Updated: Mar 28, 2021
Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! My name is Fionn, and welcome back to a brand new edition of Musical McCool!
And the Biebs had his album bomb! Can't say I'm surprised, the entire album had a great streaming week... for the first half at least. Second half, not so much, which is why his impact wasn't really as big as many predicted, at least in the Top 50.
The Top 10
That said, he did get his precious number 1 hit!
That's right, after last year saw so many embarrassing failed grasps at the number 1 spot, Justin finally did it with Peaches with Daniel Caesar and Giveon. I'll have more to say on the song itself a bit later, but let me be clear: this is number 1 because of the lack of competition, and I don't really see it lasting all that long. I mean it's no drivers license.
I mean it's not like The Business by Tiësto was a strong number 1 by any means either, it's been on the chart for nearly half a year and only topped the chart last week, as it slid down to number 2!
Then came the expected rise of Bed by Joel Carry, RAYE and David Guetta to number 3, off of continual momentum that seems pretty far from peaking.
It blew right past Friday by Riton, Nightcrawlers and Mufasa, which fell back to number 4, if only temporarily, it's still pretty stable overall.
Speaking of stability, Save Your Tears by The Weeknd holds fast at number 5, as it once again proves that ruling radio can still take you quite far.
Sure, I'm a bit disappointed that Wellerman Remix by Nathan Evans, 220 Kid & Billen Ted fell back down to number 6, but it still peaked at number 2, that's not too shabby at all!
Then we have Heat Waves by Glass Animals at number 7, still doing better than anyone could have predicted.
Followed by our second Bieber Top 10 entry: Hold On at number 8. Kind of expected Anyone to rebound a bit, but I guess it has been several weeks, and this still isn't a bad follow-up by any means.
Finally we have Your Love (9 PM) by ATB, Topic & A7S barely holding strong at number 9...
And FINALLY, GOOSEBUMPS by HVME falling down to number 10. With any luck this will be gone next week, I am SO sick of it!
Top 50: The Punished and the New
There were some interesting developments this week, and honestly not quite the ones I expected. To get the predictable one out of the way first, we didn't really get any movers to ACR this week, just a lot of obvious drops: Drake continued his exit with What's Next dropping to 28 and Wants & Needs to 42, as did Central Cee with Commitment Issues, 6 For 6 and Loading falling back to 27, 41 and 48 respectively... though I expect at least one of those to rebound. And of course, KSI, YUNGBLUD and Polo G lost Patience (haha) to 20, and Giants by Dermot Kennedy FINALLY exited the top 30 after 39 weeks!
As for our gains though... they're a bit more surprising. For one, Astronaut In the Ocean by Masked Wolf cracked the top 20 at number 17, defying all my expectations, and to my UTTER delight, Things Are Different by Picture This rebounded to 26; more of this please! And other than that and a bunch of new arrivals... I'll admit I completely forgot about Lana, as Chemtrails Over The Country Club re-entered at 47... joy. More on her a bit later, but first, let's take care of our surprisingly few Bieber songs:
Title: Peaches by Justin Bieber (Ft. Daniel Caesar & Giveon)
When I saw that title, I instantly became apprehensive. There are many songs about food-related wordplay for sex and I wasn't sure if I could stand it coming from Justin Bieber, of all people. Thankfully, it appears that isn't the case here, as the only mention of peaches is on the hook, and for once, they actually seem to be about real peaches, not a half-assed euphemism. And I can't lie, this is pretty fucking great.
It took its time growing on me, but the production really does a lot of the heavy lifting here. It's a great smooth R&B throwback song with liquid guitar touches, real drums and great vocal mixing for all 3 of our singers here. Daniel Caesar has received widespread acclaim for his neo-soul stylings of R&B for the past couple of years, and Giveon crossing over is a welcome treat. I've heard his crossover hits on Billboard and I've been pretty damn impressed as a whole (more on that later). Their vocals contrast really well, with Caesar probably being the most "traditional" of the 3 with some terrific multitracking and Giveon providing a throatier vocal timbre that's unconventional, but in a good way! And yes, Bieber going on about his weed from California and his "bad-ass bitch", it initially felt really forced, and I will admit that this song is only enjoyable when I'm not focused on how punchable he looks in the video, but he honestly sounds pretty comfortable here. He's more nasal than the other 2, and you can tell he's going for more of a pop delivery than an R&B one, but it does work here, and gives him some unique presence on the song, especially on the very catchy hook.
So yes, while it definitely took longer to grow on me than his last couple of singles, I like this a lot. I know a lot of people who won't be able to take this seriously, and it is very much a throwback, but to me it reminds me of the best hits from Calvin Harris. A chill, Summery vibe, smooth guitars, and some real funk to back it up in a way that works a lot better than it should. Nice job here... unlike:
Title: As I Am by Justin Bieber (Ft. Khalid)
So I have been very positive on most of the singles off of Justice so far. Even if I didn't like Lonely or Holy, at least his 2021 releases have gone over pretty well. Well, sadly, I can't say that for the entire album, because Justice is very mixed as a whole. Oh it's MILES better than Changes, but it often feels either too anonymous... or occasionally way too familiar, in the most whiny way possible. And barring the MLK Interlude (WHAT were you thinking???), this is the worst part of the entire album for me.
Look, the reverb-piano ballad that this starts out as is melodramatic, but not bad by any means. Justin is placed properly in the mix, even if he's begging you to take him "as he is", which feels pretty ham-fisted, especially on an album where he's mostly guilt-tripping anyone who abandoned him back when he was being a complete shit a few years back. Then the chorus hits and this song just collapses at the seams!
The HORRIBLE, chinsy strings, the blocky percussion, the trap beat that comes out of nowhere, what the fuck happened on that hook? It reminds me of the worst drops you can imagine... in other words it reminds me of the Chainsmokers, especially in the way it builds to its own disappointment before that awful pay-off! And that's not all: after the first drop, that blocky nonsense stays in, perfectly timed to back up our non-presence Khalid, whose verse adds nothing to anything here, he basically spends most of his time as a glorified backing singer. And that bridge, where Bieber just heaps on praise about how you stayed with him back when he was so bad, marveling at how you could ever stay with him despite what a shit he was, it's so romantic, right?
Look, guys who've really changed aren't constantly going to remind you of what assholes they used to be. And it also kind of undercuts your marvel of him when you're still encouraging her to take you with the good and the ugly, especially when this song has HEAPS of the latter. Do not like!
Title: IDK Why by Lea Heart
Wow, I didn't know Carly Rae Jepsen had released new music!
Ok, jokes aside, I do mean that as a big compliment. Kildare singer Lea Heart broke out a few months ago with her debut single Older, a really solid introduction to a local singer I had never heard of before, all about wanting love, the good and the bad, growing together through the struggles. And hey, props to her for following it up properly, strike while the iron's hot, and it's clearly working as her follow-up single debuted this high in a week with a fair amount of competition!
And as I pointed out, you can really feel the label polish behind this one. The synths are well-placed, the vocal production is better layered with a lot more multitracking, and the songwriting is noticeably sharper. Not to take the credit away from Lea herself though, who moderates a lot better to, she's clearly grown in confidence to the point where I'd never guess this was only her second single. Now, the other side of the Carly comparison comes in the content, which behind its pop filter is kind of too real. It's all about searching for love all over the place, but always running away from it whenever she comes close. I really like the fear of falling that she likens it to, and how she always seems to get herself in situations that make herself cry, almost like she's an addict for it. Yeah, these are clearly the romantic woes of a young adult, but it's well articulated and really catchy, I'm not about to complain about that. Great little pop song, so happy it debuted this high, make sure you check it out!
Title: Headshot by Lil Tjay (Ft. Polo G & Fivio Foreign)
Well, after the fun of that last song, this really isn't as fun or interesting to talk about... fine, I'll try!
So, Lil Tjay's follow-up after Calling My Phone; I'll admit I was curious, especially considering Polo G's presence here, a rapper I have consistently liked over the past year or so. And hey, the last Headshot I remember was when Eminem absolutely destroyed MGK's career... or so we thought anyway. And... this is okay.
The production is a very simple looped cello scratch over a thumping boom-bap beat. It feels more like a jingle for horse races than a hip-hop beat, but it's serviceable enough, especially for Polo G, who does kind of snap on it. He's energetic, his content is fairly bloody and vivid, and while his content isn't anything special, I'd say his speed and bars make up for it. Fivio Foreign isn't bad either, even though his content is a bit more sex-oriented and kinda ridiculous - I mean he literally calls himself a fast car - but I have to admit Lil Tjay probably surprised me the most.
Sure, his voice is squeaky and he doesn't sound close to threatening, which ultimately gives Polo G the edge on the whole, but he spits his verse with some impressive internal rhymes that I didn't know he was capable of. It is a very short verse though, as is the entire song for that matter, Ultimately, while it's not bad, it just doesn't feel very fleshed out as a whole, and with mid-tier production and the lack of any sort of hook, I just don't see this sticking around in the same way Calling My Phone did. Not a bad display of skill, but not a particularly functional song either.
Title: White Dress by Lana Del Rey
Ok, at this point, you should all know how I feel about Lana Del Rey. I get her appeal, most of my friends would give their left hands to meet her, and her music clearly has its audience, which I al emphatically NOT a part of. However, I will say that I ALMOST like this.
The picture she paints of the days before she was discovered, working as a waitress and listening to musical acts she would later go on to match in fame, that's a very compelling image. It humanises her, even if she does sort of undercut that later by saying that being discovered made her feel like a god. BUT in fairness, she does immediately follow that up with musing whether or not she was better off without the fame, which I do appreciate. It reminds me of Blowin' Smoke by Kacey Musgraves mixed with... fuck, half a dozen songs about the terrors of fame, the lyrics really work for me... and BOY do I wish I could say the same about her voice!
The production is a simple piano ballad, and I understand that if she had opted for her lower register, that might have made this song too "normal" for a lot of her fans. However, she didn't have to replace it with that horrible hissed delivery on the hook, which just doesn't sound good! It annoys me because I don't think these notes are out of her register, she just adopted that breathy, piercing delivery for affect. Maybe you could argue that it's to underline the emotion of the song, but I get that way more from her regular voice towards the end of the song on the outro. As a whole, this is pretty good, but that one element just rubs me the wrong way, it wastes what could have been a song I loved! And for me, from this artist, those are hard to come by, just saying!
Title: Heartbreak Anniversary by Giveon
Giveon really is a great singer, I'm happy he's blowing up this year! He reminds me a fair bit of James Blake in his vocal timbre, and his production tends to be very organic and raw, with a lot of guitar and real drums to underscore some really heartfelt, rich crooning. And as luck would have it, his first solo single to really cross over also happens to be one of his more interesting ones.
Heartbreak Anniversary is... well, different, but also exactly what it sounds like: a song commemorating a break-up one year later. Kind of an odd concept, but hey, we all process things differently. The piano and percussion that start us out are slow at first with scuzzy guitar accents, then the tempo picks up on the pre-chorus right when needs to, leading to Giveon's really impressive belting on the hook. The song sounds really rough around the edges, there's less polish than usual, which actually fits the content pretty well. Again, while I personally think a year is a long time to get over a break-up, I do think he does a good job justifying it, with imagery of deflated balloons, still having stuff in his house.
Plus, he does mention that this is more vibe for those days which feel like those spent with her, so maybe the "anniversary" isn't a year later, just a commemorative day dwelling on a break-up that happened recently... either way, a tad convoluted, but fuck it, I still feel this.
It's impassioned, Giveon sounds great, the production is sombre without sounding generic, and the concept is nothing if not original, at least. Check out more from this guy, he's definitely representing a brand of R&B I want to see more of on the charts!
Title: Ferrari Horses by D-Block Europe (Ft. RAYE)
So this is a single from D-Block Europe, a London hip-hop duo whose name is apparently a reference to The Lox... that's pretty bold. Then again, the album this song is from is called The Blue Print, so I think boldness is what they might be banking on... especially when the music doesn't really impress me much.
Look, they're both fine for what they are, but compared to other rappers I've heard come out of the London rap scene, this is nothing to write home about. What did catch me off guard was RAYE, who absolutely steals the show in terms of bars and charisma. She's not a seasoned spitter or anything, but it's kind of like when Rihanna raps, she has a swagger which Young Adz and Dirtbike LB can't possibly match, especially when she has multiple verses. In spite of that though, they have decent interplay, and the production and hook really make up for it. That guitar is very nice, and the bass is warping and flexible like on any half-decent British rap song; seriously, more American rappers should try this, it makes the songs feels way more dynamic. However, despite all the positives, this song completely lost me the moment the bridge hit. I get what young Adz was trying to do with that falsetto, trying to imitate a neighing horse, but... wait, no, that's exactly the problem!
Seriously, it's one of the most ridiculous things I've heard all year, it instantly kills the atmosphere and reduced me to tears of mirth! The rest of the song can have all the composure and swagger it wants, but those 5 seconds will always take me out of it, it's too funny! I honestly recommend this though, it's too enjoyable and genuinely good in parts to pass up. Just not great as a whole, unfortunately... or fortunately, depending on whether I need a good laugh.
Well, as for the home front, things certainly are interesting! For one, we have a new number 1, as Dermot Kennedy's Days Like This dropped off, to be replaced by Things Are Different by Picture. Unsurprising, I'm sensing the Irish public may be getting tired of poor Dermot, and besides, Things Are Different is a FAR superior song. On top of that, Lea Heart debuted at number 2 with IDK Why, more good news!
In less positive news though, we saw the premature loss of Heartbreak Weather by Niall Horan and despite my hopes for that Emotional Orange crossover, Biig Piig is gone too; shame. That said, we also saw the returns of Liffey by Pillow Queens and Sarah Jane by Nathan Carter, so I guess that's a net positive. And as I've already discussed Lea is our earlier segment, that just leaves me with 2 more new entries to discuss, starting with:
Title: Cheer Up Baby by Inhaler
Well, it was only a matter of time before we discuss this group. These guys are a rock band from Dublin, who broke through last yea; they have good production instincts, especially when it comes to blending their guitars and synths, and regularly prioritise really strong hooks over particularly deep songwriting. Oh, and while I don't want this to particularly colour your expectations in any way, their frontman Elijah Hewson is the son of Bono. Yup, THAT Bono, which in Ireland is a particularly big deal!
Anyway, this is their latest single which brings the same soaring hook and frenetic guitars and drums battling for dominance in the mix. It reminds me a fair bit of Neon Trees, with a few elements of PUP, both of which are big compliments coming from me. And Nathan does pretty well too, even if I feel he could afford to howl a bit more to match the level of the instrumentation on the chorus. As for the song itself, it was actually framed as a love letter to their fans after such a miserable year of isolation. Ok, that's nice, and I can definitely see their fans flocking towards this. Not to be that guy though - even though that's always who I am - but I think there's a bit more to it than that.
It describes our protagonist sinking like a stone into a pit of his own misery, hiding front the world under the covers, bitter at those around him who are only trying to help. Specifically, he highlights a girl who was in his life at the time, encouraging him to cheer up and that he's not on his own. However, as the bridge hits, you realise that she left in the end, and now that he's alone without her, he finally pays attention, finally hearing what she was saying this whole time and desperate to have her back. And what I like is that their relationship is a bit ambiguous. Sure, he could just be pleading to have his supportive girlfriend back, but I like that he specifically asks what she meant, why she even bothered supporting a wretch like him when he was so stubbornly closed off. It's a song about taking responsibility for your own pain, specifically when it comes to taking it out on those around you, which is something I find pretty impressive as it doesn't necessarily paint him in the best light.
I know, maybe I'm just reading into it too much, but at least by my interpretation, this is a really good song, especially nowadays. Nice job guys, looking forward to that debut in July;
Title: Defeated by Chasing Abbey
Right, Chasing Abbey, a dance-pop trio who saw massive success back in 2017 and 2018 when their music went viral nationwide, with their single Talk To me even becoming the official track for the Football Association of Ireland for a while. Since then, they've opened up for and participated in festivals alongside many big acts from Rita Ora to Post Malone to Enrique Iglesias. Now personally, I've never been a huge fan; nothing personal, I just don't particularly gravitate towards that style of house-inspired festival pop. And this is more of the same to me. It is a bit brighter than a lot of their songs, almost sounding more like a radio pop song than a festival hit. But the line about getting on your knees and feeling defeated is a pretty week punchline, and it's as inanely repetitive and underwritten as you might expect. Also, for a song with that title, it just feels remarkably limp and reserved. The trio said this is a song about resilience and strength in the face of repeated failure, But all I hear is a casual jaunt, there's no conflict or stakes to this at all.
I'll say I like this more than Lately, which I did NOT like in spite of its massive success, but this is still very forgettable to me. Good on the guys for continuing to find success, and I know several people who will love this, but... nah, just not for me.
And that's our week, hope you all enjoyed what was a pretty great week as a whole! Feel free to leave a like, as well as some feedback in the comments, let me know what you thought. Also, 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!