Graphic by Lillie Busch
For rapper and singer/songwriter Post Malone, vampires are many things: the music industry, ex-girlfriends, social media and more. He brings these monsters to the light in his third full-length album “Hollywood’s Bleeding.”
The 15-track album combines many genres and guest musicians, including SZA, Halsey, Future and others. It opens with the title track “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” in which Post Malone laments the soullessness of the entertainment industry. While a few songs would sound weak on their own, such as “Saint Tropez” and “I Know,” these tracks stand their ground within the story of the album.
The best tracks are those that are both self-aware and honest. One of the album’s singles, “Circles,” focuses on the constant cycle of returning to a toxic ex. “You don’t believe it/we do this every time” Post Malone sings before launching into the chorus. “Seasons change and our love went cold/feed the flame ‘cause we can’t let go.”
Other songs on the album boast simultaneous ego and motivation, such as tracks like “I’m Gonna Be” and “Wow.” Post Malone is one of the few artists who can wear that attitude so well, especially because of how he appears so harmless.
As previously mentioned, the album is full of featured artists. The knock-out collaboration, however, is “Take What You Want” with Travis Scott and rock trailblazer Ozzy Osbourne. The guitar solo in the song’s finale calls for a riot with guns and fires a-blazing.
The most questionable decision on the album was adding the Swae Lee featured “Sunflower.” The song previously appeared in the 2018 animated film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Either Post Malone simply had room for one more song, or he is trying to make a sort of meta-comment because the song does not fit with the rest of the album.
Similar to other albums like Tyler the Creator’s “IGOR” and Melanie Martinez’s “Dollhouse,” Post Malone crafted an entire world–and, by extension, experience–within these 15 tracks. In the age of digital streaming and cherry-picking songs from albums, this is both a daring move and a nod to streaming’s predecessors: CDs, tapes and vinyl. Such instruments force (or, at least, strongly encourage) the audience to listen to an album in its complete entirety.
However, in the age of streaming and instant access, listening to music has come full circle.
On Spotify, pop star Taylor Swift released a “’Lover’ Experience” with her seventh album. Alternative artist Billie Eilish introduced her debut album as a world to enter with the “Billie Eilish Experience” being paired with more experimental tracks.
Listening to music is gradually returning to what it once was and should be: a curated experience by the artist for the audience.