Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! My name is Fionn, and welcome back to a brand new edition of Musical McCool!
Man, I have never been so grateful for Irish streaming rules! In a week that should have been ridiculously busy thanks to the success of 30 dropping and Adele promptly taking over the streaming charts yet again, we were poised to have a HUGE album bomb. But again, 3 songs maximum.
The Top 10
So all that happened was we got 2 new songs from her, both of which debuted in the top 5.
And of course, Easy On Me by Adele returned to number 1. Yeah, I'm not too surprised by this; as much as Red (Taylor's Version) did have a big impact on arrival, it was never really going to last.
Although with that said, All Too Well (Taylor's Version) by Taylor Swift only dropped down one spot to number 2 since people are still pretty enamored with this song in particular.
Now this brings us to our first new entry from Adele, Oh My God at number 3. Okay, wouldn't have been my first choice, but then again it makes sense. On an album as un-pop as 30 is, this is definitely one of the catchier hooks you could choose from, so it makes sense that we got it here. Still though, I don't personally see this lasting long.
Then we have a brief flash back to the norm with Shivers by Ed Sheeran still squatting squarely at number 4. I'm actually quite surprised and a little impressed that this wasn't elbowed out, it just managed to hang on enough to last out.
Onto number 5, which is our second new Adele song - and third overall - I Drink Wine. This one definitely may have a bit more staying power, based solely off of the title and the content. So let's see if this is the one they end up pushing as a single next.
Next up, Cold Heart (PNAU Remix) by Elton John & Dua Lipa got shunted back to number 6, but that was to be expected as it's reaching the end of his chart run naturally.
What surprised me a lot more was our new number 7: abcdefu by GAYLE, which rocketed all the way up from number 33 last week! I mean, I knew the song was taking off on TikTok, but I didn't expect it to be the next Love Nwantiti. Not that I'm complaining, it's a fairly decent song when I'm in the mood for it. But... I don't know, it also feels like one of those songs that could really wear out its welcome quickly. We'll have to see.
Then Meet Me At Our Spot by The Anxiety slipped even further down to number 8, but I'm fairly confident that will rebound. It's still doing too well in terms of sales and streaming to drop out now.
But the biggest news in my opinion comes at number 9, because to my utter delight, Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender entered the top 10! Oh gods yes, let's please make this a hit, it's been big in the UK for a while now, we just need to follow their example... Man. never thought I'd be saying that.
Finally at number 10, we have another long-overdue entry into the top 10: Where Are You Now by Lost Frequencies & Calum Scott. Not surprised this finally broke through and actually really glad it managed to beat Tell Me Something Good by Ewan McVicar to get here, it's a much better-composed song overall. No, it's not Lost Frequencies' best, but this song still has a lot of replay value to me. If I'm gonna take radio-friendly house music, I'll take it from the country I grew up in. Just saying, no one does EDM like the Belgians.
Top 50: The Punished and the New
Once again, this is one of those weeks that could have been a lot busier than it ended up being, but thankfully with the Irish charting rules, we're saved having to talk about too much of Adele. Instead we can focus more on The Christmas Invasion, which came with its regularly scheduled horde of dropouts and a brave handful of tracks making a daring rush to secure some sort of stability before they get swept away in a snowstorm. So let's start out by highlighting the multiple movers to ACR this week:
My Heart Goes (La Di Da) by Topic & Becky Hill - number 6 to 27
Heat Waves by Glass Animals - number 8 to 29
THAT'S WHAT I WANT by Lil Nas X - number 10 to 37
Love Tonight by Shouse - number 22 to GONE
To be honest, none of these are surprising, they were all on their way out naturally. It also shows that Heat Waves wasn't just relying purely on streaming numbers, because it's still in the top 30 even after having its streaming slashed in twain. But Hell, they're all gonna make the year-end list, you needn't worry.
That being said, we also got a fair few regular losers as well: Smoking Out The Window by Silk Sonic dropped to 14, which in fairness is not as low as it could have fallen, there is still hope for this one! Red (Taylor's Version) by Taylor Swift fell all the way down to 32 as the impact of the album is stifled, and SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY by Amaarae, Molly & Kali Uchis sadly continued its descent down to 35. Not too surprisingly, Feel Like Shit by Tate McRae immediately started tanking down to 38, OUT OUT by Joel Corry & co continued to dwindle down to 39, and Obsessed With You by Central Cee is thankfully also sputtering out of number 40. Unfortunately, it's following in the wake of Drive by Clean Bandit, Topic & Wes Nelson, which just couldn't quite cut it as a hit, but at least it's taking Ghost Town by Benson Boone with it down to 48, that's a silver lining.
Now there were also a couple of interesting gains: right outside of our top 10, Do It To It by ACRAZE & Cherish saw a huge boost up to number 11 this week, along with... I Wish by Joel Corry & Mabel, because we have to make everything Joel Corry puts out into a hit, even his shitty ones. Not to mention Ghost by Justin Bieber, surprisingly still rising up to number 19! What is it about this song that draws anyone in, seriously?! It's a lot easier to see the appeal for Better Days by NEIKED, Polo G & Mae Muller up to number 23 - thought this one might be done for, but maybe not - and even less surprisingly, All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey continues its steady rise up the charts to 24; this will only get bigger and bigger in the next few weeks, we all know it. But in a surprising twist if you've never read the series before, Dermot Kennedy's Better Days also recovered to number 28 this week, surprise surprise. Finally, in the wake of the music video coming out, Coming For You by SwitchOTR featuring A1 & J1 went up to number 31. This may get caught between years, we'll have to see.
Finally, we also find that we also had a couple more returning entries this week, neither of which were a surprise: Last Christmas by Wham! re-entering at number 36 and Fairytale of New York by The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl re-entering at 43. Honestly, I love both of those songs, so I have no problem with this. But now, with all that taken care of, we can focus on our new entries to this top 50, starting with the Adele songs:
Title: Oh My God by Adele
So the reception to this album has been a little interesting, as it's not quite as overwhelmingly positive as her last couple of albums. Which is fair: like I said before, it's less of a pop album, it's about divorce, it's not going to be all fun and games. And while no, I wouldn't generally describe Adele's music as "fun", this is definitely coming from a much more serious, grown-up place, and that's just less fun most of the time.
Now, with all of that in mind, I do understand why this particular song did well, because it's the rush of affection she feels at the prospect of new romance. After all, it's been ages since she's felt this way, so it hits her like a truck when she finally realizes that "Wait, this is that lightning in a bottle moment, that fresh love!" She wants to pursue it, she wants to be free! Once again, this is something that probably led to divorce and that she is now very much glad to have, she's finally cut loose and able to have fun again! Might seem like a bit of a whiplash moment emotionally after Cry Your Heart Out, but it's a welcome release of tension. And in a way, I am glad for her, if that's what's best for her and her family, fair enough.
I will say that the actual production isn't amazing. The gospel vocals are picthed very weirdly and even Adele sounds oddly whistley in spots, but I will say I enjpoy the pre-chorus and hook a fair bit, it has a nice bounce to it. Sure, it feels like a modern reinterpretation of a mid-70s R&B song except not as good, but Adele sells it, adopting her Send My Love To Your New Lover voice, the sort of delivery that ends up working better than it should. And ultimately, this is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, I do enjoy this, albeit casually. It's not as well-written as the best/most emotional songs on the album, but it's certainly decent.
Title: I Drink Wine by Adele
Let me clear this up first: in terms of the concept, this is definiutely up my alley. It's about 2 people, probably Adele and her ex-husband, living in excess, drinking wine and booze to become people that they don't even like, but who can at least somewhat function together. It's a song about relying on alcohol as a crutch, something you were able to deal perfectly well without as a child, but which has become a necessity in adult life. But at the end of the day, is it worth it if they're both lying to themselves and each other? Even if it does "save" their marriage from crumbling, should it be this hard?
It highlights the very dark path that people can walk when consuming alcohol, when they're just fooling themselves into being people they're really not in order to feel better about themselves for a brief period of time. That definitely hits hard, and I do think that the writing backs it up... but I'm sorry, those backing vocals really do irk me. I don't know why they were produced this way, but they sound gaudy, it almost makes the song like a parody of itself! And they get in early too, before the 2-minute mark, on a song that's opver 6 minutes! That's another thing, why is this so long? Sure, as Adele piano ballads go, it's a bit jauntier to keep up the momentum, but is that a good thing? The slow ballad felt much more fitting for the subject matter, that's all I'm saying.
I dunno, on a more serious song about drinking, wouldn't it be better to sing on your own? And it's a shame, becauser Adele sounds great, and the melody is really catchy, but the production just really lets this one down for me. It has a strong message, a great foundation, but once those backing vocals hit, it just becomes a little hard for me to listen to. The moments with just Adele are great, I do appreciate the songwriting, but man... this could have been great, and an ends up just being pretty good. At best.
Title: Nothing New (Taylor's Version) by Taylor Swift (Ft. Phoebe Bridgers)
Okay, this was the song that I expected to hit the charts last week and didn't, much to my chagrin. Well thankfully, they're making up for it this week, mainly thanks to State of Grace dropping out because of course it did! Like I said last week, it's not a good choice of single, Taylor knew that 8 years ago! Anyway, putting that aside, this song is a lot better and arguably the best "new" song on the album.
As with all the "From the Vault" songs, it's one Taylor wrote years ago, which never actually made the official album release. So Taylor decided to put it on her own version of Red, and decided to rope in Phoebe Bridgers to duet it. That really makes way too much sense considering the direction that Phoebe Bridgers' career has been taking the last year or 2, and I respect the Hell out of both of these women, so I was excited to see this collab. And yeah, this is simply terrific. I'm a bit on the fence as to whether I like it more than Taylor's version of All Too Well, but of the completely re-imagined cuts, it might be the best thing she's released all year; a heartwrenching tune about just how much more vulnerable and less wise we seem to get as we get older.
Both of them reference moments in their past where they were doing great and on top of the world at age 18, but that even just a few years later, everything stops making sense and falls apart. I like that they presented this as speaking to someone else, someone who values them and their opinions, and asking if they would really still want them once they're all used up, and are nothing new. Even taking out the relatable aspect, that is a HARSH reality that any singer has to live with, especially when newer artists are always showing up to fill the void they leave behind them. That hook definitely cuts deep, especially when they link it to how girls will be encouraged to act out when they're young and then get reprimanded as soon as they do just that, forcing them to slowly doubt every single piece of wisdom that they pick up along the way.
Personally though, it's the bridge that kills me. As they meet a young woman who looked up to them, who was lost and yet was inspired by their example to find herself and get her life together, to forge her own path. And as they congratulate her for figuring it all out, they then proceed to cry themselves to sleep, because MAN, do they not have it together and wish they could borrow some of that wisdom for themselves. It's one of the best bridges I've heard all year, and paired with 2 women who work so amazingly well together... yeah, I love this so much! More, please.
Title: Overseas by D-Block Europe (Ft. Central Cee)
Wow, haven't heard from these guys in a while. The loftily named D-Block Europe made a minor splash at the start of the year with RAYE on Ferrari Horses, a decent song that didn't really stick with me in the long run. But now they're teaming up with Central Cee, so maybe this could be their ticket to the big leagues? I will say that I've liked their production so far, their bars don't seem to be bad, and Central Cee does have talent, he just doesn't use it very often. So what did we get here?
Well you know, for a group called D-Block Europe, I would have expected this to be a little bit more interesting. but the only word that comes to mind is "basic". He wants to buy a house overseas, treat his girl to driving lessons in an expensive car, and drink expensive alcohol... that's really about it. There's nothing particularly mind-blowing about the actual hook and the verses are fine, there's some decent wordplay here and there. I'll even say that in terms of the melody, it's relatively pleasant to listen to, there are no egregious production choices and the guitar is quite nice. But the actual content just doesn't back it up.
Central Cee's verse is probably the most complete one here, as he goes into surprising detail about his relationship with this one girl. Okay, half of his bars are about her ass - including 1 amazing line "damn, that's a big circumference" - and the other half talking about how he doesn't want to impregnate her and become a dad. But you know what, I kind of appreciate that he highlights that she won't send him her nudes over Snapchat and that she keeps asking to meet his friends, only to realise once she does that she really doesn't want to hang around them. It's weirdly devoid of misogyny, that's all I'm saying. Now that being said, he's also by far the most interesting performer on this. Most of the song is completely dominated by Young Adz, who handles the chorus and gets his own short verse to open up the song. And again, it's just generic flexing - when he's not defaulting to toilet humour - and he's not a very good singer, nor a particularly good rapper. And yet he's still mildly more impressive than Dirtbike LB, whose verse is just a short as Young Adz's and he doesn't even get the hook. And even then, the only thing of note is that his killers are swerving the 'Rona, but that ain't no reason for masks, which doesn't date this at all!
At the end of the day though, this song is just about passable, it's not as good as their last single. I just don't expect I'll remember it a couple of weeks from now... take it or leave it.
Title: Enemy by Imagine Dragons & J.I.D
Oh look, an Imagine Dragons song... I bet that there are plenty of you who are just expecting me to immediately call this the worst of the week and then move on. But as I've said before, I don't hate Imagine Dragons on principle. Sure, they've made some absolutely terrible songs, especially in recent years, but while their brand of rock is very interchangeable, at least they try to add some energy and authentic power to it, even if it does fall flat on occasion.
But hey, this new single might actually garner some interest, because it's tied to that Netflix series Arcane which I haven't seen yet, even though it does seem to be somewhat up my alley. But here's the thing, ladies and gents, none of that matters; the big story is the featured artist. Yes, for those of you in the know, that's THAT J.I.D, aka one of the hottest names in semi-underground rap for the past 4 years or so. As far as I know, he's still signed to J Cole's label Dreamville and he's an artist who rarely misses, with 2 widely praised albums under his belt in The Never Story and DiCaprio 2, both of which I reviewed back in the day. So yeah, J.I.D's fucking awesome and he absolutely steals the song for me. His incredible flow is close to unrivaled in the game and has earned in more than a few comparisons to Kendrick Lamar, which I would actually say he genuinely deserves. He is one of those once-in-a-lifetime talents and I'm so amazed and proud to finally see him break through in this way, even if he is reliant on Imagine Dragons.
On that note, they're not bad here either. It's not great, the production is very cavernous and I don't like the way the backing vocals interact with the main chorus, but for as sluggish as it is in parts, it's still catchy. And while the content could be about literally anything and Imagine Dragons would make it sound generic, it is fairly in line with the series as far as I know. I've certainly heard far worse from them this year, that's for damn sure! So yeah, this is not a bad song, and J.I.D bumps it up to good, I'm very glad he's getting his shot. Give it a listen, you could certainly do worse.
Title: Everywhere (BBC Children In Need) by Anne-Marie & Niall Horan
Well, I'm not opposed to these 2 teaming up again, it's worked before. As far as Christmas charity singles go, you can certainly do far worse. In recent years, I've had very little interest in the actual music around this time, it's as regular and oily as clockwork, but now the BBC decided to give it to two artists who actually work well together. Makes sense, especially for the fact that they're both so clean-cut and marketable. I'm a little more perplexed by the list of people with production features; I mean, Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, and Sam Smith, sure, and Griff definitely deserves to be here, delighted for her. But why is YUNGBLUD here? Not that he's singing here, but it's still weird to see him paired up with all these other artists considering that his image could not be more different.
With all that being said, you all know the song, because it's a cover of Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere, one of my personal favorites from them. And you know what? It's not as good as the original - the production and harmonies don't work quite as well and Niall and Anne-Marie don't have the chemistry of Christine McVie and the original band - but I can still listen to this and be perfectly happy with it. It doesn't do anything to insult the original, it's a pretty faithful cover; very safe, very placid, perfect for a charity single.
Hell, even the fact that it's not a Christmas song might be a bonus, at the very least I won't get sick of it as easily. So this actually turned out fairly well, good job guys. and if any of you reading are interested, the single is available at https://lnk.to/Everywhere-CiN, where a portion of your money will go to benefit BBC Children in Need. So go support that if you're able to.
So thankfully, we finally had more of a quieter week on the home front. Many artists know better than to drop new music right before the end of the year because they'll be competing with all the Christmas music, so they're probably just biding their time till January hits. That being said, we have a top 20 to fill out, so we did get some new songs. And the biggest story is the one you've already guessed: Everywhere by Niall Horan, Anne-Marie & co went straight to number 1, knocking off Starlight by Westlife down to number 3.
What I didn't see coming was Johnny Boy by Christy Moore vaulting all the way up to number 5! I mean I really like the song, but I didn't expect it to do THIS well. Our only other gain as Chain Reaction by Mick Flannery & Susan O'Neil, back up at number 10; good, it's a great song.
This forced Lose My Mind by LYRA down to number 7, I Want It All by The Script to number 8, and Hey by Lea Heart back down to 12. Then we saw Your Song Saved My Life by U2 getting knocked back even further to 15, Get Back by D15 immediately fell back to 16, and somehow Bluebird by Offica is still here at number 17, followed closely by the non-started Write Our Own Soundtrack by The Coronas at 18... WOW, that might be the most drops that I've ever seen on this chart, and I only highlighted the bigger ones!
Now along with being knocked down, I Want It All by The Script is also on its 13th week, so it will be out next week to be replaced by possibly a returning entry, possibly something new, we'll see. And in terms of current returning entries, sure, there's Noel's Creamy Pints by 2 Johnnies at number 20 again, that's fine enough. But what really brought a smile to my face was Sex and Drugs by Kojaque returning to number 13! Yes, can we please make this a holiday staple? I don't care if it's holiday time, when else are you going to abuse these substances so festively? Plus Kojaque is fantastic, let's make him a recurring name on this chart, please. This is the song I want to be singing on Christmas morning!
But with all that out of the way, we did get a couple of new entries. Skipping past the number 1 since we've already talked about it, let's instead move on to:
Title: Driving Home For Christmas by Dermot Kennedy
No, no, no no no no no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
So for context, this is a cover of Driving Home For Christmas by Chris Rea, originally released in 1986 and one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time. And look, I don't mind covering this on principle; Everywhere is a classic song I love as well, but that song felt like much more of a faithful cover. The original Driving Home For Christmas was warm, the instrumentation invoked the feeling of waiting by the fire for someone to come home, just as much as it did driving down the highway because it had gorgeous, organic pianos and strings which felt playful, all while forgetting to be an excellent driving song! Sure, there are moments of melancholy because he's not with his family yet, but there's a hopeful sparkle to it that makes it soar. And Chris Rea is a big part of that too, with his warm, husky voice that oozes charisma and populism and he nods in solidarity as the other drivers on the road with him, all with the same goal in mind.
So yeah, it's about as close to perfect as a holiday song can get... so why the Hell did Dermot Kennedy think he could give it a shot? Look, I know I've been steadily losing patience with him over the last few weeks, but this really was the final straw for me. As I've said before, he's sadly quite a limited performer, as everything he sings sounds like he's absolutely miserable. So why the hell did he think that such a warm, uplifting Christmas song was remotely in his wheelhouse?! When I listen to this, it just makes me depressed, and not just because I love the original, but because it completely misses the excitement of the original, as he only emphasizes the sadness, invoking the feeling of being completely out of it and miserable. The instrumentation tries to add some bells and reverb to deepen the mix, and I will admit there are some nice instruments here, they just don't remotely fit this song! All the organic warmth and jaunty groove of the original is replaced by that fucking chord progression that Dermot Kennedy seems to love so much, there's no variety, there's nothing to it. And it actually pissed me off a fair bit! Every second of the song reminds me how much better the original is, and it makes me wonder if Dermot Kennedy has ever even heard the original, or if he just looked up the lyrics and completely missed Chris Rea's nuanced performance! This is too far, man, you took a classic I love and you made it just another Dermot Kennedy song. And I hate to say that that's starting to become a real negative in my books. Screw this cover!
Title: Close To You by Chasing Abbey
Oh goody, another Chasing Abbey song. What can I really say about this that I didn't say about the last one?!
I covered Defeated months ago, and all I can remember from that song is that the chorus was someone catchy, which I wouldn't say for this one. In fact, the most memorable part about this is just how BAD the vocals and production are! The worst part of this is that fuzzy vocal filter, which syncs them up with the stabbing piano chords on the hook and just sounds fucking awful. It's as if they started to sing this, and then someone dared them to start singing through a paper bag.
As for the lyrics, they're just generic nothingness. It's the same thing as Tom Grennan's By Your Side, he just wants to be "cl-close to you", especially when you're lying naked in bed... charming. This is basically a BTS song without any of the flavour that comes with it. The writing is boring, the harmonies are basic, the melody is beyond copy-and-paste and while, okay, the instrumental isn't bad, there's more than enough bad ideas to make the song pretty awful.
It's just not a good time. I've never been a fan of Chasing Abbey, I really don't get their appeal. And this is just another song that solidified that opinion. Sorry.
That being said, I'm not giving them the Worst of the week, because I'm sorry, I had a viscerally negative reaction to Dermot Kennedy's cover of Driving Home For Christmas! That song sucks, a textbook example of how to do a cover completely wrong! As for the Best though... you know, I hate to give it to her 2 weeks in a row, but Taylor Swift & Phoebe Bridgers really do have the best song here with Nothing New (Taylor's Version). It's a great duet, it has a lot of layers to it, the chemistry between the 2 performers is great,... I'm just repeating myself at this point, check this song out if you haven't.
Anyway, thanks so much for reading, feel free to like the post and share any feedback in the comments. In case you missed it, I released my Best Hit Songs of 2006 just over a week ago, definitely check that out, and another top 10 will be along before the end of the year. 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!