Ed. Note: I just realized that this month never got posted and it’s possible this post is incomplete. My apologies for the lateness, and for the next one…
Last month was pretty above average compared to the last few months. You’ll see a lot of J. Cole here because his entire The Off Season record charted the week it came out. So I think the best way to describe it would be: alright. Cole is at his technical best, and the songs all sound good, but there’s no real radio single here. All the tracks fell into the same decent to good area on my scale. A good listen but I dunno how often I’ll be revisiting it.
Billie Eilish – Your Power
A heavy, minimalistic folksy ballad, the track is a sledgehammer blow against the powerful who punch down instead of up. And it is jarring and impactful with that simple production, letting Billie’s lyrics and wispy vocals with a touch of reverb just bounce around your head.
If I thought March was a middle of the road month on the charts, man, was I in for a surprise just 30 days later. There were fewer new entries to the charts and I think it’s safe to say that its a month right in the middle. Nothing amazing, nothing so terrible that I wrote a page-long, obscenity-laden rant about it.
15. Mooski – Track Star
I can’t get past the mess that is the production here. There are like nine ideas being fleshed out all at once and none of them work together. I think the tempo changes several times, not to mention the fact that Mooski doesn’t bother sticking to any of them. Just a muddle of blah.
You know how in several months in the past when the FKA has gotten together to do our monthly wrap-ups and the album guys are like “this month was a lot of meh” and I have been able to come back with “well actually, the charts gave us a lot of interesting stuff”? Yeah, that’s not how March went. There was some great stuff to hold it up, but the Hot 100 spent most of the month in the morass of mediocrity.
1 – Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open
Silk is right, good gawd. This song is a love letter to 70’s soul and R&B in all of the best ways, without any of the notes that are best left in the 70’s (see: The Floaters, Float On). Musically it is just tight. You will sit and listen and pick out the artists that influenced each bit of the track. The backing vocals just envelope you in sound, drawing you into the strings, drums and lead vocals. If this is the lead single, I cannot wait to hear the full record.
2 – Drake ft. Rick Ross – Lemon Pepper Freestyle
Is there another pair in the game that guarantee a sick track when they get together? Gold Roses, Money in the Grave, Free Spirit and now Lemon Pepper Freestyle. I’ve seen many fans say this is Drake’s best verse ever and it’s definitely up there. The sample grew on me fast and went from annoying to ethereal over just two spins.
Another month on the charts that seemed to be running on fumes.
14. The Kid LAROI – Without You
Another break up song on this month’s list, LAROI comes off as a Justin Bieber clone that likes to curse. But at its core, this is an emo break up song in its most generic form. The song feels like it can’t get out of first gear until about 2 minutes in and there is finally more than an acoustic guitar and a whiny rapper. But even when some drums are finally added, the emotion just isn’t there. It’s a very bad sign when you’re singing a heart-wrenching break up song and it hits with the same emotion of Radio 4’s shipping forecast. The newsreader’s falsetto might be more impressive.
It’s a new year and hopefully, we’ll get some new trends on the charts. However we start a new year pretty much the same way we ended the last one: with a lot of meh. There’s was a decent amount of good and really not too much bad. But there were a large band of tracks that debuted on the charts this month that were extremely medium. But there was a lot of them so let’s get to it, worst to first.
24. Ritt Momney – Put Your Records On
White indie rapper covers a pop song. Hmmm, haven’t heard that one. You couldn’t have heard the first verse of this one either since it sounds like someone singing in the shower. It feels more like an Ableton Live demo. Every vocal has multiple filters, the tempo gets played with. It really comes off as a dare track. Let’s see how many features we can cram into one cover song. Great exercise for producers, shit idea for a single that gets released to the public. But it’s apparently a huge hit in the Philippines, so what do I know?
23. All Time Low ft. blackbear – Monsters
Four or five years ago, this is a Fall Out Boy track. My songs know who to emulate in the dark…
Well this was a much calmer month, thankfully. It feels like the pop charts slowed down a bit for the holidays. Just a quick note for this list next month: the only Christmas songs that will hit this list next month will be brand new ones. So I’m not reviewing All I Want For Christmas Is You. Unless we do some list or pod about Christmas songs. Then all bets are off. Whelp, here we go, crap first then scroll down for the good stuff.
13 – Morgan Wallen – More Than My Hometown There’s an example of country done right towards the top of the list. This is country done… well, I’d say wrong but this is just what the genre is now. The production’s the easy part. It’s a cookie cutter country track. There’s a steel guitar in there, there’s a Telecaster set to maximum twang and an even, if not boring drum track. Now let’s get to the worst part: lyrics. I can’t roll my eyes harder at the thesis of this song: oh, I love you more than all of these great big things in this great big world, but I can’t love you more than this one stoplight holler in the backwoods of bumfuck, wherever. So enjoy life, girl, where people drive electric cars and fancy apps deliver you food and you don’t have to walk to the back of the property to take a shit. Songs like this are the reason the genre has picked up the reputation it has over the last two decades.
Man, the top 40 was weird this month. Songs popped up then plummeted. 21 Savage’s entire album charted one week, then all but disappeared as everyone moved on to something else. Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” recharted 40 years after being released thanks to a TikTok video. (I didn’t include it in this month’s rankings but that song’s a solid 87-90. I really like the whole Rumours in general.) Oh, and country actually had a taste of pop success this month, so all around a busy month on the charts. What that does mean is we got a lot of tracks to sift through, so hold on to your butts. (throws the main breaker). Note: There’s a ton here so a lower ranking doesn’t necessarily mean a song’s bad. In fact, if you want to get right past the bad and meh, jump down to like #20.
31. Justin Bieber and benny blanco – Lonely Another “woah is me, fame is so hard” anthem from the Biebs. I thought “I’ll Show You” was bad enough. I usually find strength in tracks where artists express their struggles with mental health. It can help those who are struggling to find something in pop culture that they can relate to, knowing that they are not alone in the struggle. But fuck is this just whiney. It sounds more like the slurred wailing of the drunk cryer in the group. It’s hard to feel anything for you when your expressions of self-loathing come off as nothing more than a cry for attention instead of help. There is a difference. The minor keyed Fender Rhoads backing track just amplifies this feeling that the emotions are disingenuous. I’m not saying the kid doesn’t have mental health issues and I wouldn’t dream of berating him if that were the case, but there’s nothing on this track that feels like a genuine examination of his heart. And seriously, what the fuck is that warble on the hook?
Another month, another batch of music to review and/or lampoon.
Zack’s Top 3 Albums of the Month
3. Tim Heidecker – Fear of Death 2. Big Sean – Detroit 2
Detroit 2 was released nearly 8 years to the day of the release of Big Sean’s fourth mixtape, Detroit. Back then, Sean was doing it: his first studio album, Finally Famous, had dropped the year prior. A week after Detroit would be the release of Cruel Summer, a compilation album showcasing several G.O.O.D. Music artist, including Sean on two smashers: Clique and Mercy. He was still with his high-school sweetheart too.
Fast-forward to today: Detroit 2 is Big Sean’s sixth studio album, and he hasn’t slowed down a lick. He’s quietly made a name for himself as one of the best rappers in the game. And, like all the greats do, he spans a variety of topics on Detroit 2, without holding anything back. Whether it’s the diagnosis of his heart condition on “Lucky Me”, the squashing of the apparent non-beef with Kendrick Lamar on “Deep Reverence”, or the vulnerable matters-of-the-heart jam “Guard Your Heart”, Sean puts it all out on the table.