Monthly Report: June 2017 Singles

1. Shawn Mendes - "There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back"  
I've been pretty persistently grouchy about Shawn Mendes's ascendance to teen idol status, which has even outlived the site that made him famous, Vine. But this song really grabbed me with its unlikely fusion of a trendy trop house club beat and a kind of "Jessie's Girl" sort of power pop riff. And it sorta fascinates me how Teddy Geiger, who had one top 40 hit a decade ago, has sort of transitioned from being a minor teen pop star to being the svengali who wrote and/or produced most of Mendes's hits. Here's the 2017 singles playlist I update every month.

2. Carly Pearce - "Every Little Thing" 
I just wrote in this space last month about Maren Morris pointing out how hostile country radio is these days to ballads by women. So I was pleasantly surprised soon after to start hearing this song, which is still climbing the charts and I think might get pretty big (and is in fact produced by busbee, who did Morris's whole album).

3. Thomas Rhett f/ Maren Morris - "Craving You"
This song is big and uptempo and a bit different from Morris's album and even a bit more bombastic than Rhett's stuff usually is, but it works well with both of their voices.

4. Cheat Codes f/ Demi Lovato - "No Promises"
This song really gets stuck in my head a lot, I'm kind of surprised it hasn't gotten big quicker, although I think it still might get there. I haven't generally been big on Demi Lovato leaning in an EDM direction but her voice works well with this track, and the main Cheat Codes guy has a pretty pleasant voice too.

5. Bleachers - "Don't Take The Money"
I don't like the new Bleachers album nearly as much as the second, and am generally leaning toward enjoying Jack Antonoff's work as a producer/songwriter more. But this song jams pretty hard, it just took longer to grow on me than "I Wanna Get Better."

6. Mary J. Blige - "U + Me (Love Lesson)" 
This song probably works best in the context of the album, where it flows seamlessly into the next track "Indestructible" as a pretty powerful suite.

7. J. Cole - "Neighbors" 
Once upon a time I was a half hearted J. Cole apologist, but his albums have gotten progressively blander over time and the quality of his singles has taken an even sharper downward turn. This is my favorite single he's released since "Power Trip," though. The fact that it came from a real incident of Cole's neighbors calling the cops on him, and that I started hearing on the radio the week that LeBron James's house got vandalized, really just underlines the raw, ugly sense of how much racism can still follow these guys around even when they have incredibly successful careers and move into rich neighborhoods. Cole sounds like he's reacting to it all five minutes after it happened, the disgust and disappointment is so immediate and palpable in his voice.

8. Rascal Flatts - "Yours If You Want It"
Rascal Flatts are, on some basic level, more viscerally repulsive than almost any other pop country act, they're like a weird sexy Smashmouth. That said, they have some songs I like, "These Days" is a classic to me and I'm enjoying this new one.

9. Brothers Osborne - "It Ain't My Fault"
Pawn Shop has been out for 17 months and just this week finally got its second Hot 100 hit with its most uptempo shitkicking song. I'm really happy to see one of my favorite country albums in recent memory, from a Maryland group no less, has some real legs.

10. Lady Gaga - "The Cure"  
There's something really remarkable about how Lady Gaga managed all the trappings of a major comeback, Super Bowl and all, without any kind of real success of public embrace of her last album beyond the most perfunctory reception. But I was still a little surprised that after just 2 fairly lousy singles from Joanne, she quickly moved on to a new non-album single, when I thought the album still had some decent potential hits. And after the effort to rush out a new song and retain some momentum, "The Cure" was still a flop just like her other recent singles. But it's a decent song, I feel like she's at least trying to turn incrementally toward something pop radio might embrace.

Worst Single of the Month: Miley Cyrus - "Malibu" 
This is a lot less ubiquitous than the Bangerz era stuff, and is missing some of the elements that made that record so unbearable to me, but it's still pretty awful. I feel like there's a really good interesting vocalist hidden somewhere in Miley's voice but she manages to just make the most annoying possible choices with it.
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