Musical McCool - Week 12 (March 19, 2021)
Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! My name is Fionn, and welcome back to a brand new edition of Musical McCool!
I finally did it! After 2+ months of wrong predictions, I finally called something correctly... almost too well in fact. Because remember, if a song charts in the Top 50 for more than 9 weeks without continual growth, its streaming numbers are then cut in half as the song is moved to Accelerated Chart Ratios... and not every song is Giants by Dermot Kennedy!
The Top 10
That's right, this week saw drivers license by Olivia Rodrigo finally get dethroned, knocked not just off the top spot, but out of the top 10 altogether! This is what happens when an artist rests on their laurels and doesn't actually do anything to follow up their initial burst of success, because if her team had been paying attention, the cracks in Rodrigo's dominance were clear weeks ago.
And yes, that did mean that The Business by Tiësto FINALLY took the number 1 spot after 22 weeks of charting! And while I have personally been a little sick of it for a good while now, the fact that the biggest song of 2021 finally took the coveted number 1 spot is a little cathartic, not gonna lie.
Although, nowhere close to the catharsis I feel for Wellerman Remix by Nathan Evans, 220 Kid & Billen Ted, which finally rode a week of success on every platform to number 2! Look, I know I was baffled by it at first, but I fell for this song weeks ago, and I'm just delighted to have it here now.
In less surprising news, Friday by Riton, Nightcrawlers and Mufasa cracked the top 3. It's certainly the strongest out of the 3 as a whole for now, but even then, it may have some competition.
Because right on its heels is Bed by Joel Carry, RAYE and David Guetta, vaulting into the top 10 past a lot of its rivals to number 4! As is the theme with 2021, the success is unsurprising, but the sheer amount of it is pretty shocking. It's a solid pop song though, I'm a fan of Joel Corry's singles, so yeah, I might be okay with this overtaking Friday personally.
Now to clarify, Save Your Tears by The Weeknd fell back to number 5, and is also on its 10th week... but unlike drivers license, this was well marketed and not entirely reliant on streaming by the end. So while it was overtaken by stronger competition this week, this has yet to be moved to ACR and could potentially stick around a bit longer.
Speaking of sticking around, GOOSEBUMPS by HVME is still at number 6... and I'm starting to get pretty exasperated by its stubbornness.
And after the exit of Drake last week, Heat Waves by Glass Animals was free to gain and take the number 7 spot. I get that a lot of people apparently don't like this song, but I'm not sick of it yet.
Then comes even MORE big news from this week as Patience by KSI, YUNGBLUD and Polo G debuts at number 8! More on the song itself in a bit, but after the success of Don't Play with Anne-Marie, I fully expected this. If I wasn't convinced by KSI's starpower before 2021, I certainly am now.
Then Your Love (9 PM) by ATB, Topic & A7S barely gained back up to number 9. Don't know how much more it'll gain considering the current line-up above it, but I'm still really happy it's here.
Finally and most surprisingly of all... Latest Trends by A1 & J1 suddenly saw a hug boost from 23 to number 10!!! ... Why? I mean I know, TikTok, but... I just do not get this....
Top 50: The Punished and the New
Honestly, this was a week of a lot of big shifts, both in our gains and our losers.
First were the Drake losses: What's Next fell to 17, Wants & Needs with Lil Baby fell to 26 and Lemon Pepper Freestyle collapsed to 35. No surprises there, Drake's non-singles don't tend to have a ton of staying power, especially off of his EPs. Then of course was drivers license by Olivia Rodrigo dropping to number 13, as streaming was its main source of success and that got slashed in half this week. Again, this is what ACR can do... and it wasn't the only one either:
drivers license by Olivia Rodrigo: number 1 to 13
Anyone by Justin Bieber: number 20 to 47
Yep, both huge songs knocked off their pedestals, even if Anyone's decline was clear from close to the beginning. And I'd still say it's doing better because Bieber released a new single right on time to replace this one last week, Hold On is still at number 16! And with Justice dropping, Anyone will probably rebound next week anyway!
Anyway, my annoyance at bad marketing aside, the only other losses worth mentioning were Arcade by Duncan Lawrence down to 31 - though with its track record it might just rebound next week - and Pierre by Ryn Weaver to 50, as its TikTok star quickly fades.
The far more interesting story is with our gains. Apart from the ones we already discussed, we saw the recoveries of Don't Play by Anne-Marie, KSI and Digital Farm Animals (number 11), Up by Cardi B (number 12) and Streets by Doja Cat (number 14), the last one possibly boosted by her finally dropping that music video. We also saw the continued success of Astronaut In the Ocean by Masked Wolf to 22 (... sure) and more worryingly, Commitment Issues by Central Cee to 24! Look, I know he dropped an album last week, and I'm fine with us giving this guy a career, he's one of the first people I ever discussed on this series. And hey, Loading rising to 39 as well is cool, but none of those facts balance out just how BAD this song is!
We also saw Let's Go Home Together by Ella Henderson and Tom Grennan rise to 29... again, I'm happy for one of those 2. And finally, in brighter news, Things Are Different by Picture This rose back up to 38 off of multiple live shows for St. Patrick's Day; good, it's a terrific song!
And with those out of the way and no returning entries, let's look at our new entries, starting with the obvious one:
Title: Patience by KSI (Ft. YUNGBLUD & Polo G)
Honestly, I'm a little torn on this. Sure, Don't Play has proved to be a surprisingly good pop song over time, but I'm still not a KSI fan by any means, and I was skeptical going into this, despite some positive buzz. And look, that buzz is unsurprising considering his 2 guests, both YUNGBLUD and Polo G made a LOT of waves last year and I can say I do at least appreciate them both as artists.
Well... this is not at all what I expected from these 3. My first instinct was to call this a YUNGBLUD song through and through, as his wailing on the hook seems to be the template all 3 of these guys are ascribing to here. Seriously, if I have one big critique of this song, it's that these 3 sound practically identical here! Sure, I can recognise Polo G on the first verse well enough, but he blends into that first chorus just a bit too well. Meanwhile KSI is an UTTER chameleon, and even YUNGBLUD is missing his usual whiny snark that he usually brings to his own songs. Instead, he brings... well, much like Don't Play was a Drake song, this is a Post Malone song.
Seriously, the rubbery guitars, the wailing hook and verses, even the structure of the hook which is ripped wholesale from Circles, there may be more 80s synths here and somehow even more vocal effects than usual, but it's pretty unmistakable. That said... it's not bad by any means. It's not exactly fitting any of their 3 styles, but Patience is still a pretty decent 80s throwback, almost reminding me of a hair metal ballad in its melodramatic delivery and songwriting. It's all about needing patience for a relationship that is changing and the struggle to either call it off, or put in the effort to work through this rough patch. That's a relatable topic, and I like that it addresses both sides, acknowledges the pain it may cause, but ultimately favours the mature path.
Again, part of me feels KSI still needs to find his own unique voice and signature sound, but I can at least say this shows more variety than his last run of singles. And whether or not this is artistically rewarding in the long run, I can't deny this is his second song in a row that I genuinely like a fair bit. Not bad at all, JJ.
Title: 6 For 6 by Central Cee
So as I mentioned, Central Cee dropped his debut mixtape last week, and along with the boost for his current songs, this also brought us his latest single 6 For 6, the opening track from that mixtape. And look, as mixed as I have been on this kid, I'm still happy for him that he's seen some success; it's no small feat to have 3 songs in the Top 50 simultaneously, especially when, unlike Drake, they're all fairly stable... and yes, I am saying Central Cee is currently beating DRAKE, of all people, at this very specific moment in time!
And to add to the praise, while I have been lukewarm to actively cold on his previous singles, 6 For 6 is legitimately kind of a banger. Not only is he finally leaning into the more atmospheric gospel side of sampling like a lot of the drill scene, with haunting vocal samples layered over an elastic warping bass beat, well-placed trap high hats, and some acoustic guitar touches, but the content here is a definite return to form. Similarly to Loading, 6 For 6 highlights his come-up outside of traditional society, selling drugs and running with rough crowds, but once again, he doesn't glamorise it too much. Sure, he's flexing, but even though he sold drugs, dropped out of school and broke the law, he still encourages his younger brother to stay in school, and has the self-awareness to realise his hypocrisy. Again, it's not like it's particularly deep, but he always tens to mention that he knows the genuine dangers of this lifestyle and doesn't want to wish that on those he cares about.
Again, maybe I'm giving him too much credit, but paired with far better production, some really solid flows and some pretty decent bars, this is a brand of drill I can get behind. About on par with Loading, possibly even a bit better. Nice job, stay in this lane and we'll be juuuust fine.
Title: Little Bit Of Love by Tom Grennan
Look, if there's one reason why I don't care for Let's Go Home Together, this is it. Tom Grennan just is not the type of performer I typically go for, with his over-the-top, throaty delivery, his yelping inflections, and affected vocals that just rub me the wrong way. It's not that his voice is bad, but there's just something about it that irks me on a base level. So yeah, you'll forgive me if I wasn't thrilled about him getting a new song onto the top 50.
And this... well, I'll admit it's not quite what I was expecting. Instead of a simpering acoustic ballad or some overemotional waling dreck, this has a bit more of a pulse to it, a thumping anthem in a style similar to One Republic, with a definitive hook and a strident delivery that feels a lot more earnest without actively annoying me. It's a style that weirdly fits his delivery better because his belting has some genuine throaty power behind it, even if the bridge definitely shows the strain this is probably placing on his range. Still, there's effort here, and I certainly appreciate that more than self-satisfied drawling.
Now that said, I have some criticisms: I still don't like the accent he puts on, it feels really performative and ingenuine to me. And as much as the delivery and production are trying to be bombastic, the lyrics definitely don't follow suit. Oh, they're melodramatic enough, but the songwriting is nothing to write home about, boiling down to "I miss you and I'm trying to recapture a little bit of that love I once had." And the obvious ploys to win her back get borderline obsessive in spots, especially when he talks about knocking on every door after hearing she moved...
It's unfortunate, because there are some decent elements to this song, and I actually found the music video pretty compelling. However, the content of the song just rubs me the wrong way, and while the production is an improvement, it isn't anything to write home about. Good effort I guess, but I'm not about to come back to this.
Title: On The Ground by Rose
At first, I was a little floored by this music video. This was an artist I had never heard of, and yet the YouTube video had over 46 millions views in under 24 hours, breaking the all-time record! And then I suddenly realised who she was and it all made sense.
So, BLACKPINK member Rosé has apparently decided to release a solo album following the group's success on their full-length Korean debut. And as a South-Korean immigrant raised in Australia, it makes sense for her break-out single to be in English in order to get that crossover appeal. Okay, colour me curious, at least as someone who doesn't listen to a ton of k-pop but rarely dislikes it.
Well, this may get me in a lot of trouble... this sounds like a C-tier Selene Gomez song. Earnest vocals still coming from a mildly checked-out singer, lyrics musing on your place in life, and a decent build-up to a chorus that gets halted in its tracks by several questionable production choices. Seriously, as much as the light percussion and guitar flourishes were pretty on the verses and pre-chorus, the hook just falls entirely flat for me, a bassy pseudo-drop that seems weirdly off-key and synths that feel oddly out of place with the rest of the mix, especially with the echoed pitch-shifted backing vocals. Oh, and it also feels very short at under 3 minutes.
Even the writing is a bit unclear. At first I thought it was about struggling to find validation in a big cruel world, but ultimately finding joy in the simple things on the ground. But then the verses all contain references to a relationship that's on her mind, which just muddies the message a bit because of how much the main focus is supposed to be herself and her own personal struggle. It's weird, because with Amy Allen, Jon Bellion and others, this has enough experienced songwriters that it should feel more tightly constructed... maybe there were just too many cooks in the kitchen. Either way, this isn't awful, just very messy and kind of an unfortunate waste of potential. Can't say I'm all that excited for that full album, when it drops.
After the onslaught of new songs last week, I'll admit I'm glad to get a breather. That said, I do have some really mixed feeling about this week's top 20. We lost More Like You by Orla Gartland, which is just a tragedy regardless of how much time it had in the spotlight, and of our debuts last week, I'm a little pissed that we lost Imelda May and Una Healy, but somehow decided to keep Babyproof by Versatile and Offica! Seriously, Irish public, you deserve better than this utter garbage! At least we got to keep No Cowboy by Stephanie Rainey rising to 16, but as much as I like that song, it doesn't balance out how much I LOATHE the former!
Otherwise, there's not a huge amount to report. Televised Mind by Fontaines DC is back for what feels like the fifth time since the beginning of the year to plug in the gaps, and we only have 3 new debuts. I suppose the last thing to highlight before those is that we actually have 3 songs on their last week: Anseo by Denise Chaila, The Day the World Shut Down by Marty Mone and Feels Right by Biig Piig. I know it's a long shot, but if that last one got replaced by her collaboration with Emotional Oranges... oh, I can only dream!
Anyway, let's take a look at our new arrivals next, starting off with:
Title: Be Somebody by James Vincent McMorrow & Rudimental
Most of you should recognise at least one of these names. Rudimental are a drum and bass act with a huge amount of success in the UK and beyond this past decade, collaborating with a ton of big names from Ed Sheeran to Foxes to Emeli Sandé. What may take you a second is James Vincent McMorrow, who some of you may recognise from the song I'm In Love on Kygo's debut album Cloud Nine. And this is a pairing that makes more sense than you may think. McMorrow himself saw a huge amount of local popularity in the early 2010s, where he followed up his acoustic Irish folk album with an equally successful electronica-inspired follow-up using touches of soul and hip-hop. In other words, he's a bit of a chameleon and Rudimental works well with artists like that, as do most largely instrumental groups for that matter.
This is a song about a relationship (shocker), but it has been highlighted for going a bit deeper than that. It's about feeling inadequate in a relationship, trying to be somebody you're not to please someone else, and finally just suggesting they break up so that they can find someone who meets their needs and standards. It feels very tired and worn down, mixing imagery of keeping each other warm in bed with actively saying you don't like the person they're being right now, and yet it oddly doesn't clash. I particularly like the rather biting sarcasm behind "all this could have been avoided, because you were always right and I was wrong". It's bitter without feeling petty or mean, it just feels genuinely tired and exasperated, which is a mood I relate to a lot these days.
In other words, this is number 8 now, but I could genuinely see this getting a lot bigger. Hell, marketed properly, this could be an actual hit, at least over here. I know that's a bit of a long shot, but hey, weirder things have happened so far this year. I dunno, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed on this one, we'll see. Either way, really good song, check it out.
Title: The Hurt You Gave Me by Robert Grace
Well, it's about time! For those not in the know, Robert Grace is a Kilkenny artist who saw massive success with his break-out single Fake Fine last year, which actually went viral on TikTok and topped the Irish Homegrown charts back in August. Okay, it was very Ed Sheeran, blending folk singing with touches of hip-hop, maybe also a touch of the tolerable side of AJR... you heard me. Point is, it was a pretty good pandemic song about dealing with the depression that comes with the lockdown and pretending, unsuccessfully, to be fine. So yeah, I'm curious, how's the follow-up?
Well, more Ed Sheeran worship aside (specifically the + era), this is pretty great. For one it's just a better-constructed song as a whole, with sung-rapped verses with some decent flows and a much stronger hook. Okay, it's not quite as interesting content-wise, but the framing is what makes it work. At first glance it's a bitter song about getting over an ex with drink and sex with strangers, over some simple handclap percussion and light guitar pops, but it's actually a tad more muddy of a picture.
While he is being a complete dick here, he does admit that he is very emotional and unstable right now, specifically because he found out that she was cheating on him with another guy. It's a simple framing device, but it works very well to his advantage, especially when any attempt to say he's actually okay feels intentionally flimsy at best. The accusations about her being crazy and fucked up, or of their love never being real, it all feels more justified because of that framing device. And the detail of missing her calls yet still calling her back is really nice, it shows he still cares in spite of his justifiable anger. Also the subtle *pop* before "the bubble burst" is just a nice production touch that i really appreciated.
Honestly, my only critique would be that it might be a tad short, barely 2 and a half minutes, but maybe that's for the best. After all, too much vitriol and it may feel too bitter or slightly dragged out, so maybe it is better this way. Either way, colour me impressed Robert Grace. Hope you keep releasing singles, cause this isn't half-bad.
Title: No Hands by Kojaque
Full disclosure, I was immediately skeptical when I saw this. I had never heard of the Irish artist Kojaque, and based on the thumbnail of his video I was expecting something along the lines of a band like Kodaline, boring soft-rock I have little time for. Then I saw he was a rapper and I groaned out loud "Great, another Versatile, just what I need." ... Sir, if you're reading this, I would like to humbly apologise to you.
Because this isn't your average mainstream rapper, in fact it is RIGHT up my alley! I've said for years that I prefer underground rap, particularly the more skillful wordy stylings of Aesop Rock, Open Mike Eagle, R.A.P. Ferreira and so on. Welp, despite all odds, Kojaque is exactly my kind of MC, only he's the Irish variety, which I didn't know I needed in my life till I heard it! And what better way to win over an indie rap nerd than daddy issues?!
More specifically, this is a concept song about growing up without a father. clashing over juvenile things with his mother, trying his best to be a father figure to his younger brother, and getting actively bullied at school for not having a dad, tying it all together with the metaphor of riding a bike with no hands. It's vivid, it's detailed, it's incredibly well-written with a ton of great rhyme patterns, and I especially love how he highlights the religious side of things! After all, his dad committed suicide, and while that does hang over him and has made his life hard, he's not going to stand for people telling him his dad went to Hell just for being too sad to see things through... because if that were true we'd all be doomed.
This simply isn't the type of song I expected to talk about on this series. It's richly detailed, gorgeously produced with a great piano and soul sample, and it's both wholesome and still grounded in gritty reality. In other words, to say this is better than I expected would be an understatement, cause this blew me away! Check this guy out, it's really something special!
And that's our week, hope you all enjoyed! Feel free to leave a like, as well as some feedback in the comments. Yeah, not quite as polarising as last week's edition, but there' were some real surprises here! If you can, 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!