly with her aesthetic here. Sure, he has WAY more raw charisma than she does, but he gets off-track really quick, as while she's singing about people expecting her to ascribe to a body type she doesn't have, he's talking about taking you to the Mile High Club... and still defensively insisting he's "been like this", accept him or get lost!

Ultimately, I don't think it's either artist's worst song, but it's just awkward and poorly thought-out, not to mention strangely unrefined and rushed in spots. If you're going to collab on something this defensive, at least agree on what your stance is first!

Title: someday i'll get it by Alek Olsen

Position: #100

The interesting thing about UMG severing all ties with TikTok is that it has allowed certain artists to find more success amid a lot less competition on that platform. Enter Alek Olsen, a Norwegian artist who apparently has a fairly big following, reaching 15 million Spotify streams in 2023.

But outside of his home country, it seems like he's finally starting to blow up thanks to this 90-second song which he wrote as an acoustic breakup ballad, which TikTok users mainly appear to be using to underscore tributes to lost pets... funnnn! It's pretty sad and decently written, I just don't think this little snippet is going to make him a star. It can barely count as a full track, but for what it is - and despite the amateurish instrumental and vocal production - I do think that the writing lifts it up a bit.

So you know what, maybe there's hope for Alek yet. I just wouldn't hold my breath.

So now we have to pick our Best and Worst of the week, and honestly, this is really tough! And for the best reasons too: I didn't hate anything and there was just SO much quality to choose from! But ultimately, after some soul-searching, I think I have to give Worst of the week to Been Like This by Meghan Trainor & T-Pain; it's not terrible, but it's just such a mess of a track. And Best of the week is a fucking tie between Olivia Rodrigo and Hozier, for obsessed and Too Sweet respectively, 2 phenomenal songs that are B-sides from some of my favourite projects of last year, that's impressive!

National Treasures

And now we reach our new all-Irish entries, which make up the Homegrown Top 20. And with the cooldown after St. Paddy's we managed to get some new blood, joining Hozier in the Top 10:

Title: LONDON LIDO by Kojaque

Position: #10

If you STILL don't know Kojaque, check out my Best albums of 2023 or my Best songs of 2021, he's incredible! And after winning my prestigious award for my favourite rap album of last year, he should be on everybody's radar as one of the best MCs currently working in the game! And with him ALSO releasing B-sides from that project, this is the first full song released... and surprise, it's fucking awesome!

Maybe it's not quite the most banger that is Town's Dead - a very high bar that I don't think he's going to clear anytime soon - but London Lido still kicks all amounts of ass! With its industrial, distorted instrumental, its rye humor as the big Dublin rapper realises he's not a big shot overseas, and the eventual existentialism as he wanders around the country that used to subjugate his home. Soooo he plays into it, being as confrontational as he can, even stating he wants to "watch the Queenie kick the bucket", a line which is definitely supposed to raise some eyebrows from his UK listeners.

And God bless him for it, this track goes absolutely bananas! And Kojaque proves yet again why he is one of the best rappers working today. Check this guy out, for the love of good taste!

Title: It Is You That's Driving Me by Marty Mone

Position: #16

Aaaaand speaking of Irish artists, who've made my top 100 songs of 2023...

Yeah, last year, Marty Mone's Full of the Blade was one of the most fun and ridiculous country songs of last year, with an unforgettable banjo-driven melody and a set of lyrics that always brought a smile to my face, as an incredibly horny hookup jam that focuses more on the truck than his paramour.

And this is basically similar, but not as good. The melody is still really good, adding a bit more sizzle and twang to the mix, slowing the tempo, and doubling down on the accent to hammy results. As he drives towards her, with her so utterly in his mind, that he almost feels like she's driving him... his lover that is, not his truck... right?

Yeah, it's literally an inferior copy of his 2023 smash, from the innuendos to the fact that he talks more about his truck than his girlfriend. Except lightning didn't even strike twice with the writing, as it's a lot less funny and less ambiguous, to the point where it took me multiple listens to even recognise the driving puns. Technically subtler, but I don't think less was more in this case.

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!

1 Comment

Find it interesting that out of the two triple album-bomb weeks covered since the show began, the three albums covered were, respectively, by an Irish artist (Hozier/Picture This), a popular American female artist (Olivia Rodrigo/Doja Cat) and a hip-hop album, whose title is coincidentally stylized in all caps (Future & Metro Boomin/Tyler, The Creator)

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