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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 7 (TEXAS HOLD 'EM, Vultures, Make You Mine, 16 CARRIAGES, and more)

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

Well, this is awkward. To be honest with all of you, after seeing how Ireland completely ignored Nicki and Big Foot, I was kind of hoping that they'd do the same with Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign's new album... but no such luck, as Vultures I debuted at number 2. Thank fuck for Noah Kahan, seriously!

The Top 10

And also thank the gods that none of it ended up in our Top 10, at least!

1. Stick Season - Noah Kahan [LW: #1 / WOC: 60]

2. Beautiful Things - Benson Boone [LW: #5 / WOC: 4]

3. Murder On The Dancefloor - Sophie Ellis-Bextor [LW: #2 / WOC: 7]

4. Prada - Cassö, Raye & D-Block Europe [LW: #3 / WOC: 27]

5. Lose Control - Teddy Swims [LW: #4 / WOC: 15]

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

7. greedy - Tate McRae [LW: #7 / WOC: 22]

8. Homesick - Noah Kahan (Ft. Sam Fender) [LW: #11 / WOC: 5]

9. Scared to Start - Michael Marcagi [LW: #8 / WOC: 5]

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

That's right, the Benson Boone song YOU all hate is now at number 2! And honestly, GOOD! Considering the other songs we could have got here, at least this one has some teeth to it, and is more raw than a lot of the prettier-yet-far-more-boring songs in the same vein! That wasn't the only upset though, as off of the success of the official re-release of his Stick Season album, Noah Kahan and Sam Fender's Homesick re-entered the Top 10, alongside the classic I Remember Everything FUCK YEAH!

The Punished and the New

Now there was one other reason that Homesick regained its spot, and for that, we look at our losers: after many weeks, ACR claimed it first big victim of 2024, knocking down Jack Harlow's Lovin' On Me to 32! For those unfamiliar, this is a chart rule that dictates that after a certain number of week, if the song has seen a dip in streaming, its streaming points are then halved to avoid the same songs dominating for weeks on end... why Stick Season is still number 1 is kind of an anomaly! That wasn't our only big loser though, as Something In the Orange by Zach Bryan collapsed to 39, and Hey Driver disappeared off the charts altogether, allowing Sarah's Place with Noah Kahan to take its place - good, we just traded in 1 great song for an even better one! (Now might be a good reminder that an artist can only have 3 songs on the Irish charts at once, another very useful rule to avoid album bombs!) Then, much to my dismay, HISS by Megan Thee Stallion continues to plummet to 87 - I get why, but I do think the song deserved better. And finally, Rich Baby Daddy by Drake absolutely TANKED from 32 to 95! Honestly, fair, even if I don't hate the song, it had some really toxic elements.

Now let's talk about our 1 or 2 winners of the week - all of which can be tried back to the Grammys, funny enough - starting with the continued momentum of Fast Car by Tracey Chapman to number 28! Let's take this one to the fucking moon! And on the other hand, FEIN by Travis Scott at 64... no, this song doesn't deserve the attention.

And now, we have quite a lot to talk about, not all of it fun... but first and foremost:

Title: TEXAS HOLD 'EM by Beyoncé

Position: #12

So I know what a lot of people are expecting to be the big story of the day. But for me personally, this is it for me: Beyoncé's triumphant return to making music with 2 smash singles, introducing us to a whole new sound from her in the process! And that just makes sense! After all, Beyonce has spent many years making critically acclaimed albums that her fans loved, but which weren't necessarily making the hits anymore. But with the chart success of RENAISSANCE over the past 2 years, she proved that she is still more than capable of creating real fucking hits. And while that album was very much inspired by the rising popularity of dance music, this new one looks to be a response to the rise in country music!

Now I will specify that this isn't her first foray into country - Daddy Lessons still holds up to this day - but I was a little surprised how close to genuine honky-tonk this ended up sounding, and Beyoncé delivers it incredibly well. But there is a part of me that doesn't think it quite works all the way. For one thing, the hook isn't as strong as it thinks it is - the "Texas hold'em" play-on-words isn't that fleshed out - and for another, the nature of the sound means it comes across as a little goofy, which Beyoncé has never fully nailed in her music... just look at when she tried to pander to her audience on 7/11.

That being said, I do like the verses, which are a lot more grounded in real American struggles, such as natural disasters like heat waves and hurricanes, but emphasising that they're just going to keep running back to the saloon every time for solace and relief... a pretty damning indictment of climate change deniers, when you think about it! So I do think that it fits the bill of being a "dance your problems away" type of song - but I'm more curious to see how the song is going to age and work in the context of the album. Here's to hoping it grows on me!

Welp, that's enough stalling. So without further ado:

Title: CARNIVAL by Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign (Ft. Rich The Kid & Playboi Carti)

Position: #18

So for full transparency, I have not heard Vultures. I simply refuse to listen to it or give Kanye any of my money or attention, and I say that as someone who was still defending him up until around 5 years ago. But out of respect for this series, and because I think ignoring that this happened would be giving him FAR too much of a pass, I did listen to each of the songs we'll be reviewing today... the 3 songs that the Irish public propelled into the Top 40, for SHAME! So having listened to Carnival, this track is utter dogshit!

The sample is just crass and gets really repetitive as the song goes on, especially when you read into the subtext of how he is parading his fucking girlfriend around these days! Ty Dolla $ign probably fares the best - even with that weird brag about fucking a girl till he gives her a cramp - but Rich The Kid just sounds whiny and fucking desperate to be taken seriously in a room with two of his idols, Playboy Carti sounds about as checked out as he did on that 6-minute stream he got into hot water for - seriously, what does ANYONE see in this lazy asshole?! - as he's off-beat, off-key, and barely bothering to rhyme or string 2 sentences together coherently. And then there's Kanye, who compares himself to R. Kelly and Bill Cosby, makes fun of the MeToo movement, and finishes off with a shout-out to Chris Brown towards the end of his verse, for how badly the industry has treated him... a serial abuser who is STILL getting radio play for some reason! I'd be more angry if it weren't such obvious trolling for attention.

Add onto that the atrocious mixing, the fuzzy distorted bass and the utter flop of a chorus, and you have one of the worst things I've heard this year. Once again, THIS is the first song that I checked out from the entire project because the people DEMANDED we get it all the way into the Top 20, and I knew immediately that I wasn't missing out on a fucking thing! Hot steaming garbage on every conceivable level!

Title: BACK TO ME by Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign (Ft. Freddie Gibbs)

Position: #21

Believe it or not, "beautiful naked big-tittied women" getting repeated ad nauseum makes you sound like a stupid fucking meathead! Until you realise it's probably a calculated diss towards Kanye's ex-wife Kim Kardashian, where he shames her for leaving him and knows it's only as matter of time until she runs back to him. Gross AND pathetic, not to mention fucking delusional, way to tick all the boxes!

And once again, the mixing's awful, the hook is weak, not to mention how much it draaaags out its runtime by repeating said hook about 30 times, albeit with slightly more of a melody this time around, which I guess is a compliment when it comes to this album! It's toxic, pitiful music, by and for men desperately trying to guilt-trip you, which just ends up sounding like someone who's going through a serious mental breakdown! Which I would have some sympathy for, if it weren't Kanye fucking West!

Also I'm not surprised that Freddie Gibbs agreed to do this, but I am disappointed in him. I mean he's certainly the most talented rapper on this project as far as I've seen, and he sounds great on his verse, but he didn't have to stoop to this level. Some serious side-eye heading your way, old man, and that's 2 years AFTER I unfollowed you on Instagram!

Title: BURN by Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign

Position: #22

Okay, out of the 3 songs, this is definitely the best one, by a lot!

For one thing, it's mercifully short at only 2 minutes long, and I will say Ty's chorus is actually kind of good, all about a love that will burn everything like an inferno... or like candlelight if that's something that you find more dangerous for some reason.

But then, once again, there's Kanye's single verse in the middle, where he essentially gets on his "Why? by Jadakiss" soapbox, where practically every single bar is a rhetorical question

or a humble brag about how much he sacrificed to get to where he is today. I will say I ALMOST gave him credit for his closing R. Kelly line - I mean it IS fucked up that the man's going to be in the next Balenciaga ad - UNTIL I realised he probably just brought it up because of - AGAIN - his ex-wife Kim K, who's ALSO supposed to be in said ad, and he just wants to publicly dunk on her yet again! You petty, insecure, pathetic, worm of a human.

And I've already wasted enough words on him, back to the decidedly better stuff!

Title: Make You Mine by Madison Beer

Position: #33

I am seriously delighted by this! Madison Beer is an artist whose praises I have been screaming since her album last year caught me completely off guards, damn near one of my best albums of 2023! And now, she has a song debuting in the Top 40! And while I don't think it's quite as good as the very best of Silence Between Songs, Make You Mine is a great little pop song!

There's admittedly a fair bit of repetition, but that core melody is so fucking solid, the multitracking and vocal effects are impeccable, and those synths just seem to cascade over each other like waves! It all very much evokes the feeling being caught in the throes of passion as you both lose yourselves to the bliss!

It's a gorgeous little pop song that honestly reminds me of the very best music from that last Kylie Minogue album, and coming from me, that is a high compliment! Check this out, it's pretty fucking awesome to see it here!

Title: End Of Beginning by Djo

Position: #41

So I know that Stranger Things is currently in a weird place as some of the cast members of professed some unfortunate opinions, but in essence, I've been a fan since the very beginning! So colour me surprised when Joe Keery, aka Steve Harrington - a character who probably still has one of my favourite redemption arcs to date - has a song charting 2 whole years after it dropped, thanks to a new TikTok trend. As far as I can tell, the trend circles around the "back in Chicago" line, with people posting videos of them returning to their hometowns, including Chicago.

Anyway, in keeping with his character's role, the song actually emulates the 80s soft rock ballads of the time, and it's pretty damn great! The synths and slower drums almost feel psychedelic in spots, the multitracked vocals and amazing, and the chorus is fucking terrific, as he comes home to a city where he no longer fully belongs, reconciling with the end of his beginnings, as he puts it.

I do wonder if the song will stick around - both with me and on the charts - but I'm quite pleasantly surprised by how well it works for me. Honestly, barring you-know-who, this week is turning out pretty great so far. Let's see if we can continue that streak with:

Title: Abracadabra by Wes Nelson (Ft. Craig David)

Position: #55

So I know that after the last 2 songs, a few of you might be disappointed by this seemingly much more generic song... but personally I still think there's a lot to like about this!

Craig David and Wes Nelson seem to be on the same wavelength in terms of their overall vibes and their audience, even if Nelson is much younger and a lot less of a strong presence by comparison - I only barely remember Drive with Clean Bandit & Topic, and I'm a chart nerd! But a collab between these 2 works quite well. It's pretty standard in terms of tropical house-inflected pop, but for what it is, I think it delivers. Certainly more likable than whatever Kygo is trying these days!

I do think that any song called "abracadabra" is a little bit dead on arrival, it's just so fucking corny when they say they're instantly under your spell! But the song also knows it's cheesy, it doesn't expect to be taken seriously, and it's going to appeal to its specific audience quite well. So while I'm not clamoring for it to stick around, I wouldn't mind if it did.

Title: Soaked by Shy Smith

Position: #58

So this is another song that's picked up TikTok virality, I just don't think this one's quite as good. It's still decent though, a mid-2000s Timbaland/Nelly Furtado knock-off that suffers from sounding a little stock and generic, and having a rather dead-eyed performer, but which still does its job okay.

It's a song where Shy Smith is tired of holding back and wants to fully let loose, showing you just how fucking sexy she can be. Because you make her feel so SOAKED... am I the only one who doesn't find that sexy? I hear "soaked" and I think of a cat crawling shamefully out of a bathtub full of water.

But again, she delivers it alright. It's nothing special beyond the increasingly common mid-2000s pastiche, but check it out if you're curious. I just don't know if it's that memorable.

Title: 16 CARRIAGES by Beyoncé

Position: #60

I feel like this is almost a fucking trend at this point, but considering TEXAS HOLD 'EM is the obvious big smash hit, it's no surprise that I like 16 CARRIAGES way more! Yes, it's partly due to the sound, which unlike her other single, sounds like nothing else on the radio, a blast of guitars and organs where Beyoncé's voice is utilised to its full potential, sounding more grandiose, poised, and majestic, than she's sounded on anything since Lemonade!

But I also think her storytelling here is fucking masterful, comparing her own journey as a young teenager whose lost her innocence far too early and was forced to grow up and care for her family long before she should, to the first settlers working their way along the Oregon Trail, as she watches the 16 carriages drive away with her hopes and dreams, left to care for her family as her own mother and father just bicker and wallow in self-pity. Whenever she's forced to play from a place of powerlessness, that's ironically where Queen B always sounds at her strongest, ESPECIALLY when she's protecting others and refusing to back down! "Imma keep running cause a winner don't quit on themselves" to quote my favourite song of hers. This is fucking glorious, with the choral vocals, the stoic dignity, the absolutely gorgeous arrangement of the instrumental and the evocative songwriting! It's probably going to end up completely forgotten by the radio, onto to become an absolute staple among her fans, and I personally think it's fucking terrific! Great song!

Title: Birds In The Sky by NewEra & James Doyle

Position: #67

So this is a weird case where both the original song and the remix are charting separately, actually listed as separate songs on the Hot 100. I don't know if this is a mistake, or if the argument is that they're different enough... either way, I disagree, as the chorus is identical, and I don't think the added verses are any good.

James Doyle is a fitness influencer who used to work at a construction site, and he has a LOT of fucking followers. But I didn't know he was a musician, let alone a rapper... and I was right, he isn't! Despite his claims that he's the best MC in Ireland - HA! - most of his verse is spoken, he has 0 flow of any kind. It just seems like a very odd collaboration that only came into being because each side wanted to benefit off of the other's fame and success. In other words, it's a pretty hollow and forced collaboration, which I would normally revile... except I think James Doyle came out of this looking WAY worse.

He ridiculed himself - even bragging about listening to Jazzy, way to immediately show how basic and boring you are - and the young Dublin duo NewEra got even more attention on their steadily growing song. So while I'm never going to check this out over the original, I'm willing to give it somewhat of a pass for the sake of the original's success, which I still enjoy way more than I probably should.

Title: One Call by Rich Amiri

Position: #80

Oh yes, the Future knock-off that I've been hearing so much about.

Rich Amiri definitely doesn't strike me as an artist that is for me at all. Everything about his aesthetic is very much opposed to what i look for in my rap music: over-sexualized in a very masculine way, brand flexing where he sounds slightly more cheerful than Future does but doesn't quite have his melodic instincts, and the constant negging of the women who don't respect him for him, but really just want his money. It's fucking tired and old, and I've heard hundreds of people do it better at this point.

I can't really call it bad though; it has a decent momentum and hook, but MAN does that bass swamp out practically everything else, reducing it to this droning flex anthem that isn't any fun. Ultimately, it just doesn't leave me with much to say... it's not good though.

Still nowhere near near as bad as CARNIVAL by Kanye West, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich The Kid & Playboi Carti though, which is HANDILY winning Worst of the week, what an absolutely heinous listen on every level! As for the Best of the week, it's a lot closer, but while End of Beginning is great, 16 CARRIAGES by Beyoncé is the easy choice, I love it so goddamn much and I'm very excited for the next album!

National Treasures

And now we reach our new all-Irish entries, which make up the Homegrown Top 20. And thank FUCK someone at Official Charts realised that their page was broken, as they finally fixed it! And so, with that sorted, here are our new arrivals:

Title: Slow Decay by Darren Kiely

Position: #14

I've been shouting the praises of Darren Kiely since the beginning of last year. Sure, his voice doesn't always stand out among all the Irish singers in his lane like Pa Sheehy or Cian Ducrot, but he's FAR more likable than they are thanks to his mature songwriting and more of a reliance on his mid-to-lower timbre. And between a great little EP last year, including excellent songs Time To Leave and Ella, I was definitely curious to see what he would do next... and yeah, this is more of the same goodness.

If I were being extra critical, I'd say this feels a little bit underwritten compared to his best, but it still does what it needs to; a very mature ballad where he reminisces on somebody who left him for all the right reasons. And while a part of him still hopes that they can reconnect later in life after they've both matured and grown a bit more, as he wonders whether he's actually grow from this and get stuck wallowing, he acknowledges that she probably won't bother with him anymore after this, and he has to be okay with that.

Once again, a very mature song that suffers a little bit from not being more fleshed out, but Darren Kiely still sells it really well, the light guitar accompaniment is simple but pleasant, and it's a lesson that I want to hear more often on the homegrown charts... keep in mind that Cian Ducrot's Everyone Who Falls In Love is still on the Homegrown charts as we speak!

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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