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Musical McCool - Week 11 (March 12, 2021)

Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! My name is Fionn, and welcome back to a brand new edition of Musical McCool!

Well, it happened! Even if I saw it coming, you came back and you found me... nowhere is safe. Yes, ladies and gentlemen and others, Drake has invaded the top 50 again, this time with a new EP entitled Scary Hours 2... and honestly I'm a little surprised that it didn't smash even higher.

The Top 10

I mean two of his three songs debuted in the top 10, and the third was right outside of it, but the reason this surprises me is because it's not like there's a huge amount of competition right now

drivers license by Olivia Rodrigo currently holds onto the number 1 spot, but it is telling that it's not a strong as it was just a couple of weeks ago. And considering the fact that it is currently on its 9th week on the charts, it may be prone to ACR rules next week, and it'll be interesting to see whether or not this falls off the top spot, even if it is currently in the lead.

That said, I've been saying the same thing about The Business by Tiësto for weeks now, and it's still holding on at number 2, even though every single sign tells me that this should have started falling back a good while ago.

Now, part of the reason might be because Save Your Tears by The Weeknd isn't quite strong enough to overtake it just yet, currently holding onto its spot at number 3. It'll be interesting to see whether this song can actually build up enough momentum to beat out the songs above it, considering right now it seems to have started stalling out a little earlier than expected.

If there's any song that I expect to actually pose a challenge, it's probably Friday by Riton, Nightcrawlers and Mufasa, which rose up to number 4 off of consistent momentum.

I'm also a bit surprised that Wellerman Remix by Nathan Evans, 220 Kid & Billen Ted still had enough numbers to hold steady at number 5; not that I'm complaining of course!

Especially when it overtook GOOSEBUMPS by HVME, which finally seems to have lost steam as it falls back to number 6!

All of this brings us to our new top 10 entries: What's Next by Drake at number 7...

... and Wants and Needs by Drake and Lil Baby at number 8. It's doubtful these songs will stick around, as his EP songs tend not to stick around... God's Plan being the obvious exception.

Another stubborn clinger is Heat Waves by Glass Animals, which managed to hold onto its number 9 spot off of pretty massive radio and streaming.

Finally, Your Love (9 PM) by ATB, Topic & A7S barely hangs onto the number 10 spot. Yes it fell back, but it managed to stop Lemon Pepper Freestyle by Drake and Rick Ross! I fully expect this to rebound soon, it's only growing with every passing day.

Top 50: The Punished and the New

So, apart from Drake, this was by no means a quiet week. Apart from the songs that were forced back by Drake like Calling My Phone by Lil Tjay & 6LACK to 12, Don't Play by Anne-Marie, KSI and Digital Farm Animals to 14 and Up by Cardi B to 15, this week saw losses all across the top 50. From continued drops for Without You by Kid Laroi to 19, Get Out My Head by Shane Codd to 30 and Afterglow by Ed Sheeran to 43, to the stunted debuts of Pierre by Ryn Weaver and We're Good by Dua Lipa, dropping to 42 and 22 respectively. Even that didn't compare to the absolute TANKING of Jerusalema by Master KG & Nomcebo Zikode, which collapsed all the way down to number 49! Yeah, no ACR rules to excuse this one, its spark just fizzled out completely overnight. In fact, we didn't really get any new movers to ACR this week, or any returning entries either. Instead, let's highlight a couple of gains, some more interesting than others. I mean My Head and my Heart by Ava Max rising to 24 and Bed by Joel Corry, RAYE and David Guetta rising off its debut last week to 13, sure, those make sense. What makes less sense is Let's Go Home Together by Ella Henderson rising to 35... I mean it's okay, but it's not nearly a strong enough song to justify that momentum! To say nothing of Astronaut In The Ocean by Masked Wolf, rising up to 25 and defying all logic as to what rap music is usually allowed to play on the radio!

But fine, alongside all of those... well, we got a bit more than just Drake, but he's probably the biggest story here. So fine, let's start with:

Title: What's Next by Drake

Position: #7

Right, let me say this right from the start: all 3 songs are pretty decent. They're not exceptional, but they're all mildly entertaining and nowhere near as whiny and toxic as Drake has often been in the past. Hell, I'd almost call What's Next good, with the braggadocios but witty bars, where Drake brings a familiar but genuine energy.

I tend to like Drake when he's being self-aware without actively whining, and while he does have some complaints about his fans here, at least he finally isn't going on about how people don't really love him. If anything, his main grievance here as that they're paying TOO much attention to him. And while the bars aren't amazing, with a few too many non-rhymes, the delivery makes up for it, working pretty well alongside the fuzzy synth and thumping bass in the trap beat. And I gotta admit I smiled at the exasperated "okay?" on the hook. After all, he doesn't know what the future will bring, we'll just have to wait and find out together.

That said, it's nothing really new, and I don't like the way he ended it by bringing back half the hook and then just ending it. He really should have just let the beat fade out the first time, even if it did make the song shorter. As it is, it just feels a bit dragged out and unfinished, as if he gave up on a final hook halfway through. Still decent though, I've heard much worse from him.

Title: Wants and Needs by Drake (Ft. Lil Baby)

Position: #8

Of the 3 songs off the EP, I think this is probably the best one. At the very least it feels the most complete, as Drake and Lil Baby each drop a verse and the hook and beat, while simple, both work well and sound pretty good.

Now, in terns of the content... well again, it's nothing particularly special, all about wallowing in sin and needing Jesus, but Drake did have some interesting moments in there. Sure, the jab at Kanye felt a bit... convenient considering Ye's personal struggles right now, but there's history there, I get it. What really surprised me was Lil Baby, who actually decided to step up and match Drake bar-for-bar with his own verse... in fact he might be better, especially with those multiple aggressive flows and the more sober content he brought to the table.

So yeah, solid flows, some good punchlines (charging your ex for a feature is COLD), a pretty decent chorus sung by Drake, and the better side of Lil Baby... yeah, no complaints here, this is really good. More of this please.

Title: Lemon Pepper Freestyle by Drake (Ft. Rick Ross)

Position: #11

And out of the 3, I probably like the production on this one the best. The soul sample compliments both of their styles really well, it's even a little different from Rick Ross... only this time the problem is with Drake. I mean don't get me wrong, this sounds like a freestyle, in the fact that it's a bit repetitive, rambling and unfocused, but that in itself isn't a bad thing. What throws me off is that Ross only gets a handful of bars in the first minute or so, before Drake takes over completely for the next 5! It's way too long for this type of song, and not nearly as balanced to suit both performers as the Lil Baby collab.

In other words, regardless of the order of the songs, I'm not surprised this was the least successful, because even if it has some clever bars, and I did appreciate the shout-outs to his mentor, it's just too loosely structured to work as a whole. Again, definitely not bad, but could have been much tighter.

Title: Hold On by Justin Bieber

Position: #16

So to be honest, after Anyone, I was a little curious about this. Whatever you think of that song, it's a damn sight better than anything on Changes, at least in terms of production. So can Bieber make a second good song in a row?

Well, this is a curious case, because it improves on some elements and slacks off on others. Bieber himself sounds way better here, with a lot more well-placed multitracking to better support his voice, and a much more earnest and energised delivery. Heck, on top of production and songwriting, it appears Jon Bellion actually lent his backing vocals to this, and I'm all for that. On the other hand, the lyrics aren't nearly as endearing, defaulting to more generic platitudes which aren't nearly as memorable or personal as the tribute to his wife. It's encouraging you to hold on, because he can relate to losing your way, which isn't a bad sentiment, but does turn out a weaker hook overall.

Again, the song sounds good, with more alt-rock-leaning production than pop, and Bieber's investment is an improvement. I'm just saying this isn't quite great, even if I do think it's a step in the right direction. From the looks of things, Justice may turn out to be one of his better albums, but judging from the 4 singles released so far, it does also run the risk of also being his most anonymous, with the exception of Lonely... and that's not a great sign.

Title: Leave the Door Open by Silk Sonic, Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak

Position: #18

Ho-ly shit, I can't believe this is finally happening! Look, Bruno being back is great, I love the guy, usually... but Anderson .Paak is in a whole different league! Despite being a critical darling for the past half a dozen years or so, with some of the best albums (Malibu) and one-off singles (Bubblin'/Lockdown) of the past decade, Anderson has had trouble getting a foothold in the mainstream, There have been so many features where he came tantalisingly close to crossing over, but this one finally seems to have the momentum to push him over the top!

And my, what a collab it is! No surprise to anybody, the song sounds incredible, as Bruno handles the hook and Anderson brings his more free-flowing style to the verses, both wooing you over some truly phenomenal, soul-infused R&B! Apparently these 2 came together to form a supergroup and are planning to release a full album later this year! The supergroup's name is Silk Sonic, and judging by this, that is an apt name indeed, because this song just caresses your ears from start to finish, with heavenly harmonies, exquisitely-timed strings and percussion, and overall sounding like the best type of throwback single, one that incorporates modern elements to make it sound fresh and new despite its roots! And what surprised me was the chemistry they have; I mean Anderson sounds as perfectly unique as ever, but he's SO comfortable with Bruno's band, while Bruno sounds like a fire was lit under him, sounding more invested and soulful than he has since at least Versace On The Floor!

In other words, another year, another Bruno Mars song that is an early contender for my favourite hit song of the year! And paired with one of my favourite artists working today, mainstream or otherwise... yeah, this is a high fucking bar, and this song is AWESOME! Please let this get bigger, it absolutely deserves it!

Title: Anxious by AJ Tracey

Position: #35

Right then, let's try this again. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical heading into this after Digga D disappointed me so much with Bluuwuu last week. I mean okay, maybe judging these guys so harshly seems unfair to long-time fans, but that's the kind of expectations that Bringing It Back set, it's THAT good of a song! So fine, what did AJ Tracey bring to the table with HIS follow-up single?

Well, thankfully, this isn't the same kind of disappointment I felt last week. Sure, it's slower, but it has a nice vibe to it, with a minimal gothic swell, a very consistent flow, and a good amount of energy. It kinda reminds me of a better Drake song; only with a grimier hook, where AJ Traey is flexing, but is also open about the various worries that are on his mind. And not only does he call himself out for that Drake comparison, but he even does the same self-aware schtick by pointing out the flaws that critics and haters find with him. But when AJ does it, he sounds more confident somehow, I buy that it doesn't actually bother him all that much.

Much like the Drake we got this week, it's not ground-breaking or re-inventing the wheel, certainly not on the level of Bringing It Back, but definitely still solid; I'll take it.

National Treasures

Well, this week was certainly busy on a national level... Even at the top, Maps by Lesley Roy from last week immediately began dropping to number 7, and Tolu Makay's cover of N17 fell back to 8. In fact, we also got 2 returning entries, with Still by Niall Horan getting replaced by Heartbreak Weather at number 12 (excellent!) and Not Usually Like This by Cian Ducrot resurfacing to 19 (please no).

However, that's not the biggest story of the week... because much like the Top 50, the Homegrown charts were FLOODED, with 5 new songs debuting at once! Okay then, got my work cut out for me!

So to start off on an unfortunate note:

Title: Babyproof by Versatile (Ft. Offica)

Position: #4

... Look, I said when I first started this series that I would be brutally honest at times. As much as this section is supposed to highlight local talent, I still pride myself on being honest about my opinions. So allow me to be clear: this is AWFUL!!!

Seriously, what the fuck is this disgusting, blatantly misogynist bullshit? For context, Versatile is a rap duo from Ringsend, Dublin, made up of rappers Casper and Eskimo Supreme. 2 guys in their early 20s who seem to thrive off the controversy their songs stir up, while also refusing to do interviews because they seemingly can't take it as much as they like to dish it out! And boy, it has been a while since a title set off so many warning bells in my head, as they accuse various women of trying to extort them for child support for the clout! But that can't be, because their pull-out game is second to none... thanks for that! And hey, while they'll both brag that they're bulletproof, not ladyproof, you'd best believe any girl who gets with them had better be babyproof, or else! It's so fucking unpleasant, so dismissive, so fucking dehumanising that you'd swear it was supposed to be a parody. Only there's no joke, it's not remotely funny, or charming, or redeeming on ANY level!

On top of that, it just sounds terrible! The production is an ugly, warping trap knock which feels very restrained on the verses, when then gets completely neutered and replaced by a thin whistling and chipmunk vocals on the hook. At least Offica provides some solid counter-arguments and asks for proof rather than just dismissing you outright and he certainly sounds better than these talentless hacks, but he's still being awful here, it's not nearly enough to redeem this horrible track!

In other words, FUCK VERSATILE! Cause that's what you wanna hear, right lads? Skip this, it's worthless!

Title: Liffey by Pillow Queens

Position: #14

Whew, ok, back to real talent from Dublin! Pillow Queens is a 4-woman indie rock band who've been active since 2016 6, but only released their debut album last September, to mass critical acclaim. Well, now that their single Holy Show has exited after its 13 weeks, we have Liffey to replace it. And while it's no Gay Girls or Handsome Wife, this is still a pretty damn good choice.

I like the scuzzy heartland guitar that anchors the song and never fully fades from the mix, Pillow Queens always has some great harmonies, and the percussion is real and almost post-punk-sounding in spots with a really good pickup! If anything, I almost wish the instrument would cut loose a bit more, possibly adding a full guitar solo or giving the vocals a bit more deep-throated howling, but that may be stepping into a sound that's not really them, I get it.

The lyrics are also pretty vague, though with several Bible references from Jesus Christ to John the Baptist, each one more morbid than the last! From those references and the call to find your feet or cut them off, I imagine this is a stubborn anthem to activism in the face of opposition, regardless of the consequences, even if it gets them tortured, killed and thrown into the Liffey river. Pretty potent stuff, and the sound and imagery is just tailored enough to my tastes for me to really like this! In other words, go listen to the full album In Waiting by Pillow Queens, it's definitely worth your time!

Title: Swear It All Again by Una Healy

Position: #16

Lockdown has been hard for many of us, but it has also given a lot of us time to reflect and reconsider aspects of our lives. And for former member of the girl group The Saturdays, Una Healy is certainly one of the latter cases. After separating from her ex-husband Ben Folden, she was left to raise her 2 kids as a single mother, and while she has found it very tough during the lockdown, she's also claimed that it has taught her to appreciate her role as a single mother, realising that they can still be a family without a father in the picture. And with that revelation comes this new single.

And the first thing that caught my ear was: wow, if this had dropped in the mid-2000s, it would be heralded as a damn classic. The guitar tones, the delivery, even the song structure is eerily similar to that era of radio-friendly rock music, with an absolutely killer hook to boot! It just sounds so comforting and familiar, but not so much as to feel like a throwback. And lyrically, it depicts a woman who is fully aware that her relationship is terrible, but constantly makes excuses for it. Because sure, while it could be better, it could also be far worse, right? And besides, it's better than driving him away, so even if she no longer believes in the things she used to say, she's swear by them all again just to keep things above water. So yeah, if you can't tell, this is a song about painful relationships which we're too scared to admit are as bad as they are. It's an extremely common mindset, and one that many of us can sadly relate to all to well. And Una fucking sells it, you can really tell this is coming from real experience, and there's a maturity to the writing and delivery that makes this hit all the harder, it really is terrific! So yeah, great song, so support Una Healy and check this out!

Title: Made To Love by Imelda May

Position: #17

No matter gay, straight or bi, etcetera. Made To Love is an anthem from Imelda May which she got the idea for after meeting DR. Shola Mos Shogbaminu and Gina Martin at an International Women's Day event where she was awestruck by their speeches and insisted on working with to 2 of them. Imelda herself is a long-standing Dublin treasure who's currently working on her 6th studio album, which this song is now set to appear on.

And yeah, I really feel this. In the grand tradition of inclusivity, this is a fairly uplifting anthem celebrating love in all its shapes, sizes and forms, reveling in the human connections between all of us. What struck me though is just how dark the lyrics are, leaning heavily on the persecution that accompanies being non-hetero in any way, the fear and pain that accompanies the crime of simply loving another. And Imelda's fantastic, weathered voice delivers it beautifully, bringing a grim set jaw to the verses and really allowing her vocals to soar on the hook!

That's the other part that really works: the production is bright and warm without feeling sanitised, featuring guitars from THE Ronnie Wood, creating an invigorating an sort of timeless rock and roll sound! So yeah, the rest of the album probably won't sound quite like this, but I'm still anticipating it. If you're curious, go listen to more from Imelda May and check out this track!

Title: No Cowboy by Stephanie Rainey

Position: #20

Much like Pierre last week, I'm a little surprised this took so long to chart. A girl from Cork who blew up across the country and beyond back in 2015 with her smash single Please Don't Go. From there, without a manager or record label to speak of, she became an overnight sensation, travelling the world, meeting heroes and essentially being offered any record deal she wanted.

While she has yet to release a full album, this is her latest single No Cowboy, one which already seems to be getting a fair bit of acclaim from those in the know. And it's pretty easy to see why. The song's a reverb-soaked ballad with a piano at the foundation, about reality catching up with someone who had their head in the clouds for many years. It's a bit teenage, sure, as it's essentially the realization that ideal heroes and Prince Charmings that we see in Hollywood are fake, but it is decently written I suppose.

I honestly wish it was a bit more detailed in the writing, as I think Stephanie has a really good voice and I just wish the song would give her a bit more to do. But as is, it's still classy, it serves its purpose well enough, I'm okay with this.

And that's our week, hope you all enjoyed! If you can, please leave a like, as well as some feedback in the comments. Bruno and Anderson kinda stole the show for me, but overall, not a bad week in general... outside of Babyproof anyway, FUCK that song! Anyway, make sure you subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter to keep up with these releases! Take care everyone, and until the next time, I'm Fionn and this is The Social Tune, signing off!

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