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Musical McCool - Week 9 (Feb 26, 2021)

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

Finally, a break! I've been predicting a cooldown week for the charts for some time now, and I'm very happy to finally have one, especially when my own personal life just got incredibly busy. On that note, that Top 10 is coming, I just have a lot going on right now.

The Top 10

But before we get to all that, let's see what this week delivered:

Surprise surprise, drivers license by Olivia Rodrigo holds the number 1, as there still hasn't really been a major challenger against its dominance.

Certainly not The Business by Tiësto, which only rose back up to number 2 because of the expected drop-off of our debut from last week.

Similar case for Without You by Kid Laroi up to number 3, even if both songs are still streaming monsters.

If there's any real competition out there, I'd say it's from Save Your Tears by The Weeknd at number 4, especially as the radio LOVES this one.

Now, this brings us to Calling My Phone by Lil Tjay and 6LACK after it dropped... but only to number 5. Yeah, it's still weak in sales, but radio is picking up and streaming is still huge. Looks like this is sticking around, at least for another week or 2.

Then at number 6 is GOOSEBUMPS by HVME, holding strong and refusing to budge.

However, it may soon be gone, because Wellerman Remix by Nathan Evans, 220 Kid & Billen Ted reached a new peak at number 7, and its streaming presence is FAR better! Also it's a way more interesting song, and one I'm seriously starting to love!

Heck, I'm actually kinda surprised Get Out My Head by Shane Codd is still here, holding on to number 8... not that I'm complaining!

Same case for Don't Play by Anne-Marie, KSI & Digital Farm Animals, keeping ahold of the number 9 spot for a third week running; impressive.

And finally, we have a new Top 10 entry: Friday by Riton, Nightcrawlers and Mufasa, entering at number 10. Upon repeated listens, I'm not at all surprised this is turning out to be a hit... but again, feels weird to hear a sample which I know best from a terrible Pitbull song being in the top 10 in 2021! Still, it's a fun party song that reminds me a LOT of early 2010s club pop, so I'm not complaining it's here.

Top 50: The Punished and the New

You know, while I call this a quieter week, I really mean that I don't see many smash debuts into the top 20, and I don't particularly expect any of the new arrivals to have much staying power. It doesn't mean there weren't a lot of shifts, and some pretty damn drastic at that!

Starting with our gains: apart from Friday, we also saw growth for Up by Cardi B at number 11, as well as Your Love (9PM) by ATB, Topic & A7S at 16. No surprises there, both songs were destined to be big, it's just a question of HOW big. It's a bit more shocking to see Heat Waves by Glass Animals up to number 12, with the kind of momentum that might actually allow it to blow past both of them! As are the gains for Latest Trends by A1 & J1 up to 21, considering how utterly disposable it is.

Still, there are more surprising gains... like Commitment Issues by Central Cee, which cracked the top 40 at 36, meaning it officially got higher than Loading ever did... seriously, what is this week? Okay, I'm not that surprised that Ava Max's My Head, My Heart climbed up to 37 off its debut... but really, Astronaut In The Ocean by Masked Wolf is up to number 40? Sure, I'm happy for him I guess, but it's a no-name rapper from Australia using a style of hip-hop that definitely isn't mainstream anymore, what is happening?!

Now, as a result of those gains, it's hard to really get particularly riled up over our losers. Sure, there's Jerusalema and Love Story (2021 Remastered) at 14 and 27 respectively, but both had very short lifespans from the get-go. And everything else is on its way out naturally, either for being too niche like Things Are Different by Picture This at 41 or for running its course and suffering from Accelerated Chart Ratios like Whoopty by CJ at 49. Speaking of ACR, we have a single new victim this week:

Afterglow by Ed Sheeran: 12 to 33

Yes, after a very impressive run, Ed's number 2 hit finally lost its momentum. Considering it was a non-album single, it really goes to show just how huge he is over here, especially on the radio, but after its initial 9 weeks had passed and several weeks of decline in chart spots, it officially made the move to ACR this week. No worries, it more than earned enough points to make the year-end, glad to have it as long as I did.

Now, for the first time in a bit, let's discuss a full week of brand new music in detail, with none of it being previously mentioned! Starting with:

Title: Chicken Tendies by Clinton Kane

Position: #25

... This is a joke, right?

For those not in the know, which included me, Clinton Kane is a musician who like many, made his start on YouTube. Now, he's been a rising star for a while now, working with famed EDM producer Martin Garrix last year, but as far as I can tell, this is his biggest song to date, after it went viral on TikTok.

And... well first off, Ed Sheeran is probably earned royalties for this, because this sounds eerily similar to his more emotional stylings, both in cadence and writing. Not a bad thing, even if Clinton's singing isn't really my thing, especially in the moments you can hear him painfully drawing breath toward the end of the song. Here he wails after his ex that he hopes she finds happiness, even if it's not with him. Ok, nice sentiment, and the lyrics are at least colourful and vivid.

2 issues though! 1) The whole "I hope you find happiness with anybody even if it's not me" schtick is admirable until he heavily hints that she should give him a call... which kind of makes the former part feel like a ploy to make his audience sympathise with him. And 2) ... I'm sorry, ITS CALLED CHICKEN TENDERS! Not even that, Chicken Tendies, which makes me feel like either a 10-year-old or one of the college frat lads is wailing at me!

The weirdest part is that he never even mentions them in the lyrics, he just alludes to the fact that they were her favourite food. Apparently the title came from a TikTok performance where he just decided the yell it out as an adlib, and I'm sure that will kill at concerts once this is performed live, but the title is SO ridiculous that it prevents me from taking any of it seriously... because her favourite food was essentially a frozen, breaded piece of chicken you buy at the supermarket! For fuck's sake, even Zac Brown Band went for FRIED chicken, I could get behind that! This... no, this is dumb! Heartfelt, kinda cute in spots, and overall well-performed and written, to the point where I can't really call it "bad"... but still, DUMB!

Title: test drive by Ariana Grande

Position: #28

So apparently Ariana Grande decided to drop the Deluxe edition of positions last week and I completely missed the memo. And this song in particular is getting a lot of attention, seemingly for the same reasons as 34+35, as a raunchy yet ridiculous sex song where Ariana filled her lyrics with driving metaphors. And since I loved that song, logic would dictate I love this too, right?

Well, while this song is kinda ridiculous, I don't get the same coquette-ish, genuinely humourous side from it that made 34+35 so magical... yes, I know, shut up! It's very pretty and well-produced, but Ari is leaning more into that dreamy, hazy mix and slurring a bit more too, something she tends to do when she's trying to be more genuinely sensual. And in a weird way, it just doesn't do as much for me.

I said it when Say So by Doja Cat made my best list, genuine weirdness is usually more attractive to me than batting eyelashes and sensual cooing, And while neither this nor 34+35 quite nails that balance as well as Doja did on that song, I do find the latter genuinely hilarious. Whereas this... it's pretty, I'd probably place it in the same tier as nasty for me, but pov, just like magic, and the title track have got nothing to worry about. Good, easy enough on the ears, but not quite great.

Title: Let's Go Home Together by Ella Henderson & Tom Grennan

Position: #42

Gotta say, I feel bad for Ella Henderson. After appearing on The X Factor, she started off her career on such an unfortunately high note with Ghost in 2015, then got badly mismanaged everywhere except the UK by her terrible label Syco, managed by notorious ass-hat Simon Cowell! Because of that, her international career never took off the way it should have considering her really damn impressive vocal talents and above average songwriting instincts.

Now, she's by no means had a bad career. She's had other hits over on this side of the world, including one just last year with Jax Jones, but I always felt like she had more potential that was kind of being wasted on a small if loyal fanbase. That said, this... well, its sort of generic. It's your pretty typical song about spotting someone in a bar and wanting to hook up with them. Points for being a duet and for some slightly self-aware songwriting, but it's nothing all that special. What is special is Tom Grennan, whose voice has a reggae twang to it that feels VERY forced and which really rubs me the wrong way! It's a shame, because he's not a bad singer, but that voice just feels really affected and completely takes me out of the fun vibe of the song. Plus, even with his belting, he's placed a bit awkwardly in the mix, where they keep having to shift his placement to disguise how much of a stronger voice Ella has than him. Even then though, more generic than bad, and the bait-and-switch of "give a... damn" did get a chuckle out of me, but just not that memorable, at least not to me.

Title: La Di Die by Nessa Barrett (Ft. jxdn)

Position: #45

Ummmm... well, this is a collab between 2 stars who found fame on TikTok... and it's surprisingly miserable!

I kinda expected it from jxdn, after his work with Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker I know him to be quite self-critical in his music in a very young adult way. Generally whenever we think of 18-year-olds with 14 millions followers on TikTok, we tend to hypothesise that they're secretly miserable or unhappy in order to feel better about ourselves. But however true that may be, it's still unexpected to hear them say it themselves, especially in their own music! And yeah, when Nessa Barrett questions whether finding fame in California will actually make her happy, and then candidly states she'll be dead at 27... gotta say, it caught my attention! And the instrumentation kinda matches it, with the I Hope by Gabby Barret guitar progression actually building to a good crescendo this time round, with swampy guitars and a rattling low-end that underline the resigned, miserable air of the whole thing.

Now, I will say that after the initial shock passed, the song itself isn't actually all that substantial. The chorus is kinda weak and I really wish the guitars and drums weren't as compressed as they are. Also, for as much as it's hard to hear 2 young people talk so candidly about their own sad feelings, some of the lyrics are really clumsy, and there is an odd air of glamorisation to wallowing in that depression that I'm just not a fan of! Right now it's ok, but something this unpleasant has the potential to really sour on me, especially if it turns out they just did this for the attention. Right now though... it's certainly eye-grabbing, I'll give them that!

Title: Believe Me by Navos

Position: #50

Oh thank God, this is a much easier song to talk about... mainly because it gives me absolutely nothing to say.

Look, it's a deep house/drum-and-bass song from a Tech House DJ from Liverpool, which just isn't my genre at all. It's chill, it's vibey, but also inanely repetitive and sounding like a dozen other songs of it ilk. The main melody is catchy, the vocals are mixed pretty well, even if the snare is VERY loud compared to everything else, but it's also nowhere near as upbeat or bright as a song like Get Out My Head by Shane Codd, which is one of the only times this type of music really catches my ear.

Look, it's here because it got big in the UK and because we had a quieter week. I could see it getting a little bigger, maybe, as it is the ideal background music, but going in one ear and out the other isn't really enough to impress me... sorry.

National Treasures

Looking at the Homegrown Top 20, things appear to be fairly static at the top, with the top 6 spots not shifting at all. I am a little sad to see Still by Niall Horan continuing to drop to number 11... it's on its 12th week, so it's got just one more week before it's gone. Whereas the success for No Forever by Elaine Mai and Maykay is just a bit beyond me, up to number 8.

I will also say that I was initially disappointed to see Birthday/The Pain by For Those I Love already gone, but in fairness this is because For Those I love has a different song in the top 20 now, and the Homegrown charts do only allow 1 per artist. But first:

Title: Time In A Bottle by Megan O'Neill

Position: #7

So I haven't seen Firefly Lane on Netflix, but apparently a lot of people have, it's currently the most watched show in Ireland. Which is how this cover by this Kildare artist got quite a lot of attention. Originally a Jim Croce song which still has some real beauty and tenderness as a folk rock ballad he wrote for his pregnant wife, with some of the most gorgeous guitar arpeggios in rock history. Whereas this is more of a haunting piano ballad, with touches of traditional Irish folk production and a much lighter vocal presence from Megan.

And in a word, this is pretty fucking beautiful, especially when the touches of what I could swear was a mandolin or harp-like instrument come in to join the mix, as well as the strings which never fully take over, but instead slowly assert their presence as the song goes on. Honestly, my only criticism is that the main minor piano line is so gorgeous that I wish they'd built on that melody a bit more. As it is, it's beautiful, and I understand the need to switch to a major key for the chorus, I simply prefer the haunting minor key by a fair bit. This would have been an issue with the original as well to be honest, but it's more noticeable on this one because of the much slower tempo of the song as a whole.

So yeah, it's easy to see why this is getting attention, and I think Megan O'Neill did a fantastic job at it, the song sounds gorgeous! I just think certain elements of the original composition don't translate quite as well here, that's all.

Title: White Lie by Lenii

Position: #13

Well, this isn't something I typically hear on Irish radio... a girl begging for this guy to drag her down to Hell in a pit of carnal sin, leaving her Catholic upbringing behind her. There's a lot of music like this out there on places like Bandcamp, which is only to be expected coming from a country which has had such conservative, religious roots for so many year, and even today in some places, so I can't exactly call this all that shocking.

And... this is pretty good! I like the gothic swell of the instrumentation, only slightly undercut by the minor trap elements. And I like Lenii as a singer, as she sort of splits the difference between Halsey and... well, like she says here, Tones & I. And the debaucherous chorus where she begs him to stop trying to be the bad guy and to just fuck her already, while it's nothing new, is made a bit more interesting because of the clear slap in the face to religious conservatives that peppers the lyrics.

My only gripe is that the production could afford to vary a bit more between the chorus and the verses, maybe add some more crunch and organic elements, but that's nitpicking, I do actually enjoy this a fair bit. As someone who had a very religious, sheltered upbringing, I'd be curious to check out more from her, not gonna lie.

Title: I Have A Love by For Those I Love

Position: #16

... FUCK, man! I will admit I was kinda blown away by Birthday/The Pain last week, but this time I was ready! For Those I Love had caught me off-guard once with their odd blend of electronica, soul samples and spoken word devastation, so I was steeling myself up with a sceptic's eye... and one listen later I had my head in my hands.

Unlike his single that dropped a couple of weeks back, this is a much older song, back from September of last year, as apparently many people, myself included, came across David Balfe's experimental solo project for the first time in the past month and rushed to hear more. Hence how we got this song, one where David's vocals are much more prominent in the mix, almost aggressive in their naked emotion, as he runs through incredible poetry in the first verse over a looped piano and a tangle of various other percussive instruments that all peel back for the soul sample on the hook!

It's the same formula, but this one feels a lot more sombre, interspersed with recordings of him and his friend Paul out on the road together, back when Paul was alive and they were just intent on having fun together. Because yeah, this is a tribute to his deceased friend, a love David still carries with him now, a love so strong that not even death can dampen it at all, as even now, it only drives him forwards. The lyrics are detailed, running through Paul's good times, his slow decline, and the aftermath of his eventual suicide. The poetry is incredible, especially in the second verse when he slips into that internal rhyme scheme so effortlessly, all the while keeping up that forceful tone of voice. And the instrumentation is layered and stunning, knowing exactly when to fade out ,and then coming back in full swing at the end!

In other words, last week wasn't a fluke, in fact this might be even better! So yeah, if you want to get on board early, now's the time guys, because as of now, For Those I Love's self-titled debut is my most anticipated album of 2021!

Title: Say Something by Jay Pryor & Chaya

Position: #20

I'll be perfectly honest, after sitting through I Have A Love, playing this, my first reaction was a mixture of frustration and relief. Annoyed that I had to follow up with a typical deep house song, but at least relieved it wouldn't give me much to say... and then the drop happened!

Make no mistake, this is NOT your average house song, and the first 30 seconds are incredibly deceptive! Sure, I thought it sounded a bit off-kilter, with the vocals almost seeming to be mildly off-beat, but when the drop hit... yeah, I fucking felt it! The impressive bass, the multiple melodies that continued on throughout the back of the mix, the main melody line that never goes away entirely, there's just SO much going on here! And not only is it danceable, but it then goes completely off-course into a blast of distorted... saxophone? And it sounds absolutely momentous, almost like the opening seconds The Weeknd's Real Life!

Then it all just builds again, and it genuinely feels like all the elements are rushing and crowding to be first on top of the mix, all before dropping back into that bassy dance beat, continuing until it fades out at the end! ... So um, yeah, if you thought I was too dismissive of NAVOS earlier, THIS is how it's fucking done, it's like if Arca made dance music! Apparently Jay Pryor got his production start working with Steve Aoki on Louis Tomlinson's Just Hold On, and has since worked on dance remixes for everyone from Niall Horan to Ty Dolla $ign to Khelani! Meanwhile Chaya's more of a local hero whose had some minor acclaim, but nothing on this level. Well, I sincerely hope his star takes off from here, because this is absolutely great 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. Top 10 Best Hits of 2019 WILL drop this next week dammit, so 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!

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Chicken Tendies actually isn’t about a romantic relationship. It’s about his relationship with his mom, who’s fundamentalist religious beliefs led her to emotionally neglecting him, until the relationship died out. The “he” in the song is God. Hopefully that makes more sense for why he wants her to call him.

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