Monday, January 27, 2020

Last year I wrote a piece for Vulture ranking all the rap-rock collaborations at the Grammys over the years. Today, I updated the piece to include last night's Aerosmith/Run-DMC performance

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 162: Three 6 Mafia

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Three 6 Mafia are starting a reunion tour in March, and even though it's bittersweet that it won't include Lord Infamous and Koopsta Knicca, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively, it's pretty cool that DJ Paul, Juicy J, Crunchy Black, Gangsta Boo, and HCP extended family like Project Pat, La Chat, and Lil Wyte will be back on the road. Three 6 are one of the greatest southern rap groups of all time and I feel like their legacy and influence has really aged well over the past decade.

Three 6 Mafia deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Big Bizness
2. Live By Yo Rep (B.O.N.E. Dis) featuring Kingpin Skinny Pimp and Playa Fly
3. Body Parts featuring Prophet Posse
4. Where's Da Bud
5. Gette'm Crunk
6. Anyone Out There
7. Whatcha Do
8. Are U Ready 4 Us featuring Dayton Family
9. Triple Six Clubhouse
10. When God Calls Time Out
11. Mafia N****z
12. Weak Azz Bitch featuring La Chat
13. I'm So Hi
14. Mafia featuring La Chat
15. Testin' My Gangsta
16. Put Cha D. In Her Mouth
17. Mosh Pit featuring Josey Scott
18. Half On A Sack
19. Don't Cha Get Mad featuring Lil Flip and Mr. Bigg
20. Roll With It featuring Project Pat
21. Hood Star featuring Lyfe Jennings

Tracks 1 and 2 from Mystic Stylez (1995)
Tracks 3, 4 and 5 from Chapter 1: The End (1996)
Tracks 6, 7 and 8 from Chapter 2: World Domination (1997)
Tracks 9 and 10 from CrazyNDaLazDayz by Tear Da Club Up Thugs (1999)
Tracks 11, 12 and 13 from When The Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 (2000)
Track 14 from Choices: The Album (2001)
Tracks 15, 16 and 17 from Da Unbreakables (2003)
Tracks 18, 19 and 20 from Most Known Unknown (2005)
Track 21 from Last 2 Walk (2008)

Three 6 really refined and perfected their sound over the course of a decade, but it's kind of remarkable that it was pretty much there from the beginning, their signature snare drum sound doesn't slap as hard on Mystic Styles as it did on later albums but it was already there. And though they backed off on some of the satanic horrorcore shock value stuff over the years, they really created the blueprint for the more dark and aggressive strains of crunk and trap that eventually became mainstream. It's also fun to listen back and hear famous ideas in their infancy, like the opening bars of "Slob On My Knob" appearing over a year earlier on "Whatcha Do," and the first "yeah ho" loop popping up on "Mafia N****z," or the first versions of songs they kept doing sequels and remakes of for years like "Body Parts."

I didn't get into the various solo albums and affiliated groups and Underground compilations, with the exception of CrazyNDaLazDayz, which is essentially a Three 6 Mafia album that was credited to Tear Da Club Up Thugs in an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the song "Tear Da Club Up." That album is pretty much canonically a Three 6 record, the group's then-core lineup basically doing their usual sound, it actually charted higher than any of their proper albums had at that point, and "Slob On My Knob" has become one of their most enduring songs, appearing on best-of comps like Most Known Hits. It's a top shelf album, too, "Triple Six Clubhouse" has one of my favorite mid-song beat switches in rap history, that and "When God Calls Time Out" are some of Lord Infamous's best solo tracks.

Some rap producers have repeatedly sampled different songs from the same artist, but I don't know if anybody's gotten more out of a particular artist's discography than Three 6 Mafia have gotten out of sampling Willie Hutch. Many rappers have sampled Hutch's soundtracks for The Mack and Foxy Brown, but there are so many great DJ Paul and Juicy J productions built on Hutch songs, including some of their most famous tracks like "Stay Fly" and "Int'l Players Anthem." So I included some lesser known Hutch-based tracks including "Testin' My Gangsta" (sampling "Theme Of The Mack," later used on the hit "Poppin' My Collar"), "Don't Cha Get Mad" (sampling "Sunshine Lady") and "Hood Star" (sampling "Color Her Sunshine," also used a year later on Rick Ross's "Rich Off Cocaine").

There's so many wildly entertaining songs on here, "Weak Azz Bitch" and "Mosh Pit" (featuring a "We Will Rock You" sample and Josey Scott of the Memphis nu metal band Saliva), the Bone Thugs dis that "Live By Yo Rep" that defined their early national profile, and maybe my favorite DJ Paul and Juicy J beat, "Mafia" from the Choices soundtrack (which, oddly, is labeled "Posse Song" on a lot of streaming services now).

One of the funny things about Three 6 Mafia is how the group kind of wound down out of attrition over the years: they had 6 members for much of the '90s, and then most of the members of the group kind of dropped out one by one from 2000 to 2006, until the group was pared down to the core duo of DJ Paul and Juicy J on their last album, Last 2 Walk. That album featured regrettable songs with Akon and Good Charlotte, and by the time Three 6 went inactive about a decade ago, they'd released a single featuring Tiesto, Flo Rida, Sean Kingston and were talking an album with collaborations with Slash and Rodney Jerkins, so it's probably for the best that the group went dormant. Juicy J had a good run as a sort of pop rap elder statesman and mentor to Wiz Khalifa, while DJ Paul returned to the group's underground roots with the spinoff group Da Mafia 6ix, and I'm glad those guys have decided to join forces again, only good can come of that.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

I expanded my Rush deep album cuts playlist for City Pages.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

I wrote a piece for Spin about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's final list of 2020 inductees, sort of a follow-up to my two pieces last year about the latest round of nominations.

Monthly Report: January 2020 Singles

Friday, January 17, 2020

1. H.E.R. f/ YG - "Slide"
I will hand it to H.E.R. that every time she collaborates with someone I didn't expect her to, the song turns out to be good and not too far out of her comfort zone. I'm amused that YG kicks his verse off referencing probably the least popular single from Jeezy's early run, YG isn't even on Jeezy's label anymore. It's also funny that he kind of messes up the Fall Out Boy reference ("they after the boy like fall out"). Every time H.E.R. gets nominated for a mess of Grammys she's already started moving on with singles from the next project, it's a weird strategy but I guess it works for her. Here's my favorite 2020 singles playlist I'll be adding songs to throughout the year.

2. Ashley McBryde - "One Night Standards"
Ashley McBryde's 2018 debut Girl Going Nowhere was an excellent album and this song might be better than anything on it, just a perfectly composed lyric from start to finish, the kind of thing that makes me feel envious and inspired as a songwriter, so I'm pretty excited for her second album. 

3. 5 Seconds Of Summer - "Teeth"
A good example of how complicated and circuitous music copyright law is these days is that the members of New Order get writing credits on "Teeth" even though the part of Rihanna's "Shut Up And Drive" that it interpolates is not the part that sampled "Blue Monday." I like this song, though, 5 Seconds Of Summer has been hit and miss in its 'punky Maroon 5' era of being less a band than a vehicle for various pop producers, but "Teeth" at least has a cool bombastic chorus.

4. Summer Walker f/ Usher - "Come Thru"
For some reason I've never been that into "You Make Me Wanna," it's probably not in my 10 favorite Usher singles, so I rolled my eyes at "Come Thru" playing on that old '90s nostalgia for an easy hit. But man, Usher sounds great stealing the spotlight to this song and singing a catchy little countermelody to the tune that launched him into superstardom. 

5. Mahalia f/ Ella Mai - "What You Did" 
Another R&B track with a nostalgic sample, this time 1977 Rose Royce via 2002 Cam'ron, from my favorite sample-happy R&B producer Pop Wansel. The track is flipped in a novel enough way that it doesn't feel stale, and both of their voices just sound great on it. 

6. Carly Pearce & Lee Brice - "I Hope You're Happy Now" 
Luke Combs co-wrote this, though, might've sounded good with him on it instead, but Lee Brice is a good counterpoint to Pearce's voice. I was stunned the other day to learn that producer Michael Busbee died of brain cancer back in September, really loved his work (with Maren Morris, Pink, and others), Pearce's upcoming album is apparently the last album he produced. 

7. Lindsay Ell - "I Don't Love You" 
Canadian singer/guitarist Lindsay Ell is another underrated female country artist who I hope has a great 2020 -- she appeared on one of the biggest country songs of 2019, Brantley Gilbert's "What Happens In A Small Town," and she's badly overdue for a major solo hit on American radio. Ell once covered John Mayer's Continuum album and this very much has the feel of a Mayer ballad, in a good way. 

8. Yo Gotti f/ Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Uzi Vert - "Pose"
I feel like Yo Gotti is one of the rare mid-level rap stars who sounds comfortable and unforced on anything, there's such a wide range of guests and types of beats on his singles and it never quite feels like he's reaching or struggling to stay current. "Pose" has a big shiny thudding beat that doesn't sound like what I'd consider a Yo Gotti beat, but it works, and the song that originally just featured Uzi sounds even better with Megan added to it. 

9. Missy Elliott f/ Sum1 -"DripDemeanor"
Missy Elliott has released a lot of singles over the past 8 years on her cautious perennial comeback attempt, and most of them attempt to different degrees to summon that animated uptempo vibe of her best known songs like "Work It." But more relaxed and melodic midtempo material has always been a big element of classic Missy records and I've missed her R&B side in those songs. So I was happy that last year's Iconology EP featured a song like "DripDemeanor" and that it kind of vindicated my thoughts about R&B-leaning Missy by becoming her biggest urban radio hit in ages. I didn't realize until the other day that Timbaland produced this, credit to him

10. A Day To Remember - "Degenerates" 
I don't know anything about the metalcore band A Day To Remember, but I was surprised to hear this, their first single for Fueled By Ramen, on hard rock stations like 98 Rock because it's really right in that sneering punk pop Blink 182/Fall Out Boy sweet spot.

The Worst Single of the Month: The Weeknd - "Heartless"
I'm not a big fan of The Weeknd but I've respected the way he's become more of a pop star by broadening his sound and trying different sounds with Max Martin and Daft Punk. But as much as he seems to be doing some weird stylized visual aesthetic for his new album, it feels like his new singles are just total The Weeknd-by-numbers, him singing the same cliche drugged out emotionally numb schtick as ever but with even less subtlety than before.

Movie Diary

Thursday, January 16, 2020

a) The Irishman
First of all: I Heard You Paint Houses is so much better a title than The Irishman on so many levels, and it's sad that Hollywood is allergic to keeping the title of an adaptation's source material if it's longer than 3 words, even if the movie is 3 hours long. Second of all: I'm glad that Scorsese got to make the movie as long as he damn well pleased, he's certainly earned that right, but I do wonder if something as impeccably paced as Goodfellas would have experienced the same kind of lagging momentum this occasionally had if he'd gotten to make it an hour longer. Overall, I liked this more than I expected to, Pacino lights up the screen in his scenes so much that I didn't mind that he sounds more like Grover from "Sesame Street" with each passing year, and though I've taken it as a given that De Niro's become less expressive and more one-note over time, he did well in a role that required a lot of him.

b) Marriage Story
I've never much cared for Noah Baumbach, but Adam Driver has been on such a roll lately that it seemed silly to pass on the performance he might win an Oscar for. It really feels like Baumach is more Woody Allen-lite than ever, though, right down to the entertaining Greek Chorus supporting cast (including Alan Alda) upstaging the wooden leads (including Scarlett Johansson). There were some poignant observational kernels here and there I related to both as a husband and as a child of divorce, but even to the extent that it felt like the autobiographical elements were employed self-deprecatingly, I dunno, it felt gross watching him rewrite the story of the cliche midlife crisis affair that ended his marriage. And I was disappointed with the stagey climactic fight, it felt more like Adam in season 3 of "Girls" being a ham in his play than the more reined in performances Driver has given in other film roles.

c) Spies In Disguise
When this Will Smith-as-a-pigeon animated movie came out, I saw people on Twitter recirculating a 2005 Billy West interview where he lamented that expert voice actors like himself had been sidelined in the post-Pixar era of the biggest movie stars getting all the voice work in major animated films, and he jokingly offered up the scenario "I'm Will Smith, I'm a kangaroo!" as an example. It was a very gripe for him to make, but I think a poor example -- Will Smith, after all, is a guy who became a star standing a vocal booth making his voice jump out of speakers years before anyone cast him in a movie. And Spies In Disguise rests on his effortless charisma more successfully than any live action movie he's done in a long time, but the whole thing is very entertainingly put together, felt like a lower stakes Incredibles in how it succeeded as an action movie and a kid-friendly parody of action movies.

d) Long Shot
On paper this seemed like a pretty predictable boilerplate Seth Rogen movie, a Knocked Up-style story of him hooking up with a famous blonde babe with a dash of lazy geopolitical intrigue like The Interview. And it is that, but it surprised me by at times feeling like a gender-swapped version of one of my favorite rom coms, The American President, and every scene with Bob Odenkirk was hilarious, they found a funny way to have a stupid shallow POTUS character that didn't feel like a transparent Trump joke.

e) Hellboy
So many conflicts in film development are kind of easy to break down to predictable roles of the creator versus the studio and so on, so it was kind of interesting to see a more complicated situation play out with the third Hellboy movie. Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed the first two movies, collaborating with the creator of the original Hellboy comics, Mike Mignola, on the story for the second one. But there was this prolonged breakdown where Mignola developed the story for the next movie, del Toro wouldn't direct or even produce if he didn't get to write the screenplay himself, and then Ron Perlman wouldn't come back without del Toro involved, and so this whole weird creator vs. director thing ultimately resulted in a reboot movie with David Harbour in the title role and nobody wanted to see it. And honestly, the movie would've been fine if I hadn't seen the other two movies to have a frame of reference to compare it to, I just did not like it remotely as much as the del Toro/Perlman iteration.

f) The Professor
Sometimes I just pick a movie that looks middling but not entirely worthless and put it on as background noise while I'm writing on a deadline, and that movie was The Professor a while back. I don't remember much about it, other than that Johnny Depp's character was dying of cancer and seemed to be just getting high and hanging around much younger women and being self-destructive just like Depp seems to be in real life these days anyway, it was a weird role for him to take.

g) Can You Keep A Secret?
If Alexandra Daddario thinks she can keep making generic rom coms and I will watch them just because she's in them she's absolutely right, but I don't have to be happy about it. This one was especially weird because so much of the story hinged on her being this plain girl with low self esteem who can't believe this handsome rich guy is interested in her so the whole cast has to pretend she doesn't look like Alexandra Daddario.

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 161: Rush

Saturday, January 11, 2020

There are classic rock staples that I never get sick of, like "Tom Sawyer" or "Freewill" or "Fly By Night," but certainly over a lifetime of hundreds of radio spins, sometimes it hits you and sometimes it's just wallpaper. But the last time I heard "Tom Sawyer" on the radio, probably just a few days ago, I cranked that shit and felt it more than I had in years.

The news just broke on Friday that Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart had died of brian cancer at the age of 67, and he's already on the books as one of the all-time greats of rock drumming -- in fact he was probably the popular default for best drummer alive in the decades since Bonham and Moon passed. Rush was always on my to-do list for this series, I hate when it doubles as an obituary, but I'm happy to celebrate a body of work that's worth celebrating.

Rush deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Xanadu
2. Red Barchetta
3. 2112: Overture (Retrospective Edit)
4. Bastille Day
5. What You're Doing
6. By-Tor & The Snow Dog
7. Chemistry
8. YYZ
9. Something For Nothing
10. La Villa Strangiato (An Exercise In Self-Indulgence)
11. Anthem
12. Madrigal
13. Natural Science

Track 5 from Rush (1974)
Tracks 6 and 11 from Fly By Night (1975)
Track 4 from Caress Of Steel (1975)
Tracks 3 and 9 from 2112 (1976)
Tracks 1 and 12 from A Farewell To Kings (1977)
Track 10 from Hemispheres (1978)
Track 13 from Permanent Waves (1980)
Tracks 2 and 8 from Moving Pictures (1981)
Track 7 from Signals (1982)

My self-imposed 80-minute limit for these playlists means I'm more cautious and selective with longer songs and get to fit fewer in if an act has a tendency toward multi-suite prog rock symphonies. Previously my Yes and Tool playlists only had 12 tracks each, so I was actually pleased that I got 13 in here. I cheated a little bit -- 2112's epic 7-part title track is one of the band's most revered pieces of music, but it's also 20 minutes long, and the 2nd section was released as a single. So I used the first section, as it was edited into its own track for the 1997 compilation Retrospective I. But there are four other tracks on this playlist that run 8 minutes or longer, which I included in their full album versions. Rush had a great ear for concise 4-minute singles -- I appreciate that for the most part they didn't need their label to butcher their songs with radio edits to get on the air -- but they stretched their legs out quite a bit whenever the song didn't sound like a likely single.

I think one of the most remarkable thing about Neil Peart's unique role in Rush is that he wasn't a member of the original lineup -- Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson had already released one successful album with founding drummer John Rutsey, and judging from Rush, they could've had a pretty good career just continuing to be a Canadian and brainer than usual Led Zep knockoff. "Working Man" is awesome, as is the deep cut I picked, "What You're Doing." But after Rutsey had to step down due to health problems, Rush hired Peart away another Canadian band called, incredibly, Hush. And within 6 months of him joining, they'd written and recorded a new album, Fly By Night, that overhauled their sound with far more ambitious songs like "By-Tor & The Snow Dog," with most of the lyrics on the album penned by Peart. Imagine that 6 month period of them jamming and gigging and becoming this whole new thing.

There are famous drummers who are beloved as people, like Ringo Starr and Keith Moon, and drummers who became more famous as singer-songwriter frontmen, like Phil Collins and Dave Grohl, but in a way I think Neil Peart was unique: a drummer who stayed behind his kit and never became a singer or media personality, but was revered and celebrated as the musical and intellectual core of a great band. Rush fans love Geddy and Alex, but Neil is the one spoken about in hushed, awestruck tones, the one whose incredibly intricate polyrhythms and verbosely intellectual lyrics made Rush different from every other band. He was a true original.

I stuck with the first 9 of their 19 studio albums for this playlist, so I only went a little ways into their synth-heavy '80s. But I think Rush is kind of up there with Prince as a model of how to set a really high level of musicianship while also embracing new technology and making some cutting edge sonics sound more live and lively. And I dig that they really stuck with the power trio format of the band and didn't just keep adding more and more auxiliary band members to play keyboards and stuff.

I've always been kind of a casual Rush fan, checking out records here or there, I just listened to Hemispheres for the first time last year and really dug it. I feel like I'll never be a hardcore Rush head simply because I fail the litmus test of not especially loving their proggiest album, 2112, which was oddly their commercial breakthrough and still their biggest seller next to Moving Pictures. Even as a drummer and a time signature nerd, I tend to not even count the beats and figure out what rhythm Rush are playing in, since they tend to go so fast and often change it up into a new section before I catch up. So my bread and butter is still the punchier riff rock songs like "Red Barchetta" and "Anthem," but I enjoyed diving into some of these longer jams.

TV Diary

Thursday, January 09, 2020

a) "The Witcher"
I really enjoy Henry Cavill as Geralt in "The Witcher," he has this kind of unflappable, slightly bored or annoyed musclebound badass persona that reminds me at times of Brock Samson from "The Venture Bros." The show plays it straight a lot of the time, but there are certain moments that are almost sitcommy. I have to confess, though, I think a lot of the confusing timeline stuff and the B plots with supporting characters are a little dull (whenever Geralt's not onscreen, all the other characters should be asking, "Where's Geralt?").

b) "Reprisal"
Hulu's "Reprisal" is a very pulpy and stylized show with a femme fatale revenge plot reminiscent of Kill Bill. It's got a big and impressive cast (Gilbert Owuor and Madison Davenport) and in the first half of the season that I've watched there have been a number of really memorable scenes and setpieces. But it's also a show about a gang called the Banished Brawlers, who are led by a trio known as the Three River Phoenixes, who hang out at a club called Burt's Bang-A-Rang, and just having to listen to actors say those words with a straight face can be kind of exhausting. I wish they took that element of the show down a notch, Cinemax's recent show "Jett" did this kind of thing much more satisfyingly.

c) "Work In Progress"
"Work In Progress" is kind of a typical autobiographical sitcom where a comedian plays themselves, except quite a bit darker both tonally (the numbers in the title of every episode refers to Abby McEnany's countdown to her planned suicide) and literally (they use practical lighting in shooting the show). But it's also at times very funny, particularly in the subplot where McEnany sees Julia Sweeney and decides to tell her off because of the "SNL" Pat character that hasn't aged particularly well -- Sweeney gets to play a fictionalized version of herself who's amusingly married to "Weird Al" Yankovic while also getting to kind of apologize for Pat and explain what she was trying to do with the character.

d) "Astronomy Club: The Sketch Show"
I'm not too familiar with the cast of this new Netflix show, but there are a couple of pretty funny performers. The sketches can be a little hit or miss, though, and sometimes it feels like they cop out on the bad sketches by doing something at the end like flashing an "executive produced by Cardi B" card at the end of a fake TV show or cutting to white executives realizing they created something with racist stereotypes.

e) "Soundtrack"
I'm always interested to see how music is incorporated into scripted television -- obviously it's a big effort when a show features original songs in every episode, but even shows where the cast members sing popular songs can be pretty impressive from a production standpoint. By that standard, "Soundtrack" seems kind of simple -- it's a straight up romantic drama where occasionally characters express their emotions by lip syncing to Kelly Clarkson or Sia tracks in little choreographed music video scenes. It's pretty charming at times, though.

f) "Dolly Parton's Heartstrings"
I think it's great that we're at a place as a culture where Dolly Parton is one of the few celebrities that almost everyone can agree is great. Her Netflix show, where each episode turns one of her songs into an hourlong narrative story, is not great, though. The episode about "Jolene" was kind of interesting in that it kind of gives Jolene a sympathetic backstory and doesn't lay the blame at her feet, but on the other hand, it was just a really mediocre hour of TV drama.

g) "I'm With The Band: Nasty Cherry"
This is a show hosted by Charli XCX where she decides to svengali a female rock band, and picks 4 girls and helps them get their career started. The band consists of 2 seasoned musicians and 2 girls (a model and a film set designer) who they think would make good "rock stars" and have to learn to sing and play bass, respectively, for the band, so a lot of the show is kind of about them struggling through their baby steps (and also the guitarist fronts her own band that she's not breaking up to be in Nasty Cherry). The show is pretty entertaining -- a lot of the talking head reality show segments kind of break the 4th wall in a funny way -- and the songs the band has released are pretty good (although they don't really sound like a band, it mostly sounds like Charli XCX's rock-leaning music with a weaker vocalist). The whole project has this doomed air about it, though, like these girls are not really going to bond and stay a band for very long, I kind of wish Charli had found a band that already existed and mentored and made a show about htem.

h) "Spinning Out"
One thing I find myself thinking very often when I watch a show on Netflix is what network might have aired the show if Netflix didn't exist or didn't pick it up. And "Spinning Out" is very Freeform, or maybe a little darker than it would've been if it was on Freeform, lots of angsty teen athletes and family dysfunction, kinda boring and melodramatic.

i) "V Wars"
"V Wars" is a Netflix show about vampires with "The Vampire Diaries" star Ian Somerhalder, so naturally I picture it being on The CW, although really it's more of a gory straight-up horror thing (but also very boring).

j) "Virgin River"
Another one that could've been on The CW, very earnest small town drama, it's based on a novel series so maybe the source material is more interesting but the show was dullsville to me.

k) "Hello Ninja"
A very cutesy silly new cartoon on Netflix, but my 4-year-old who watches lots of cutesy silly stuff had zero interest in it, so I have to deem it a failure.

l) "Don't F**k With Cats"
One of the more interesting true crime docuseries I've seen, partly because while it deals with a pretty dark story, they find a way to insert some levity into the situation, from the title on down, mostly through the lens of the Facebook sleuths who helped bring a murderer to justice.

m) "Narcoworld: Dope Stories"
Gritty Netflix docuseries about police making drug smuggler arrests. It's kind of interesting to see the real thing since this stuff gets dramatized too often but once I got a taste of it I didn't really need to watch multiple episodes of it.

n) "Merry Happy Whatever"
Where a season of television once aired piece by piece over 3 to 8 months, it's often now released all at once. So it kind of makes sense to have shows that all take place in the space of a few days, things centered around a particular holiday or something, and the holiday-themed family sitcom "Merry Happy Whatever" is an experiment in that lane -- the first season is about Christmas but presumably other seasons would center on other holidays. Unfortunately, it's just hideously lame and unfunny.

o) "Home For Christmas"
This Norwegian import on Netflix is a much better attempt at a Christmas-themed sitcom than "Merry Happy Whatever," kind of a silly show where a woman lies to her family about having a boyfriend and then scrambles to find a guy to bring home for Christmas.

p) "Nobody's Looking"
"Nobody's Looking" is another Netflix import, from Brazil, that kind of surprised me with what feels like a very American sense of humor. But the premise, about angels who work in an office running the world like a bureaucracy, is also really really close to an American show that aired last year, "Miracle Workers."

q) "Crash Landing On You"
A Netflix import about a wealthy South Korean heiress whose plane crashes in North Korea and an army officer helps her hide and falls in love with her, really kind of a crazy premise for a TV show but it's charming with some funny dialogue.

r) "The Gift"
A Turkish import on Netflix about how a painter whose work bears a strange resemblance to a recently unearthed archaeological artifact, didn't find the mystery intriguing enough to keep watching.

s) "Twice Upon A Time"
A French time travel romance story, really soppy and sentimental, not very interesting to me.

t) "Mortel"
This French show is about 2 teens who acquire superpowers, but their superpowers only work when they're near each other. I don't like much about this show, but I thought that little twist was pretty novel.

u) "Singapore Social"
This feels like someone took a long hard look at the success of Crazy Rich Asians and the success of "The Jersey Shore" and decided we need a trashy reality show about rich Asians.

v) "The Club"
A Netflix show from Mexico about some rich teens who get involved with a drug trafficking ring, not into it but I feel like if an American network remade this it would be a big zeitgeisty hit.

w) "Infinity Train: Book 2"
Last year Cartoon Network ran this really unique little fantasy miniseries "Infinity Train" and I loved it, probably the thing I most regret forgetting to put on my 2019 TV list. So I'm pleasantly surprised that they brought the show back for another season as kind of an anthology series -- with the first season protagonist Tulip's story resolved, the new story features a version of her from a parallel universe, Mirror Tulip. It's a great show, some poignant emotional storylines and some really funny silly moments and creative concepts, so far I'm not loving the second season as much as the first but it's growing on me.

x) "You"
Nothing has made me feel more like a TV hipster than "You," which I enthusiastically told everyone about when it was a little watched show on Lifetime, but now that it's a gigantic hit on Netflix, I'm kind of like oh yeah, it's alright I guess. Part of that is down to the shelf life of the premise -- it just feels impossible for the 2nd season to be as good as the first without the novelty or element of surprise, although it's still pretty watchable and they try to keep it introducing by giving Joe a love interest who turns out to be pretty messed up too.

y) "Joe Pera Talks With You"
I still have mixed feelings about this show, sometimes I feel like Joe Pera's babyfaced-young-guy-who-talks-like-an-old-man schtick is very tiresome, but occasionally I'm in the right mood for it and the more contemplative episodes like the lighthouse one are really enjoyable.

z) "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
It's nice to see Sterling K. Brown have some fun on a comedy for a few episodes while he's still on the boring lucrative "This Is Us" gravy train, really looking forward to what his career will be like after that show runs its course. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is still pretty good in its 3rd season but starting to suffer from diminishing returns -- I think it was kind of a bad call for the show to kick off with Joel being such a thoroughly unlikable character and then come around a couple years later to expecting people to want to see him get back with Midge at least temporarily and have his own stupid little B plots, he sucks and I'm never gonna like him.

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 160: Depeche Mode

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

When the new set of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations was announced in October, the piece I wrote was kind of dismissive of Depeche Mode's chances of getting in; this is their 3rd time being nominated after over a decade of eligibility. But the more I think about it, the more I hope this is their year. It would feel right after one of their closest contemporaries, The Cure, got in last year, although it's a little funny to think they could get in the same year as one of the biggest acts they influenced, Nine Inch Nails.

Depeche Mode deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Nothing
2. Waiting For The Night
3. Black Celebration
4. Two Minute Warning
5. Shouldn't Have Done That
6. Photographic
7. But Not Tonight
8. Lie To Me
9. Halo
10. The Love Thieves
11. The Things You Said
12. I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead
13. Rush
14. Blue Dress / Interlude #3
15. Something To Do
16. Shame
17. The Meaning Of Love
18. Here Is The House

Tracks 6 and 12 from Speak & Spell (1981)
Tracks 5 and 17 from A Broken Frame (1982)
Tracks 4 and 16 from Construction Time Again (1983)
Tracks 8 and 15 from Some Great Reward (1984)
Tracks 3, 7 and 18 from Black Celebration (1986)
Tracks 1 and 11 from Music For The Masses (1987)
Tracks 2, 9 and 14 from Violator (1990)
Track 13 from Songs Of Faith And Devotion (1993)
Track 10 from Ultra (1997)

Depeche Mode have had an impressively steady career, despite a couple major lineup changes and issues like Dave Gahan's highly publicized drug problem in the '90s. They're coming up on 40 years together, but they've never gone more than a little over 4 years without a new studio album, when almost every other big band has started taking longer hiatuses between albums by their 3rd or 4th decade together. And even if they've slid a bit from their peak ubiquity, they've been pretty commercially and creatively resilient -- their last few records, including their 14th album, 2017's Spirit, were pretty good, even if I decided to only make room to cover their albums up through the end of the '90s.

Depeche Mode's debut album Speak & Spell is famously their only album written by Vince Clarke, who went on to form Erasure. And while "Just Can't Get Enough" is almost comically far lighter and brighter than just about anything Depeche Mode did after that when Martin Gore took over as the primary songwriter, it still kind of holds up as a great song that fits into their catalog. And I was prepared for Speak & Spell to be totally in that upbeat tone, it isn't entirely. Hell, one of the songs is named "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead."

I was also surprised at how long some of the Clarke songs like "Photographic" and the decidedly lighter "Boys Say Go!" stayed in the band's live repertoire, both performed hundreds of times after he left the group. Depeche Mode have played thousands of shows over the years, and some of their most played deep cuts include "Black Celebration," "Halo" (which was not one of Violator's 4 singles but still got radio airplay), "Photographic," "Something To Do," "Waiting For The Night," and "Rush," among others that I didn't have room for here.

It took a long time for me to come around to Depeche Mode, I have to admit. I remember in my budding enthusiasm for popular music circa 1990 when "Losing My Religion" and "Enjoy The Silence" were huge, I kind of took R.E.M. and Depeche Mode to be these very serious adult groups and it took a while to look at either of them differently or understand that they were kind of pioneering '80s alternative bands. Now I think "Enjoy The Silence" is a masterpiece and Violator is a great album, but some of the earlier albums that can feel a little dour and dense to me, like Some Great Reward (which, I recently learned, was followed up with the hilarious titled VHS release Some Great Videos). I think Black Celebration is the one that grew on me the most in the course of making this playlist.

My dad liked Depeche Mode and played Songs Of Faith And Devotion a lot when it came out. When he passed away it was one of the albums in his old binder CDs that I keep in my car now so I listen to it now and again, although it's not really one of my favorite albums by the band. I put "Walking In My Shoes" on the playlist I had on at his memorial service, and now I find that song even more haunting than it was before with the memory of hearing it in that context.

I find the division of labor between Martin Gore the songwriter and Dave Gahan the singer interesting -- in modern rock it's been fairly rare for the lead singer not to be the chief lyricist, with a varied handful of exceptions (Oasis, Alice In Chains, Fall Out Boy). In a weird way I think the Gahan/Gore dynamic is very Daltrey/Townshend -- you still hear Gore's voice on the albums fairly often, but in kind of vulnerable moments, before he hands it back over to his big-voiced bare-chested rock star alter ego.

Monthly Report: December 2019 Albums

Friday, January 03, 2020

1. Harry Styles - Fine Line
It's always a little funky to do my December wrap-up after my year-end lists, and I already wrote a little about this in my top 50 albums of 2019. But I will say, I think this is a big step up from Styles's first album and I'm really glad that he seems to be interested in being a singles artist and not just letting name recognition carry him into the diminishing returns of a cult appeal album artist. I was completely wrong about "Lights Up" being the breakout radio single, though I do still really enjoy the chorus's similarities to the Lil Wayne classic "Shine." What really surprised me about Fine Line, however, is not just that there are some hooky uptempo songs but that the folky acoustic songs like "To Be So Lonely" and "Cherry" anare better than the ones on the first album. Here's my 2019 albums playlist where you can find most of these.

2. Roddy Ricch - Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial
Roddy Ricch had excellent timing releasing his new album just as my #1 single of the year was peaking on the charts. It was interesting to see reactions unfold, because the initial buzz was kind of deflating, like everyone was disappointed that the album didn't contain a bunch of songs as immediate and anthemic as "Ballin'," but a few weeks later, it feels like he's really arrived and the album has caught on. Roddy Ricch definitely wears his influences on his sleeve -- there are so many different songs where he quotes a Future bar that it's hard not to hear more subtle homages to Future flows and melodies, but his voice and some of his melodic choices are distinct enough that it really hurts the record. And the choir at the end of the album on "War Baby" was a really unexpected and inspired choice.

3. The Who - WHO
When Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey released Endless Wire, I was fairly certain it'd be the last new record we'd ever get from one of the greatest bands of all time. 13 years later, there's another one after all, and for all I know they'll make another in 2032. I appreciate that WHO kicks off on a cantankerous note with "I don't care, I know you're gonna hate this song," less so that Townshend concludes that you won't like his tune because it or they are "not diverse," but there was bound to be an eye-rolling boomer moment or two here. For the most part I like the lighter stuff here, even though there's world class drummers and bassists all over the album, whenever late period The Who get into a rocking uptempo number it's impossible not to miss the unique energy Moon and Entwistle would've brought to it.

4. Infinity Knives - Dear, Sudan
Infinity Knives is a Baltimore-based artist who's hard to categorize, it's like sound collage art pop, really quiet and pretty for the opening stretch and then there are 3 tracks featuring Brian Ennals that veer into hip hop, really interesting and unpredictable record.

5. Elli$ & Stan Green - Be More Careful
I profiled Elli$ for Baltimore City Paper back in 2013 and I'm glad that he's still at it, making really thoughtful and carefully made trad east coast rap records, this time as a duo with another Baltimore artist, Stan Green, great laid back conversational feel to the whole album, "Oxygen" in particularly is really well written.

6. Matmos - at Chalkwell Park
Matmos released an excellent album, Plastic Anniversary, in early 2019, but just before the end of the year they put this up on their Bandcamp, basically the audio from an installation they did at a park in England in 2016. Given that they're probably the world's foremost experts in making music out of found sound, it's a kick to hear them take a commissioned assignment and see what they can do with objects in a park, although it was probably more fun to hear this stuff in the actual space where they made it. My favorite part is the samples from the peacock cage.

7. Free Nationals - Free Nationals
I'm not the biggest Anderson .Paak fan but I respect his musicianship and dig that he's got a talented backing band and that they've got an album of their own. This record is very much in the same hip retro funk wheelhouse as the Katranada album that also came out in December, they've only got one guest in common (Kali Uchis) but it feels like they drew from the same pool of talent, but I dig this album a little more than that one for the live band grooves.

8. Foo Fighters - 00979725 EP
Since July, Foo Fighters have been releasing a series of EPs to celebrate their 25th year as a band, 10 of them so far, all with similar artwork and a series of digits as the title (the last two digits are always '25' and the other digits indicate what year the recordings are from). They include live tracks, rarities, covers, previously released non-album songs, whatever, grouped chronologically, and naturally the more interesting ones cover the '90s. 00979725 kind of emphasizes the mellower side of the Colour and the Shape era -- a version of "Up In Arms" all in slower tempo of the first half, a stripped down "See You," the X-Files soundtrack version of "Walking After You" -- but for me the rediscovery of this collection was the b-side "Dear Lover" that I don't think I had heard in 20 years. It's also always fun to hear their cover of Killing Joke's "Requiem" since, y'know, one of Nirvana's famous songs is accused of ripping off Killing Joke.

9. Liam Payne - LP1
It's funny to think that at one point I noted that Louis and Liam had some of the best and most frequent songwriting credits on One Direction's albums and predicted that they'd have some of the most promising solo careers out of the whole group -- turns out they're the last ones to release albums (Louis's is out in late January) and are struggling to keep up commercially with the other 3. Liam had a big single, the cheesy club banger "Strip That Down" with Quavo, back in 2017, but hearing it on an album over 2 years later just seems kind of pathetic, because he's released so many songs since then that did nothing. Out of the 17 songs on here, some are pretty dopey, but once you get past the obviously bad ones, I was surprised how many good tracks there were, and the Zedd song is still a banger.

10. Fat Joe & Dre - Family Ties
Fat Joe was one of the many rappers covered in my recent Billboard piece about rappers who've flirted with retirement lately, and Joe is the one guy who's old and experienced enough that he might actually bow out for real. I will say, though, Joe has always made better albums than he gets credit for (Loyalty is a particular favorite) and I wish his farewell record was a solo project and not an ill-advised duo album with the rapping half of Cool & Dre, who I've always found really really irksome as a vocal presence. Still, his beats are good and the album is pretty solid, the 2-part "Heaven & Hell" in particular is great.

The Worst Album of the Month: Sunday Service Choir - Jesus Is Born
Jesus Is King was a mediocre Kanye West album in kind of familiar ways, but the live choir parts at least sounded good, so I was curious about the album by the choir that's been backing him for these weird 'Sunday Service' events. This album just sounds like crap, though, I mean I guess Kanye and the people in his circle don't do a lot of production that involves recording a group of singers and a band playing live together, but it sounds like they just threw a mic in the corner of the room and called it a day. And the Kidz Bopification of various R&B songs about sex just gets ridiculous after a while (Ginuwine's "So Anxious" becomes "Souls Anchored") and in a way this album's much worse than Jesus Is King because it's 3 times as long and at least twice as boring.

Deep Album Cuts Vol. 159: Pat Benatar

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Back in October, on the eve of the new nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I wrote a piece for Spin suggesting 10 acts that should be inducted that would get more women into the Hall. And when the nominations came out, 3 women were included, but one of them hadn't been suggested in my piece: Pat Benatar. She was in almost every draft of my list, but I think I got too caught up in a box-ticking mentality and felt like The Go-Go's occupied the same '80s pop/rock space while also covering the all-female band niche. But Benatar absolutely deserves to be in the Hall, and I hope she makes the cut when the induction list is unveiled this month -- she's the perfect example of someone who could have been a straight-up pop singer and instead dedicated most of her career to marrying her powerful voice to the volume and attitude of guitar-driven rock. In a way she's probably the most respected female rock star who was never in a well known band and isn't usually seen playing guitar (although she can play).

Pat Benatar deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Take It Any Way You Want It
2. The Victim
3. Hell Is For Children
4. No You Don't
5. Suburban King
6. Little Paradise
7. My Clone Sleeps Alone
8. I Want Out (live)
9. Big Life
10. Precious Time
11. In The Heat Of The Night
12. Prisoner Of Love
13. I'll Do It
14. Lipstick Lies
15. Evil Genius
16. So Sincere
17. Cool Zero
18. Silent Partner
19. Never Wanna Leave You
20. Love In The Ice Age

Tracks 4, 7, 11 and 16 from In The Heat Of The Night (1979)
Tracks 3, 6, 12 and 19 from Crimes Of Passion (1980)
Tracks 1, 10 and 15 from Precious Time (1981)
Tracks 2, 13 and 18 from Get Nervous (1982)
Tracks 8 and 14 from Live From Earth (1983)
Tracks 5 and 20 from Tropico (1984)
Track 9 from Seven The Hard Way (1985)
Track 17 from Wide Awake In Dreamland (1988)

I remember a few years ago, I was working some corporate gig where the entertainment at the end of the conference was Pat Benatar, and I was a little amused that the hosts were instructed to specifically give Benatar and her husband and longtime collaborator Neil Giraldo equal billing, and to refer to him as Neil "Spyder" Giraldo. But as a guitarist on all of Benatar's albums and the writer and producer of many of her hits, Giraldo certainly has earned the right to have his name on the marquee, and their equal billing on later tours was probably a shrewd move that helped him get a shot at the Hall of Fame -- if Benatar gets inducted this year, Giraldo will go in with her, which is a relatively rare occurrence for solo artists' unbilled sidemen. Listening to the Giraldo-written "Silent Partner," I wondered if maybe it functions as a song that aptly describes his role in his wife's career, whether intentionally or not.

Pat Benatar has 1-4 writing credits on most of her best known albums (except zero on Seven The Hard Way), including hits like "Treat Me Right" and "Fire And Ice," and deep cuts included here like "Hell Is For Children," "My Clone Sleeps Alone," "So Sincere," "Never Wanna Leave You," "Evil Genius," "I'll Do It," and "Love In The Ice Age." But her strength was always her operatic vocal range and her ability to make a song her own. And I was impressed that while her albums, especially the early ones, are dotted with covers of songs made famous by a wide range of other artists (John Mellencamp, Kate Bush, The Alan Parsons Project, The Beatles, The Four Tops), but they all sound like Pat Benatar songs once she and her band got ahold of them. One of the few covers that wasn't a hit for Benatar or anyone else was The Sweet's "No You Don't," a deep cut from the same album that birthed "Ballroom Blitz," where she hams it up and sings in a British accent like the original (although that doesn't explain the British accent on "My Clone Sleeps Alone," a genuinely strange little song).

"Hell Is For Children," a song Benatar wrote after reading newspaper reports about child abuse, is by far her most famous song that was never released as a single, the only non-hit that appears in her Spotify top 10 and most of her best-of compilations and live albums. It's slower and heavier than her other hard rock songs, and has become something of a metal standard, covered by Viking, Children Of Bodom, and Halestorm, and featured in episodes of "The Simpsons" and "Mindhunter." It was also the then-recent song that led off a collection of older hits for the 1981 animated film American Pop's soundtrack album.

Arguably Benatar's biggest hit, "Love Is A Battlefield," was one of two new studio tracks on her first live album Live On Earth, so I included the other one, "Lipstick Lies," as well as one of the only non-singles among the live tracks, "I Want Out," which originally appeared on Get Nervous. But while "Battlefield" and the next album Tropico's big hit "We Belong" are classics, I think they signaled Benatar's slide toward a glossier, less rocking sound that makes her later albums less exciting, and after Tropico was her 6th straight million-seller, the platinum plaques started to dry up. Hell of a run on those first 6 albums, though. I went as far as Benatar's last '80s album, Wide Awake In Dreamland, which also contained her last Hot 100 hit, but since then she's released 4 albums, including a couple early '90s major label albums that had minor rock radio hits (weirdly, her last major label album was named after Gravity's Rainbow).

Monday, December 30, 2019

I helped write Complex's list of the best TV seasons of the 2010s.

The Best of Me, 2019

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Here's some stuff I did in 2019 that I'm proud of:

- For Vinyl Me, Please, I wrote about why The Sound Garden is the best record store in Maryland, and my piece was later included in VMP's excellent The Best Record Stores In America book that can be bought online as well as at The Sound Garden and many other stores featured in it.

- For City Pages, I interviewed Fantasia Barrino and reviewed Tom Waits and The Police tribute albums, and did new expanded versions of my deep album cuts playlists for Jay-ZQueenThe Who, and Eric Church, among others.

- For Vulture, I wrote about the history of rap/rock collaborations at the Grammys.

- For Billboard, I wrote about artists that took over a decade between albums, and the recent rash of hip hop retirements.

- For Complex, I wrote about overlooked summer TV shows, and helped rank every Future album and mixtape.

- For Spin, I wrote a couple articles about this year's nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and wrote about some of the best alternative rock songs of 1999.

- For Vice, I wrote a lengthy appreciation of Rich Gang: Tha Tour, Part 1 on its 5th anniversary.

- I appeared on the From The English Basement and Music Vibes podcasts.

- Here on Narrowcast, I eulogized Little Feat guitarist Paul Barrere, brought back my Remix Report Card, and made over 30 deep album cuts playlists including Thin Lizzy, The CureGang Starr, Talk Talk, LL Cool J, and Eddie Money. And over the last few weeks I posted all my best of 2019 lists (albums, singles, and TV shows) as well as my top 100 albums of the 2010s.

- I also released my second Western Blot album, Materialistic, a record I'm really proud of, and played about about a dozen shows in Baltimore between Western Blot and my other band, Woodfir, who recorded a few new songs that will be out soon.

My Top 100 Singles of 2019

Friday, December 27, 2019

I already wrote about each of these songs at length in my genre breakdowns of the year in rap, rock/alternative, country, pop and R&B, but here's the big list of everything. These 100 songs include 4 appearances each by Greg Kurstin and Dann Huff, and 3 appearances each by DaBaby, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Max Martin, Jay Joyce and Louis Bell. 

Here's the Spotify playlist of all 100 songs, and my top 50 albums and top 100 TV shows of 2019. 

1. Mustard f/ Roddy Ricch - "Ballin'"
2. DaBaby - "Suge"  
3. Sam Smith and Normani - "Dancing With A Stranger" 
4. Megan Thee Stallion - "Big Ole Freak" 
5. Post Malone f/ Swae Lee - "Sunflower"
6. Shawn Mendes - "If I Can't Have You"
7. Of Monsters And Men - "Alligator" 
8. Billie Eilish - "Bad Guy" 
9. City Girls f/ Cardi B - "Twerk (Remix)"
10. Ari Lennox - "BMO" 
11. Khalid f/ Disclosure - "Talk"
12. Young The Giant - "Superposition"
13. Kane Brown - "Good As You" 
14. Luke Combs - "Beer Never Broke My Heart"
15. Katy Perry - "Never Really Over"
16. Dan + Shay - "Speechless" 
17. 21 Savage f/ J. Cole - "A Lot" 
18. Carrie Underwood - "Southbound" 
19. Lil Nas X - "Old Town Road"
20. Eric Church - "Some Of It" 
21. Hobo Johnson - "Typical Story" 
22. Panic! At The Disco - "Hey Look Ma, I Made It"  
23. Twenty One Pilots - "The Hype"
24. Matt Maeson - "Cringe" 
25. Absofacto - "Dissolve"
26. Luke Bryan - "Knockin' Boots"  
27. Thomas Rhett - "Sixteen" 
28. Dua Lipa - "Don't Start Now"
29. Ariana Grande - "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" 
30. Zara Larsson - "Ruin My Life" 
31. Raphael Saadiq f/ Rob Bacon - "Something Keeps Calling" 
32. Kiana Lede - "Ex" 
33. Ella Mai - "Shot Clock"  
34. The Bonfyre - "Automatic" 
35. Polo G f/ Lil Tjay - "Pop Out"
36. Calboy - "Envy Me" 
37. Megan Thee Stallion f/ DaBaby - "Cash Shit"
38. Cardi B - "Money" 
39. SHAED - "Trampoline"
40. The 1975 - "It's Not Living (If It's Not With You)"
41. Volbeat - "Last Day Under The Sun"
42. Ed Sheeran f/ Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars - "Blow" 
43. Post Malone f/ Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott - "Take What You Want"
44. Yo Gotti f/ Lil Baby - "Put A Date On It"
45. Maggie Rogers - "Light On" 
46. Blac Youngsta - "Cut Up" 
47. Miranda Lambert - "It All Comes Out In The Wash" 
48. Old Dominion - "Make It Sweet"
49. Maren Morris - "Girl" 
50. Jonas Brothers - "Sucker" 
51. NOTD and Felix Jaehn f/ Captain Cuts and Georgia Ku - "So Close" 
52. Kygo & Whitney Houston - "Higher Love"
53. Normani - "Motivation" 
54. Benny Blanco f/ Halsey and Khalid - "Eastside" 
55. J. Cole - "Middle Child" 
56. Young Thug f/ Gunna - "Hot"
57. Wale f/ Jeremih - "On Chill" 
58. Justin Moore - "The Ones That Didn't Make It Back Home" 
59. Eli Young Band - "Love Ain't"
60. Sam Hunt - "Kinfolks"
61. Maddie & Tae - "Die From A Broken Heart" 
62. Luke Combs - "Even Though I'm Leaving"
63. Summer Walker f/ Drake - "Girls Need Love (Remix)"   
64. Beyonce - "Before I Let Go"
65. Fantasia - "Enough"
66. Robin Thicke - "That's What Love Can Do"
67. Anderson .Paak f/ Smokey Robinson - "Make It Better" 
68. SiR f/ Kendrick Lamar - "Hair Down"
69. Meek Mill f/ Ella Mai - "24/7"
70. 2 Chainz f/ Ariana Grande - "Rule The World"
71. DaBaby f/ Offset - "Baby Sitter"
72. Pardison Fontaine f/ Cardi B - "Backin' It Up" 
73. X Ambassadors - "Boom" 
74. Tool - "Fear Inoculum" 
75. Green Day - "Father Of All..."
76. Billie Eilish - "Bury A Friend" 
77. Meg Myers - "Running Up That Hill" 
78. Lucky Daye - "Roll Some Mo" 
79. Maren Morris - "The Bones" 
80. Brantley Gilbert and Lindsay Ell - "What Happens In A Small Town" 
81. Niall Horan - "Nice To Meet Ya"
82. Mabel - "Don't Call Me Up" 
83. Fletcher - "Undrunk" 
84. Lizzo - "Good As Hell"
85. H.E.R. f/ Bryson Tiller - "Could've Been" 
86. Alicia Keys f/ Miguel - "Show Me Love" 
87. Doja Cat f/ Tyga - "Juicy (Remix)"
88. John Legend - "Preach"
89. Afro B - "Drogba (Joanna)"
90. Monica - "Commitment"
91. Jacquees f/ Lil Baby - "Your Peace"
92. Russell Dickerson - "Every Little Thing" 
93. Pink - "Walk Me Home" 
94. Sam Smith - "How Do You Sleep?"
95. YoungBoy Never Broke Again f/ Kevin Gates and Quando Rondo - "I Am Who They Say I Am" 
96. BTS f/ Halsey - "Boy With Luv" 
97. Kelsea Ballerini - "Miss Me More"
98. Five Finger Death Punch f/ Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brantley Gilbert, and Brian May - "Blue On Black" 
99. Arizona Zervas - "Roxanne" 
100. Brothers Osborne - "I Don't Remember Me (Before You)"