When ‘Señorita’ first came out, along with rumors that its co-leads were dating, it was viewed by many as the latest edition in the “Shawn Mendes isn’t gay” PR campaign. Mendes has been dogged by those rumors since he emerged and has toed the awkward line of dismissing them as “hurtful” while insisting, in true Seinfeld fashion, that there isn’t anything wrong with that.
Malone has been on quite a run. This is his ninth Top Ten single in the past three years, and his seventh in the Top Five. If ‘Circles’ hits #1, it will be his fourth to achieve that feat. Not bad for a guy who was basically unknown before 2016.
But 2019 is the least of it. I’ve been working on my “best of the 2010s” lists and will likely roll those out in December. So these next two weeks will be the calm before the “best of” storm. And what better way to breeze through two weeks than with an installment of ‘What the Kids are Listening To,’ in which I feature the ten songs topping this week’s Billboard Hot 100?
XO was the album where Smith started broadening his musical palette from his lo-fi beginnings. Similarly, ‘Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands’ starts in a quiet, acoustic style before blowing up at its midpoint into a fully orchestrated coda.
The Welsh singer-songwriter Duffy released her celebrated debut album, Rockferry, in 2008, with her throwback style prompting comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Dusty Springfield. The album won a Grammy for Best Pop Album and sold more copies than any other record in the UK that year (it was fourth worldwide).
My final pick for the upcoming Billy Joel anthology series is ‘Big Man on Mulberry Street,’ the epic, jazzy centerpiece of Joel’s 1986 album The Bridge. This is one of Joel’s best songs, so different than so much of what preceded it, yet still quintessentially him.
The song features one of Joel’s great characters, a small-time New Yorker with big-time dreams. This guy, with the right writing and acting, could be an incredibly rich character.
‘Zanzibar’ wasn’t a hit at the time but it became a staple of Joel’s concerts and is a fan favorite. It’s a perfect representation of the jazz style Joel introduced to his pop rock for this album. Just check out those horn solos.