I don’t remember the last time an artist dominated the year so effortlessly that they spent six consecutive months in the top ten with no album out. Off the back of his Grammy-nominated Beerbongs & Bentleys, Post Malone snagged a #1 single thanks to his Swae Lee-assisted SpiderVerse track, “Sunflower,” and two other Top 5 hits with “Goodbyes (feat. Young Thug)” and “Wow.” Post Malone was initially labeled as a hip-hop artist due to his atmospheric trap beats and rap/singing style. Nevertheless, a combination of disparaging comments about hip-hop and intentional awards show collaborations with the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Aerosmith, Post Malone has successfully shaken all genre labels.
Post’s melodies are some of the tightest and most catchy melodies in modern pop history. It’s the reason why basically every song of his is a massive success. But, Post being Post, his implementation of rock instrumentation, rap features, and seamless blend of rapping and singing allows his music to permeate all genre lines. On Hollywood’s Bleeding, his third full-length album, Post fully leans to his unlikely status as the world’s leading male pop star and lumbers forward into a world of synth pop, country, rap, rock n’ roll, trap, and indie/alternative music. The brooding record is, as the title denotes, about the painful darkness that comes with glitz and glamour of Hollywood superstardom. Much of the album is concerned with fame and love; some of the brightest moments come from disarming juxtapositions like the one between Versace boxers and Bud Light on “Saint-Tropez.”
Between collaborations with DaBaby, Halsey, Ozzy Osbourne, SZA, and more, and writing credits from Tame Impala, Father John Misty, and Kanye West, Post’s mission to completely obliterate the very idea of genre is evident throughout Hollywood’s Bleeding. “Enemies,” on which DaBaby features, is a bouncy finger-snapping number that frankly would have made a better lead single than “Goodbyes.” “Enemies” is a primarily hip-hop song like the unexciting Meek Mill/Lil Baby collaboration, “On the Road.” The Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott joint, “Take What You Want,” is the star of Hollywood’s Bleeding for a number of reasons. Firstly, only a genius could have put two iconic iterations of world-class rock stars together on a track. Secondly, the song barrels through multiple influences and the ominous hook (“I feel you crumble in my arms down to your heart of stone/You bled me dry just like the tears you never show”) is sublime. Finally, the instrumental break at the end is easily one of the best musical moments of 2019. Alas, not all of the genre hopping works well. The Future/Halsey collaboration, “Die For Me,” is a solid idea, but it never quite clicks the way it should. Regardless, Halsey’s “I sold 15 million copies of a break-up note” line definitely steals the show.
Of the solo tracks, most of them are decidedly better than the ones on Post’s last record simply because they don’t feel as if he’s reaching for (and never quite finding) something to sing about. The title track and “A Thousand Bad Times” are lustful odes to the toxicity of Hollywood and unhealthy relationships. But, “I’m Gonna Be,” where Post proclaims “I’m gonna be what I want, what I want, what I want,” is the true crux of the album. Despite his naysayers, Post keeps pushing new boundaries and reaching new heights, and that’s what makes him such a compelling artist. Every album has been better than the last, and Hollywood’s Bleeding is his first album to truly adhere to a concept and explore the sonic universe around it. And he does it damn well.
Key Tracks: “A Thousand Bad Times”; “Take What You Want”; “Staring at the Sun”; “Circles”; “I’m Gonna Be”; “Enemies”