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iGEN by Ted Volk
The Place Where Radio and Records come Together Without Talking
THE CURIOUS CASE FOR POST MALONE
5/17/18

"Why don’t you play Post Malone?" I’ve found myself asking Alternative radio folks that question a lot lately. It fuels an interesting conversation. The consensus answer is he’s on all the other formats and it’s too late—the ship has sailed. But while it might be too late to play his current hit, “Psycho,” which is all over Top 40 and Rhythmic radio, it’s far from late to play another cut from the album, beerbongs & bentleys (Republic). The streaming numbers are gigantic. And if I could think of a word bigger than gigantic, I’d use it to describe Post Malone’s role in musical culture right now. This artist garnered more than 400m streams in the album’s first week out. In the second week, there were more than 250m. A #1 record at Modern Rock without Top 40 or Hot AC help usually streams 1m a week.

I’m not a big believer in going back in time, but it would’ve been fascinating to have streaming during the Nirvana and Pearl Jam era. It’s safe to say the reaction would’ve been huge, and I think most agree young men 18-27 would have played a big role in the numbers. This leads me back to thoughts of Post Malone. If one is streaming 400m in a single week, don’t you think males are a big part of the phenomenon? I already know how females feel about Post Malone; I live with three of them. And let me tell you, this rivals twenty one pilots at their peak. How can that be? I thought Post Malone was truly hip-hop? My daughters don’t listen to a lot of hip-hop. If the car radio’s on, it’s Alt Nation. So what gives?


Throughout my career, I’ve been involved with the likes of Nirvana, Weezer, Beck, Coldplay, Radiohead and The Lumineers. And when I listen to Post’s album, I hear the traditional verse-chorus-verse in a lot of the songs. It has the angst that I love, and lyrically it’s fascinating. A hip-hop artist getting airplay at the format isn’t unprecedented, but you’d have to go back to 2002—when Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” made it to #14 on the Modern Rock chart and the movie 8 Mile was a cultural marvel. In my opinion, what’s currently going on with Post Malone rivals that moment. Take the music festivals for example. He was one of the top-billed performers at Coachella, and he’s got a lofty Lollapalooza slot coming up. That said, my kids don’t want to go on a beach vacation this summer; they want to see Post Malone, Rex Orange County and the Neighbourhood at Lollapalooza. And here in Los Angeles, Post will play two nights at the famous Hollywood Bowl in June. Yes, the Hollywood Bowl—where legendary shows take place.

I applaud the stations that put in “Over Now” this week. However, when it comes to his songs, I have a bunch of favorites. If I was to guess, “Better Now,” would be the next single for Pop radio. It has the sound of summer all over it. The hook is immediate. And right now in streaming, it’s the leader of the clubhouse with 22m streams this week. “Stay” (15m TW; embedded below) is probably my true favorite, though. There’s absolutely nothing hip-hop about that special smash, which happens to be one of the best rock ballads I’ve heard in quite some time. I doubt it’ll be released over summer, but look out come Christmas time. There’s also “Rich and Sad” (17m streams TW)—a strong take on dreamy alt-rock, something I love. The chorus is amazing, and I’m dazzled by those lyrics. Another standout “Paranoid” (17m TW) would sound great on an Alternative station.

You can’t go wrong with any of these choices. They’re all that good. I hope Alt radio seriously considers playing Post Malone. I have to believe we all want to move forward. It’s how the format was built; the founders fought for that sense of individualism. It’s what I love about Modern Rock and Post Malone.