For everyone who has asked themselves “Is Post Malone...good?” there is finally an answer. This week, the rapper dethroned Michael Jackson’s Thriller as his album Stoney spent its 77th week in the top 10 of Billboard’s R&B and Hip-Hop Albums charts. The album is from 2016, (yes you read that right) and it’s still riding high on the charts. This isn’t the only pop icon he’s surpassed this year. With his 2018 album Beerbongs & Bentleys, Post Malone has beat out The Beatles for most songs in the top 20 in the same week. The Beatles co-held the position with six songs, a record Malone blew past with nine. All this sudden success begs the question: is Post Malone our generation’s most iconic artist?
Much to the chagrin of music critics, Post Malone is here to stay; however, his success is tempered with some disapproval. His flippant attitude toward success and his own genre both attracts and repels listeners. Is he serious? Does he need to be?
While there are plenty of people just discovering him now, there are others – myself included – who have been on the Post Malone game for years now. I’m not adding “Better Now” to my Spotify playlists, though. I’m revisiting “Feeling Whitney” or looking up his old YouTube covers of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” My friends are asking me if I’ve heard of Post Malone, but they’re forgetting that I played them his covers in 2015. Thanks to streaming, fans can come from the most unlikely of places.
Streaming platforms have changed the way artists top the charts and how long they stay there. Streaming popularity doesn’t perfectly equate to fan approval. In the same way a viral video can get tens of millions of views even though it’s largely disliked, controversial music can get ahead in the charts because it has piqued people’s interest. We’re only just starting to see how much of that attention will translate into a loyal fanbase.
As the King of Pop and the Fab Four were putting out hits, they enjoyed their success coupled with a more widespread love from fans and media. Post Malone’s reception has been much more divided. The album that squashed The Beatles has a paltry two star review from NME, who criticized it for making “the rockstar lifestyle sound beige.” Streaming platforms have changed the way artists top the charts and how long they stay there. Streaming popularity doesn’t perfectly equate to fan approval. What still has people confused is how he already seems to have a loyal following. Some of that may be to do with traffic from unlikely fanbases.
Whether Post Malone is truly the most popular artist of our time, to the likes of Michael Jackson or The Beatles, remains to be seen. What he does, he does well, but he’s not really changing the face of music in the way that Jackson or The Beatles did. Critics and fans knew the moment that “Please Please Me” or “I Wanna Hold You Hand” came out that something big was happening. Post Malone hasn’t had that moment where his listeners knew that things would never be the same.
From what we’re seeing from his streaming numbers and concert turnout, it looks like Post Malone has a promising career ahead of him. The rapper is hosting the first annual “Posty Fest.” Without announcing the lineup for the new Dallas music festival taking place on October 28, tickets sold out in two hours. Whether we’ll look back on his career in 30 years in the same way we do some of the greats or not, Post Malone is everywhere right now.