Musical McCool - Week 19 (May 7, 2021)
Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! My name is Fionn, and welcome back to a brand new edition of Musical McCool!
You know, I had a feeling this may be the week that Lil Nas X finally got unseated from the number 1 spot. However, my bets were on the perpetrator being Billie and her massive new single. Instead... well, something less expected happened.
The Top 10
Because yes, we have a new challenger, and certainly one I don't think I could have ever predicted...
Because surging up to number 1, off of the strength of a surprisingly popular remix giving new life to its TikTok challenge, it's Body by Russ Millions & Tion Wayne. And this is where things get a bit interesting. See, the remix gave the song a second life, but it's actually the original that ended up topping the charts, which also marks the first time a drill single has EVER topped the Irish Charts! That's really cool... I just wish the song were as incredible as its landmark success.
It's certainly not good enough to pass MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) by Lil Nas X, which fell back down to number 2. However, I'm going to predict that this will rebound or at the very least stay relevant for a few more weeks, it's just too big to fail at this point!
This brings us to number 3 and our other big story of the week, Your Power by Billie Eilish! I'll have more to say on the song itself in a bit, but yeah, I expected this to debut higher. Maybe it's because it's not a typical radio single, which means that it hasn't quite got the attention of Therefore I Am or Everything I Wanted just yet. And that's saying something considering it still debuted at number 3!
Then at number 4, just to make me happy, Kiss Me More by Doja Cat and SZA FINALLY got its overdue radio boost this week! Hell yeah, I adore this track, give it more attention!
Now all of this turbulence forced a few of our older singles further down the chart, as Save Your Tears by The Weeknd & Ariana Grande fell back to number 5 off its initial boost. Fair enough, Save Your Tears is currently the second-biggest song of the year over here, its shelf life is damn impressive regardless of this setback.
Gotta say though, I'm a bit surprised that Bed by Joel Carry, RAYE and David Guetta already fell back to number 6. I can only imagine it'll rebound a bit as Body and Your Power will probably fall back a bit in the next week or 2, but who can really say for sure?
Same story for Peaches by Justin Bieber, Daniel Caesar and Giveon down to number 7, even though its stability is pretty shaky at this point.
Then you had Friday by Riton, Nightcrawlers and Mufasa, falling back to number 8. This one has been flip-flopping quite a bit these past few weeks, who knows where it'll be next time.
Next is Heat Waves by Glass Animals down to number 9, steadily on its way out after a run that nobody could have predicted.
Finally, to close us out, RAPSTAR by Polo G continued to drop to number 10. Again, it just doesn't have the radio presence to compete in this market.
Top 50: The Punished and the New
The funny thing is that, for as turbulent as the top 10 is this week, it was honestly our quietest one as a whole in a good while. Suits me, I needed this cooldown.
Now there were still some notable drops and rises. For one, this marks the official exit of The Business by Tiësto from the top 10 down to number 12. Some may be tempted to blame that on ACR, but this song's streaming presence has just naturally been diminishing these past few weeks, and if it weren't for its still massive radio presence, it would have probably exited far sooner. Other notable drops this week include Hold On by Justin Bieber down to number 20, Titanium by Dave to 28, the slightly premature exit of drivers license by Olivia Rodrigo from the top 30 to 31, alongside the unexpected loss of Believe Me by Navos to 32. Finally, we had 2 songs exiting naturally, but unfortunately: Wellerman by Nathan Evans, 220 Kid & Billen Ted to 42, and Mr. Perfectly Fine by Taylor Swift to 49. One is a good friend exiting after a very impressive run, the other's just a song I felt should have been given more of a chance.
Regardless, we also saw a mover to ACR this week (wow, feels like forever since we've had that):
Up by Cardi B - number 20 to 41
I mean fair, this song probably wouldn't have been as big as it was without its streaming numbers, so when that went away, it's only natural it would fall back so harshly. Still a shame though, I've enjoyed this one.
Now with that out of the way, let's scrutinize our gains... such as they are. For one, I have no idea why Astronaut in the Ocean by Masked Wolf is back up to 15, it's just tiring at this point. We also saw the second wind of Without You by Kid Laroi up to 24 thanks to a godawful remix with Miley Cyrus... because God hates you. Well, sometimes, because he also gifted us with Little More Love by AJ Tracey back up to 39; so that's something at least.
In terms of our returning entries, we only had the one: Confetti by Little Mix, off of yet ANOTHER remix (bit of a theme this week) with Saweetie. It's actually a really good one too, probably the best of the remixes we've discussed this week, so I have no problem with this being back. Kinda wish it had re-entered higher to be honest. And that leaves us with our new arrivals, all 3 of them, starting with the big one you're all here for:
Title: Your Power by Billie Eilish
I'm pretty sure that Billie Eilish is my most talked-about artist since I started this blog. And why shouldn't she be? She's talented, hugely popular, and genuinely transforming the landscape of pop music as we know it. And Hell, I only got on board in 2019, I was late to the party and I guess now I'm making up for all that lost time.
That said, I've been a little baffled by the rollout of her sophomore album, with wildly differing singles going in loads of different musical directions. And thus, it's not really surprising that she threw another curveball with this one. As you might expect, Your Power is a song about the abuse of power, specifically by men, but also just generally dissecting how people who have power naturally abuse it, and then get flustered and insecure when said power is taken away from them. Not to mention being one of her more stripped-back songs, with a rich acoustic guitar, touches of reverb, multitracking, and that's really about it. It's simple and really quite beautiful.
That said, I could see some of the criticisms leveled against this song. The musical approach to this topic turns this into more of a ballad than one might expect from the girl who made Therefore I Am. Like it or not, I'm sure many would have expected Billie to use this disdainful takedown of abusers with a bit more fire and brimstone, a side of her music that she has proved herself capable of many times over. But no, instead this taps into the more emotional, pretty side of her delivery that we've seen on Ocean Eyes, xanny or when the party's over. And here's why I think this works: as much as many people want her to take up the strong, feminist role, I think those people are forgetting the fact that she IS a woman. She's not screaming at a bunch of random people, in fact I'm sure that she, just like most women, has faced her fair share of people in power, and sees her own share of faces in her mind when she sings this song. Hell, just look at the second verse, where she speaks to a guy who used to keep her in his own cage just to satiate his own insecurity and is now doing the very same thing to somebody else.
In other words, there is anger here, and hurt too, but it's more tempered, almost exhausted. It's the calmer, more low-key version of Fiona Apple's For Her, not calling out the obvious targets, but the people who a lot of us view as heroes until they realise the power they have over us and abuse it. This abuse of power has been around for many years, and Billie's almost casual-sounding observations on how "strange" that is, it really drives the point home of how insane it is that we let these people get away with so much. It's a powerful song, and while I'll admit it did take me a few listens to really appreciate the musical approach to the topic, it puts the lyrics into sharp focus, and that's where the attention should be. Don't know if it'll stick around long, as again, it's not exactly a radio single, but this... it's really something.
Title: LA House Party by Picture This
Rising high off of the success of their last single Things Are Different, local Kildare band Picture This is back with a new one. And I LOVED Things Are Different, it's probably their best single to date. Sure it may miss the year-end 100 by a smidge, but you never know. And maybe that's part of the reason why this new single isn't doing much for me.
It's a song about being at an LA house party where the other people are so "weird". Not only is that an actual lyric in the chorus, but this is a topic you've heard scores of times before and done far better and more originally. Outside of that one Kanye line, this just feels underwritten to the point of being cringe in spots, not to mention feeling like a stab at a crossover hit that feels just a tad bit desperate. Now, the production does somewhat save it. The bright piano and guitar-backed stabs are really pretty, and they build up to the hook really well. Shame the momentum then gets neutered by a really limp bassline. And while the production on the hook does get better from there, it never fully regains its stride, and again, the lyrics are distractingly bad on that main chorus. I suppose that this is still better than it could have been based on the production alone, but it doesn't change the fact that it feels like a waste of potential. Not terrible, but not exactly good either... sorry lads.
Title: I DID IT by DJ Khaled (Ft. Post Malone, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby & DaBaby)
Ummmm... the fuck?
When this song started, I genuinely had no clue what was going on, with that crunching guitar sample and the bass being way more rock-heavy than I would ever expect from Mr. Best Music. The first 2 seconds of this almost make it sound like a country rock song, and then comes Post Malone's hook where he sounds completely unrecognisable. Seriously, I've no idea why this was produced like this, but he sounds completely anonymous and not in a good way. Seriously, between him and Khaled, the song should feel hype, but there are just too many clashing elements to remotely allow it to come together fluidly. And that's a real shame because I think the 3 MCs did great! Megan brings multiple different flows where she never misses a beat or loses her energy. Lil Baby really seems to have a fire underneath him since his huge run last year and this is no exception. And DaBaby absolutely SNAPS, especially with the "Pradas-proud of me" wordplay!
I guess they were all really feeling this beat because they all ride it so well. And I wish I could say the same because the disparate elements are great on their own, but together... maybe it's Post, maybe it's just the juxtaposition between the electric guitar and the flat bass, but it doesn't click for me, at all. Thank God for our MCs, because otherwise, this would have been a lot less listenable.
Well, this is certainly a tumultuous week on the home front! After 2 weeks in a row with a ton of activity and new arrivals, it's natural that things should calm down for a moment and fall into place for the foreseeable future, but I didn't expect them to fall quite like this...
For one, LA House Party is our new number 1, taking the place of our previous Picture This single a week before its time... I really hope it comes back for one more week at some point in the future, it fully deserves it. Not only that, but Days Like This by Dermot Kennedy is finally gone too, to be replaced by... well, we'll get to it. Instead though, IDK Why by Lea Heart shot up to number 2, which I am totally fine with, we need more Carly Rae Jepsen sound-alikes! And the good news just keeps on coming: Break My Heart by JC Stewart up to number 4, Town's Dead by Kojaque rose to number 6, Cheer Up Baby by Inhaler back up to 14 and even I Have A Love by For Those I Love to number 18! So much great music, my GOD!
Now on the flip side, we also saw our Eurovision single Maps by Lesley Roy rise back up to 7 (yes, I know I'm mean, but I just don't like this song). Meanwhile Can't Say No by Wild Youth rose up to number 9... yikes, and worse still, Babyproof by Versatile & Offica back up to 17, really?!
Overall the only other news was the embarrassing but predictably short lifespan of Siena by Bicep & Clara La San as it plummets down to number 19. And with our 1 returning entry for the week being Sarah Jane by Nathan Carter AGAIN at number 20, I guess that just leaves us with our 2 new entries:
Title: The Killer Was A Coward by Dermot Kennedy
So as I've said before, I am of the controversial opinion that Ireland's lord and saviour Dermot Kennedy is a tad overrated. He's been utterly inescapable these past 2 years and his singles are among some of the biggest in Irish history. However, I will say that I've enjoyed him more this year than any other. I always liked Days Like This, and Giants has grown on me a lot in the past few months. But if I had to name my favourite Dermot Kennedy song, this would probably be it.
The thing I personally like about The Killer Was A Coward is that it's a loving callback to traditional Irish folk. And like most good folk ballads, it involves murder, love, blood, revenge, and Dermot's willowy but strong voice is the perfect conduit for this style of storytelling. The instrumentation isn't exactly everything I'd normally hope for (no woodwinds or strings to speak of), but the echoing sparse horns, the light touches of piano in the background, that light guitar pick-up, and what is, to me, undoubtedly Dermot's best vocal performance, this is still pretty amazing. Even the subtle autotuned backing vocals that occasionally pop up don't feel out of place in this mix. And not only does it all build to a really nice crescendo on the climax of the song, but the writing is great too. It's so vivid in its storytelling, detailing a killer who fled when his chickens came home to roost, rising to become a usurper, a king beyond the reach of those who wanted his head. But as he goads them, promising vengeance from the safety of his tower, a hero in the crowd vows to avenge his dead friend. So he breaks into the tower and kills the killer, leaving him to dance with the devil. And it's because of that hero's deeds that we can now live in the sun, are able to love each other, be together with friends and family, all thanks to one man saying that enough was enough. And this is just conjecture on my part, but considering the Irish lived under British rule up until a good century ago, I do wonder whether these characters may be less allegorical than we may think.
Either way, the song's just plain great. It's one of the first Dermot Kennedy songs I ever heard, long before he actually blew up, and to me, it's an easy favourite. Doubt it'll be as big as some of his previous singles - much like Your Power, it is a bit too risqué for radio - but still, this is pretty great. If you haven't heard it, I highly recommend you change that.
Title: Count To 10 by ANIM
Huh... well, this is different. Introducing the supergroup ANIM, made up of 2 big-name producers in the Irish music scene. The first is legendary DJ and radio station Beat 103-104's presenter Darren Rice, the second is long-time and acclaimed producer and DJ Mark McCabe. The 2 just announced their partnership with the release of this, their debut single, Count To Ten, which as luck would have it, debuted at number 10 this week.
Apparently, this dance song was inspired 3 years ago by the sunrise at Burning Man, of all things, and lived as a demo with Darren Rice ever since. The 2 met in 2019, clicked, and eventually got to work on releasing this... and yeah it's pretty fitting of their respective reputations! It's a stomping EDM song that is still unlike most of what any of their contemporaries would think to put together.
That acoustic riff and the rich vocals somehow give the song a ton of propulsive energy even before the backing vocals, the touches of synth keys, or the drop itself, with a bunch of squawking, punishing bass that really does add a unique element to the pay-off on the hook. I could easily see this ruling the clubs once they re-open, it's the type of dancefloor jam that pulls everyone in to jump up and down on the floor. Heck, there's even a vague feminist message to the lyrics that is both inspiring and surprisingly cutting if you actually read the lyrics. Unlike Billie's song though, that's not the main point of this song, as this easily doubles as a fun dance song all on its own.
I wouldn't call this the best EDM or dance music I've heard in 2021, or even that I've discussed in this series, but it's certainly in the gold tier of it. Here's 2 a beautiful partnership for you 2 gentlemen, because if this set the stage, you have my attention. Let's see what you do next!
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 and your friends 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!