The Podcast: July 2020 in Review

This week, we take a look at another pretty good month in music. Jeremy and Zack give us their favorite albums of the month, Dan looks at the best and worst top 40 hits and the guys play their first round of the Looks Like game.

Jeremy’s Top 3 Albums of July:
3. Mannequin Online – I Feel It
2. Gaerea – Limbo
1. Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue

Zack’s Top 3 Albums of July:
3. Gucci Mane – Gucci Mane Presents: So Icy Summer
2. Taylor Swift – folklore
1. Juice WRLD – Legends Never Die

Dan’s Top 2 Top 40 Tracks of July:
2. Megan Thee Stallion – Girls in the Hood
1. Lil’ Baby – The Bigger Picture

The Best Hit Songs of 1984

Yesterday, I brought out the bottom of the barrel for the year of my birth, so it’s only right to spotlight the best songs that 1984 had to offer. As a quick refresher for this series, I’m listening to the year-end Billboard Hot 100, giving every song a score, tallying those up and writing about the best and the worst. No one set the office on fire over the worst, so I’m back to do the best.

Honorable Mention: Michael Jackson – Thriller – Year-End: #78, Peak: #4
When I’ve got a tie around the #10 spot, I’ll add in an honorable mention or two so here’s this year’s. I don’t know if this song gets the respect it deserves because of the album it came from and the other chartbusting hits that preceded it. Plus, I think more people think of the music video for the track than the actual track itself. I don’t think that’s fair as the song itself is a great piece of sound theater, telling a story through lyrics and sound effects. And c’mon, Vincent friggin’ Price.

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The Worst Hit Songs of 1984

Since I’ve been tasked to be the site’s judge of new pop music, I thought it would be interesting to look to the past in-between weeks when I’m looking at the present. With that in mind, I foolishly gave myself the project of covering the years that we’ve collectively been alive (1982-2019) and today we start with the landmark year 1984. The world gathered in Sarajevo for the Winter Olympics, Ghostbusters hit theaters, Reagan was gonna start the bombing in five minutes and I was born. Big year.

This is briefly the nuts and bolts of how this series will go. I’ll take the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 chart, listen to each song, give them arbitrary scores and then write about the top and bottom ten on my list. There’s almost certain to be a song in the worst list that’s one of your favorites. I can guarantee you’ll question my sanity with one of the entries on the best list and that’s the point of all of this. I’m certain Jeremy and Zack will throw verbal rocks at me on the next podcast.

One of the hardest parts of looking back at songs this old is the nostalgia factor, which is probably where most disagreements will start. Looking up and down this year’s list I see a ton of songs I heard all the time growing up. We were a pop household and I’m pretty sure early Chicago was the “most rock and roll” my parents record collection got at the time. It was tough to look at many of these songs with a critical eye, but here’s the best go that I could give. Without further ado, I give you the ten worst hit songs of 1984.

10. Lionel Richie – “All Night Long (All Night)” – Year-End: #12, Peak: #1
The first single from Can’t Slow Down, this “party” track was released in October 1983, but peaked on the charts later that winter and hung around until the spring of ’84. Centered around a light yet infection rhythm and a breakdown full of nonsense lyrics that were intended to be another language (Richie admitted he didn’t have time to hire a translator like he wanted), it’s been hailed as a fun party song. I was confused that this mid-tempo meh track passed for a party anthem in the early 80’s, but then I remembered cocaine and it all made sense. There just doesn’t seem to be enough of all of the traits that this song is hailed for to justify it’s position in the 80’s music pantheon.

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The Podcast: June 2020 in Review

The last 30 days in music were very meh, if you couldn’t tell from our album reviews.

Zack’s Top 5 Albums of the Month:
5. CeeLo Green – CeeLo Green is Thomas Callaway
4. Gone West – Canyons
3. Protest the Hero – Palimpsest
2. Run The Jewels – RTJ4
1. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
Worst – Baauer – Planet’s Mad

Jeremy’s Top 5 Albums of the Month:
5. CeeLo Green – CeeLo Green is Thomas Callaway
4. We Were Promised Jetpacks – Out of Interest
3. Unfit – The Unfit
2. Lamb of God – Lamb of God
1. Used Cassettes – Used Cassettes
Worst – Jason Mraz – Look For The Good

Dan’s Top 5 New Top 40 Entries:
5. Jonas Brothers ft. KAROL G. – X
4. Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande – Rain On Me
3. Jackson Wang – 100 Ways
2. Bazzi – Young and Alive
Worst – JP Saxe ft. Julia Michaels – If The World Was Ending

Top Hit Songs of June 2020

We have another crop of tracks making their debuts in the top 40 over the last month and you’ll be able to pick up a bit of a theme this month: meh.

12. JP Saxe ft. Julia Michaels – If The World Was Ending
Is JP Saxe the second Pokemon evolution of Gnash? The first time I heard this song, I thought it was the follow up to “i hate u, i love u”, but it turns out these are two different guys. It took me a bit to form an opinion of this one because I fell asleep twice midway through the track. It’s just a piano and some synth strings way in the back. If there’s ever a drum or drum sample, it’s mixed too quietly to be picked up and pace the track. There’s a place in pop for the quiet, downbeat, highly emotional tracks. “Say Something” by A Great Big World was the first track that came to mind to compare it too, but unlike that song there is nothing here that makes you feel anything. The lyrics are supposed to convey hope that an old relationship can be rekindled in the face of earth-shattering events around them. But there’s no emotion in either of their voices. It comes off as the final “meh” in a life of “whatever I guess”, like they know they shouldn’t be together except under this one circumstance and even then, they’re probably the last choice on each other’s lists. “All my boyfriends from college are married? Well fine, I’ll hook up with toxic dude I met at the bad last December one more time before the meteor hits because, well, why not get it in my once more?” An empty emotional hit for an empty song.

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The Podcast: Track 1, Side 1, Album 1

This time out, yes we stole a bit from High Fidelity…

It’s not a full rip-off, or so we’re going to tell ourselves. We added the caveat that our songs also had to be off the artist’s first studio album. Once again, we came up with three interesting lists with surprisingly little overlap.

Zack’s List:

5. Linkin Park, “Papercut”, Hybrid Theory
4. Ed Sheeran, The A-Team”, +
3. Beastie Boys, “Rhymin’ & Stealin'”, License to Ill
2. Weezer, “My Name Is Jonas”, Weezer
1. Metallica, “Hit the Lights”, Kill ’em All

Jeremy’s List:

5. Paul Simon, “I Am A Rock”, The Paul Simon Songbook
4. Living Colour, “Cult of Personality”, Vivid
3. Salt-N-Pepa, “Push It”, Hot, Cool & Vicious
2. Kiss, “Strutter”, Kiss
1. Guns ‘n Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle”, Appetite for Destruction

Dan’s List:

5. Metallica, “Hit the Lights”, Kill ’em All
4. Tom Waits, “Ol’ 55”, Closing Time
3. Foo Fighters, “This is a Call”, Foo Fighters
2. Wu-Tang Clan, “Bring da Ruckus”, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
1. The Beatles, “I Saw Her Standing There”, Please Please Me

Top Hit Singles from May 2020

We had another eleven songs hit the top 40 this past month, and as I said on the pod, there is some quality out of nowhere. But let’s start with the bottom of the barrel and work our way up.

11. Powfu ft. beabadoobee – Death Bed (Coffee For Your Head)
If you saw “coffee” in the title of the song and were hoping for an upbeat track that gave you the same feeling as the titular drink, then prepare for disappointment. This track was originally released in 2019, but not vary widely because Powfu had yet to get clearance from beabaddoobee for the use of her sample. It was re-released this year when he finally got it. However, when most people think of a sample, they think of a piece of a song used to construct another song. Here the sample feels like it’s the actual song and the sad, white-boy rapping is part of a remix, not the intended original. It’s sadboi low-fi hip hop, which I already have a low tolerance for. The same way part of the FA crew have a visceral reaction against the emo-pop of the early 2000’s. But to make matters worse, there’s no effort to make it feel like his song. It’s all her work, her chorus and he just dropped his Soundcloud verses on it. Just lazy.

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The Podcast: May 2020 In Review

It’s time again to get the best new releases of the month, as Jeremy and Zack have their five best albums of the month while Dan has his rankings of the month’s new top 40 hits.

Zack’s Best of May:
5. Johanna Warren – Chaotic Good
4. Hayley Williams – Petals for Armor
3. Christian Lee Hutson – Beginners
2. Carly Ray Jepsen – Dedicated Side B
1. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Reunions

Jeremy’s Best of May:
5. Asking Alexandra – Like A House On Fire
4. Boston Manor – Glue
3. The 1975 – Notes On A Conditional Form
2. Deau Eyes – Let It Leave
1. Shiner – Schadenfreude

Dan’s Top Hit Singles of May:
3. Ali Gatie – What If I Told You That I Love You
2. Sam Smith & Demi Lovato – I’m Ready
1. Megan Thee Stallion – Savage

The Podcast: Our Favorite Jams For A Backyard BBQ

We’re coming up on the unofficial start of summer and the FA guys have you covered with their favorite tracks to jam to during your next backyard barbecue. Before you ask, of course all three of us had DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince on our lists. C’mon, that is the ultimate summer jam.

In fact if you’re feeling froggy and want to get a head start on your playlisting, start with our lists all here in a link to a convenient Spotify playlist.

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