Showing posts with label matt mcandrew. Show all posts
Showing posts with label matt mcandrew. Show all posts

Friday, December 26, 2014

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - january 3, 2015 (VIDEO)

Yep, I'm aware of the glitch in the top ten. Damn fader settings get me every time.

So in case you all know, I'm going to be going on vacation - but never fear, I'll still be posting as soon as I get a stable internet connection, so stay tuned!

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - january 3, 2015

Today is the first official week of 2015 for Billboard - which is a little odd, considering they start their year and it still is December, but this was the year where we both got the long-awaited finale of The Voice that notched six new hits. And while J. Cole managed to hold a little more momentum, unsurprisingly, most of this week belonged to Nicki Minaj, for better or for worse.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - december 27, 2014

This week, it was all about upward momentum. As the rest of 2014 continues to drop away, the new 'hits' for 2015 are rising to take their place, whether we want them or not. Plus, with the continued onslaught of Christmas music and The Voice, the biggest surprise arrivals came from the biggest album of the week that debuted with little promotion and no open airplay - and in a really nice change of pace, some of the best songs from that album are the ones that landed on the charts, which is awesome.

I'll elaborate more on that in a bit, but it's time to start with our Top 10! Lots of movement this week... well, outside of the top two, that is. Unsurprisingly, 'Blank Space' by Taylor Swift has a stranglehold on #1 thanks to finally taking the top in airplay to match her dominance in sales and YouTube, but Hozier's 'Take Me To Church' isn't going down without a fight, with steady airplay gains supplementing strong sales and absolutely monstrous streaming. Yet right below that we've got 'Uptown Funk' by Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars reaching a new peak at #3, with a very similar pattern to Hozier in that they're just waiting for airplay to catch up to strong sales and streaming. And at #4 we've got 'Lips Are Moving' by Meghan Trainor, who owes most of her success to YouTube, with only decent streaming and sales keeping her solid as her airplay slowly picks up. And with the first movement in three weeks we've got 'I'm Not The Only One' by Sam Smith stepping up to #5, who really owes his success to just being consistent across the board and those above him losing steam and dropping out. 

Now we'll get to those, but now we've got to talk about our surprise new arrival to the top 10 at #6, 'Thinking Out Loud' by Ed Sheeran, who really owes the majority of his success to massive streaming and YouTube and pretty damn solid sales as his airplay struggles to catch up. Honestly, I'm not the biggest fan of the song - it's a little too sleepy and Ed Sheeran has better songs off of x - but I've got nothing against the song and it works for what it is as a sincere, passionate love song and it's nice to see a guitar solo in the Top 10. But beneath him are two songs that look to be on the way out, 'All About That Bass' by Meghan Trainor at #7 and 'Animals' by Maroon 5 - effectively for the same reasons too, hemorrhaging airplay and weaker numbers across the board, with only YouTube giving Meghan Trainor the edge. 'Love Me Harder' by Ariana Grande ft. The Weeknd steps up to #9, holding steady thanks to consistent airplay gains and huge streaming even despite a weak sales week, which leaves 'Shake It Off' by Taylor Swift to cling to #10 pretty much on YouTube alone. I see it dropping out of the Top 10 next week, unless it somehow gets a boost.

Next up we have our drop-outs and losers, and there was a fair number of the former. '0 To 100/The Catch Up' by Drake, 'Day Drinking' by Little Big Town, and thankfully 'Burnin' It Down' by Jason Aldean all drop to recurring, but 'i' by Kendrick Lamar and 'Look At You' by Big & Rich lost even more steam to drop off after even less. And it looks like there's a few more on a similar path - 'Fireball' by Pitbull ft. John Ryan drops to 88, 'Yellow Flicker Beat' by Lorde continues its tumble down to 86 as more people forget about Mockingjay, and mercifully the disaster that I spoke at length on - 'God Made Girls' by RaeLynn - drops back to #71. Only wish I could claim credit for it. As for the other losers, there are only two major drops, 'Make It Rain' by Ed Sheeran - unsurprising, given it was a song tied to Sons of Anarchy and the show ended just over a week ago - and 'Mary Did You Know?' by Pentatonix. And I would be surprised this song dropped again, especially given the Christmas season, but it's been bouncing around since its debut, so no real surprise.

And speaking of Christmas, let's take a look at our gainers, two of which owe their success to the holidays. Mariah Carey unsurprisingly rises ten slots to #40 with 'All I Want For Christmas Is You', and Ariana Grande leaps back up #64 with 'Santa Tell Me'. And in other, less obvious examples of holiday cheer, Carrie Underwood continues finding Jesus with 'Something In The Water' rising to #38, Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe sing about exes trying to find solace together on 'Lonely Tonight' jumping considerably to #54, Usher's 'I Don't Mind' continues its steady climb to #37 by not judging a woman who's a stripper, and 'I Lived' by OneRepublic has that general uplifting holiday feel so I'm guessing that's why it jumped up to #67, along with 'Heroes (We Could Be)' by Alesso ft. Tove Lo bounced up to #35, the latter proving EDM isn't quite dead yet. Yet, there are other songs that got a boost that have significantly less holiday cheer. 'G.D.F.R.' by Flo Rida ft. Sage The Gemini and Lookas gains to #87 despite being the blatant 'Talk Dirty' ripoff that it is, and 'Just Gettin' Started' by Jason Aldean goes to #84 because 'Burnin' It Down' is gone and the charts need something to replace it. And yet worst of all, 'Only' by Nicki Minaj ft. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown rocketed up to #12. That's right, this is within spitting distance of the Top 10. I'll keep this quick: Nicki Minaj is the only redeeming feature of this song, the synth line is pathetically underweight, every single guest star embarrasses themselves, with Drake probably sounding the worst, and it's easily the worst track on The Pinkprint and single-handedly responsible for knocking that album back. It's an atrocious track coasting by on cheap gossip and controversy to be successful, and the fact Nicki put this garbage on her album instead of 'Win Again' or 'Truffle Butter' - the latter of which has Drake and Lil Wayne on it - is a sign Young Money's management need their heads examined. Preferably with 2x4s.

But ignoring that piece of shit, let's talk about our recurring entries!

Oh wow, I didn't expect this. I've never been a fan of Darius Rucker or his former band Hootie & The Blowfish - they were the sort of adult-alternative act that bored the piss out of me and generally catered to those who wanted the least threatening music possible. So Darius Rucker transitioning to make country didn't surprise me, but 'Wagon Wheel' was a damn good song - mostly because it was cowritten by Bob Dylan, but still! This, though - wow, talk about selling out. From the incredibly clean production to the by-the-numbers forgettable songwriting that features repeating words to fill up space for no good reason to Darius Rucker trying to add swagger to his voice and failing miserably, this is desperation personified in a song. Darius Rucker is desperately trying to leap on the bro-country bandwagon, but this is the end of 2014, and outside of a few exceptions, bro-country has effectively collapsed. This... this is just embarrassing for everyone involved. Next!

Yeah, I can't even lie, I think this song is actually pretty damn good, regardless of whether this song is about Harry Styles or not - it's got that retro-old school glam vibe with the tight 80s synthpop guitar line that actually carries a melody throughout the whole song, punchy beat, and Taylor giving a surprisingly passionate performance. Yeah, there is an element of self-love to this song, but it's also balanced out by both partner in the relationship recognizing their own flaws and screw-ups. There's balance and nuance here, and I can appreciate that.

Okay, now we're onto our list of new arrivals - most of which I've already talked about in some capacity, which hopefully means this will be pretty easy. Starting with...

100. 'Break The Rules' by Charli XCX - I've already talked at length about this song in my Sucker review, but I will say it's got one of the better melodies from the record, especially in the synth breakdown right after the chorus. But as much as I like most of this song, there are still problems - the EDM crescendo over the chorus always feels a little overstuffed to me and detracts from a pretty damn solid textured bassline and lyrically... seriously, 'discotheque'? Who says that? And seriously, if that's her definition of 'breaking the rules', I'm not all that impressed.

98. 'When I Was Your Man' by Chris Jamison - we got a lot of piano ballads in 2013, and 'When I Was Your Man' by Bruno Mars was one of the better ones - pretty basic, but filled with genuine regret for being a shitty boyfriend, and Bruno Mars does a lot to sell it. But honestly, I might honestly like Chris Jamison's version even more. The thinner piano tone, the fragments of organ, and Jamison throws himself into it with a ton of passion and that falsetto... it was impressive, and it's not surprising he landed in the finals... only to lose, but we'll get to that.

95. 'No Role Modelz by J.Cole - of the two J.Cole songs that landed on the charts this week, this is definitely the weaker one, and it highlights a lot of the problems I had with 2014 Forest Hills Drive, especially with J.Cole's issues with women. Yeah, there's self-awareness in the song, about how thin his fame might feel being a 'b-list celebrity', and yeah, it's got a pretty damn slick melody line, but it highlights the incredibly shaky moral high ground on which J.Cole is standing. For as much as he rants about not wanting reality show starlets, he's still screwing them anyway and behaving like a condescending dick about it, spending most of the outro calling her shallow. Sure, it's the life she chose - hell, it's the life he chose too, and he tries to justify it by saying 'no role models', but with the self-awareness undercutting the track it doesn't justify his actions, and it sure as hell means you should treat her with some respect. And it really bugs me when he ends his verse with a shout, 'Martin Luther King would have been on Dreamville'! Yeah, evoking one of the most important figures in the civil rights movement on your track about calling women shallow - self-awareness or not, that makes you look like an asshole. The more I hear this song, the less I like it.

93. 'Come Join The Murder' by The White Buffalo & The Forest Rangers - okay, we've got another song from Sons of Anarchy on the chart, and unlike 'Make It Rain', this one is more on the country side of folk. And it's less of a murder ballad than a song about falling to temptation thanks to the darkness in oneself - and yet the tone of the song is a little weird to me. A lot of major chords on the chorus melody, reasonably clean guitar tones, the backing vocals coming in for the later choruses, it feels a little too upbeat, not quite as dark as one would expect for the subject matter. Solid guitar solo and some good texture, and the songwriting has some power, but I think this song could have afforded to go a little darker, and it does feel a little long. Still good, but it could have been great.

90. 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' by Sam Smith - okay, when you think of Christmas singers to evoke a jovial atmosphere of holiday cheer, Sam Smith would not be the artist topping my list. That said, 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' is one of the better choices for him, as it can be played with a melancholy touch, which Sam Smith does. As it is - look, I'm not a Sam Smith fan. He's got a good voice, but he's got a certain austerity to his delivery that lacks real driving soul to me, which means even by the standards of depressing Christmas songs, this doesn't really do much for me. Sorry.

81. 'Make It Rain' by Matt McAndrew - I already talked about this song last week when it was covered by Ed Sheeran, so with its sudden success I wasn't surprised to see it land on The Voice. And yet it doesn't work nearly as well, mostly because Matt McAndrew's voice or instrumentation doesn't have the snarl or raw potency to make it all that gripping. I can see playing it a little closer to gospel, but Ed Sheeran's rougher, more hollow production is just a much better fit for the song. In other words, McAndrew's cover fails because of something he really can't control - he's on a reality show designed to appeal to the mass-public, and what was once a song accompanying a grimy show about a biker gang becomes neutered as a result.

73. 'Wet Dreamz' by J.Cole - see, this is so much better, and it gets there by being a much better representation of J.Cole at his best. I've already talked about this extensively when I reviewed 2014 Forest Hills Drive, so I'll restate what I said before: one of the best songs of the album that works thanks to a great old-school beat and melody and J.Cole's deeper, more vulnerable songwriting in a story about losing his virginity. The details are what makes the song work as well - you can buy this high school story about him trying to be a big shot to win over a girl even though he was a virgin, only to realize she was relying on him for the exact same thing. It's the sort of aggressively real song you rarely ever see on the Hot 100, and the fact that this song landed while J.Cole's actual single from the album didn't even crack the chart is very tell. Damn great song.

59. 'The Old Rugged Cross' by Craig Wayne Boyd - okay, there's a bit of a story behind this song, which was written over a hundred years ago by George Bennard and has held up as a reliable country gospel standard that's been covered by dozens of artists from Johnny Cash to Al Green, from George Jones to Merle Haggard, to Alan Jackson to Brad Paisley. So after listening to a whole slew of those covers before checking out Craig Wayne Boyd - the best being a toss-up between Al Green and Alan Jackson - how does his turn out? Well, considering it's a country gospel song being played on network television, about as well as you can expect. It's not surprising Craig Wayne Boyd won The Voice, because he's one of the few singers who has vocal texture, but I can't say I loved the overstated vocals or bombast of his cover with the belting. Granted, I prefer it over Merle Haggard's downbeat monologue over one of the verses, but there's a middle ground, and I'm not sure he got there. Incredible voice, though.

So that's our week - overall, a pretty damn good week for new chart arrivals, which makes my choice of a favourite this week tricky... oh, who am I kidding? Despite my harsh words, 'Wet Dreamz' by J.Cole easily walks away with it, with probably 'Style' by Taylor Swift as the runner up. Worst is no contest - Darius Rucker's ridiculous and embarrassing stab at bro-country with 'Homegrown Honey', with Matt McAndrew not managing to follow Ed Sheeran's lead with 'Make It Rain'. Overall, though, I can't complain, and let's hope it's a good sign for weeks to come - although knowing what I do in terms of album tracks that'll probably chart next week, I doubt it.