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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 8 (Training Season, Lucky, Lovers In A Past Life, and more)

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

Once again, I find myself without a full 100 chart, and this time, I don't think it's just a simple delay. I'll post any songs in the Bottom 50 next week, but today we'll just focus on the Top 50 and the Homegrown charts... not mad tbh, I had a long week!

The Top 10

And BIG news, we have finally have a new Number 1!

1. TEXAS HOLD 'EM - Beyoncé [LW: #12 / WOC: 2]

2. Stick Season - Noah Kahan [LW: #1 / WOC: 61]

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

4. Lose Control - Teddy Swims [LW: #5 / WOC: 16]

5. End Of Beginning - Djo [LW: #41 / WOC: 2]

6. Training Season - Dua Lipa [LW: - / WOC: 1]

7. Prada - Cassö, Raye & D-Block Europe [LW: #4 / WOC: 28]

8. Birds In The Sky - NewEra [LW: #16 / WOC: 8]

9. Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield [LW: #6 / WOC: 7]

10. Scared to Start - Michael Marcagi [LW: #9 / WOC: 6]

Yep: 4 NEW SONGS in our Top 10, and Beyoncé has the number 1! And I'm not complaining! I like Stick Season a lot, but it was time for something new, especially if that "something" is a fun, cowboy-themed country hoedown!

That's not even the craziest one though! Sure, we have our Dua Lipa debut - which we'll cover in a bit - but I'm more excited that Djo's End Of Beginning, of all things, somehow vaulted all the way into the Top 20, as opposed to any of Kanye's trash from last week, awesome song, even if it's such an oddity that I can't see it lasting. And finally, at long last, Birds In The Sky by NewEra finally broke into the Top 10! So far it doesn't look like this Dublin DJ duo has stolen any samples, and I like the sound of it a fair bit, so I'm happy, even if I can't call it anything special!

The Punished and the New

So there are multiple reasons why we saw this surge of new Top 10 hitters, and while the strength of these songs is certainly a factor, it's worth mentioning the big losers of this week, the biggest one being Murder On The Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor plummeting from number 2 to number 20, as ACR claims another big fish! To a smaller degree, greedy by Tate McRae FINALLY exited the Top 10 at number 11, and Northern Attitude by Noah Kahan and Hozier dropped down to 22. Also all of Kanye's songs from last week dropped slightly, but only by a couple of spots each... except for fucking CARNIVAL, which actually ROSE a spot to 17... this does not bode well.

Much more importantly, we also have winners I kind of like... well, 1 at least: Praise Jah In the Moonlight by YG Marley reached a new peak at number 13 - even if you don't like the song, it's certainly different - Lil Boo Thang by Paul Russell rebounded up to 30, desperately trying again to become a real hit, and Alibi by Ella Henderson & Rudimental continues its slow climb up the charts to 34. Honestly shocked it's taking so long, it's got generic, sample-based radio filler written all over it! And at least it's better than Whatever by Kygo & Ava Max, which is somehow also reached a new peak at 24, much to my disgust!

And now, our new arrivals, none of which could possibly be as bad as last week's, calling it now!

Title: Training Season by Dua Lipa

Position: #6

I saw a lot of people critiquing this song before I actually heard it. I saw criticisms that unlike Houdini, this felt just like any other Dua song, a new disco throwback without enough modern updates not to feel a little hollow. And I'm not entirely in disagreement: I don't think it's as incredible as Houdini, and the influences are definitely there... but dear GOD do I disagree with every other point!

Personally, I think this is awesome! The more minor tones, the tenser and tighter instrumental, the challenging lyrics, and that killer hook! Even as someone who really liked Future Nostalgia, I could admit that parts of it could stick together, and some of the production felt a tad dated, whereas each of the singles for this new project have felt fresh and exciting, easily on the level of the best of that album! And again, the lyrics here are so vivid and fun: a song where she challenges a man who disappointed her in the past, who came crawling back for a second place. And she really lays it all down: he'd better step up, she's not going to be his fucking teacher, and if he really wants to try this again, he'd better be prepared to actually step the fuck up and be the one for her!

She's not even mean about it, even stating that she doesn't just want to tell him yes to be nice, because she knows she deserves better. It's so goddamn well-adjusted and MAN is that hot! So yeah, it's another banger of a single and I. LOVE. IT! If she keeps this up, that new album is going to be a fucking gem, can't wait!

Title: Lucky by Dermot Kennedy

Position: #37

And far less excitingly, it's the new Dermot Kennedy song. And even the general public seems to be getting as sick of this man as I am at this point, as his last single Sunday did not stick around on the charts, and this one only debuted in the low 30s, not a great sign. And honestly, I can see why.

For the record, I do think trading Dermot for Cian Ducrot as the biggest Irish male singer is not a good trade-off, but at least Cian evokes SOME sort of emotion from me, while Dermot's newer singles have all left me feeling cold and bored. And even more so than Sunday, I think Lucky's kind of pointless; a saccharine, repetitive, awkwardly written song where he tries to teach you that "valuing the people that are in your life, will lead to happiness in the long run", a decent message that you might find on the back of a generic greeting card. But what irks me is that he's saying all this after being broken up with! He keeps droning on and on about how the key to happiness is to do XYZ, but clearly doing it didn't do HIM any good!

I know that's cynical, but it frustrates me how little the song justifies its own existence, and the message that it's trying to convey feels both generic and completely botched at the same time. It's just inessential radio filler, from a guy who's definitely made songs with stronger hooks and better writing in the past. Bring back the electronic elements, those were working well for you!

Title: Lovers In A Past Life by Calvin Harris (Ft. Rag'n'Bone Man)

Position: #39

You know what, as much as I'm getting sick of Dermot Kennedy, I will generally take him over Rag'n'Bone Man any fucking day of the week! One of the earliest Hozier knock-offs that the industry tried to push, as well as one of the most successful and bad ones, the last time I heard of him was at a festival - coincidentally, he also got rained out that day, which feels prophetic somehow. But while he has definitely made some songs that I fucking despise, I will admit that this team-up with Calvin Harris is not bad per se.

Don't get me wrong, it's easily the most boring thing Calvin Harris has made in a good long while! I mean even fucking By Your Side with Tom Grennan was at least interestingly awful, whereas compare that - or really anything that Calvin Harris released last year - to this, and it really falls flat. I'm also just annoyed because I thought it was this song by Sammy J and Randy for a second, that would have been amazing. Instead, it's just a very standard electronic build and drop, there's just nothing fresh or interesting about it. Again, I hesitate to call it "bad" - Rag'n'Bone man's certainly done worse - and I will say that, at the very least, the writing and hook are better than Lucky... but that's not saying much.

Title: Austin by Dasha

Position: #43

So this is the latest TikTok viral trend and it's actually by a singer that I've never heard of before, a new newcomer on the scene who simply goes by Dasha. From what I could research, she's a pop artist from LA, whose song Austin is popping off because... well, because cowboy barn-dancing trends have been all the rage thanks to TEXAS HOLD 'EM.

And much like that song, I do like most of this. I think the production is a wee bit too polished, but I like the writing and the hook a fair bit! Dasha describes this guy who's clearly given up on life and keeps coming back to her for support, and while part of her feels bad cutting him out of her life, she knows he's probably going to be dead in an alcohol-soaked puddle back in Texas someday, a place she's left far behind her. The song is pretty biting, and while it suffers a bit from being too short, I like the detail and the teeth.

Still, this really feels like a pop star trying to incorporate country elements, to mixed success. So good though, I don't really see Dasha getting another hit after this, but were this song to stick around, I wouldn't be mad at it.

Still, Best of the week is Training Season by Dua Lipa, another great song from an album I'm really anticipating at this point! As for the Worst... look, it's kind of a toss-up, but I'm going to give it to Lucky by Dermot Kennedy, purely out of protest, I really don't want this guy returning to the spotlight if this is the direction his music is heading in.

National Treasures

And now we reach our new all-Irish entries, which make up the Homegrown Top 20. And our new entries include 2 familiar faces and 1... controversial one. But first:

Title: On a Night Like Tonight by Niall Horan

Position: #8

The more I listen to The Show, the more I just find myself disappointed. Sure, Save My Life is a fantastic song, and Heaven wore me down. But the project still suffers from a lack of strong hooks, REALLY uneven production, and writing that's still decent, but lacks the maturity and wit of his past projects. Ultimately, it just feels like an album that had a lot of wasted potential, and I don't think there's a better song to exemplify that than On A Night Like Tonight.

I love parts of the song, like the psychedelic jangle of the guitars, the writing showing 2 lovers passing each other like ships in the night, and Niall sounds pretty great on it. But the vocal production is pretty rough in spots, and the clunky chorus really does fall flat. It just feels like kind of a first draft; if you'd given it an extra coat of paint, maybe I'd be onboard, but as is, I can't help but focus on what the song isn't, rather than what it is. And that's a shame.

Title: Get Your Brits Out by KNEECAP

Position: #13

I've been wracking my brain for the best way to discuss this group. A very outspoken Irish rap group from Belfast, made up of rappers Móglaí Bap & Mo Chara, and producer DJ Próvaí, who have been involved in a lot of controversy in the past... not all of which I'm against. See, they've been criticised for being very anti-UK, actually getting banned from RTE radio for their continual swearing, getting dragged off stage at their own shows for yelling IRA protest slogans, and making a bunch of very anti-British media, including a film with Michael Fassbender, of all people, which is set to drop sometime this year! And in promo for that, they took it upon themselves to make this song, an anti-coloniser anthem where they go out on a bender with members of the DUP, including Arlene Foster, Christopher Stalford and current leader Jeffrey Donaldson!

So here's the thing: I have family in Northern Ireland and in the Republic. I also have plenty of good friends in the UK, so 'm inclined to stay fairly neutral on this debate; the reasons for Ireland still being divided to this day and deep and complicated, much more so even than Brexit. That being said, I've praised this kind of protest music before, and I have to admit that the DUP has done Northern Ireland a LOT of harm in recent years, anyone who lives there can admit that! And on top of all that, whether you agree with them or not... the song's kind of a banger.

It's filthy, it's sexual, it doesn't give a single fuck about your sensibilities, where each bar and hook hits home really effectively, including a beat inspired by the BBC News theme! It's just undeniably entertaining, and the talent and energy leaps off the record. Do I think it's as deep or even as well-crafted as similar acts in hip-hop, even someone like Kojaque? No, but I can still definitely understand the appeal and snicker along with the creativity. These guys play dumb but they're clearly intelligent, and they knew exactly what they were doing when they made this. Not sure if I'll be coming back to it myself, but I wouldn't blame anyone who does.

Title: Euphoria by Robert Grace

Position: #20

Hey Robert, welcome back. I've missed you!

Look, I know Casper was a thing last year, but this is the most I've enjoyed a Robert Grace song wince Not OK! A Jon Bellion-esque grandiose tune where he finds himself at rock bottom yet again, alone again after another relationship he messed up, co-opting Biblical iconography to advise the Saved to stay away from the Damned like him. He draws the line pretty starkly, putting his ex on the "good" side and himself in therapy, desperate to bury his pain. I'm not going to pretend it's Robert Grace's best song - nowhere close - but this man's ability to self-flagellate is pretty unmatched, as is his talent for hooks! And if this is the scope of his sound over the course of the next year, I am more than fine with that!

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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