So far, the PearShaped writers’ attempts to fight the 13-week Sheeran fever have ranged from genuine praise to fierce criticism, sheer amazement to bitter resentment, all culminating in Ben’s wonderful write-up last week which accurately highlights just how much of a “musical Groundhog day” we’re currently stuck in. This week, my personal approach to combat the staleness of the charts is pure denial: when the view from the top has been the same for this long, surely, it’s okay to look a little lower every now and then? Forget Shape of You (I’m sure many of you wish you could by this point), here are four brand-new entries in the Top 40 this week:
In 21st place, we have Kendrick Lamar’s Humble, which, contrary to what you might think, isn’t about his modesty, but rather about how others should be humble around him because he’s “the realest n**** after all”. The backing track is catchy enough, but the lyrics of the rap itself are for the most part aggressively arrogant to the point of being cringeworthy. The 29-year old rapper has had notable success in the music industry so far, however, this is far from the best he can do.
At number 25, we find Heatstroke, a collaboration between Calvin Harris, Young Thug, Pharrell Williams and Ariana Grande. Like on so many other occasions, the collaboration of multiple renown artists in the current music industry creates a disappointingly sub-par result. The lyrics sound like each artist was working on a separate track, all of which was then awkwardly mashed up together. Young Thug wants to talk about how he’s “tryna beat it up, beat pills right now”, Pharrell, following the theme of Happy, just wants people to “let go, and have a good time”, and Ariana Grande goes off on a romantic tangent, talking about the guy who sets her free. The outcome is befuddled and beyond unmemorable.
Future’s Mask Off, in the 33rd spot, is another rap song, but in my opinion, a more cohesive one than Humble. The short rhymes and backing track combine to create a very chilled vibe. Whilst I personally am not a fan of rap, I can’t deny that it isn’t too bad to listen to in the background every now and then.
Finally, we have Jason Derulo and Nicki Minaj’s Swalla, which is… to summarise, pretty much exactly what you’d expect a Jason Derulo and Nicki Minaj song to sound like - a standard beat, somewhat average backing music, nearly four minutes of overused autotune, and Minaj’s instantly-recognisable suggestive, monotone rap. The song is bearable for two listens, at best.
Those were the four new entries into the charts this week, and to be honest, they were just as bland as the pre-existing tracks in the Top 40. Even besides these new entries, I see nothing truly impressive, or more importantly, something which really stands out from what has become the “formula” to make a commercial success. I can’t recall the last time I did. We can’t really be optimistic about the future of pop, can we?