Hot 100 Review: Laugh Now Cry Later (feat Lil Durk)


I want to like Drake, and I guess I do in the way I like any artist who has a song I like. I moreso mean that I want to like him more consistently. He’s a strong force in music. His songs can set precedents moving forward, so when he wastes his Billboard spot on forgettable nonsense that’s what can pollute it. That takes us to now, where, he’s actually released a real song and not just a drown out reel of dull tones and mouth sounds

“Laugh Now Cry Later” is a hard song to quantify. It has a great beat with synthetic instruments like trumpets to add a flare, but has a completely normal beat atop it. That helped the song stand out, but really stood out is its desperation and strong lyrics that remind me of “Mr. Brightside” of all things (and if you’re playing Hot 100 bingo make sure to mark you free space and bringing up a mid-2000s alt rock song in a modern rap song review. Also, how did you get that bingo sheet, they’re not done being made) in its themes and tone.

“Laugh Now Cry Later” is all the pent up frustration, regret, and jealous nature of a break up made into a song that conveys itself in the least conventional way. Not that it doesn’t have structure, it does. But instead it’s lyrics, though some are great, feel like they’re filler that gets lost in the general flow.

The first chorus alone has one of my favorite lines in the whole song, “Where do these n[ot saying that word] be at when they say they doin all this and that?” The line is so simple, but is such an understandable feeling. The feeling of being left out. You hear all these great stories and are lost on when or where they were even able to do them. It relates to the idea of a failed relationship based on its previous line “We took a trip, now we on your block and it’s a ghost town.” These combined give the sense they were lying or gave unreal expectations

Drake’s first verse is gets into the self-destructive nature of a breakup along with rhetoric used to try and make the person feel better. Lines like “Been wakin up in cribs and sometimes and sometimes I don’t know where I’m at,” leads into the self-destruction either by talking about drinking too much or going to someone else’s crib (got that’s a weird word. Only can think about a baby crib). That is contrasted with “Anytime that I ran into somebody, it must be a victory lap, ayy,” where they’re trying to play at being confident and showing you’re fine even when you’re not. That all ends with the very clever “Distance between us is not like a store, this isn’t a closeable gap, ayy,” to tie in wordplay to how he feels about the relationship.

The prechorus is the best example of why I feel this is an extension of “Mr. Brightside.” The lines “I know that they at the crib going crazy, down bad. What they had didn’t last…” That feels like the extension of the chorus in Mr. Brightside. You just have the feeling something is happening and it’s crippling to you, but with the additional information of how it wasn’t successful for them in the end.

Ths chorus comes around again, and there is another interesting line in “I took half, she took the whole thing…” where it’s a line that’s reminiscent of “when the heart breaks it doesn’t break even.” It is not clear what the half or whole thing actually is, but heart is easy to read

When Lil Durk, who I never heard of before, comes in he has two interesting lines. One, “Can you not play that lil boy in the Club? We don’t listen to rats,” is a call back to a line in Drake’s verse about not listening to someone’s music in a club. This connection to a rat indicates that the artist is probably connected to the breakup, if that’s what happened. The sparce details mean anything, but the pre-chorus does feel completely of a romantic situation. The other line is just a fun twist on hanging with Drake and having drinks said in a way to make Drake’s sound like drinks.

Drake’s final verse puts the confusion of it’s a musical betrayal or romantic betrayal into more confusion as his first line “When he tell the story, that’s not how it went/ Know they be lying hundred percent,” makes it seem like a personal betrayal by a man, but could be business. This is compounded with the lines near the end “Pillow talk with ‘em, she spillin the tea/ and Shawty come back and say she didn’t mean it/ it’s hard to believe it,” paints it closer to a romantic one. It’s possible it’s both. A fellow artist and his partner cheated on him. But it’s not emphasized that’s what it is enough.

The music video is just a Nike ad. You know Nike, the company that still uses questionable labor practices in making their products. Anyway, that might sound exaggerated, but it’s Drake at the Nike HQ messing around with his crew. It feels like it’s played more for parody considering it has multiple skits throughout. They work well enough by themselves but ruins the song. The one thing the video does is make the main chorus lyric “Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry,” make more sense by being a tagline for Nike than anything else.

In spite of my long time listening to not just this song, but this kind of rap music in general, I can’t tell if it’s a bug or feature that so much of the song feels like filler or wasted potential. Maybe it’s the meme-ie way songs are cut up now to only focus on key lyrics and be used ads for brands, but that doesn’t make good songs. It makes good lines, but not songs. This works in spite of that. It’s a collection of good lines with enough of a throughline to work. But it could have more, and want it to have more.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Hot 100 Review: WAP by Cardi B (feat. Megan Three Stallion)

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Doing this (job???) hobby, I often hear songs that a clearly not for me, and boy howdy does this song clear that hurdle by a country mile. That doesn’t make it a bad song. On the contrary. I think it’s kind of fun, but grating to listen to more than once, maybe twice. There, look, review done. We can all cut out early!

Unfortunately I can’t do that because I want these to be of some substance, and I didn’t even go into what the song is about and why it’s not for me. The answer to which is easy to figure out when I say that WAP is an acronym for (sorry, this is not child friendly, cause I know I have all those sub 18 year old…) Wet Ass Pussy… okay maybe it’s not obvious. But when I describe the fact it’s a female focused sex jam about getting what you want in bed, that might clear it up since I am not a woman.

This might be a bit too much to share, but I like girl-centered sex jams (not the word I wanted to use, but here we are…). One of my favorite songs is “Take Me on the Floor” by the Veronicas. It has such a dirty in the best way vibes. It just feels like a woman knowing what they want and trying to get it. That’s attractive. This song, WAP, is that. It’s all about woman getting what they want sexually. It just does not hit me the same way, and I think it’s the details.

WAP, despite being kind of fun with some of the clever, but also not, rhymes and turns of phrase, feels vapid and selfish. It reminds me of the song (I only know the chorus so maybe that’s not the name) “Make his pockets hurt.” It feels like the song totally doesn’t understand the point of being in a relationship with someone. It’s glorifying the shallow, materialistic qualities of what makes relationships work, and neglects the emotional. To clarify: if someone just wants to hook up, that’s cool. Go them! But, and as the song says, if you want to marry them and all you have in common is doing sex good, and “Beat it up n[ot gonna say that word], catch a charge,” can’t be healthy. Also, if you want some to go so hard he has to get arrested for what he’s doing… it might be bad.

Actually, what both amuses me and utterly terrifies me as someone who thinks words mean thing, some of the phrases they have are incredibly questionable. So, as an exercise in thinking out the implications of what these lines mean, we’ll dissect them.

The first one: “Wet-ass pussy, make his pullout game weak (ah),” means you want to get pregnant. That’s fine, that’s cool. But when “pull out game” is used as a phrase that’s often in reference to not wearing protection, and not wanting kids. So, either she doesn’t understand the colloquial meaning of that phrase, or doesn’t mind getting knocked up.

Second: “… make me scream, Out in public, make a scene,” is odd because it’s clear they never saw the episode of Orange is the New Black where a couple is caught having sex on the beach and the guy ends up having to register as a sex offender and lose his livelihood… because that can happen, and I doubt Cardi would want that, though maybe she is just that selfish about sex.

Another duo is: “He bought a phone just for pictures of this [WAP]… Pay my tuition just to kiss me on this [WAP]…” These two lines aren’t nearly as tone deaf as the previous, but are utterly ridiculous. Buying a whole new phone is tough enough. I mean even if it’s the phone alone that is around $500+ if it’s brand new, and that’s just for pictures of the WAP with nothing else. The tuition is crazier because that’s tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars just to kiss it. At that point someone is clearly being played, or the guy is being stringed along with hopes of sex. The latter means that Megan is the bad one in that scenario because she’s abusing someone’s affection for them.

The final line that gets me is: “I want you to touch that lil dangly thing that swing in the back of my throat,” mostly because it’s called the uvula. Just Google it. It’s that easy (also why are there so many rocks shattering my house made of glass).

The video is stylistically on point. It features Cardi and Megan owning what I can best describe as a brothel-mansion with each room being themed and the video cutting to each room and watching girls dance. It works for what the song is, flashy, gaudy, and utterly ridiculous. However the mise-en-scene isn’t the most ridiculous part of the song. No… it’s all the edits to make it both radio and YouTube safe. The best is changing WAP to WAG, Wet and Gushy. Which is just the best. It is far, far funnier and more descriptive with just the change of that one word. Along with that it also edits some of the more graphic language out. I don’t know if that makes it more radio friendly, just less sexually graphic.

Despite my being a pedantic over the word choices I still think the song is kind of fun. Its terse flow style feels like those really tight Anthony Jeslenik jokes that are only two lines. The difference is that those are usually much smarter than refereeing to WAP as mac and cheese, and they also aren’t premade PMVs.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Hot 100 Review: my future by Billie Eilish

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I think Billie Eilish can be a great artist she just rarely is… for me. Of course all reviews are opinions, none moreso than music, but opinions nevertheless. On top of that I can only have a take on an artist based on how much of them I’ve listened to. With Billie Eilish I have listened to “Bad Guy” and loved it, listened to another song I don’t remember (I even reviewed that one), and then did her James Bond theme song. That last one in particular feels exactly like the tone she’s going for, which means…

The song never starts. Okay, that’s not true, it does start in the purely technical sense of the word, and does eventually out some life in itself, but aside from only a small bit of time, barely a minute, the song is a lifeless mess. It’s mostly a piano ballad, but without, say John Legends technical prowess with the instrument or powerful vocals it feels like a the musical equivalent to Nyquil (or Zzzquil for normal people. I can’t take NyQuil or I’ll be out for days).

Unfortunately, for the song, it’s lyrics don’t help it. They are incredibly straightforward and do not mince words when conveying what it is about. It makes the title of the song clever, and I’ll get to why, but it’s not a cleverly written song.

The future Billie is referring to is a future version of herself that she is happy with. It is a self-empowerment/self-improvement (anthem??) song. Hence the title of “my future” literally means the future of who she will become. It’s neat, but the song explains all that in great detail, though leaves out what she actually wants to improve.

The video is a visual representation of that self-improvement idea. It is a beautifully animated Billie Eilish walking into the rain only for the rain to stop, the sun to come out, and eventually be lifted up by the ground below her. It’s gorgeous and straightforward, just like the song. If it is about self-improvement then maybe it should be a garden she’s tending to or something, not just a random forest, but it still works.

This is a nothing song. It’s a sleep aid at best. It’s drowsing, tedious, and direct. I would say the same about her James Bond song, but that had some lyrical interests in it to spice it up. This has nothing. It’s the equivalent of looking out at the stars at night trying to sleep and counting sheep.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Hot 100 Review (collection) – Taylor Swift’s folklore

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The release of Taylor Swift’s new album has lead to her songs peppering the Hot 100 chart. That makes it a good idea to just review the songs in the top 20 since I’m still working on ways to review albums.

On balance I like T-Swizzle. She is an artist, that due to her length and breadth of music, has been an important part of my life whether I wanted her to be or not. This has manifested lately as her making great albums but releasing the worst songs as singles. The best example is her last album: Lovers. Lovers is a great album, but the lead singles, “Me!” and “You Need to Calm Down,” we’re both terrible songs. That makes her a very stressful artist because she seems so musically temperamental.

It is very interesting that the 5 top 20 hits are also the first five songs of the album, making it easier to cover that way.

The 1- Despite the title and it being the first song on the album, it is not the top song. It is, however, a good baseline for what the rest of the songs are trying to accomplish. It’s a simple song that is about lamenting when someone you think will be part of your life forever ends up not being that. It’s a very simple song with deliberate use acoustic guitar and piano. It gives it a strong pace. It isn’t great. The arrangement, though works, is simplistic. The lyrics fall into that same category. They work to get across the main idea, and have some good visuals and specific details to help sell song, but doesn’t tell us enough about their relationship before the breakup to understand why they broke up. Part of that is what the song’s about, but pointing that out doesn’t help sell it nearly as well as she thinks it does.

Cardigan – This is the single and big hit of this collection. This feels closer to what Swift was trying to do with “The 1,” and counterproductively succeeds and fails at being that. The production is far more complex. The mix of piano, drums, guitar, and technology makes it more interesting to follow. The lyrics are far more detailed. She can really paint a picture of what is going on and gives off just the right mood she wants to sell. The issue is that it has two themes that don’t mix, and is all wrapped around a rather contrived metaphor of an old cardigan.

To elaborate: the song is about the naivety of being young combined with a young romance. The issue is that the obvious, a naive person falls for someone who they should have known was bad for them has to find out the hard way that’s not true, is kind of what is done, but not fleshed out. This goes back to the same problem as “The 1.” There are some scattered details about their relationship, but nothing as to why they failed (and possibly got back together). This is excentuated in the metaphor of the old cardigan. The writing uses the image of an old cardigan under someone’s bed as a metaphor for Taylor feeling unwanted, and the other person wearing her as being wanted. This is flipped when she says that the person makes her feel like one only to not explain why, and then you must be wondering why the idea of being naive was brought up, and I agree.

Now, despite this, thanks to Swift’s voice and use of visuals it’s easy to ignore just how mind boggling the song really is.

The Last Great American Dynasty – Feels like everything Swift was trying to do in the previous songs put to a great success. For starters the mix and arrangement is the great combination of simplistic instrumentation and energy that keeps every listen engaging. Additionally the story feels like what Swift wants all the songs to be, a folk tale. This story follows an older woman who marries an older rich man. When the man dies she uses the money to party and live out her life as excited an empty as possible until that narrator (Taylor I assume) buys the house she used to have and uses the idea of how people saw the older woman as a ruiner of the last great American dynasty to compare her own feelings too.

The song feels like an honest to god narrative. The song presents so many thought-provoking questions with its use of the songs two main lyrics: “there goes the last great American dynasty,” and “she had a marvelous time ruining everything.” See, the woman, Rebecca (I know, imagine giving a character in a song a name, how original), already divorced once meets the man, the man dies with her to blame, and she lives the rest of her life with that on her. Now, it is weak that we aren’t given much about her own thoughts, but being ostracized for something she did wrong and caused the love of her life to die would take a toll on anyone. This is represented in the house Rebecca and the man, Bill, buy: Holiday House. A house to celebrate happiness going ignored only for the narrator to live in it, find out about Rebecca’s story and (given why it has to be Taylor to work) sees herself as someone who is blamed, rightly or not, for events that happened in her life. This doesn’t even get into just how artful the lyrics and details are, but if having the lyric “The wedding was charming if a little gauche,” doesn’t say everything you need to know, I don’t know what does. It’s a great song that makes the last two… difficult to get through.

Exile (with Bon Iver) and My Tears Riccochet- It night seem strange to combine these songs together, but they were both only in the top 20 and are basically the same song with the same problems. Both songs are the problems the previous songs had runoff and congealed into some of the most trite nonsense. So, to begin, both songs sound like they are supposed to be used as the first dance song for a newly married couple, but they are both about deeply sad breakups that, you guessed it, are underdeveloped, centered around an overly complicated metaphors, and get lost in the overly flower-ful language. With that, “exiles” is better, but marginally so. “exiles” uses the guest singer and more direct imagery to paint better pictures of what’s going on, but is still too muddy to really derive meaning from. The best exemple is how the word exile is used. See, the two people in the song feel like the other person was a country they were exiled from. They were something they loved but can’t go back to. It’s clever if it was given more focus. Contrastly, “My tears ricochet,” is a very direct image, but has too much symbolism that makes any point she might be trying to convey feel buried under metaphor. And, to be clear, the arrangement for both songs is just so boring that it makes listening to these songs hadd concentrate on.

Cardigan, the single, is the only one with a video out right now. The video shows Taylor playing the song on the piano until a light shows from the top of her piano letting her into a magical world, or she is literally being absorbed by the music. This is taken to the next extreme where she moves from the paradise to an ocean where the only thing to float on is a piano, or music literally saves her as, in the end, she ends up back in her cabin soaking wet and puts on a cardigan. Other than being beautiful the video gives the song a stronger storytelling quality. It’s clearly supposed to be a story, but Swift’s expressions and singing mixed with the visuals gives the song an air of listening to someone retelling a fable she feels is important over a song. This ties into how her piano is the only item to save her in a storm. Again, it’s saying that music literally saved her. So, overall, a strong video that helps a pretty good song.

When Cats 2019 came out they added a new song written by Swift and Webber. In a behind the scenes Swift (and I’ll paraphrase cause I don’t remember for sure) says that if you can’t get TS Elliot to write new poems, get TS (referring to herself). This always seemed rather egotistic and ridiculous to compare her to one of the most well renowned poets of all time, yet she said it and it baffled me. But listening to this collection of songs it’s easy to see why they would go to her. These songs are all very similar, but span in quality, and Swift can do other genres successfully. Now, I’m not sure how the rest of the album plays in full. These are the top 5 songs and also happen to be the first 5 songs on the album. I might be presently surprised or get more of the same sludge like “exile.”

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Hot 100 Review: POPSTAR by DJ Khaled (feat. Drake)

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For someone as big as DJ Khalid (no pun intended) it’s strange that I never covered any of his songs before. That’s more beneficial than it should be considering how his songs are always so hit and miss. This song is definitely a miss.

The song has a bad start. DJ Khaled has his signature phrases he likes to throw out to denote he helped make the songs. When they’re used for fine enough pop songs they kind of blend in and help set a tone. This time, not only does DJ Khaled use all three: “We the Best Music,” “Another One,” and his name, but it clashes with the tone of the rest of song. This is because the song, though it fails, is trying to be sadder song about being a popstar. It can’t do that when it has a loud mouth trying to hype you up only to get depressed about what being famous is like.

The song attempts, and mostly succeeds, at correcting this immediately with the chorus. The chorus is a microcosm of everything wrong with the song by brings up the main ideas it wants to tackle but doesn’t tie them together. The chorus Drake laments how women and cops constantly harrase him even has he gets to live the life of luxury, with the cops specifically harrasing him because they only see him as a dealer and criminal, not a popstar.

These lines clearly try to make living the high life sound like a terrible burden and that having all that wealth any money is hollow. He can do whatever he wants and have whatever he wants but it means nothing. This is supported by the first verse where he says how he wants to take 2020 (he can have it by the way) and makes a list of things he wants and can easily have. One of those being a pretty and honest woman. After some wordplay about a manager for pop stars he goes into trying to wooh the ladies by bragging about how much money he makes and how successful it is.

This is a trope Drake does often. He likes to tie success to unsuccessful relationships. The best one of these, and his best song ever, “Too Good” is all about that. This song feels more calculated and makes him come off worse. He just moans (and his singing does sound like moaning) about stuff he wants and brags about what he can have. The problem with doing that is how that will attract women who think bragging and spending money is important (Makes me think of the truly dreadful song “Make his pockets hurt”). Being shallow will get you shallow people in return. Too bad he doesn’t spend time talking about that.

After another chorus he goes into the second verse which is him just, I guess lamenting, it’s not clear, but he basically is shocked how successful he is even though he isn’t white. He doesn’t say that. He cites Justin Bieber as an example, but Drake was successful befor Bieber so that doesn’t make sense. Also he doesn’t bring in any more cop stuff even tough the chorus does, meaning he’s leaving a great verse untouched. It honestly makes this verse feel pointless because he doesn’t say anything.

It doesn’t help that the production is so slow, sleepy, and generic that when it mixes with his voice it’s easy to kind of get lost in the song and block out whole parts of it. It has no energy, which would be an interesting parallel to draw with how rich can be shallow and dull but nothing else supports that.

There is no video. There is a visualizer that goes with the Spotify version. It has an owl land on this key on stage as the music plays. Maybe that’s a reference to DJ Khaled and his thing with key to success, but hard to tell.

It’s hard to feel bad for people who have lots of money and feel empty. They need paychological help for sure if they’re depressed, but saying how you can just got to the Virgin Islands, get long texts from girls that like you and can ignore them, or get to travel in style, or make lobster for fun, or have a platinum visa credit card is basically bragging to all those who are currently out of work and saying that they’re sad so you should feel bad for them. Just ignore the fact Drake could give so much of his money away and still have mansions, women, good looks, and opportunities to spare. It reminds me of the video for “God’s Plan” (that song is also a terrible trash fire) where he gave away the budget of the video to people in need. That was a great one time gesture, but you can do more. I do not feel bad for you when there are people you could help and saying you’re just a popstar is a cop out (that was targets for Drake, but DJ Khaled is the same way. He does even less and could give away his money to help).

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Hot 100 Review: Come & Go by JUICE WRLD and Marshmello

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Juice WRLD continually pumping out new hits this past his passing feels like Michael Jackson. He has been gone for a couple years, yet more and more music continues to come out with his name attached. I had nothing against his music. I only really listened to Lucid Dreams which felt, like 6ix9ine but on the other extreme, of child’s first emo song. I also got some of him on Godzilla with his fun chorus. All of this leads to how odd Marshmello, a producer who’s name is so apt that it is scary. I mean his music is empty fluff. He’s not the kind of guy you would want to pair up with a deceased rapper still somehow putting out hits.

What’s stranger of all is how great and refreshing the song actually is.

The song itself is incredibly straightforward lyrically. The first verse explains everything about what the song is trying to say, the narrator wants to be a better person and a love interest comes into their life allowing them to see hope in that.

The opening isn’t amazing, or says just how enjoyable the rest of the song will be, but it works. It has a subtle guitar strum at the start working in generic sad boi beats as it sets up that first verse. Where the song changes is what I’ll call the pre-drop.

Since this song doesn’t have chorus really, just a repeated line, it doesn’t have a pre-chorus. Instead it has a drop, so this pre-drop is where the song finds its own. It brings in a flush of life with a great guitar riff, something that is incredibly rare in pop music and rap more so, all to say that Juice WRLD doesn’t want to mess up because love doesn’t always just come and go. Come and Go being a unique turn of phrase for something fleeting and easy to lose.

That idea of coming and going is actually reinforced in the following verse, like an actual song, when Juice talks about being wrong and going when he should stay how he keeps messing up, wants to get better, and stop letting mistakes eat away at him leading to ruined relationships.

From there the song does petter out with the pre-drop, even if it’s called a chorus. Thankfully the guitar and strong beats make it sound totally different from any other rap song out there.

The video starts out normal enough, just a tribute to Juice WRLD before becoming a fan-made Castlevania AMV with Juice and a woman who has magic just like Sypha from that show fighting ghouls and a magical demon guy. As far as AMVs go it is pretty standard. It has good build up to the drop. When the drop hits and the song picks up energy it gets more action packed. The editing and action match very well. The animation is spotty, but has a strong vibe that the team cared even for the rough look. Outside of that it feels like a unique choice but works. Though the girl is captured that’s resolved quickly and their fighting together gives a good reason why their relationship is special (imagine that as a guy who wrote a whole dance sequence but was really a fight into a novel). I can also see that as being a request from Juice WRLD befor passing, wanting a video like that considering the main character looks like a mix of Trevor Belmont from Castlevania and Jaden Smith’s character from Neo Yokio (hey, remember that pretty decent adult comedy with an anime aesthetic people hated cause it was such an obvious parody but looked like it was serious). It makes the video fun to watch, but doesn’t really feel on theme other than not-Sypha using her powers to help fight.

There are problems with the song but they all feel wrong to bring up. Not because it’s bad to avoid problems, but because they wouldn’t be for anybody. Juice WRLD was gone too soon and this song feels like a character in a show finding the last message of a departed loved one. In fact the start of the music video has that feel. This song had so much potential and hints that he wanted to grow as an artist but can’t now. He can’t go more outside of himself to build this chunk of a relationship we gets and add more to the chorus. He can only survived through other producers and artists coming in and trying to push him to be better through new means. That makes the production work all that much more. It’s better so he can try to reach something he could not in life.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Hot 100 Review: Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles

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I don’t remember Harry Styles being the standout of One Direction. Given I don’t remember much of what One Direction fandom is, and didn’t then. But it just seems interesting that many of them tried the push into being solo artists and at least this year Harry Styles won.

I reviewed his previous hit “Adore You“ on this series. I can’t remember a lot other than it being good enough, and having a strange video. Watermelon Sugar on the other hand is desisivley a classic summer jam.

Everything about the song. From the title, to the lyrics, video (which I will get to), to the production all sound like a nice beach day. The production has a distinct flare to it. The use of light horns and trumpets really makes it stand out while not making it too funky or jazzy (neither of which are bad, but are not nearly as summer sounding). In fact, the way the horns move and sway with the vocals almost acts as backing vocals to help support his voice. It’s really neat.

Lyrically it is bare. Usually I go off on songs for having almost no substantial lyrics to speak of, and I can here. But the songs I rail against for being lyrically shallow also take themselves so seriously. “Stuck with U,” for its many problems is like that. It’s bare lyrically and also wants to be taken seriously. Doesn’t mean that can’t work, but it’s harder to do when you want to be a serious song.

“Watermelon Sugar” by contrast does not want to be a serious song at all. It wants to be a fun song to crank up when you’re at the beach. In fact it fits all the criteria I could go through the song just like that.

It starts with a open, but strong toner setter with the lines “Taste like strawberries on a summer evening…” with the verse continuing on. It’s a uniquely evocative image that reminds me of “Cool for the Summer” or “Cake by the Ocean.”

From that the prechorus, arguably the weakest part of the song, continues the tone by focusing on tying that summer evening with a certain person. That person being the watermelon sugar.

Watermelon Sugar is an interesting combination of words. For one watermelons are mostly sugar and water and adding sugar to watermelons sounds overly indulgent: too sweet basically (god I never felt older than saying something is good sweet). Based on interview material it is the name of a book called “In Watermelon Sugar” about (and this is what Wikipedia and Good Reads tells me it is) a post-apocalypse where watermelon sugar is used to create different materials and is centered around a strange commune, and the sun changes colors making the watermelon sugar do different things. Sounds really weird. I’d want to see just how connected this song is to the book, but I’d have to guess very little.

Though, one word I miss constantly in the song is the word “high” at the end of “watermelon sugar high.” Feels important because that changes the context to be far more drug like in tone and context. Harry wants that high, needs that high, craves that high so much that it reminds him of summer.

After that setup the song mostly repeats itself. It has some marginally changed lines, but they all focus on the same idea that whatever the watermelon sugar high is (some readings, obvious ones at that, make it a sex metaphor cause it’s easy and possibly true, but less fun to think about) it is a strong driving force. He wants to think of that summer time with loved ones. He wants to be high on all the sugar in watermelon. He wants to be able to hang out with friends (following that line is the obligatory connection to the Coronavirus Pandemic, oscillating lockdown status, and social distancing leading to nostalgia of what was) and make it feel like summer.

The video is a very direct adaption of the songs themes. It is dedicated to touching and therefore, by extension, about seeing. It’s also seen as a sex metaphor in many, many explicit ways. The first bite of a watermelon cuts to a woman looking very… well aroused. From that the music video becomes a beach party where sometimes the watermelon is used to convey a sense of comrodary and other times a very strangely shaped aphrodisiac. Again, it’s a straightforward showing of its themes and of the song with no audio or video flourishes to mess with the song.

I compared this song to “Cake by the Ocean” and “Cool for the Summer.” That is a compliment of the highest order because those are also some of my favorite summer jams, and best songs of their years. Unfortunately it is hard not to see these songs as all the same song with cosmetic differences. They are all about the summer, all radio friendly sex allegories, all strongly produced and high energy pop songs that use their medium to make it feel like summer in cramped spaces. Nothing has to be original if what it is good at what it’s copying. I mean, why do you think so many artist have to trace the masters of old before they can draw their own pictures?

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Hot 100 Review: What’s Poppin by Jack Harlow feat. DaBaby, Tory Lanez,& Lil Wayne

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I think it would be fair to say that one could find me very dismissive of gangster/brag rap music. From every song that charged and matched that description I would agree. I was dismissive of it because I’m sure it had its audience of people who really like the song but I find it kind of uninteresting and boring with its staleness. That is fair. But it is also fair that if I like something or find something usually drab that can be changed and hyped up with an interesting beat I will like it more.

Thus, enter Poppin by Jack Harlow with a flurry of other featured rappers. Namely DaBaby as an artist I have covered previously. A song that should be kind if boring, and does go on too long, but has a great energy, flow, and sound production that makes it work well beyond any ways it should.

The way the song does it is with three elements that make it feel unique or better than many of the other songs out there. The first of those elements being it’s incredibly playful beats. The simple addition of light piano under standard rap beats really spices up what could normally be a pretty generic sample.

The second element is flow. A rapper’s flow is not something I usually look at. It’s usually fine and does its job well enough. This song is different because its flow is so consistent across all four rappers that it is impressive. They all have a strong, continual flow that lets them move from line to line and rhyme to rhyme with this incredible ease as power that just does not let up.

It not letting up causes the song to feel longer than it needs. For one Lil Wayne, though I have no opinions one him, does feel like it could be cut. His voice and style does not match as well and does not feel like he adds anything extra to the song outside of his presence. Even with that, the constant, high-paced energy gets tiring to listen to. The song feels like it blows through so much that you just get tired. It’s amazing it’s consistent, but still exhausting.

Thirdly, it’s also amazingly consistent when it comes to each rappers verse. Not only do they all keep up the cadence, but also are able to give their own style and clear lyrical voice. Jack is more referential with his verses, and flexes his rhymes in interesting ways. De Niro to Cinnamon Swirl is kind of incredible and ease transition for him. DaBaby’s is more braggadocios with his fame, and Tory Lanez manages to keep “ski” at the end of each line and I doesn’t feel too corny. Finally Lil Wayne has one line I like “Brand new phone, just dropped it/ Um, [eff] it I got options.” For being layered in a fun way.

There is no official music video for this version of the song. The video posted is of the cover art for the song and has each rapper highlighted for when they are rapping. It’s a neat effect since the only one I could pick out by voice was Lil Wayne since I heard him on other tracks before.

Overall this is a really fun song that wants to be so consistent in so many ways. That consistency makes it one step above the rest of its ilk in a way I can get behind (cause you need me, a white guy, to like brag rap to validate it…). It’s clever, strong, and a good, if exhausting time.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Hot 100 Review: The Bigger Picture by Lil Baby

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Music is one of the fastest creative mediums around. Movies, TV, and novels all need time to be throughly edited, crafted, and made. They can be just as poignant as any other medium but they take time. Music does not always the same constrictions. Rap music even less so. Rap music has even less since they do not always have to make the beats from scratch. This is all to say that these activists songs are on the rise and the biggest one this week is by Lil Baby (obligatory dunk on how that’s a ridiculous name for someone talking about very charged issues).

It’s hard to talk about the song, but not for the obvious reasons. It’s difficult because the song is just so straightforward about what it’s saying and how it’s saying it that any reading does not feel honestly necessary from someone like me. Cops killing people when they don’t have to is bad. Cops arresting and forcing Afican Americans to hold jail time longer than white people is a bad thing. The system does not work the way it is intended and that is bad.

There, that’s what the whole song is about. The beat is workman-like. It’s nothing amazing, but does the job to help convey the tone. That along with the additional voice clips and extra medium put into the mix is well handled to give the song a timeless context that may not be remembered in a couple years or decades.

Something that repeat listens does bring out is the interesting structure of the song. This being the structure of each verse and where he centers his attention on the current problems facing the black community.

The first verse feels incredibly reactive in a good way. He seems like he’s feeling out his frustrations with everything that is going down. This evolves in the second verse where he confronts his friends and family about what they should do and how it impacts them. Then ends it by focusing and trying to sympathize with the police, but does rightfully say that they too can protest and not just shoot people. This arc feels really well done because it is both so focused and well structured, growing out his concerns in a proper escalation, while also feeling so simple. It sounds like he did it the first time as a freestyle and nailed it. It’s kind of incredible if very on the nose.

The video matches the directness of the song with a montage of news footage of the protests along with him rapping the song at his own protest and rocking BLM (I was going to clarify Black Lives Matter because for some reason the BLM is a thing stuck in my brain from a TV show or movie or something and I can’t figure out why. Or maybe it’s the VLM from a video game. Either way I can’t remember). It’s direct and works just like the song. It doesn’t really add any new context that the song doesn’t already have. So it’s not a markedly improved version of the song, but works fine.

My only idea for a Punisher comic book story is one where he is kinapped by mercenaries or someone, held hostage, and forced to take a job where he has to kill Captain America because his captors, government people who are backed by big business, want him dead. Do you get it? Do you get the point of what that story is saying? I hope so because it’s on the nose. Now, I haven’t written it so I couldn’t say if it’s execution would work. However, it’s not a terrible story idea. It’s just incredibly obvious, and that’s not bad. That is this song. It’s incredibly obvious, on the nose, and in your face, but it feels fine in the best possible way that it works.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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Hot 100 Review: TROLLZ by 6ix9ine (feat. Nikki Minaj)

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It’s good to feel right every once in a while. So, for those playing the home version (is that even a thing? Was that a thing? It’s just a thing to say, anyway) I looked at 6ix9ine’s other big hit weeks ago and found it to feel like a joke. A generic hyper-aggressive rap by someone who looks like they just came out of a rainbows backside. It felt like a joke, or like I was being trolled…

You see where I’m going with this, right?

This newest his TROLLZ feels like an extension to his previous song while also being true to the songs namesake. Just not in the way they think. See, TROLLZ is about the people who troll you and put you down. It’s supposed to be a clap-back song. Instead we the audience are the ones being trolled. Instead of clapping back at the haters we are getting made fun of for thinking it is supposed to be a 6ix9ine song when in reality it’s a back door pilot for a Nikki Minaj comeback.

That’s not to say 6ix9ine is totally absent from the song. He helps the song at the start with some good production and backing vocals to set the mood before he goes into the same aggressive, woman hating rap style. That might be harsh but when most of his main lines have to do with propositioning sex for woman for material stuff it feels gross. Or it could be a whole big rouse and he is in fact one of the nicest guys ever and it’s just an act. Either way it’s a moot point considering all his flow and beat work goes out the window when Nikki Minaj enters.

It seems odd to say that Nikki Minaj needs a comeback considering just how prevalent her music is on Top 40 radio. The difference though is that music is often older hits from the mid-2010s. Her presence in the late 2010s till now has not been as big. So, her hopping onto a song by a rising artist makes sense and seems to have worked.

If you didn’t see that there is a “but” coming then here it is. The song feels like she too is in on the trolling. Though it’s not as much as the rest of the song the fact her first lines end with her saying “better” as “bettuurrrr” for seconds straight, I feel duped. The rest of her rap is fine enough. She does have a good, bouncy flow, and is clapping back at the haters. Though I don’t see all her lyrics as great I’m sure some women find lines like “Yeah, eat it, Cookie Monsta (ooh)/He a slave to this pussy, call me master:Real wet, I said, ‘Slurp it like it’s pasta…’” to be empowering. It’s just not for me.

The video is on brand for 6ix9ine based on what I saw of his last video. A mix of classic gangster rap iconography dipped in the pride flag with the artists rapping to the camera and hot girl around them. However it is not on brand for the song because it was exactly what I expected. I was not trolled into thinking it would be different in anyway. It’s just the same kind of video as his previous hit. I’m almost disappointed that it wasn’t more subversive.

This might be one of the most cohesive songs from a wholistic standpoint. The song is called TROLLZ, it’s about trolls and calling them out, and it feels like you get trolled listening to it. It’s almost impressive in that regard. If it had some better or more interesting word play in the flavor of “Racks, I got ’em, Mary, I’m Poppin’,” or “Check the boards (boards), I’m still topping,” I could see liking it better. But 6ix9ine’s whole attitude in the song just puts me off.

I’m cleaning house and selling some media. If you would like to buy comics, manga, or cards I owned and used follow this link: say you’re a reader and I’ll be happy to discount any item for you!

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