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Musical McCool - Week 33 (August 13, 2021 - Take My Breath, Love Again, permanent +1)

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

Well, this is unexpected... Last rime I made some pretty standard predictions about the way our new arrivals from last week would act moving forward. And by all the laws of pop music the mast couple of years, I should have been right. And yet, in 2021, the opposite happened, which shows me the effects of particular acts this year may have some more long-term consequences than I initially anticipated.

The Top 10

Now ironically, this resulted in a decidedly quieter week for our top 10 than expected.

At the top, Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran remains unchallenged by everything below it. And yet those margins are still as slim as ever!

I mean Stay by The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber may still be at number 2, but it took the top spot in streaming this week, which means this may yet have a shot for the number 1, we'll see.

Now the first real surprise came from Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish, still at number 3 despite my expectations that it would tank this week. Turns out that rock edge may be working in her favour where it wouldn't have in the past, and those album sales aren't hurting either.

Back to normality for a moment, Black Magic by Jonasu rose back up to number 4 this week, as it has a ton of good sales and streaming to back it up. Again, the appeal of it completely escapes me, but glad the rest of the world is having fun to this awkward mess.

Now at number 5, good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo is still holding strong, though sadly it seems it's not going to recover any further, the competition above it is just too strong.

What really shocked me though was Better Days by Dermot Kennedy actually losing some ground this week to number 6! I mean sure, it'll probably get a second wind sometime soon, but right now, it seems the general public may agree with me that this song isn't all that... maybe?

And the surprises continue, as Remember by David Guetta & Becky Hill saw a sudden surge in sales up to number 7. Wish I could say I was as happy about this one... especially what you consider is right below it.

Because for yet another week, INDUSTRY BABY by Lil Nas X & Jack Harlow is barred entry from the top 5 at number 8. I know it's not quite as accessible as MONTERO, but come on, this deserves to be huge!

Then at number 9, Heartbreak Anthem by Galantis, David Guetta & Little Mix actually lost some steam too this week. I mean I could take it or leave it at this point, but I just expected it to exit more slowly.

Finally, Beggin' by Måneskin holding on for dear life at number 10. Good for it.

Top 50: The Punished and the New

Much liek the last couple of week,-s, we saw a lot of losers this time. No movers to ACR this time though, and even 1 or 2 songs seemingly rising to fill in the gaps, so maybe we are getting some new big players on the field?

Well, for starters, this week saw the exit of 2 huge hits: Friday by RITON, Nightcrawlers & Mufasa is FINALLY gone, along with Confetti by Little Mix & Saweetie, which is impressive considering it's a remix of a late-album single from last year.

Honestly, as one of my least favourite songs off of Sour, I have no issue with this one. Not bad by any stretch, but just too melodramatic and twee for my taste.

Now, normally I would start with the fall-out of Billie's album last week... but honestly, it wasn't that big at all. The title track stayed where is was, NDA actually returned to the top 50 at number 36, and even a song as non-pop as Oxytocin only fell to 48. Considering the style of song it is, I'm shocked it's still here and Skate isn't, that's all I'm saying!

As for our other losers though, BOY were there plenty: first there was Dave, as Clash, Verdansk, and In The Fire fell back to 17, 25 and 41 respectively, all surviving pretty well considering. The Mimi Webb's bad luck continued as Good Without and Dumb Love both drop out of the top 20 to 21 and 24. Speaking of longer-running hits, Save Your Tears by The Weeknd dropped to 29 in the wake of HIS new single, while favorite crime by Olivia Rodrigo went to 32 and - I hate that I have to mention this song in this category - Didn't Know by Tom Zanetti only NOW dropping back to number 40! And sure, I guess I'll mention Leave Before You Love Me by Marshmello & Jonas Brothers flip-flopping back to 44 AGAIN, but the big local story came from Niall Horan & Anne-Marie, as Our Song fell to number 22!

And that means that the second-biggest Irish song in the country right now is officially Talk About by DJ Craig Gorman & Rain Radio, gaining to number 18... would never have predicted that... Hell though, I'll take it over Fly Away by Tones & I rising to 13! Or Need To Know by Doja Cat rising to 14 OK REALLY??? But hey, at least there's slightly less awful on its way up to, like Kiss My (Uh Oh) by Anne-Marie & Little Mix up to 19... even just writing those words made me feel so dirty.

Thankfully, there is hope... oh, not from You For Me by Sigala & Rita Ora rising to 31, and certainly not 2055 by Sleepy Hallow to 27 (really?), but because Let Them Know by Mabel rocketing all the way up to 23! I've been saying from the beginning how awesome this song is, and I have been listening to it non-stop since it dropped, radio be damned! So yes, I am all for making this huge, let's do it!

And with all that done, let's welcome our new arrivals, starting with the bug one:

Title: Take My Breath by The Weeknd

Position: #12

Well, let's hear the long awaited new single by The Weeknd, I guess. I mean don't get me wrong, I enjoyed After Hours, I thought it was a great album, as did many other people. But I wasn't exactly clamoring for new Weeknd music for least another couple of years, especially with how ubiquitous Save Your Tears has been all year. After Hours could definitely tide him through for a fair bit yet, Hell Blinding Lights has been on the US charts for most of 2021 on top of being the biggest song of 2020! And the only reason it hasn't been over here is, well, ACR.

Now with all that being said, I'm not going to complain, especially if he's continuing to take his music into a more 80s aesthetic direction. And oh boy has he doubled down on that sound here! Take My Breath sounds like one of the most 80s thing you could imagine: the skittering synth keys that are fucking everywhere nowadays, except actually used well here. The bass beat that joins in time with the vocals. The way the chorus hits on that high note and ends on that lower note. And even the lyrics are basically just a song about seeing somebody and having your breath taken away, and wanting to make that moment last forever. It almost seems too simple of a pop song for Abel to make, especially compared to his last few singles, almost to where you might call it kind of a letdown. And I won't lie, it kind of is, or at least it doesn't feel nearly as momentous as it should.

But with that said... I don't know, it's grown on me with repeated listens. Sure, it's standard and I don't think that it's anywhere close to his best, but I will say that Abel just sells it so well! He throws himself into the performance and really does commit to the idea of the song, which is of course helped by what is, by all accounts, a really good music video.

I don't know, to me, this type of up-tempo Weeknd, the high-energy one, has always been more engaging than the simpering crooning Weeknd that we've seen on some of his singles in the last few years. In other words, it's more Starboy and a little less Earned It, which in my eyes is only a good thing. So yeah, I think this is actually kind of good; not his best by any stretch, but still, I will take this.

Title: Lose by KSI (Ft. Lil Wayne)

Position: #20

Okay, I'll admit that when I saw the tracklist for KSI's latest album, I was definitely a little curious about this. After all, Lil Wayne has kind of been on a roll these past few years in terms of his features, where even on Polo G's album he managed to keep up and deliver a pretty good performance. So I was definitely curious to see how he was going to fit into the mess of pop rap sounds that KSI was bringing to his latest album. And after listening to it... man, is it lame!

Look, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't exactly call this terrible, but it falls into a similar realm of flavourless pop as Holiday, while at the same time being mildly better than that song because of having SLIGHTLY more rock traces and, well, it's actually ABOUT something rather than just being an aimless lovey-dovey song that goes absolutely nowhere! If you can't tell, that song is really soured on me. Here at least, there is a theme, specifically one about a breakup, where they go on about how they got broken up with, their hearts were broken, and now they need therapy in order to recover. It's a very simpering, sad song that's incredibly melodramatic in the songwriting about all the ways that they bleed and hurt and oh my god I'm just not really buying it from them. Don't get me wrong, I love me some melodrama in my music, but you need to have the production to back it up, whereas this just feels like a messy, halfhearted stab at pop rock which simply doesn't come together at all.

There's something very off about the tone of the song, where the instrumentation almost feels out of tune half the time, and the structure feels kind of rambling and meandering. Again, I will at least give it the credit that it's about something, but it doesn't do it particularly well. In fact, the part I buy into least of all is the two performers, it sounds really weird coming from KSI and especially Lil Wayne, particularly when he closes out his part of the song with the mention that he needs therapy with you naked next to him, which fits nothing! So yeah, pretty lousy. Not much else to say.

Title: i hope ur miserable til ur dead by Nessa Barrett

Position: #38

Well, this certainly isn't a name that I expected to see on this series again. For those of you in the US, you probably don't recognize the name Nessa Barrett outside of TikTok, as up until now this is her first hit to cross over to the Billboard Hot 100, but some of you more avid followers of this particular blog may remember her entry La Di Die with jdxn earlier this year, a song which I found to be haunting lyrically, if pretty clumsy and amateurish, with production that felt very sluggish and unpleasant. Just a miserable time in general, not necessarily awful but definitely a far stretch away from good.

Well, that being said, it was an interesting first impression, so I wasn't too mad to see her back in the top 50, especially with a title as pointed as that. And listening to it... you know, even more than her first single, this reminds me a lot of Machine Gun Kelly's his last album Tickets To My Downfall, in that it's got a very clear punk rock influence, it's very whiny, and yet at the same time it's a shade darker than MGK's music. and I'm on the fence whether or not that's a good thing.

I mean while the guitars feel a bit too swamped here for my taste, it's about as immaturely written as you'd expect, which is kind of the point with a song like this and which I've really been vibing with this year for some reason. But on the other hand, I really wish that her performance could back any of it up. Say what you will about Machine Gun Kelly or even Olivia Rodrigo, but their voices match the content and the tone that the songs are going for. Whereas here. I don't feel that Nessa Barrett really commits to it in the same way. She just sounds kind of checked-out to me, which doesn't really work for a song where you're expecting the fury and rage of an immature teenager, which never really comes through in the way I was hoping for here.

So yeah, this is passable for what it is I suppose, and I think the barest bones of it are actually pretty solid, but I'm not gonna lie, I'm kind of waiting to hear the covers of this song come out, because I think those are going to rock a lot harder than this.

Title: Love Again by Dua Lipa

Position: #45

So this may sound like sacrilege to some of you... Love Again has never been one of my favourites off of Future Nostalgia. I find the choice of sample bizarre, I don't think the strings are all that well-balanced against Dua's voice, and while the hook is really good, it doesn't hit nearly as hard as Physical or Break My Heart or Don't Start Now or Levitating or even the title track. It's an odd pop song which works better than it should, but to me still feels like a really good song on a great album, just barely below average. That said, I'm still glad this is finally here, because this has been bubbling under the charts for weeks now!

Look, while it is the most critic-baitey song on the album, I'm not gonna deny that those strings on the sample do sound good, especially with the pop groove behind it. And I do love the content, where she swore to herself that she was never going to fall in love again. And yet God damn, this guy is making her fall for it all over again, even though she knows that she's probably going to get her heart broken again, soon enough. And yes I will obviously point to the fact that Break My Heart did pretty much exactly the same thing (and in my opinion just did it with a far more interesting song structure) but hey, as a very late single from Future Nostalgia that I have been anticipating for a long time, I'm definitely happy that it's finally here. I'm not ready to give up on this album just yet... the original version obviously, not the deluxe edition, fuck that.

Title: If You Really Love Me (How Will I Know) by David Guetta, MistaJam & John Newman

Position: #49

Well, here are three names I didn't expect to see on one song together in 2021! I mean okay, David Guetta has been collaborating with a lot of producers this year in order to get top 50 signals like Galantis and Joel Corry among others, but MistaJam is a slightly lesser-known one British DJ, even in his scene. Not to mention John Newman, a guy that I haven't thought about since... dear God, 2014 or 2015? He's probably best known for that one huge hit Love Me Again that everyone loved and that I thought was just okay. Personally, I was a much bigger fan of his collaboration with Calvin Harris Blame It On Me, which is really rare for me to say about that particular era of Calvin Harris.

Anyway, I was kind of curious to see what these three would bring together with what was their latest Summer Jam. And you know, this reminds me of that Nathan Dawe and Anne-Marie collab from a couple of months back, in that I could see why this could crack the top 50, but I highly doubt it's gonna get any higher than that, because it's just so generic and paint-by-numbers. Seriously, the beat that is used as the foundation of the hook (and what I'm guessing was David Guetta his contribution to all this) is one that you and I have heard on hundreds of songs before - Hell, the first one that comes to my mind is Jason Derulo's Don't Want To Go Home - you will instantly recognize it as soon as you hear it, and it feels really weird hearing it in 2021!

As for everything else, the content, the production, it all just feel so recycled and basic. Not to mention weirdly unmatched once you actually get down to brass tacks. Seriously, John Newman sounds incredibly strained, the piano keys the open up the song feel imported from half-a-dozen songs from this year alone, and even the two producers and the individual beats they bring to this just do not match whatsoever. It just feels like a weird hodgepodge of ideas which don't really work together, it sounds like somebody took various samples from other songs and mashed them together, but didn't really know what they were doing so had no idea how to actually make them flow.

In other words, structurally, this is a complete shambles, but as a song... look, I very much doubt this is going to stick around, and if it does, I doubt I'll care. It's so forgettable and boring that I can't even bother to get angry. So yeah, skip this one.

National Treasures

Now for the Homegrown charts, where once again things were mercifully quiet.

As I said before, the biggest news was for Talk About by DJ Craig Gorman & Rain Radio rising up to number 2, which is curious as both Our Song and LA House Party below it are on their 12th week, meaning they'll be gone in just 2 weeks from now... curious to seer what replaces those, it's sure to be busy!

Otherwise, the only other losses were for Sober by Gavin James falling back to number 10 as everyone realises it's only mildly above-average radio fodder, along with the A92 & Various Artists' Plugged In Freestyle losing ground to 13. Guess this one won't cross over to be a hit on the top 50, shame.

Finally, we had the returning entries of Heavy on My heart by Sarah McTernan to 20 (still her worst song this year guys), and for the last time, Town's Dead by Kojaque to 19. And I say "last time" because it actually is its 13th week, meaning it's out of time, sadly. I'd shed a similar tear for our other 13th weeker We Are The People by Martin Garrix, Bono and The Edge, but... nah.

And now, new stuff, starting with:

Title: I'l Get Over It by Lea Heart

Position: #6

Oh I was looking forward to this. After all, Lea Heart has really ended up making some great pop music this year between IDK Why and the absolutely excellent Million Goodbyes from a couple of weeks ago. So yeah, I was definitely curious to hear what her nest single would be and, WOW, why does she sound like that???

Look, I really don't want to be mean here, but I was genuinely put off the first time I heard her voice on this particular hook! Maybe it's the fact that the entire song sounds so weirdly cheap in terms of the production, from the tinny guitar to the recycled beat, to even the structure just feeling very chintzy and wobbly, but the main reason this really rubbed me the wrong way came down to Lea Heart herself. I mean this girl can sing, and yet based off of this, she is sounding so pitchy and shrill, it's really unpleasant to listen to! And I say that as somebody who loved her performances on past songs in recent weeks and months.

So yeah, I'm not sure if it was just something to do with the vocal production, or it's just that she doesn't work over this style of instrumentation, but this does not work and it's easily the worst thing that I've heard from her this year. I can't exactly call it bad, because I do think the content is fairly decent and well-written, - which again, I've come to expect from Lea Heart at this point, I have a standard now - but I'm sorry, those vocals are really killing the song for me. Don't mean to be mean, just calling it like I see it. Sorry.

Title: Permanent +1 by Luz

Position: #11

Finally, we close the week on the new single from Luz. Wow, this is a lot sooner than I expected, usually she spaces these out a bit more. But as someone who did really like counting houses and who has enjoyed some of her music in the past, I was interested to hear what this indie pop artist would bring to the table next. And yeah, much like her last couple of singles, I feel like this is really good, but it's not quite great.

The thing is, as much as Luz has the delivery and the poise of a pop singer who is far more mature than her age, and as much as her writing is definitely pleasant and nice and quaint and mature, all good things, I do find myself thinking that her content could often rise to be a little bit more developed. That she could add a bit more detail here and there, and this is no different.

When you see a song called permanent plus one, I suppose you would expect a love song, but... I don't know why, but going into this and based on the delivery, I was almost sure it was going to be some type of breakup song where she lost her permanent plus one, or one where she's always stuck being a permanent plus one, never more. I don't know, maybe I've been rewatching too much of How I Met Your Mother recently, but for some reason I thought this was going to be the plight of someone who was forever single, and maybe that's my fault for setting up expectations! Because when this turns out to be just a sweet and sincere love song to the person that she will always feel she can lean on, I'm not gonna say it's disappointing, but it's just not quite as developed as I'd like it to be in the writing or the framing, or even the hook which I'll say it is nowhere near as good as counting houses' one.

Still though, I don't want to be unfair. Again, this probably comes down to my own expectations, I probably shouldn't have set them so high. And you know what, I can still admit that it's a really nice little pop song, and I'm not about to deny her that. Definitely good, but I do wish it were great.

And that is our week. Yeah, not quite as amazing as last week, but it wasn't bad overall. I mean for the Worst of the week, there was nothing utterly awful like the past couple of weeks, but I am going to give it to Lose by KSI and Lil Wayne, for just being a very whiny pop rock track that I didn't really buy coming from these two. And for the Best of the week... you know, there was nothing here that I would call as amazing as our entries last time, but I'm going to give it to Love Again by Dua Lipa, because as much as I do think some of the newer songs here have a chance to stick around longer, I still go back to the Future Nostalgia to this day, I'm not about to turn down more of it in my life.

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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