Post Malone is maximum Post Malone on “Hollywood’s Bleeding”
Ryan Israel | Thursday, September 12, 2019
For a brief moment there was a conversation about whether or not Post Malone would be a one-hit wonder. His hit, the spacey, basketball-themed “White Iverson,” put him on the charts in early 2016, but his potential as a rap superstar wasn’t clear. People who took a look at him, with his gnarly long hair, gold grill and hand tats (he didn’t have any face tattoos — yet) were quick to dismiss him as another Soundcloud rapper soon to fall to the wayside.
But in late 2016, Post (real name: Austin Post) delivered his debut album “Stoney,” and it became clear that he was no one-hit wonder. Rather, he had the backing of a powerful label (Republic), friends with serious industry clout (Justin Bieber, 2 Chainz) and some real hitmaking talent. “Congratulations,” the centerpiece of the project, became an anthem for anyone who felt they had “been slept on.” “I Fall Apart,” a particularly rough break-up song, made waves a year after its release when a video of a live performance went viral.
The diamond buried in the rough, drawn-out back half of “Stoney” is the final track: “Feeling Whitney.” The song is Post at his most raw, with everything stripped away, reminiscent of Nirvana’s legendary “MTV Unplugged” performance. Over a simple guitar, with almost no autotune, Post gets brutally honest about addiction and his struggle to maintain his rockstar image. “Just act as hard as you can/You don’t need a friend/Boy, you’re the man,” he sings, on perhaps his best song.
Then came “rockstar,” a hollow, empty and formulaic track devoid of the honesty of “Feeling Whitney.” Then came “Beerbongs and Bentleys,” an album with none of the redeeming qualities that could be found in “Stoney,” but enough Billboard success to solidify Post as rap’s newest superstar. And now, “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” an album even more empty of content and meaning than “Beerbongs and Bentleys,” but with probably the same number of pop-chart hits.
“Hollywood’s Bleeding” adopts a faux-edgy aesthetic to cover its pop-leaning songs in a haze of angst and darkness. And granted, there are plenty of angsty and moody songs on the album. The title track “Hollywood’s Bleeding” finds Posty lamenting about the city’s blood-sucking cruelty among other things. On “A Thousand Bad Times,” he complains about the thousands of bad relationships he’s been in, but of course, he’s not to blame, it’s the crazy women.
Despite these few moody tracks, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” is really a pop radio album. The hooks are the highlights, the production is upbeat and poppy and the autotune is heavy. “Allergic” uses an energetic beat, hard-hitting drums and a strobing chorus to create a song that will drive you crazy — not in a good way. “Im Gonna Be” is your stereotypical empowerment anthem, a surprise coming from Post. Every other song lies somewhere between gritty angst and shiny pop, with all of them blending together into a dizzying 50-odd minutes of music that is, quite honestly, a waste of time to listen to. You’ll hear them on the radio in a week or so.
Not even the A-list guests manage to make “Hollywood’s Bleeding” worth a listen. Rap’s biggest stars — Travis Scott, Future, Young Thug and more — just seem lucky to have a chance at scoring a hit alongside Post. SZA’s incredible voice is tragically paired with Post’s autotune crooning. Ozzy Osbourne is there for some reason.
Love it or hate it — if it wasn’t clear already, I’m in the hate camp — Post Malone is a music superstar. Not just a rap star, not just a pop star, but a superstar. People, for some reason, love his music, and people, for some reason, will love “Hollywood’s Bleeding.” Form your own opinion. Mine is: Thumbs down.
Artist: Post Malone
Album: “Hollywood’s Bleeding”
Label: Republic Records
Favorite Tracks: Just go back to “Stoney” and listen to “Feeling Whitney”
If you like: Listening to the radio
Shamrocks: 0.5 out of 5