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Musical McCool - Week 28 (July 9, 2021 - Talk About, Villagers, GER)

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

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

Ah, the calm after the storm... that doesn't sound right, but who cares, we have a quiet week!!! After weeks and weeks of non-stop bombardment with only very minor respites, we finally have an honest-to-God SLOW one, where the shifts and changes might have been big, but at least the list of new arrivals is mercifully short!

The Top 10

And looking at our top 10, you can actually see things settling down for the foreseeable future.

For a second week, Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran held on to the number 1 spot. Thankfully over here, he didn't have to compete with all the football anthems hitting the UK charts recently. Also shout-out to @mriv132 for pointing out that this song is most likely about Ed's alcoholism, you are clearly more adept at this than me!

This left good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo at number 2. Still huge, especially as Sour claims the longest consecutive reign at Irish Number 1 for a female artist album in a decade since Adele's 21... wow - but I am concerned that it may get forced back to ACR before it can regain some ground.

Continuing along the theme of not moving, Beggin' by Måneskin held ITS spot at number 3, a song I still think is great in spite of what CERTAIN critics may say!

Aaaaand right below that, I Wanna Be Your Slave by Måneskin remained at number 4...

... followed by Heartbreak Anthem by Galantis, David Guetta & Little Mix at number 5, which I could actually see passing both Måneskin songs in a week or 2 if those pesky sales would just pick up.

Now one song I don't expect to gain any further is traitor by Olivia Rodrigo at number 6, which will either exit very slowly or more likely be replaced by another song off of Sour very soon.

Now one song that could still get higher is Good Without by Mimi Webb rising up to number 7. Considering how many Spotify ads this keeps appearing in, it looks like it's only going to continue growing whether I like it or not, especially as it continues to rise on all fronts.

Thankfully this is made up for by favorite crime by Olivia Rodrigo reaching a new peak at number 8! By the looks of it, this will soon replace traitor, and personally I'm fine with that.

What came as a big surprise to me personally was the HUGE surge for easily the most boring song we discussed in the top 50 last week... Black Magic by Jonasu. Yup, it rose all the way up to number 9! ... I just... I don't get it. Sure, it's mildly catchy, but there is so much more interesting house music released this year, or even just a slew of better MUSIC last week between Tyler, Doja and Picture This!

Lastly, it's Our Song by Anne-Marie & Niall Horan at number 10, barely holding on by a thread. I mean I could see it rebounding when that album drops, but at this point that is the only thing that's going to keep this afloat... that and its still-massive radio.

Top 50: The Punished and the New

Now, this is interesting. After last week's bloodbath of ACR contenders and long-running giants dropping off entirely, this is definitely calmer at first glance, with 0 movers to ACR. And yet there was still a lot of movement, some expected and some... DEFINITELY not!

Let's start with the expected drops after the past week or 2, the songs that were probably never going to be all that huge and are just naturally fading away after the initial hype dies down. There was Holiday by KSI which dropped down to number 11, honestly still holding on better than I thought it would, followed closely by You Right by Doja Cat & The Weeknd to 14; Hell, that's the same reason Ain't Shit lost ground to 34. Then we saw the expected losses for Picture This, as Addict Of Magic and LA House Party fell to 22 and 25 respectively, even if that latter one also held on better than expected. Finally and sadly, the only Tyler song that survived was WUSYANAME, and even that dropped all the way to 48!

The real surprises came more in the gains this week... and not necessarily for the better. I mean sure, By Your Side by Calvin Harris & Tom Grennan is going to rise to 13 just to piss me off personally, but did the success of Good Without HAVE to drag Dumb Love up to 12? And why does the Irish public seem intent on replacing good pop music like BED with boring fodder like Remember by David Guetta & Becky Hill up to 20? Or why in all that is good and holy they're making Tones & I's second-biggest hit the absolute snorefest that is Fly Away as it rises up to 27?! Heck, I don't even love All Eyes On Me by Bo Burnham as much as most, but I'll take its inexplicable rise up to 30 over most of these others, sure! Heck, most days I'll say the same for Leave Before You Love Me by Marshmello & Jonas Brothers, rising up to number 37. Finally, we end on a normal note: back up to 41, it's The Business by Tiësto. In other news, we still breathe air.

Finally, we got 2 returning entries: Beautiful Mistakes by Maroon 5 and Meg The Stallion at 47, because the band clearly made a blood pact with some archdevil long ago to never EVER go away altogether, and Giants by Dermot Kennedy at 50... can't believe I didn't notice a complete LACK of Dermot Kennedy songs on the Top 50 last week, it had been YEARS!!! And with those out of the way, let's welcome our single, solitary new arrival... and it's actually one I've talked about before:

Title: Talk About by Rain Radio & DJ Gorman

Position: #42

... Of all the songs to cross over from the Homegrown charts to the top 50, this certainly isn't one I would have put my money on. I mean between JC Stewart, Sarah McTernan, and especially Robert grace, there has been no shortage of incredibly accessible and catchy pop music that could easily fit in among the big hitters on Irish Radio! hell, even in the realm of house and EDM, there's been Jay Pryor & Chaya, Welshy, and a slew of other talented acts that are FAR more interesting than this. Because I barely had anything to say about this track 2 weeks ago and while it's grown on me marginally since then, that hasn't changed much. The most interesting part of this song is that Rain Radio is composed of a group of mystery producers that teamed up with local artist DJ Craig Gorman. There are speculations as to who's involved in this, including Billen Ted who some of you may remember from the Wellerman remix, but otherwise not much is known. And again, other than the fact that it *gasp* talks about sex, that's the most interesting thing about this song, which otherwise only rose to this much prominence because apparently other people find it to be a very good club song.

I'll be honest, maybe the success of this song escapes me because it's just not my genre. I haven't been to a club in years, and when I do, it's to dance to early-2010s pop and hip hop and not much else. I've never been a huge EDM fan, and between this and Black Magic, I could take or leave either of them. Not bad songs, and I'll admit that I at least find this one to be more catchy and easier on the ears with a less abrasive hook, but just not something I would ever choose to listen to. So no, if you're looking for good electronic music, I suggest you check out any of the acts I mentioned at the top of this segment, because while I'm happy for DJ Gorman and his success here, this just isn't for me. Sorry.

National Treasures

Well, this certainly was a quieter week. Sure, we still have 4 new songs to talk about, but the top 5 didn't budge at all, although we may be living in a world soon where Rain Radio & DJ Gorman will surpass Picture This very soon. Otherwise the shifts were pretty minor.

Town's Dead by Kojaque dropped to number 9, but considering it's a slice of industrial hip-hop that has now been on the charts on-and-off for 9 weeks, it's doing fine! Otherwise, we saw Heavy On My heart by Sarah McTernan continue to drop to 17 (again, great talent, but just doesn't seem to focus on her strengths), as well as Terminal 1 by Versatile to 18. As someone who recently flew out of Terminal 1 for a brief holiday and played this song on the planet, I can tell you it's an excellent cruising song. Our only big gain this week was for Paradise by James Vincent McMorrow to 13, with what I'm still convinced is his weakest single released this year, and the only returning entry was HELL YEAH, Kids Don't End Up Like Me by The Academic! I don't care if they're the cliché act to like in Ireland at the moment, they're great and this song rules!

And now, our new entries, 3 of which are by artists we've discussed before... and sadly we have to start with the most contentious one:

Title: So Simpatico by Villagers

Position: #12

Okay... how many of you remember me discussing The First Day a few months back? Well, at the time, I highlighted that Villagers, while starting out on a very acclaimed foot with Becoming A Jackal and {Awayland}, had LONG disappeared up their own asses to do whatever the Hell they felt like doing, with projects that felt more and more tenuously held together. Such was the case with The First Day, which transitioned from an absolutely abhorrent off-key indie folk elements on the intro to a really good and lush folksy hook, with sweeping horns and drums. At the time, I called it either genius or terrible, and after hearing this latest single, I finally got my ruling: it's good, but REALLY overindulgent.

If the last song was a triumphant look forward to the future, this is more of a love song, one where Conor O'Brian seems intent on blending his folk instrumentals with more soul and even jazz-touched pastiches. And it's pretty, it's pretty believable in its performance... but it goes on for over 7 minutes! I mean the phrase "sympatico" has always been a little off-putting to me anyway, but while the instrumentals are truly gorgeous, even blending in an electronic beat fairly well with the jazzier horns that close us out, it just goes on for way too long. It's an easier pill to swallow than The First Day, but this tastier pill is still the size of my fist!

Still, I would call this a step in the right direction for Villagers. Sure it's long-winded and meandering, but it's pleasant enough to listen to and the corny hook is delivered with just enough verve and earnest ness for me to accept it. I very much I'll be able to enjoy a full album of this, but it's shaping up to be one of their better ones, and I bet the fans will love it. So if you're one of them, check this out, you'll probably enjoy it.

Title: Totally by Inhaler

Position: #14

If I could describe the new Inhaler album It Won't Always Be Like This in a word, it would be "varied". The band dances across half a dozen different genres of rock music, with surprisingly strong hooks and production, content that stays within the margins of what you'd expect, and writing that's mostly really strong. Now, I say "mostly" because they will occasionally fall into the same trap of Picture This where they can get a bit corny and toxic in isolated moments, though rarely for an entire song. Thankfully, that's not the case for Totally.

This song goes for more of a soft rock approach, with some spacier electronic elements thrown into the background, but never to the point of distraction. It sounds great, and while I did initially question the hook, where he questions why the tiny little gestures of unkindness she makes hurt him so much, I eventually did get it. It's a song here he's coming to grips with his feelings for her and that's making him overly sensitive whenever she wrongs him. It's heavily implied that she doesn't feel the same way as he does and that's what's tearing him up, the fact that their relationship may never develop beyond this point, It's a song about the fear of being caught up in a moment, and while I was initially worried it would overuse the word "totally", it totally doesn't! ... Sorry. But yeah, this is a pretty good song. Maybe a little slow for my taste, it's not one of my favourites on the album and I do question why this particular one gained so much traction, but if you've been on the Inhaler train, you're bound to like this. So give it a listen and check out their new album too, especially if you've been needing a new young rock band to get into.

Title: Self by Robert Grace (Ft. Emma Steinbakken)

Position: #16

You know, I recently had a friend of mine point out that Robert Grace isn't all that different from AJR. Now to be clear, he is a fan of both of those acts, and while my first reaction was abject fury... I do kind of get it. After all, Robert Grace's vocals aren't that far removed from Jack Met's, and they do both specialise in the same style of pop that's basically pulling from early Weezer. Now I would argue that Robert Grace is a much better and more controlled performer, but the biggest difference comes down to songwriting. Not only does he not rely on pop culture references and can write a really catchy, flowing hook, but his framing has always felt a lot more grown-up and... well, maybe not mature, but honest.

Just look at his biggest hits Fake Fine and The Hurt You Gave Me, which are both extremely upfront about their ugly emotions. Hell, Fake Fine calls out acts to force a nihilistic smile rather than dealing with their feelings! That's what I've never liked about AJR, the feeling that they're never being honest about being okay, and will hide behind a veneer of "irony" to shield themselves from making anything close to authentic! Meanwhile, although this new Robert Grace is about escaping the voices in your head telling you you're not good enough, he doesn''t shy away from admitting just how shitty he feels. Hell, he's fucking desperate, admitting he's never felt less than right now, he's NOT happy, and even despite all the medication and self-isolation, he still doesn't feel any better. It doesn't really matter whether or not this is based on his actual life (and if so, all the support in the world to him), because it FEELS real, and it's something a lot more people can relate to more than the posing cool of AJR's "fuck trying, let's go out with a bang!"

Now as for the guest star here, Emma Steinbakken is a Norwegian singer who's had minor success back home, and a couple of singles that have made the rounds and done well online. And she takes it from a more backwards-looking perspective, where she felt "less than" in past relationships, and growing up feeling different. It's not quite as gripping to me personally at this time, but as someone who once was a weird, insecure teenager, I can clearly recognise the value in her perspective on this song, especially with her being only 18. I do wish their was a bit more interplay between the 2 of them, as they really do sound good together on the hook, but I suppose they're also many miles apart, and especially these days, in-person collabs are hard to pull off. Either way, this is quality pop music, and further indication that Robert Grace has a bright future ahead of him. With any luck more people will give him a chance, rather than certain other acts who aren't nearly as deserving.

Title: Love Tattoo by GER

Position: #19

Finally, after 3 familiar faces, we end things with a newcomer to this series. So, Gerard O’Hanlon or GER is a young man from Cork, who gained his online following by busking on the streets of Limerick, where he attended university, which then lead him to compete in multiple local and national singing competitions. This is also not his first entry onto this chart, as he has had previous hits like To Be With Him and Prisoner. Now, having listened to those songs, the most obvious comparison to me is early Sam Smith. Maybe not quite as reliant on his upper register as Smith, but with a penchant for grandiose singing and stripped back instrumentals to really let his voice lead the melody. However, that's actually where Love Tattoo kind of catches you off-guard.

Unlike his past ventures, Love Tattoo follows a much more pop structure, with oscillating synths, subtle multitracking, snaps and a drum machine that kicks you into the main hook. It's also more of a pop theme, a love song where he wants to keep this person in his life forever, wanting to keep them in his mind like a love tattoo. It's cute, if a little clumsy. I mean he even asks what he's be if he doesn't have this person and inquires on the bridge if they'll still be together when he's old and grey. That's a tad insecure, but my main issue is that it just feels a bit too generic. It's the safest song he's released to date, and clearly his attempt at a pop crossover that isn't "bad" exactly, but just a bit more basic than I would like.

So yeah, this is okay, it's serviceable, but whether or not I like it, I find his previous material far more interesting. And I worry that in trying to pander, GER here may have actually watered his sound down enough to become LESS relevant, rather than more. It's a fine line, so tread lightly, that's all I'm saying.

But yeah, that's our week, hope you all enjoyed! A much shorter one, thankfully, I needed one of these! Please feel free to like the post and share any feedback in the comments, especially when it comes to the new title/description format. My thinking is that, if I find it hard to go back and find my thoughts on older songs in this series, imagine how the rest of you feel. Otherwise, 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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