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)


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

Today’s Top 40: a Closer Look at the Top Hits of Today…Song # 2/250: Take My Breath by The Weeknd.

Editor’s Note: Each week, I intend to write about one of the songs that is making news on the charts today. In order to do this, I shall be calling upon the following Top-40 Charts:,, and Toronto’s own, CHUM-FM. From each of those charts, I will pick a certain chart position number and look at the song from each list that occupies that space. From there, I will determine one song to write about.

Today’s Chart Position Number: 39

Today’s Chosen Song: Take My Breath by The Weeknd. (CHUM-FM)

Other Contenders:

Two Ribbons by Let’s Eat Grandma (KEXP)

***Don’t let the group name fool you. This band consists of two girls who have a folksy vibe not unlike Simon and Garfunkel. This is a slow, sweet song that is perfect if mellowing out is where your head space is at. A truly lovely song.

Ghost by Justin Bieber (Spotify)

***It’s Stratford, Ontario’s own Justin Bieber! I’m sure most of you know his story. For those of you who don’t, I am also confident that at some future date there will be another Biebs song that follows the same formula as this one does so we can talk about him then.

Voodoo by Future ft. Kodak Black (BillBoard)

***Cool, jazzy Hip Hop that makes me feel like donning a tuxedo, undoing the bow tie and letting it dangle, all the while walking around with a martini in my hand. Even if Hip Hop isn’t your thing, this song has a sleek, smooth sound to it and is worth a listen.

That brings us to today’s featured artist…Abel Makkonen Tesfaye or, as he is more commonly known…The Weeknd! Tesfaye was born in Toronto and was raised by his Mom. His father has not been part of his life, so as a result, Tesfaye grew up in a home provided by his mother who worked very hard in order to feed, clothe and house him as a child. Consequently, while his mother went to work, Tesfaye often found himself alone. However, for him, being alone meant that he was free to indulge the creative side of his personality. So, as a teenager, Tesfaye began writing his own songs and creating short videos of himself that he would upload to YouTube. He threw himself into his songwriting to such an extent that going to high school seemed unnecessary, and so he dropped out in the eleventh grade. At this point in time, Tesfaye came to the proverbial “fork in the road” in terms of how his life was going to play out. After leaving school, he moved out of his family home and into an apartment that he shared with some friends. After a spasm of drug use and hedonistic partying, along with a series of dead-end, minimum wage service jobs, the still-young Tesfaye took stock of his life and decided that he needed to channel his energies in a different manner if he was going to end up realizing the dreams he had for himself and for his mother.

So, Tesfaye did something that a lot of teens wouldn’t have had the skill set to do…he started his own record label. He named it XO Records. He signed himself up as his own first client and released a series of mixtapes out into the Toronto Hip Hop community. In 2009, he released his first mixtape of original music called House of Balloons. That tape made its way into the hands of the titan of Toronto’s music scene at the time, Drake. Drake gave the mixtape his seal of approval by mentioning it on a blog post that he wrote. From there, Drake’s legions of fans began clamouring for House of Balloons, which encouraged Tesfaye to release two more mixtapes of original work called Thursday and Echoes of Silence. With a growing catalogue of material to work from, Tesfaye was invited to open for Drake at Drake’s OVO Music Festival in Toronto. While Tesfaye’s dreams of stardom were starting to come true, he was somewhat hesitant to fully embrace his growing fame, because his personal privacy was important to him. Consequently, Tesfaye made the bold decision to not perform under his own name but, instead, to adopt a pseudonym. He chose the name The Weeknd because he wanted his new name to be one that most people associated with happy times. The reason he spelled it the way that he did was so that it would have an artsy, mysterious air about it, but also, because there was already a rock band in the US called The Weekend and Tesfaye wanted to avoid any legal hassles that copying their name would surely bring in the future.

As The Weeknd, Tesfaye has spent the last decade becoming one of the hardest working, most prolific and successful music entertainers in the entire world. In that time, he has sold over 75 million albums (which instantly puts him in the company of the all-time greats in music history!),he has won multiple Grammy Awards, and his records have achieved Platinum status 45 times over!!! He has collaborated with the biggest stars in the music industry: everyone from Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Drake, Post Malone and many more have shared his stage. He has had many #1 hits including songs such as Earned It (which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song of the Year from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack), I Can’t Feel My Face, Blinding Lights (which stayed in the BIllboard Top Ten for an entire calendar year), The Hills, Starboy, Heartless, Save Your Tears and today’s song, Take My Breath. The Weeknd has been the musical guest on Saturday Night LIve three separate times and was the sole musical guest at the Superbowl Halftime Show two years ago.

The future seems limitless for Tesfaye. His unique falsetto singing style has allowed him to carve out a very distinct place for himself in the music world. His voice is most often compared to that of Michael Jackson, but perhaps a fairer comparison would be that of the Gibb Brothers (who sang as the BeeGees). Whatever the case, Tesfaye seems equally comfortable singing in multiple genres such as Pop, Dance, Soul/R & B or Hip Hop. His latest song, Take My Breath, has been compared to that Disco classic, I Feel Love, by Donna Summer because of the energy that is produced by the pulsating beat of synthesizers. Whatever the song, whatever the musical genre, whether singing solo or as part of a musical collaboration, The Weeknd can seemingly do no wrong. He is riding a wave of success that is as impressive and consistent as any ever enjoyed by the all-time great artists in the history of music. The amazing thing is that Tesfaye is still relatively young. When all is said and done, 2022 may turn out to not even be the midway point of his career. If he keeps going at the rate he is at present, Tesfaye stands a chance at becoming one of the very biggest selling artists of all time. As if foreshadowing this, Tesfaye…who used to share a Toronto apartment with three friends and struggled to pay his share of the rent…recently bought a home in the Hollywood Hills for $18,000,000. After living there for a year, he sold his mansion to…Madonna(!)…for almost $20,000,000. If Tesfaye starts selling homes to Garth Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and/or Priscilla Presley, then we will know that he has a checklist in his head and is reeling in the greats, one Top Five best-selling mega star at a time.

For now, here is The Weeknd with one of his current hits, Take My Breath, which was occupying Position #39 on this past week’s Top 40 CHUM Chart in Toronto. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song Take My Breath by The Weeknd can be found here.

The link to the official website for The Weeknd can be found here.

Header Photo courtesy of Daniel Jackson, GQ Magazine.

***Just a reminder that all original content on this blog post is the sole property of the author. This content cannot be re-blogged, copied nor shared without the express written consent of the author. ©2022