Musical McCool - Week 46 (November 12, 2021 - ESCAPE PLAN, 17 Going Under, Smoking Out The Window)

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

No rest for the wicked then... Yeah, right after one of the busiest weeks we've had on this show in a while, we get another even busier one. Still not the most work I've had to do one of these weeks, and thankfully I also happened to take this week off, so I can manage... but still, I'm pretty surprised by this.

I guess after Ed Sheeran's album dropped last week, I kind of expected a bit of respite or some type of cooldown. Instead, the album didn't leave quite the impact anyone expected it to, so a bunch of new songs were still able to gain traction and storm the top 50 anyway. Not that equals isn't doing well, but we're certainly a far cry from the utter dominance of divide, or Heck, Sour earlier this year.


The Top 10


Now within our top 10, things remain largely unchanged.


As expected, Easy On Me by Adele is still squatting at the very top like the elegant ruler it is. Honestly to see this drop below the number 1 before she even drops her album would be weird, so I'm not about to complain about it.


Unlike Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) by Elton John & Dua Lipa, which I feel plenty entitled to complain about! It has no reason to still be this big for fuck's sake, the only way it's remotely original is with a really forced inclusion of a different song!


At this point I'm actively praying that Shivers by Ed Sheeran will pass it, but currently it's still stuck at number 3. Shame, it's kinda grown on me in the context of the album.


In fact, the song to beat it might end up being Meet Me At Our Spot by The Anxiety, as it climbed up to number 4 this week and is only continuing to gain on the songs above it in sales and streaming numbers. If it can survive the Christmas deluge, this could potentially last into 2022 along with Easy On Me, just watch.


To my surprise, the number 5 was reclaimed by Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah) by CKay this week. I was certain this was on its way out, mainly because it isn't a song with much substance to it, but it's clinging on for dear life, somehow.


In worse news though, My Heart Goes (La Di Da) by Topic & Becky Hill also gained this week, up to number 6. My feelings on this song are no secret at this point, and the fact that it's passing much more interesting songs than it... just... ugh.


So yeah, I am pissed THAT'S WHAT I WANT by Lil Nas X lost again top number 7. It's a far better song than almost all the ones above it, and I'm not prepared to leave Lil Nas behind in 2021.


In stark contrast, Heat Waves by Glass Animals will never leave, not really, as it rose up to number 8 yet again.


The only big shift in our top 10 was a predictable one, as Overpass Graffiti by Ed Sheeran fell back to number 9. I mean I get it, it's not exactly a great choice of single compared to say 2step, but it's still a shame this is poised to drop so quickly, it deserves better.


Lastly, ACR be damned, Dermot Kennedy will not be silenced, as Better Days is back at number 10 again! Told you this would be the Giants of the next 6 months.


Top 50: The Punished and the New


Right, thankfully we didn't even get any movers to ACR this week, which is kind of a relief in a week that's otherwise so busy. We did get our fair share of fairly sizeable losers though: outside of Overpass Graffiti dropping within the top 10, Tell It To My Heart by MEDUZA & Hozier dropped off its debut position to 16, and Love Tonight by Shouse fell to number 17. And those are some of our smaller drops. For instance, Obsessed With You by Central Cee thankfully lost all its inexplicable momentum to 25, taking the equally deplorable OUT OUT by Joel Corry, Charli & co to 26. Bit too late for that, but still gratifying to see. Little less stoked on INDUSTRY BABY by Lil Nas X & Jack Harlow falling down to 27, but it's had a good run. And the major drops only keep going from there: Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish dropped out of the top 30 to number 31, as did Remember by Becky Hill & David Guetta. Then we have Woman by Doja Cat losing steam at 37 after a VERY impressive run, almost as impressive as the far less tolerable Black Magic by Jonasu down to 38, good riddance! Then good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo took a HUGE hit down to 41, JEEZ, and If You Really Love Me (How Will I Know) by David Guetta, MistaJam & John Newman took an even bigger one down to 44! That's an 11-spot drop without ACR or an album bomb, what the fuck?! And even that got topped by 24/5 by Mimi Webb collapsing by 15 spots to number 45! Guess my prayers were answered on that one, just didn't expect such a sudden flip. Lastly is Adele's When We Were Young down to 46, which just makes sense. Now amid all the kerfuffle, there were some winners this week too. The 1, 2 punch of Tell me Something Good by Ewan McVicar and Where Are You Now by Lost Frequencies & Calum Scott continue their takeover up to 12 and 13 respectively, both still going for their shots at the year-end list. Not too far behind is I Wish by Joel Corry & Mabel rising off its debut to 20 - no surprise there - and Drive by Clean Bandit, Topic & Wes Nelson also continues its slow climb up to number 30. At this rate that one's going to get caught between years, it's just not gaining fast enough. Then we had Do It To It by ACRAZE & Cherish also gaining a bit up to 34... and that's it. Now before we dive into the new entries, we did have some interesting returning entries, because ABBA, of all people, dropped their new album this week! And that meant both Don't Shut Me Down and I Still Have Faith In You coming back at number 39 and 47 respectively. And with the success of Moth To A Flame, it appears the Irish are nostalgic for The Weeknd's collab with Gesaffelstein Lost In The Fire, which is why it's back at 50... hot take, I don't hate that song all that much, it's aight. And now, onward!


Title: One Right Now by Post Malone & The Weeknd

Position: #15

I was cautiously optimistic about this. Sure, I didn't love the last solo single from Weeknd and I actively hate that Motley Crew thing Post Malone put out, but both of these performers have come through for me in the past. And they're kind of a perfect fit for each other: self-pitying, dramatic, over-the-top crooners with a love of 80s pop that has become abundantly clear in their more recent output. And since they've each grown on me a lot since 2015 and have put out plenty of quality songs in the meantime, I was tentatively excited for this... and thankfully they pulled it off.

The first thing I noticed about this song is the very solid beat: an 80s synth beat with light percussive elements that immediately causes me to bob my head along with it. And I love how Abel and Post both flow over it so differently as they each come in. Sure, I think Weeknd does sound oddly compressed in the mix at some points, which is definitely a style that suits Post's throatier crooning better, but they both still manage to sound good here, playing 2 guys in... well, I assume separate situations where they're not singing to each other, but whichever you prefer, go with that interpretation. And it's the usual schtick, moaning about how their girl isn't appreciating them enough and is fucking with their feelings, so they invite their sidepieces over to make themselves feel better.

The song isn't particularly layered or deep, but it's catchy, has 1 or 2 really funny lines from Post in particular ("fucked you so good, you should pay me" just makes me chuckle), and while I do have some nitpicks surrounding the production and I wish Weeknd had been used better, this still ends up as a solid song. Not amazing by any means, pretty much exactly what you'd expect... but when it comes to these 2, that's really all you need.


Title: Flowers (Say My Name) by ArrDee

Position: #22

Oh great, this guy again. One of the fastest-rising stars in 2021, ArrDee is a UK rapper who has had a number of acclaimed features and 1 generally acceptable single to his name, that being Oliver Twist, a song that did reasonably well here in Ireland but is going to fall short of the year-end 100. And my general response to him has been mild irritation. He just seems like kind of a dick, with a decent ear for hooks and some creativity to his bars, but not enough that I would call him the stand-out performer on the Body remix or anything like that! Although that Digga D collab did work surprisingly well.

Anyway, he's back today with a new single, and as soon as I saw the title, I was on edge. Oh fuck, is this going to be another "thugs need love too" song about how sensitive he is? Or is it going to be another Central Cee situation where he's incapable of not being misogynistic for more than 30 seconds while trying to seem sensitive? Well, as it turns out... it's neither of those things. In fact, this song has zero interest in being remotely romantic at all. The very first line made me spit out my drink when he said "I don't give girl flowers, I give you good wood though", and the best part is that it's on the hook so I get to hear it multiple times, it cracks me up every time! And if that didn't make it abundantly clear what an asshole he is, he also refuses to stand out in the rain for you and says all he really needs to do is make you say his name as he fucks you. That's it, he is THAT shallow, and if you're looking to be exclusive, you can get the fuck out!

So um, yeah, not much pretense here, he is an asshole... and I'm not going to lie, I kinda love it. The Destiny's Child sample that got chopped and screwed into the drill beat sounds surprisingly good, ArrDee has never sounded more alive or charismatic, and the lines are absolutely hilarious! I'm not joking, this is the most likable he's ever been to me because he's not trying to fool you or lead you on. He's not about love, he's about lust, and he can't make your day, but he can make your night. He even personifies the girl calling him out for playing around with other girls, then very rationally points out that he never made promises about her being the only one. And when she then calls him out for only using her for sex, he points out that he does at least call her, while all the rest just come crawling, at least he's upfront and assertive. It shows that even though he is an asshole, he does listen, and he's just looking to have fun, even if he fully admits that he can certainly be a lot to handle, he might even drive you insane. There's even a part where he drops the "whore" bomb and I thought he'd lost me there, but then the beat cuts out, he sighs, and tells her not to call herself a whore, she shouldn't say that about herself. It feels very real to me, like these are actual conversations he's had, and while it would be very easy to just label him an asshole and move on, I think he deserves the credit for admitting what he is, showing how it can adversely affect some people who misunderstand him, but sticking to his guns all the same.

I guess how much you like this song will depend on how morally sound you deem this to be; is it kinder to lie and play along with someone you're just with for the sex, or is it better to be upfront and straightforward from the start? Personally, I would much rather take this over the emotionally manipulative second-guessing of Central Cee. ArrDee's not looking to settle, he's not going to be your prince charming, but he will fuck you well. Whether or not that part's true remains to be seen, but at least on this song... yeah, he convinced me. Definitely a song that's easy to hate... but I don't. Not even a little. Nice one ArrDee, I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this.


Title: ESCAPE PLAN by Travis Scott

Position: #24

Oh gods... right, let's address the elephant in the room. Last week, at a huge concert called Astroworld, where Travis Scott was set to perform for a crowd of around 50000. From the start, even before Travis took the stage, it was clear something was wrong and that the crowd was far too rowdy, with the number of people forcing groups into compressed huddles where they couldn't even breathe properly. And once Travis took the stage, the crowd stampeded forward, causing those at the front to be crushed even further and many to get trampled in the process. In spite of many complaints and cries for help, and the concert even getting halted once or twice, the concert continued for 40 minutes until the fire martials showed up and declared it a mass casualty event. At the latest count, 9 are dead, hundreds were injured, several of whom are still in critical condition, and it's left everyone with multiple burning questions about how this happened and who's to blame.

Now personally, I don't have those answers. These sorts of things have happened in the past, but rarely on this scale, and I think we're fact that we're coming out of a good year or 2 of social distancing has only added to the coverage of this, but I do think that many people share the responsibility, There are several reports that security wasn't taking the warnings from attendants at the concert seriously, that Travis should have halted the whole thing way sooner, and that there's been gross negligence on the part of the many people running the event, but at the end of the day, the bottom line is that people died, it's tragic, and they deserve justice one way or another. I hear Travis is paying for their funerals and that's a start, but until a deeper investigation is completed, I'm going to reserve judgement. In the meantime, the many MANY lawsuits heading his and the venue's way should keep them busy.

All of this obviously makes talking about this song... well, really difficult. Especially because the internet has already started spreading memes about the title of this song considering the timing of its release. So having said my piece on it, I'm just going to take the song at face value: the song's okay. The song has a very consistent flow from start to finish, as Travis seems unwilling to switch up his flow at all between the verses and the chorus, just barrelling forwards over a very simple bass beat with the buzzing synths in the background. I suppose it's impressive in terms of consistency, but it's not something that remotely holds my interest, and the hypnotic tempo and adlibs from Young Thug and who I could swear is Kid Cudi only add to the trance this lulls me into. The lyrics about his escape plan just blur into nothingness and there aren't any stand-out lines. In other words (and once again, at face value), while I could see why someone would prefer this sonically to ArrDee's track, at least that song had more energy and was far more engaging lyrically, it's at least more memorable than this. This is just another Travis Scott song to me, like that The Scotts project he put out a year or 2 ago. Fine the first time, but I'm never ever going to go back to it.


Title: SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY (Remix) by Amaarae (Ft. Molly & Kali Uchis)

Position: #28

Am i the only one who gets strong early-Doja Cat vibes from this? Either way, there's a very... amateurish-yet-competent internet music vibe to this, the kind of song made by and for influencers who know the game and can play it well. And for the record, I mean all of that as a compliment. Amaarae is a singer/songwriter/producer from Ghana, who has gained a fair bit of acclaim over the past 5 years or so, even being named one of the most influential and forward-thinking musicians in modern African music. And on top of her sonic experiments, he's been praised for not shying away from topics like gender and race in her music, which obviously makes her an absolute darling to the underground music critic community. Yes, she DOES have a Pitchfork page, how did you guess?!

Anyway, this was released back towards the beginning of the year, but was remixed alongside Kali Uchis in September, which has meant that this version has slowly been gaining traction. Paired with the very clickbaity title, and this was bound to cross over at some point. And yeah, compared to our last venture into African music with Love Nwantiti, this is FAR more interesting! Despite the very sensual tone, with the low keyboard flourishes and the dance beat, with the really nice warping synths and the obvious sex appeal of Kali Uchis, this is primarily a song about how these women, these sad girls, love money and will seduce the absolute fuck out of you for it. And it's pretty damn shameless about it, especially when I translated the Spanish parts of Kali's verse, DAMN! Even Amaarae's closing verse has her telling you to spray her with money and book a flight to Miami before she's even let you eat her out. If anything, my one complaint of the song is how little of Amaarae we really get here, as compared to the original, the song really does become more dominated by Kali Uchis. Not that being dominated by Kali Uchis is a problem... sorry, what was I talking about?

Anyway, this song is pretty great. It's sexy, it sounds really damn gorgeous, and while personally I would have liked it even more if they dived a bit more into the "sad" part of the title, that's just the dramatist in me. Because as is, this is pretty damn great.


Title: Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender

Position: #29

Cards on the table, I had honestly never heard of Sam Fender before just a couple of weeks ago, when this song started surging its way up the British charts. And I have to admit, my first instinct was not really one of great interest. I mean he's a young, deep-voiced singer with a lot of belting power, but that's not something that I haven't seen a million times on this series before. Granted, he used to be an actor, but even that's not so special these days. So no, I can't say that I was super excited about this at first, but then I looked more into his backstory. Apparently, he's received several awards for songwriting, and both the album this is from and his debut album debuted at number 1 in the UK. Also he's from North Shields, which at least sets him apart from the many London artists I tend to cover here. So you know what, I went into Seventeen Going Under with an open mind, ready to try and parse out exactly what makes him special... and it didn't take long.

Seventeen Going Under is the type of song that takes the typical template of "guy howling into the expanse" and then gives it the instrumentation and, more importantly, the content to match. Seriously, when I first heard this, I thought he was a slightly more honest clone of Dermot Kennedy... even though technically Sam Fender came first. But then you actually read his lyrics... and oh my GOD, is this what Dermot Kennedy fans think he writes like?! Because Sam Fender is a true songwriter, as he opens up his song by evoking images as simple as watching snuff films when he was 17, something that's so mundane, but it's unique while not being fully alienating. Sure, you might think it's a bit weird, but this song has no interest in painting him in a good light. I mean he then proceeds to talk about how he watched as a kid called Tom got his head kicked in by a friend of Sam's, and how he was too scared to step in and stop him. Although now he would have definitely punched the guy in the face.

It's a song about being trapped in his 17-year-old body, ruled by fear and self-loathing, putting on a smile despite being oh so sad behind he's trying to live up to the expectations of those around him, comparing him to his dad or having him join in with the antics of the lads around him. I could boil this down to simply saying that the song is from the point of view of the jock grown up, but it's more interesting than that. It doesn't explicitly cast him in the role of bully or jock or even enabler. Instead, it just highlights the fact that he was a terrified teenager, who made plenty of bad choices that haunt him now in his lowest moments. He was sad and he didn't know how to cope with it. And meanwhile at home, he was dealing with his own problems, as his mum, a hard-working nurse who had never done a bad deed in her life, was being unfairly chased by debt collectors. Meaning he would come home to find her sobbing on the floor, wondering what she was going to do. It's a bitter, intense song, and he makes it work by giving it the sound and the scope to match!

That's the other thing I love about the song: the fact that the instrumentation just rings out, thundering with frenetic guitars, that pounding percussion, and none of it feels remotely out of place. The song takes the stakes and the drama and then pushes it to extremes without straying into melodrama, actually earning that bombast and power for itself. It's one of the rare times that I've immediately replayed a song once I finished hearing it the first time, and then I did it again another 6 or 7 times because I was just so intrigued by the story in front of me. All I can say is that I need to be checking out more by Sam Fender, because this... what a fucking introduction! If you haven't heard it, definitely check it out, because I actually do think it's something special.


Title: Smoking Out The Window by Silk Sonic

Position: #33

So far this has been a really good week, surprisingly so. But I'll be honest, I was looking forward to talking about this one the most. Silk Sonic has continued to put out great singles over the course of the last few months, and with their album finally getting released to mass audience claim - even if the critical acclaim is a little slow to catch up - I was definitely in the mood for a nice evening spent with Anderson .Paak & Bruno Mars, this formula seems to be a rousing success so far. But even before I heard the album - which for the record, I would recommend, it's such a fun time - I listened to this single, which popped up in my recommendations pretty much the moment it came out. And my gods, do I love this!

Not gonna mince words, this is the best of the singles so far, and quite possibly my favorite song on the entire album. Because it takes the slightly comedic moments of the last couple of singles we heard and then cranks the humour up to 11. I mean it is hammy and ridiculous, but still to the point where you can enjoy it. It's a very over-the-top and somewhat bitter song, without being remotely malicious, where the two of them are playing guys who've been dating women for a bit, whose kids are now running around their house like they own the place. And yet despite the fact that it's your house, that you've paid for all of her bills and holidays, she's making you smoke out the window because you can't even smoke in your own place anymore!!! The song is so fucking overblown and they know it, relishing in every moment. Not only is the instrumental gorgeous, but the timing of the backing vocals and Bruno and Anderson jumping in to interrupt each other to tell their own story first, it's all structured close to perfectly. It's all impeccably well-timed and paced, and they're acting so incredibly offended by the most minor things in the world. At one point Anderson .Paak even says "not to be dramatic, but I want to die" and the way both of them each comes in with "this bitch got me paying her rent" one after the other, and how it then flows so well into the hook, it's the best interplay they've had on the entire album, as they almost seem to be trying to one-up each other in terms of who has the saddest story, and it's utterly hilarious.

On top of that, once again, it's just beautiful. They both have their moments of just hitting it out of the park, and while I will say Anderson probably has the funnier individual moments, Bruno more than matches that with his incredible voice, especially when he hits that high note towards the end of the song, it feels way more well-earned here than it did when he tried it on Gorillas. In other words, this song is fantastic. And while I'm not sure if it'll actually stick around to become a real hit... God I hope so!


Title: The Motto by Tiësto & Ava Max

Position: #36

Another day, another Tiësto song. You do realize this guy is never going away completely, right? I mean especially after the success of his last single The Business, does he really have any reason to? It's set to become one of the biggest hits of the year, Hell for a long time I thought it would be THE biggest. And while it has been edged out since then - you'll see soon enough - I will say that it's a song that never really appealed to me all that much. I always thought it was too simple, too straightforward. It didn't really have anything extra to it, just sort of a bargain bass house song. And while no, I don't think it's a bad song necessarily, I don't really get much out of listening to it, outside of a mild sense of annoyance that better house music isn't getting more traction. And I'm not exactly a huge Eva Max fan either, especially not of that last single My Head & My Heart, which I genuinely think is one of the worst and pointless pop songs to hit the charts this year. But anyway, moving past that, what do I think of the new single? Eh... it's taking more risks than The Business I suppose.

Out of the 2, Ava Max probably shines the most here. I think it's good that she sounds remotely different, rather than just another Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa clone. She simply doesn't have the vocal talent or the presence to rely on emulating those artists forever, so her choice to take a bit of a backseat and give a more low-key performance making good use of that lower range, it actually is an interesting change of pace. Okay, it's not exactly a dynamic song, and she is basically just being reduced to being a Becky Hill to blend in with the DJ of the day's production, and she does sound vaguely like Selena Gomez doing her best Rihanna impression, but I still like that it's anything different.

Plus, say what you will about Tiësto, he knows how to create a catchy hook and this fits the bill. I don't think it's quite got the atmosphere of the best moments on The Business, and I'm not entirely sure after listening to this what exactly "the motto" is, at least the Drake song taught me that! But overall, I don't mind this. It's probably going to take off and stick around for a while or it'll fade into obscurity immediately. It's always one or the other with Tiësto, let's see how generous the music gods are feeling. Either way, I don't really care.


Title: MAFIA by Travis Scott

Position: #40

Okay, as is tradition with these double-single releases, the second one is better... but not by much. The most interesting part here is that uncredited J. Cole feature, and the fact that Travis' bragging is a bit more specific. It's all about the success he's had the past couple of years with his side businesses, almost making him feel like a mafia boss with his hands in many different places, all making money for him. But he does still take the time to shout out his label, remembering that all of his current success wouldn't be possible without them. It's a moment of self-awareness that's good to see... too bad it's being released NOW, of all times!

Plus, a lot of it just feels wasted. J. Cole doesn't even get a verse, he's a glorified hype man, and the beat is incredibly basic and simple, a typical trap beat, some ad-libbed backing vocals Travis provides himself, and a piano that could feel menacing if the tone of the song was remotely there to back it up. In other words... I've changed my mind, this is worse than ESCAPE PLAN, because at least that song had SOME energy and forward momentum, whereas this just feels like a lot of very forgettable hot air. I'm going to stop now before I get off-topic again, but this isn't any good.


Title: When You Danced With Me by ABBA

Position: #43

So ABBA didn't exactly get the album bomb. I suppose they had the bad fortune of being sandwiched between more relevant releases, but I'm still a bit surprised there wasn't a bit of a bigger reception for this. In my opinion they teased it far too early, they should have gone for the surprise release like Beyonce or Taylor have done in the past. But Captain Hidsight's insights aside, how is the project? Well, it's both more and less than what you might expect, and I think that this song embodies that quite well.

On the positive side, it sounds really good. the ladies' voices sound very beautiful for how old they are, and while some would point to the obvious studio polish, it's not like ABBA didn't always have that! And it certainly seems to be trying to recapture that older sound, with a big emphasis on strong hooks, harmonies, and very grandiose instrumentation, with a very clear 80s bent that still feels rather unique to them. All of which is fair, but it's missing one key element: the energy. The best ABBA songs felt reckless and balls-to-the-wall, with ridiculous, memorable moments that didn't work for everyone, but had a universal charm that connected with many, to the point where even grumps like me will tell you the lyrics do not matter! Here, like on a lot of the album, it feels rather languid and samey all the way through. It's a song about the good times they shared with this mystery partner (an obvious metaphor for the band in their heyday), and how they used to dance together. But the fact is, they're old enough to feel settled, and they're not particularly fussed about rebuilding those bridges. So this is less a plea to be taken back, and more a gracious acknowledgment that they fucked up, and that they wish you the best. Mature, but ultimately just not as exciting as the dogged plea for forgiveness this would have been 30 years ago.

Now it is beautiful, and I'm shocked that even despite their age - and in contrast to what many critics have said - I do still think ABBA can write a really catchy hook. The drums and almost horn-like synths of this song almost give it a marching band feel, it does still manage to be very grandiose and pretty despite the lower stakes. So ultimately, I would rate this song like the album. It's not on the level of the old classics, not even that close... but the building blocks are still here, and surprisingly, ABBA still knows h0w they fit together years later, more or less. Good song, I recommend checking it out.


Title: Between Us by Little Mix

Position: #48

Well, this should be interesting. After having a really good if slightly underwhelming year, Little Mix finally released their newest album as a trio... for the record, I had described it as "long-awaited" initially, but how true is that really? Between the rumours about why Jesy left, the last couple of singles falling REALLY flat (again, remember Love (Sweet Love), I TOLD you it was a crappy single that would immediately get forgotten), and the fact that this new album is just a compilation album with 5 new tracks tacked onto it... I dunno, it feels like a curtain call to me. I mean it's already been all but confirmed that the individual members are all working on their own solo stuff, and while they assure us this isn't the end... I remember History by One Direction... and at least they put out a whole final album before splitting up!

Anyway, despite my tone so far, I am still rooting for Little Mix. They've been responsibe for some great pop music over the past decade, and when the 3 remaining members struck out on their own this year, I was ready to praise them wholeheartedly. I guess I'm just a bit sour after they released so much mediocrity this year, while perversely having one of their most successful years in the process, it felt like they were milking a very dried-up cow. But I will say that this new song does a lot right for me. For one, this really is a song they should have released at the start of the year, about sticking together in solidarity, swearing to never let anything come between them ever again. Again, that remains to be seen, but as an ode to their time spent together, it ends up being fairly beautiful. The trap elements work surprisingly well off the strings, the 3 girls have some great harmonious and solo moments, and I even appreciated the subtle nods towards certain milestones in their careers.

Now I do have some gripes: for one, it's very repetitive, almost like they're trying to find more nice things to say, and the second half of the song is just a lot of vocalising and repeating of the chorus, making it feel way longer than it really is, but the way they peel everything back for the final lines and reference the curtains closing, that was a nice touch, even if it does drive the ending home. I certain this would be the closer on the compilation, but no, it's only track 16 out of 26 ON THE STANDARD EDITION, WHAT THE F-?! BUT... i digress, let's just call it a missed opportunity and move on. Either way, it smells like the end of an era, let's see where they go from here, and this was a pretty nice send-off regardless... even if we are going to be seeing them again with the album bomb and particularly No next week.


National Treasures


This week should be a lot quieter on the home front than it is! After the deluge of new songs last week, I thought I was going to get some respite, and yet somehow we got 5 more songs this week! Still no Hozier at number 1 either, which once again makes me wonder if I'm missing something or if whoever is managing the homegrown charts needs to look up his ancestry. It was a fairly busy week movement-wise too, albeit not at the very top. but Dermot Kennedy's Nothing Else Matters dropped down to number 9, which I think is very telling... namely telling me the song is a borefest nobody really cares about. But we also saw JC Stewart's Don't Say You Love Me drop to 13, which IS surprising. I know fans of this guy and they are pretty rabid... maybe they too realised it was a rehash of Break My Heart, and an inferior one at that. But even that seems tame compared to our next couple of losers: Write Our Own Soundtrack by The Coronas dropped to 17 and Planes In the Sky by James Vincent McMorrow fell to 18! I mean the latter I get, it's a bit older and maybe people are a bit tired of dear James, but The Coronas only just got back after a year's hiatus! Combined with another Dublin band debuting so low this week, maybe this is a sign of the Irish public embracing the shiny new acts and cycling out the old ones? Well, considering Westlife is still at number 1, probably not, but it's an interesting pattern nonetheless. Finally, Bissett's Let It Go dropped to 19, and nothing gained, not a single spot.

Last of all before our new entries, we had one returning entry which I suspect has to do with a new arrival we'll discuss later: When You're Gone by Pillow Queens, their cover of The Cranberries that charted as part of a charity event back in May of this year. And it's a great cover, happy to have it back here now. But now, let's start our deep dive into the local songs that arrived this week:


Title: It Ain't Right by Shane Codd

Position: #2

Shane Codd started this year on a high for me. His song Get Out My Head was one of the first songs from this year I really enjoyed, as well as one of the most successful actually Irish singles of the year, crossing over to multiple countries including our neighbours in the UK. And when he released his follow-up single, my conviction was only reinforced. Always On My Mind was similar, but even more upbeat and story-rich for a house song, not sacrificing lyrical content and resorting to a 4-minute loop of the same stock phrase. And all of that remains true, I would still easily take him over the Ewan McVicars and the NAVOS's of the world... but I will say the magic is starting to fade a little over time.

As much as his sound works for me, I have a hard time really loving a lot of house music beyond the first couple of weeks. If you want to hold my attention, you need to do something different, or create a really enveloping atmosphere. But while It Ain't Right ticks the same boxes as Always On My Mind, with an engaged female vocalist (who still isn't credited for some reason) telling a story, this time of a toxic relationship she keeps falling back into whenever he decides he's in the mood for it, it's definitely really nice to see the effort... but once again, I don't know how much I'm going to come back to this. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer Shane Codd's approach to this vs David Guetta's, and the anonymous women he keeps featuring have far more personality than Becky Hill ever does, but the formula isn't evolving or changing at all. It's still the same stabbing pianos, the same build-up, the same chorus where just the words and singer are swapped around. yes, I know it's an established formula for a reason, but I feel like as someone doing the formula better than most, Shane Codd has the potential and the talent to go beyond, to actually push the genre in a direction, and he's just... not. So this song is fine, it's exactly what you'd expect. I can't even call it boring or even interchangeable, because once again, I can distinguish this based on the lyrics and the singer, but somehow I'm still a bit disappointed by this. Maybe you need to go back to the drawing board Shane Codd... then again, this debuted at number 2, so maybe I'm just being picky. Either way, this sounds nice, but I wanted more.


Title: Your Song Saved My Life by U2

Position: #4

... This feels so weird. And it really shouldn't! After all, I covered U2 earlier this year when they teamed up witH Martin Garrix on that football anthem I can't possibly remember. But that was a very obvious cash-in, I had no real expectations for it. And granted, this is a soundtrack song, made out of obligation to a movie I have less than zero interest in seeing. But what's weird to me is that it simultaneously feels like U2 is trying way too hard here and not hard enough.

See, from a compositional perspective, anyone could sing this. They could have hired Imagine Fucking Dragons to play this and it would sound about the same. But you can REALLY tell that Bono had a hand in writing this, because not only is it VIGOROUSLY masturbatory, but Bono actually sounds like he's trying. It may be self-absorbed, but it's still well-written, you can tell this is a real U2 song. Which leaves me in a weird quandry... because on the one hand, I'm a big fan of U2's hits, and I think they have several phenomenal songs. Plus, I appreciate how well-written this is, especially the lines about searching for a miracle that science can't explain, and how you only feel like a real person when you're in pain, MAN that cuts deep! But again, the part I take issue with is the hook, where this very real person thanks U2 profusely because their music literally saved his life. And while with some musicians, I could say I'm reading into it too much... come one, this is Bono! He has an ego the size of Jupiter, and he's about as full of gas!

So yeah, the song itself is kind of welcome on the surface, but I can't listen to it without picturing Bono's self-satisfied smirk. And when you're discussing something as genuinely serious as mental illness, like this clearly is... that's just not cool, man. All the good production and songwriting in the world can't make me endorse this personally. But if you can detach from all that... I suppose this is good enough to recommend checking out. Just know they've made far better songs, and that I don't personally approve of it.


Title: Arigato by Rejjie Snow

Position: #11

Man, Rejjie Snow is so up my alley! I discovered him earlier this year when he released that song with Tinashe, and was promptly blown away by his immediate likeability. He's the type of rapper I've gravitated towards for years: incorporating multiple different instrumental tastes and able to flow over all of them. Incredibly smart with a talent for wordplay and internal rhymes. And after diving into his back catalogue a bit, it turns out he's also collabed with the likes of MF Doom and has had projects produced by Kaytranada, so he's by no means unknown! So it would make sense that a man so intertwined with the American rap scene I've been following for years should be so in line with my tastes, and I'm very grateful to have discovered him this year.

And this new single almost feels like it's working overtime to prove why I love him. Multiple beat switches where he flows over 3 completely different instrumentals, vary airy, almost trail of thought rap bars, that reminds me a fair bit of R.A.P. Ferreira, and all while remaining interesting and engaging as a performer, embracing and repping his heritage. I will say it's not the best song he's ever done, but that's more a personal preference, I prefer to come back to a consistent hook. Yes, there's the deep-voiced "Arigato" that accompanies each beat switch, but that's not exactly a memorable chorus.

Still, while I don't see myself coming back to this the way I have singles like Cookie Chips or Disco Pantz, this is still a wonderful showcase of talent and skill. If you're looking for Dublin's equivalent of all the American acts I've mentioned in this segment and that sounds appealing to you, definitely don't sleep on this. Check Rejjie out, he deserves a lot more attention!


Title: ELECTRO~WAVE by HamsandwicH

Position: #15

Before you ask: yes, that is the band's real name, and yes, they're well-aware it makes them a little hard to take seriously at times. In fact, they've faced that criticism since their formation in County Meath in 2003, but have stuck to their guns and continued to thrive as a rather niche, weird little rock band since then. And they've never really stopped either. Sure, their commercial success has long since dried up, but even when they've toured consistently as support acts to bands like Arcade Fire, and their own music always makes somewhat of a national splash. They have their air of veterans who have nothing to prove, which is probably why this new single is once again so goddamn odd.

As you might expect, this is a song in the style of electro-wave, a subgenre of dance/electronica, where the lyrics take a backseat to the warping vocal effects, the bouncy dance groove, and a bunch of different instrumentals forced through different gummy filters. Not exactly my thing, but it's fine enough. Well, not only is this song in that style, with more weird effects than one can count, a lot of repeated phrases passed through various filters, while still coming back to a surprisingly consistent chorus and maintaining a consistent beat, but it's also ABOUT electro-wave. It's a song about the style it's emulating, kind of like a far FAR inferior Pop 101 by Marianas Trench. Hell, not a bad concept, but it just feels a bit... undercooked. It's referencing feeling like a Saturday night, and it starts out counting in time with the beat of the song, but it feels a bit half-hearted, as the music is trying way harder than the writing.

If anything, this reminds me a bit of that last beck album. A stab at profoundly weird pop music, that's just a bit too thin on original ideas to really make it work. And while it's still catchy enough, with a good enough grasp of the genre to sound good, it just ends up feeling like a novelty, and not a particularly original one. An oddity... but not odd enough to hold my attention for long.


Title: Zombie by Kodaline (Ft. Noel Hogan) on RTÉ

Position: #16

I mean... I guess I can appreciate the gesture?

Look, I don't like Kodaline, never have. They're generic and willowy like The Coronas, except far more boring and forgettable. At least that band can occasionally write an original lyric, whereas listening to Kodaline gives me the same feeling I do when listening to Dermot Kennedy, I just feel like I'm missing what exactly makes this so special. And at least Dermot Kennedy still has that voice of his, while Steve Garrigan either sounds nasal or strained.

I will say this about the cover: nice to hear them over real instrumentals. Not that they don't usually incorporate real instruments in their songs, but usually they're so compressed and muffled that I can. barely tell them apart from Steve's multitracked vocals. I'm guessing they did that because Noel Hogan, the guitarist for the Cranberries, forced them into it. And I will admit that when the song kicked off with those guitars and drums, I had some hope... and then Steve opened his mouth and my interest plummetted. Zombie is already not my favourite Cranberries song for how nasal the chorus can sound, but when you hand it to someone like him, it's borderline unlistenable to me!

Again, this was done as a tribute, and I respect its intentions, but there's no getting around how awful this sounds to me, where the organic instrumentation is barely audible over Garrigan's squawking and the strings on the bridge almost feel like they're crying out for help!


So yeah, no surprise, Kodaline is getting Worst of the week for their cover of Zombie. It sucks because the intentions were good, but it's just not a song that just anybody can cover, even if they do get the band's blessing. MAFIA by Travis Scott isn't far behind it by the way. Otherwise, though... this was a really great week, one of the best in a while! To the point where choosing a song for the Best of the week is a lot tougher... so fuck it, I'm making it a tie between Smoking out The Window by Silk Sonic for being so goddamn enjoyable and incredibly produced, and Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender for catching me completely off-guard and earning its heartland rock bombast in spades! Hopefully, it becomes a real hit over here, I'd honestly be delighted if that happened.


Anyway, thanks so much for reading this far, feel free to like the post and share any feedback in the comments. I will have a new list out very soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that! Make sure you and your friends 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!

202 views1 comment