While recently listening to Post Malone’s smash single, “Rockstar,” I considered devoting yet another Why This Song Sucks entry to what is now the No. 1 single in a number of countries around the globe. I thought the better of it, for three reasons:
1. I wrote one of these not long ago, lest I get a rep as some kind of misanthrope.
2. The WTSS series is reserved for songs that are truly, remarkably and utterly dreadful, or at least lesser tracks from artists of consequence. Post Malone is certainly not an artist of consequence.
3. Most important, to criticize one Post Malone song would be to undersell his reign of terror on the pop and hip-hop charts.
Post Malone is playing Voodoo Fest this weekend in New Orleans. Not only that, he’s essentially serving as the penultimate act before the Killers close out the festivities on Sunday night. This is not to say Malone will do a poor job in laying it out for Brandon Flowers and crew; I’ve never seen the man perform live and am therefore in no position to judge his live show. (He also has a Voodoo warmup gig Thursday at Houston's House of Blues.)
That said, Post Malone should never have even been considered for such a prominent position on such a noteworthy bill, which also includes Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar and LCD Soundsystem. And that is because Post Malone is a lazy, retread “rapper” who one hopes will be nothing more than a comedic footnote in the annals of pop by the time Voodoo Fest 2018 rolls around.
None of this is to discredit Post Malone the man. I love a guy who rocks Stone Cold Steve Austin vests and Jason Williams Sacramento Kings throwback jerseys; hell, I too own one of the latter. And, by all accounts, Post is a chill bro, one who just wants to make tunes, hook up with chicks and enjoy his run in the sun. That’s all well and good, so long as that run in the sun ends sooner rather than later.
Malone burst into the mainstream two years ago with “White Iverson,” a decent-enough track that essentially name-dropped one of the greatest to ever play pro basketball while making note of the fact that Malone, who hails from just outside of Dallas, is white. This was probably no accident, considering far lesser white rappers have experienced plenty of success of their own – see Bubba Sparxxx, Asher Roth and Vanilla Ice.
Thing is, Malone’s approach worked. “White Iverson” – from Malone’s full-length debut, Stoney – peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the Billboard Rap charts. It seemed a nice one-off novelty track – with a video that’s almost too easy to ridicule – from an artist who would come and go in no time, joining rappers like Mims and Black Rob in the pantheon of hip-hop's one-hit wonders.
“Congratulations,” which broke into the Top 10 and moved more than 5 million copies, quickly debunked that notion. And then came “Rockstar.” Released last month, his latest single features Post Malone laying down what is without question one of the laziest choruses a hip-hop song has ever seen while 21 Savage does his mumblerap thing like only 21 Savage can do.
“Rockstar” is a lazy, slow-witted song, so it made sense that it’s caught on with high-school and college kids. Hell, my seventh grader said the song is all the rage at his school, which kinda speaks to the point that “Rockstar” is an accessible song made accessible by its mediocrity. It’s what people who have never partied consider a party song. And of course it’s a damn smash.
“Rockstar” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, breaking the single-week streaming record on Apple Music in the process; it logged more than 25 million streams in its first week. That momentum eventually carried it to the top spot, where it resides today.
Now, I’m not here to disparage popular music. After all, “Look What You Made Me Do” notwithstanding, I love Taylor Swift. Hell, I defended Drake! But, Jesus, at least those artists produce something of consequence and occasionally dabble in poignancy and self-reflection. Post Malone, particularly on “Rockstar,” simply revels in fast women and prescription medication. Unlike Eminem circa 1999-2002, however, he does so with very little wit or anything else that would portend a career built for the long haul.
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And therein lies the point. Post Malone will ride his novelty as far as it will take him, as he probably should. He may very well log another hit or two before the inevitable fatigue sets in, before fans get bored and move on to the next big thing. Though it’s fair to surmise that “Rockstar” will no doubt go down as his commercial peak.
Music fans are fickle, and you can only fool them for so long until the check comes due. And when that day comes, Post Malone will no doubt be exposed as a shallow pop novelty who said a whole lot and yet said very little at the same time.
Enjoy the streaming royalties. Savor the pristine festival spot alongside artists far more deserving of the honor. Fame is fleeting when talent is lacking. Post Malone will no doubt learn as much soon enough.
Post Malone and special guest smokepurpp perform Thursday, October 26 at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. Doors open at 7 p.m.