Today’s Top 40: The Stories Behind the Hits of Today.

In this edition of Today’s Top 40, I used the following current music charts that are published weekly by BBC Radio 1, Billboard Magazine, Spotify, KEXP-FM (Seattle), CHUM-FM and INDIE88-FM (Toronto). For this week, I looked at songs that were found at or close to position #25. I found lots of great tunes and interesting stories to go with them. So, without further delay, let’s dive into Today’s Top 40.

Snap by Rosa Linn (BBC Radio 1)

Rosa Linn.

Rosa Linn is a singer from Armenia. If you have never heard of an Armenian Pop singer before, well now you have. Rosa Linn’s story is a very interesting one. She was selected to represent Armenia in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The ESC has been a big deal in Europe for quite a long time. In fact, the contest has been around so long that it was the vehicle that ABBA used to get their first big break when they entered the contest with a song called “Waterloo” almost half a century ago. As Eurovision unfolds, it does so like the FIFA World Cup. Nations are placed into smaller competitive brackets (for organizational purposes) where they compete against each other in a series of round robin competitions. A select few from each bracket then qualify to go on to the final round of twenty which then becomes an elimination tournament like those types of shows seen in North America (such as American Idol). In the case of Rosa Linn and her song, “Snap”, she was eliminated in 20th place in this year’s competition. But, the story doesn’t end there. Ever since she was eliminated, there has been a groundswell of support given to her by outraged fans, many of whom believed that “Snap” was the best song in the whole Eurovision tournament, let alone the 20th best song! Since being eliminated, “Snap” has gone viral, as the cool kids say. It is roaring up the European music charts and finds itself at #25 with a bullet on the BBC Radio 1 chart in the UK.

“Snap” is a good strong Pop song that mines the familiar territory that comes with an emotional romantic breakup. However, one of the things that is helping to capture the attention of the public is an unusual and very creative official music video. Having watched it, I can attest to the fact that the video for “Snap” is very interesting from a visual perspective. *(Much in the same way that the video for “Ceremony” by Joy Division/New Order was more a movie told silently in colourful, meaningful imagery. You can recall that video here.) In any case, “Snap” by Rosa Linn is one of the most noteworthy happenings in the music world at the moment. Feel free to click away on the link above and see what all of the fuss is about. For what it is worth, I think this video justifies the hype.

***The link to the lyric video can be found here.

The Kind of Love We Make by Luke Combs (Spotify)

Luke Combs.

Luke Combs is one of the rising stars in the world of Country music. He has had numerous hits in his young career and has already been nominated twice for Entertainer of the Year and, as if that wasn’t enough, Luke Combs is the youngest singer in many years to have been invited to join the legendary Grand Ol’ Opry. Luke Combs possesses a strong, clear voice and has a passion for storytelling that allows him to tap into many of the emotions and experiences felt by “ordinary folks”. I guess that is something that Country music singers/bands tend to do better than other genres. It is easy for audiences to see themselves in the songs that many Country stars sing. “The Kind of Love We Make” is no exception. In this song, Combs offers some excellent advice for those of us who have been married/in a relationship for a number of years. The song is a cautionary tale about becoming too settled and comfortable, too distracted by parenting and running a household that you allow the romantic passion that originally brought you together to flicker out. It is easy to stop being lovers and morph into a kind of platonic friendship that, while comforting, is nothing like those days when the mere sight of each other got your hearts a-pumping. So, “The Kind of Love We Make” is a song that encourages couples to keep finding time for the romantic side of their relationships. In true Country fashion, the video tells a wonderful story that many of us can relate to.

***The lyrics video for this song can be found here.

She Had Me At Heads Carolina by Cole Swindell (Billboard Magazine).

Like Luke Combs, Cole Swindell is one of the young guns in the Country Music scene. He has had many Top Ten hits and has won awards for his singing and for his music videos. That creativity is on full display in this song, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”. One of the many things that the Country music genre does well is to honour its roots. So, while sidelined from touring because of the pandemic, Cole Swindell and a few of his songwriting buddies gave themselves a challenge. The challenge was to write a new song that built upon the story of a legendary Country song from a previous decade without simply echoing the song or turning it into a sequel. After several swings and misses, the boys opted to use the song that introduced the world to Country star Jo Dee Messina, “Heads Carolina, Tails California”.

Cole Swindell and Jo Dee Messina.

In 1996, Messina released her debut single, “Heads Carolina, Tails California”. This song was about a working class couple who were caught in the humdrum of everyday life and sought greener, warmer pastures elsewhere. The location of those new pastures was to be determined by a simple flip of a coin. Like so many songs before it, “Heads Carolina, Tails California” has this “us against the world” feel about it that has you rooting for the couple as they pull up stakes in search of finding a better life somewhere else. Needless to say, this song became an instant classic for Messina, who has never looked back in her career.

What Cole Swindell managed to do was honour Messina’s song by making the singing of it part of a love story of his own. In “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”, Swindell sets his song in a karaoke bar where he watches a girl sing Messina’s song on the karaoke stage. In Swindell’s lyrics, he states how beautiful he thought the girl looked, but he is just as enthralled with her because she “loves 90s Country just like me”. In Swindell’s capable hands, he manages to honour a singer he admires, honour the roots of the Country music genre and, at the same time, reaffirm the foundational aspect of Country music which states that it is real music for real people. All in all, this is a clever take on a time-honoured Country music tradition and proves to be an enjoyable song in all regards.

***The lyrics video for this song can be found here.

Pharmacist by Alvvays (KEXP-FM)

Alvvays.

I find it interesting that it took a radio station from Seattle, Washington to showcase the latest song by a band with its roots in Cape Breton, the home of my heart. The lead singer of Alvvays (pronounced “Always”) is a young woman named Mollie Rankin. Mollie is the daughter of John Morris Rankin, who was one of the founding members/siblings of Cape Breton’s famous Rankin Family band. As such, Mollie Rankin is descended from musical royalty in the eyes of those of us who call Cape Breton our home. While adept at playing the type of Celtic music that made her family name so well known, Mollie Rankin has chosen, instead, to focus on a career built upon a foundation of Alt-Pop. Her band’s most famous hit to date is the catchy song “Marry Me, Archie”, which you can listen to here.

Well, Alvvays has released a new album called Blue Rev. The first song from this album is called “Pharmacist”. The song has not been officially released, so there is no video as of yet…only an audio track, so in the link above, that is what you will get to hear. But the folks at KEXP-FM are pumping this song’s tires and, as a result, it is already a hit with fans of that station’s music. “Pharmacist is about three minutes long and is filled with the same type of jangle-Pop energy and spirit that have come to typify their sound. Alternative music is my go-to choice of genres so I think this song is a lot of fun. Hopefully you will give it a chance and a listen and will like it, too.

***If I can find a lyrics video for this unreleased song, I will post it here.

Happiness by The 1975 (INDIE88-FM)

The 1975.

The 1975 are an English band who happen to currently be operating out of that musical breeding ground of Manchester, UK. They are known as an Alt-Rock band who write songs with literate lyrics. The 1975 are also known for producing highly creative music videos. Keep all of that in mind as you watch the video for their latest song, “Happiness”. The whole song is filled with lyrics like, “I have traveled far to hold you near”. The wordplay is clever and will keep you guessing as to what the message of this song actually is. The music video is equally engaging. As I watched, I found myself constantly having the focus of my gaze re-oriented by the stop-start filming technique being used. That is not necessarily a bad thing because it kept my mind guessing all throughout the song. I apologize if it seems as though I might be making “Happiness” seem like a challenging song to take in. On the surface, it is a bright, fun, boppy tune that is easy to listen to and enjoy. However, bubbling just below the surface are a lot of creative touches that you don’t always get from bands. I appreciate the lengths that The 1975 went to in order to bring a deeper meaning to their music. If you care to give this song a listen, I hope that you will find it witty and clever and enjoyable, too.

***The link to the lyrics video can be found here.

Moth To A Flame by Swedish House Mafia ft. The Weeknd (CHUM-FM).

Teeny tiny iPod Shuffle.

About five or six years ago, when my daughters were more children than the young women they are today, my wife and I gave them each an iPod Shuffle. If you are familiar with iPod Shuffles at all, you will remember that they looked like sticks of gum and were basically just meant to hold and play a finite number of songs. You really couldn’t do much with the music held on these devices except to press play and listen to the same songs in the same order again and again. We bought these for the girls to use during road trips in the car. We thought that they were ready for this type of device because they had begun to have an awareness of popular music because of what I listened to and what they heard on the radio when driving around town with their mother. One of the songs that made it onto that original iPod Shuffle playlist was a song by Swedish House Mafia called “Don’t Worry Child” *(which you can listen to here). “Don’t Worry Child”, along with Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” (which the girls also had on their playlists) were among the very first songs to crossover from the burgeoning Electronic Dance Music genre and have success on mainstream radio. Because we could plug the Shuffles into our car’s audio system, we all became quite familiar with the thirty-fifty songs each girl had on their playlists, and, as a result, we know far more about Swedish House Mafia than you may expect from nerds like us.

Swedish House Mafia.

“Moth To A Flame” is the latest single from Swedish House Mafia to enjoy crossover success. This is helped in part because of the presence of The Weeknd on this song. The Weeknd owns his own publishing company. This company signs and promotes other artists and bands besides The Weeknd. One of the bands that recently signed onto The Weeknd’s company was Swedish House Mafia. So, it is not unexpected that a collaboration would take place and that The Weeknd would use his star power to boost the signal on this new song. Even though this is not a Hip Hop song, “Moth To A Flame” uses the same group dynamic as old-school rappers used back in the day. In this case, The Weeknd is the singer of the lyrics while the three members of Swedish House Mafia act as DJs. They bring their skills at sampling to bear and surround The Weeknd’s vocals with an enormous soundscape to play in.

Much is expected from this song because of the business investment being made, so I imagine we will be hearing “Moth To A Flame” quite a bit over the next few months. You get to hear it while it is still relatively fresh and new. Enjoy.

***The link to the lyrics video for “Moth To A Flame” can be found here.

Note: Header photos taken at the recent Osheaga Music Festival held in Montreal at the end of July, 2022. A link to the festival website can be found here.

***As always…all original content found in this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post may be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2022 tommacinneswriter.com

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