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 News 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, melodies, strategic song structure as major players in his music’s popularity. Another advantage? His average singing voice. "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," Ellis explained. 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.
This segment originally aired November 1, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.