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Musical McCool Season 4, Week 9 (Saturn, I Will, Love On, Breathe, and more)

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

Better late than never, but we're effectively covering 1.5 charts this week, as I'm going to cover the entries that the IRMA just... didn't publish last week, along with our new arrivals. And dear GOD am I worried about how 2024 is turning out so far.


The Top 10


Not that you'd necessarily notice the problem from our Top 10.

1. TEXAS HOLD 'EM - Beyoncé [LW: #1 / WOC: 3]


2. Stick Season - Noah Kahan [LW: #2 / WOC: 62]

3. Beautiful Things - Benson Boone [LW: #3 / WOC: 6]

4. End Of Beginning - Djo [LW: #5 / WOC: 3]

5. Lose Control - Teddy Swims [LW: #4 / WOC: 17]

6. Scared to Start - Michael Marcagi [LW: #10 / WOC: 7]

7. Birds In The Sky - NewEra [LW: #8 / WOC: 9]

8. Training Season - Dua Lipa [LW: #6 / WOC: 2]

9. Praise Jah in the Moonlight - YG Marley [LW: #13 / WOC: 7]

10. Cruel Summer - Taylor Swift [LW: #14 / WOC: 48]


Yep, in terms of our Top 10, it's very much out with the old, in with the new. And while we'll get to our losers in just a minute, I personally think this is our strongest Top 10 in weeks! Sure, Scared To Start is rising to number 6, which is a pain, but we also finally got Praise Jah in the Moonlight, a song that makes me very grateful to be discussing the Irish charts instead of the stale American ones! Remember that Kanye West's CARNIVAL is predicted to go to number 1 this week over there!


The Punished and the New


That being said, CARNIVAL is only barely held at bay at number 11, and I have a nasty feeling it's only going to rise next week... and sadly, the bad news doesn't stop there, because there is some SHIT heading up the charts right now! Home by good neighbours reached a new peak at 14, Whatever by Kygo & Ava Max is inexplicably at number 15 all of a sudden, and I'm sorry, their success is NOT justified by Austin by Dasha rising to 23, it's a pretty good song, but not THAT good!

At least our losses are nothing to be too sad about. Sure, I don't mind Prada, but it was about time it was relegated to ACR (Accelerated Chart Ratio), falling down to 18, alongside Unwritten dropping all the way down to 24, and greedy down to 27. Neither of those are any good, happy to see them finally exit after WEEKS of overplay! Unfortunately ACR also claimed I Remember Everything, but it had a majestic run, and well-deserved too, salute! Otherwise, On My Love by Zara Larsson dropped to 55, Asking by Sonny Fodera and company fell to 86, and Popular by The Weeknd, Madonna & Playboi Carti plummeted to 92, all older hits that had plenty of time in the spotlight (some too much). But all of them were dwarfed by the fall of a brand new song: Lucky by Dermot Kennedy absolutely TANKED from 37 to 95! Holy shit, I knew the public was getting sick of Dermot, but even I didn't expect that!

And now, on to the new arrivals, starting with:


Title: Saturn by SZA

Position: #21

Ever since SOS, I've been singing SZA's praises from the rooftops, which is pretty weird considering the years I spent saying that she was overrated. Well, that album made me eat my words - IT SHOULD HAVE WON AOTY GODDAMMIT - and I was a little curious to see what would be the next thing she released after that album cycle ended.

And yeah, it's pretty great! A very existential song with this gloriously spacious mix that almost evokes the feeling of floating in a dreamlike haze through space, with the echoing gong of what sounds like a marimba with faint electronic distortion, combined with SZA's incredibly sweet yet haunting voice flitting among the echoing music of the spheres. It's a song where she laments the fact that life is just... hard. And if life on Earth, even a good life, is this difficult, then maybe things are better on Saturn? Worth a wonder, at least.

Yes, you could call it juvenile, but I just see it as someone who's at the end of their fucking rope and looking to the stars for answers, wishing to be anywhere else but here. And not many artists can fall into this sort of existentialism while still keeping this close to their own gorgeous roots. Beautiful little song, definitely hope it sticks around.


Title: I Will by Central Cee

Position: #37

Another song by Central Cee that interpolates a well-known sample - this one a chopped and distorted version of Alicia Keys' You Don't Know My Name - and it's a love song where Central uses his "sexy" lower register to seduce a bored rich girl who's been repressed her whole life. And oh BOY is it laughable! Strike 1: He mentions that her shaved sex about 10 times. Stop it.

Strike 2: As the chorus says, if NOBODY else wants to take her home, he will. Charming, every girl wants to know they're nobody's first choice.

Strike 3: He shames her for being rich, reminding her that her parents made that money.

Strike 4: He brags about having sex until "his dick don't go up".

Strike 5: He references both breaking her spine and getting her to "feel it in her stomach" as crude metaphors for sex.

Strike-

I could go on, but does anyone want me to? Does anyone expect better from Central Cee, who has ALWAYS made his love songs about sex and doesn't seem to understand there's a difference? Did anyone expect emotional intelligence from the guy who wrote Commitment Issues?!

Central just seems really directionless to me right now, as if he's not entirely sure what he wants to do with his career next, and is currently just trying to clear up his image after he pissed off everyone on Doja. But my GOD, either he's way less charismatic than he clearly thinks he is, or he's just too dumb to figure out this is not the way to go about doing that! Not a good look, certainly not a good song!


Title: Before You Leave Me by Alex Warren

Position: #60

So apparently this guy is a YouTuber-turned-singer. And honestly, by those standards, I don't think he's half-bad! Sure, the washed-out, X Ambassadors-esque structure of the song is quite simple in terms of its construction, and I'd almost call it boring if the writing weren't so toxic, a final plea for this girl to fuck him one more time before she leaves them.

Now, that sounds like a big red flag, but honestly, the delivery is not as pissy as you might expect from a lot of songs in this vein. I can't say there's catharsis but there is a weird kind of sympathy you end up feeling for him. Something about the richness of his voice does lend the songs some pathos; if this guy sounded like The Kid LAROI, I'd probably detest this, but as is, there's an odd dignity to this pathetic swing at the fences.

I wouldn't call it a good song, as I do think the construction makes it far too generic and a bit dull, but as is, I've heard worse from boring white guys in 2024... make of that what you will.


Title: Love On by Selena Gomez

Position: #73

So the more I listened to Selena Gomez' song from last year Single Soon, the more I came to realise why a lot of people hate it. It is extremely gleeful in the face of the guy whose heart she's breaking... and she's not even planning on confronting him directly, she'll just leave him a fucking note. But ultimately, I do still think the sound and the construction of that song with its incredibly catchy chorus does work, albeit better than it should.

What works for me a lot less is this, which I can only describe as a rip off of Cupid by FIFTY-FIFTY, with tons more vocal distortion to the point where Selena barely sounds human on half of it, with some of the worst songwriting and forced rhymes that I've heard in a while. The "memoir - bazaar - tartar" scheme in the second verse is just laughably bad, and the main conceit of the hook is that she wants you to be the ones she "puts her love on", which just isn't sexy, it makes you sounds more like a Motorbunny! ... Go ahead and add THAT to your Google Search history.

As is, while Single Soon is at least forgivable by me for being catchy enough, this does not deserve any such slack! The kind of overproduced, overwritten slop that really doesn't suit Selena's vocals or personality, especially at this stage of her career! It screams post-Disney, Can't Be Tamed-esque hypersexualisation, and while Miley and Demi have shown they're each growing and somewhat maturing into their adult careers, Selena just seems desperate to cling on to her youth and it's not flattering.


Title: Kitchen Stove by Pozer

Position: #75

So as far as I can tell, this kid Pozer is a complete newbie to this: a rapper from Croydon who's gone viral off a few clips here and there on the socials, but hadn't released a full song up until now. And honestly, I'm actually quite impressed by this.

Don't get me wrong, in terms of the sound, this is nothing that new. Young Madz, who's worked a lot with Fivio Foreign, produced this, and while I think the instrumental is atmospheric, it doesn't evolve or grow much, overall fairly simplistic. What impressed me a lot more was Pozer himself, who despite his delivery not being the most animated, does have a gift for constructing bars depicting some very vivid imagery when he describes growing up alone, relying on gangs in place of family in order to survive, learning to trust his kitchen stove where he cooks his drugs above anything else.

And I actually believe him. It's a very moody song, but it's compelling and doesn't exactly glorify drug-dealing the way that a lot of this scene tends to. I appreciate the freshness of this, I actually hope it sticks around.


Title: Whatever She Wants by Bryson Tiller

Position: #76

The fact that Bryson Tiller has become a thing again is kind of baffling to me, as I thought he was someone we had left far behind in 2016. But he's actually had a good bit of scattered success over the last couple of years and honestly, it hasn't been too bad. So if he wants to go the T.I. route and make his own version of Whatever You Like... I mean, that's definitely not one of my favourites of his, but I actually think Bryson Tiller's attempt is pretty good.

The boom bap production, the flipped sample of what I think is Hunger on the Hillside by J. Cole & Bas is actually really good, and the song has this weird, defensive bitterness about it, where he keeps giving her what she wants, even when they fight or as they hate-fuck in the shower. It's a very toxically masculine song, where I can see Bryson Tiller complaining to his friends about the ol' ball'n'chain back home. Even the pronouns are flipped to be in the 3rd person instead of the 2nd one like on T.I.'s (Whatever SHE Wants instead of Whatever YOU Like), making it feel less like a love song than ever.

Still, I don't think the song is bad necessarily. While T.I.'s song sounds incredibly fake and insincere, I actually believe this from Bryson Tiller. Not sure it paints him in a good light necessarily, but certainly a believable one, for what that's worth.


Title: Oklahoma Smokeshow by Zach Bryan

Position: #89

So I'm a little confused why this is seeing traction in Ireland now, considering it's from a 9-song album that Zach Bryan dropped in 2022 after his 40-song behemoth American Heartbreak. But as someone who's come to appreciate those albums more over time, I'm not going to complain that one of the best songs off of it is finally charting.

It's a song that we've heard before - Hell, even as recently as Fast Car - where this small-town girl who's a talented musician and has dreams of being famous someday, is forced to give it up as she's married to a hometown guy who's kind of a shitty human being, but whom she stays with out of obligation, even though he's clearly holding her back. It's certainly sung from a place of empathy, but where I'm a bit more mixed is when Zach starts to talk about the ways that he relates to this story. Sure, there's a lot of sympathy, but he's still ultimately trying to get her to run away with him, riding his bike into the sunset together, which is inherently a little selfish.

But on the other hand, he does seem to genuinely want to help her escape and get away, and the guy she's with does seem like a genuine asshole, so I guess this gets a light pass from me, especially with such a strong hook. Not Zach Bryan's best - certainly not after that self-titled album - but still pretty damn sweet.


Title: Made For Me by Muni Long

Position: #94

I thought I recognised that name! Mani Long has been active in the music industry for ages, mostly working as a behind-the-scenes songwriter, co-writing some of your favourite hits such as Imagine by Ariana Grande and Timber by Pitbull. Yes, really. But she only had her own real breakthrough a couple years ago with Hrs & Hrs, which I personally think is one of the hottest songs of the 2020s so far. And because of that, this song had some big shoes to fill... and while it doesn't quite get there, it's still a song that I'm really into.

This particular one is all about a partner that she feels was made for her, who knows her so well that it can feel overwhelming at times. It's lovestruck, gorgeously produced, wonderfully sung R&B that calls back to a very late 90s-early 2000s sound that's impossible not to enjoy, even if it's clearly beholden to its influences.

Ultimately, while I don't think Muni long is that unique of a vocalist, lyricist or composer, she does the sound she's emulating justice, and sells the earnestness extremely well. Again, maybe I'm a little biased because of her breakthrough single - and that is both a blessing and a curse - but I think this is really good. Curious to see how much I'm gonna go back to it though.


Title: Breathe by Yeat

Position: #96

So despite multiple people recommending it, I haven't checked out Yeat's album yet. I hear it's quite good, but I need a little bit of recovery time before facing the guy who made the worst chorus on that last Drake album. And frankly, if this is the song to go by, I don't think that I'm missing out on much, because this is pretty fucking lousy.

A muddy, leaden, yet weirdly overproduced beat, a pretty dull, repetitive hook, and verses that really don't inspire much in the way of excitement. Again, maybe this guy has more experimentation in him, I'll definitely get around to checking out the album at some point, but based on this, I'm gonna put off that experience for another week or two, because there's just not much to grasp onto here.


And that was our week, and not a bad one in terms of new arrivals, at least. I think the only song here I actively dislike is Love On by Selena Gomez, which wins Worst of the week, as Yeat just bored me and Central entertained me, whereas I don't get any enjoyment from listening to that Selena song. As for the Best, it's a little closer, but I'm gonna go with Saturn by SZA for being the easy stand-out of this week. Although weirdly Kitchen Stove got pretty close.


National Treasures


And now we reach our new all-Irish entries, which make up the Homegrown Top 20. And our sole new entry is actually from an act we discussed last week:


Title: Sick In The Head by KNEECAP

Position: #9

So after my review of Kneecap last week, I decided to do a bit more of a deep dive, and discovered they're actually much more involved in Irish social groups that I give them full credit for. They've collaborated with Irishmen I respect like Michael Fassbender and Grian from Fontaines DC, they just really don't like the British presence in Northern Ireland, their own useless politicians and the wealthy, the last of which this song is dedicated to dismantling.

Essentially, in an era where people in suits are always talking about the dangers of mental illness and how so many people in society just don't have the support to get the help they need - frequently using those with mental disabilities as a scapegoats for their own neglect and cowardice - Kneecap make the very good point that WEALTH is the real poison, as anyone who gets their hands on it famously suffers from clouded judgement. So while these rich politicians give out about these issues, it's important to remember that their money makes them completely blind to the suffering of others, so WHY are we relying on them to make unbiased decisions for the good of the people?

It's essentially a song about the dangers of money, which are often underplayed or just flat-out ignored by the rich and powerful, who also happen to be the ones who can make a real difference. You can harp on about mental illness all you want, but that lack of empathy is the real sickness, and is likely what's going to lead them to their downfalls. I don't think it's as catchy or as genuinely funny as Get Your Brits Out, but I do think it's a lot more tailored to a wider critical audience, without necessarily getting them banned from radio stations. More subtle, but no less biting commentary that deserves the attention that's getting.


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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