A View From The Top #102

by Liam Hill

Securing its 4th consecutive week at the top spot, and its 16th week in the charts, Camila Cabello’s Havana is cementing itself as yet another chart phenomena. It’s slightly disconcerting to think that Havana has been in the charts since 17th August - this shows just how painfully stagnant the charts are in 21st Century Britain. As Srinandini noted last week, in over 100 editions of this column, we have only covered around around 20-odd songs. But what’s more depressing for me is how these tracks do not simply take the number one spot for five weeks and then disappear, they seem to linger around for weeks afterwards. Take Sam Smiths’ Too Good At Goodbyes, that had a stint of three weeks at the top and has hovered in the top ten ever since. Post Malone’s Rockstar also had four weeks at number one and also hasn’t left the top ten since.

Returning to this week’s number one however, and as a guess I wouldn’t be surprised if this is its last week at the very top, I have very few issues with it. It’s so inoffensive in its melody, structure and lyrics that it’s hard to be too despondent. Despite the track falling into the stereotype of pop music being constructed by numerous writers, including Ali Tamposi who has also co-written this wee’ks number two track Anywhere from Rita Ora, the general style of the song does distinguish itself from the rest of the charts. In its forced attempt of sounding somewhat Latin, Havana does have a refreshing appeal to it. There’s an undeniable summery sultriness to Camilla’s vocal and the track does make a fair testament to her Latin American heritage.

The downfall for me lands in two places; its repetitiveness and Young Thugs contribution. Whilst its repetitiveness makes it incredibly easy to sing along to (or at least mumble the melody) it is also agonisingly unimaginative and mundane. But my bigger issue lies with the rap insert, a problem that Srinandini also picked up last week. I really don’t understand the point or purpose of Young Thug’s contribution and I couldn’t agree more with Srinandini when she says “while he definitely offers a break from the tune of the chorus, yet another autotuned rap about sex and money with lyrics like “Bump-bump-bump-bump her, like a traffic jam” and “I was gettin’ mula, baby” isn’t really what we need”. When the song is desperately trying to sound different from the rest of the charts, it makes no sense to force the song into the stereotype of chart hits by inserting a rap break in the middle to break up the repetitiveness of the song.

Rather than complicating things, it would have made more sense to me to cut out the rap and shorten the song altogether. Its repetitiveness is one of its downfalls, so rather than inserting a rap break to reduce this issue, just shorten the song entirely. The simplicity of the song generally isn’t such a bad thing. The minimalistic take in itself distinguishes it from so many manufactured pop and hip-hop songs that try and overcompensate for faults elsewhere yet Havana frustratingly falls into this trap by giving Young Thug an insert.

Flicking through the number ones covered in this column, this still remains one of the better picks. Admittedly there aren’t many to choose from but there are few which I haven’t found frustrating, this being one of those few. As a side note, the second half of the year has been somewhat better, not that I can say what the cause of this is, but there has certainly been more diversity with Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa and Camila Cabello all having a stint at the top, rather than a constant presence from Ed, Drake or Justin. And whilst I can safely say I will never be willing to spare money for any of these tracks, I have far fewer issues with them. Here’s to the hope that in future instalments there’s room for yet more optimism.