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Musical McCool - Week 31 (July 30, 2021 - INDUSTRY BABY, Santan Dave, Dermot Kennedy)

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

Of all the weeks to be busy, this could not have come at a worse time for me. My day job essentially meant that I was quite busy for the whole weekend, and combined with having to do a lot of travelling, I had very little time to actually get any writing done. Now, on the other hand, I did have a lot of time to listen to the new songs from this week, meaning my opinions are much better formulated in my head on how I feel about each of them. So prepare yourselves, this late edition of Musical McCool may go long.

The Top 10

Now right at the top, things are a little easier to discuss, mainly because nothing moved.

Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran held its spot at number 1, still leading the way in terms of sales.

Although Stay by The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber did close that gap slightly this week, as it held its ground at number 2. Guess the public's reaction to this single is even better than predicted.

Now, while this did mean good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo is currently held at bay at number 3, I don't see this dropping too soon if its streaming numbers are anything to go by, unless ACR gets its grubby hands on it.

Then you have Black Magic by Jonasu holding ITS ground at number 4, currently a big dance hit that's only being held at bay by the pop music above it because most clubs in Ireland are still closed.

Speaking of pop, Heartbreak Anthem by Galantis, David Guetta & Little Mix spent a third week at number 5, unable to budge higher or lower. And with yet more music coming up the pipeline from them which we'll discuss in a bit, who could have predicted that post-Jesy Little Mix would have this much success?!

Finally at number 6, Beggin' by Måneskin somehow held its ground for another week too. Considering the competition it was up against, it should really count its lucky stars.

Now with all that stagnancy out of the way, let's welcome our first new big arrival of the week, the one you all saw coming: INDUSTRY BABY by Lil Nas X featuring Jack Harlow, debuting at number 7. I honestly thought this might debut a tiny bit higher, but people seem to be getting used to Lil Nas X's tricks at this point, as it didn't get quite the initial rush of sales that the shock value of MONTERO warranted.

Next, in the wake of his new album We're All Alone In This Together (great title) going to number 1, Clash by Dave & Stormzy returned at number 8. Again, not wild about this one, but it's still better than Money Talks with Fredo or Titanium.

What I'm much happier about is the new arrival from that same album, Verdansk debuting at number 9. Considering Dave's been teasing this one for over a year, it's no wonder this was so hotly anticipated by fans.

Lastly, somehow, I Wanna Be Your Slave by Måneskin rounds out our top 10. Not By Your Side or Holiday, but the filthy sex song. Sure, why not, we're all having our own brand of thotty Summer.

Top 50: The Punished and the New

So while we haven't had a massive shift to ACR in a couple of weeks now, there has been a noticeable drop in momentum for a lot of hits, proving that the market is primed for new music. Not sure if I'd quite call it a Summer lull, but outside of the top 20, it's hard to say how much longer a lot of this will stick around.

Case and point: another SLEW of losers. Let's start at the very top, where By Your Side by Calvin Harris and Tom Grennan dropped out of the top 10 to number 12, while KSI's Holiday lost its album momentum to 15. We also saw the loss of more long-running Spring radio singles like Our Song by Niall Horan & Anne-Marie to 16, or both Good Without and Dumb Love by Mimi Webb to 18 and 19 respectively. Not to mention the titans that dropped out of the top 20 this week, as Save Your Tears by The Weeknd slid out of the top 20 to 21, Kiss Me More by Doja Cat & SZA fell to 23, and for what feels like the 10th time, Levitating by Dua Lipa & DaBaby lost ground to 24.

We then see a brief moment of lucidity as Didn't Know by Tom Zanetti dropped back down to number 29, as everyone comes to their senses and realises it shouldn't have got so big. But then we get right back to cookytown as BED by Joel Cory, RAYE & David Guetta lost traction to 31! I know it's been around a while, but this kind of pop song usually KILLS in Summer! Then you have the less surprising fizzles like Confetti by Little Mix & Saweetie bowing out at 34 after a VERY respectable run, NDA by Billie Eilish fading after its initial debut to 34 before the album impacts next week, Motley Crew by Post Malone floundering at 35 because it's a terrible song and everyone secretly knows that deep down, No Time by KSI & Lil Durk dropping a bit to 38, though not nearly as much as I would have predicted considering how inconsequential it is, Summer 91 (Looking Back) by Noizu falling back to 39 again as the public flip-flops on making it a real hit, Friday by RITON, Nightcrawlers & Mufasa finally on its way out for good at 41, Butter by BTS falling to 45 because Irish BTS fans are weak (come at me!), Oliver Twist by ArrDee wanting more and not getting it at 46, Head & Heart by Joel Cory & MNEK also losing traction at 47, Black Hole by Griff getting sucked into oblivion at 49, And of course, Don't Play by KSI & Anne-Marie fading naturally to 50. I still like this song, glad we got it back for a bit.

Next, let's pay quick homage to a few major players that exited the top 50 this week: Peaches by Justin Bieber, Daniel Caesar & Giveon, Body by Russ Millions & Tion Wayne, and lastly, let's give a HUUUUUUUUGE shout-out to The Business by Tiësto, exiting the top 50 after 40 weeks! We had our differences, but MAN is that impressive!

With so many losses and our new arrivals, you wonder if there can even be such a thing as a "gain", but we did have a couple... well 1, to be exact. And despite all odds, it's an honest-to-God Irish song: Talk About by DJ Craig Gorman & Rain radio, rising up to 30! Hell, while we're at it, let's highlight our returning entries too... *sigh* and of course it's Need To Know by Doja Cat at 26... Yes, I know it's only here because You Right flopped as a single, but it's comfortably her worst song in a while, I don't need this stinking up my charts. At least we also have Let Them Know by Mabel returning at 48, a strong contender for one of the BEST pop songs I've heard this year!

OKAY, and now with alllllll that out of the way, we start our new arrival with a big one:

Title: INDUSTRY BABY by Lil Nas X (Ft. Jack Harlow)

Position: #7

I'll be honest, I was definitely skeptical about this. Don't get me wrong, I loved MONTERO, but I wasn't a huge fan of SUN GOES DOWN, and judging by the fact that I also am only really kind of lukewarm on Jack Harlow's What's Poppin, I didn't really think that this collaboration made sense. Now, of course, because of this song, I ended up checking a lot more interviews from Jack Harlow and have realized that he's kind of a perfect choice for a Lil Nas X collaboration. After all, few rappers seem to be as comfortable with their masculinity as he does, at least to my eyes, and I was rather curious anyway to see what he would bring to this song, especially considering the production credit from Kanye West. And oh boy, this is something REAL special!

As much as I really do enjoy MONTERO, it is a song that I appreciate more because of how different it is compared to everything around it. Sure, it contains traces of trap, but it also brings so many new elements table from various different genres to make its own unique brand of pop. It's a fantastic song and a show of creativity like very few things I've heard before. In a way, it's kind of like Thrift Shop by Macklemore (Wait, no, bear with me on this!). It's the first big single that really makes you realize that the person making it is on a different wavelength from his contemporaries, and possibly could bring something fresh and new to the table. Well, if that song is Thrift Shop, this song is Can't Hold Us, because this is an anthem like few others!

No joke, I was absolutely blown away by this, pretty much from start to finish. The horns, the percussion. the intense braggadocio of the whole thing, where Lil Nas X is absolutely at the peak of his game and bragging about his Grammys, his plaques, his accolades, and more to the point, how nobody thought that he would ever get here! And that's true, after his first big single, a lot of people including myself, expected him to just go away, but then he's proved us wrong, time and time again, even notching a new number one with MONTERO this year. And that's what this song is an anthem to: the downtrodden, the ones that nobody expected to succeed, but who blew past all your expectations out of sheer defiance, and it has the instrumentation and the production to back it up!

But honestly, I was even more impressed by Jack Harlow on this song! Again, didn't really think much of What's Poppin, and out of the 1 or 2 singles that I've heard from him since then, nothing has really blown me away. But the technicality in these bars is really something special. Quite apart from the amazing stand-out lines like "sending her back to her boyfriend with his handprint on her ass cheek", "turning your haters into consumers" and "stop making jokes because they get old like baby boomers", the main thing that really impressed me was the rhyme scheme, as he completely dominated his part of the song! If you really pay attention, his verse is split into three different parts, all of which rhyme with themselves perfectly. Not to mention the way he switches up his flow and dances around the beat with ease, it is SO impressive!

So yeah, this is fucking amazing, and if there's one song that really could stand up against MONTERO for Lil Nas X's best song in my opinion, INDUSTRY BABY is it! Check this out if you haven't already, because if there's any justice in this world, it's only going to get bigger from here, and you're going to want to get on the bandwagon early!

Title: Verdansk by Dave

Position: #9

If you're thinking of checking out the new Dave album, I'll temper your expectations. It's not as good or as deep as Psychodrama, and while it has its highlights, nothing quite as impactful as Black or as low-key devastating as Psycho. Still though, as someone who has been severely unimpressed by almost everything I heard from him this year in terms of his collabs and that forgettable mixtape, it is a welcome return to form for the guy, worth a listen in my opinion.

As for this song specifically, it's... you know, it's good. The opening lines have this great alliteration pattern which I wish he'd kept up longer, but considering the hype behind it, I can't deny it's a teeny bit of a letdown to my ears. It's got a simple, pleasant beat, I liked the shout-out to his mum, and I suppose comparing his and his friends' takeover of the game to winning a game of Call Of Duty, it may not be for me, but it'll appeal to a certain audience.

Gotta say, I don't see myself returning to this much, especially as I can barely remember how it goes. Decent for what it is... but if you want something better:

Title: In The Fire by Dave (Ft. Fredo, Meekz, Ghetts & Giggs)

Position: #13

Oh yeah, this caught my ear a lot more. Sure, the metaphor of being forged in fire is a tad overdone, but the production really makes up for it, especially with that soulful sample in the background. But it's really our MCs who bring out the best in this song, even Fredo who opens up the first verse for us!

And the content is pretty standard, but fairly creative in its execution, as the 4 play off one another with ease, diving into their money, their checkered pasts and the way they overcame their rough upbringing. It's a celebration of their success which means so much more because how much they've struggled for it, and if's pretty damn potent. If I had one complaint, it's that it does run long at over 7 minutes, and it's a good while before Dave even shows' up to close us out nicely. Although I would have to give the best verse to Ghetts, for the most fun wordplay and best flow, at least to me. Overall not a bad taste of We're All Alone In This Together; if you're thinking of listening to the album, this isn't a bad first taste.

Title: Kiss My (Uh Oh) by Anne-Marie & Little Mix

Position: #20

Well, I guess this collab had to happen at some point. After all, after a slight delay at the start of the year, Little Mix have been having a banner year, and Anne-Marie's newest album is predicted to do even better numbers than her debut Speak Your Mind (thank Christ). Plus she's been releasing some really good pop music in her own right this year, so I was open to this. Then I saw the title.

Now, in fairness, this is not as bad as I expected. The women all have solid harmonies going on, and as a standard kiss-off anthem goes, it's not written too badly. Yes, calling your ass your "uh-oh" is pretty rough, but the rest of it isn't too bad, especially when it highlights all the ways guys fail to appreciate women except when it suits them.

I really wish the production were better though. For the most part it's pretty much what you'd expect, tropical percussion and handclaps, a rollicking groove, but then the horns come in and they're in this weird minor key. It gives the song an oddly sour note whenever the chorus hits, which is weird considering that's when all the harmonies kick in. Again, ot doesn't sound bad exactly, but it feels like a wasted opportunity for a really soaring pop hook, especially considering there's been a trend of those this Summer. Could be worse, but should have been a lot better.

Title: Don't Go Yet by Camila Cabello

Position: #28

Wow, who would have thunk it? Camila's first single in almost two years. Don't get me wrong, I haven't exactly been anticipating it. I've always said that she was the weakest singer out of Fifth Harmony and her solo career has been spotty at best with highs like Havana being juxtaposed with low points like Bad Things and Señorita. But that being said, I was a little curious about this new single.

And well, I'm very torn on it. You see, on the one hand, you can't deny that Camilla has developed into a much better performer, at least when it comes to her charisma. She really does sell this song with an energy that she definitely didn't have on that last couple of albums. I think it's quite impressive that she manages to sound so confident... especially when her voice still leaves a lot to be desired. And I still feel bad saying that, I do! After all, I can see improvement in her as a performer, in terms of the delivery and the inflections, but I just still don't like her voice even to this day.

But the other mixed thing is the production. I mean, on the one hand, it brings in a lot more Latin elements and actually sounds like an anthemic Latin song that has some real groove to it once that hook hits. But on the other hand, that weird instrumental croak on the second verse, where she drops into her lower range, it's goofy at best, and painfully awkward at worst. It's just such a weird choice, and she doesn't sound good doing it, even worse than she does on the rest of the song. She also just finds a very odd way of inflicting most of the words on that voice, it's an odd breakdown and a strange choice for a song that honestly is pretty aight otherwise.

I mean the flamenco guitars are fun, the drums are real as far as I can tell, and once again I really do think that Camila sells the hell out of it, quality of her voice be damned. So yeah this averages out to be meh to decent. It could have been a lot better, but it also could have been a lot worse.

Title: 2055 by Sleepy Hallow

Position: #42

Another day, another random trap artist making a small splash on the bottom of the top 50. And even then it's not even an organic hit because Sleepy Hollow has had several of these sort of songs go viral briefly, and then go away just a week or so later. Although, with that said, this did actually have a fair bit of momentum. Judging by, well everything, this is a TikTok song, and one that reminds me a fair bit of Lil Uzi Vert mixed with a tiny little slice of Dream. Yes the Minecraft guy. And if you remember my thoughts on Mask that's not exactly a good thing.

The fact is, 2055 is pretty fucking forgettable. Well, I do think that the liquid guitar has some promise to it, and this flow is honestly not that bad. The wordplay and honestly ANY content leaves a lot to be desired though... in that there really isn't any of it. The closest you get to a bar is where somebody is asking for beef but they didn't know it came with fries - which... GOD - but other than that, it's just pretty rote and forgettable sort of the trap music, complete with references to his past song for good measure.

Again, this reminded me in more than one way of XO Tour Lif3, but without the existential dread that undercut that song and made it work for some people. You know, not really for me, but for some people. Ultimately this is the kind of song that will fade away in a week or two, guaranteed, and even if it does end up being bigger, it'll only really be to spite the doubters like me. ... Wow, this song makes me feel jaded.

Title: Not Sober by the Kid LAROI (Ft. Polo G & Stunna Gambino)

Position: #43

You know, between this and Stay, it really does feel like Kid Laroi should be dropping that new album soon. Of course that's not going to happen, as this is yet another single from yet another fucking re-release of his mixtape. Seriously dude, you have a following, why not just drop an album when it's prime time for it?! I mean, I may not be demanding it but I'm sure someone is!

That aside, I'm not gonna lie, I'm kind of coming around on Kindle Roy (which I refuse to spellcheck because wow did that make me laugh). As much as I don't I like his music at all, it is not for me, I will say that in terms of the emo rap gimmick, he's better than some of the turds I've heard. Maybe he's just worn me down, but I'm starting to at least get a feel for his sound, at least to the point where it's no longer shocking whenever I hear his terrible singing voice. And maybe that's why for some reason, Not Sober is really kind of decent to me.

I mean don't get me wrong, it's not exactly a great song about not being sober, mostly because it's about feeling better when you're not sober, which is a really fucking twisted, convoluted way of saying you like to get drunk. And yeah, I do kind of take issue with the fact that the verses are mostly just about bragging about how much better he is than everyone and how no one can keep him down, when it's not just the usual wailing at some girl who betrayed him. Although I did appreciate the shout out to his dead friend, which I assume is Juice WRLD. But I don't know, that hook is not bad, at least not to me, even if it is because it reminds me of Blueberry Faygo. And Polo G and Stunna Gambino aren't bad either, both of whom have had a fair bit of success in their own right (no relation to Donald Glover by the way). I'm not sure if I'd call this good by any stretch, but it's better than Stay and indeed better than half the stuff that Kindle Roy has dropped this year. But again, if he keeps us in suspense on that album much longer, I think that that's gonna really hurt his career in the long run. Even this really didn't debut all that high, and I think that's pretty telling, especially considering the popular guest verse. Just saying.

National Treasures

So I know this is very late, even for me, but this was another very busy week where I also had too much to say on most of the songs here, But before we get to the 4 new entries in the Homegrown charts, let's all collectively laugh at the fact that we live in a reality where LA House Party by Picture This was forced down to number 3 by Talk About by Rain Radio & Craig Gorman! Nothing against the band, but I never would have expected this so soon after their album dropped, certainly not from THAT song, which is now nestled comfiortably at number 2.

Now otherwise, things were pretty quiet. The biggest disappointment for me was Lea Heart's A Million Goodbyes falling back to 14, as well as a vague sniffle for Not Your Summer by The Academic down to 18, but they've had better songs released THIS YEAR. Oh, and I suppose I should give a brief nod of respect to Count To 10 by ANIM, which will exit next week as its 13 weeks are up. Can't say I've gone back to it much, but I appreciate it for what it is. But with that all out of the way, let's dive into the new entries, starting with the big one you should all get used to hearing:

Title: Better Days by Dermot Kennedy

Position: #5

Yep, it's the prodigal son! And don't be fooled by the fact that this didn't debut in the top 50 singles. After all this song dropped on, Wednesday of last week and is already this high on the Homegrown charts. Yeah, no mistaking it, this is probably gonna hit the Singles charts next week, especially considering that this guy is still one of the biggest names in music in Ireland, and this is his first original piece of music in a very long time.

Now with that all being said, I can't say that I'm personally all that thrilled to have him back. Look, I have nothing against Dermot Kennedy. I think he's perfectly average! To my ears, he sounds like a more soulful, far less lyrically talented Ed Sheeran, and whenever I play him for people who don't know his music, the reaction I get a lot of the time is "Boy is that okay!" And to be honest, that's exactly how I feel. Whenever I hear him, he's got a great voice, but I really don't get why his fans tend to call him such an amazing and evocative songwriter! Because Better Days. It's basically just Outnumbered Part 2, an extremely over-the-top love song, where he's essentially saying that while you've been hurting, one of these days, he will bring you dancing into the sun, and that better days are coming.

Sure it's also kind of an allusion to the pandemic and how we've all been struggling in the past year or so, I do like that part. But then again, Picture This did this a whole lot better earlier this year with Things Are Different. A song that had some real instrumental punch behind it, whereas this... the piano and the slight buzzing synth are fine, but there's nothing special about it. The only thing that really gives this any heft is when the backing vocals and the percussion come in on the back end of the hook, and even then it's just so stale and tired and done.

I'm sorry, I know that I'm sounding very critical of this, it really isn't bad, it's honestly fine for what it is, but as the big comeback single? I don't know guys; Giants, this is not.

Title: Only A Woman by Irish Women In Harmony

Position: #13

So fun fact, A Woman's Heart by Eleanor McEvoy and Mary Black is a childhood staple of mine. My mother used to sing it around the house all the fucking time. And she would play it almost non-stop, to the point where I would almost say I got sick of it. But I have to say, I have come around on it, especially in more recent years when I've gone back to it and really appreciated just how beautiful the folksy harmonies were.

Now speaking of harmonies, this is Irish Women In Harmony, a Dublin-based collective who have been making waves for the past couple of years for their many collaborations and their interpretations of classic songs in order to commemorate and honour modern Irish women. And that's great, it's a cultivation of a lot of local Irish talent, and on top of that it's propping up women everywhere, that can't be a bad thing. But I will say that a lot of their songs do tend to feel a little bit basic to me, usually a bit too embellished and over-modernised. And that's kind of how I feel about this song, despite actually having backing vocals from Eleanor herself.

They decided to give most of the attention to the spoken word verses of FeliSpeaks, who wrote in new spoken-word verses about a woman's modern struggles which are pretty technical and impressive, but I REALLY don't feel like it fits like at all! It comes across as a very clunky reimagining of song that was absolutely fine to begin with. The tenderness in the delivery of the original is what gave it its power, even more than its very poignant lyrics, whereas this, it just feels like it's delivered in a very basic, pop-friendly, by-the-numbers way, where you lose a lot of the edge of the original. Not to mention the fact that, once again, the reserved subtlety of the writing in the original gave it its power, whereas this just feels a little bit too on-the-nose for my taste.

Again, I can't call it a bad song, although I could say the production could be a lot better. And I really still think that FeliSpeaks was a miscalculated addition to this song. But, look, maybe that's just the nostalgia talking. I'm aware that this is very empowering to a lot of people, and nobody needs another man telling them their music isn't good enough, the irony isn't lost on me! It's really not for me, but hey, you might like it.

Title: Growing Pains by Conor Byrne

Position: #15

Ah, some fresh new blood! This time it's Conor Byrne from Tralee, who's had a fairly great year and a half. He signed to Sony and has almost 30 million streams between his songs, which is pretty impressive since I've never actually heard of him before.

And listening to this... It might sound mean, but this is exactly what I was HOPING Dermot Kennedy was going to sound like when he came back. And I do mean that as a big compliment to Conor Byrne! The song isn't groundbreaking by any means, but he delivers it with an earnestness that I think really does elevate it for me. The gentle piano, the swell that comes in once the chorus hits, and especially his voice that never goes to over-the-top while only occasionally stretching his range, all of it serves to back up the lyrics pretty well. And while I said the content isn't amazing, it is something that a lot of us can relate to; a song where you're growing and changing as a person, and it does unfortunately reflect in the relationships that you currently have.

We've all been there, growing apart from people and feeling this huge gulf forming, whether it be between us and our family, our partners or even between our friends, and it sucks, there's nothing you can really do about it. And sometimes you do indeed feel like you've left it too late without addressing it, but hey, that's life. I kind of wish that this song had ended on a note like that, but instead of just ends on that simple wish of wanting to stay the same. Okay, kind of stating the obvious rather than actually addressing it in any way, but you know what, for what it is, I appreciate this. Nice job Conor, happy to have you here.

Title: In My Sleep by Inhaler

Position: #20

And finally, we close out on Inhaler. With, sadly, what I view to be the worst song off of their album.

Don't get me wrong, it's still decent, but I do question why our front man feels like he wants to do a Thin Lizzy impression! And by the way, I'm not joking, that is what he was going for when he made the song! But I just don't think that he has the charisma or the smoothness to pull off that comparison. It's a very tough thing to do, and if you're not careful, it can make a song sound a little bit strained , as it does here on the hook.

Not to mention the fact that I think this is the one spot where the percussion and the guitars are too throbbing and cacophonous, and not in a way that has much crunch to it. It just feels like it's beating you over the head relentlessly, which really doesn't help the sleep motif that the song has going on.

I don't know guys, the song isn't bad, I just don't really dig the production, especially compared to some of the better moments, off of It Won't Always Be Like This like the title track or Cheer up, baby. To my ears, this was never one of the experiments that paid off, and while I'm sure fans do like it because they love anything that this band puts out there, it's the one song in the album that I could probably skip. Sorry.

And now for our Best and Worst of the week, which fell into place pretty quickly. For the best, sorry Dave, but it's easily going to INDUSTRY BABY by Lil Nas X & Jack Harlow, I've been listening to it practically non-stop since it dropped. As for the worst, in a pretty solid week, it's unfortunately going to 2055 by Sleepy Hallow, mainly because it's the song with the least creativity which makes me most tired. Not terrible, but more of an irksome chore with each repeated listen.

So as always, sorry for the delay, and 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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Jeremy U's ReevU
Jeremy U's ReevU
04 ago 2021

Hey, Finn. What are your thoughts on John Mayer's new album, Sob Rock?

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