Musical McCool - Week 7 (Feb 12, 2021)
Hi guys, welcome back to The Social Tune! My name is Fionn, and welcome back to a brand new edition of Musical McCool!
Well, that didn't take long. I really expected the peace from the past couple of weeks to last a tad longer, with no huge album releases to speak of. Instead, this was the week where a number of big gainers took advantage of the general calm and bum-rushed the top 10, while several long-standing giants were quelled by Accelerated Chart Ratios.
The Top 10
Of course, no matter how big they may be, they're not as big as the giant on top.
Once again, driver's license by Olivia Rodrigo rules over all at number 1, and nobody's coming particularly close either.
Certainly not The Business by Tiësto at number 2, which despite holding its spot may be gone sooner than you think... more on that in a bit.
The big news is that Paradise by MEDUZA & Dermot Kennedy is out of the top 10, freeing the way for Without You by Kid Laroi to take the number 3 spot! It may not take the number 1, but I wouldn't be surprised if this took the number 2 next week, just watch.
However there may be some competition on hte horizon, because at number 4 and vaulting past all the competition comes Jerusalema by Master KG & Nomcebo Zikode off its debut from last week! I know the song is huge on TikTok right now, and it is admittedly pretty catchy and reminds me of school (for better and for worse), but I'm still a little baffled it got THIS big.
Ah well, it's yet another obstacle for GOOSEBUMPS by HVME, which still managed to climb up to number 5. This and Jerusalema are probably going to be in competition for a bit, I wonder who'll emerge victorious.
Now, this did mean Get Out My Head by Shane Codd dropped down to number 6 again, but hey, I'm still proud it got as far as it did!
Which brings us to our new Top 10 entry: Save Your Tears by The Weeknd at number 7. Looks like the Superbowl was just the boost this song needed, as it's now sitting comfortably in all categories.
Next is Afterglow by Ed Sheeran, sliding down another spot to number 8, as expected...
... unlike our last 2 songs! Because Don't Play by Anne-Marie, KSI & Digital Farm Animals re-entered the top 10 against all odds. Apparently it's really picked up and getting taken seriously as a real hit... fine by me, good for them.
And even more impressive is Wellerman Remix by Nathan Evans, 220 Kid & Billen ted, because it's massive on TikTok and reality is merely a fickle illusion! It is growing on me though... for what that's worth.
Top 50: The Punished and the New
If you thought the madness would be limited to the top 10, you'd be very wrong! We got a slew of new arrivals, all within the Top 30, as well as a number of significant movements. The biggest of which: 3 huge songs (and 1 smaller one) moving to ACR after losing traction for 3 weeks in a row. As a reminder, this is a process set up by the Irish Music Association to cycle out songs that survive for a long time off of streaming, in order to make more room for fresh music. And our victims this week:
Paradise by MEDUZA & Dermot Kennedy: number 3 to 15
Sweet Melody by Little Mix: number 12 to 32
Whoopty by CJ: number 17 to 39
Outnumbered by Dermot Kennedy: Number 21 to 44
Especially in the case of Paradise, which is currently still doing better streaming numbers than most of our Top 10, this is pretty insane, and once again exabits what an utter MONSTER Giants has been to survive this fate! I fully expect The Business to get quelled in a similar way very soon.
Now to replace them, you had all of our songs from last week... minus Fredo's stuff, as only Money Talks with Dave survived, dropping down to number 17. Otherwise, everything else rose, along with the songs we already discussed in the top 10, and Days Like This by Dermot Kennedy... more on that a bit later too. Other than that... well, our 1 returning entry is Arcade by Duncan Laurence, a song I have never particularly cared for. And otherwise, we have a few new entries, starting with:
Title: Things Are Different by Picture This
Ah look, it's everybody's favourite Kildare band, back with another single. For those not in the know, Picture This is one of the biggest acts in Irish music, a pop rock group who broke through off their self-titled debut in 2016, the same year I was actually living in Leixlip where they were formed. So you might expect me to have somewhat of a bias toward them... but I will say I'm not quite as huge of a fan as some of my friends. Yes, Ryan Hennessy has a great, if untempered voice, and they have a great knack for creating some fantastic retro-leaning but still original songs. However, they are a tad inconsistent in their writing and production, and I still think they have a fair bit of improvement ahead of them.
This though... well, it's a different. Going for a more anthemic sound, the band decided to blend elements of synthwave and 80s rock to make a song that sounds considerably bigger in scope than their usual love songs. Kinda fitting for a title which is just as portentous, so what is this? Well, it seems the band wanted to make a song all about how things are shit right now, but that eventually things will go back to the way they were. Again, this is the kind of single that currently really seems to be speaking to the Irish public, I'm not at all surprised this is doing so well considering the success of N17 and New Day. What surprised me were the personal agency and the production.
I like how they offer to take a stand, to lead people back to the light themselves, rather than simply sitting back and waiting for things to get better. It adds a lot more resonant power to a song like this when the person is leading the charge themselves. But it's really the production that puts this over the top, sounding really pretty on the verses, then building in a flurry of drums and synths to a climax of guitars which sound gorgeous! Yes, there's reverb, and yes the instruments are buried deeper in the mix than I'd like, but it still sounds terrific, and it allows Ryan's voice to stand front and centre in the mix, which is really what's most important with a song like this.
Again, I do a have some minor production gripes, and I'm well-aware this is pandering to a very specific "War On Drugs"-esque sound, but this is still the most I've liked a Picture This song since Winona Rider, and I'm not about to turn that down!
Title: Up by Cardi B
Ok look, I like Cardi. A lot. I get that she's confrontational, and not super lyrical, but she just brings a ton of energy and personality to everything she does, and has a way better sense of humour than many will acknowledge. That said, this was the first single that she had dropped since WAP, one of the best hits of the past year, and so I had some real expectations this time. And... well, I'm torn.
I said on twitter that watching the video to this felt similar to watching HUMBLE. by Kendrick Lamar back when its video dropped. In other words, It feels appropriately momentous, and I do like it, but its not quite what I was expecting. Now, in fairness, it's not as much of a departure for Cardi; she's always gone for big anthemic power anthems with earwormy hooks and bars driven more by flow and personality than content or wordplay. However, I don't love this hook... nor this beat. Not that they're bad, but they're just fairly minimal... especially compared to the verses, where a lot of the punchlines and sound effects are definitely still present. But it just feels a tad neutered once it gets to that muted, repetitive hook for me, and I kinda wish the production were more colourful.
Again, not a bad song, and I fully expect this to grow on me a little, but with a weaker hook and a surprisingly abrupt ending, this song just isn't nearly as good as her last single, that's all. But hey, if you want a song that absolutely matched all expectations:
Title: Bringing It Back by Digga D & AJ Tracey
Ok, I'm aware that most of my American readers probably felt that Up would be the easy stand-out of the week for me... but don't be so sure. After all, Digga D has been one of the most acclaimed names in drill for the past year or 2, and teaming up with AJ Tracey, who's been buzzing since around 2016, this collab from 2 lads out of the same West London area had some real promise to it! And... yeah, this is excellent.
The bars and flows are SO on point, and each one gets 4 verses and 2 shared hooks! It's just over 3 minutes, but the amount of bars and punchlines that they manage to fit in here without feeling overstuffed is just stunning! And what I really love is how distinct our 2 MCs are, as AJ brings a great call-and-response scheme with some great punchlines, while Digga has more intricately put together bars with internal rhymes and wordplay. And they both ride the beat SO well, a keening guitar and bass in constant balance and the high hats and 808s never getting in the way but simply adding their own subtle touches, allowing the production to remain dynamic and interesting across the song!
In other words, if you want a prime example of 2 MCs in rare form, an absolutely killer hook, and London drill at its very best, look no further than this, cause it rules!
Title: Latest Trends by A1 & J1
Lastly, we have the newest TikTok song currently tearing its way up the charts. And look, because of the songs that preceded it, you may be tempted to thrash this, but it's honestly okay.
2 relative unknowns team up for a song all about indulging in materialism and how none of it really matters in the end... kinda. They do spend a lot more time focusing on flexing and money and women than on any self-refection, to the point where I didn't even hear anything self-aware about it till the third listen. Even then though, the fact that they claim not to care about the latest trends WHILE currently trending on TikTok... yeah, bit of a quandry there.
Either way, this song is nowhere near as unique as the TikTok songs currently in our Top 10, so I don't expect this to stick around. Not bad, just not particularly memorable.
And now to the Homegrown charts, where things are no less turbulent! For starters, Days Like This by Dermot Kennedy already lost its top spot to Things Are Different by Picture this, which debuted here at number 1. It also marked the end of Lyra's chart run, as New Day exited the chart altogether, more's the pity.
Apart from that, the only other news was Champagne Butterflies by Wild Youth rebounding up to number 7 (good!) and Take It (Yuck) by Offica losing off its debut to number 10 (sad). The bigger issue is that we got 5 new entries to the top 20, only one of which we've already covered. So skipping by Things Are Different at number 1:
Title: Enough by Hermitage Green
Yes, Limerick band Hermitage Green are back, with a brand new single in 2021. This is a folk rock band who were formed 11 years ago, and have built up a small but loyal fanbase through touring, despite only having 1 studio album and a few EPs to their name. Now, personally, I checked out their stuff after their tribute to the Cranberries in 2018, and I was pretty impressed. Good vocals, solid harmonies, strong and primarily acoustic instruments, and a knack for some strong melodies and writing that was pretty detailed and vivid.
And this is very much in that vein, a post-break-up song where you're reflecting on a past relationship, and realising that you weren't getting enough out of it, even if their presence still lingers with you. It's played low-key and the guitars really smolder throughout it, there's no big dramatic burst at any point. Honestly though, it kinda works that way, where only the vocals really soar at any point, allowing you to connect to the emotional performance more, even in the brief falsetto moments which fit surprisingly well.
It's just a slow burn folk song with some really good instincts, and a welcome arrival to the top 20. Not grandiose or game-changing by any means, but I actually hope this sticks around, I like it a lot.
Title: No Forever by Elaine Mai (Ft. MayKay)
Well, this is not what I expected going into this. As it turns out, Elaine Mai is an electronic artist who has been releasing EPs for the past decade, with this being the first single for her first studio album. Well, listening to this and a few of her other songs, I appreciate that she goes for a more minimal style of electronica, less in-your-face than a lot of the usual club scene, while also less weird than a band like BICEPS.
Now, this song does have some nice texture to it, providing a pretty foundation for MayKay's vocals. This is a woman with a lot of presence, so getting out of her way and allowing her voice to ride the oscillating electronic beats and echoing snares is a good move. I honestly just wish it were a bit more notable, as it kinda defaults to a very generic-sounding repeated pattern that has always bugged me in electronic music. I dunno, probably just not my genre, as I can recognise it's still very pretty and decently-written, but I don't see myself coming back to this much. Elaine has her fans, and more power to her, go support her if you're curious, I just don't really connect with it, that's all.
Title: Not Usually Like This by Cian Ducrot
Next, this is a 23-year-old from Cork, who has found a fair amount of success through Facebook and YouTube. He did go on The Voice, but sadly didn't make it past the blind auditions. So, as a bit of a rising star, I wanted to give him the time of day and give a few of his songs some cursory listens. And... again, it's just not really for me. It's very willowy folk pop in the same vein as Dermot Kennedy, with a similar throaty, earnest delivery. Except unlike with Dermot, I don't feel the same power from Cian, who has a good voice which just requires some time and refinement... also less nasal singing.
Anyhow, Not Usually Like This is a song about him trying to win a girl back after they broke up, which is always a fine line as it is. And look, I think he sounds earnest without being annoying, and the song has a pretty acoustic backdrop which I appreciate. My issue comes in the content, where he claims that he NEVER does this, but is still going to attempt to guilt-trip her into getting back with him. And I'm sorry, I just don't buy it, especially when he keeps having to remind her that she KNOWS he's not usually like this, she knows this is weird behavior for him, right? Honestly, I would probably like the song more if he didn't focus so much on that aspect, if he just owned his baggage, but as it is it just comes across as insecure and pathetic. It's not a good look, and I'm sorry, but this is not a good song.
Title: She Wins, I Lose by Ryan Mack
So Ryan Mack is actually a former member of the boyband HomeTown, same as Josh Grey whom we discussed a few weeks back! And I had actually been somewhat anticipating this song after hearing his single Broke from a couple of months ago, a song which has really stuck with me since its release.
Now unlike Josh, Ryan seems to be going for a throwback sound from the 80s, a pop style which relies on gummy synths and strong hooks. And after Broke, I was curious, but also a tad skeptical, especially with that title. However, this is actually really solid, a song where Ryan simply states that he's in a relationship where she always comes out on top, while he suffers. It's surprisingly sharply written, and less of an attack on her as much as a bewildered love song where he is WAY out of his depth. If Broke reminded me of Ed Sheeran, this is a style of songwriting that reminds me a lot more of Niall Horan, painting himself as the naive lover who ends up with girls far smarter and more capable than him, whom he nevertheless has admiration for.
And yeah, paired with one Hell of a hook, great multitracking and some really self-aware writing, this is a terrific little pop song. All it's missing is some more guitars and maybe a few more cutting lines, possibly a resolution for that bridge, and I'd be tempted to call this better than Broke. Nice job Ryan, this is good stuff!
And that's our week, hope you all enjoyed! If you can, please leave a like, as well as some feedback in the comments, I'd love to hear your thoughts on these songs, especially anything new to you. Also, make sure you 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!