Musical McCool - Week 30 (July 23, 2021 - Pop Smoke, KSI, Not Your Summer)
Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! My name is Fionn, and welcome back to a brand new edition of Musical McCool!
Well, I feel stupid... full disclosure, it turns out that from the beginning, I have been giving incorrect information about just how much of an effect radio has on the Irish charts. In fact, radio hasn't been tracked in Ireland at all since 2018, and the only reason I thought they did is because I have a friend who works at a bigtime local radio station who would feed me their top most played songs each week. As it turns out, they base it off the chart, not the other way round, which explains why there's always been a one-week delay on their end of things. The main driving force of the charts is specifically sales, both digital and physical, along with the usual laws for number of streams equaling 1 purchase. So again, my mistake, I apologise for the lack source-checking on my end, and I will endeavour to do better moving forwards.
Whew, now that that's off my chest, BOY was this a week! Not busy necessarily, but with enough odd moves, turbulence and new arrivals including another album bomb to classify it as "eventful" at the very least.
The Top 10
And it comes with good news and bad news, right from the top.
For one, yet again, Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran stood its ground at number 1, although the margins are shrinking by the day.
Because right below it, Stay by The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber is making its move, surging up to number 2. For some reason the general public is falling for this easy cash-in and seem perfectly content to make it a hit, despite the fact that it's just plain bad.
Sadly, this forced good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo down to number 3, but considering it's on its 10th week and still here, maybe that's a good thing. It certainly means its sales are holding up enough to keep it from moving to ACR.
And yet it might get knocked even lower soon, as Black Magic by Jonasu gained even more ground to number 4. I guess this is the Roses (Imanbek Remix) of 2021, meaning it will probably top the charts across Europe and the UK long before the US catch a whiff of it.
Either way, this probably won't affect Heartbreak Anthem by Galantis, David Guetta & Little Mix, which held its ground at number 5 as sales remain consistent. Say what you will about the song, if it's a sign that Little Mix will survive this split, that's a net positive.
What's in less good shape are Beggin' by Måneskin, falling down to number 6...
... and I Wanna Be Your Slave by Måneskin which fell back to number 7, as the fascination with the band seems to be waning.
This meant that By Your Side by Calvin Harris & Tom Grennan managed to make a move up to number 8, as the people seem intent to make this the next I Need Your Love.
Then, off the success of his new album All Over The Place (no, not kidding), Holiday by KSI re-entered the top 10 at number 9. Don't think it'll last, but the song's longevity has been an impressive exercise in promotion that many artists could learn from.
Last and... well maybe not least, but certainly most inconsequential: Remember by David Guetta & Becky Hill cracked the top 10. I do not like that we are reviving the career of a producer who plagued so many of us just a decade ago.
Top 50: The Punished and the New
So if you glanced at the top 50, you may notice a couple of key names missing. Well, that's because we lost a big long-running hit to ACR this week, and one that I am not all that sad to see go:
Let's Go Home Together by Ella Henderson & Tom Grennan - number 22 to gone
The duet of the year, for better or worse.
Moving on from that, continuing the pattern from last week, we had a fair few notable losses. Sure, there were the expected drop-offs of our arrivals from last week, like Clash by Dave & Stormzy to number 15, as well as NDA by Billie Eilish to 24 and Permission To Dance by BTS to 35 (yikes), but did favorite crime by Olivia Rodrigo have to fall so soon to 21? Sure, I care a bit less about You Right by Doja Cat & The Weeknd losing ground to 31 or Oliver Twist by ArrDee sliding back to 38, but were we really done with Black Hole by Griff as it dropped to 40 this week? Lastly, Butter by BTS skidded down to 41 and Body by Russ Millions & Tion Wayne fell flat to 49; honestly could take or leave either of those last 2.
However, none of this came close to the interesting gains this week. And by "interesting", I mean perplexing, because why is Fly Away by Tones & I at 14?! Yes I know the album dropped, but really, this high??? What's less perplexing is Levitating by Dua Lipa & DaBaby rebounding as I predicted to 18; this song will never die. But the weirdest news of the week came in our top 25... oh, not Ain't Shit by Doja Cat rising to 22, all it needs is a music video to push it over the edge. No, I'm talking about the BAFFLING surge of Didn't Know by Tom Zanetti up to 23!!! I've already been shocked by this song's longevity in the bottom 10 of the chart and now it's in the top half of the chart?! It would be admirable if it weren't such a fucking awful song!
I'm almost too mad by that to highlight the rest... ugh, fine, just because it's Irish! Yep, Talk About by Rain Radio & DJ Craig Gorman reached a new peak this week at 37, and finally, Head & Heart by Joel Corry & MNEK rebounded yet again to 39, because Summer is when this song thrives the most.
Aaaand speaking of Summer, Summer 91 (Looking Back) by Noizu returned to the top 50 at 34! Not complaining, just genuinely shocked. We also got back Don't Play by KSI & Anne-Marie to 43 off the return of the album, and also Believe Me by NAVOS because apparently this type of music does it for somebody. And with those done, we can now finally dive into our new arrivals, starting with:
Title: Demeanor by Pop Smoke (Ft. Dua Lipa)
You know, I think it's pretty telling that over here, Faith only debuted at number 6 on the album charts. Compared to the multiple acts who have scored top 5 albums in the past few months, including an independent artist like Kojaque, that is a shockingly bad performance for one of the biggest names in music last year, And to be clear, no disrespect to Pop Smoke, may he rest in peace. But it goes to show that even beyond any questions of morality, maybe there are other reasons why record labels shouldn't release posthumous albums! And while I expected this kind of behaviour from collaborators like Kanye West and Chris Brown... I have to say I expected better from Dua Lipa. As one of the biggest artists working today, you didn't have to say yes to this!
Of course, it helps my case that the song is fucking trash. This doesn't feel like a sound that Pop Smoke would remotely go for, and it uses a vocal sample where he sounds like Future without autotune and not trying. His singing just sounds bad here, and the lyrics are bad beyond belief! At least What You Know About Love was tender and sweet, this just feels like someone croaking about how sexy they are through a bad head cold with more brand names and references to gangbanging than love. Again, no disrespect to the man's memory, but this is not Pop Smoke at his best and the label never should have put it out, it's insulting!
And yet Dua Lipa doesn't have the same excuse... at first I thought this might be a song that was recorded back before he died, or maybe a feature from her they pasted onto the back end of this, but then she drops his name on her verse, followed by the awful line "my demeanor is meaner"... bite me! If anything, why didn't they get her to do the hook, or at least help out with it, rather than giving this poor excuse for a verse? I know that fans will probably defend this and support it, but in 5 years, Hell even 1 year, nobody is going to be calling this their favourite song by either artist. They both deserve better then this!
Title: No Time by KSI (Ft. Lil Durk)
KSI's new album is... very aptly titled. I mean on the one side you have Patience and Don't Play, pop and rock experiments that really shouldn't work at all but do, and on the other you have Holiday and... well, this. Now in fairness, I don't think this is that bad. The production is quite nice, the guitars are actually very well-balanced with that trap beat, and I think Lil Durk's verse is disposable but inoffensive. The problem comes down to KSI, who for some ungodly reason decided to try out a falsetto delivery on the hook of the song about focusing on his craft! Not only that, but his delivery is really sloppy and slurred, a mumble rap flow that - I'll say it - isn't doing him justice. The guy's got creativity and good flow, even if his lyricism needs work, but this just feels cribbed from half-a-dozen American rappers with nowhere near his level of ambition.
For better or worse, All Over The Place is full of experiments and various sounds, which i do admire. But for every good song where he takes a chance that pays off, you get something like this that really doesn't. Not terrible, not not worth much if I'm being honest.
Title: You For Me by Sigala & Rita Ora
I haven't thought about Rita Ora since... jeez, maybe 2016? And that was only because of Beyoncé's Lemonade! And yet, while she hasn't released much music in the last few years, she's continued to have a rather lucrative career behind the scenes, mainly in fashion and acting, with 1 or 2 scheduled reappearances on the charts. Which brings us to this new collab with English producer Sigala, an EDM producer from Norfolk who had a huge hit in 2015 with Easy Love and hasn't quite been able to replicate that success since.
And look, this is about what you'd expect from this style of producer-singer Summer team-up. Bright keys, standard beat, and just enough vocal effects and multitracking to make Rita Ora completely anonymous. That being said though, it does sound pretty good, and I like the addition of the string flourishes on the tail-end of the chorus. And the lyrics aren't bad either, a song about getting over an ex who she's not ever, drinking and dancing to forget him, but also owning her mistakes in their relationship. She knows she should have been more honest and open with her feelings when she had him, and by the end of the song it's kind of implied that she might try to win him back. So ultimately, while it's nothing special by any means, the story and angle make it a touch more unique for a Summer anthem. As producer-singer collabs in 2021 go, it's not up there with Joel Cory's output, but it's also better than dreck like Remember. So tentative recommendation I guess, not bad.
Title: Run by OneRepublic
So you all know this band, right? Still making music after over a decade of success with huge hits like Counting Stars and All The Right Words. Sure they've been a little quieter in recent years, but they never quite went away, even producing some genuine quality by teaming up with producers like Kygo. So when I saw this song climbing the charts, I was ready to be entertained and... well, this is depressing.
This may sound harsh, but the first thing this reminded me of was X Ambassadors. A song written purely to appear in advertisements, with writing that's just repetitive enough to stick in your head, the bare minimum in terms of production, and Ryan Tedder phoning it in so hard it's almost shocking! I mean there's a bad performance, and then there's the lack of care displayed here, where not a line feels unique, not a note feels fresh and not 1 second of it convinces me any of them wanted to make this.
I have heard worse-sounding music this year, Heck even this week, but based purely on wasted potential and lack of care, this us pretty fucking galling! Hell, even their past songs which were used in ads like Love Runs Out and Detour had more teeth and effort behind them than this! In other words this is useless to me... which probably means I can get used to it being here.
Right, so this was overall a quieter week on the homefront. In fact it barely shifted at all, with even our 2 new arrivals being familiar faces, and our top 7 remaining completely static.
The only mover up or down the chart this week was Kojaque's Town's Dead dropping back to 18, after what is, again, a REALLY impressive run for its genre! And I suppose I should also mention that JC Stewart's Break My Heart and Inhaler's Cheer Up Baby are both on their 13th and therefore last weeks. I expect Inhaler will just replace themselves, but curious to see if the same's true for Stewart, not gonna lie.
Finally, we have a returning entry at number 20, and one I am always happy to see: More Like You by Orla Gartland! Yes I know I gush about her a lot, but she deserves it, dammit! Aaaaand on the topic of gushing, let's welcome back 2 names who I've championed in the past:
Title: Overwhelmed by Ryan Mac
So Ryan Mack is back again, this time with something a little different. Well, not so much in content or sound, but more in the fact that this song is a cover. Apparently Overwhelmed by Royal & the Serpent has been making use rounds on TikTok after its initial release in June of 2020. And it really is the type of song you'd expect Ryan here to cover, as the subject matter is about social anxiety and the vocal production is very much in his wheelhouse.
And yet... I dunno, this is fine, but it's not doing much for me as a cover. Don't get me wrong, Ryan sells it and the song sounds good... but maybe it's just a bit too polished. If I have one complaint about Ryan's output so far, it's that a lot of it tends to sound similar, he sticks to a very narrow instrumental pallet. And this cover fits into that almost too well, to the point where I think some of the flair of the original is lost. I mean there's nothing close to the scuzzy breakdown on the bridge, the subtle vocal flourishes on the original are replaced by bargain bin pitched down backing vocals, and the song just feels too brief to be of much consequence, cutting it down to be under 2 minutes.
Again, this isn't bad, and as a fan I think it's a good fit. But if Ryan does put this on a studio release, it needs a bit more oomph to it. Because as is, it's an okay cover that doesn't add anything to the original. Sorry man.
Title: Not Your Summer by The Academic
Finally we end things this week on a welcome bright spot. The Academic are a band I can usually count on for quality, and I was really holding out hope that of all the Summer songs dropped this week, theirs would at least be good. And thankfully it really is!
Okay, it's not amazing. It's a tad underwritten, and I'd be lying if I said it was among their best hooks, but the drums and surf rock guitars make for a nice tropical vibe, as do the chilly synths which give the song it's more subdued tone. Fitting, considering it's a song about a disappointing Summer! Okay, I swear it's not as depressing as it sounds, basically just a song acknowledging that maybe you're not having the best Summer. And as someone who lives in a country that ahs been notoriously slow to vaccinate the population, maybe there's a part of me that connects to this a bit more personally.
It's a song about expectations not being met, and the understanding that it happens to all of us, even our frontman. It's empathetic, while also probably coming from a personal place. And as someone who enjoys sharing the pain a bit with the artists I listen to, I dug this. Again, not amazing by their standards, but in a week like this, I'll take what I can get!
And now it's time for our Best and Worst of the week! You know, kind of a lousy week with a lot of easy contenders, but I think I have to give the worst to Run by OneRepublic, for just being a huge disappointment and regression for the group! Again, a band of their tenure should be making better music than X Ambassadors and Imagine Dragons! For the best though, it's going to Not Your Summer by The Academic, and it's not even that close. It's nowhere near their best, but in a week like this, I'll take a mid-tier Academic song over most of the dreck here, easily!
As always though, please feel free to like the post and share any feedback in the comments. Make sure you subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter to keep up with these releases! And until the next time, I'm Fionn and this is The Social Tune, signing off!