Monthly Report: September 2017 Singles

1. Luke Combs - "When It Rains It Pours"
The first time I heard this song on the radio I thought it might be Chris Stapleton, but then I remembered that Chris Stapleton doesn't really have a personality or a sense of humor. I like how the title and the opening lines set you up for a sad self pitying country song but then he flips the premise around and makes it celebratory. Here's the 2017 singles Spotify playlist I update every month.

2. MIKExANGEL - "One Time"
I don't consider predicting hits to be one of my strong suits, but sometimes I can call 'em, and hearing this for the first time recently and being immediately taken with the lyric and the intricacies of the drum programming reminded me of the first time I heard Khalid's "Location" a year ago and how I knew that would probably huge.

3. Future - "Incredible"
HNDRXX is one of my favorite albums of 2017, and it's been kind of frustrating to watch Future finally release the R&B album I knew he had in him and have it be totally overshadowed by the self-titled album he released a week earlier, which contained the biggest song of his career, "Mask Off." And then I got really pissed when he and his label started adding mediocre collaborations with Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj to the HNDRXX tracklist as if the album didn't have plenty of potential hits to begin with. So I was pleased to finally see one of my favorite songs on the album, "Incredible," finally show up on airplay charts in the last few weeks.

4. Justin Bieber and BloodPop - "Friends"
"Sorry" was pretty much the only song I liked out of that whole Purpose era that turned Bieber into one of those rare pop stars that people who look down on pop stars admit to listening to. So after the summer of "I'm The One" and the "Despacito" remix, it was something of a relief to finally hear him come out with something reminiscent of "Sorry" with the same producer. In fact, "Friends" may sound a little too overtly like a "Sorry Sequel," with the same distinctive drum fills at the end of every other measure and another semi-clever lyric about reconciliation with an ex that Bieber sings like he doesn't really understand it (right down to saying "alterior" instead of "ulterior"). Still, it's great, and it bums me out that it's shaping up to be one of the only unsuccessful singles he's had in the last couple years.

5. Hustle Gang f/ T.I., Rara, Brandon Rossi, Tokyo Jetz, Trae The Truth and Young Dro - "Friends"
Grand Hustle and the various groups T.I. has built out of rappers on the roster or in the label's orbit (P$C, Hustle Gang, Bankroll Mafia) have included some really solid music and impressive rappers over the years but for whatever reason T.I. never really put it all together to be a serious mogul who's been able to guide other artists' careers consistently. This song really stuck with me from the first time I heard it, I was impressed that it does a good job of showcasing 3 rappers I've scarcely heard before as well as Tip and a couple of Grand Hustle lifers, Dro and Trae, it just sounds like everyone is having fun with that flow and taking turns at the mic.

6. Tove Lo - "Disco Tits"
"Disco Tits" isn't an entirely unexpected title from an artist whose last album was called Lady Wood, but this song is really just wonderfully odd and presumably more of a teaser single than anything aimed for radio play. But honestly, I've always had mixed feelings about Tove Lo and it would really benefit her to have more filthy, funny, strange stuff like this to distinguish her from all the blander C-list pop divas she's in competition with. And that pitch shifted dog bark riff in the chorus is just about my favorite thing in the world right now.

7. LÉON - "Surround Me"
The Swedish singer LÉON's 2016 single "Tired Of Talking" was a great pop record that for some reason didn't break in America (perhaps just as well, since they remixed it with a G-Eazy verse). So I was happy to see a video for a pretty good new song on whatever they're calling MTV Hits now. Turns out she's released about 7 songs in the year since "Tired Of Talking" and they're all pretty good, so I'm really rooting for her now.

8. Vanjess f/ Masego - "Touch The Floor"
Another track I just kind of stumbled on while I had videos on in the background and this came on BET Jams, by the end of the song I was dancing around the house.

9. B.E.R. - "The Night Begins To Shine"
One of my son's favorite shows is Teen Titans Go! and there was an episode a while back in which the characters on the show were obsessed with this very catchy song by a fictional band called B.E.R. More recently there was a special "The Night Begins To Shine" miniseries of Teen Titans episodes, expanding the mythology around the song, with stars like Fall Out Boy and Cee-Lo performing it, which was fun, and an EP was released and the song actually appeared on some Billboard charts. The original is still the best, though.

10. Julia Michaels - "Uh Huh"
I never really got a handle on "Issues," I feel like it had potential to be good but didn't connect on some level. But I really like the followup single and how it takes the nervy edge in Michaels' voice in a completely different direction, really fun track.

Worst Single of the Month: Calvin Harris f/ Katy Perry, Pharrell and Big Sean - "Feels"
I have mixed feelings about Funk Wav Bounces and this whole era of Calvin Harris siphoning cool points from rap and R&B and retro funk, but most of the songs are at least pleasant. So it's pretty annoying that the worst song on the project has already surpassed "Slide" on the charts even while Katy Perry's career takes a nosedive. I think the worst part is that she could've said "feels" or "catch feelings" but nobody on earth says "catch feels," like Katy Perry just manages to make everything awkward all the time.
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