Musical McCool - Week 16 (April 16, 2021)
Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! My name is Fionn, and welcome back to a brand new edition of Musical McCool!
This was arguably a really busy week. A mini album bomb (kinda), 2 singles from one of the most acclaimed names in hip-hop these past couple of years, and 2 more huge individual singles from superstars both debuting in the top 10. And yet, despite all the new blood, this week felt more momentous in the larger movements across the top 50, as a lot of songs appear to be finally losing steam after months of overperforming.
The Top 10
But still, it'll be interesting to see how long these new singles stick around.
I mean even with all the momentum of our number 2, it still didn't come close to dethroning MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) by Lil Nas X. It's at number 1 and it doesn't seem like it wants to budge anytime soon.
Thus, it shouldn't be surprised that RAPSTAR by Polo G only reached number 2... and let's be fair, that's still pretty damn impressive! After Martin & Gina never got as big as it should have, regardless of the quality of this new single, I'm pretty happy for the guy finally seeing such huge success over here.
It forced Peaches by Justin Bieber, Daniel Caesar and Giveon down to number 3, which is expected. Don't get me wrong, I think this will stick around for a bit longer, but it's not huge by any means, certainly not in the way MONTERO is.
Same story for Bed by Joel Carry, RAYE and David Guetta falling back to number 4. It's big, it's got legs, but I don't really know how much longer it will get.
One of the only songs in the top 10 that actually gained some ground was Heat Waves by Glass Animals, up to number 5. This song's longevity is starting to get a little baffling for how weird it is.
More than I can say for The Business by Tiësto, which has been steadily losing traction ever since it finally reached number 1, hence why it's now down to number 6.
Next is Friday by Riton, Nightcrawlers and Mufasa, falling back to number 5 as it too seems to be losing traction after a respectable run
Then you have deja vu by Olivia Rodrigo rising off its debut to number 8. Called this last week, I knew it would get a bit higher, but I don't expect it to get much higher than this.
Then we have our second big top 10 entry: Kiss Me More by Doja Cat (Ft. SZA) at number 9. Unsurprisingly, these 2 collaborating after they each had a huge single apiece launched them right into our top 10. And spoilers, I couldn't be happier!
Finally, Your Love (9 PM) by ATB, Topic & A7S rounds out our top 10. Neat.
Top 50: The Punished and the New
Soooo, a lot happened this week! To start, we lost 2 huge hits from last year in Blinding Lights and Mood. Don't worry, they're both likely going to make the 2021 year-end list as well.
There were also a lot of drops within the top 50 itself, including a bunch of movers to ACR! So let's start with them:
Wellerman by Nathan Evans, 220 Kid & Billen Ted: number 10 to 36
Latest Trends by A1 & J1: number 15 to 43
Don't Play by Anne-Marie, KSI & Digital Farm Animals: number 16 to 49
Things Are Different by Picture This: number 39 to 50
So yeah, huge number of songs getting their streaming slashed in half! Shame about the last one, I really hoped Picture This was going to secure a spot on the year-end list and now that's unlikely, but still happy it got so much attention. As for the other 3, they're all big enough that they're all going to make it quite comfortably.
And the losses continue across the board! Save Your Tears by the Weeknd exited the top 10 this week at 11, Astronaut In The Ocean by Masked Wolf is finally losing its inexplicable momentum down to 18. then we had We're Good by Dua Lipa (which has been floating around number 20 forever at this point) finally exiting the top 20 at 23, while drivers license by Olivia Rodrigo plummets down to 27. And don't forget Paradise by MEDUSA & Dermot Kennedy collapsing down to 35, Head & Heart by Joel Corry & MNEK sliding down to 38, Get Out My Head by Shane Codd tanking at 42 and Patience by KSI, YUNGBLUD & Polo G continued to shamble down to number 47. To end on a positive note though, at least Commitment Issues by Central Cee fell back to 44... nothing against the guy, the song just sucks. Unlike Beautiful Mistakes by Maroon 5 and Megan, where I have no problem admitting my glee at its losing down to 48.
So yeah, a LOT of losses this week. We also got a couple of notable wins though: good week for Tom Grennan, as Little Bit of Love rose to 17 and his collab with Ella Henderson rose up to number 20... I still don't get this guy's appeal. Finally, I'm surprised to see Ferrari Horses by D-Block Europe & RAYE rise up to 33, and completely UNsurprised to see Rasputin by Majestic & Boney M gain off its debut last week to number 41.
Whew, so after that mouthful, our only returning entry is Love Story (Taylor's Version) back up tp 25. Meanwhile we also have 8, count 'em 8(!!!) new arrivals, which I am probably going to skim through for time! So to start off with our biggest story:
Title: RAPSTAR by Polo G
So we got a lot to go through today and this post is already late, so I'm going to skim through our new arrivals more quickly than usual. Even with that, this is actually a fairly straightforward song to talk about.
the most interesting part of the song is the massive success it gained, with a huge music video and lyrics about the downsides of fame. Or, more accurately, it's a song about the success that Polo G has seen in the past year or 2 since he really blew up, as well as his reflections on his success. And... it's a but of a mixed tone to be honest.
While there is bragging here, there are also several lines about his own mental health, his mistreatment of women, and a mixture of gratefulness and sorrow across the entire song. All of which is then amplified by a catchy hook juxtaposed with a minor guitar lead as the main melody.
In other words, this is big for the same reasons as Calling My Phone was a month of so ago, and while I will say that I like this a bit more than that one, purely because I think Polo G is the better rapper (sorry Tjay), it's still just a tad too generic for my taste. Definitely good, but compared to past singles from the guy, I know he can do better.
Title: Kiss Me More by Doja Cat (Ft. SZA)
Well, this makes all the sense in the world. After both Streets and Good Days did better than I think anyone expected, these 2 R&B queens decided to combine their forces to reach even greater heights together.
And let me start off by saying: I loved this immediately. The twinkling melody, the sensual cooing, the fantastic interplay between our 2 singers where they both manage to maintain their distinctive personalities, this is just a phenomenal collaboration from the word go! I love it for the same reasons I adored Say So last year, genuinely sensual in some moment, and then silly as all Hell with the shouts of "All on my tongue, I want it!" And this time we don't even have the unwelcome presence of Dr. Luke all over this... unless he's getting better at hiding his aliases, in which case, go retroactively fuck yourself dude!
So yeah, this works great for me; it's fun, it's sexy, it sounds gorgeous, and while it's definitely retro-leaning in its influences, there are enough modern pop elements for me to stick up for this. Curious to see how well this holds up to overplay, but for right now, this is all I've played this week. Really nice job you 2.
Title: Titanium by Dave
So I'm going to ask a question that might get me into trouble: is Dave running out of ideas? I know that some of you are going to berate me for asking that, but ever since Psychodrama rightfully got a lot of praise and acclaim, I've been waiting for him to recapture that spark and... I'm sorry, I just haven't seen much of it. Now in fairness, it all comes down to what you're looking for from the guy. Because he's still got a great voice and flow, and his beats are usually top-notch. But what I really liked about Psychodrama were the themes of genuine introspection and self-hatred that ran through it. It was vulnerable, but intelligent and poised, not afraid to address his feelings, but refusing to succumb to them. And yet since then, a lot of his songs either default to musing on his success or just bragging... and this song is a lot more of the latter.
Now again, the beat and flow are good and the hook is downright great for the genre it's in. but it's Dave on his gun-running gang game where he's shouting out all the different races of girls he's fucking and how untouchable he is to his enemies. I mean there are some interesting lines here or there - I can't remember the last time a rapper bragged about not needing vibrators to satisfy the girls around him - but it's just a bit too slow and generic to really stand out much, especially as a teaser to that next album of his.
Then again, I'm aware this isn't supposed to make the album, it's more of a leftover, so I'm not going to let it colour my expectations moving forward. But still, Dave, please step it up a bit; I know you can do better than this.
Title: Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor's Version) by Taylor Swift
So Taylor finally got to re-release Fearless after having to re-record it for bullshit legal reasons. Great, good for her, and even if it's not one of my favourite albums from her, there's enough nostalgia tied into some of the singles that I was still curious to hear this. Well, bad example, this song actually never made the original album, instead being recorded and placed on the album as Taylor's version in 2021 for the first time.
And as with Taylor's collab with Maren Morris from a few weeks ago, I'm not too sure why this didn't make the original version of the album. Because it's pretty damn good: the writing it typical Taylor, witty and biting, with turns of phrases that can occasionally feel a bit clumsy, sure, but in a way that feels a bit calculated and intentional. It's a song calling out an ex who moved on far quicker than she did, as she calls him a bunch of names. Not insulting him, but certainly calling him out with titles like "Mr. Casually Cool" and "Mr. Insincere Apology So He Doesn't Look Like the Bad Guy." And look, I know that this is catty and a bit immature, but in fairness, it WAS supposedly written 13 years ago.
Also, Jack Antonoff's production just breathes so much life into this. It's more pop than country, and despite being a tad jerky in spots (the key change came right out of nowhere on that last hook), it really does sound gorgeous, and flatters Taylor's more mature vocals really well. So yeah, she's certainly done better, but of the new cuts on Fearless, this is probably my favourite. Not bad at all.
Title: Mercury by Dave (Ft. Kamal)
Okay, that's a bit more like it. Here, Dave instead dissects his own dependency on women around him, wondering if they're just a personal coping mechanism or people he genuinely appreciates as individuals. He even describes the high expectations of his fans, and the bragging is still juxtaposed by his admittance to having a panic attack at a concert last year.
It's a bit of a shame that the hook and verses don't really match though. For as great as the watery bass and the trap beat sound on the verses, it then abruptly switches to Kamal's chorus, which reminds me eerily of i hate u, i love u by Olivia O'Brien... make of that what you will.
Again, this isn't bad by any means, and Kamal is actually a really good singer. I just don't think the 2 pieces work that well together. Still, I appreciate that this is certainly better, definitely closer to great... but if you want something truly iconic:
Title: You Belong With Me (Taylor's Verison) by Taylor Swift
... I mean... it's You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift. Only with better vocal control and well-placed multitracking, stronger percussion on the bridge and a rougher guitar solo. It's a song that any Taylor fan - and even a few non-fans - probably know word-for-word, and I am no exception. This song is a karaoke staple, and while it took a few years to really admit how much I like this as a staple of the end of the 2000s and early 2010s, I can now safely say this puts a smile on my face whenever it comes on.
So yeah, great song, great re-master, and kinda justifies this entire week for me all on its own. This makes me happy, next.
Title: Runaway by AURORA
AURORA is a Norwegian singer who blew up these past few years with some real acclaim behind her EPs and albums. And while I will admit she's hugely talented with a killer voice, I have recently come to the conclusion that she just isn't for me.
Nothing personal, but during a recent watch/listen party I was at over Discord, they just kept playing her music on loop and I very quickly realised my key issue with her: all of her music blends together for me. I can vaguely tell one folk warble from the other, and her production is usually quite eclectic and pretty, but the main appeal to her music is her voice, which is great, but does have a somewhat limited range and rarely allows other elements that I like to stand out. You know, like lyrics, or interesting instrumental choices.
And here... well, on Running With the Wolves, you could argue it had some pulse and energy to it. Here, it's a slower tempo, with more of an emphasis on the words. I just wish the lyrics didn't feel so... "folk-generic"? Not that it's bad by any means, and the moment where it breaks into the glistening keys on the second hook is definitely pretty. But I dunno, I kinda wish there was more oomph to the hook, or at the very least that she had gone for organic instrumentation like on >New Day by LYRA.
So yeah, this is just more proof that this type of music just may not be for me. No disrespect to AURORA, she's incredibly talented for her age, but this just isn't something I would ever choose to listen to. Speaking of which:
Title: Anywhere Away From Here by Rag'n'Bone Man & P!nk
If AURORA "isn't for me", then I just actively dislike Rag'n'Bone Man's music. Every time I hear him, my first reaction is always: why does he choose to sing like that? It's like Hozier if Hozier were a bullfrog who wanted to do opera. And while said like that, it sounds kind of awesome, I always get immediately turned off by the first few lines of any song he's on.
It's unfortunate, because unlike Lewis Capaldi, Rag'n'Bone Man technically has a good voice. It's just that the WAY he sings just rubs me the wrong way, especially as half of his music also sounds like it belongs in commercials... probably because quite a few of his songs HAVE done just that!
Here, he teams up with P!nk, but she really doesn't add much, she's basically just here to provide a break from Rags... so yes, she is the best part of it. And together, they decided to make... Scars To Your Beautiful? Sorry, not, I was confused because of the pandering non-specific-ness on display here. It's just a piano-driven duet between 2 people musing about being sad sometimes and dreaming to be somewhere else. I know that sounds very cynical, but this type of song really annoys me because it's so non-specific. These aren't characters, they're stock figures who just "sometimes" close their eyes and dream of being "somewhere" else. It's just so non-descript and musically uninventive, with a hook that just drops with a thud and barely differs from the verses. I'm sure that many people will call this inspirational or so helpful, but I guarantee you those same people will forget this in the next week or 2. Which is at least longer than I'm going to retain it, so there is that. Sucks, moving on!
Whew, that was a LOT! Thankfully our Homegrown chart is a tad calmer this week. The only song to make a huge move up or down was I Have A Love by For Those I Love falling back down to number 15. Bit disappointing; but I do get it... Heck, I'm shocked it stuck around for this long. This also marks the last week for Wild Youth's Champagne Butterflies reaching its 13-week quota; great run for that one, and a well-deserved one at that!
Otherwise, we had 3 returning entries with The Harbour by Declan O'Rourke from last year coming back at 12. In more recent news, we also got Defeated by Chasing Abbey at 18, despite even fans not really seeming down with it, along with - once again - I Don't Belong by Fontaines DC... has this song EVER stuck around for more than a week at a time?
So that's it, and since neither of our entries from last week stuck around, I have no real expectation for the long-term success of these ones... screw it, let's just dive in with:
Title: counting houses by Luz
The come-up story of young Luz from Offaly is a fascinating one indeed. Starting out anonymously at age 14 on Instagram under the handle @secretpersonthatsings, she eventually revealed her identity in 2017, later gaining notoriety for her cover of Dean Lewis' Lose My Mind, for which she actually got invited to open a show for him when he was touring in Ireland! Since then she's continued releasing music, bolstered and cheered on by many of her musical heroes and peers, and even opened up for Kodaline in 2019, which trust me, is a BIG deal!
Now, during quarantine, the young 20-year-old released multiple well-received singles, but this is actually her first single being released this year. And after how much I genuinely LOVED her last single the author last year especially, I was highly anticipating this new single. And... well, it's a bit more simple in terms of its construction, relying more on multitracking and a very nice guitar line, but Luz's individual talents still certainly shine through.
She has a great knack for creating mundane yet relatable images to young adults (ie; counting houses and a love of insulation), and she has a great knack for playing with cadence and melodies so that the flow is never quite what you'd expect as a new listener reading along with the lyrics. And on that topic, this is one of those songs that relies more on subtext, but to me it feels... hopeful. A trust that you'll be able to move into a better place at some point, whether it be an actual house or just a better stage of life. One that will actually match the perfect picture you can frame and put up on your wall.
I dunno, maybe I'm way off, but the point is, it's engaging, it's well-written, and still uniquely her. If you're looking for a local Irish singer who deserves a LOT more attention... you know, like the ones I highlight almost every week on this blog, this is another one you definitely want to check out. So go support her, check out the music she has up and join me in looking forward to more.
Title: Waiting by James Vincent McMurrow
Huh... didn't expect this. Remember how I talked about this guy a couple of weeks ago on his song with Rudimental, Be Somebody? Well, at the time, I let you know that move made sense for him, as he's been incorporating more electronica into his folk music for the past decades to varying results and responses. So imagine my surprise when this new hit from him drops and it's just plain old folk, nothing beyond an acoustic guitar and some echoing backing vocals.
Now, as for the song itself... not gonna lie, this hit a lot harder than I expected. James' voice is an acquired taste, as he leans heavily on a creaky falsetto, which depending on the song can either make or break it. Here though, it works pretty effectively, and that has everything to do with the subject matter and the presentation. Because this is Anywhere Away From Here done SO much better!
See, much like that song, this is a track all about feeling down and sad, wanting to escape from the world you live in... but it doesn't play it like that. If anything it's heartbreakingly underplayed, portraying a couple dealing with the fact that one of them is deeply depressed. And here, I actually like the fact that it's left a bit ambiguous because it's nowhere near as generic. It's hinted that she left him because he was just too miserable and dragging them both down, and he's just happy he was able to dream of a better life at all. And when she tells him that she's waiting to see if he'll get better and he replies that he's waiting too... argh, that hurts!
It's plain-spoken, yet tangled enough to have many interpretations, and James' delivery and the acoustic nature of the track only add to the ramshackle, fragile nature of this track. So yeah, wasn't expecting this guy's return to pure folk, but if this is what I can expect from this pivot, I'm not mad about it. Not bad at all sire, nice job.
And that's our week, hope you all enjoyed! Crazy busy week personally AND here, so sorry again for the delay. Please feel free to like the post and share any feedback in the comments, let me know what you thought. 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!