Skip to contents
Music

We’re Ranking the Songs from the Current’s ‘Chart Show’ Countdown

Some of these songs are very good. Some of these songs are not so bad. One of these songs is by Alt-J.

Lizzo is shushing you so you don't wake the lady from Wet Leg.
Holly Fernando; Courtesy of Atlantic Records

If you listen to The Chart Show on the Current each Wednesday, you know its countdown, voted on by listeners, offers a pretty good cheat sheet of what 89.3 is playing these days. And you know that what the Current is playing offers a pretty good glimpse at a certain kind of music fan’s tastes at the moment.

With all that in mind, I decided to listen through the past week’s chart, and rank them according to my own peerless tastes, with comments attached. Oh, and each song’s position on the Chart Show countdown is in brackets after the title.

1. Parquet Courts, “Walking at a Downtown Pace” [9]

Look, these alt-revisionists have just got my number. Always a rhythm band, even when their beats were terse and anxious, they’ve loosened up musically without fully exhaling. Singer A. Savage swerves from gratitude (rejoining the post-quarantine crowd, yay) to alienation (choosing movies and sandwiches from screens, boo) while allowing moments of epiphany to slip in and out of his grasp.

2. Wet Leg, “Chaise Longue” [1]

Prematurely jaded about sex in a backhandedly flirty way, the Isle of Wight duo’s dry vocals tease in the best Brit haughty-naughty tradition, whether boasting “I got the big D” or insisting “you should be horizontal now.” And in the rip-and-run tradition of Elastica, they swipes the fun bits from the arty post-punk boys.

3. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, “Can’t Let Go”[5]

These Grammy magnets get points for restraint: They could’ve made a career of cash-ins on Raising Sand’s mellow NPR gold, but they waited 14 years to reunite as a duo. So if they want to subdue an obsessive Lucinda Williams snarl of lust into a charming little rockabilly shuffle, who’s to gainsay ’em?

4. Yola, “Stand For Myself” [6]

Like everything she’s recorded so far, the title track from this Bristol, U.K. soul singer’s new album is strong and honest. But it’s not where I’d make her acquaintance: Try the Philly Soul throwback “Dancing Away in Tears” or the brisk rock ‘n’ roll of “Diamond Studded Shoes.”

5. Lizzo feat. Cardi B, “Rumors” [3]

“Don’t read the comments” goes double for pop stars. Clapping back at the haters always sounds like a good idea, but it usually poops the party. Lizzo’s counterpunching here rather than doing her own thing, and it shows.

6. The Killers, “Quiet Town” [4]

When Brandon Flowers Mellencamp first remade himself as a heartland rocker on Sam’s Town, his dorkiness-on-the-edge-of-town shtick clumsily but not stupidly suggested paths rock never traveled after Born in the U.S.A. But now that he’s reached his Nebraska years, his honest concern about opioids tearing up his hometown gets lost in his platitudes about the common people. Honestly, he should bring a pro like Angeleena Pressly or Brandy Clark in for a co-write.

7. CHVRCHES, “Good Girls” [2]

Still the most reliable source of unobjectionably tasteful midtempo synthpop on the market.

8. Billy Idol, “Bitter Taste” [7]

I’m glad the old guy is still kickin’ and sneering with introspective candor in his golden years. Thing is, when he takes a long look inside all he sees are cliches, and all he hears is echoes of Chris Isaak. I need more, more, more.

9. Alt-J, “U and Me” [8]

What a perfect name for a keyboard shortcut of a band. Ideal for those occasions when you’re in the mood for “something British—you know, anything British.”

10. The War on Drugs feat. Lucius, “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” [10]

Finally, someone asks the question: What if Bryan Adams had auditioned for the Traveling Wilburys by setting out to write his very own “Sweet Child o’ Mine”? Ambitious for a band whose previous songs seemed constructed solely from Tunnel of Love outros, but careful, guys: If you get too catchy you might disrupt that placid “forgotten three-and-a-half star Boomer-rock from 1986” vibe your fans want to zone out to.