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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 4 (Homesick, Nothing Matters, Not My Fault, and more)

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

Last week I was forced to make a few bold predictions about what would end up charting in the Bottom 50 of the Irish Hot 100, since the IRMA decided to leave me in the dirt instead of posting their "weekly" chart. And this week... well, I didn't get everything right, but I called Alibi a week early and I'm not too embarrassed about any of the entries I overlooked...

The Top 10

... well, except one.

1. Stick Season - Noah Kahan [LW: #1 / WOC: 57]

2. Murder On The Dancefloor - Sophie Ellis-Bextor [LW: #3 / WOC: 4]

3. Prada - Cassö, Raye & D-Block Europe [LW: #4 / WOC: 24] 4. Homesick - Noah Kahan & Sam Fender [LW: #57 / WOC: 2]

5. yes, and? - Ariana Grande [LW: #2 / WOC: 2]

6. Lovin On Me - Jack Harlow [LW: #5 / WOC: 11]

7. Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield [LW: #7 / WOC: 3]

8. greedy - Tate McRae [LW: #6 / WOC: 19]

9. Lose Control - Teddy Swims [LW: #10 / WOC: 12]

10. I Remember Everything - Zach Bryan (Ft. Kacey Musgraves) [LW: #8 / WOC: 22]

That's right, Homesick by Noah Kahan, reimagined alongside Sam Fender debuted last week at #57, and then immediately vaulted to number fucking 4! I guess I underestimated their collective star power here in Ireland! In the spirit of fairness, I'll cover it and any other songs I missed last week as "new" songs this week, but I will say that this might mean Sam Fender will finally get a crossover hit in the US... please?

Otherwise, the only other notable thing about our Top 10 is the surprising drop-off of yes, and?, which MAY stabilise at number 5, but I'm shocked it didn't even budge the number 1.

The Punished and the New

So this week is the first one of 2024 where our winners and losers actually start to matter, as the year slowly develops a feel for what it wants to keep and what it wants to leave behind. I don't know how happy I am about Heather On The Hill rising to 30, but I am fucking delighted to see Last Dinner Party's Nothing Matters surge up to 38 off its debut last week! Mark that down as another song I'll cover in more detail later, but spoilers, it was featured on an episode of Monthly Musical Marvels last year, so I probably like it! I'm also pleasantly surprised to see Birds in the Sky rising to 46, the song's grown on me a little. Although Money On The Dash and Incredible Sauce rising to 70 and 69 respectively... both songs are kind of hilariously bad to me actually, they can stay!

As for the losers... I mean I expected this, as 21 Savage's album keeps its big hit redrum stable at 17, and immediately flushes out nee-nah and n.h.i.e. to 53 and 88 respectively. What makes me a lot happier is the UTTER collapse of Nicki Minaj, particularly the godawful FTCU plummeting to 77, yes, people are finally realising that we want to leave her toxicity behind in 2023! (Edit: this was before Big Foot... stay tuned for THAT next week.) Little less happy to see One Of Your Girls by Troye Sivan lose all momentum down to 61, but I don't think the world was ready for that masterpiece, I'm not surprised.

And with that, let's get to our LONG list of new arrivals, from last week and this one, IN the order they appear on the chart:

Title: Homesick by Noah Kahan & Sam Fender

Position: #4

So I'll say this for Noah Kahan, he has EXCELLENT taste in musicians. And whether it be Hozier or Kacey Musgraves or even Post Malone, each guest has fit the original song they were invited to collaborate on! And while it doesn't always result in the song becoming fantastic (with the exception of Dial Drunk which was amazing from the start), in Homesick's case... oh BOY does it help!

The original Homesick is a song I like a lot! The thundering guitars and organ touches are surprisingly epic, and while Noah Kahan's voice, as always, can be an acquired taste, and the lyrics are fucking brutal! It's a song about never leaving your hometown, driven bad by the obsession with mediocre milestones which are praised just for being local, and flipping the word "homesick" to be a lot more literal, sick of where you grew up, and knowing you're going to grown old and die here along with your dreams. And adding Sam Fender to that equation, the man whose biggest hits are all about how much his hometown and past beat him into submission and straining to break free of those toxic behaviours, he's the perfect fit for it, even lending his own verse alongside his phenomenal voice.

Where the original second verse was more focused on how much Noah hates the clueless idiots living around him, Sam's verse here is a lot more... hopeful? Eventually? He starts out describing being raised in the fall-out of the 90s, with giant, unused cranes towering over his hometown like silent watchers. And while he also feels trapped, his dogged optimism forces his look towards the ocean, dreaming of the promised land his own father wanted for him, a loaded statement in itself if you know Sam's family history. Regardless, it lends the epicness of the song a sense of hope that the original didn't have, and for me at least, when their voices join forces on that final hook, it pushes the song to brand new heights! Awesome collab, I really want this to stick around, and for Sam's sake, hopefully gain some traction overseas.

Title: Beautiful Things by Benson Boone

Position: #23

Ever since Ghost Town, I've been side-eyeing Benson Boone with a fair amount of worry. Thankfully, that song never took off properly, and was instead superseded by the slightly better In the Stars, a very well-intended tribute song that was sadly too badly written and sung to impress me much. And so forgive me if I don't light up whenever he drops new music... but I'll admit it, this one surprised me.

The first 60 seconds are pretty much the same usual awfulness, with slow guitar and Benson Boone recycling the same standard melody yet again. It would all be fine if not for Benson's wailing, but I did find myself enjoying the lyrics, describing a girl who came into his life at a low point, and while he's very grateful, he now can't stop thinking about losing her. But then the riff starts, and then the drums, and then the crescendo fucking explodes, as Benson Boone shows a side of his belting that I've NEVER heard before, it sounds like fucking glam rock for a hot second! I think the chorus on this SLAPS, definitely the most a song of his has ever rocked, channelling that fear of loss into something genuinely cool... and MAN I wish it stuck the landing more.

The fact is, the song really suffers from not allowing its chorus to build more, going out on a low-key note that fits thematically, but makes the song feel really short, you're left hanging as a listener! Still though, as someone who's never liked a single song from Benson Boone, the good parts of this are REALLY good, and I have to give him props for that! And I certainly respect it more than:

Title: Whatever by Kygo & Ava Max

Position: #35

Okay, this is just getting silly.

I thought we'd reached the peak of ridiculous sample flips with Alibi last week, but nope, apparently the sampling trend is still alive and well, as this song lift the chorus from the MOST obvious place if you look at the title!

It's not clever, it's not well done, Ava Max is a FAR inferior performer to Shakira - with her usual brand of non-personality - the drop from Kygo feels like a Calvin Harris rip-off from a decade ago, the lyrics are basic and in Ava Max's own words "don't matter either way", because the real thing this song is banking on is that obvious sample and nothing else.

It's lazy, it's cheap-sounding, and considering Shakira herself is dropping better music these days than these 2 hacks, that's just salt in the wound. Keep this off the radio, dance music is heading in a MUCH better direction than this dreck!

Title: Nothing Matters by The Last Dinner Party

Position: #38

One trend that I've noticed in modern pop is that it's starting to borrow more and more elements from 2 bountiful sources: musical theatre and rock music. This has only been a good thing for me, making for bigger and more dramatic songs, with killer instrumentation and a sense of lively fun that puts a big smile on my face every time. See my Best Albums of 2023 for more on that, but otherwise, The Last Dinner Party is a prime example too!

This British group was initially formed during the pandemic, and therefore found it a little hard to gain their footing. But after this song was released, it opened all sort of doors for them, becoming the EA Sports FC 24 theme, gaining a place supporting Florence + The Machine, and all before the release of their first studio album, which is actually set for THIS FRIDAY, talk about great timing! And while a lot of this seems a little.. indrustry-backed, for lack of a better term, I have to admit I'm just stoked to see this song FINALLY get the airplay it always deserved.

I've loved this song for close to a year now, a gothic, beautifully composed piece of music with terrific harmonies, biting lyrics, and pulling from all sorts of musical influences to create something entirely unique! It's part Lana Del Rey, part Dresden Dolls, part HAIM, and I'm here for all of it, the kind of organ-backed song that you'd expect to see in a trailer, less so take off on TikTok. And yet if now's the time we're finally going to push a song this uniquely different to the radio... Hell, I'm on board!

Title: Skin and Bones by David Kushner

Position: #40

David Kushner has come a long way since Miserable Man was a thing. And I still love that song, but I'll admit that Daylight was pretty bland and overwrought. It was very overproduced and trying too hard to be Hozier... but at least the chorus was marginally catchier than this.

I want to make this clear: I still don't hate this. The David Kushner hate train has been in full swing for a few months now, accusing David Kushner of shaming people who have sex outside of marriage because of all the God imagery in his music. But honestly, as someone who grew up Catholic, the fact that he sings about faith despite his crisis of faith surrounding it, that's pretty representative of just how repressed those raised in that environment can be, and I see it less as him shaming the concept of sex or other people, and more himself. It's masochistic, hence the temptation to give into this girl who "wraps him in her skin and bones".

However, as gross as it's made to sound here - on purpose I might add - I still think this suffers from a lot of the same issues in the production as Daylight, with the cavernous echoing on the chorus, the very flat piano keys, and the chorus that doesn't really stick with me nearly as much. Hell, if anything, I wish he would have gone as big with this one, as the chorus feels weirdly restrained. On the other hand, I do think it's better-written than Daylight, which could very easily feel about nothing most of the time, so at least there's that. I don't hate this, but much like Daylight, I don't see the point of the appeal in making it a hit.

Title: Praise Jah in the Moonlight by YG Marley (Ft. Lauryn Hill)

Position: #49

In 2024, it's a little hard for me to be surprised by what gets big anymore - even The Beatles returning last year was barely a blip after Paul McCartney's comeback in the mid-2010s - but Bob Marley's grandson entering the Top 50 alongside his mother Lauryn Hill... gotta admit, did NOT have that on my Bingo card!

Now, I will say the praise I've seen for this song feels a little cheap. For people calling this the song of the year right from the jump, it's probably because you like Bob Marley, as this borrows HEAVILY from that slow reggae that The Wailers era of his music, only with more autotune. The lyrics, the song structures, the themes of staying chill and giving thanks to God, all of it is VERY derivative, intentionally so. However, while I do hope YG Marley has more to show us than the thing his grandfather is STILL known for doing best... I have to admit there's something about this that does make me smile.

I mean it's a pastiche, and the moments when it adds in more autotune elements either don't work or don't set it apart enough, but like everyone else, Bob Marley was one of the first artists I checked out independently when moving out on my own, it's a goddamn rite of passage. And this song, despite everything, does feel oddly nostalgic in spots, especially in that long, meandering outro. Kind of cheating, but I am willing to give this a pass.

Title: Never Be Alone by Becky Hill & Sonny Fodera

Position: #65

Believe it or not, I actually went into this with more of an open mind than you might expect. Sonnu Fodera doesn't make the kind of music I like, but ever since Asking last year, I've known he had some unique talent to him. And while I've been incredibly hard on Becky Hill, for good reason, last year saw her slowly venturing out away from her usual producers, and making some music that even I genuinely enjoyed, like Side Effects or that Chase & Status collab. Even with the benefit of the doubt though... I was genuinely shocked by how much i enjoyed this. Becky Hill has never sounded more engaged or powerful, as she delivers the verses with way more emotion and nuance than I've ever heard from her, backed up wonderfully with those bulding synths. And then the drum-n-bass elements join in on the hook, as Becky Hill just roars... and then it does the impossible: it actually resolves itself into a great drop! FINALLY, so many of these songs build to a chorus and then keep building, but this one has an awesome and super colourful drop. And rather than feeling the need to loop back to the beginning, it just launches right back into the chorus, with Becky's voice dancing around the mix, ad-libbing and vocalising in a way that feels incredibly natural, all before it drop AGAIN! ... What happened, I blacked out.

Either way, this kicks WAY more ass than I was expecting, it's CERTAINLY my favourite thing Becky Hill has done in recent memory! And as someone who I once described as a singer with no personality... fair play, this shut me right up!

Title: Act of Innocence by Picture This

Position: #71

Picture This have been releasing singles for this album for about a year now, and as the local Irish group who tend to release music that works for me better on individual songs than on a full project, I'm starting to seriously consider whether their 2024 album might end up being their best on as a whole. Because between Leftover Love, Red Lights, Call It Love and this, dear lords are they on a tear!

The drum-and-piano combo, the harmonies, the punchy chorus, even the lovestruck lyrics, all make for one of the most elated chorus this band has come up with yet! All yearning to be with you and praying her doesn't fuck it up by mistake, or in his words, through some act of innocence. Is it overwritten and a bit up its own ass? Sure! But that doesn't mean it's not delivered earnestly, in a way I can't help but find charming. Again, among their recent run of singles, I don't think I'd call this one my favourite - Leftover Love was one of my Top 100 Songs of 2023 after all - but MAN is it still a slice of feel-good serotonin!

Title: Not My Fault by Reneé Rapp & Megan Thee Stallion

Position: #89

Let me preface this by saying I'm a fan of both of these women. I've been singing Megan's praises for years now, and Reneé Rapp dropped a pretty fun project last year. And as far as queer music about stealing a guy's girlfriend, I somewhat prefer the sound of this one to Dove Cameron's Boyfriend.

That being said, it feels very defensive by design. Dove Cameron at least had the "clothes would fit" argument, whereas this is just a "steal your girl" anthem from a woman's perfective. Starting out with the Mean Girls quote is a little on-the-nose, but on the chorus it just doesn't make sense! Are you implying I'm the one in love with you, or my partner, or both? Then you have the lazy flexes, the glossy-but-rushed instrumental, and the slightly douchey deliveries don't help either... Hell, on the pre-chorus, she says she's bored of your pettiness... when she's stealing your girl. This is getting dangerously close to Chris Brown's Loyal!

Either way, while the queer framing might give it a pass in some people's eyes, to me it just feels selfish and ugly no matter who does it. And while I like Megan a bit more on this, I do wonder if she got the memo what the song was about, because her verse has NOTHING to do with anything. 2 great performers, but this song's just disappointing on multiple fronts.

Title: High by Stephen Sanchez

Position: #93

Until i Found Her is the type of song that doesn't get big anymore, for better and for worse. The kind of gorgeously-produced ballad by a singer who veers much more traditionally in his vocal delivery, back to the era of the crooners like Frank Sinatra. Now the sound still felt very contemporary in terms of the production, and the waltzing cadence made it feel a little slow at points, even on the Em Beihold version - a good song, not quite a great one - but there was a sense of confidence to it that made it work. This feels much more like an identity crisis, attempting to pair his much weaker upper register with the grandiosity of a Teddy Swims song. And it simply doesn't work. A grandiose ballad such as this one lives and dies on power, which this song sorely lacks in both its pacing and its vocalist. I'm not saying Stephen can't sell this, but the choice to go for this vocal tone was a baffling one.

I'll admit the song works a bit better in its latter half, as the instrumentation takes more of a central role, but that's very much the song succeeding in spite of its performer, not at all thanks to him. And for a guy I genuinely kind of liked, and wouldn't mind seeing another hit from... once again, pretty disappointing.

Still, dissapointment doesn't always win you Worst of this week, which is why that goes to Whatever by Kygo & Ava Max, for being a cheap cash-grab that feels ridiculously low-effort and does nothing to match the original's strengths. As for the Best of the week, it's a very surprising tie: Homesick by Noah Kahan & Sam Fender, which would have won outright last week, and shockingly enough, Never Be Alone by Becky Hilly & Sonny Fodera! Did NOT expect to be placing these 2 songs on the same pedestal, but I was genuinely so impressed by the latter duo! And yes, that does mean they both beat out Nothing Matters by The Last Dinner Party, which I'm mentioning now as a VERY close second place!

National Treasures

And now we reach our new all-Irish entries, who made it to the Homegrown Top 20. Which means we still have 4 more songs to cover, 3/4 of which are by familiar faces.

Title: Running by Bailey333

Position: #3

I'd never heard of this kid before. I learnt today that he apparently has a pretty sizeable audience, and has landed songs on the Homegrown chart before like Laziness and Sunburnt, And after checking out a few of his tracks, I think the best way to describe him is "watered-down The Kid LAROI". And since LAROI is already the watered-down Post Malone, you can imagine that there's not a huge amount to this Cabra man's music.

Now I'll say that I did think Sunburnt was kind of cool in a blissed-out way, and he had avoided the easy pitfalls of being too toxic or misogynistic. But with this being his big relationship song, I was prepared for the worst... and while it's not exactly my thing, this isn't bad. It's a song about how meeting his dream partner has motivated him to work harder, traveling more and working longer harder, all the while assuring you that he's rushing home as soon as he can. Whether on purpose or not, I like the way he emphasises that he HAS to keep on running, not just out of necessity, but partly because it's what he was born to do. And even though he may come home every time, he knows there's a part of him that's never going to stop running out again. I think it does get a bit preachy whenever he gets into buying her material things, almost as if he expects you to just accept his lifestyle and stick with him for that, but it's not quite enough to balance out the honest parts of the song. And again, this isn't really for me - the chorus and production are a bit too formulaic and the songwriting lacks some finer detail - but for what it is, and knowing who his influences are, it's a lot better than it could have been!

Title: Leave by Kingfishr

Position: #4

I've been seeing posters for this band for so long now that I thought they were much older, but this Wexford-Laois-Limerick collective has only been around since 2022, dropping Irish folk songs that feel both traditional and yet still defiantly modern, primarily thanks to the excellent fusion of the rich voice of Eddie, "banjo wizard" McGoo and a fucking concertina player known as Fitz. I don't think I'd put these guys on the same level of Ye Vagabonds, this is still a group whose output I've consistently enjoyed.

And with multiple promising singles over the past year, I was curious how this one would measure up... and thankfully, Leave doesn't break their streak. The slow build of the banjo with the warm atmospherics, and Eddie's gorgeous baritone merging with it before eventually subtly getting drowned out by the building instrumental, it's genuinely so gorgeous and powerful. It's one of those songs where the writing does take a bit of a backseat to the production - seemingly focused around family left behind you and realising how much you took them for granted now that that distance has developed - but it's still pretty evocative when I do pay attention to it, in the moments where I'm not swept up in that crescendo.

If I had to criticise it, I would say that Eddie's mid-to-lower register is far better than his upper one, i wish he wouldn't stray into it as much on this. That and the banjo is SO great that it can sometimes to distract from everything else going on. Still though, this band has yet to make a song I dislike, and this is another great showcase of what they're about!

Title: Blockbuster by TraviS & Elzzz

Position: #12

So to those of you who checked out my honourable mentions for the best albums of 2023, or were paying attention to my Instagram around this time last year, you might remember me discussing these 2 lads and their tight-yet-great little project Full Circle. It was some of the most consistently banging Irish drill I'd heard in a while, by the fashion/music/cultural collective Gliders, run by TraviS and Elzzz. And 1 year later... yeah, they still got it!

The beat is dark and menacing, with a slinking high-pitched synth acting as a string, bass that fucking swamps your speakers, and our 2 rappers are in GOLDEN form! TraviS really feels like he's been upgrading his flow, as he opens up the track with a KILLER verse, with a lightning-quick double-time flow that challenges his doubters, with threatening and braggadocious bars that make it clear he's not remotely threatened. And then Elzzz comes in, and he doesn't let his kick-ass voice do the heavy lifting, as his own flow bends elastically back-and-forth along the beat, knocking down any challengers with TKOs left and right.

This is just 2 MCs at the height of their powers, confident in their back, over another fantastic beat from Liam Harris! And if this is how they want to elevate their sound in 2024, these 2 bruisers deserve a Hell of a lot more attention. So do yourselves a favour, and check these guys out!

Title: Stardust by Jazzy

Position: #14

And now for a BIG step down, it's a deep cut from that Jazzy album that everyone's already forgotten about. It's crazy to me that someone could have such an insanely successful couple of year could already have faded away so much. Now, I do happen to know there's plenty of Dublin fans who will still ride or die for her, but since she still hasn't spoken out against Belters Only - and also made Giving Me - I'm not about to give her a pass.

That being said, whenever she works with different producers, it seems to awaken some part of her soul that wants to try harder. She doesn't have much personality so it's a little hard, but I can appreciate the effort, even when it falls flat like on NRG. And in my opinion, Stardust is probably the best(?) song of hers I've covered here to date. I think the beat's simple, but flattering, and it's the most Jazzy has succeeded at sounding energised and engaged in a song to date! She still can't write for shit - "nobody puts baby in a corner" on a song that's all about falling in love makes NO sense, most of the verses feel way too antagonistic - but the chorus about dancing on Stardust is pretty potent, albeit a little lacking in power.

Honestly, the main issue with the song is actually the production. Not that it's bad, but it's missing that added punch to match Jazzy's surprisingly good performance. Truly, the second verse is probably the most emotive and good she's sounded in ages, it surprised me! As a whole, the song is probably a solid 6/10, it's nothing too special, but by Jazzy's standards... well done, I'll give you tentative props for this.

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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