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Why Post Malone Is So Damn Catchy (HBO)

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Face tattoos, unkempt hair, and beer-swilling aren’t the typical blueprint for pop stardom. And yet, we still have Post Malone.

He’s one of the most listened-to and inescapable artists of the moment, and his music has broken commercial performance records previously held by The Beatles and Michael Jackson. But for every Posty fan, there seem to be even more people confounded by the idea that he has fans at all.

VICE spoke to Berkeley College of Music songwriting professors Kareem Clarke and Brian “Raydar” Ellis to discuss the Post Malone phenomenon. They credited his repetitive rhythms and melodies and strategic song structure as major players in his music’s popularity potential. Another advantage? His average singing voice.

“You know, it's different from a Beyonce when she sings ‘Love On Top’ you know when she gets to the part where she modulates, in other words she goes from from one key to a higher key to a higher key,” Ellis explained. “When she's doing that, at a certain point the average listener is just not going to be able to follow, like they can't […] For artists like Post or artists like Rihanna, they tend to just work inside a specific, limited range of notes that complement their voice but also complement the average listener.”

Looking at his music and persona in aggregate, it’s clear Post Malone is the beneficiary of a rare confluence of factors that almost predestine him for mass popularity. The formula is covering all his bases at once.

His songs are easy for everyone to remember and sing. His music pulls from multiple genres without ever fully committing to one. He’s a pop star and a populist. He does beerbongs and he drives Bentleys.

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50 Comments

    Popular Comments:

Trans 8 . 2019-03-25
Another Elvis?
121 2 . Reply
Mubashir Khan . 2019-03-25
He makes good music? He's humble? Talented? Maybe that's why?
121 2 . Reply
Darklanser . 2019-03-25
F off with this nonsense. "Wearing the formula on his sleeve." F you Vice.
121 2 . Reply
Joseph Leonard . 2019-03-24
of course...of course, race had to be somewhere in there!
121 2 . Reply
arash m . 2019-03-24
cardi b is white
121 2 . Reply
LiveRealEnt . 2019-03-24
my dudes post is definitly unique im a singer song writer producer all genres ive worked with everyone from lil wayne to lynard skynard i play nine different instaments and i know pro tools like the back of my hand ive written over 2000 songs recorded thousands more i promise you post malone is the next elvis presly ...his voice is one of a kind no one has his unique shake in there voice as post does and the reason people like his music is because its fire hot and you an tell that his heart and soul is in it ....like a rapping adel ....so much feeling ozzy ozborn goodbye to romance meets 2pac gangsta party....if you dont get it get out of it your going to suck......LMA0
121 2 . Reply
AnimeCraze . 2019-03-23
You just missed Eminem in the top ten rappers list😶
121 2 . Reply
Brooke Bilker . 2019-03-23
"...melody or melanin " are you serious? Just because they both start with MEL doesnt mean you have to connect them! It aint that deep
121 2 . Reply
pompay subba . 2019-03-21
I thought he got Pulitzer or something ..
But nay ...
#cole world here ..
121 2 . Reply
DUNNISHER 82 . 2019-03-21
He is a lazy writer like all other post 2005 musicians . Guy is trash . Try spitting over a gangstarr beat , he'd be flipping burgers at bk real quick . Fat hack
121 2 . Reply
Jota Soares . 2019-03-21
the more complex the song is... the less people it appeals to!
so ye... simplicity and repetition/simple patterns makes most songs more 'enjoyable' (?!)
There are lots of songs with only 4 chords that are world wide famous!!!
121 2 . Reply
Jake Pearson . 2019-03-21
melanin or melody
121 2 . Reply
roltthehunter . 2019-03-21
Post is likable and people want to see him succeed, He is a champ. Also the ending of this was a bash on the fans, I think it was a bit of a punk move by them, really shows their character or lack thereof.
121 2 . Reply
DCC . 2019-03-21
this is so rude
121 2 . Reply
Zatarra Dantez . 2019-03-20
Drake is as much white as he is black. Why does it even matter........ exactly!
121 2 . Reply
Chelsey Leigh . 2019-03-20
This is what bitterness looks like my friends...
121 2 . Reply
rockman298 . 2019-03-20
Why dont these guys make a song if they are professionals in the area
121 2 . Reply
Clesarie . 2019-03-19
Cause he makes music that people wanna hear and its versatile enough to appeal to a wider audience than most people. Also this video is a douche bag haters video. Everyone always says how easy and formulatic shit is to do yet they're not as successful. If its so easy why arent you out there making tons of money.
121 2 . Reply
landshark616 . 2019-03-17
I don’t think he woke up one day and said I have to make music for my critics , he is just doing his thing plus his music yeah just gets you ina. Good mood .. he is simple yet creative I don’t know to many artists who can flow have nice beats and yet play guitar ..
121 2 . Reply
Carol Wiley . 2019-03-17
So I feel like basically they r saying he has no talent he's brain washing us.. what a load...💩. He's here, he's talented and he's gonna be around awhile... Let the brain washing commence..😵
121 2 . Reply
KIDSVEVO@ . 2019-03-17
You can smell the jealousy of the two men talking about post...
121 2 . Reply
Jo Berg . 2019-03-14
This is nonsense..try to rap along to his lyrics and you stumble on the words. He's a genius.
121 2 . Reply
cm53 . 2019-03-13
These 2 guys hella jealous of posty songwriting talent. I do listen to a lot of music and I love post malone. So their comment at the end was just bitter...it's okay guys, you are 2 failed musicians 👍 but don't be bitter
121 2 . Reply
alyisdead . 2019-03-13
I don’t even like his music, but I like him, he’s the nicest and most polite rapper I have ever seen; I caught him on tv by accident and couldn’t change it because I couldn’t find my remote, and I was blown away by how kind and respectful he was, it’s crazy. Like, the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” absolutely fits with him.
121 2 . Reply
je co . 2019-03-12
or you can just say he is a Genius
121 2 . Reply
Sahay Ray . 2019-03-11
In Posty we believe!!
121 2 . Reply
Jan Mavin . 2019-03-11
Bullshit. Posty is great. That's it.
121 2 . Reply
Tommy Loika . 2019-03-10
Still don't know any of his music
121 2 . Reply
Mikethedude22 . 2019-03-10
MLK Jr. - "Not judged by the color of there skin but by the content of their character.."


Vice - "But what if it's there skin color tho..?"
121 2 . Reply
Michael Bryan Lao . 2019-03-09
face palm, i thought he was swae lee . .
121 2 . Reply
The Gerd of Yore . 2019-03-09
Vox wants to know your location
121 2 . Reply
Joe . 2019-03-08
Someone's jealous.
121 2 . Reply
Beav . 2019-03-08
If someone’s trashing you it’s because they noticed. That’s all the fuel anyone needs to keep on rolling while feeding off the shade. Continued success son you do you.
121 2 . Reply
Joseph Torres . 2019-03-07
No one is doing what hes doing, in the way that hes doing it. That makes him a genius.
121 2 . Reply
FreakWeirdoGeekHero Studios . 2019-03-06
He is a folk singer deep down. And folk music always wins
121 2 . Reply
Cherry Doof . 2019-03-06
Boy you better believe I’m gonna turn up that volume and try to hit all fo them Beyonce keys 😂😂😂
121 2 . Reply
jr dock . 2019-03-05
there are so many songs on that list that dont even start with a chorus smh
121 2 . Reply
tommunist10 . 2019-03-05
Take my like, then take 10 more. Beautiful. Thankyou for paying attention. Seriously, seriously thank you.
121 2 . Reply
tom colbey . 2019-03-05
haters gon hate
121 2 . Reply
Johnny Doe . 2019-03-03
No it's just that he's a little lazy and likes the hook so he decides to repeat it which I kind of enjoy
121 2 . Reply
Kami . 2019-02-26
I listen to ALOT of different music like literally every genre and beyond and im not even a big fan but saying post malone is not unique is a retarded statement
121 2 . Reply
Kami . 2019-02-26
Vice taking Ls alot lately
121 2 . Reply
JAY . 2019-02-25
I luv the editing of this video
121 2 . Reply
TKOTRUSTKNOWONE . 2019-02-24
Call him what ever you want....but he is not hip hop
121 2 . Reply
Spacey . 2019-02-14
Can we ban Vox from the internet?
121 2 . Reply
Dillon Rust . 2019-02-13
This video is very manipulative and “formulated” as well. Nice ending Vice we see what you are trying to do here.
121 2 . Reply
Ethan Penrod . 2019-02-12
Why isn't he classified as a rapper? Maybe because he's a singer... I don't know...
121 2 . Reply
Jason May . 2019-02-12
Its called melody. Its the reason why any song is popular. Catching a great melody is like catching lightning in a bottle. Some really talented musicians can come out with many good melodies over their career. Like Taylor Swift. Dont listen to these fools that could never write a hit melody try to dissect it. Its popular for none of those reasons.
121 2 . Reply
Jason May . 2019-02-12
Its called melody. Its the reason why any song is popular. Catching a great melody is like catching lightning in a bottle. Some really talented musicians can come out with many good melodies over their career. Like Taylor Swift. Dont listen to these fools that could never write a hit melody try to dissect it. Its popular for none of those reasons.
121 2 . Reply
Nathan Phillips . 2019-02-11
Stop hatin niggaa
121 2 . Reply