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Musical McCool - Week 20 (May 14, 2021)

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

For the first time in a while, I feel confident in calling this more of a normal week. Some new hits, but not too many, no movers to ACR, and while the top 10 shuffled around a lot, there were no huge new entries, per sé.

The Top 10

Now, that's not to say that there weren't a few surprises.

For one, turns out Body by Russ Millions & Tion Wayne is shaping up to be a real hit. This is apparently top in the country because people legitimately like it... I mean I suppose the chorus is catchy enough, but it still feels weird that with some of the great drill hits from the past few years, THIS is the one we're deciding to keep at the top.

On the brighter side, Kiss Me More by Doja Cat and SZA reached a new peak at number 2. Turns out radio really loves this one, and is at long last giving it the attention it deserves.

That being said, I'm a bit sad that MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) by Lil Nas X is dropping. I get it, it's a bit of a weird song, and the fact that it ruled at number 1 for so long is a bit crazy, but it's just such a breath of fresh air compared to so much of our top 10 right now, even the stuff I like.

And on that note, Save Your Tears by The Weeknd & Ariana Grande rose up a spot to number 4. Much like Kiss Me More, it's here on semi-solid streaming, and a TON of radio momentum, the airwaves seemingly can't get enough of this one.

Similar story for Bed by Joel Corry, RAYE & David Guetta at number 5, albeit with the radio slowly weaning off of it at this point.

Then you have Peaches by Justin Bieber, Daniel Caesar & Giveon regaining at number 6, mostly off the weakness of the other hits around it.

The one surprising gain might be for Heat Waves by Glass Animals up to number 7. Genuinely thought this song was finally on its way out.

I guess the main reason is because Friday by Riton, Nightcrawlers & Mufasa really is leaving us, despite holding its spot at number 8. I could see a couple more hits bypassing this one in the next couple of weeks.

Heck, I'm honestly surprised Your Power by Billie Eilish is still in the top 10. Sure, it slid down from number 3 to number 9, but considering the type of non-hit it is, that's still not a bad drop-off.

Lastly, RAPSTAR by Polo G is at number 10. Because we need a placeholder. No offense Polo G.

Top 50: The Punished and the New

This is one of those weeks where there weren't any huge drops, and some of the gains were surprising... not really in the good way. As predicted, Your Power was the only one of our entries last week to remotely stick around, and that allowed a couple of new and returning hits to slide in to take their places.

For a change of pace, let's talk about the gains first, mostly because of the fact there was only really 1. Because Without You by Kid Laroi is back in the top 20 at number 14! That Miley remix is apparently just the excuse the radio was waiting for to give this song another life... ugh. And that's it!

As for the drops though... where to even begin? Let's start with GOOSEBUMPS by HVME dropping out of the top 20 to number 22, finally. Then Hold On by Justin Bieber continued its sharp decline at number 26, Titanium by Dave dragged its feet down to 32, the remix of Confetti by Little Mix plummeted down to 35, and saddest of all, Heartbreak Anniversary by Giveon fell back to number 41. If that last one makes the year-end list, it'll be a miracle. Our last drops were for 3 songs in ACR that are just naturally on their way out: Up by Cardi B to 47, Wellerman by Nathan Evans, 220 Kid & Billen Ted to 48, and Get Out My Head by Shane Codd to 50.

As for our re-entries this week... oh, it's actually NOT Best Friend by Saweetie & Doja, but instead... Anywhere Away From Here by Rag'n'Bone Man & P!nk, back at 44 much to my general dismay.

Otherwise, we had a few surprisingly big names return this week, several of which I haven't talked about in a while. So let's start with the most contentious one:

Title: i n t e r l u d e by J. Cole

Position: #18

Last time I had the chance to talk about J. Cole was when I did my 2019 year-end lists. Eventually I decided that I didn't feel strongly enough about any of his hits from that year one way or another, and therefore I bided my time until he dropped some new music last week. At the time of writing this, I haven't yet heard that new album The Off-Season, so this interlude is the only frame of reference I have as to its quality. And... this is actually pretty sick. More than anything, the production here reminds me of early to mid-era Kanye, with the soul sample and the beat switch both sounding really seamless and pretty. I also appreciated the use of multitracking here, as Cole essentially plays his own hype-man, clearly pulling from Kid Cudi as well in some of his choices of vocal effects. Also, while that guitar and drum pattern starts out pretty slow and smooth, the trap beat kicks it into high gear really effectively, and thankfully J. Cole actually rises to the challenge. Seriously, the flow he chose for this is not what I expected, not so fast as to be unintelligible, but still energetic and technical enough to be really impressive. It's invigorating, it's sharp, and it really makes me optimistic about that new album of his. As someone who barely even registers when this guy drops a new project these days, this is certainly a good way to get my attention. Not bad J. Cole, I may actually enjoy this one, who knows?

Title: Higher Power by Coldplay

Position: #20

So the Brit Awards happened this week. Considering the social media coverage, I expected a few more songs to benefit from them, but I suppose Ireland's never cared that much in the past and certainly isn't going to start in a year like this one. Anyway, apart from Dua Lipa running away with most of the attention of the night, we also saw the triumphant return of Coldplay, still going strong 20ish years later with their newest single.

And wow, Blinding Lights HAS been influential! Seriously, the synth-heavy bass, the sparkling keyboard flourishes straight out of the late 80s, and especially that drum machine, this is all clearly pulling from a very specific era that has been seeing a second wave of popularity in recent years. But that's not the weird part. No, the weird part is that it's actually not bad...

I'm not calling this amazing, certainly not on the level of the biggest acts dominating this revival in recent years, but Chris Martin doesn't sound bad over this, and that chorus is surprisingly catchy. It's not quite as anthemic as it should be, he doesn't quite belt enough for that and the instrumentation is a bit too subtle, but it does have a nice groove to it. More chill than fist-pumping, but I've never minded that side of Coldplay. They're not pushing the envelope, and I could see some people calling this a downright regression, but to me, it's just a pretty decent song.

As with everything they put out, I'm fairly sure most people will completely ignore this and some will get irrationally angry with it, but I also wouldn't be surprised if this actually got some recognition and notice from some of their dormant fans. It's basic arena fodder, but for what it is, I don't mind it.

Title: Miss The Rage by Trippie Redd (Ft. Playboi Carti)

Position: #28

I still don't know how to feel about Trippie Redd. Much like Lil Uzi or Playboi Carti, he has a style that I understand, but which is emphatically not for me... and very often it's much worse than that. The best thing he has ever done was when he played second fiddle to MGK on all i know last year, and even that was the lesser version of my bloody valentine off of the same album. Otherwise, he's just been far too easy for me to ignore, and if you're excited that I'm finally going to talk about him today, and with Playboi Carti on top of that, prepare to be underwhelmed. Because this song is bad. Not interestingly bad, just ugly, with sharp atonal synths that never shut up, a trap beat with no teeth to it that regularly gets buried in the mix, and Trippie Redd essentially talking gibberish. Certainly it doesn't evoke anything close to rage or the feeling of missing something. I'll say this for Trippie Redd though, he does fit here, whereas Carti is a complete mess! He's off-beat, he's talking complete nonsense, his ad-libs range from needlessly aggressive to downright weak, and he sounds terrible.

So yeah, this is just unpleasant to listen to, and Trippie Redd only comes out of it somewhat in my good graces because Playboi Carti embarrassed himself so much. This is ugly, but also so forgettable and un-catchy that I can't even bring myself to get angry at it. That will almost certainly change if this sticks around, but at the risk of jinxing myself, I hope we all have better taste than that. Get this out of here, it sucks.

Title: Never Left by Lil Tecca

Position: #42

So after I just ragged on Lil Uzi, Trippie Redd and Carti, I'm sure some of you are prepared for me to dismiss all modern American trap as a whole. Well, no, there are some talented rappers in the mix. And on that note, hey Lil Tecca!

Ransom by Lil Tecca was one of those slow burns that grew on many of us over the course of its surprisingly long chart run. And while I have some reservations about giving all of the credit there to Tecca himself and not the surprisingly infectious beat, I could recognise that he had some nice energy that could potentially lend itself nicely to a few more one-off hits in the future. And honestly, this might be even better.

Over more of a tropically tinged beat this time round, Lil Tecca produces a surprising amount of lively flows here, including a weirdly infectious pre-chorus and main hook. It's a song all about his comeback, and he really does sound comfortable, as if he never left, like he says. Heck, scratch that, he does sound like he left, because he sounds refreshed and ready to prove himself! And while yes, I know that this is technically a relationship song about coming back to a girl he was once in a relationship with, the song really works as both.

It's a fun, uplifting song that I could see potentially becoming a huge staple over the summer. It just depends if people hear it, so spread the word guys! Because Lil Tecca is back, and this song is a little bundle of joy that I want to keep around.

National Treasures

Turning our attention back towards our own borders, it was an interesting week locally.

For one, we saw the welcome return of Things Are Different by Picture This to number 1, because everybody recognises it's better than LA House Party! True, it's at its 13-week limit, so it'll be gone next week, but still happy it got one last hurrah so soon! Otherwise, you had Maps by Lesley Roy rising up to number 5 as Eurovision approaches, which forced back Break My Heart by JC Stewart to number 6, Town's Dead by Kojaque to 11 and Can't Say No by Wild Youth to 12... I expect at least 2 of these to rebound, but I'll take any of them over Maps at this point, even the Wild Youth one.

Otherwise, this was the week of returning entries filling in the gaps, as aside from Picture This, we had Close My Eyes by Sarah McTernan to number 16 and No Cowboy by Stephanie Rainey to 20. And while it's being counted as a "new" hit because this chart has only existed since 2019, I'm also going to put Have I Told You Lately by Van Morrison here as well. It's been around since 1989, it charted in the top 20 in Ireland back then, and it's a bona fide classic, whether you agree with his anti-lockdown rhetoric or not.

And with 2 new entries and no really aged songs in the top 20 at the moment, perhaps this will be the status quo for a while... we'll see. Anyway, let's start by welcoming back to queens:

Title: When You're Gone by Pillow Queens

Position: #4

So as I've said before, Pillow Queens are an act that has been hugely popular these past couple of years thanks to their break-out album In Waiting. And for good reason, they're a strong indie rock presence with anthemic guitars, tough subject matter and a sorely needed group of voices in a predominantly male scene. And what I personally like about them is that they really put their money where their mouths are, as they'll occasionally just decide to do something like this: a set called SALVATION, which featured a group of songs they put together to support the charity Pieta, which works toward helping people with suicidal tendencies.

Now, only one song was allowed to make this chart, but I'm genuinely delighted it turned out to be this one. This was originally a song by local Limerick legends The Cranberries, and Pillow Queens more than do it justice! Changing the context of the original to a loving reassurance to someone that they will be missed, and ramping up the guitars to turn it into a real anthem. And while Dolores O'Riordan's original vocals are tough to beat, the women team up so well here, with some truly spectacular harmonies that tug at your heartstrings and perfectly convey the tenderness of the original, while also not pandering or cheapening the listener's feelings.

So yeah, if you know someone going through a hard time right now and want them to feel better with some anthemic indie rock, send them this to enjoy. And hey, if you feel you can afford to donate to a very worthy charity, you can do so here. Especially nowadays, we all need to look out for each other more than ever, so if you're in Ireland and you've been feeling rough lately, just know there's always someone for you to talk to.

Title: Who's Your Money On (Plastic House) by Inhaler

Position: #7

I've been riding high on this band's last hit Cheer Up Baby for the past couple of months. Maybe it's the U2 fan in me, but I think Bono's son is more than carrying on his arena rock legacy, and with the release of their full album steadily approaching, it's only natural that they should start releasing more singles for it. Along with When it Breaks from last year, these guys are 2 for 2, so can they nail a perfect 3?

Well, this is a bit of a departure from the sound of the last 2. The rock's still there, but this definitely contains more elements of new wave, almost reminding me of Dead or Alive in some of the synth choices and with the guitar snares being much more clipped and sharp overall. And then, suddenly, it all changes! Around the 4-minute mark, this song essentially becomes a completely different one, with a cavernous echoing effect over a barren guitar, and dreamy reverberating accents slowly adding themselves as the song continues. It's a bizarre shift that feels oddly psychedelic in its execution.

Now thankfully, this doesn't change the fact that it sounds really good. Elijah manages to sing over the whole thing really well, even after the instrumental shift, and I have to give some real props Robert Keating and Ryan McMahon for the bass and percussion on this, it's very ambitious and the experiments do pay off for the most part. Some might call it overindulgent, and in a way they'd be right, but the execution is consistent enough that I'm still inclined to call this really good, if not great! I just question it as a choice of single, it just doesn't have that accessible structure that Cheer Up Baby had.

Overall though, pretty damn great, and does show some welcome diversity and ambition to the band which I wasn't expecting. Nice job lads, this is one to be proud of.

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

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