Monthly Report: September 2022 Singles

1. Nate Smith - "Whiskey On You"
So far TikTok's biggest impact on country music has been helping blow up "Fancy Like" by Walker Hayes, an obnoxious song by an established major label act. But it's starting to get some promising new artists signed: Nate Smith's 2019 independent single "Wildfire" got popular on TikTok and helped him get a Sony deal, and his first Hot 100 hit "Whiskey On You" is even better (of the 10 or so songs he's released so far, "Sleeve" is another favorite). The drums are really what put this song over the top for me, especially the big snare fills on the chorus and the floor toms building up into the final refrain. Here's my 2022 singles Spotify playlist that I update every month. 

2. Priscilla Block - "My Bar"
Priscilla Block is another country singer who got her deal after an independent release, "Just About Over You," went viral on TikTok. And the follow-up single "My Bar" is a pretty good too, a cleverly written little breakup song. 

3. The 1975 - "Happiness"
Back when The 1975 released their last album two years ago, they'd started palling around publicly with one of their biggest influences, Brian Eno, and both seemed game for the idea of an Eno-produced The 1975 album in the future. I tried not to take it as a given that it would happen, but I was still disappointed last month when The 1975 announced a new album co-produced by Jack Antonoff (which is coming out on October, the same day as an Eno solo album, which kinda twists the knife). I don't have as many reservations about Antonoff as some other people do, though, and I'm kind of used to The 1975 releasing sort of minor songs as first singles and then following it up with something stronger. So after the oddly muted, lyrically obnoxious "Part of the Band," I was really ready for the follow-up and "Happiness" is just fantastic, a dizzy danceable love song that taps into the band's best pop instincts. It kind of makes me sad to hear that Matt Healy and FKA Twigs recently broke up, because "Happiness" and "I'm In Love With You" are such blissful sincere tracks from a band whose previous most straightforward-sounding love song was a metaphor for heroin addiction. 

4. Maggie Rogers - "Want Want" 
The first Maggie Rogers album was successful on triple A radio but it wasn't really clear to me whether the best case scenario for her would be to lean more pop and cross over to Top 40, or lean more rock and get more alt-rock radio play. But Rogers and Kid Harpoon (who produced all of Harry Styles's stuff) figured out a good way to put a little rock crunch into her sound on "Want Want" and break her into alternative radio without losing the beauty of her voice or the ornate leftfield production touches. 

5. Bad Bunny - "Titi Me Pregunto"
It's been interesting to watch Bad Bunny's steady rise over the last few years. It's been 4 years since he hit #1 on the Hot 100 with Cardi B's "I Like It," and he's just gotten bigger and bigger in every conceivable way but having a solo track at #1 or in heavy pop rotation, this stalemate where he refuses to make music in English and the pop world continues to just barely hold Spanish language music at arm's length. But a couple weeks ago, the last award presented at the MTV VMA's was Artist of the Year, and Bad Bunny received the award during his sold out Yankee Stadium concert, and performed "Titi Me Pregunto" for the broadcast, which felt like a pretty huge climactic moment. I dunno if this will be the biggest crossover song from Un Verano Sin Ti, but it's a pretty catchy one, with a memorable little bit that's in English ("selfie, say cheese"). But another one of the album's big hits, "Moscow Mule" just entered the R&B/hip-hop airplay charts, I'm curious to see how far it gets there. 

6. Muni Long f/ Saweetie - "Baby Boo"
I wish this song got bigger than it did, it felt like such a perfect sweet uptempo song for the summer, taking a big obvious sample like "My Boo" but having a lot of fun with it and sort of adding a different energy to the track. 

7. Giovannie & The Hired Guns - "Ramon Ayala"
This is kind of an interesting melting pot moment. One of the biggest songs on alternative radio right now is a Texas band's grungy rock anthem that uses hip hop slang to namecheck one of Mexico's most popular conjunto accordion players ("I still bump Ramon Ayala when I get drunk"), which gets changed to a Selena shoutout in the last chorus.  

8. Moneybagg Yo - "See Wat I'm Sayin'"
Moneybagg transparently has a formula for his lead singles, but it's a formula I happen to like, and "See Wat I'm Sayin'" brings in the more established Tay Keith in place of "Said Sum" and "Time Today" producer YC. 

9. Babyface f/ Ella Mai - "Keeps On Fallin"
I'm really looking forward to Babyface's upcoming Girls Night Out album, which is comprised of duets with female R&B stars. The other single with Kehlani is also really good, and it looks like D'Mile is continuing to be 2022's R&B MVP. People love when people like Jason Derulo sing their own name, but I think the really elite ad-lib is when someone sings the names of both people on a collaboration like "Akon and Young Jeeeeezy," and Ella Mai does a great "Ella Mai, Babyface" riff at the end of this song. 

10. Diddy & Bryson Tiller - "Gotta Move On"
Diddy has been on this weird campaign of asking "who killed R&B?" and talking about the death of R&B, which is funny coming from a rapper who's driven the cross-pollination between hip hop and R&B more than perhaps anyone in history. And it's just an odd way to promote a song with the guy who made T R A P S O U L. I like the song, though. 

The Worst Single of the Month: King Combs f/ Kodak Black - "Can't Stop Won't Stop"
It's a little surreal that Diddy is back on the radio saying "can't stop won't stop" at the same time that his son is doing a whole Puff Daddy cosplay thing in a Lil Kim-sampling single (which, of course, is released by Bad Boy and has his pops doing some ad libs at the end). It just feels like all the strains of celebrity nepotism and '90s nostalgia coming together in one big dull package. 
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