Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Rock Otaku’s Rockin’ Billboard Chart Watch: May 13, 2017

Hello degenerates, heathens, weirdos, and deviants.  I am the Rock Otaku, and I’m here to show you worlds such as hard rock, metal, punk, alternative rock, movies, TV, anime, video games, and anything that makes us scream, shout, and let it all out.

Welcome to my Rockin’ Billboard Chart Watch.  Here, I take a break from reviewing classic heavy metal albums, movies, TV, anime, games, and so on to review what is popular in the rock scene according to Billboard.  Back in the late 19th century, the magazine started as a news source for the entertainment industry back in the day (thus, circuses, fairs, and burlesque shows were covered), then, when music became a big business, it started covering music.  Then they started having an album chart, then a singles chart, in the mid-20th century, both of which are still going on to this very day, with changes to accommodate the changes in the landscape of music distribution.  But for the rock stuff, the first chart, which would be known today as the Mainstream Rock chart, debuted on March 21, 1981, with the Alternative Songs chart following suit in 1988, the Adult Alternative chart premiering some time in 2008, then the all-encompassing Hot Rock Songs chart came to fruition in 2009.  Here, I review them all, in order of either mainstream importance, date of creation, or which songs have the most material I can cover each week.

While I may not completely discuss all 4 of those, I will provide my thoughts on this week’s charts.  I’ll provide some of my smooth commentary on the new tracks that came out for each chart.  For the older ones, there are two methods I’m planning: the first is to edit this entry depending on views while also creating entries based on charts made earlier in the year based (again) on views.  So for today, I’ll provide my two cents for the songs that came out for Billboard’s May 13, 2017 versions of the Hot Rock Songs, Alternative Songs, and Mainstream Rock songs in that order.  As for Adult Alternative, that would be more of a special moment if there’s a song everybody reading these things wants me to praise or tear into.

Like with the last few, I’ll review the top 10 songs in order from highest charting to lowest with a short review that’ll provide my thoughts on it as of this week.  That and I’ll discuss songs that Billboard considers having merit, like best increases in position, sales, streaming, and airplay.  That and the new songs will be reviewed as well.  Unless I reviewed it in a previous entry, initially or updated due to it meeting my viewership goals.  Then I will have a new goal: it you want my current thoughts on it now, depending on your relative definition of now, then share this entry with others.  You’ll get my updated thoughts on each song. 

Though I’m sure that I’ll need to get rid of the first few lines in future installments of this.  Anyway, let’s begin.

Now for the Hot Rock Songs, in order of highest position to lowest, with reviews for new tracks:

1.         Believer – Imagine Dragons

2.         Heavy – Linkin Park Featuring Kiiara

3.         Heathens – twenty one pilots

4.         Lust For Life – Lana Del Rey Featuring The Weeknd

5.         The Night We Met – Lord Huron

6.         Hard Times – Paramore

7.         Human – Rag'n'Bone Man

8.         Sucker For Pain – Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons With Logic & Ty Dolla $ign Feat. X Ambassadors

9.         Wish I Knew You – The Revivalists

10.       American Dream – Bob Pressner

11.       Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man

12.       Good News – Ocean Park Standoff

13.       Saturn Barz – Gorillaz Featuring Popcaan

14.       Love – Lana Del Rey

15.       Testify – NEEDTOBREATHE

16.       In The Blood – John Mayer

17.       Love Is Mystical – Cold War Kids

18.       Andromeda – Gorillaz Featuring D.R.A.M.

19.       Middle Fingers – MISSIO

20.       Help – Papa Roach

21.       Young And Menace – Fall Out Boy
So what are my thoughts on Fall Out Boy after Save Rock ‘n’ Roll?  I think that their musical approach has both suffered and improved.  The former is due to losing their edge and their attitude.  The latter is that their more annoying aspects started to be less pronounced, even if I think “Phoenix” is underrated despite the clumsy lyrics.  This tune?  This is sort of a mess, with decent verses with some decent instrumentation, then the chorus (and pre-chorus) is where the song starts to lose its strengths, going from decent to obnoxious and pretentious.  The chorus is pretty lame, going for chipmunk voices when it’s a stupid idea in general, even with the rockstar elements of the chorus that could have made it worked.  I’m not sure if this can even be called “Young and Menace” when it’s clearly by a band that’s definitely past their prime and the song’s menacing aspects are annoying rather than, well, menacing.  Okay pop production with dumb lyrics.  That’s all I can say about it.

22.       Cold Cold Cold – Cage The Elephant

23.       Let Me Out – Gorillaz Featuring Mavis Staples & Pusha T

24.       Angela – The Lumineers

25.       High – Sir Sly

26.       The Violence – Rise Against
Whereas Fall Out Boy have shown signs they sold out, Rise Against has shown signs that they have gotten angrier than before.  And still be as melodic as they have been.  With a punishing verse loaded with angry guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, the band knocks the door down before entering this song about the woes of the world with a focus on the more violent, feral, savage aspects of it.  And the chorus is the moment where the band goes all out, proving their merit in the melodic hardcore subgenre of punk.  And the bridge is outright power.  If there’s a guarantee that I can say about this track, this is definitely a song that punk rock and hard rock fans can congregate together to and admit just how awesome Rise Against is.  And there is a tragedy in the sentiment that violence is a part of our nature as humans.  It’s dark to think about, but the music is awesome enough to make it easier to cope with the darkness.

27.       Don't Take The Money – Bleachers

28.       Thunder – Imagine Dragons
This song is not as awesome and interesting as “Believer,” and it isn’t as thunderous.  Pardon the pun, but this song is way too limp, poppy, and focused on commercial accessibility to have this title.  The production is aimed more towards a hip hop and R&B influence on this title, and the song is a little too steady and Mary Jane-friendly for me.  Despite having a decent solo (that’s hopefully from a guitar), this song is rather uninteresting and surprisingly bland.  The ending can only do so much to help this song not be a total wash.  Not the worst thing ever, but nowhere near as strong as their previous single.

29.       Monster – Starset

30.       The Apprentice – Gorillaz Featuring Rag’n’Bone Man, Zebra Katz & RAY BLK
Talk about status quo.  Whereas Imagine Dragons isn’t as strong when it comes to incorporating element of hip hop, I am comfortable with Gorillaz being the band to bring quality rap to the rock charts.  And with Rag’n’Bone Man being the main vocal component alongside Damian Albarn, this track manages to be an excellent take on steady hip hop that you just chill to.  Thought with Rag’n’Bone Man’s approach to this track, as well as the contributions by RAY BLK, this is definitely closer to dirty R&B than rap, and somehow this band makes it sound great.  Both with the great production and the maniacal laughter that shows up at points in this track (similar to “Feel Good, Inc.” which is a song that I just love in general), this track is somehow excellent.  And Zebra Katz manages to provide a great rap bridge to this track, and is easily one of the reasons I can recommend this to my rap-loving friends.  Overall, this is a banging track.

31.       Blame – Bastille

32.       Still Feel Like Your Man – John Mayer

33.       Sweet Disaster – DREAMERS

34.       Nimble Bastard – Incubus

35.       In Cold Blood – alt-J

36.       Let You Down – Seether

37.       Ascension – Gorillaz Featuring Vince Staples

38.       Reverend – Kings of Leon

39.       How Did You Love – Shinedown

40.       Hot Thoughts – Spoon 
Must resist obvious reference.  Okay then.

For this track, the indie rock darlings go for a disco-inspired track.  If I have to give it credit, the song’s beat is excellent in that classic disco vibe.  Also, the guitars are used pretty well here, with a strong bassline anchoring it.  And of course, said beat is a showcase of the drummer’s talents in making something catchy.  As well, we have a strong vocal performance that manages to be both appealing and charismatic.  While also dealing with the theme of having a strong affection for the girl the singer has a thing for.  In short, it’s a simple, fun, catchy song that manages to be a little steamy as well.  Nothing less from the band called Spoon, who specializes in this kind of rock.

Okay, you get this:

41.       Hard Love – NEEDTOBREATHE

42.       All The Pretty Girls – Kaleo (Need 20 views to review)
43.       Feels Like Summer – Weezer
Yes Weezer, this feels like summer.  This feels like summer in the way that you sound like badasses.  In that you aren’t not as badass to make a dark summer anthem as most other rock bands that came to fruition at the same time as you.  But I have to give credit to the fac that this is simple and demented enough to be a little fun.  The guitars and vocals here, along with the great bassline, are strong enough that they somehow work, and are vintage Weezer.  However, it’s weird that they go for pop/r&b/hip hop drumwork and production for this track, even with the rock instrumentation going along for the ride.  In short, it isn’t my ideal summer anthem, but it’s still a fun little track if you are a Weezer fan, but I feel that Weezer fans might not like this track in general.

44.       Black Rose – Volbeat

45.       We Got The Power – Gorillaz Featuring Jehnny Beth

46.       Lights Out – Royal Blood

47.       Unbreakable – Of Mice & Men
So Of Mice & Men made a song called “Unbreakable,” and is sounds like a Hot Topic version of the Stratovarius song of the same name?  Okay then.  At least it sounds more like the metalcore sound I associate with this band rather than radio rock, even with influences from that latter being a big part of this track.  But whereas the last song I talked about from them kind of fell apart considering where they were, this song is a lot closer to why I think this band exists while validating their success, having an anthemic, defiant sound and tone, with a keen sense of melody as well, even when the song goes for the screamo elements that make bands like them punching bags for critics.  AS for the technical aspects, the vocals are on point, the guitars slay, the bass is thick, the drums are pounding and have a strong focus on the second pedal, and the production is rather decent (which is great for this genre).  And the breakdown is great, even if I could have squeazed in a guitar solo (in my mind, Lamb of God are the only band who can replace guitar solos with breakdowns with class).  Overall, it’s a decent track, but not one that’ll go in the history books.

48.       The Cure – Unspoken
So for this track, we have a poppy new wave-inspired track.  While I can like certain aspects of this track, I’m more weirded out by the following: this is about Jesus.  And it isn’t subtle or within the lines.  It’s right in the main text.  Not to say that this is a bad thing, as this tune is still a happly little track with some drive to it, but the struggle isn’t there.  Instead, it’s both rightfully sugary (the instrumentation) and wrongfully sugary (the Christian themes), and it doesn’t do anything inspiring to me except for the fact that it’s a nicely-produced song with some drive and volume and well-done clarity in the sound, from the guitars and keys to the bass and drums.  It’s just that message might not fit for me at this point in life, and that it’s too on the nose here.

49.       A 1000 Times – Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
Knowing the tone of the singer, it’s a little weird that he is portrayed as a pre-teen first (then as an old man toward the end, here when he has an adult tone.  As for the song itself, it’s more of a sappy pop tune that’s about how he loves this girl and will keep on loving her.  But considering the song being from the point of view of a stalker, the video makes sense with the changes in the singer’s age.  But it turns this arguably lo-fi pop rock tune from something sweet and caring into something more disturbing, as if the singer is a loser who will intrude on this girl’s property (both in the literal and figurative sense).  Not helping is the alright production giving this song some lo-fi qualities that’d sound great in classic rock, and are more clever when they go the creep route, as well as some nice keys, guitars, bass, and drums.  But those lyrics.  They are just creepy.  Next.

50.       Hate That You Know Me – Bleachers
More Bleachers?  This is sweet.  And with this track, this dweeby act manage to provide a strong modern pop take on 80s pop and new wave that I’m definitely digging.  And the title fits here.  I’m definitely a rocker rather than a waver, and l like this.  I hate that I know this band is awesome.  Or it should, because of my type, but the fact that I like it probably has more to say about my varied musical tastes than it does how weird I am.  I mean, if this song proves anything, regarding 80s music, I can go from the fun side of Latin freestyle to proto-death metal in a flash, as in having a playlist where I go from Cover Girls to Possessed.  And this song is definitely on the fun side of 80s style pop rock, with a bouncy beat, charismatic but high-pitched singing, jangly guitars, a beat-driven bass and drum performance, and some stellar production to make it all mix together.  It’s just a fun tune, and one to enjoy for months to come.

And for this week thanks to the onslaught of John Mayer last week, here are the dropouts from then:

Ride – twenty one pilots

Way Down We Go – Kaleo

Good Goodbye – Linkin Park Featuring Pusha T & Stormzy

Rosie – John Mayer

Never On The Day You Leave – John Mayer

Moving On And Getting Over – John Mayer

You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me – John Mayer

Theme From “The Search For Everything” – John Mayer

Emoji of a Wave – John Mayer

Helpless – John Mayer

Roll It On Home – John Mayer

Changing – John Mayer

Despite previous showcases of my taste in punk and metal, here’s the Alternative Songs:

1.         Believer – Imagine Dragons

2.         Wish I Knew You – The Revivalists

3.         Love Is Mystical – Cold War Kids

4.         Blame – Bastille

5.         Cold Cold Cold – Cage The Elephant

6.         Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man

7.         Human – Rag'n'Bone Man

8.         Sweet Disaster – DREAMERS

9.         Green Light – Lorde

10.       Middle Fingers – MISSIO

11.       Heavydirtysoul – twenty one pilots

12.       High – Sir Sly

13.       Don't Take The Money – Bleachers

14.       Take It All Back – Judah & The Lion

15.       Fire Escape – Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness

16.       Reverend – Kings of Leon

17.       Feels Like Summer – Weezer

See Above

18.       In Cold Blood – alt-J

19.       Shine – Mondo Cozmo

20.       One Of Us – New Politics 
So from this band which I haven’t given some focus until now, we get a bouncy, poppy tune.  And bouncy and poppy are the terms that describe this track perfectly.  With its beat, piano line, bassline, drum performance, and guitars which focus on jangly sounds than fuzz, feedback, and distortion, the song is set up entirely to be fun and non-dangerous.  For the vocals, they definitely have a pop rock tune to them.  And the lyrics definitely deal with being an outcast or something while desiring a place in the world.  All of this leading to a very peppy, happy, and sweet track that’s trying very hard to be uplifting.  But it’s a little weird that this kind of tune has the guitar solo that it does.  Okay, screw it, this song is awesome, and I really, really want to see this in Rocksmith, or get some tabs so I can learn that solo.  Talk about somehow getting my attention, guys.  Hopefully, the rest of your discography doesn’t suck.

21.       Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay (Need 20 views to review)
22.       Down – Marian Hill (Need 30 views to review)
23.       Rhythm & Blues – The Head And The Heart (Need 40 views to review)
24.       Too Much To Think – 311 (Need 50 views to review)
25.       Hot Thoughts – Spoon 

See above

26.       Suit And Jacket – Judah & The Lion (Need 60 views to review)
27.       Good Morning – Grouplove (Need 70 views to review)
28.       Hard Times – Paramore

29.       High Enough – k.flay (Need 80 views to review)
30.       Kill For Candy – Dreamcar (Need 90 views to review)
31.       Lights Out – Royal Blood

32.       Nimble Bastard – Incubus

33.       She Said – Sundara Karma

34.       The Violence – Rise Against

See Above

35.       Howl – Biffy Clyro

36.       Goodbye Angels – Red Hot Chili Peppers

37.       Lost On You – LP (Need 100 views to review)
38.       All The Pretty Girls – Kaleo (Need 110 views to review)
39.       Set On Fire – Magic Giant

40.       Help – Papa Roach

And here are the dropouts from last week:

Heavy – Linkin Park Featuring Kiiara

Pork Soda – Glass Animals (Need 120 views to review)

And finally, my favorite one to look at due to a combination of my musical interests, nostalgia, and biases: the Mainstream Rock Chart:

1.         Help – Papa Roach

2.         Let You Down – Seether

3.         Monster – Starset

4.         Black Rose – Volbeat

5.         Nimble Bastard – Incubus

6.         Show Yourself – Mastodon

7.         Take Me – Korn

8.         Back From The Dead – Skillet

9.         Now That We’re Dead – Metallica

10.       If Only For Now – Pop Evil

11.       Madness – All That Remains

12.       How Did You Love – Shinedown

13.       Never Again – Breaking Benjamin

14.       God Damn – Avenged Sevenfold

15.       Breathe – Through Fire
I remember this track.  I have stated repeatedly that this song, on its own, is a standard radio rock power ballad.  All with the fixings, such as the heavy guitars mixed with clean, melodic lines in the verses, a powerful chorus, a gravely baritone on the mic, pounding drums, thick bass, and electronic touches.  And the lyrics deal with stuff we’ve heard before, usually the traditional “I have a tough life, and I need help guys” message.  In short, it’s nothing special, but if this song was inspired by what the music video is themed after, it might be a little better.  No seriously, homelessness is something no one should have to be forced into, and being forced into it due to anything like what they’ve done, their sexual orientation, or even disability is disheartening.  As someone who’s been around homeless people and even a few soup kitchens, it hits me hard when I hear stories like this.  And if this song was genuinely inspired by the crushing realities of it, then I have to give the band credit for putting a light on an issue that just sucks.  I might have found a reason to like this band despite their record label.

16.       Lights Out – Royal Blood

17.       Feed The Machine – Nickelback

18.       Middle Fingers – MISSIO

19.       Aftermath – As Lion (Need 20 views to review)
20.       New Land – Avatar (Need 30 views to review)
21.       Anti-Everything – DED (Need 40 views to review)
22.       Come Together – Godsmack (Need 50 views to review)
23.       Bullfight – A Day To Remember (Need 60 views to review)
24.       LOUD (F**k It) – Motionless In White (Need 70 views to review)
25.       Howl – Biffy Clyro

26.       Dark Black Makeup – Radkey (Need 80 views to review)
27.       Worth The Pain – Letters From The Fire (need 90 views to review)
28.       Heavydirtysoul – twenty one pilots

29.       The Violence – Rise Against

See Above

30.       My Champion – Alter Bridge (Need 100 views to review)
31.       Oh My God – The Pretty Reckless (Need 110 views to review)
32.       I Want It All – Hell Or Highwater (Need 120 views to review)
33.       Catch Me When I Fall – Stitched Up Heart

34.       Believer – Imagine Dragons

35.       Song #3 – Stone Sour
So Stone Sour are back, so that means Corey Taylor’s melodic side will be a part of rock radio’s fury for the rest of summer.  And this song is still a hard-hitting, but melodically emotionally-driven track about a man reflecting on his life and how this other person that cares for him makes him feel at peace with himself.  And to match that, the verses are lower in the volume department but snarling and aggressive, but go into a pre-chorus where the intensity picks up and the chorus goes into pure passionate aggression.  Plus there’s a great guitar solo here, with definitely a classic rock/hair metal style vibe to it in its approach and style.  And it matches with the track’s continued melodic punch, with strong production that gives clarity to each instrument, from the crunchy and wailing guitars to the thick bass and the pounding drums.  And of course, Corey Taylor is a surprisingly good singer for this stuff, showcasing a vulnerability in his masculinity while still having a manly tone, proving that true manliness involves admitting your faults and needing another to pick him up when he falls.  And it’s a driving track as well, so there might be some speeding tickets caused by this track.  Enjoy!

36.       Cheaper To Drink Alone – Black Stone Cherry

37.       Run Rabbit Run – Black Map

38.       Pure Evil – Like A Storm

39.       Lure And Persuade – Citizen Zero (Need 130 views to review)
40.       Hurricane – Thrice

And here are the dropouts from last week:

Human – Rag'n'Bone Man

They Put A Body In The Bayou – The Orwells

So those were my thoughts on the charts and the new arrivals.  If you feel that I skipped out on certain songs, then feel free in the comments what songs you want me to elaborate on.  I have plans depending on how this is received for what I will review next week as well as what is new next week for the chart(s) I ultimately look at.  If you have different opinions on the songs I reviewed, feel free to tell me in the comments as well.

Also, expect updates to the reviews (specifically songs I’ve missed) when this entry gets a certain amount of views each time.

Until Next Time, This is The Rock Otaku.  Live Loud and Play Hard.

All used references are done under the rules of fair use and are owned by their original creators. 

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