Monthly Report: January 2017 Singles
1. The Weeknd f/ Daft Punk - "I Feel It Coming"
I've spent a lot of the last few months trashing Starboy in general and "Starboy" in particular for the waste of Daft Punk on a terribly generic (and inexplicably popular) track. But I'm a lot more impressed by the album's other Daft Punk collaboration, which still sounds a little they're on autopilot but makes much better use of some of their signature sounds. The Weeknd always wilts under all those Michael Jackson comparisons, but this at least lets him touch on a previously unexplored capacity for sugary "The Lady In My Life"/"Human Nature" balladry. Here's the 2017 singles Spotify playlist I'll be adding to every month.
2. Ed Sheeran - "Castle On The Hill"
Ed Sheeran released two singles from his upcoming album simultaneously, and the embarrassing trop house one he wrote for Rihanna, "The Shape Of You," is naturally far and away the bigger hit, debuting at #1. But I much prefer the #6 debut "Castle On The Hill," which is produced by Benny Blanco and kind of manages to subtly combine a folky clap stomp beat with an EDM pulse but still actually sounds like the kind of song Ed Sheeran should sing instead of some corny cod dancehall bullshit.
3. DJ Esco f/ Future and Lil Uzi Vert - "Too Much Sauce"
I love the combination of Future and Zaytoven and am happy that the sequel to Beast Mode seems to finally be on the way in 2017 (presumably no longer called Beast Mode 16). Project E.T. had a lot of jams but seemed to get kind of dismissed last year in the flood of Future music that it followed, so I'm glad one of its best songs has stuck around on the charts. Lil Uzi Vert is actually good on "Too Much Sauce," so it's nice to occasionally hear this song instead of his shitshow of a verse on "Bad & Boujee."
4. Usher - "Missin' U"
I always love hearing Steely Dan sampled on rap and R&B songs, regardless of how Donald and Walter feel about it. And here Pop & Oak pretty brilliantly turn "Third World Man," one of the darkest tracks on Gaucho, into a sexy Usher jam.
5. Dreezy - "Wasted"
No Hard Feelings is 3 for 3 on radio singles, was really impressed that she did a track with Greg Kurstin that puts his sound into an R&B context that works surprisingly well.
6. Beyonce - "All Night"
"All Night" is the sweet reconciliation song at the end of Lemonade so it was appropriate that they released it as a single toward the end of the album cycle. I was surprised they credited the horns as a "SpottieOttieDopaliscious" interpolation, it's not nearly as close as the "Flawless" remix horns were, but I guess they wanted to cover their asses in these litigious times. I don't say nice things about anything made by Diplo very often so here's the grudging compliment I'll give every couple years I guess.
7. Dae Dae - "Spend It"
I think it's odd that Dae Dae dropped a solid album with London On Da Track but keeps pushing singles with different producers that aren't on that project. But Nitti Beatz is enjoying a nice little career resurgence with this and Rich Homie Quan's "Flex" hitting so many years after his best known work with Yung Joc.
8. DJ Snake f/ Jeremih, Young Thug and Swizz Beatz - "The Half"
DJ Snake launched his run of pop hits by basically using Lil Jon's voice as a sound effect (which it kind of already was, but still). So I'm impressed that this track really makes good use of all its guests, although really it'd be a better song without that annoying warbling filtered vocal loop sound that's in every DJ Snake track, that shit is really played out now.
9. Rick Ross f/ 2 Chainz and Gucci Mane - "Buy Back The Block"
Rick Ross has already been a boring rapper with good taste to me, so the more guests he loads his tracks up with the better, and this has one of the best Gucci verses of the past year on it.
10. Kevin "Chocolate Droppa" Hart f/ Trey Songz - "Push It On Me"
Kevin Hart has been doing a comedy bit as his rapper alter ego Chocolate Droppa for years, more as a parody of bad rappers than a serious attempt at a second career. So I was surprised that he promoted his latest concert film with a companion mixtape where he apparently collaborates with all manner of huge stars. It's very odd because Trey Songz contributed one of his best tracks in recent memory and they've actually scored a radio hit with it, but the charm of a Trey Songz track is maybe a little undermined by having Kevin Hart yell things like "hey bitches, y'all better get a maxi pad and put it on because you about to get wet!" and "grab her ass booty butt now" all over it. Baltimore producer J. Oliver did a great job of putting that Carl Thomas sample over a drum pattern that has a little of that "Bank Rolls" Bmore flavor to it, I just wish there was an edit with no Kevin Hart on it.
Worst Single of the Month: Drake - "Fake Love"
I know I say this every few months, but Drake has really outdone himself, this might be the worst thing he's ever done. Even the 'relatable' aspect of the song comes off hollow after all the times he's talked about how he has to "act like I like" his peers but suddenly it's everyone else that's fake. And it felt like a pretty glaring example of his practice of hopping on other rappers' waves that he gathered 3 of the people who wrote "Pick Up The Phone" (who had previously only all worked together on that one song) for a similar sounding track, which rocketed up the rap radio airplay charts at the exact moment "Pick Up The Phone" lost momentum and basically ended up with a lower peak than most people expected.