Monthly Report: January 2016 Singles
1. Young Thug - "Best Friend"
"Lifestyle" and "About The Money," the songs that really helped cement Young Thug as a serious star, dropped two days apart in June 2014. And for the next 18 months, dozens of Thug tracks made their way into the public without making remotely the same impact as those songs (Rae Sremmurd guest verse aside). So "Best Friend" climbing the radio charts right now is kind of an important moment for him, just in reclaiming that momentum so he's not left behind as 2014's great flash in the pan. Here's my new running playlist of favorite 2016 singles that I'll be adding to every month throughout the year.
2. Curren$y f/ Lil Wayne and August Alsina - "Bottom Of The Bottle"
Curren$y has had a long weird career, always adjacent to stardom but never a major star in his own right (something like the southern equivalent of Consequence, who he even resembles a little). Over a decade ago, he was a late era No Limit soldier, then he was signed to Young Money before it became a star factory (and "Where Da Cash At" was, for years, the only thing I ever heard by him on the radio), then he became buddies with Wiz Khalifa just before Wiz started topping the charts. And all the while, he remained a cult artist beloved by a certain kind of rap fan who never got on radio playlists, even when he released a star-studded Warner Bros. album in 2012. But another star-studded album released on Atlantic late last year has finally given him a serious hit, and I think "Bottom Of The Bottle" is really getting over on the strength of the song and not just the guests, since August Alsina and Lil Wayne just had another single out that didn't do nearly as well.
3. Highly Suspect - "Lydia"
This kinda came and went on the charts already but just started to grow on me, nice lurching riff, really stands out as one of the darker, heavier things on rock radio in recent memory.
4. Tinashe - "Player"
Chris Brown singing hooks on rap songs has been an unavoidable staple of radio playlists for ages, but now there's also a ton of R&B songs where Chris Brown just sings (or, ugh, raps) a verse and isn't even essential to the song but gets thrown on there to increase airplay. "Player" is one of many of the latter, but at least in this case a Tinashe solo version is commercially available, so that's the one I'm putting on the playlist.
5. Plies - "Ritz Carlton"
Plies was one of a number of southern rappers whose career was boosted in the late '00s by a T-Pain hook, and he milked it pretty well, releasing 4 major label albums in the space of 3 years and briefly becoming a pretty big star before he kinda disappeared back into the masses of mid-level mixtape rappers. But in the last couple years he's mounted a weird comeback as more of a social media celebrity than a rapper, making goofy Instagram videos. And as he continued lobbing music out there, "Ritz Carlton" recently emerged as a song funny and entertaining enough to capitalize on this new phase of his career. As it happens, the corporate offices of Ritz Carlton and its parent company (Marriott) are both based in Maryland, and are frequent clients of the company I work for, so this week I ended up at Ritz Carlton HQ in Chevy Chase for a job. I asked Ed French, the chief officer of sales and marketing, if he was familiar with the Plies song. "Oh, we know about it," he said wearily, kind of indicating that the song is obviously too profane for them to approve of in any way but that they just remain hands-off about this kind of thing and let people do what they want with the brand name.
6. Flo Rida - "My House"
Like Plies, Flo Rida kind of lucked into mainstream stardom circa 2007 with a T-Pain hook, but he held onto that success for a lot longer, basically by becoming a free-roaming pop rap parasite who would latch onto whatever EDM trend would give him another hit. And in a weird way he's cycled through so many different fads until he's circled back around to "My House," a song that basically sounds like '90s hip hop, complete with an "Impeach The President" drum break.
7. The 1975 - "UGH!"
I had mixed feelings about The 1975's debut album, which had some songs I really dug and some songs that just made the band's whole sound and persona pretty unbearable. And so far that pattern has continued with the advance singles from their second album: "Love Me" was awful, leaning hard on a hook that's almost verbatim the same as the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing." But "UGH!" is just beautiful and light-footed and really makes me curious what direction these guys are headed in.
8. Young Dro - "Ugh"
And here's the other current single called "Ugh" that I really enjoy, from Young Dro's extremely deserved commercial second wind. Zaytoven has been on a great run lately and this is up there with the best of his Beast Mode productions.
9. Daya - "Hide Away"
I don't know if this song's whole thing about "good boys" is a corrective to Drake's whole obsession with "good girls" or if it's just as bad, but I don't know, it's a pretty great-sounding song.
10. The Chainsmokers f/ ROZES - "Roses"
I got this song confused with "Hide Away" a lot for a few weeks (since they're both songs on pop radio with women singing the phrase "hide away" in the refrain), but really I like them pretty equally. ROZES has a pretty annoying Zooey Deschanel old timey singing style, but "Roses" featuring ROZES reminds me of the classic Rick Ross song title "Gunplay" featuring Gunplay. The Chainsmokers were previously known for the awful hit "#Selfie," but they've redeemed themselves a little with this.
Worst Single of the Month: Justin Bieber - "Love Yourself"
Nobody's more depressed about the enormous success of the Bieber career reboot than me, but at least "Sorry" is kind of a jam. This song, which will probably replace it at #1 soon, is just dogshit, Ed Sheeran giving him a mealy-mouthed acoustic ballad and adding some weird passive aggressive misogynist shit about how female vanity is actually the problem.