by Dylan Looney
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 07: Recording artist Abel Tesfaye of The Weeknd performs onstage at Lucian Grainge’s 2015 Artist Showcase Presented by American Airlines and Citi on February 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/WireImage)
Roughly seven months ago, I posted this blog’s first entry, in which I reviewed the top ten songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In the relatively short time since, the pop music landscape has changed rather drastically. As a matter of fact, none of the artists I previously reviewed are currently taking up space in the top ten. Naturally, it seems that it’s time for another look at the Billboard Top Ten.
1. “Can’t Feel My Face”- The Weeknd
Okay, this is a little embarrassing, but let me start off by asking this: Am I the only one who initially thought The Weeknd was a band and not just one person? Anyway, the Canadian singer’s ode to facial numbness sits on top of the charts this week. The infectious track owes much to the influence of a certain Mr. Jackson. One could almost imagine the King of Pop releasing it if he were around today. Overall, it’s a fun, danceable number that’s a little more clever than the average R&B track.
My Score: 4/5
2. “Cheerleader”- OMI
This reggae-infused single has been called the song of the summer and I just don’t get it. Honestly, I find the song rather grating. Sure, the horns and aforementioned Jamaican instrumentation are nice touches, but the song just falls flat and lands pretty close to being downright annoying. Despite the title, “Cheerleader” sounds less like a pep rally and more like Sean Kingston with a head-cold.
My Score: 1/5
3. “Watch Me”- Silentó
From the long and storied tradition of tracks such as “The Cha-Cha Slide,” Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat,” and of course, the “Stanky Leg,” comes another hip-hop dance fad up through popular culture. What makes this one a little different is that its artist, Silentó, is also Ricky Lamar Hawk, a 17-year-old high school senior from Stone Mountain, GA. Being so young, it would be interesting to see if there’s more to him than just whipping and nae-naeing. Silly as the song is (it’s really just a series of dance cues), the kid’s already got more hits than any of us had in high school.
My Score: 1.5/5
4. “The Hills”- The Weeknd
This week’s second entry by Mr. Totally-Not-a-Band is cut from a different mold than “Can’t Feel My Face.” Weeknd sings a dark melody over a stripped back, hip-hop style beat. While this keeps the song from being totally generic, and it’s nice to see a diversity of styles from the same artist, the song’s lack of energy and emotion make it pale in comparison to Weeknd’s number one hit.
SIDE NOTE: On Weeknd’s Wikipedia page, his genre is only listed as “PBR&B.” This refers to the recent indie R&B movement, which, much like Pabst Blue Ribbon, has become popular with the hipster crowd. I find this hilarious.
My Score: 3/5
5. “Lean On”- Major Lazer & DJ Snake Featuring MØ
DJ Snake, the man behind the last year’s “Turn Down for What” has teamed up with EDM group Major Lazer for another attempt at the success of “Turn Down.” While the music itself bears little resemblance to his collaboration with Lil Jon, I can’t help but hear a very similar effect used in both tracks. Danish singer MØ delivers a strong vocal, giving the song a much warmer, more human feel than most typical EDM fare.
My Score 3.5/5
6. “Good for You”- Selena Gomez feat. A$AP Rocky
Hey look, it’s another former Disney Channel star trying to be all edgy and grown up! With her “Good for You,” the ex-Wizard of Waverly Place tries to put even more distance between herself and her old image. In short, the song is bland, uninspired, and shows Gomez trying too hard to come across as sexy and mature. A$AP Rocky could have saved this song, but his weak performance does the exact opposite.
My Score: 1.5/5
7. “679”- Fetty Wap feat. Remy Boyz
New Jersey rapper Fetty Wap (who, according to Microsoft Word spell check, should be named “Fatty Warp”) has suddenly made his way into the mainstream in the last year or so. This collaboration with Remy Boyz is pretty much standard hip-hop. All the usual tropes are here: autotune, lyrics about drugs, women, and partying, etc. While riddled with clichés, “679” handles them relatively well, employing some simple but effective hooks to keep things from being too stale.
My Score: 2.5/5
8. “Locked Away”- R. City feat. Adam Levine
Like I said earlier, none of the artists I reviewed in my last Top Ten review are on this week’s charts. However, Maroon 5’s Adam Levine does appear in both, although this time he appears as a solo artist, singing the hook for this single from hip-hop/pop duo R. City (the R stands for “Rock,” by the way. I hear you can see seven states from there). The group, composed of two brothers from the U.S. Virgin Islands, is no stranger to chart success. They’ve had a hand in writing such hits as Iyaz’s “Replay” and the Pussycat Dolls’ “When I Grow Up.” For their first appearance on the charts as performers, they deliver a strong single that manages to be both reflective and emotional lyrically while keeping some level of energy and fun. The brothers and Levine mesh together well and create certainly one of the more soulful releases on the charts at the moment.
My Score: 3.5/5
9. “Trap Queen”- Fetty Wap
Fetty Wap is the second artist this week with two entries in the Top Ten. “Trap Queen,” Fetty’s ode to the girlfriend of a drug dealer, helped break him into the mainstream. While the beat is solid and the hook is catchy, the production is so drenched in autotune it’s comical. The song, much like the rest of Fetty Wap’s material, revels in rap music stereotypes. If this were a country song, it would be one about drinking because your wife left you and stole your truck.
My Score: 2/5
10. “Fight Song”- Rachel Platten
The success of “Fight Song” should be used as an example of how to gain publicity for music through television. Every time I hear Platten’s breakthrough single, I see either the trailer for CBS’s new Supergirl series or that commercial with the businesswoman driving her Ford SUV through New York City. In an interview with Idolator, Platten herself admits the song’s appearance in Pretty Little Liars helped catapult the song to success. It makes sense that it’s so prevalent in TV and movies; the song seems made for training montages. It could essentially be an estrogen-infused “Eye of the Tiger” or “Danger Zone” with a powerful vocal from Platten and an instantly memorable chorus.
My Score: 3/5