Musical McCool - Week 26 (June 25, 2021)
Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! My name is Fionn, and welcome back to a brand new edition of Musical McCool!
Sorry for the delay on this... between a few personal issues and a family visit, I had to push this back a bit. Now, the good news is that the release of this edition of Musical McCool shouldn't impact the next one, which should be along in a day or 2, and then we'll be back on schedule. So thank you for your patience, and if you're wondering if that made some of these entries a little shorter... come on, I still gotta say my piece.
And at first glance, it would seem that we have a seemingly standard week here, one without any album bombs or significant changes anywhere. And yet this was also a surprisingly dense one, with a lot of significant shifts and changes across the top 50 and the homegrown front alike.
The Top 10
And for a change of pace, this even affected our top 10:
I'm almost tired of saying it, but good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo is still on top, at number 1 with no real competition in sight.
Some might point to our brand new number 2 song, but... well, we'll see. But anyway, please welcome our new hit: Holiday by KSI! Between this, Patience and Don't Play, he's really been doing well for himself, his more pop-leaning stuff's apparently resonating a lot more with a larger audience. As for the song itself though, I don't know if it will really last beyond this week, it feels less like a Summer song and more like a Thanksgiving or maybe Valentine one.
The biggest opponent's still Kiss Me More by Doja Cat and SZA at number 3, especially with the release of Planet Her which should impact the charts next week, but even that's a bit up in the air... Need To Know didn't even last beyond a week, thankfully.
Then you have traitor, still not budging from its spot number 4.
And then to my shock, I Wanna Be Your Slave by Måneskin continued its rise to number 5! Looks like we really are making this a hit, and there's more from the band coming up the pipeline in the meantime.
What's less surprising is Heartbreak Anthem by Galantis, David Guetta & Little Mix rising to number 6. Like I said, guaranteed hit, it's already appearing in ads over here.
It actually forced Little Bit Of Love by Tom Grennan down to number 7, though I expect that if that song does exit it will be drawn-out and arduous.
This also showed a crack in the armour of Friday by Riton, Nightcrawlers & Mufasa, which fell back to number 8. Although again, don't hold your breath, this song will never die.
Unlike Our Song by Anne-Marie & Niall Horan at number 9, which continues to lose in streaming and sales, even as the radio just can't get enough of it, for now.
Finally, and at LONG last, it's the long-expected breakthrough of favorite crime by Olivia Rodrigo at number 10. That's right, we lost deja vu this week, which allowed the next-most popular song from Sour to take its place.
Top 50: The Punished and the New
Wow, this really was just as busy as last week, if not even more so! For one, as you might have guessed:
deja vu by Olivia Rodrigo - number 3 to gone
Yep, deja vu was taken to ACR, meaning we could finally get a new song from Sour. And it wasn't our only loser this week, the biggest of which was easily Lorde, as Solar Power lost HARD to 40! Not surprising, if a bit disappointing, it really is an odd choice of single. Otherwise, this was the worst week yet for Tiësto's The Business which reached an all-time low at 15(!!!), we saw Rasputin by Boney M & Majestic finally losing steam and dropping to 24, Butter by BTS continued to collapse to 27, along with Body by Tion Wayne & Russ Millions to 28. And I can't say it's all to promising that Lost Cause by Billie Eilish continued its descent to 39, I honestly thought this would do better leading into the Summer. Finally, for the more long-running names; Head & Heart by Joel Corry& MNEK went to 41, RAPSTAR by Polo G fell to 42, and Giants by Dermot Kennedy to 49... again.
As for our raises this week... okay, why are we giving this much attention to By Your Side?! I know it's Tom Grennan and Cavin Harris, but this rising to number 20 worries me going into the Summer, it's a terrible song! Beyond that, there was the expected rise for Black Hole by Griff to number 25 and Way Too Long by Nathan Dawe, Anne-Marie & MoStack found its legs and rose to 37. And that's it, pretty quiet week for gains beyond the top 10.
And now, with only 1 re-entry for Wants & Needs by Drake and Lil Baby - no complaints there - and since I'm technically on holiday this week, I'm going to race through our numerous new entries for the sake of my time and yours.
Title: Holiday by KSI
When I first heard the instrumental to this, that plucking looped guitar line, the drum machine and popping beats, I have to admit I was caught off guard. KSI has been evolving a lot as a performer over the past couple of years, and I've liked most of what I've heard from him this year, certainly more than most of that last album. So yeah, I respect the guy, and I think pop is a good fit for him... but I'm sorry, this sucks.
Now admittedly, this isn't JJ's fault, as he's a passable singer who does sell the lovestruck emotion of the song fairly well. Okay, it's a little dead-eyed, and cribbing more than it should from reggae acts like Skip Marley, but he sounds okay. The problem is that the core song is boring as Hell. It's a painfully corny love song where he calls this person his holiday, comparing them to strawberry shots in the sunlight, and it's tenuous at best. The details are bargain bin love song clichés, the rhyme scheme is painfully basic, and the production isn't nearly organic or warm enough to pull off the vibe, it's far too sanitised.
So yeah, this ain't it. It's a slice of boring cod reggae that feels incredibly wonky and dull, from a performer who's usually much more ambitious than this. In other words it feels like a cheap cash-in to make some money as Summer hits. And I hope it doesn't work, because this just isn't any good... unlike:
Title: favorite crime by Olivia Rodrigo
So regardless of her success in the US, Sour is still a hugely popular album over here, as it's STILL the number 1 album here in Ireland. And I get why, an album that combines teen melodrama with some great hooks and surprisingly sharp songwriting. Like I said before, if it weren't for the 3-song limit imposed onto this chart to prevent album bombs, more than half the album would have likely debuted in the top 20. And with deja vu and drivers license still being in ACR, this finally made way for a new song to creep through and debut in the top 10, even 5 weeks after its debut.
To me, favorite crime is the slightly more mature version of traitor, where the writing is more fleshed out, the pitching and multitracking is balanced much better to compliment Olivia's vocals, and that guitar line is placed fucking perfectly in the mix, with just the right amount of echo and closeness to hear every squeak and pluck. In fact, the production as a whole is much closer to a country song, which is possibly why it blows past most of my critical faculties so easily. Hell, you could argue "I hope I was your favourite crime" is just as twee as "you betrayed me", but here I think the presentation makes it a lot easier to swallow, it sounds beautiful!
Again though, the writing helps as well, painting Olivia as his willing accomplice in her own mistreatment, stringing together outlaw metaphors that work surprisingly well, and even admitting that part of her wishes they could do it all again, in spite of her anger. And it allows the final line, where she admits that he was her favourite crime, to hit hard, predictable as it may be. So yeah, the singles are still the easy stand-outs on Sour, but if we can make this a hit next, I'm certainly not going to be the one to complain.
Title: Beggin' by Måneskin
Okay, 1 song was a miracle, 2 was a fluke, but 3? That's a pattern. So yeah, it appears that Europe and specifically Ireland is embracing Måneskin as a mainstream rock act. Hey, I'm not complaining if we get more real drums and guitars on the radio, no small thanks to Olivia Rodrigo yet again. Sure, Ireland never quite strayed from rock in some form or another over the past decade in the same way as the US, but this band still has more crunch than most top 50 acts in recent memory. And while I wasn't crazy about I Wanna Be Your Slave, Beggin' is MUCH more my speed.
See, this is actually a cover of a 1960s song that was popularised in 1967 by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, and which has since been covered a dozen times by various acts. Now personally, I've always favoured the Madcon version from 2007, which added more hip-hop and soul touches (I don't care if you think that's sacrilege), but I have to give Måneskin their props here, this is excellent. It was actually recorded back in 2017, but is only now gaining traction as their new audience seek out songs in English. As usual, Damiano David is the star of the show, delivering the song with raw charisma and luster that can't be beat. And paired with the sharp guitars and thumping drums, it gives the song a sense of sleaze and swagger that almost makes you forget that it's a song where HE's the one begging. Sure, I could see some folks having criticisms for this song; some would argue it's supposed to be a more submissively delivered or mournful song, and I will concede the original does convey this better. But again, maybe it's my love of the Madcon version, but the more assured and theatrical delivery just works better for me here. Damiano somehow sounds more desperate here than on I Wanna Be Your Slave, and the composition is just too damn solid to dismiss. So yeah, if this sticks around, I wouldn't mind seeing this overtake our current Måneskin top 10 hit... just saying.
Title: Remember by Becky Hill & David Guetta
For those not in the know, allow me to introduce Becky Hill; reached the semi-final on The Voice in 2012, has released a bunch of singles over the years since, including a number 1 hit in 2014, but never a full studio album. Well, supposedly that's set to change, as this song may be serving as the lead-off single to a project announced to drop this year. And pairing up with David Guetta, considering HIS humungous success this year, that only makes sense. And boy do I wish I could say the man is 3 for 3 with this one...
The problem in my eyes in that David Guetta works better in groups than on his own. Paired with Galantis on Heartbreak Anthem or with Joel Corry on BED, he can create some really solid pop music, but left alone... well, he's definitely done worse (I don't think he'll ever top Would I Lie To You and need I remind you all of Sexy Bitch), but this is still kinda lousy. Becky Hill has a good voice, but all the effects lathered over her hear completely robs the song of any power, and the interchangeable dance beat that we've heard on dozens of songs in the past clashes pretty severely with the subject matter.
The song is supposed to be about reminiscing about an ex, and suddenly remembering that she misses them, it's wistful and nostalgic in spite of having moved on. It's the same premise as Our Song by Niall Horan and Anne-Marie, where they've grown and moved on, but still show moments of weakness in isolation. But while that song went for a mostly organic approach to better convey the theme, this just turns into yet another dance song that's interchangeable and basic. Don't get me wrong, it sounds pretty good, but it just completely misses the point emotionally, even with Becky Hill clearly trying her best. So not a terrible song, but definitely an example of a producer getting in the way of his performer. Speaking of which...
Title: Leave Before You Love Me by Marshmello & Jonas Brothers
Okay, I'm gonna make this quick; I have been less than enthused about this Jonas Brothers comeback, especially as someone who was never really into them in the first place... aside from Burnin' Up, that song rules! That said, I had heard some good things about this new song with... *sigh* Marshmello, so sure, how is it. Well, here's the good news: Marshmello is actually pretty restrained here! He provides a nice cushion of reverb and soft rock guitars that fit the vibe of the singers, which creates a song that's very easy on the ears. That said, the subject matter leaves a bit to be desired, specifically with the way it handles a one-night stand.
While Nick delivers his verse as a night driver at the wheel of his car, reminiscing about a woman he left alone in bed behind him in a way that feels mildly sorry, LIKE THE HOOK SAYS, Joe decides to just be a dick about it! He's always come across as the most lecherous of the brothers, and here he treats this girl with a casual disinterest that really is galling, especially with lines like "I'd rather be lonely than wrapped around your body too tight" and "I'm the type to get naked, won't give my heart the full break-in". Yes, you could argue that's the point, that he's purposefully playing the douche, but it still really subs me the wrong way.
I dunno though... in a weird way I could see this growing on me. It's the type of song where my own repeated listening to it might allow me to justify some of the awkward framing with some backward logic, especially because of how listenable it is. So currently, this is decent, with issues, but that could change moving forward... we'll see.
Title: Let Them Know by Mabel
You know, many are content to call Dua Lipa the queen of pop last year, and rightfully so. Future Nostalgia was the type of throwback project that was better than it had any right to be. I bring this up because Mabel here has always walked a similar path to Dua stylistically in my eyes. Maybe it's the metric ton of personality, maybe it's the flagrant embrace of disco several decades after the genre's heyday. Or maybe it's simply because I admire her creativity, as neither women are afraid to push the genre in unconventional directions.
Take this song, which blends the early 80s disco with house and hip-hop elements that shouldn't fit, yet somehow do. Just that opening verse alone is so in your face and braggadocious, and yet the confidence sucks me in instantly, even allowing me to forgive the blatant rhyming of business with business with business, or the multiple references to other pop stars. And then the hook hits and FUCK does it slap! It's a similar shameless "fuck what others think" song to Kesha's best material, and I'd argue Mabel does it just as well here. Hell, maybe this is recency bias... scratch that, it definitely is, but while it's no Physical, Let Them Know could go toe-to-toe with most of the songs on Future Nostalgia!
So uh, yeah, amazing pop song, was not expecting this! Not sure how long it will stick around, but if this had dropped a year ago, it would be a guaranteed hit. Maybe some of that nostalgia is still left over for this, just enough so we can make this a hit? Please?
Title: FLY AWAY by TONES AND I
Well... this was a long time coming. This has been bubbling under for months now, and in all that time I never thought it would actually make it this high. After all, Tones And I was always supposed to be that band who made Dance Monkey and then vanished without a trace, save a very dedicated small fanbase DEEP in the underground! Sadly, Tones And I was always just basic and only pseudo-weird enough to gain some legitimate replay for their other songs on alternative dance stations. Because say what you will about Dance Monkey, it's far more interesting than this.
This is a come-up story that is probably mildly autobiographical. It cribs the guitar from Maroon 5's Girls Like You, the tone of 7 Years by Lukas Graham, and the voice of... well, Dance Monkey. And while that voice may have worked with the weirdness of that song, it does NOT work as an inspirational song about making it and beating all the odds! Hell, it's so basic and out of original ideas that it even includes the gospel backing vocals, all to make it seem a bit grander, and yet all it does is leave me utterly cold.
I'm sorry Tones And I, but this is just tedious. You had your one hit which took over the entire world for a time, and that's all you were really owed. If you want to bring similar weirdness to the charts, be my guest, but keep the drivel as far away as possible. Because that's what this is.
Much like last week, we got a slew of new arrivals which will take up most of my focus in this segment. I mean when our top 3 is still exactly the same for a third week, that's a sign that things are pretty settled at the very top. And yet everything under it seems to be even more in flux than usual.
For one, Sober by Gavin James, although seemingly a solid hit, did drop down to number 7 this week. Then again, it's more stable than Break My Heart by JC Stewart or especially Paradise by James Vincent McMorrow, which fell out of the top 10 to 11 and 15 respectively. Not to mention Cabra Freestyle by RS, which immediately plummeted down this week to 18.
Actually, the only song to really gain this week was WELSHY's All For You, up to number 12. Well, unless you count our 1 returning entry in 2023 by Róisín surging back to number 20 in order to fill up space. And with all that being said, let's start wrapping up this post with:
Title: Talk About by Rain Radio & Craig Gorman
Right, so weird story, this song actually comes with a bit of a mystery. Dj Craig Gorman is a local producer with a small following of his own, but Rain Radio is an as-of-yet unconfirmed collective of producers. Some say Billen Ted worked on the instrumentals and that Nelly Furtado of all people has a writing credit on it, but otherwise this song's production process is still up in the air. And thank God for that, because it's by far the most interesting part of this.
This was originally released in May, but only recently got picked up by the Reddit community because of its mystery. And as far as I can tell, that is the only reason this is getting any attention, because otherwise this is as basic as house gets. Okay, it sounds fine, and I guess this is technically future house based off the slightly faster groove and the chopped and screwed sample being used, but at the end of the day it's just a sex/dance song about talking about sex and then doing it all night and all day. That's it.
So yeah, if you('re into this... well, I would personally point to a bunch of far better examples of house music we've discussed in previous editions of this series, but otherwise, this is serviceable. It's not bad, just really not for me, and I fully expect to forget about it by the time I... umm... what was I saying?
Title: Heavy On My Heart by Sarah McTernan
This will be our third(?) time talking about Sarah McTernan on this series, and I'm running out of things to say. She's basically the Irish Ava Max, a performer with a good singing voice and a love for retro pop pastiches which unfortunately make her far too easy to compare to contemporaries who are in a different lane of quality.
Now unlike Close My Eyes, this is at least more memorable. Much like Mabel, it blends disco and house music to go for a retro pastiche that still feels somewhat modern and new. Unfortunately, Sarah doesn't take it quite as far, as this still feels quite reserved and classy. She also doesn't have Mabel's charisma, as she once again sells this song properly and with a good voice, but I'd be hard-pressed to force any sort of emotional response to this. Of course it doesn't help that this leans much further into its house side than its disco side, with a standard piano build-up and a leaden drop where Sarah's upper range does her no favours at all, especially when the producer chops and screws her vocals and adds in pitch-shifted multitracking.
So yeah, I'll probably remember this more than Close My Eyes, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Can't believe I'm saying it, but her Robin Schulz rip-off with HalfTraxx earlier this year Loving You is still the best thing I've heard from her yet, at least it was catchy and sounded good. Still see a ton of ^potential in Sarah, but so far I have yet to be truly impressed by anything I've heard. And you can only hold my attention for so long.
Title: I Saw You At The Funeral by Pa Sheehy
Between Tom Grennan, Dermot Kennedy, Hozier, and the dozen other Irish singers who tread into this realm of soul-infused folk, I'm getting the feeling the Irish public will always make time for anyone with a distinct enough accent who decides to howl instead of sing. And look, that's not necessarily a bad thing, some do it better than others. But I can't lie, I immediately felt bad for Pa Sheehy, because he doesn't quite have the melodic instincts of the others I've mentioned. As much as his delivery is similar to theirs, he just doesn't quite have the singing talent to match it, despite being the former frontman of the band Walking On Cars.
That being said, upon repeated listens, that actually doesn't matter as much as I initially thought. Because he makes up for his weaknesses in those areas with his songwriting, as this is a song written about seeing a man at his mother's funeral. Specifically his dad, who abandoned him and his mother when Pa was still young. It suddenly makes the simplicity of the chorus ring true, as he boils down all that anger and resentment and hurt to the simple mantra "Stay away. Come here." He then proceeds to call out his old man, as a lonely man who feels like a disappointment, too ashamed to even say hello to his son at the funeral. And while Pa doesn't quite forgive him, he still wants to forge some sort of connection to him through this song. It's an open invitation, with layers of subtext and details that gives me no doubt whatsoever that this is coming from a real place.
So yeah, this didn't hit at first, but now I realise that the stripped back approach to melody was intentional, in order to emphasise the emotion and the lyrics. It's like Cole Swindell's You Should Be Here; it doesn't matter that he's not the best singer or that the melody takes a bit of a backseat to the story being told, if anything the raw nature of it helps it to feel more real. And in my books, it makes for a great song. Fine job Pa Sheehy.
Title: 061 by Denise Chaila
Okay, if I had to warm to I Saw You At A Funeral, my reaction to this was instant joy! Enter Denise Chaila, an Irish-Zambian rapper from Limerick who's been active since 2012. And I'll be blunt: I haven't been this excited about an Irish rapper since the first time I heard Kojaque a few months back!
Seriously, I had no expectations for this, especially with a title like 061, which I assumed was some kind of postcode. And... kinda? Apparently the 061 is a movement started in Limerick to promote Irish culture and unite everyone in a love for the art that comes out of the scene. Well, if Denise isn't the face of it yet, she really should be! I went into this expecting something like RS' Cabra Freestyle, a decent but mildly forgettable slice of local drill, and instead I got one Hell of a banger! The flute is clean and balances really nicely with the faint touches of mandolin, the perfect backdrop for Denise's hook. Then the bass drops and the other voices join in and you FEEL the 061! It's just a fucking vibe, and when Denise starts rapping with her great flow and surprisingly dense wordplay, it is just everything I love about this style of rap, with just as much if not more energy and talent than a Megan or a Cardi!
Oh, and if you need more proof this is way above average and trying far harder than it needs to, the beat suddenly switches and Denise drops into a double-time flow where she really shows off her skill! Seriously, she's just flexing, but the way she does it is amazing, bragging about being a history major, an MC who also writes constitutions, how she could diss you and make it into a Ted Talk, and even finds times to tell fascists to fuck off! And that's just the tip of the iceberg, I can't begin to express what a fucking jam this is! So yeah, excellent stuff, and a clear sign that this Musical McCool experiment is really paying off for me! So again, all of you, check out more Irish music, because this is in-credible!
Title: Disco Pantz by Rejjie Snow & Tinashe
And just like that, we transition to neo-soul and funk! Specifically from Rejjie Snow, a young MC from Drumcondra in Dublin, who's been making waves in the Irish hip-hop scene since back in 2013. He actually went to college in the US, but dropped out and moved back home to focus on music, proving that college drop-outs can make it too, DAD!!! ... Anyway, I've been somewhat aware of him for a while since a friend of mine is obsessed with him (same one who kept badgering me to check out Orla Gartland)... and my GOD I wish I'd listened sooner.
This is bubbly and smooth as the best of them, and Tinashe (yes, THAT one, on the indie Irish charts!!!) delivers the hook expertly. And while Rejjie isn't quite looking to create the same impact as Denise was, he's no less impressive here, riding the beat SO smoothly, especially on that second verse where he switches up his flow multiple times with ease!
And honestly, that's about all I can say about this. It's so instantly appealing and easy to groove to that it's almost hard to analyse it any further than that. It's just defiantly smooth, bouncy hip-hop with a great hook, fantastic interplay between the rapper and singer, and an instrumental that would put Emotional Oranges to shame. This is awesome, give it a listen!
Title: Casio by Kojaque (Ft. Maverick Sabre)
And last, but definitely not least, we end with Kojaque. As of writing this, I still haven't heard his new album Town's Dead, but I am very excited to! As I said before, this guy has been one of my favourite finds of the year through this series, an MC with such an amazing way with words, a lot of introspection, and a knack for experimentation that guaranteed that boredom wouldn't be a factor.
Speaking of those last 2, this is probably his most introspective single since No Hands, as well as being more of a soul-based approach to rap AND his first single from this year with a featured guest. He starts out his verse with musings on his own fame, and all the insecurities and doubts he had when he first started making music, supported by a friend he's now lost touch with, who he shouts out for letting him using his casio keyboard. This is where Maverick Sabre, who portrays his friend as an angry, miserable man who hates his life and has even contemplated suicide. It's really powerful, and the fact that Kojaque doesn't judge him at all, telling him there's not a damn thing wrong with him for feeling this way, before addressing his audience again to remind us to reach out to those you cherish before you're shaking their family's hands at a wake.
It's so empathetic, so fucking selfless and such an amazing note to start bringing the album to a close on. If anything, it serves as the perfect reminder to me and to all of you that we need to hear Town's Dead yesterday! So follow my lead and do just that. Fucking great job again Kojaque, I'm so glad I found you.
And that's our week, hope you all enjoyed! Bit of a mixed bag again, but with fewer lows and some a-ma-zing highs, especially toward the end there! 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!