Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week Pop Shots is hitting you with a little Billboard singles chart analysis, as I take a look at a queen returning to her throne, two songs that could’ve been songs of the summer that didn’t quite make it, and two powerful anthems that are completely undeniable.
The rankings are taken from last Thursday’s chart, and since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
1. Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do
As predicted by, well, pretty much everyone, Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” unseated “Despacito” from the top spot with insane first week sales, and streaming numbers.
The song, and video, indicate Taylor’s upcoming album, Reputation, will be the introduction of quasi-bad girl Taylor (anyone who loves her cats as much as she does can’t possibly be all bad in reality). Some have questioned her authenticity, as she’s been switching genres, and personalities, from album to album, but it seems as though she’s taking the Madonna route of constant reinvention, moving on to what’s next before giving the opportunity for any one version of herself to get stale.
Given how many pop stars have come and gone during the course of Taylor’s career simply because they didn’t reinvent themselves soon enough, this doesn’t seem like the worst game plan in the world.
9. Logic w/ Alessia Cara & Khalid – 1-800-273-8255
Logic’s suicide prevention anthem vaulted 20 spots in its 18th week on the chart thanks to an incredible VMA performance (embedded above. FYI, the volume is a bit low on the clip, so you’ll have to crank it up).
Flanked by survivors of suicide attempts wearing shirts with the suicide prevention hotline on the front, and “You are not alone” on the back, Logic singing, “I finally want to be alive. I don’t wanna die,” hit incredibly hard. This was one of the most powerful performances in the long history of the VMAs, and, quite possibly, saved a life, or two, in the process.
22. Calvin Harris w/ Pharrell, Katy Perry & Big Sean – Feels
The lack of success of “Feels” is a bit confusing, as it has a number of qualities that usually make for a summer anthem. A laid back reggae vibe, multiple stars joining forces, lyrics that are basically about summer love, a solid verse from a prominent rapper .. the only reason I can think of for why it didn’t become a top ten smash is that Katy Perry has simply become chart poison, at least for the moment.
While Taylor Swift has been nailing her constant reinventions, Katy, it seems, took a bit too long to attempt to reinvent herself. There’s also a chance her dive into politics turned off a number of fans. Whatever the case may be, this doesn’t have to be the end for Katy. She can take some time off, and make a triumphant comeback in a few years. Personally, I’d love to see her embrace her rock side (the b-side to her original single was a cover of The Outfield’s “Your Love,” and it was fantastic).
As an aside, with his dating history, it’s gotta kill Calvin Harris that “Feels” chart position has been stuck at “22.”
27. Kesha – Praying
Speaking of reinventions, Kesha’s “Praying” has showed everyone a side of her as a vocalist, and songwriter, that, simply put, is mind blowing.
With “Praying,” the former party animal has crafted a survival anthem. Rather than simply writing a diss track of Dr. Luke, she flipped the script, writing about how she’s emotionally dealt with everything he put her through. The result is a song so deep, and so hard hitting, you damned near have to pull over to the side of the road whenever it comes on the radio.
Also, from a vocal standpoint, did anyone know Kesha could hit a high note like the one she hits at 4:21? Wow!
62. Louis Tomlinson w/ Bebe Rexha & Digital Farm Animals – Back To You
“Back To You” is technically a Louis Tomlinson song, but with Bebe Rexha opening the song, and basically owning it with her powerful vocals, and personality, it really ends up more of a Bebe Rexha song.
Much like “Feels,” “Back To You” has many qualities that should have made it a song of the summer, but it peaked at 40. Personally, I think with some more dedicated radio airplay there’s still a chance “Back To You” could rebound, and be one of the songs of the fall. It may have just temporarily fallen through the cracks, as “Despacito” basically ended up owning the entire summer. With only Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato prepping albums for the fall, “Back To You” could find some love when the leaves start to change colors.
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.