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Musical McCool - Week 29 (July 16, 2021 - Stay, Post Malone, Shane Codd)

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

And just like that, we're back to normal. A nice busy week with 5 new songs debuting in the top half of the chart, no album bombs, and a lot of weaknesses heading into the second quarter of Summer. In fact all this weakness does make me wonder whether any and all new songs debuting this week will actually stick around a lot longer than they would have even a couple of weeks ago, or at least will settle into the bottom half of the top 50.

The Top 10

Because at the top, the fight seems to be coming pretty close.

Sure, Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran is still number 1, as it leads the way in all categories, although not by an insurmountable amount.

In fact, while good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo remains at number 2, it did actually close the radio gap a bit this week, and its sales are practically neck-and-neck.

Now what may disrupt things a bit is the arrival of our new top 10 hit: Stay by The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber. More on the song itself a bit later, but considering the year these 2 have had and the type of song this is, I wouldn't be surprised if it stuck around for a bit.

Now this forced Beggin' by Måneskin down to number 4, although its numbers are currently strong enough that it could hold on a little longer.

And as predicted, Heartbreak Anthem by Galantis, David Guetta & Little Mix is still keeping up consistently at number 5, this could still make some headway at the first chance of weakness above it.

That being said, while I Wanna Be Your Slave by Måneskin fell back to number 6, they did just release that official music video, and considering how well this song seems to play with a certain crowd, I wouldn't surprise if this rebounded next week.

Certainly makes more sense than Black Magic by Jonasu, which inexplicably gained again this week to number 7. Is this going to be another Jerusalema and drop like a stone next week? Or am I going to have to get used to hearing this barked at me from every shop I pass?

All of this brings us to our second top 10 hit: it's Clash by Dave & Stormzy! Apparently Dave's new album is supposed to be dropping soon, and so the fanbase loyally launched this into the top 10 like clockwork. Let's just say that they're not the only rabid fanbase we'll be discussing today.

Then we saw the real weakness of Sour showing through, as traitor by Olivia Rodrigo dropped to number 9. There's a new album at number 1 this week, and while I do like Olivia, I will rep local talent like Inhaler any day of the week!

Finally, in spite of all my pleading and bargaining, By Your Side by Calvin Harris & Tom Grennan cracked the top 10! Oh joy, now I'll have a prime excuse to leave any place where I hear this playing.

Top 50: The Punished and the New

Like I said, this week saw a lot of weakness across the board. No movers to ACR, but a whole shit-ton of major losses, most of them by a significant number of spots! So okay, here goes!

First off, not a great week for Mimi Webb: Good Without dropped back to number 11 (although expect that to rebound), and Dumb Love fell back to 16. We also saw the continued loss of KSI's Holiday to 14, as well as the unfortunate decline of favorite crime by Olivia Rodrigo to 15! Really, I was really holding out on that sticking around in lieu of traitor, damn it! We also saw the expected losses for more long-running hits, like Save Your Tears by the Weeknd to 20, Kiss Me More by Doja & SZA to 21 and Let's Go Home Together by Ella Henderson & Tom Grennan to 22! I guess I could also include Levitating by Dua Lipa & DaBaby losing ground to 23, but I've seen that song bounce back from lower and it could still kill in the Summer. And the list just goes on and on and ON: You Right by Doja & The Weeknd went to 25, MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) by Lil Nas X fell to 26, Confetti by Little Mix & Saweetie lost steam to 27, Oliver Twist by ArrDee dropped to 31, Heat Waves by Glass Animals burned out at 37, both our Picture This singles stalled out at 33 and 39 (LA House Party and Addict Of Magic respectively), Bo Burnham lost HIS surprising boost as All Eyes On Me dropped back to 40, and it's STILL not over! To round off we had Body by Tion Wayne & Russ Millions collapse to 41, Leave Before You Love Me by Marshmello featuring the Jonas Brothers stumble back to 42, transparentsoul by WILLOW & Travis Barker and Zitti e Buoni by Måneskin having their growls turn to whimpers at 43 and 44 respectively, The Business by Tiësto losing steam again (a likely story) to 46, Your Love (9PM) on its way out at 49 and FI-NA-LLY, WOW, Thot Shit by Megan Thee Stallion not being given its chance at 50! Really, it's better than practically all the songs I just mentioned!

Certainly better than anything we're seeing on its way up this week! Who the Hell cares if Fly Away by Tones & I rose up to 19? or why for some ungodly reason Didn't know by Tom Zanetti is still in the top 40, rising up to 36?? The only other gain, and admittedly a pretty good one, was Ain't Shit by Doja Cat to 28, but with how the charts are behaving right now, I'm not about to hold my breath!

And now, with no returning entries, let's get this done and dive into our new arrivals, starting with:

Title: Stay by The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber

Position: #3

Does anyone else find it weird how big Kid LAROI has got this year? Putting aside any questions of quality, he's a painful facsimile of his former mentor Juice WRLD, except a whole lot whinier. Heck, his biggest hit is one of the most transparently pathetic songs of the year, yet he was still invited to guest on that Polo G album where he... actually fit better than I expected. But the Bieber collab, that was inevitable. I mean with the year Justin's had, with 3 back-to-back top 10 hits and an album that may have been a critical flop but was MUCH better received by fans, he's arguably back on top as one of the biggest pop stars around like back in the Purpose days. So I actually kind of expected this collab to work out okay... and boy is it stale.

With the success of retro throwbacks last year like Dua Lipa and The Weekend, and especially Blinding Lights in particular, it seems that the string of copycats is never ending. And Bieber has been one of the most prominent, as he brings yet another 80s synth line to the table here, despite the fact that Kid LAROI has never attempted this kind of production successfully in the past. And yet... is it my imagination or does Kid LAROI actually sound better than Bieber on this?! Not that he sounds good, but for some reason I just can't STAND Justin on this song! I think a lot of that has to do with delivery; on songs like Anyone and Hold On, he took it a bit slower, slipping into his lower and upper register much more smoothly. Here, everything is fast-paced and driving, and I'm sorry but Bieber's voice cannot keep up, he just sounds out of breath. Also, Kid LAROI has kind of made it his bag to sound whiny and needy, so I believe this from him and his performance actually backs it up, I find it pretty convincing. Meanwhile Bieber is just playing a role and doing it badly, so that I don't buy a single word of it!

The song itself is just a basic plea for someone to stay with them, and while the production is aight, it has nowhere near the body or breadth of previous 2021 songs in this vein. It's very tepid and astoundingly forgettable, to the point where even after a good half-dozen listens I only barely remember it, and not for its best parts. So yeah, this MAY stick around due to name recognition and nothing else, but otherwise it's just an overblown waste of time.

Title: Clash by Dave (Ft. Stormzy)

Position: #8

So in case you missed it, Dave's new album got announced this year. Wish I could say I was more excited, considering how lackluster I've found most of his output this year, but the tracklist does look interesting. And hey, I always like some Stormzy to liven things up and wow, this is pretty dull too...

Not the same issue as the last song. In fairness, I actually think both of these guys sound pretty good, where Dave wins in terms of bars, but I think Stormzy had the better flows, but I just don't think the hook is any good, the content is pretty basic content about how they've come up, and while I do think Dave's "one" scheme was pretty nice, the beat just doesn't do either of them any favours, a very basic piano and trap beat with oscillating bass that is pretty typical of UK drill. If there was an interesting string section like in a few Central Cee or AJ Tracey, that'd be something, but as is, I can't help thinking this belongs on that last Dave EP, certainly not on a studio album to follow up Psychodrama!

Again, this isn't bad, but it's pretty meh, and from 2 of the biggest names in UK rap at the moment... gotta say, I expected more.

Title: NDA by Billie Eilish

Position: #13

I am genuinely fascinated by this album rollout for Billie.

It seems like it's the Lorde syndrome, where her follow-up to her big successful album is naturally at a huge disadvantage, meaning that even if it is even better, it won't perform as well commercially. And in fairness, I think Billie knows this. Songs like Your Power aren't written by people chasing commercial success after all, and if she wants to keep putting out slightly more refined and poised material, that's definitely an expansion of her sound which I find intriguing. Now we just have to see if, like with Lorde, Happier Than Ever will be considered better, as well as an evolution in her sound.

This brings us to her latest single NDA, which I was almost hoping would sample Kendrick's DNA but I digress! Instead, this actually falls in line with the sound of her last album, with the minor piano keys, vocal effects and slightly haunted backing vocals. Actually, scratch that, the song it reminds me of most is Therefore I Am... almost eerily so to be honest, no wonder this song is supposed to lead into that one. And I'll also be honest and say, while this is pretty decent and melodic, it's also the weakest of her singles for this album to date. It appears to be a song where she had a guy sign an NDA when he left her house, treating him with a cold shoulder and casual disregard when in reality she is slowly developing feelings for him, as is demonstrated on the hook, sprinkled in with the usual self-doubt about her career and life choices. And yet... I dunno, the emotional pay-off just isn't here for me. Maybe it's the production and more specifically the tempo, but I don't personally think it matches the tone of Billie's mournful crooning.

I had this complaint on everything i wanted last year; sometimes FINNEAS' production can get in the way of Billie's performance by attempting to make the song more tuneful or accessible. It's a subtle balance and one where I can't even pinpoint when it's done right because it's so seamless, but I do find it noticeable when it's missing the mark, even slightly. Again, I think you'd have to be very harsh to call this a bad song, but even compared to everything i wanted, this doesn't have the depth in the writing or the content to compensate for it. As such, it's just pretty decent, nothing more. Make of that what you will.

Title: Permission To Dance by BTS

Position: #17

It's taken me a while to realise just how toxic the BTS fandom really is. Oh sure, we all make our jokes and quips, but this year especially, the ugly side of that fanbase has really reared its head! Whether it be attacking other artists for daring to challenge their dominance with their own music, or even attacking respected music critics who frankly have more professionalism and integrity than most of the journalists going after them, 2021 has really been an eye-opener. And again , all of this for fucking Butter, arguably one of their most middling singles to date!

So yeah, I won't lie, I was kind of nervous about Permission To Dance before it even dropped. Not only have I never been a huge k-pop fan, but with far less sympathy in my heart towards the band, or at least the label managing them and their skeevy marketing tactics, I was worried this would be the moment where I just snapped, criticised one of their songs harshly and then got bombarded with abuse. However, while that may yet happen... I can't lie, I enjoyed this a fair bit more than I was expecting. There will be some who will call this the most transparently sell-out song the band has ever put out, and indeed I wouldn't be surprised if this got its fair share of haters on the internet. Because it's basically Justin Timberlake's Can't Stop The Feeling. No joke, no exaggerating, that's the vibe I get from this; sanitised, sugary pop music that isn't challenging, is VERY corny, and which contains some of the most basic writing of the group's career. And yet once again, I like Can't Stop The Feeling, and I think the bright, happy production here works FAR better than the sludgy neo-soul and disco of Butter! The strings, bass guitar and even the gummy vocal production all makes for a sticky bubblegum appeal that all the boys sell really well, especially with some really good harmonies and a very sticky hook.

So yep, colour me shocked, but this might be my favourite big single of theirs in a while. It's safer for sure, but not as clinically put-together as Dynamite, it's just really palatable. Not quite sure I'd go so far as to call it great, but it's still easily the best song I've reviewed so far this week! Props to them, now let's get to the worst that this week has to offer:

Title: Motley Crew by Post Malone

Position: #24

Not gonna lie, I was looking forward to this. Just a few years ago, the prospect of new Post Malone music would have sent me fleeing for the hills, but that last album was really good, with some absolutely fantastic songs, taking Post into even more of a rock direction. And even if it's not a great album by any means, Beerbongs & Bentleys is still really fun to revisit. It almost makes you wonder why he left pop trap in the rear-view... and then you unsuspectingly click on this song and realise exactly why.

Not gonna mince words, this is terrible! The staccato flow that makes Post sound like he's imitating any number of mumble rappers, the minor keys and overwhelming bass give this a very sluggish, slow feel to it that's very unpleasant, and Post contorting the word "hilarious" to rhyme with "mysterious" made me throw up a little! And that brings us to the biggest issue: what the fuck is Post Malone doing with his voice??? He alternates between this weird nasal delivery that makes it feel like he's doing a bad Lil Wayne impression circa 2013, and a braying warble that I haven't heard sound this bad since I Fall Apart and who wanted more of that?! The entire tone of the song feels like it's mocking the listener, and that's even before you read the lyrics, which are just the most basic flexing luxury rap with not a clever or unique line to be found! Hell, with the delivery, it doesn't even feel like he's bragging at all, he sounds like he got kicked in the nuts and is trying to maintain his dignity as he writhes on the ground in agony!

So for all you Post Malone fans... is this what you want? You gave up your crooning icon with some of the best hooks to hit the charts in 2019 in exchange for a guy who sounds like every SoundCloud rapper from 4 years ago? Because if so, you'll probably love this, so have at it! Just keep it and yourselves as faaaaaaaar away from me as possible!

National Treasures

Even though the past few weeks have been pretty calm for the Top 50 Singles chart, the Homegrown Top 20 has been fairly consistent in its turnover. And this week is no exception, with 5 new songs. Now, there were some interesting changes: in the wake of Addict Of Magic dropping past it in the top 50, LA House Party re-entered the top 5 at number 2, along with Cheer Up Baby by Inhaler at number 9. No gains this week either, instead we saw the expected drop-off of Town's Dead by Kojaque to 14, along with Paradise by James Vincent McMorrow to 17. But enough of that, let's dive into the new entries, starting with a name you should recognise on this series if you've been reading from the beginning:

Title: Always On My Mind by Shane Codd (Ft. Charlotte Haining)

Position: #5

One of the biggest local success stories of the the start of 2021 was when young DJ Shane Codd cracked the top 10 with the hit smash Get Out My Head. It was house music done right, with strong, stabbing pianos, elated vocals and it very quickly became one of the earliest hits for me to champion this year, finding success in the UK and even Belgium. And now that song is likely going to be one of the biggest hits of the year, all from a student in Cavan who's still finishing up his business degree on top of his fledgling music career! Needless to say, I was among the many anticipating his next single, even if I was admittedly nervous that the expectations would be stacked too high. However, I am pleased to announce that any worries I had were unfounded, because this is exactly the same brand of quality as Get out My head if not even better!

If I had one reproach for Shane Codd's first single, it's that the verses felt quite repetitive and underdeveloped. This time round, there's more of a story, a wistful look back at a former lover whom he never fully committed to. Now she's moved on, and he's tried to do the same, but he honestly wishes he could go back and do it all again, because she's always on his mind. The hook is just as strong as Get out My Head, but the production is more layered and varied, with more dynamic beats, a better cohesion between the instrumentals and the vocals, and even a much better pre-chorus. Some would say the song still sounds very like his last one, and they would be right, but the kinks have been ironed out and it makes for a much more professional sound overall.

Fine job Shane Codd, you really impressed me with this one! I really hope the success of your last hit allows this top cross over to the top 50 soon, because this is really excellent stuff, and we could use more of it on the radio! And speaking of familiar faces who've really impressed me:

Title: A Million Goodbyes by Lea Heart

Position: #10

Lea Heart 's story is very similar to Shane Codd's with a slightly smaller scope. Her song IDK Why was a surprisingly delightful slice of vintage 80s pop in the vein of Carly Rae Jepsen, which then cracked the top 50 for about a week or so. But while most of the country hasn't seemed content to make that song a hit, I have gone back to it consistently all year, it's a fantastic pop song! So even more so than Shane Codd, I was expecting greatness from this... and once again I was SO pleased with this!

Unlike Always On My Mind, this is a very different take for Lea Heart, as the song reminds me less of a Carly Rae pop jam and more like a Kesha ballad like Wonderland or Rainbow. And if you know your Kesha, you know I mean that as a huge compliment! It's a beautiful piano-driven song with very little in the way of embellishment, only very light percussion and minor reverb to emphasise the hook, which really allows you to appreciate Lea's voice. And my God, I didn't know she was capable of this! This really made me realise what a beautiful and emotive singer she is, switching between her comfortable and slightly husky low-to-mid range on the verses and her beautiful higher tones on the hook, which are never too forced. On top of that, she manages to inject so much passion into her performance without oversinging! It's very subtle, but you can hear the slight quiver to her vocals on the hook that betray the tears she's shedding at being told "goodbye" yet again.

Or to sum up, it says something when I don't even object to the "lalala''s near the end, because they're delivered and layered just in the right way to not feel lazy or cheesy! If anything I just wish it were longer, had maybe gone for one more chorus at the end, but if my main gripe with your song is that I want more of it, that's only a good thing. This blew me away Lea, phenomenal job!

Title: You're Not Special, Babe by Orla Gartland

Position: #15

Well, it must be my lucky week, because we have yet more music from Orla Gartland! Woman on the Internet is only a month away and I am psyched, because every song I've heard from her this year has been pure GOLD! And with a title like You're Not Special, Babe, of course I was excited for this!

Now to be honest, at first I was a bit reticent about this. After all, as much as this is a song I could see Orla making, it does feel uncharacteristically harsh towards the listener. That and the subject matter of coming of age, realising you're just like everyone else, it's kind of overdone, isn't it? Well, that's before you take a closer look and discover that her magic is still there as always. For one, the instrumentation just ROCKS! As which each of her songs, it comes with a surprising change in sound, with ethereal synths, very prominent guitars, and much more distinctive percussion. In some ways it actually reminds me of a 2000s Paramore cut, with very reflective verses about how coming of age and a huge chorus which she even cheekily references on the bridge.

But it's the verses that really set this apart for me. Because turns out, the "babe" she's probably talking to is herself, and the not-so-special things she's talking about are heartbreak, depression, and a general habit of fucking up your life. And of course her writing is as vivid as ever, with great details like eating what you want for breakfast because you deserve it, or how they say life is short, but man can it feel long sometimes. Everyone cries, everyone's scared of the future, and yet we still feel alone. Again, is it any wonder I love this woman's music so much? If you haven't heard this, fix that.

Title: Holy Roses by Soda Blonde

Position: #18

Finally, some new blood, at least on this series, namely this Dublin alt-pop group Soda Blonde! Now initially, they were part of the group Little Green cars, which gained a lot of critical acclaim between 2013 and 2019, until they abruptly split up when co-founder Stevie Appleby went his own separate way. Little else is certain about the break-up, but since their fans were still thirsty for more music, they followed the remaining members in an endeavour to support this official debut Small Talk.

And here's the thing: I actually quite like what I've heard from Little Green Cars. They had a penchant for an indie rock sound that really appeals to me personally, especially with their taste in rougher heartland rock guitar passages and pretty spectacular harmonies. So this was going to have an uphill battle with me from the beginning. And yes, this song does still keep the harmonies and at least they recognise that Faye O'Rourke is their greatest asset... but I won't lie, especially in a post-Pillow Queens world, this is pretty forgettable/ It sucks, because the writing is pretty good, showing off a conflict between lovers that they need to address, but keep pushing each other away before anything can be resolved. Sadly the hook doesn't have any real punch, and the vocals, while pretty, are too reserved or lathered in effects to really carry much weight for me. Again, the harmonies are there and they sound pretty, but it very quickly fades into the background for me. Maybe it's just not my genre, maybe the rest of the album is better, but personally, this isn't for me. Sorry.

Title: Six Days On the Road by Marty Mone

Position: #20

I have to admit, when I first heard this, I was genuinely shocked. I mean I have come to expect a variety of genres and sounds on the Homegrown chart, it's essentially a free-for-all of Irish music from all walks of life. But still, I didn't expect a Muscle Shoals country song with an Irish twist!

For those who don't know, this song was originally Early Green and Carl Montgomery, then popularised by Dave Dudley in 1963. Now, some of you, like myself, may be more familiar with the Sawyer Brown version from the 90s, but just know that some music historians consider this to be the grandfather of trucker songs! Every song from back then to now about trucks and driving down the backroads can be traced back to this song, maybe not the first and certainly not the best, but the first to make it a thing! And BOY do I feel conflicted on this cover.

On the one hand, I have never found this song to be great, it's only barely decent. It's kind of meat-headed and cheesy in a way that hasn't aged all that well, and only really works if you have a really good singer behind it, while Marty Mone here... Look, he's been making music since 2015 on YouTube and has actually accrued a fairly big following there. And I can't deny he has a lot of presence, but he just hasn't got a great voice, certainly not for this style of country music!

And yet... there's something undeniably goofy about this cover. Maybe it's Marty's accent, maybe it's the karaoke-level of care he takes in his vocals here, or maybe it's just the fact that for all my complaints, the production kicks ASS, with a piano solo AND a guitar solo, both of which he cues in like an old-fashioned rockstar, but with every listen my smile grew. I can't call it good, but it is undeniably enjoyable and if you're driving down the roads of Ireland and hollering along to the radio without a care for how you sound, this fits perfectly.

And now, I'm going to introduce a new segment: a Best and Worst of the week! And boy this is a tough one... I mean, not for the worst, which is easily going to Motley Crew by Post Malone, for just being a huge disappointment on top of everything else! For the best though... you know what, Orla Gartland's the critic pick, but I'm actually giving it to A Million Goodbyes by Lea Heart, for really showing me a whole new side to an artist I already liked a fair bit, great job again there!

So as always, please feel free to like the post and share any feedback in the comments. 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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