TYF Rates the Hot 100: Week of July 26, 2016


Since 1958, the Billboard Hot 100 has been the definitive chart gauging the biggest singles in the United States, with particular attention paid to the top 40 positions. Top 40 is so ingrained in music culture that an entire radio format and music market sprung up around it. Even in the age of streaming and YouTube, this top 40 still serves its purpose as the list of the most popular songs in the country.

Last year, The Young Folks ran a feature titled The Young Folks vs. The Top 40, which we had hoped would become a regular feature but we weren’t able to get around to doing a second installment until this summer.

For this new installment we asked several of The Young Folks music writers to comment about the songs that are currently in the Top 40 and grade them. The writers this time out are Gabrielle Bondi, Ryan Gibbs, Camille Espiritu, Bri Lockhart, Brooke Pawling Stennett, Jon Winkler, Ashley Bulayo, Amber Mack, Brittany Menjivar and Cristina Moreano. The blurbs inside include a mix of analysis and snark – if you’re familiar with the wonderful website The Singles Jukebox, you should have a gist of the concept.

The Top 40 we reviewed is from the Hot 100 published at Billboard.com on July 26 2016 and dated August 6 (as that is when it will be published in their magazine).

1. Sia feat. Sean Paul – “Cheap Thrills”

Brooke Pawling Stennett: We all could’ve done without Sean Paul’s contribution, but this Sia track is so great–lyrically and musically — that you could stick anyone on the beat and it’ll be a masterpiece. A-

Ryan Gibbs: This is probably the most “pop” that Sia has ever gotten. Even hits like “Chandelier” had an air of artiness that betrayed her past as a member of acid jazz group Zero 7 and her pre-fame career as an indie pop singer. I’m not saying this is a bad thing: Sia does tropical pop well, and her lyrics are excellent. Great to see Sean Paul back as well. It’s been too long since he was in the spotlight and he’s as great as he always has been. A-

Camille Espiritu: I missed Sia. I love her music and she’s a very talented singer-songwriter. I’m happy that she’s back in the airwaves, period. But after I heard this song a number of times, I slowly started to like it less and less. It’s a fun song to sway to but it isn’t my favorite Sia song. C+

Jon Winkler: It makes total sense that Rihanna supposedly turned this song down, because it hints so hard at her aura. The tropical-style drum beats and slow burn beat aren’t Sia usual forte, but she makes it work. And c’mon, Sean Paul with a no. 1 hit in 2016? We have reached nirvana. B

2. Drake feat. WizKid & Kyla – “One Dance”

Ryan Gibbs: Drake has wanted a solo number one single his entire career, ever since “Best I Ever Had” topped out at #2. So it’s a damn shame that he finally made it with “One Dance”, the rare song of his that has zero personality. The song really has nothing to it. If anything, its 10 week reign at #1 is a good signifier of how boring and dreary most of this summer’s big hits are. Summer songs should be fun and lively, and instead we have stuff like this. It almost makes me miss the Black Eyed Peas. C-

Gabrielle Bondi: Despite not being all that memorable, it’s not a bad Drake song. I enjoy the buoyant beat and croony wistful lyrics, but it’s far from his best work. C+

Bri Lockhart: While Drake’s music isn’t necessarily my thing, I usually find it inoffensive. Something about the melody of “One Dance” irks me–as does Kyla’s voice. Bring back the reign of “Hotline Bling,” please. C

Brooke Pawling Stennett: I really dig this track by Drake. It was in my Top 5 of the Mid Year Lists on TYF, and continues to be a fun, catchy beat that is blowing up radio airwaves. It’s fun to croon along to in the car and in social settings. It may not be Drake’s best work, but it does the job. B+

Ashley Bulayo: Does it have lyrics that are meaningful? No. Is it catchy to the point I don’t care what I look like while I’m dancing in my car? Yes. B-

Camille Espiritu: The song is catchy but it isn’t one of my favorite Drake songs. I like his music, even though he isn’t one of my favorite artists, but this song was a little of a let down. But I’ll admit it, I’ll still sing along or dance in my car if the song comes on the radio. C+

Jon Winkler: Too damn short!! There needs to be some kind of extended dance mix of this, because the beat is great. Drake’s never sounded so relaxed in his horny loneliness. Sure the lyrics are nothing but sensitive-rap gibberish, but it’s impossible not to groove to this B+

3. Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna – “This is What You Came For”

Ashley Bulayo: There’s not many lyrics in this song but it’s so damn catchy. How can you not dance to this when it’s on? A-

Gabrielle Bondi: I’m not one to be too easily enamored by Calvin Harris songs. This one, however, is pure ear candy to me. Nowhere near as jubilant as “We Found Love,” this is still a solid summer track with basic lyrics (sorry, Taylor, I mean Nils) and Rihanna’s top-notch vocals. B

Bri Lockhart: The verses of this entry in last week’s Taylor Swift drama are pretty and show off the softer side of Rihanna’s powerful vocals. The only drawback is that these verses build to a repetitive, annoying chorus. B-

Camille Espiritu: The beat! Calvin Harris definitely knows his way around the turntables. But the lyrics are in the back burner. I’m not a huge fan of Rihanna and her music but her voice pairs well with the beat and the pace of the song. They go hand-in-hand pretty well. B

Jon Winkler: *snnoooooooooore* C-

Cristina Moreano: The song starts promising, but the chorus sets the track flat for me. Keep trying Mr. Harris. C

4. Justin Timberlake – “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”

Ashley Bulayo: This song is slowly becoming my new “Happy” by Pharrell. It was amazing the first few weeks but now I hear it too much. B+

Gabrielle Bondi: This is a cute song, but this is not the JT I love. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” is catchy and fun, yet feels so manufactured and hollow. It doesn’t come close to grabbing me like Justin’s past pop-y fare. C-

Bri Lockhart: This overly cheery song brings to mind memories of “Sunshine Day” by the Brady Bunch and “Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield. Which is to say, overly cheery and a bit too in your face. C-

Brooke Pawling Stennett: It’s cute, it’s fun, and like Ashley pointed out, its eerily reminiscent to “Happy”. It lost its catchiness early on. C+

Camille Espiritu: I was very fortunate to see Justin perform this song live and it was definitely fun to watch the crowd moving and dancing along. His artistry and lyrics are top notch, but this song (maybe because it was for a movie?) wasn’t my all-time favorite Justin Timberlake songs. But it makes me happy every time I hear it and is my favorite summer track of this year. B+

Amber Mack: It’s a fantastic happy summer song that makes me dance and groove but I hope it doesn’t turn into another “Happy”. B+

Jon Winkler: I’ll admit, this one didn’t win me over right from the get go. It just felt a bit too half-assed coming from the man who made the sprawling masterpiece that was The 20/20 Experience. But I let the groove get in and the song’s upbeat nature is impossible to deny. When JT hits those high notes on the chorus, you can tell he legitimately enjoys singing this song and doing this for a living. Nice to have another major pop star record music that has nothing to do with the animated movie it was made for, and maybe this’ll segue into a brand new solo album? Please JT, pop music sucks without you A-

5. The Chainsmokers feat. Daya – “Don’t Let Me Down”

Gabrielle Bondi: “Don’t Let Me Down” is one of those mindless songs of summer that makes no impact whatsoever. D

Brooke Pawling Stennett: I have thoroughly enjoyed the rising of the featured singer, Daya, and this song holds a really cool place in my musical library for being exciting during a time where pop on the radio was starting to get really boring. B+

Ryan Gibbs: When “Selfie” came out, I wrote the Chainsmokers off as a novelty one hit wonder. After that trainwreck, I thought there was no way this act was ever going to have another hit. And yet, they did. “Don’t Let Me Down” is much better than “Selfie”, but that’s saying that it’s good or memorable. Nothing at all stands out about it and it leaves no impression. D

Ashley Bulayo: Y’all let me down but I’m glad Daya’s voice makes up for it! C+

Jon Winkler: Wait, this isn’t Sia? And it’s by those guys that made “#Selfie”? Hell to the no C-

6. Twenty One Pilots – “Ride”

Ashley Bulayo: This song made me change my mind about Twenty One Pilots and give their album a shot. I like what I hear! A-

Ryan Gibbs: I don’t like Twenty One Pilots and I hate cod reggae, so this one didn’t go over well for me.  Really disliked this. D-

Cristina Moreano: I just needed to hear this song once to like it. Not a big fan of Twenty One Pilots, but this mix of reggae with a little pop works for me. A.

7. Rihanna – “Needed Me”

Gabrielle Bondi: As one of the few that really digs Rihanna’s new album, I’m glad to see a brash and sultry anthem like Needed Me getting some charts love. A-

8. Kent Jones – “Don’t Mind”

Ashley Bulayo: Pretty sure this is like the “Panda” song and not many people really know what he’s saying… But it’s that kind of song you just can’t get out of your head. B

9. Desiigner – “Panda”

Ashley Bulayo: But, real talk. Does anyone know what he’s really saying other than “Panda”? I give you a C-

Ryan Gibbs: If you’re going to have a song without a hook or a chorus, then you need to work especially hard to make it stand out in any way. Desiigner technically succeeded in the short term, because this is a former number one single, but I don’t know if this has any staying power. I mean, I haven’t heard “Harlem Shake” in nearly two years and that made number one too. His mumbly delivery doesn’t really sell me on him as a rapper, either. C-

Jon Winkler: Okay, I’ll be the lame mainstream white guy again and say that I don’t get Desiigner’s appeal at all. Of all the recent Future clones, Desiigner may be the one that’s the hardest to decipher lyrically. What’s the point of “Panda”? Is he flexing, threatening haters, or just rambling? At least someone like Post Malone makes clear what the hell he’s talking about. While the beat is fine and Kanye made a major improvement on it, Desiigner will probably flame out by year’s end. C

10. Adele – “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”

Gabrielle Bondi: One of my favorite tracks from 25, Send My Love is a fun, catchy pure-pop song. Adele dials it back a smidge with this feel good ballad, which is a welcome change from some of her past singles. A

Bri Lockhart: When most people think of Adele, they think of her powerful love ballads. “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” is another one that’ll show people that Adele isn’t a one-note performer, that she can go for more upbeat songs. The chorus of this one gets to be annoyingly repetitive, but I give her credit for trying a slightly new sound on her latest record. B-

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