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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 16 (Espresso, Illusion, Red Wine Supernova, Casual, Starburster and more)

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

The tides are shifting, you guys! Whereas the past couple of years have felt like pop music was on autopilot, with the latest beefs, the downfall of TikTok, and the slew of adult alternative easy listening, it appears like more eyes are on the charts than ever, and everyone's influence is being felt, both in what's getting big and what the executives are trying to push to the top. And while the latter move has delivered some AWFUL music, the former has caused something wonderful to happen: Chappell Roan is actually making it big! 2024 would be worth all the bullshit just for that!

The Top 10

Not that she's in our Top 10 just yet:

1. Too Sweet - Hozier [LW: #1 / WOC: 4]

2. i like the way you kiss me - Artemas [LW: #3 / WOC: 4]

3. Beautiful Things - Benson Boone [LW: #2 / WOC: 13]

4. espresso - Sabrina Carpenter [LW: - / WOC: 1]

5. Scared to Start - Michael Marcagi [LW: #4 / WOC: 14]

6. Austin - Dasha [LW: #8 / WOC: 9]

7. End Of Beginning - Djo [LW: #5 / WOC: 10]

8. Belong Together - Mark Ambor [LW: #10 / WOC: 7]

9. Lose Control - Teddy Swims [LW: #7 / WOC: 24]

10. Texas Hold 'Em - Beyoncé [LW: #6 / WOC: 10]

Top of the charts is still Too Sweet, much to my delight, although Artemas' i like the way you kiss me is gaining fast; I like the song fine, but I'm also of the opinion that Hozier should rule the charts for way longer.

We also have a new high debut: espresso by Sabrina Carpenter, entering at number 4! More on the song itself a bit later, but if it means we can make Feather a real hit, I'm on board! Only other thing I want to highlight are that Benson Boone's Beautiful Things seems to finally be on its way out as it drops to number 3, as does TEXAS HOLD 'EM by Beyoncé at number 10. And yet Cowboy Carter will probably still win the grammy...

The Punished and the New

Oh Christ, I don't like watching the trajectory of what ireland is choosing to promote right now! Not only did Simmer Down by Casper Walsh actually rise up to number 12, but These Words (Badger remix) by Nastasha Bedingfield shot up to number 16, and Tell Ur Girlfriend by Lay Bankz hit number 17, all pretty awful debuts from last week! Thank fuck Good Luck, Babe! by Chappell Roan rose up to 21, somewhat balancing out the evil in the universe! And no, I don't particularly give a shit about I Don't Wanna Wait by David Guetta & OneRepublic rising up to 44.

As for our losers... MAN, the critics may love it, but the people are NOT vibing with Cowboy Carter, as JOLENE fell to 38 and II Most Wanted with Miley dropped to 41; I'm not going to pretend like I don't get why, I thought the album was a bloated mess, but genuinely surprised so many people seem to agree. Otherwise bye by Ariana Grande continued to lose steam down to 71; still annoyed by how badly they fumbled this, but it's not all bad news! CARNIVAL by Kanye thankfully got taken down to 77 by ACR rules (thank gods), Been Like This by Meghan Trainor & T-Pain also lost all steam at 80 (yay), and HYB by J Cole and company collapsed immediately to 93 (very much deserved). Small victories, I suppose.

Last but not least was the impact of the new Amy Winehouse biopic, causing multiple classic songs from her to chart again: Valerie with Mark Ronson is at 43, and Back To Black at 62. I hear the reviews for the film are scathing, but I'll still welcome the return of these songs over goddamn I LUV IT by Camila Cabello & Playboi Carti at 64.

And now, new entries:

Title: Espresso by Sabrina Carpenter

Position: #4

Sabrina is kind of a fascinating artist to me. I hated Skin so much that it made my Top 15 WORST songs of 2021, not even the hits, worst of the WHOLE YEAR! And yet while I have openly mocked subsequent minor hits like Nonsense, each song that's been released since has seemed almost comically awkward in the writing, with a love of bad puns and a knack for making fun of herself that is oddly charming. All culminating in her other song Feather being legitimately quite good, even if it hasn't quite found stable footing on the Irish charts.

And Espresso falls somewhere in the middle; it sounds pretty good, a clear Say So rip-off with absolutely ridiculous lyrics that are almost Train-level bad! But unlike them, I have the sneaking suspicion this is all on purpose; "switch it up like Nintendo" is NOT a line written by someone soley trying to be sexy, and even the main hook about her being like espresso - keeping you up all day and night - feels very targeted, almost challenging people to critique lines like "my give-a-fucks are on vacation", which would ultimately put the joke back on us.

I dunno, the more I hear from this woman, the more I can see how genuinely smart and talented she is, actually somewhat reminding me of Doja Cat outside of the sound. Do I like it nearly as much? No, her humour seems to be much more cool and subtle, and a part of me can't help but find it a little iritating how above it all she clearly is. But for what it's worth, I think the song got the reaction it wanted, hence why it debuted so high. Curious to see if this sticks around, although I find the execution much more interesting than the song itself.

Title: Illusion by Dua Lipa

Position: #14

This is arguably the Dua single that calls back to Future Nostalgia the most, and while the reception was once more rather mixed, this is the first one that I actively got the criticisms for, because I don't think this is all that good. Even by the standards of the weaker tracks from that last album, I think this hook is a lot less punchy, where more than ever Dua Lipa sounds like she's on autopilot, not helped by those synthetic vocal filters and effects that pop in and out, which would be fine if her delivery adjusted with them, but they really don't. It's not quite as dead-eyed as We're Good or as poorly written as Sweetest Pie, but it's arguably quite forgettable. In other words, I find this pretty meh, and in all honestly, I don't see myself coming back to it much. The groove is undercooked, Dua isn't trying, the lyrics are pretty interchangeable, and for the first time, I'm a little concerned about that upcoming album. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Title: Forget About Us by Perrie

Position: #22

Took me a second to recognise her, but I got it! Perrie Edwards is a former member of Little Mix, the girl group who reportedly are NOT broken up... but come on. Either way, she's finally released her big solo single, and with writing credits from David Hodges (who's worked a lot with Kelly Clarkson) and Ed Sheeran, I wasn't sure what to expect... but I'm actually pleasantly surprised.

Some have speculated this is directed at a fellow band member, and while that may be true, it works just as well as a break-up song. it starts out with very tastefully restrained production that never moves forward much from the back of the mix, outside of a brief drumbeat bookending the chorus. And as more elements come to the forefront as the song builds its crecendo, where despite having moved on, and knowing that their life together is well and truly done, she pleads this person to never forget about the 2 of them. It's that weird existential moment where you and a person you were once so close with have BOTH found new partners, and there's this weird anxiety that the good times they had will just be forgotten memories buried deep, as if they never mattered.

I think the songwriting helps a lot, but the control over the atmosphere both with the instrumental and Perrie's slowly cracking delivery really pushed this over the top for me! Maybe not a groundbreaking song, but more thoughtful and carefully crafted than I think a lot of people will give it credit for. Really good song, I hope it sticks around!

Title: A Bar Song (Tipsy) by Shaboozey

Position: #23

Wow, this is actually the second song I've come across this year that's inspired by J Kwon's Tipsy (clipping. for life). And while keen-eyed viewers may remember him from Cowboy Carter, he was also on the Into the Spiderverse soundtrack 6 years ago. And as for this new song, it seems to blend pop and country, interpolating a well-known rap song to boot... and MAN does this work better than it should!

The double-shot of whiskey, the good time vibes where you want to keep things open for as long as possible, all to avoid the cost and tedium of day-to-day life, where we work hard to buy too many necessities, when sometimes all you want to do is cut loose! Yes, the guitar chords are VERY familiar - Wonderwall's the first thing I thought of but there are plenty of other examples - and I can't say the song is groundbreaking. But Shaboozey's so damn likeable, the hook is SO good, and by the time those crowd vocals came in, I was so goddamn onboard.

If anything, I don't think this needs the J Kwon reference to work, it's almost a little distracting as someone who's been listening to clipping.'s version a lot recently. But it certainly doesn't ruin it, because this is great, and in a notably very different way to many of the other songs currently charting. It's not quite as incredible as Young, Wild and Free by Wiz Khalifa, Snoop and Bruno, but it scratches a similar itch, and I could see it becoming beloved in the very same way, given time.

Title: The Sound Of Silence (CYRIL Remix) by Disturbed

Position: #31

Hmmmmmmm. No?

Look, it's not a crime to cover the classics, but Disturbed got laughed out the door when they covered Simon & Garfunkle's Sound Of Silence 8 fucking years ago, and while that song has miraculously gained a second wave of appreciation and acclaim since then, a house remix feels completely pointless. So why the question mark? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, there's more genuine care put into this remix than many out there. Compare this to Majestic's "remix" of Rasputin, and you quickly notice just how much effort was put into playing with the mix, with the low synth-backed beats, the reverb on David Draiman's voice, the moments where the instrumental peels back with this wonderful smoothness to let his vocals take center stage, the way it stutters in time with the beat... fuck, I kind of dig this!

I know that to Disturbed and S&G fans alike, that might sound like sacrilege of the highest order, and I'll admit I don't think it end all that strongly, hitting that final chorus like any other- I would have personally allowed his original voice to close things out, maybe even incorporated the original somehow - I can't deny that I found myself smiling at the beauty of this remix. Maybe you say that's just the power of the original, that it can withstand all the warping in the world, but compared to the These Words Badger remi, or whatever the fuck Kygo and David Guetta are churning out without a second thought, I appreciate CYRIL for showing the effort this took to make. Good song, sue me.

Title: GATA ONLY by FloyyMenor (Ft. Chris MJ)

Position: #56

This is a duet by 2 Chilean artists, with the original song being released lat e last year by FloyyMenor on his own, only to release a remix with Chris MJ in February which that preceded to go viral in their home country and beyond.

And it's not completely terrible; I like the moodier synths that open it up, even if the subsequent reggaeton drums and sharper synths feel very formulaic - and in the latter case, slightly annoying - and while the original was horny, all about pining after you from afar and demanding you put your phone away and get ready for all his loving, Chris MJ's lyrics are MUCH more explicit, as he climaxes on top of you and breathes in your ear. Although it's also worth noting that his verse got backlash because people accused it of being AI-generated, so that should give you an idea of how effectively hot it is.

Ultimately, I just don't think the song works. The fresh musical ideas clash with the basic ones, barely any of it feels sexy, and neither of our performers do much to stand out or impress me, with so much egregious autotune that I find it hard to connect to. So nah, not for me.

Title: We Still Don't Trust You by Future, Metro Boomin & The Weeknd

Position: #57

I've seen a lot of backlash for this new Metro and Future album, and I absolutely get why. The previous project had more than enough momentum, and doing this really oversaturated the market, even if I personally still find Future to be categorically overrated. But I'll admit, when this started out, I could not have disagreed more.

What can I say? The opener pairs Future with The Weeknd - a proven winning formula in the past - and brings in some moody 80s synths right from After Hours, and I think it all sounds fantastic! I never thought I wanted a Futture-synthpop project, but now I want more, because he fits better over this than he has over anything in ages, of course Abel sounds hauntingly gorgeous, and I never thought Metro could pull off this sound, fair play! Honestly, while the project itself is bloated and was definitely released to early, this is a gem that really impressed me! In any other week, I'd be tempted to give it Best of the week out of sheer admiration... however, this week:

Title: Red Wine Supernova by Chappell Roan

Position: #78

I'm still a little stunned by this. I was delighted to see Good Luck, babe gain viral traction last week and this one, but I had no expectations that the momentum would get 2 of her best singles to chart, 2 of my Top 50 Songs of 2023! Now, since I have talked about these in some detail in that video, I'll keep this brief, but suffice to say, as my 3rd favourite song on the album, Red Wine Supernova is the most immediate one that really captured my heart. The wonderfully horny and playful lyrics, the incredible melody, the sex-positive cabaret queerness where Chappell will giddily dress up as a rabbit for her partner, it all just screams JOY, which is something I hope we never fully lose in our pop music. Again, this woman is a phenomenal talent, and I'm so happy to see her getting her dues! And while I don't think this could actually stick around and become a hit... wouldn't that be incredible?! And yet:

Title: Casual by Chappell Roan

Position: #96

I mean I love fun pop music, arguably MORE than the next guy! But if you're going to really win me over, you go right for the heart!

This was the first Chappell song I ever heard, and while its quiet tragedy took some time to grow on me, once the lyrics sank in, there was no way this wasn't making my and many other people's year-end lists. A hauntingly lonely love song that manages to be both sad and yet equally horny as the last one, as her lover goes down on her and makes her feel everything... but insists it's just casual. Even after she's met their family and friends, her partner insists there's "no attachament".

There's a profound loneliness that Chappell conveys incredibly here, managing a delicate balance of emotions that put her far beyond the realms of a Katy Perry, who an deliver the dumb fun, but struggle with the emotional expression. A tour-de-force of a pop song... and STILL not the best off that album, Jesus!

So yeah, without question, Best goes to Casual by Chappell Roan, practically tied with Red Wine Supernova, and with a special shout-out to both the Shaboozey and Perrie songs. And honestly, I could have shouted out several of the others too, this was a great week! Because of that though, Worst is pretty easy, as I have no wish to return to GATA ONLY by FloyyMenor & Chris MJ, their sex anthem fall laughably short, especially when placed next to our queer queen!

National Treasures

And now it's time for our new entries to the Homegrown Top 20. And considering I'm only getting this on Friday morning, I'm gonna keep this VERY brief, while still being quite excited:

Title: Queen by LYRA

Position: #9

So LYRA actually had a number 1 album, which is AWESOME! An artist I discovered right out the start of writing this blog with New Day is now getting the love and respect she deserves with such a majestic voice.

Speaking of which, this is a REGAL track, where LYRA proclaims that she deserves to be treated like a queen, and who can do it better than her. It's the kind of "I don't need anyone but me" anthem that can very easily come across as pathetic - and I do think comparing yourself to Rihanna is a stretch - but LYRA has so much raw charisma that I kind of buy it.

Not the best produced track out there - pretty standard for her unfortunately - but the chorus is pretty strong, she sounds gorgeous in her rich mid-range , I like this. Unfortunately, she has to compete with:

Title: Starburster by Fontaines D.C.

Position: #12

After making 2 of the best punk albums in recent memory, you'd think that Fontaines would take a break! Instead, only a few months after their frontman released his own solo single, the band reunited for this INSANE track! I can barely put into words the visceral reaction this song gives me. Between the keening spaghetti western intro, the beat switch into that rich baritone, and don't get me started on those GASPS! The track is exciting, so full of life and untamed drive that perfectly reflects the anxiety-ridden lyrics, where even a brief moment of relief and calm is stressful because it's only temporary, constantly on the alert for the next wave!

It's such a cool-sounding track, unlike anything anyone else is doing right now, and shows a band that isn't willing to rest on its impressive laurels, but always pushing to innovate and challenge their audience. this is going to be WILD to witness live, can't fucking wait!

Title: Siúil a Rúin by Roisin El Cherif

Position: #14

So Roisin here is an Irish-Palestinian artist. She's had some groundswell before this, but when she went on the Tommy Tiernan show to perform a traditional ballad with organic traditional instrumentation, I was expecting it to just be any other tasteful performance. Well, no. Because as you might have guessed, this is a multilingual ballad celebrating both sides of her heritage, with jaw-dropping accompaniment and backing vocals, achingly sad lead vocals, and with all funds going to relief in Gaza. And look, even without that being a very good reason to buy this single, I'm a little floored by how much this moved me! Roisin's performance just knocks it out of the park, where you can really hear the emotion loaded behind every note, even without understanding the non-English lyrics. And considering she apparently still has family trapped over there... yeah, fair. In other words, if you want to support a great artist, a great song, and a great cause:

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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