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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 14 (Jolene, II Most Wanted, Lady Killers II, I Luv It, and more)

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

And welcome to a SIGNIFICANTLY calmer week; my last post is my most fast-growing one in a while, and I get why, it was stacked! This one's got way fewer new arrivals, but considering it was the week of Cowboy Carter, I was preparing myself for a deluge of Beyoncé... and yet the album's arrival felt surprisingly muted, at least here in Ireland.

The Top 10

Case in point, she didn't really impact the Top 10:

1. Beautiful Things - Benson Boone [LW: #1 / WOC: 11]

2. Too Sweet - Hozier [LW: #7 / WOC: 2]

3. Texas Hold 'Em - Beyoncé [LW: #4 / WOC: 8]

4. End Of Beginning - Djo [LW: #3 / WOC: 8]

5. i like the way you - Artemas [LW: #11 / WOC: 2]

6. we can't be friends (wait for your love) - Ariana Grande [LW: #3 / WOC: 4]

7. Scared to Start - Michael Marcagi [LW: #6 / WOC: 12]

8. Lose Control - Teddy Swims [LW: #5 / WOC: 22]

9. Austin - Dasha [LW: #8 / WOC: 7]

10. Belong Together - Mark Ambor [LW: #14 / WOC: 5]

That's right, despite my initial fears, Hozier actually surged up to number 2! This might just mean that Too Sweet could be his first real hit with legs in a while, and considering how fantastic I think it is, MAN do I hope so! Now in fairness, Beyoncé did see a slight boost for Texas Hold 'Em up to number 3, but again, not the titanic boost I would have expected, and both of her other singles debuted outside of the Top 10.

And the surprises continue, as Artemas also saw his first entry into the Top 10 with i like the way you kiss me, a song I'll admit has grown on me in the past week; something about this guy's hooks and production just hook you, and it's seeing MASSIVE online traction. Same can be said for Alex Warren's Belong Together at number 10, and while it's not amazing, it's at least charmingly corny, I'm glad we have this instead of more self-pitying bellyaching!

The Punished and the New

This week saw some movements across the charts, though most were just late fall-out from last week's bombshell. The first sign is that Benson Boone's Slow It Down leapt up to number 17, even though it's objectively a really weird song that kind of gives me the ick. Can't wait to see it get taken out of context on TikTok, yayyy bedding girls sworn to celibacy leading them to guilt-ridden breakdowns! MUCH more pleasantly, JUNGLE's Back On 74 is FINALLY back in the Top 40 at number 31, after literal MONTHS of being in limbo! Please make this a real hit, I've really been getting into it over the past few months! Then you had Happier by The Blessed Madonna & Clementine Douglas jumping up to 36 off its debut, Been Like This by Meghan Trainor and T-Pain unfortunately doing the same up to 51, Before You Leave Me by Alex Warren regained some ground to 57 (more on why later), and finally Someday I'll Get It by Alek Olsen saw a small boost to 86, don't expect that to last.

As for our losers, it was mostly expected drop-offs after last week's 3 album bombs. Olivia's so american and stranger dropped to 32 and 53, while Young Metro's Cinderella and Type Shit fell to 58 and 59. Meanwhile bye by Ariana Grande frustratingly continued to drop to 34 (what are you DOING, just make it an official single!!!), Von dutch by Charli XCX immediately lost all momentum back down to 61, Praise Jah in the Moonlight continued its graceful exit down to 79, Water by Tyla fell back to 85 as the Irish public simply didn't listen to her album, and finally, Lonely Island by Amble fell back to 90; kind of a shame, but it still did better than I'd ever expected, hope they can get luckier next time!

Also sidenote before we get to our new arrivals, we saw Take Me To Church by Hozier return to the charts yet again - no surprise - but we also saw The Man Who Can't Be Moved by The Script, Sex On Fire by Kings of Leon, Have You Ever Seen The Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and fucking Drive By by Train all returned to the charts as well... I can only assume TikTok's to blame, since Ireland doesn't measure radio play, but HUH?!

And now:

Title: JOLENE by Beyoncé

Position: #11

So I've thought a lot about my feelings towards this Beyoncé album and this song in particular. Because I think it highlights both the strengths and the flaws of Cowboy Carter very well. For one, it's taking classic country pastiche and making it her own, which is both a great thing in the sense that she's forging her own path and not just copying the genre, but also shows a level of defensiveness and insecurity that Beyoncé has towards country as a modern genre.

And while some trepidation of that is certainly justified, this reinterpretation in particular shows off the big, glaring issue of the entire project, namely that Beyoncé finds it very hard to be vulnerable on this album. Compared to Lemonade, where yes, she was angry and standing up for herself, she would frequently call out her husband even more than "Becky with the good hair", or Jolene, in this case. Here though, the change in the lyrics makes it a "keep your hands off my man" anthem, defending her man and his terrible behavior 8 whole years after that cheating scandal that DID happen, Jay Z fucking cheated! And while she may have forgiven him, the way this album seems so intent on putting other women down is pretty jarring.

And look, I know that the Carters want to put up this united front, but if you're going to take a classic song like Jolene and then flip it in this way, you've got to understand and respect that the original had nuance and pathos, the reason we felt for her is that she was playing the underdog. This, by contrast, comes across as really defensive. Sure, the production is quite immaculate and Beyoncé herself sounds incredible, pretty much across the entire album in fact. But there's a sourness to it that prevents me from fully buying into it. I suppose it's one of the better songs on the album - at least it fully committed to its idea - but I still don't think it's anything amazing.

Title: II MOST WANTED by Beyoncé (Ft. Miley Cyrus)

Position: #13

Amid all the samples and country-themed references, there are some good ideas on Cowboy Carter... just not that many that are properly fleshed out to completion, which is why 16 CARRIAGES is still far and away the best song on the project in my opinion. Still, if I had to pick another very strong contender, the collab with Miley would definitely be up there.

What can I say? While I do think that Miley's vocals are definitely inferior to Beyoncé's and that is very noticeable - lacking the vocal synergy she had with Dua Lipa, or Beyoncé with Lady Gaga - I also think their performance chemistry is great! Playing up the "girls got to stick together" trope that I really wish more of the album did, as a Bonnie &... well, more a Thelma & Louise-esque anthem of 2 outlaws out on the run. And dear God is it also nice to hear a song this well-produced! Don't get me wrong, the album's scope is frequently huge, with Beyoncé herself is killing it on almost every single track, but the production doesn't always rise to the same level, frequently sounding more underproduced then it should considering the obvious budget.

Here though, it all comes together: the distant steel guitars, that subtle bass, the perpetual acoustics, the warm harmonies, and the violins ebbing in and out, it all sounds gorgeous! Ultimately, it's simply a great ballad about 2 people who have felt underestimated for so long, and yet are a force to be reckoned with, either alone, and especially together! It's a great song, I hope this one sticks around.

Title: Revival by Zach Bryan

Position: #55

Wow, remember when we covered Oklahoma Smoke Show a few weeks back? Well this one's even older, actually from Zach's 2020 album Elisabeth, the same project that gave us Heading South, which has comfortably become one of my favourite songs from him! Now as to why it's here... well, apparently Bruce Fucking Springsteen showed up to a Zach Bryan concert to sing it alongside him, together with some contributions from Maggie Rogers, holy SHIT that's awesome!

As for the song itself, it's structured as a bunch of guys attempting to find redemption and solace in the eyes of God, inspired by classic musicians they play when together like Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. It's both a revival of one's soul and of the artists that inspired them, almost sounding like something Eric Church would have dropped on Mr Misunderstood 9 years ago.

Now, I do think the songwriting could be slightly more fleshed out, both in the transgressions they're begging forgiveness for, as well as their references to classic singers, but for what it is, this showed that Zach was already showcasing plenty of talent long before he blew up. Glad this is here, and check out the live version with Springsteen and Rogers, it's awesome!

Title: All My Love by Noah Kahan

Position: #63

Another week another Noah Kahan hit, worming its way onto the charts after the last one was presumably moved to ACR. And you know that we're really getting desperate when we're promoting songs like this and Forever.

Not that I think this is bad. The jangling banjo, and what I think might be a mandolin, are nice, and purely based on the title, you wouldn't expect the content to get quite so muddy until you get into the details! Where this woman he used to date comes back to their small ttown after decades. And all these years later, he's still there, and things are pretty much the same: he's still on drugs, his parents barely speak, and even despite all the hurt that he's clearly feeling, he's ready to just forget all that and give her all his love yet again, pick up where they left off... even though he fully admits he has NOT changed. To be clear, she expresses no interest in him, he just assumes that he's the reason she must be back, the latest in a slew of Noah's characters that are pathetic messes.

Now, the song has a few issues: for one, I don't know why he keeps bringing up car sex, as he does so in multiple different ways. And for another, I think the chorus is kind of weak, it's not a great sign that every time I try to remember it, I just hear On My Love by Zara Larsson, probably not the best sign. But for what it is, it's probably a C-tier Noah Kahan song, it's still decent enough, just not one I see myself returning to much.

Title: Lady Killers II (Christoph Andersson Remix) by G-Eazy

Position: #65

TikTok. ... Honestly tempted to just leave it at that.

Okay fine, the original Lady Killers II was released by G-Eazy in 2012. And while personally, I've never been a fan of this guy, let alone his early stuff, I will say that it's not a terrible song, basically about him being left alone by a woman and wallowing in self pity, which I think is humourously ironic for a song with that title.

The version that has been becoming popular though, is the Anderson remix, which actually dropped a couple of years afterwards. And it's only recently been growing in popularity, once again entirely thanks to TikTok, primarily the line about "make her disappear just like poof, then she's gone." And look, putting aside the trend, I think the song just sounds incredibly dated. It's clearly working with a lower budget, from around the 2014 era of hip-hop and pop remixes, where popular music just felt like it was in limbo.

And that's how I feel about this song: it's certainly better than some of Gerald's popular songs - and thank GOD none of his new stuff is charting, it is toxic as fuck - but I also would not call it good or all that memorable, at least personally.

Title: I LUV IT by Camila Cabello (Ft. Playboi Carti)

Position: #71

What the fuck are you doing?

No, seriously, I have, on multiple occasions, called Tate McRae a Camila Cabello rip-off, and I stand by that. But I'll say this for Tate McRae, when she makes songs like greedy or exes, she knows it's in her wheelhouse, even if her vocal range is pretty limited and kind of dogshit in spots. Whereas this just seems utterly desperate and directionless: the droning synth low line, the bleeping higher one - both of which feel like someone completely misunderstanding how hyperpop is supposed to work, but doing it anyway - the utterly wretched lyrics, and that chorus can absolutely go fuck itself, not even building to anything beyond repeating "I love it, I love it, I love it" ad nauseam! Sure, it might not be as annoying as something like Oliver Tree's "Life Goes On and On and On", but at least THAT song had a stronger melody, and felt better constructed than this! This entire track feels half-assed as fuck, I would barely know that this was created by one of the most successful women currently working in the industry, who's had successful hits within the last 2 years! And then I saw the Playboi Carti feature, and I suddenly got it.

I'm not gonna say it all made sense - the song is far to haphazard for anyone to claim that - but it showed me that Camila feels compelled to really chase hits after her last album somewhat underperformed. So why not team up with Playboi Carti, a man whom she has NO artistic chemistry with, but who will guarantee that his delusional fanbase will get behind this single?! Predictably, he adds fucking nothing to this, his half-assed mumbled delivery continuously taunting me with the fact that this guy is famous for no fucking reason at all, as genuinely one of the most talentless artists working today.

This is a song that simply doesn't deserve to exist. It's unfinished, abortive, and definitely doesn't doesn't inspire any sort of confidence in whatever Camila's next album is. The only solace I have is that they miscalculated: nobody seems to like this, as it seems both artists colossally misjudged what their fans would want to hear! It united the internet in how goddamn awful it was, a song so terrible that I can't even get any enjoyment out of it. I'm just disappointed in her, and that's not even something I thought was possible for Camila Cabello!

Title: Save You A Seat by Alex Warren

Position: #89

Okay, I will admit that this song really made me feel very emotional. I'd heard it in the background a fair few times, and compared to Before You Leave Me, I thought that Alex Warren had created a song that sounded much more organic and a natural fit for his rich vocals.

Then there's the songwriting, a song dedicated to his parents, neither of whom will be attending his wedding as they're both up in heaven. It's genuinely a very emotional song and the lines about wanting his dad to meet his mum up in Heaven, and how he's save them a seat at his wedding, those got to me! Now, I do think the song is missing a little bit of refinement. I won't be too critical - because again, this is clearly very personal to him - but I do think a tribute to both your parents should mention your mum more than once, rather than have the entire song directed at your dad. The delivery is also very controlled, you're not going to get the tear-jerking raw vocals of Ed Sheeran's Visiting Hours on this, but again, considering this must have been an incredibly hard song to make, I still think this song was worth keeping around.

I really hope that this gets a big enough boost to pass his other single that's currently charting.

Which brings us to our Best and Worst, which fall out very quickly: II Most Wanted by Miley Cyrus & Beyoncé, win Best, while Worst goes to I LUV IT by Camila Cabello & Playboi Carti, winning by a mile, seriously, fuck this track!

National Treasures

And now we reach our new all-Irish entries, which make up the Homegrown Top 20. Sidenote, the 9 spots on the chart didn't move AT ALL, which is pretty surreal! And with that we only got 1 new song, from an old friend:

Title: Self Sabotage by 49th & Main

Position: #15

Part of me is a little sad I wasn't covering these charts more closely in 2022. Because I missed out on covering 49th & Main's smash single Believe In Love, a surprisingly gorgeous house song with choral vocals and horns, utilising its more electronic elements to expand the mix and add in little skipping effects and vocal loops that made it feel alive and vibrant, still a great song to this day!

And this is another pretty compelling track, a deeply track begging to find someone to tell our protagonist to stop, otherwise he'll just go till he drops. It's made clear that this person thought they had someone they could rely on, but ever since that person abandoned them, they're on the brink of utter collapse, whether that be physically or emotionally. The vocals are quite lovely, although I think I prefer the first, richer voice to the second, more plaintive one. Meanwhile the instrumental is fairly standard house, outside of these really gorgeous wind instruments that give the song a lot more unique character.

The woodwind drop at the very end is especially lovely... but then it just stops, cut short right where I thought a bridge should be. So I do wish it were a bit longer, the construction leaves a bit to be desired, but when my biggest criticism of you is "I want more", that's usually a good sign.

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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