Wednesday, July 19, 2017

DrogeMiester's Billboard Analysis - July 29, 2017

The new Billboard charts have arrived and so it's time again for me to give you my thoughts! In this weekly post, I cover three sections. First, I give my thoughts on the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. Second, I give my thoughts on the songs that experienced significant gains below the top 10. Third, I give my initial thoughts on our new arrivals this week. I reserve the right to switch things up in the future, but for now this is what I'm sticking with. I've followed the Billboard charts for a long time now and this is a great way for me to express my thoughts to the world. I hope you enjoy!

Billboard Hot 100 Top 10:

1- "Despacito" - Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber (=) -- "Despacito" is now the 35th song in the nearly 60 year history of the Hot 100 to make it No. 1 for 10 weeks or longer, 33 of which came in 1992 or later following the formation of the Nielsen SoundScan, which made tracking easier, more efficient and more accurate. That's an average of 1.32 per year since 1992. Narrowing it down even more, this is the 10th song to hit the mark this decade so far and 8th since 2014, with exactly two songs a year thus far since 2014. "Shape of You" was the other song in 2017 to hit at least 10 weeks. Now out of the previous 34 songs that were No. 1 for at least 10 weeks, 33 of them stalled out before they could make it past 14 weeks, with "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men being the lone song that made it to 16 weeks and that was back in 1995 when "One Sweet Day" began its reign at top. So if we play the percentages, "Despacito" only has four more weeks at most on top. But now the question is what's going to stop it? Or will it be the song to finally tie or break Mariah's record? If we look at the numbers, this week "Despacito" had 124,000 sales, 60.3 million U.S. streams and 145 million in all-format airplay audience, which is No. 1 for each category while only declining slightly from the previous week. Compare that to our second place's numbers...

2- "Wild Thoughts" - DJ Khaled featuring Rihanna & Bryson Tiller (+2) -- Rihanna is rising fast on radio with 96 million in all-format airplay audience, up 23 percent from last week, but only had 42,000 sales and 37.5 million U.S. streams, both of which were down from the previous week. So unless "Despacito" suddenly tanks and/or "Wild Thoughts" surges, the math here isn't screaming a dethroning anytime soon. You've gotta think that something else has to step to the plate if "Despicato" is to be stopped. But that's the problem. We have no takers as again our top five is mostly the same from last week and that's not due to these songs performing super well in the major metrics. There's just nothing rising. Now we have 16 new arrivals this week, thanks in part to JAY-Z's new album. You've gotta hope that SOMETHING from this bunch steps it up.

3- "I'm the One" - DJ Khaled featuring Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper & Lil Wayne (-1) -- Thankfully it now looks certain that this pile of horse crap won't ever make it back to No. 1, or perhaps even No. 2, now that the Rihanna song above it has legit radio momentum for some strange reason. But with 11 weeks in this top three, this song has definitely overstayed its welcome... by like 11 weeks. But with the rate it's taking for our current top five to leave the region, we probably have like 10-15 more weeks of suffering through this jumbled, boring nonsense.

4- "That's What I Like" - Bruno Mars (-1) -- Falling back to No. 4 this week, Bruno Mars has now celebrated 21 weeks in the top five for this song, with only one of those weeks being at the top spot. Can we send it away now? Please?

5- "Shape of You" - Ed Sheeran (=) -- Since I'm keeping track this week, Ed Sheeran has now spent 27 weeks in the top five with this monster hit. And guess what? That ties the record for most weeks in the top five. The record set by The Chainsmokers with "Closer" earlier this year. When "Closer" FINALLY left the top five, it was only in the top 10 for three more weeks. Please let that be the case here! And for the love of everything that is right, let's kick this out sooner rather than later. I don't hate this song, but it's been in the top five since its debut back in late January. Ridiculous. Surprisingly, there are great songs that have been written and released this year, but it's "Shape of You" and "Closer" that is going to define this generation of music. That's so sad.

6- "Humble." - Kendrick Lamar (=) -- On the other hand, "Humble." has been in the top 10 for 15 weeks now and I'm really happy that it has managed to hold on so well. It's now looking like it just may make my end of year list of the most popular songs of 2017, something I didn't think it was going to do a month ago. So there's one silver lining for you.

7- "Believer" - Imagine Dragons (=) -- You know what, if it means kicking out ANYTHING from our current top five, I'll take a sub-par Imagine Dragons song. After jumping up to No. 6, it's now stayed at No. 7 for two weeks, so maybe it can hold on long enough to see the songs below it collapse. But I'll only take that as a temporary band-aid. I'd rather this song leave asap as well.

8- "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back" - Shawn Mendes (+6) -- No. So much no. I want new blood in this top 10, but I'd honestly rather see everything stay the same than see this song as the replacement. It's not a good Shawn Mendes song. The only thing that this punk kid has proven is that he is only capable of writing boring, bland, forgettable pop music. But for some reason it seems that his team must've paid a huge sum of money to every radio station in this country, because no station can stop playing his music even though none of us like it. Sure, you may claim that this isn't quite as bad as "Stitches" or "Treat You Better," but that's like claiming being hit by a car is less painful than getting hit by a bus. It might be true, but in the long run it doesn't mean much as it's still extremely painful and doesn't give me any consolation. At least Shawn's buddy Charlie isn't here this week as well. But please excuse me while I go knock on some wood real quick.

9- "Unforgettable" - French Montana featuring Swae Lee (+1) -- I'm not going to necessarily actively cheer on this song, but if it slowly sneaks ahead of all of the songs ahead of it, I'm not going to be complaining. If it's now required to have a rap song in the top 10 at all times, I'll take this. And speaking of rap songs, "XO Tour Llif3," "Mask Off" and "Congratulations" are now all gone.

10- "Body Like a Back Road" - Sam Hunt (-2) -- Top priority. Get this abomination out of here and throw it in the depths of Hell where it can burn and rot forever. I'm absolutely ashamed for America that this has even shown up in the Hot 100 at all, let alone in the top 10 for four weeks.

Rising on the Hot 100:

13- "Attention" - Charlie Puth (+2) -- With 16 new arrivals this week flooding the charts, there wasn't a whole lot of room for a ton of risers. That'll happen next week when the nine JAY-Z songs slide down following the debut. But for now we have a decent handful that snuck up anyways, unfortunately led by this one. Mr. Mendes jumped right into the top 10 this week, leaving Mr. Puth behind. I have to be objective here and think that this won't be too far behind, though. I'm not super happy about it, though. If it gets stuck right here, I will be ecstatic.

14- "Redbone" - Childish Gambino (+2) -- I wish that this song would go to the top 10. It's stalled out here in the mid-teens, but I'm happy to see it recover a bit this week as it goes back to it's No. 14 peak. Maybe Donald Glover's role in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" recently can somehow help his song go higher. Because, yes, that's who this is. How many people have had a hit movie and a hit song out at the same time that were completely coincidental of one another?

19- "Slow Hands" - Niall Horan (+3) -- At least it's "Slow Hands" by Niall hitting the top 20 this week and not "Strip That Down" by Liam. Although I'd still really like it if it were "Sign of the Times" at this spot. But for some reason we threw that one in the trash. I don't get it.

49- "Felices Los 4" - Maluma (+12) -- Maluma has now hit top 50! Now if he does a remix with Justin Bieber, he might jump to No. 1 for 10 plus weeks. I kid, of course. I don't REALLY want that to happen. But this is around where the original "Despacito" was before the Bieber remix sent it skyrocketing. Now I would think it would be cool if a Latino song hit "Despacito" heights WITHOUT adding an English-speaking pop star to the song (I was about to say a U.S. pop star, but I reminded myself that Bieber is Canadian). But I don't think that'll happen.

53- "Mi Gente" - J Balvin & Willy William (+17) -- However, we are certainly trying. The success of "Despacito" has opened the door for a lot of Latino singers to find success in the U.S. Now we have "Mi Gente" knocking on the door of the top 50 after debuting last week. I am totally down with that, especially since it sends a bit of French up the charts with it.

66- "Most Girls" - Hailee Steinfeld (+26) -- Is it weird that I forgot this song existed after it debuted and kinda fizzled out last month. But now it gets a sudden surge and I'm not the happiest. Did Hailee release a video or something? Because this nearly 30 spot jump has seemingly come out of nowhere and I don't care to figure out why. I just hope it dies again next week.

68- "Rake it Up" - Yo Gotti featuring Nicki Minaj (+10) -- Of course this song rises this week. But only 10 spots. One can only hope that it doesn't go higher.

72- "Escapate Conmigo" - Wisin featuring Ozuna (+12) -- That's three fun Latino songs making this rising songs section this week. Certainly no coincidence and I'm happy with it.

New Arrivals:

23- "The Story of O.J." - JAY-Z -- The 13th studio album from JAY-Z has dropped and in addition to the album earning the top spot on the Billboard 200, nine of the ten songs have shown up this week on the Hot 100. This is the second track from the album. I feel this song has a lot of depth and meaning to it, especially for JAY-Z personally and the black culture in general. JAY-Z samples the 1966 song "Four Women" by Nina Simone, which tells the stories of four black women from the days of Slavery to the present day. JAY-Z integrates that throughout his song as he gives themes very much similar to Simone's song while comparing the story of O.J. Simpson to him and his culture. I don't necessarily understand that comparison fully because O.J. was a man who had all the fame and riches in the world as one of the best RB's in NFL history, but then threw that all away by killing his wife, a charge he was found innocent of even though everyone knows he did. Well, sometimes karma comes back to bite you as O.J. now finds himself in prison for armed robbery and other such charges while having a parole hearing coming soon. I don't know how all of this fits in with JAY-Z's song. Maybe he's speaking in general terms of the rise and fall of power that many celebrities experience as JAY-Z talks a lot about money and how to wisely and possibly unwisely use it. But I don't know. I feel the emotion here, so I'll give this a good pass while letting it marinate in my mind for a while.

25- "Praying" - Kesha -- I was hoping this song would chart high and I'm glad to see it has, even though I was a bit worried because female singers for whatever reason have been rejected on the Billboard charts this year. But here we have the triumphant return of Kesha to the Billboard charts, without that annoying dollar in her name. There's so much to say about this song, so I'm going to do my best to be brief. I listen to this song and I obviously see it as a personal response to her legal troubles she's been having with Dr. Luke. For the most part, I actually side with Dr. Luke in the legal case as I think Kesha was being an attention-seeking drama queen, spewing out false facts about everything and successfully getting an emotional reaction out of millions of people who refused to look into the facts of the case. For that I am super annoyed with her. But despite that, I absolutely love this song, because I do my best to separate the actual music from the personal life. And this is a powerful anthem with a lot of emotion and pain embedded in. Even though you can tell what she's referring to, the lyrics are vague enough for it to not matter that much. What we get is the story of a girl that's been put through Hell and is finally released from the pain and is choosing to focus on how strong it has made her while wishing the best for the person who caused her this pain. Regardless of my feelings about the legal battle, I can feel the genuine emotion in this song and it's backed up by perhaps the most powerful vocals I've heard yet from Kesha. Musically speaking, I've always been hit and miss with Kesha and you'll notice that if "Woman" hits next week (spoiler: I think it's an awful song). But I give credit where credit is due and "Praying" is phenomenal.

33- "Bank Account" - 21 Savage -- New 21 Savage album is out. And does anyone care? Well, apparently they do because he debuted at No. 33. But luckily he only has two songs for me to cover and I'm going through them quickly because I don't give a crap about 21 Savage and I want to focus on our other songs from him. So I listened to the first minute of this song and checked for a few things. First, does he mumble? Yes, he does. Like always, I can barely understand him. Second, is copying Migos? Yes, he is. Mumbling sound effect rap. Oh joy. And third, when I read the lyrics for the song, are they any good. But of course not. So I pass. I have better things to do than spend any more time with this garbage of a musician.

35- "4:44" - JAY-Z -- This is the fifth track from JAY-Z's album. It's also the title track of the album and is an open apology letter to his wife, Beyonce. There's a lot of honest, raw emotion in this song as he apologizes to Beyonce for not being the man he should be. I like it. The song is titled "4:44" because that's the time JAY-Z woke up in the morning to write and/or record this song. The length of the song is also 4:44, so that's cool. And it works very well as the title track of the album. An apology letter to your wife is a good thing to center your new album on. We also have a sample from the song "Late Nights & Heartbreak" by Hannah Williams & The Affirmations, which does a great job of fitting in with the flow of the song and setting the stage. And he stuck it right in the center of the album with his Beyonce collaboration, "Family Feud" coming directly after it.

47- "Bam" - JAY-Z featuring Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley -- This is the seventh track from JAY-Z's album. It's also the second time a Marley has shown up on the Hot 100 this year, with the first being Skip Marley as featuring on Katy Perry's "Chained to the Rhythm." Damian is the youngest son of the legendary Bob Marley and I really loved it when he opened and closed the song and showed up occasionally throughout. I simply enjoy the Jamaican reggae that the Marleys bring to the table. The JAY-Z stuff in the song isn't that interesting, though. It's kinda the exact opposite of his opening song, "Kill Jay Z." While that song is about him trying to kill his ego and become a different man, this is a song where he's kinda pompous and rude, saying he needs a bit of an ego to feel famous. So I don't think it fit well with the rest of the album. And I also got bored of his rap halfway through.

51- "Family Feud" - JAY-Z featuring Beyonce -- This is the sixth track from JAY-Z's album. After the beautiful apology that JAY-Z wrote for his wife in the song "4:44," which comes right before this one as the two songs are the dead center of the album, I was hoping for a good collaboration between him and Beyonce where they discuss their challenges and their relationship. But I was disappointed because that's not what I got. Instead this is a call to the black community to come together, which is good, I suppose. But the song isn't about him and Beyonce. In fact, she is relegated to back-up vocals in this song. She gives a few "Amen's" and lots of "Ha-ya's," but that's it. Now if I were to forget my expectations and instead focus on what the song is, I still don't think it has a ton of emotion in what he is saying and thus it feels very average compared to his other songs on the album.

52- "Sorry Not Sorry" - Demi Lovato -- We got Kesha earlier, Demi now and Selena later. The ladies are making an attempt to let their voice be heard. We'll see if the public accepts them. While I do love Kesha's new anthem, I'm not super madly in love with Demi's anthem here. She brings a lot of fire and attitude to the table as she's rubbing it hard in the face of whoever it is that hurt her because she's come out on top and she says it must hurt for this guy (I assume) to see her in this great of a position. The vocals are there. The attitude is there. But in Demi's case I think there's a little too much attitude and not enough emotion behind it. But compared to all of the trash that has shown up on the charts, I would be willing to get behind this if America accepts and embraces it. Demi's done better, but she's also done a lot worse.

55- "Kill Jay Z" - JAY-Z -- This is the opening track from JAY-Z's album. Going into this album, it's worth mentioning that I've never really been a JAY-Z fan, but I don't remember being as annoyed with him as I have been with other rappers. So I went into this album with an open mind, hoping that I would get something close to Kendrick Lamar's recent album that I enjoyed. At the very least I was hoping that it wouldn't be as boring as Drake or as annoying as Migos. This opening track certainly gave me hope. Now I always am confused as to how I'm supposed to stylize JAY-Z, so I went to the official track listing on my Apple Music to make sure I had it right. And at the moment, JAY-Z is the correct to stylize it, but the title of the song does indeed stylize it at Jay Z. It wasn't a Billboard mistake. And with that being correct, I was hoping that was intentionally a reference of JAY-Z wanting to forget about his old self and move forward as a new man. Put his past behind him. Hakuna Matata. Turns out that's exactly what this is. It's not someone wanting to kill JAY-Z or JAY-Z wanting to commit suicide. He's wanting to become a new man and I respect that!

56- "Smile" - JAY-Z featuring Gloria Carter -- This is the third track from JAY-Z's album. After having to try to decode a whole lot of meaning in "The Story of O.J.," it was nice for the third song to be more straightforward. Long story short, life can be really tough, but it really helps if you smile. Pretty basic, right? But when I say long story, I do mean long story. This song is nearly five minutes long, which isn't an awful length. But I did feel like it could've been a minute or two shorter and had the same effect. Gloria Carter here is JAY-Z's mother, who is revealed to be a lesbian in the song, which is affirmed by a nearly minute long outro to end the song where she talks about living in the shadows of a double life and how it's easier to smile and be yourself. That was an interesting choice to have a monologue from his mother to end the song. It did feel like we paused the album to hear from his mother as opposed to it feeling like the end of a song. But I appreciated the message she had to share. Throw in there a Stevie Wonder sample and we have quite the unique song here with a lot going on. But as I said, perhaps a bit more concise would've been better.

63- "Caught Their Eyes" - JAY-Z featuring Frank Ocean -- This is the fourth track from JAY-Z's album. And it's one that I found slightly boring. I think Frank Ocean brought a nice, smooth groove to the song, but overall the song just felt like a song to be played in the background and not one that was really necessary to pay too much attention to. But then in the second half it turns into a diss track towards Prince's people. Apparently Prince, who was always super picky with how his music was streamed, gave JAY-Z permission to stream his music on JAY-Z streaming service. Following his death, Prince's people are now suing JAY-Z over this and he is bitter. Or something like that. I'm not a fan of diss tracks, generally speaking, so this didn't help the song for me.

86- "Moonlight" - JAY-Z -- This is the eighth track from JAY-Z's album. And it seems like JAY-Z ran of out gas on the second half of this album after a very promising start. This particular song is called "Moonlight," after the best picture winning movie of the same name. Although it appears that instead of referencing events that happen in the movie, he does more referencing of how La La Land was announced as the best picture winner before it was realized that Moonlight actually won. He starts the chorus by saying he's stuck in La La Land and even when he wins, he loses. It's not an interesting song and it's also fairly short. So it makes sense that it only landed at No. 86.

89- "Glorious" - Macklemore featuring Skylar Grey -- Oh man, I haven't jammed out this hard to a rap song since... probably Macklemore's previous singles. Whenever those happened. I don't make it a secret that I'm not a fan of rap, but if all rappers were as vibrant, upbeat and awesome as Macklemore, I would love the genre. What he's rapping about is simple here. He's just saying he's back and feels glorious. But the beat is so catchy and fun that it reminds me of "Can't Hold Us." Yet if you look at the lines he gives, there's a lot of subtle genius in them that make me smile as he talks about faith, peace and what's most important in life. And his fast-paced rap is so fun to listen to that he doesn't even need Skylar Grey, but she's there anyway, and like Ray Dalton in the aforementioned "Can't Hold Us," she provides a nice, pop balance to the song. And she even completely takes over for the final 90 seconds of the song. I like Skylar Grey and I want more of her in the music world, so it's nice to see her on this track and I hope both of them find success with this.

90- "Marcy Me" - JAY-Z -- This is the ninth track from JAY-Z's album. There's one more on song on the album called "Legacy," which is actually a decent closer for the album, but it didn't chart here, so this is the final song we'll talk about. The song finds JAY-Z rambling on a bit, doing a lot of reminiscing and seeing how many random references to a whole lot of things that he can shove in the song. But it's also a fairly short song and even shorter for JAY-Z's part. He raps for a mere two minutes before letting the singer, rapper and producer named The-Dream finish off the final 54 seconds. In an ironic turn of events, those final 54 seconds are the only part of the song I found interesting as JAY-Z's bit I found a bit boring.

91- "Get Low" - Zedd & Liam Payne -- So moral of the story is that Liam Payne is desperate? First he does a bland, awful pop song with Quavo thrown in and now he tries for an EDM hit with Zedd? Sounds like someone who is just trying to be popular and famous instead of going the route of Harry Styles, who obviously wrote the music he cared about. Or is it the other way around with Zedd crying to Liam Payne, hoping he'll be another boost for him? But eh. Oh well. At least this is better than Liam's "Strip that Down" as well as Zedd's "Stay." Lyrically Liam is trying to hard to write a sexy song that doesn't come off as super sexy. It's not bad, but it's not great. However, if you search "Get Low" and Dillon Francis and DJ Snake's song with that title comes up instead, you should just listen to that. It's not a very clean song, but it has one of the absolute best drops and is super fun. Better than Liam's attempt to be sexy with an average Zedd beat in the background.

92- "Fetish" - Selena Gomez featuring Gucci Mane -- It's interesting that out of our three major female-led releases this week, they ordered themselves rather nicely from best to worst. Kesha's new single is phenomenal. Demi's new single is alright. Selena's new single is straight up bad. And I actually grew to really like "Bad Liar" and I loved "It Ain't Me" from day one, so I was intrigued by the direction she was going. But this is just a sloppy mess. She goes back to desperately trying to be super sexy, something she does way too much of, and in this instance it comes off as super foul with absolutely zero emotion or vocal range. Then we have our cliche third-verse rapper attached to the song. And in this case, Gucci successfully does what he does mess. Jump onto a messy song and make it smell worse. The man is a disgrace when it comes to musical talent and I'm embarrassed that our tone-deaf country continues to make him a thing.

94- "Famous" - 21 Savage -- Oh a second song from 21 Savage? At least he's not doing a Migos impression this time. But I can still only barely understand him and his lyrics aren't interesting. So I'm done here. Meanwhile, I'll just laugh at 21 Savage that he had horrible timing with releasing his album at the same time as JAY-Z and thus got completely shafted when it came to charting songs on the charts. Try again next time, 21. On second thought, how about you just don't. Get a job somewhere else and never sing another song in your life. No one wants to hear it.

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