WizKid

The Worst UK No. 1’s of 2016 (posted April 2017)

With Rockabye covered, we’ve finally got to the end of 2016. At last, we can finally chuck the year away and leave it to fester in it’s well deserved pit. But first, time to cross some t’s and dot some i’s with the mandatory Best-Of and Worst-Of lists (posted only a quarter of the way into the year that came after it). First up is the worst list, purely because more people always prefer to read the negative stuff:



Special Mentions

‘Dancing on My Own’ – Calum Scott

101

This would’ve been No. 1 on this list had it reached No. 1 in the charts: a detestable track done by an unpleasant stalker pretending to be deep and sensitive. As I’ve already said: this song wants you ‘to deeply sympathise with a potential criminal as he does the stupidest thing he could possibly do in his situation, trying to morph a self-defeating stalker into some form of tragic hero‘. As I’ve also said: ‘Fuck it‘.



The List Itself

#5: ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’ – James Arthur

106

This song isn’t bad. In fact, I think it’s fine. It knows what it wants to do and it does it in a way that isn’t actively unpleasant. It is boring though. It takes every trope that every dull male artist used this year and proceeds to do nothing with them. Nothing. And unfortunately for it, there were only 11 UK No 1’s during 2016, meaning that the lower end of this list was always going to feature things I didn’t care for as opposed to things I actively hated. The No. 5 spot eventually became a choice between this song and Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself; Love Yourself does more interesting things so this got the chop. Sometimes ‘fine’ doesn’t cut it.

#4: ‘Pillow Talk’ – ZAYN

74

Again, I don’t hate this song. I am disappointed by it though. It was the first single from a departing One Direction member, promising a new direction for Zayn as an icon and a new type of music primed to shake up the charts. It delivered on neither of those promises. The end result is something which wanted ‘to feel like a reinvention of the wheel‘ but was ‘little more than a wheel with the word “WHEEL” written on it‘. The world does not need a post-One-Direction Zayn and it didn’t need this.

#3: ‘One Dance’ – Drake feat. Wizkid & Kyla88
I don’t get Drake and I particularly don’t get this. It’s a miserable, confused, unsatisfying piece which apparently counts as a romantic club hit. I mean seriously, how are people enjoying this? That said, this got it’s position not due to it’s internal qualities but due to its effects on the industry as a whole. Firstly, it was No. 1 for 15 weeks. 15 weeks! Given how dull and contentless this track was, that constituted a complete pausing of the entire record industry for the whole spring. And because it was a massively successful record produced by one of the biggest names in pop, it was immediately followed by a lot of copycats. The result was the second half of 2016: a bloated, unmoving monolith of musicless tracks mumbled by an endless series of uncaring hacks. This song ruined pop music in 2016; culturally, it’s the worst thing Drake has done since “YOLO”.

#2: ‘7 Years’ – Lukas Graham

75

My review of this song is a 3,000 word monolith of me trying to figure out if I like it or not. As time has gone on though, I’ve been able to come down on a firm opinion on it: it’s crap. I can appreciate it for it’s scale and grandiosity; what I can’t appreciate is how malformed the syntax is, how messy the lyrics are, and, most fatally, how awfully self-important it is. Even worse than this is Lukas Graham himself whose sense of ego wafts off him like BO from a well-worn gym sock, particularly given that he doesn’t have the writing chops to justify it. This song needs to get over itself, much like Lukas himself.

#1: ‘Stitches’ – Shawn Mendes

77

The vapid whining of a nasal hack. Fuck it.


So that’s the shit dealt with, now onto the good stuff. Next time: the top 5 UK No. 1’s of 2016…

A No. 1 Review – “One Dance” by Drake feat. WizKid & Kyla

88

I don’t get Drake. He’s never seemed that dynamic to me, nor has he ever seemed particularly weighed down by personality. My sisters seem to fancy him, though I don’t know why. I just don’t get him.

A lot of the time, he sounds monotone and uncaring to me. The Motto and Headlines are particularly bad examples of this, with Headlines’ chorus in particular sounding like he’s just mumbling his way through it because he’s got better things to do. Elsewhere you have Started from the Bottom which misses out the majority of it’s plot and feels incomplete as a result, plus songs like Hold On, We’re Going Home which are just unpleasant on a sexual politics level.* I think I’m still to even hear a song of his that sounds finished to me. Why do people like him? I don’t know.

It should thus be no surprise that I like this song infinitely more when Drake isn’t rapping over it. It starts with some really interesting instrumentation, coupled with an ethereal performance by Sample-of-the-Week Kyla – then all this gets thrown away for a single drum beat stuck over Drake tiredly mumbling about something.

This wouldn’t be too bad if the dour tone was somehow justified. The song is basically about how much Drake loves someone and how much strength their relationship (and booze) gives him during his hard, tiring life. This is not an uncommon topic at the least but other attempts at the message have at least tried to sound happy or empowered, working via the idea that a song about something positive should sound positive. Instead, One Dance seems to be actively aping Cheerleader by OMI: both have Afro-Caribbean inspired music; both are implied to be set in clubs; both are about how much strength the narrators derive from their loves; both sound fucking miserable; and neither of them have music which matches their lyrics. Drake’s song is at least more justifiably tired that OMI’s is – a subtext in a lot of Drake’s songs is how tiring existence is, meaning that even the most positive things in his works need to ultimately be read as lesser evils trying to make existence better and failing – but there is just a massive disconnect in regards to what I’m hearing and what I’m supposed to be feeling.

Maybe it is this disconnect which both songs are actually about. I’ve talked quite a few times about Deconstructionist Post-Club Songs: songs designed to deconstruct club music and reveal how hollow and fragile the form is. These songs appear to be the opposite though: in both, love is the hollow lie and the music is the only thing that’s real. We’re frequently told that romance is necessary for a happy, fulfilling life; yet these songs feature characters who are so beaten by life that not even their best romances can manage to lighten them up; as much, romance is deconstructed and shown to be as hollow a lie as club music is. So what is left for us? Where do we go from here?

Alas, if this type of music has a flaw, it’s that it never answers those questions; hence why reconstructionist music is more popular in the charts, people generally preferring flawed answers to complete mysteries. And, though I’m a great supporter of deconstructionist music, this problem does plague this song: ultimately, it just sounds a bit miserable without having much of a point. What are people actually getting out of this song, especially considering how many other tracks at the moment are just like it? I don’t get it.

Am I missing something? I must be. If you know what, please let me know in the comments; I’m genuinely all ears on this one. Otherwise, I’m just stuck in the dark (apparently much like Drake’s work itself).

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* The one exception is Hotline Bling, which I really like. Drake sings it terribly, the music is little more than musak, the lyrics are problematic – yet combine all of these features together and they somehow end up feeding into each other, producing an almost Biz Markie level of wrongness which feels oh so right. The result is a nicely off-putting track that is highly interesting to listen to; I love it.