Showing posts with label justin timberlake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label justin timberlake. Show all posts

Monday, June 10, 2019

the top ten worst hit songs of 2010 (VIDEO)

Well, this was a long time coming, but I'm happy this came out as loose and funny as it is. 

Next up... well, I put up a vote on Twitter and folks apparently wanted me to cover something else instead of AURORA and Silversun Pickups... so I've got a surprise in store. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

the top ten worst hit songs of 2010

...what, you thought these retrospective lists would only cover the best of the year? 

Yeah, eventually we were going to have to get here, and we might as well start with the first year in the 2010s left uncovered. But first, a quick recap of the chart trends of 2010, a year knee-deep in the club boom, somewhat evenly between the songs that believed the party would never end and those who were desperately pretending it wasn't happening at all. And what was telling was how both sides of that binary wound up on the best and worst lists, which you'd think would balance everything out. And yet that's where you'd be wrong, because the bad songs seemed to grossly outweigh the good in 2010 in hitting the lucrative balance between offensive, obnoxious, or just plain asinine. More to the point, it was also a year where flimsy production that's aged rather badly was everywhere on the Hot 100, and sometimes a song sounding like ass is all you need here.

Now granted, 2010 is one of those years where the factor of, 'Oh, this sucked, but nobody cares anymore so why revisit it', and that tends to be a hidden truth about the Hot 100 - bad trends age badly, but the songs are so disposable that nobody really cares all that much, which tends to paint the years as better than they might be. And while this is true for some forgotten crap, there'll also be hits on this list that somehow remain massive to this day, either because the artists are still celebrities - and probably shouldn't be - or the radio has entrenched them as staples because nobody with brain cells came in the day they decided on syndication. And again, the songs had to debut on the Hot 100 in 2010 - it's widely considered a pretty rough year for the charts, all the more tainted by the fact I personally spent way too much time in the club in 2010, so let's go back to the gungy afterparty rightly forgotten, and the morning hangover that somehow has not gone away, starting with...

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

the top ten best hit songs of 2018 (VIDEO)

So that's the next list out - okay, Billboard BREAKDOWN and two lists left to write (plus the last episode of Resonators for this season), so my work's cut out for me. Stay tuned!

the top ten best hit songs of 2018

So here's where things get hard - I already said in my last list that 2018 was a pretty bad year for the Hot 100... but was it, really? When I started putting together this list, I actually found a pretty sizable list of pretty good songs where I actually had to make some cuts. But note my choice of words: there were plenty of good songs, but very few great ones, especially if we're going to make any comparisons to previous years, and that makes the flagrant awfulness stand out all the more starkly. But to explain why... well, the bad songs were execrable results of gross trends and chart manipulation, but I honestly couldn't get too mad at the latter because if the songs were good, nobody would be complaining about it.

Sadly, this is where the second part of the album bomb conversation comes up, and how they can prove surprisingly detrimental to more than just the album itself. Sure, it might give promoters a clue how to push certain songs to become sleeper hits, but it also can burn people out on potential singles faster, and limits their chance to rise within the top 40 - you only need to look at how Post Malone mismanaged 'Candy Paint' for an example of that. And while the radio will occasionally get onboard with late album singles, in order to maintain relevance they wind up pushing the most stale and broadly sketched music imaginable to satiate as wide of an audience, which doesn't always align with quality. But what's perhaps most damaging about an album bomb is the aftershocks around it, where potentially weird or obscure tracks riding a slow groundswell might get knocked aside, especially if you're not a megastar or you're in a subgenre that doesn't get mainstream attention anyway! The one thing I could say about 2017 hits is that they brought an uncommon wealth of talent and critical acclaim to bear where they could wind up on both my list of hits and songs proper - 2018, not even close, especially when you consider how many artists disappointed or outright fell off this year.

And yet by some miracle, I've got a list of songs that debuted on the year-end Hot 100 in 2018 that I can credibly call the strongest of this year, even if they don't hold a candle to the best of, say, the majority of this decade, so let's start with our Honourable Mentions...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 17, 2018 (VIDEO)

Okay, so this was... actually pretty all over the place, but I'm happy I got the episode up regardless, it was a tough weekend to recover from.

Next up... well, it's coming fast, stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 17, 2018

So I've often said that the most interesting weeks on Billboard BREAKDOWN aren't the album bombs themselves, but the weeks right after them, where you see what survives, what continues on the downwards spiral, and what rushes in to fill the gaps when so much falls away. Now up until a few weeks ago I was certain that Justin Timberlake would be the one to fill much of what Migos spewed in with Culture II, but with an underwhelming Super Bowl performance and Man Of The Woods being panned as hard as it has been, that didn't really happen. As such, we're stuck with a pretty wild assortment... at least until the Black Panther soundtrack has a mini album bomb of its own in a week or two. But hey, if that means a mildly short week for me on the Hot 100, considering how much catchup I have to do after being laid up with food poisoning, I'll take what I can get!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 10, 2018 (VIDEO)

Alright, this went up late... and really, this one was painful to put out, so much fucking Migos...

But now onto something a little more local - stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 10, 2018

...well, we all knew this was coming. There were two pretty disruptive events on the Hot 100 this week and we all had a rough idea of the ramifications: the Grammys would trigger some shifts, and more importantly, Migos would unleash the album bomb of Culture II. Friendly warning, since I already covered that release my recaps of individual songs are going to be pretty short, and given we have seventeen new arrivals and there really isn't much to say about individual tracks from that record, I'm sure you'll understand.

Monday, February 5, 2018

video review: 'man of the woods' by justin timberlake

And that's the second review of the evening. Have to say I'm pretty pleased with this one too, especially considering I'm now (mostly) back on schedule!

So next up, I've got a local project to cover, but of course we've got Billboard BREAKDOWN too, so stay tuned...

album review: 'man of the woods' by justin timberlake

It's been a while since I've seen such a backlash against a pop artist, this sudden, this intense, as if folks have been waiting for just the right target for their knives. With Taylor Swift and reputation there was some of it, but the 'snake' heel turn first exploded in 2016, and the meltdown took over a year and a half to truly coalesce. With Justin Timberlake, with the combined double whammy of his album release and second Super Bowl performance, it seemed like all the cultural backlash was finally coming to a head...

And I'm already sick of it, partially because it feels like I'm one of the few who are taking notes surrounding the relative complexity of Timberlake's issues, and the level of historical revisionism going on really does not sit well, especially among some critics. What, you're only now taking issue with the fact the production on Justified was originally intended for Michael Jackson, and how Timberlake has been relatively remorseless in building his stage persona wholesale from Michael and Prince and other, better artists, even having the nerve to diss them? What, you're only now angry about how Timberlake seemingly got away scot-free with that stunt at the 2004 Super Bowl where Janet Jackson's career was shattered? What, you're only now realizing that so much of Timberlake's professional career has been the sort of audacious, ego-driven, style-over-substance, I-can't-believe-how-much-I'm-getting-away-with-this act that translates to his records being overblown, self-aggrandizing, and more sloppily written than anyone dared say? What, did you all forget he wrote 'Carry Out'?

But here's the thing: I get it. The 2000s were a weird, twisted decade that allowed Timberlake's embrace of futuristic artificiality to flourish, and it certainly helped he was backed up by some of the best producers of that time with The Neptunes and Timbaland. It was so easy to throw Janet and Michael and Prince under the bus - all of whom were straining under the weight of their own legacies with music that increasingly didn't measure up - all in the face of that veneer, which to his credit Timberlake could carry almost on ego and raw talent alone. And even into 2013 with his two 20/20 Experience records, he still got critical acclaim by many of the folks now lining up to crucify him - and if you go back to both of my reviews, I didn't share that acclaim, because I've never really been a Justin Timberlake fan at any point. Sure, he was a decent enough pop star, I don't think all of his success is unwarranted, but it's why so much of the historical revisionism here bothers the hell out of me - don't act like you guys weren't propping up the institutions that allowed Timberlake to get away with as much as he did, especially in 2013 where you let a Justin TImberlake ripoff named Robin Thicke dominate the charts with 'Blurred Lines', or last year, when it seemed like the quickest way to blow up as a trap rapper is to have sexual assault cases! And just like with Robin Thicke and Paula, when it looked like Timberlake was going to be exposing a more personal side of himself on Man Of The Woods, everyone saw this as the moment of vulnerability to pounce, especially if there was any sign the music might have slipped in quality. Now Timberlake has not helped himself here - the fact that he was tone-deaf enough to think he could get away with a Prince projection along side him at the half-time show was gross on a number of levels - but currently Man Of The Woods has a lower Metacritic score than Maroon 5's Red Pill Blues, and if that's not a sign the backlash has flown off the rails, I don't know what is, especially as I didn't think 'Filthy' or 'Supplies' were that bad! But okay, maybe like Paula it was that bad and Timberlake deserved it all... so what did we get on Man Of The Woods?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 3, 2018 (VIDEO)

So okay, up a little early this week... a little shorter too, but really, there was not much to say about this, I've said my piece on Drake too many times.

So okay, next up... hmm, probably close to having enough for Resonators, so stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - february 3, 2018

...okay, you know what? I'll say this for Drake: despite him being the biggest story of the week by a mile, there's a certain cold comfort in knowing it came from only two new songs and not twenty. And when Migos are coming next week with the sort of streaming numbers that indicate an album bomb, I'll take whatever the hell I can get!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - january 20, 2018 (VIDEO)

So for as short as this is, it actually wound up going up pretty late... hey, what I can say, I was busy.

But not enough that something might be dropping early this evening, so stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - january 20, 2018

I feel like this week is close to the flip side of the coin to the last - and I'm honestly not sure if that's better overall. Where last week the Top 10 was fairly static with a huge amount of upward movement and no significant losses - with a relatively small number of new arrivals - this week the top ten saw major disruption, the gains were pretty modest, and the losses and dropouts were quite significant... all with a relatively small number of new arrivals. Now, whether this makes this week better remains to be seen, but I'd argue it does seem to be a return to form, and thus is a little more interesting overall.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - may 28, 2016

And now... the cooldown week. After the past several weeks of instability, this is the return to the 'status quo' that is characterized by songs returning to old positions of strength and a ton of returning entries. So while to the outside viewer it might appear that there were a lot of shifts this week - and there were, let's not kid ourselves - most are just resets to a form of equilibrium as Drake and Beyonce's big debuts continue to fade away. As such, you'd think it'd be a quieter week, and for the most part it was...

Friday, September 27, 2013

video review: 'the 20/20 experience 2 of 2' by justin timberlake

Yes, I know it's late, but I do have a social life to keep up, and I went out before I could do any proper promotion. It happens.

So, coming up will either be Lorde or Alan Jackson. Probably the latter, because nobody else touches country, but you never know. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

album review: 'the 20/20 experience 2 of 2' by justin timberlake

Okay, let's try this again.

For those of you who don't know, I've already said my lengthy piece on Justin Timberlake earlier this year, and as much as I was hoping that my views would evolve or change, I'm still not the biggest fan of that album, and the majority of my issues with Justin Timberlake have unfortunately persisted six months later. For a brief recap, I did like some of the elements of The 20/20 Experience - the production, most of the instrumentation, and the fact that Justin seemed to be actually trying - but to me the album fell short because of serious bloat and the fact that the lyrics simply weren't up to the task of sustaining longer songs. These problems seemed to be linked to a few issues that have always stopped me from really liking Justin Timberlake, for as much class and swagger and professionalism he brings to pop music, I've never liked his towering ego or the fact that he never seemed to care as much about his art as other artists. Some acts seem like they make pop music because they want to enhance the medium or express deeply held emotions that they can't articulate any other way - Justin Timberlake, on the other hand, seems to make pop music just because he can, almost on a whim, and he's good enough to get away with such nonchalance when it comes to his career because he's seriously talented and supported by some of the best acts in the industry (particularly Timbaland, who is filling the role of Quincy Jones to Justin's Michael Jackson).

But that wasn't to deride the elements of The 20/20 Experience that worked - and really, it was an album that worked better in pieces than as a whole. I was happy to see 'Mirrors', the best song on the album and a favourite of mine, rise to chart success, but at the same time, it was also a song that was criticized for being a prime example of Justin Timberlake's hubris. And while that was certainly true, the bigger example of that arrogance for me was his sudden announcement in May that he was going to be releasing another album later this year, the follow-up to his March release called The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 (man, that's an awkward title - that 'of 2' doesn't fit well there), reportedly composed of extra material from the original recording sessions.

Now to me, this set off all kinds of warning bells. For one, it smacked of a cash-in - given how well The 20/20 Experience sold, it wasn't entirely surprising that Justin was looking to terminate the label obligations he clearly loathed by dropping a second record that year. But from an artistic angle, it also was a massive warning sign for me, because not only did it mean that Justin took the same recording methodology into the studio with him with the bloated songs and lack of restraint, but it also looked like these were the leftover tracks that weren't strong enough to make it to the first album (and judging by the disappointing chart performance of 'Take Back The Night', the first single, the public might agree). But even if they weren't and were grouped for the second album during the initial recording process... Jesus, JT, did you not learn the lesson that Billie Joe Armstrong and Green Day suffered through last year, releasing three albums of material in the space of months when they all could have been trimmed of the chaff and compressed down to a single, much more solid release? Furthermore, the element of expectation is completely gone here, and any element of wonder garnered from the return from hiatus is absent. To me, this album was a bad idea from the start, and I went in with low, low expectations about how well it would materialize.

So, how did The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 turn out?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

video review: 'the 20/20 experience' by justin timberlake

For those of you who have been following my blog, you've probably all seen this before - hell, it's the most viewed review here (something that still kind of baffles me) - and you're probably wondering why I bothered to record it. Well, since I discovered that The 20/20 Experience Part 2 is on the way at the end of this month, I figured that I should at least get my thoughts on YouTube to provide the slightest hint of context before the second review. 

Then again, I probably could have done better than an eighteen minute video. Eh, it happens.

Friday, July 5, 2013

album review: 'magna carta holy grail' by jay-z

For those of you who don't follow the Billboard charts and industry news, let me inform you of a recent development that has led to some controversy on music forums. 

Namely, that Jay-Z executed a business deal with Samsung, with the company buying one million copies of the record in order to distribute them to Samsung customers through a downloadable app three days early. In terms of a marketing strategy, it's kind of brilliant, and exactly what you'd expect from Jay-Z, but it led to an interesting controversy, for Jay-Z argued that every sale should be counted through the RIAA charts, giving an instant platinum record before a single CD hit shelves or iTunes. Through this move, Jay-Z would have the sort of instantaneous sales boom that would immediately outstrip his frequent collaborator Justin Timberlake on the Billboard 200 charts, a number one platinum album that sold at a speed unprecedented since the late 90s boy band wars.

Given this completely unprecedented business move, the RIAA moved swiftly to respond - although not precisely the way one would expect. In order to accommodate Jay-Z's scheme, they made it clear in a recent press release that platinum records could indeed be issued before the 30 day evaluation period in order to reflect the changing digital sales climate. Billboard, on the other hand, wasn't nearly so gracious, already stating that Jay-Z's plan would not be permitted to impact the charts. But then again, this is Billboard, whose choice to include YouTube streaming in response to PSY's 'Gangnam Style' about six months too late led to the motherfucking Harlem Shake leaping to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and staying there for five goddamn weeks, so I have no illusions regarding their competence.

But all of that said, I really do admire the business logic behind Jay-Z's scheme here, and the win-win-win spirit in which it was designed. He gets another platinum record, potent sales gains, and a boatload of cash (he's releasing the album on his own label), while Samsung gets an exclusive ad campaign that can potentially rope in new subscribers eager to grab Jay-Z's newest hit, and Samsung customers get the album a couple days early and for a reduced price. To be honest, I think Jay-Z gets the best deal of the three, but that doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Unlike, whose marketing strategy seems to be to annoy everyone attempting to hyperlink his name or get his album/songs to trend on Twitter, Jay-Z has enough business sense to utilize old school deals with modern delivery methods. If is the 'marketing savant', Jay-Z is the Forbes-topping CEO.

And make no mistake, that's not just an appraisal of the man, but his music as well. Jay-Z may have started in the same pit of gangster rap as Nas (who he held an intense rivalry with for several years), but he always aimed higher, with a crisp professionalism that definitely makes him stand out among his peers. He's called himself the 'new Sinatra', and as treasonous as this might sound, I definitely buy it. Like Justin Timberlake, he has the same blend of class and respectability, and with the intelligence to recruit top-of-the-line producers and performers for his material. His frequent collaborations with Kanye West might not make much sense until you realize that Kanye's one of the best names in the game when it comes to production, and Jay-Z knows he can exploit that while lending Kanye some dignity and class the younger artist has always craved, to say nothing of friendship. And while I wasn't a big fan of their collaboration album Watch The Throne, I was definitely appreciative of the elements that worked and how Jay-Z was more on point than he's been in a long time. And this isn't even touching his relationship with Beyonce, one that makes all too much sense when you consider the thesis of both their respective discographies: 'I'm better than you in every single way'. 

So if I have so many good things to say about Jay-Z, why is that I haven't ever really been able to connect with his music? Well, as I said with Justin Timberlake, sheer unbridled arrogance can really put me off if it isn't delivered with the talent to back it up - and make no mistake, there are swathes of Jay-Z's discographies where he hasn't been trying as much as he could have. And while I will admit Jay-Z's refusal to deal with stupid people or incompetence is admirable (particularly the persistent rumors that he was responsible for sabotaging Chris Brown's career for 2009 and 2010 after the assault on Rihanna, who was one of Jay-Z's proteges), it would help Jay-Z's case more if he managed to keep some distance from the collaborators who can't exactly deliver at his level (the collaboration album and tour with R. Kelly spring to mind). 

But it's not just that. As I've said before, I like when artists delve deeper, actually go for some challenging material that might expose vulnerabilities or humanity in the respective artists. It's ultimately why Kanye West, despite all of the many, many problems I have with him, remains interesting enough to entice me to listen to anything to which he's attached. Jay-Z, on the other hand, always seems to be holding the audience at arms' length. He doesn't open up or reveal much about himself beyond the positive or shallowest of subjects. Sure, he'll talk about major issues and he tends to have a greater breadth of songwriting topics than most (as I've said before, the man is seriously smart), but I don't really feel like I know Jay-Z in the way I know other rappers. Sure, he's has personality and some foibles, but outside of that, it can be hard to relate to the problems of a man who is stupefyingly rich and married to Beyonce. And you can definitely tell that Jay-Z is forcibly creating this distance, which makes it hard for me to get past the mask, presuming there is one.

So what does this mean for his new album, the intriguingly-titled Magna Carta Holy Grail?