The Monthly Music Mix: October
By Drew Renner
Boo! It’s Halloween and unfortunately there has been a murder. Our beloved Box Office Mojo has been repealed and replaced by some slick shit that nobody likes. What does this have to do with music? Nothing .. for now. But it could be the death of charts as we know them!
For the rest of the industry, life goes on. October 2019 did not see a lot of big releases, at least not in the corners we hang out here on the Monthly Music Mix. I think this was a direct result of the Grammys changing their eligibility period to a Sept 1 cutoff, forcing the industry to overload August (and what a glorious month of music that was.) The grammy voters have sent in their ballots though, and now it us up to the Nomination Review Board to narrow the choices for the big reveal on November 20th. I’ll cover that a lot more next month, but I’ll also throw in some predictions at the end of today’s column.
Also, if you like Metallica there is good news for you; they will be headlining all the big US rock festivals next year for not just one, but two nights! Come join me in Columbus next May for Sonic Temple. The rest of the lineup will be released on Cyber Monday, so we can get into that next month too.
Congrats to Lizzo, who has officially captured the record for most weeks at #1 for a song by a female rapper. Iggy Azalea wept. Not really though, she seems pretty cool with it. Plus it wasn’t an easy victory, Truth Hurts was displaced twice this month on its way to the record. We had our first #1 debut in several months (since 7 Rings I believe) when Travis Scott dropped Highest In The Room. It’s weird to think that mega smash SICKO MODE and this kinda-sorta throwaway jam have the same amount of time at the top, but that’s how it works sometimes. The long-lasting popularity of that song made people very curious about what he did next, and thus we have a streaming monster. It fell out of the top 5 on week 2 but has stabilized and is working its way back up. Perhaps even more surprising is Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved breaking through the glut at the top to take the top spot for at least one week. Selena Gomez will likely debut at #1 in the first chart of November but I could see Lewis climbing back after that. It does work as a Holiday song even though it was released in the summer.
As mentioned, there weren’t too many big releases on the album side. This is probably why Post Malone was able to recapture the top spot by the end of the month with Hollywood Bleeding. The rest of the month saw some big debuts by newer artists though. DaBaby continued his breakout year by scoring a #1 debut with his second album in six months, Kirk. Next up, a K-Pop band that is not BTS soared all the way to the summit, surprising everyone but their (apparently very large) fanbase. SuperM is their name, and the title 1st Mini Super-Album suggests I wasn’t alone in not knowing anything about them. Then rapper Youngboy Never Broke Again was able to open at #1 with Al Youngerboy 2. I would never choose a prophetic name like that, especially considering how musicians spend their money, but hey it caught the attention of the world right? Billie Eilish is also creeping back up the charts, and as crazy as it sounds, I think it’s somewhat likely that she returns to #1 in the holiday season.
Song of the month:
Was screamin at my dad and he told me it ain’t Christlike
Follow God by Kanye West
Good news; Kanye actually put his album out. Bad news; I can no longer make jokes about Kanye not putting his albums out. Oh well, we had a good run. And if the end result is more great songs then I suppose it is more than worth it. Most of us were concerned about Kanye doing a gospel album, was it just a troll or was it sincere? Seems like it was a little bit of both. Follow God is undeniably a banger though that could have fit on any of him previous albums this decade, most reminding me of the excellent Feedback from The Life of Pablo. It goes as quickly as it comes, less than two minutes of song and then a small rant at the end. I feel like it encapsulates the entire album. Kanye wants to be better, he wants to be Christlike, but even when he tries to give himself over to a greater power, he is still Kanye. I wish we had a bit more of this on Jesus is King, but I guess if he wasn’t always trying to be something else, these types of moments where he sinks back into himself wouldn’t mean as much. Use This Gospel is another solid song from the album (featuring both Clipse and Kenny G somehow), reminding me of 808s. While Closed on Sunday has the most ridiculous lyrics of the year, I can’t be sure if it was on purpose or not, so I’m just chalking it up as a funny song rather than a good one. Chick fil a!
You wanna hear my art, but only on your terms
Watch What Happens Next by Waterparks
This pop-rock group is full of attitude. On first listen, this might come off as just a potential break-up song with a lover that doesn’t appreciate you. But this is directed at the music industry in general, and their policy of not giving bands any money for their albums. Think about Ice Cube destroying his manager’s office in Straight Outta Compton and you have a great video for Watch What Happens Next. Rock music in 2019 needs a Death Row, but with less murder and extortion. Though the good news is that bands can just live on nostalgia nowadays and tour until they are 70 or above. So just hold in there guys, you guys will be set in about half a century, if we aren’t all underwater or something. Though I guess a band named Waterparks would be prepared for that too!
Album of the month:
Metal Galaxy by BabyMetal
This is a band that could make the theme song for any anime program out there. So you are either in or out right now. Even those who are OK with it may find themselves quickly worn out by the sensation. On Metal Galaxy though, they found a way to keep it fresh all the way through to the end. Pop songs like Brand New Day contrast well with the heavier songs like PA PA YA!!! They have a song in English called Elevator Girl (one of the highlights) and a song with bagpipes called Oh! Majina! (not my favorite but I appreciate the diversity.) This album could have been in trouble too, with key member YuiMetal leaving the band for either health reasons or the desire to start a solo career. Luckily SuMetal and MoaMetal were up to the task, and carried the vocals so well that one might not have even noticed Yui’s departure.
Standout – Kagerou
Earthandsky by Of Mice and Men
Of Mice and Men always face an uphill battle when it comes to recognition. They are one of two bands that spun off from Attack Attack in the late 2000s, and Beartooth (with singer Caleb Schomo) has been soaring above them ever since. They also have to deal with people thinking they are Of Monsters and Men, the indie-pop-rock group known for the hit song Little Talks. So yeah, they are usually starting as people’s third choice. And Earthandsky isn’t really changing the game for them, they’re still dealing with hard-hitting verses with booming choruses, what you’d expect from any metalcore band. Yet they just took it up another notch without really compromising their sound. They’ll never admit it, but third place sucks and I think it really bothered them. Therefore, they put everything they had into this record and it paid off. It’s like they say – the taste of blood is better than the taste of regret.
Standout – Taste of Regret
Grammy predictions – ranked in order of likelihood: Though remember these are more difficult to predict than your usual award show. The Review board can pick any eight out of the top twenty, and it’s difficult which way they will lean year to year.
Album of the Year
Ariana Grande – I think she is the favorite. Ariana is very young, but is also an industry veteran at this point with five albums under her belt. This album is also so very personal, detailing her break up with Pete Davidson and depression over the death of Mac Miller, it’s hard to listen to it and feel nothing.
Lizzo and Billie Eilish – The grammy’s don’t typically give the big award to new artists. If ever there was a time to change that though…. These two are right up the voter’s alley.
Taylor Swift – Taylor fans LOVE the new album. She has already won this award twice though, and the Review Board might feel like giving someone else a chance.
Vampire Weekend – Snubbed for Modern Vampires back in 2013, whose spot was given to the likes of Macklemore and Sara Bareilles, I think they’ll be too hard to ignore this time. Plus, excluding rock music from all eight nominations last year actually derailed the Cardi B party and led to an easy win for Kacey Musgraves, who was the closest thing they had left.
Khalid – mediocre reviews but they love these type of singers
Solange and Eric Church – I don’t feel great about either of these predictions, but just think the Board will want some more R&B and country.
Record of the Year
Old Town Road
Sunflower (Post Malone)
The three biggest songs of the year – usually translates to a nomination. OTR has to be the heavy favorite though.
You Need To Calm Down
These are probably, but the spot could also go to artists who weren’t also nominated for album of the year.
I feel like they will sneak Beyonce in here somehow and Senorita is a long shot but again seems like something the board will like and consider diverse.
Song of the Year
Thank U, Next. This category should be called Best Lyrics to avoid confusion with record of the year.
Best New Artist
Billie Eilish over Lizzo and Lil Nas X
Come back next month to find out if I’m right! And hopefully we can share some more music too, though the month is extra-lite on releases.