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Musical McCool - Week 17 (April 23, 2021)

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

At first glance, this week may seem like a quieter one, perhaps a welcome respite from the complete madness of last week. But of course... nope, the locals rose to the challenge, giving us a lot more to talk about than I had initially planned... eh, who needs sleep?

The Top 10

Besides, the top 50 was still fairly quiet, especially in the top 10.

Let's face it, it's going to take something pretty huge to unseat MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) by Lil Nas X, still at number 1.

Although, who knows, maybe RAPSTAR by Polo G has a chance. Sure, it's still at number 2 for now, but with consistent numbers across the board, especially in streaming, the thought that this may outlast Lil Nas X isn't beyond the imagination.

Which is more than I can say for Peaches by Justin Bieber, Daniel Caesar and Giveon, which is pretty unlikely to rise any higher at this point, even with the radio pushing it full-throttle.

Same story for Bed by Joel Carry, RAYE and David Guetta at number 4, I just can't see it getting any higher than it is right now.

On the other hand... wow, I did not see the surge of deja vu by Olivia Rodrigo up to number 5. This one took a couple of weeks to really take off on the radio, but it just blew up this past week, finally catching up to its decent streaming and sales. Colour me surprised, but not disappointed.

Whereas Heat Waves by Glass Animals is definitely entering its third act, dropping down to number 6. I expect this to start dropping very fast soon, it's been around for quite a long time already.

Next is Friday by Riton, Nightcrawlers and Mufasa, holding on at number 7.

And of course, The Business by Tiësto, continuing its natural descent down to number 8.

Fingers crossed that they'll soon make way for Kiss Me More by Doja Cat and SZA at number 9, I'm rooting for this one!

Lastly, Your Love (9 PM) by ATB, Topic & A7S at number 10. Still. Somehow.

Top 50: The Punished and the New

This year feels like the natural follow-up from such a busy one last time. With the expected losses for Taylor Swift and the songs that were moved to ACR last week, this allowed a number of long-running songs to actually regain some minor traction and for another week of NO movers to ACR. Instead; let's just run through all the songs that are losing traction naturally: Up by Cardi B falling back to number 17 is a shame, but it never got quite as big here as it did in some other countries, so that's to be expected at this point. Then of course you had the Taylor losses, with Mr. Perfectly Fine dropping top 28 and Love Story (Taylor's Version) to 46. Also... ok, Mercury by Dave dropping to 44 is expected, but I'm a little shocked that Titanium actually held its ground at 12, considering it's definitely the less interesting of the 2. Finally there was the utter collapse of Met Him Last Night by Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande, probably because it's not the type of song that really appeals to pop radio nowadays. Also the production isn't the best.

So yeah, couple of losers, but the big story this week was the winners. Pretty much half the top 50 moved up this week in the wake of the drop-offs, so for the sake of simplicity, I'll just highlight the biggest ones. Starting with the continued growth of Little Bit Of Love by Tom Grennan up to 13... I really don't get why this is getting such a push, it's just aight. Then there were the rebounds of Levitating by Dua Lipa and DaBaby (again!!!) up to number 18 and Good Without by Mimi Webb to 19. Those are both to be expected, one refuses to go away and the other's a slow burn that's been a hit over in the UK for a while now. What's unexpected is AURORA's Runaway rising all the way up to number 23! Guess her Irish fanbase is more dedicated than excepted. At least I'm kind of resigned to Ferrari Horses by D-Block Europe & RAYE becoming a hit of some kind, as it reached a new peak this week at number 27 along with Rasputin by Majestic and Boney M to 31. I don't mind either of those, they're both pretty decent... more so than Cover Me In Sunshine by P!nk and her daughter Willow Sage Heart, which suddenly surged up to 34 out of nowhere! Guess it got a second wind, yay; Still, I'm happier about that than I am about Beautiful Mistakes by Marron 5 & Megan Thee Stallion getting ITS second wind to 40! Please don't.

As for the rest of this mess, it's fairly short and straightforward. The only returning entry was Best Friend by Saweetie & Doja Cat at number 50, back once again just like clockwork. However, I'm going to make a judgement call and place Another Love by Tom Odell in the returning entries category too. I happen to know it was definitely an Irish hit back in 2012 or 2013, so I'm not entirely sure why it's being counted as a new song on the official charts website this week at 37. And with that call we only have a couple of new entries, and neither debuting all that high. So, let's start with the one I'm personally happiest about.

Title: Little More Love by AJ Tracey

Position: #36

So AJ Tracey finally dropped that new album and it's pretty entertaining. Ok, some slight dips, but AJ's the kind of MC to easily be able to carry a project off some really solid flows and varied, fun beats. And it says something that his song with a title that would usually befit a thug love song is kind of a banger.

Aside from the DMX tribute in the music video (R.I..P.), Little More Love is an expression of weariness in the face of his double life. He's making real money, and yet still chased by police like any other black man. He's found success, and yet his life has never felt more precarious. He's made his friends rich and happy with his success, even comparing himself to Ché Guevara (fitting, as his first name is Ché), but he's also paranoid of betrayal, much like any revolutionary leader.

Plus, while I could see his delivery on this song coming across as a bit subdued compared to some of his other songs, his MANY internal rhyme schemes and the production both make up for it in spades. Seriously, that bass and guitar loop may seem simple, but it's very well-balanced with his voice, and leads into the hook really naturally without missing a beat. And that first verse flows so smoothly that you may not even notice how intricately it's put together. I mean any rapper who somehow successfully manages to fit beef stroganoff into their rhyme scheme is doing something right.

So yeah, for a song requesting for his fans to love him more, this is less of the Fake Love type and more Mortal Man, and I mean that as the highest of compliments. Yeah, it's short and probably could have afforded another verse, but for what it is, this is pretty great. Solid work AJ Tracey, I hope a few of my readers will take the time to check out your new album.

Title: Solid by Young Stoner Life (Ft. Drake)

Position: #42

Right, so for those who didn't know, Young Stoner Life is the collaborative group made up of Young Thug and Gunna... because I guess Jeffrey feels pity for him. Either way, their new project Slime Language 2 is about as disposable and meh and you'd expect, and of course the only song to get some real attention outside of their rabid fanbase is the one featuring Drake.

And I swear to you, the first time I listened to this, all I could hear was Drake. Seriously, i had to open up Genius to make sure who was who on this song, because Young thug and Gunna are barely even trying to disguise how much they're biting from Drizzy on this, it's kind of amazing. Now, the other factor contributing to this is the production, because while I will admit it's pretty smooth and somewhat pleasant to listen to, there's so little variation that the entire thing just blends into an amorphous mess. I could barely tell when one verse ended and the chorus began, and the fact that none of our performers do anything noteworthy or unique only lends to that. You could turn this song on at any point and not have a clue who's talking or which part you're on, and don't even bother to ask me what any of them are even saying. So yeah, this is the classic example of why this group is so disposable. Sure, it sounds fine, but it's also so blatantly forgettable and pointless that I fully expect to erase it from my memory by the end of the day. If Drake's EP came and went within the span of 4 weeks, what chance in Hell does this have?

National Treasures

In stark contrast to last week, the busier of our 2 charts this time round was actually the Homegrown one. Let's first talk about the surprising surges of various songs, like The Hurt You Gave Me by Robert grace at number 3. Unexpected to say the least, but when the song's this great, I'm not complaining. I'm a little less thrilled by Maps by Lesley Roy and Defeated by Chasing Abbey suddenly gaining boosts to 12 and 13 respectively. Then again I suppose neither are terrible, just tedious.

Overall there's more interest in our losers, whether it be Counting Houses by LUZ at number 14, the unfortunate collapse of Cheer Up Baby by Inhaler at 17 and the mercy of Babyproof by Versatile and Offica to 19; with any luck this will be gone next week! And while we're at it, this is also the last week for 3 long-lasting presences in our local top 10: Apricots by BICEP, Too Many Nights by 220 Kid & JC Stewart and N17 by Tolu McKay; all 3 will be gone next week after very respectable runs, so we can expect at least 3 new songs to replace them in our next edition.

And now, with our only re-entry being Rudimental & James Vincent McMorrow's Be Somebody coming back as Waiting dropped out (again, 1 song per artist on this chart, that's the rule), let's welcome back a familiar and wonderful face:

Title: Don't Let Me Stand On My Own by Imelda May

Position: #7

Oh welcome back queen! Some of you may vaguely remember me discussing Imelda May's anthem to love in all its forms Made To Love a month or 2 ago, and with the release of her new album 11 Past the Hour finally gracing our ears, so did this song, a duet with her real-life boyfriend Niall McNamee. And while this isn't my favourite song on the album and I'm a bit shocked we didn't get Just One Kiss with Noel Gallagher and Ronnie Wood, I definitely still see why this would be the song to make it here. For one, it's just a beautiful duet where Imelda and Niall play off each other beautifully. The fact that they're actually dating adds a sense of authenticity to this, a love song where each of them is pleading the other to stay and support them. It's a song about admitting your own demons and mental shortcomings, but finding solace in supportive love, holding each other up through the rough times.

Plus, I love how Imelda can take such a simple premise and make it feel so much bigger with some simple production tricks. The harmonies on the hook, the way that steady guitar thrum builds and steadily grows louder as the song goes on, adding in the strings on the second verse, then stripping it all back for the bridge before that final hook with the soaring backing vocals. It's a simple trick, but it makes a song into an anthem, similarly to what Frank Turner does a lot of the time.

In other words, this is a great little song, and if you're curious to hear more, go check out 11 Past the Hour, because trust me, it's well worth a listen!

Title: Outside by Smilez & Youngiz

Position: #8

So first point of order, this is not the SMILEZ associated with 6ix9ine, this is a different guy from Tallaght. Together with fellow local rapper Youngiz, these 2 young Irish MCs dropped a banger that has been doing the rounds thanks to GRM Daily's music video. And... boy do i wish I had more to say about this. The fact is, a lot of these local drill collabs have a bit of a formula which they stick to religiously. The brag, they usually include some mild sort of wordplay to show that this isn't all made up on the spot, and stick to a very mid-tempo flow that bleeds into the chorus very easily. And that's what this is: some faint flutes, LOTS of bass, and 2 MCs flexing about girls, money and not being locked up.

Don't get me wrong, I get why a song called Outside would be pretty appealing right now, especially to young people, but it also makes me worry whether this could become an unfortunate anthem for all the wrong reasons. Basically, if I'm walking down the streets to the shop one evening soon and I see a bunch of teenagers singing along to this while clumped together maskless by the river... well, I'm not going to blame these 2 rappers, that'd be unfair, but I'm also not going to be surprised. Otherwise, there just isn't enough to this to hold my attention. I don't expect to remember this in a week from now.

Title: Down by the River by MOM + The Rebels

Position: #10

Allow me to introduce 2 artists: Lisa Canny, a singer, harpist and banjo player from county Mayo, and DeJay Edmund, a singer, producer and bassist from Bristol. After meeting in 2018 and fusing their 2 styles of traditional Irish folk and gospel music, the 2 released a scattered few singles over past few years, including the locally successful Come By Me. these 2 decided to change their initial group name of MOM to MOM + The Rebels for the release of their newest and best single Down by the River.

Look, I don't need much from my pop-crossover hits, I only ask for some good harmonies, some instrumentation with some flair and a really catchy hook. And between the banjo touches and the smooth lo-fi breakdown on the bridge, and our 2 singers each contributing their own excellent performances before fusing perfectly on the hook, which has been stuck in my head since I heard it... yeah, I'm satisfied.

In my opinion this is the moment where they finally feel balanced as a group, where they're making the best use of their individual talents as well as finding some really flattering harmonies to share. Lyrically it's not that deep, just a song about finding yourself with this other person "down by the river", but it doesn't need anything more than that, it makes the best use of what it has. So yeah, I like this a lot, great job you 2. Just know that I now consider this the bar, so mind you put some thought into what you do next; I have faith you won't disappoint.

Title: Can't Say No by Wild Youth

Position: #16

So since Champagne Butterflies lasted its full 13 weeks on the chart, it left this week and was immediately replaced by another Wild Youth single that ahs been bubbling under for over a month now. This one is a bit of a different tone than the last one and I've actually heard many fans say they prefer this song to the carefree Champagne Butterflies... and I could not disagree more. Look, that song was flighty and easy-going, sure, but it was also really fun and upbeat, and made great use of some bright, 1975-esque guitars and built to a killer hook. Whereas Can't Say No feels a lot more sour, lead more by the reverb-soaked piano and a scuzzy bassline that reminds me eerily of Youngblood by 5 Seconds of Summer. And >I get that that's the point; after all, this is a song about calling out your significant other for cheating on you, of course it's more bitter and sour. But the minor tone on the falsettos paired with the staccato bassline makes the hook feel oddly jerky and clumsy, it just doesn't sound good. And as much as the bass and the guitar solo at the end should feel awesome, they're instead smothered behind the layers of multitracked vocals which are lathered in a film of synth that makes them feel oddly artificial. But not artificial in the sense of Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak, just devoid of real emotion while still emanating bitterness. I dunno, it's clearly hard to describe what isn't working for me here, at all, but all I can tell you is that it's rubbed me the wrong way every time I've come across it. I get that it's more story-driven than their last single, which is usually right up my alley, but this just doesn't work for me at all. Sorry. Still, at least I can say I get it, unlike:

Title: The First Day by Villagers

Position: #20

This is either genius or terrible, and I'm not quite sure which one it is yet. Conor O’Brien has certainly had an eclectic career path, going from his previous indie/kraut/alt-rock band The Immediate to forming Villagers in 2008 with landmark albums like Becoming A Jackal and {Awayland}, albums that gained quite a bit of critical and audience acclaim. Starting around Daring Arithmetic though, I feel like he started disappearing up his own ass, as the "indie" and "alt" labels started becoming more and more of an excuse to do whatever the fuck he felt like.

This new single is certainly a reflection of that, alternating between melancholic folk and some truly off-kilter and off-key electronic elements, with some more than questionable vocal production. And yet once that chorus hits, with its bass, piano and horn interplay with that soaring hook... yeah, I can't deny that really works! I don't know if it fits in with the rest of the song, but it does effectively make you feel elated, which I gather is the point of this song. With the repeated lines and the slower delivery, its clear that this is a song you're supposed to feel more than sing along to, and for what it's trying, I'd say it succeeds.

Again, I'm on the fence whether or not this is intricately pieced together, especially because of how ugly the first 20 seconds are, but for now, I'm at least willing to give it a pass. Apparently this marks the beginning of a new album rollout for the group, so keep an eye out for that album. Apparently it's called Fever Dreams, which this certainly feels like in spots, so maybe it'll all make sense once I hear the entire project. For now though... tentative recommendation. I don't mind this.

And that's our week, hope you all enjoyed! As always, 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!

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