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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 6 (2 days into college, if you think i'm pretty, Bandit, Grey, and more)

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

aha... remember last week when I mentioned that Nicki's response to HISS was probably going to chart this week? ... NOPE! In fact, it didn't chart AT ALL, and while Megan's song also collapsed HARD down to 59, she still CLEARLY won on this one-sided fight between Nicki and... Nicki!

The Top 10

That being said, the rest of our week is more of a mixed bag, starting with our Top 10:

1. Stick Season - Noah Kahan [LW: #1 / WOC: 59]

2. Murder On The Dancefloor - Sophie Ellis-Bextor [LW: #2 / WOC: 6]

3. Prada - Cassö, Raye & D-Block Europe [LW: #3 / WOC: 26]

4. Lose Control - Teddy Swims [LW: #4 / WOC: 14]

5. Beautiful Things - Benson Boone [LW: #14 / WOC: 3]

6. Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield [LW: #6 / WOC: 5]

7. greedy - Tate McRae [LW: #7 / WOC: 21]

8. Scared to Start - Michael Marcagi [LW: #10 / WOC: 4]

9. Lovin On Me - Jack Harlow [LW: #5 / WOC: 13]

10. I Remember Everything - Zach Bryan (Ft. Kacey Musgraves) [LW: #11 / WOC: 24]

So aside from our Top 4 being irritatingly stagnant, our new arrival to the Top 10 is one that's bound to be controversial. And while personally, the song is the best thing I think Benson Boone's ever made, I'm hesitant whether keeping it around long-term it such a good idea, as I don't expect it to stand up to overplay all that well. Still, for now, if we HAD to have a Benson Boone song in the Top 5, I'm genuinely happy it's this one.

What worries me a little is Scared To Start just a couple of spots below it, a far inferior song, and our 4th song in the Top 10 by an overwrought wailing white man... is this really what 2024's main theme is going to be?

The Punished and the New

So there are a number of factors contributing to our winners and losers this week, but the biggest one is definitely the Grammys. Hence why Flowers by Miley Cyrus rocketed back up to number 24. Surprisingly though, we only got 2 new songs charting thanks to the night: FEIN by Travis Scott & Playboi Carti re-entered the charts at 90 - a song I detest but which I think Travis kinda killed the performance for - and of course, the ORIGINAL Fast Car by Tracey Chapman at 36! The latter charted due to a really stirring performance alongside Luke Combs, and as much as I love Murder On The Dancefloor, part of me really hopes this can also have a massive year, it's a classic for a reason!

As for the rest of our movers and shakers, the gains are... interesting. Neither Praise Jah In The Moonlight or Birds In The Sky are particularly amazing to me, but I casually enjoy them both, so I suppose I don't mind them rising up to 15 and 16. A little less okay with Home by good neighbours reaching 31, and for obvious reasons, I have VERY mixed feelings on Ella Henderson's Alibi predictably continuing its climb up the charts to 46!

Otherwise on the losers' side, even aside from HISS, there was a fair bit to dissect: I'm delighted to announce that Nicki Minaj keeps taking L's, with Pink Friday Girls dropping to 57 and Everybody with Lil Uzi Vert collapsing to 77. Equally delightful are the ABYSMAL Black Friday by Tom Odell and When We Were Young (The Logical Song) by David Guetta & Kim Petras losing all momentum to 58! But I'll admit I'm a bit sad that Water by Tyla fell to 64; I didn't adore it as much as some people but it's undeniably a good time! Whereas I'm not-so-secretly quite pleased that Not My Fault by Reneé & Megan fell back to 71, it's just unpleasant and not a good look for either of them. And last but not least, David Kushner loses all hope of a second hit as Skin & Bones went into absolute freefall down to 97! Even as a non-hater, kind of pleased we're NOT keeping this around.

And now, the newbies, let's go!

Title: 2 days into college by Aimee Carty

Position: #23

Take notes everyone outside of Ireland: THIS is a Galway Girl.

Ed Sheeran aside, I want to be nice to this. This girl is 20, her career has mainly been constrained to YouTube and TikTok until now, and this is her first big break! And what's wrong with a song like this, writing about reaching college and being just a little bit overwhelmed only 2 days in? That's fair, moving away from home can be intimidating... but man, do I find this song kind of annoying!

Don't get me wrong, your anxiety is valid, but the way the piano melody gets to upbeat and chipper on the chorus and then slows down to a slow, momentous crawl, it just feels like it's trying WAY too hard! It's like a theatre kid's first attempt at writing a dramatic script, or those moments on reality shows where the music is telling you what to feel. And Aimee, she's got personality and a decent voice, but the song does feel very cheap - likely because it was - and I think a few more touches to the mix would have really elevated the sound to make it sound less amateurish, it feels weird that this is in the Top 40.

As is, I've certainly reviewed plainer and worse songs from Irish artists, but knowing the wealth of talented musicians that COULD have made it here, it makes me a little annoyed that this first draft at young adult anxiety is what we're choosing to promote. Maybe we can talk after we give CMAT a top 10 hit, just saying. Still, I'm not saying she's UNdeserving... unlike:

Title: Shooting Star by Jazzy

Position: #35

Jazzy has been a thorn in my side for going on 2 whole years now! Every time I think she's finally getting better, she teams back up with Belters Only to create the latest slog that won't get off my radio for months on end! Consider this your quarterly reminder that those 2 are still fucking thieves who owe royalties and a public apology to Lynn Lockamy!

Anyway, this song is average. It's definitely better than Giving Me or NRG, and I will say that jazzy has become a noticeably better singer, even if she still struggles to project anything close to an emotion. I mean this is a love song and the fucking beat sounds like it has more stake in this relationship than she does! And on that note, the beat is alright too. The build-up is a bit weak, but I quite like the house drop that doesn't feel too overbearing.

But the whole thing still comes across as pretty low-effort, from 3 people I don't have a shred of respect for! I sincerely hope they either get a LOT more interesting or more remorseful, because right now, these guys are going to keep sticking around.

Title: if u think i'm pretty by Artemas

Position: #86

What the fuck is this? That's the first thought that came into my mind while listening to this. The second this was... why do I kind of like it?

Artemas here is a UK producer/songwriter who came to prominence in 2021 with the song Sunny, a song whose success propelled him to be popular enough to drop multiple projects including one just this past week called pretty. And based purely on this, I'm a little confused. I read that his influences were Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and this is neither, splitting the difference between vaguely miserable RnB and the glitchier side of electronica. And the content is very clearly about this toxic relationship where one goes to the other for validation, the other for sex, as neither of them is happy but keep coming back for more anyway.

And look, I'm not going to pretend it's deep or groundbreaking, but I do think it's different enough toi definitely stand out. there's something about the fuzzy mix and the low drones of echoing bass that creates this really dark, brooding atmosphere. And while Artemas isn't exactly a great singer, it doesn't matter because the vocal pitching on the hook and his placement in the mix on the verse. I'm honestly kind of curious about that album now.

Title: Bandit by Don Toliver

Position: #89

Aside from being the highlight of the last Metro Boomin album, I have to admit that I'm very indifferent to Don Toliver. For as much as he's become a staple within the rap industry, with a frankly staggering amount of features. That being said, his solo material has yet to do much of anything for me... until now, because this is kind of awesome.

This is the kind of wild flex anthem where a rapper cranks up an awesome instrumental and then just rides it with as much energy as they can! And while this is no Uproar by Lil Wayne, it IS the most I've ever bought into Don Toliver as a star to this day! The Tame Impala sample was an inspired choice, the backing vocals and ad-libs are a fantastic touch, and even though his bars are nothing special - "get deep like a plumber" is quite the imagery - Don Toliver stays on-topic and his energy is genuinely infectious!

Ultimately, while I'm unsure how much this will stick on the charts, I kind of hope it does. It's surprisingly fun, the industrial outro kicks ass, and it's the kind of pump-up anthem that I think we could use more often amid all the wailing WIGWAGs (White Guys With Acoustic Guitars) at the moment. Nice job Don!

Title: Grey by Yung Filly

Position: #91

I thought I recognised that name. For those who don't know, this guy's mainly known as a UK influencer/YouTuber where he's racked up a very impressive 1.69 million subscribers! And he's also a rapper/singer who's appeared on shows like Daily Duppy and released a few singles since 2018.

As as for this, it's more of a pivot towards Afrobeats, the trending sound that has become... dare I say more dominant than American hip-hop? It's at least closer than I think anybody could have called 3 years ago! Still, the sound suits him reasonably well. Sure, I think the mix sounds little too polished, where Yung Filly blends into the guitar, but the instrumental's pretty enough in a cyclical kind of way, and the occasional drums were a nice touch.

Still, there's something about this that's stopping me from liking it, and upon repeated listens, I think it's the lyrics. The "simmer down Mami" is just as condescending as Calm Down by rema, and the song is basically about how he can't give up his hustler lifestyle, giving out to this girl for catching feelings and then flying off in his private jet. What's likable about that, especially when he spends the second verse accusing him of loving his money over him?! I dunno, this feels very Drake-coded, and that's not a compliment. Points for sounding good though.

Title: The Other Side by Michael Marcagi

Position: #94

I mean if Michael is going to be a thing in 2024, I suppose I should have expected this. As the Irish public doubles down, we're seeing another song from the guy seeing some success. And as someone who wasn't impressed by Scared To Start, i was pretty much expecting the worst... but not, this is WAY better!

I think the big difference for me comes down to personality... as in this song has some! Scared To Start feels so flat and sterile, both in the singing and the writing, whereas this one at least has a lot more passion and modulation to Michael's singing on it. And the writing reminds me a lot of a Noah Kahan song, a song about dreaming to escape his roots and chase his dreams, struggling against his demons telling him he's not good enough, and breaking free of them in a triumphant crescendo. The piano and drum combo is FAR more compelling here, and by the end of the song he's really close to belting out his defiance, ready to run away and never look back!

I can't say it's especially unique - his voice and songwriting have NOTHING on Sam Fender for instance - and I'll admit that the song probably benefits from REALLY low expectations. But as someone I'd essentially resigned myself to listen to for the year, this makes me hope he has other hits! Because Scared To Start is NOT his best foot forward!

That being said, it's not quite special enough to win Best of the week, as I'm awarding that to Bandit by Don Toliver, who's an artist I've had a LOT longer to get tired of, and was genuinely pleasantly surprised by! Worst, on the other hand, is pretty hard, I don't hate anything here. That being said, I think 2 days into college by Aimee Carty feels the most amateurish to me. It's NOT bad, but of the songs here, it's honestly the one that irritates me the most, even if I think she has promise.

National Treasures

And now we reach our new all-Irish entries, who make it to the Homegrown Top 20. Except the chart is somehow fucking broken, because none of the thumbnails match their titles, and half of the songs only appeared this week out of nowhere! And Shot In The Dark is marked as "New" but was on the charts last week, what the fuck?!

So as best I can tell - taking into account what charted last week and what we already discussed above - here are our new arrivals:

Title: Lonely Island by Amble

Position: #8

So this Irish band is actually new to me, that's exciting! And here's a real shocker, they're only in their 30s, a group of young men who wanted to pay tribute to their mutual love of trad music and came together to release a pretty well-received EP last year. Unsurprisingly, they name Ye Vagabonds as big influences, but they also shout out Paolo Nutini and absolute country LEGEND John Prine, so I was absolutely interested to hear them! And yeah, this is the type of folk music that puts a huge smile on my face. Let me be clear, it IS a throwback, unabashedly so! And unlike Kingfishr or The High Kings, they have no interest in bringing in any modern elements to their sound... but they don't need to. The glorious voice of Robbie Cunningham, the soft backing vocals, the evocative songwriting, and the simple instrumentation that doesn't feel the need to get overbearing, leeting the tragedy of the songwriting speak for itself. Robbie's voice sounding well beyond his years does wonders for this type of song, a slow musing on a dead lover, whose absence makes the island she used to live on feel empty and colourless. As he wishes he hadn't been so busy, and had spent time with her when he still had the chance.

It's obviously a deeply sad song, sung less with a wailing sadness than a quiet, mournful grief that hits SO much harder. It's a genuinely moving song, and absolutely a sign to me that I should be paying a lot more attention to going forwards. Bravo, gentlemen!


Position: #12

And now, for something VERY different! BICEP is a Belfast group we've discussed on here before, a HIGHLY acclaimed electronic group who had one of the most praised albums of 2021 with Isles... sadly for them, they were in heavy competition with For Those I Love, who absolutely blew them out of the water in EVERY regard... BUT that's just my opinion, and I still like and respect this group a lot.

And honestly, this is a fantastic showcase of their talent! I love the way the mix does so much with so little, using their drum-and-bass elements to build suspense, while piling on the frigid synths and the great alien bass towards the end that practically takes over in all its droning glory, all while never deafening you or forcing you to dance! I love electronica like this that isn't trying to get you moving, but still has a fun groove you COULD chaotically bop along to, never sticking with a single pattern for too long to be called predictable.

Again, considering that the biggest electronic music duo in Ireland right now are a couple of kleptofucks, I want more bands like this to get recognition and praise, because this kicks ASS, it's fresh, it's exciting, and all while TECHNICALLY following the modern trends in EDM. That's fucking impressive! "That's it, back to the off-license", indeed!

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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