Logo for Byte Magazine at Ball State University

‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ seeps through the cracks of normality, even for Post Malone

by Olivia Weinzapfel Hollywood’s Bleeding is the third full-length album from Post Malone and arguably his most respectable one to date as far as themes and motives go. While keeping his familiar trap vibes prevalent, Malone also tries new sounds and even genres on for size in a select few songs, which ends up working out really well for him. The album is an insightful master work that’s all about taking risks—both on a surface and introspective level. In it, Malone opens up and shows off more than we’re used to, and in most ways, it deems itself outstanding, but not in all respects.

Mastered sounds that don't always catch fire

No one has ever necessarily known Post Malone to be the artist whose music is cutting-edge to the trap or rap industry; in fact, he’s more or less been known to blur the lines between genres throughout all of his albums thus far. One of the things that makes Hollywood’s Bleeding a work worthy of pinpointing in Malone’s career is its deeper dive into this concept of genre-blending. Even though we all know we can’t necessarily label Malone or stick him in a direct section of the music scene, he does still have some trademark sounds and styles that lets him put his own twist on what he’s creating. He makes great music, and that fact is remembered as Malone seems to go further out of his comfort zone with many of the songs on Hollywood’s Bleeding. Although we can’t put a definitive label on Malone’s music, he does usually sway towards a certain adaptation of trap, obviously. But, with some of the tracks on Hollywood’s Bleeding, he almost completely abandons that tendency and teeters more towards hip-hop and indie-rock, like in “Circles”, “Allergic”, “Myself” and others. These select tracks are more than refreshing, because it’s evident that Malone is expressively confident in his ability to take hold of and manifest other genres while still staying on-brand. They’re also straight-up ear candy and the only flaw within them is that the duration isn’t long enough. Looking at the album as a whole, it’s great that songs like these were sprinkled in, but a larger dose really wouldn’t have been so bad. The songs that feature Malone’s creative extension seem to be the best on the album in a few ways; they contain the most hooks, the best beats and oftentimes the best lyrics. About half of the remaining tracks can be thrown into the “monotonous trap” pile. When listening to the album as a whole, I noticed myself mentally clocking out and passively listening to the tracks “Die For Me”, “On The Road” and “Goodbyes”, and the only redemptive quality seems to be the fact that they have featured artists. These songs in particular were just missing that extra “something” that we look for in Malone’s music. Even so, I cannot discredit the meaning behind these songs, but the song structure, mediocre balladry and lack of good hooks left me with a weird feeling of dissatisfaction even after multiple listens. Along with the new stuff, Hollywood’s Bleeding also throws us some of those branded trap beats, like in “Wow.” and “Saint Tropez”, which prove that not all the trap songs on the album are monotonous and do, in fact, slap.

Good lyrics that can be few and far between

Post Malone is no stranger to vulnerability. After all, "I Fall Apart" is still one of his most popular songs to date. Although Hollywood’s Bleeding isn’t necessarily a collective work revolving around a singular thesis, it does have a thematic drive behind it. You’ll find that in most of the 18 tracks on this album, Post interjects more raw emotion than we’re used to on topics of being wronged in friendships, romantic relationships, and even plagued by the place he once lived; L.A. This type of lament is found more blatantly in his lyrics and vocals rather than the music, like in the song “A Thousand Bad Times.” That song in particular isn’t even all that sad on the first listen, but if you pay more attention to the emotions being conveyed in his voice, it’s more evident that it’s a pretty personal piece of composition. In fact, most of the lighter, upbeat tracks are actually the darkest in their lyrical and vocal respects. However, in this case darker isn’t synonymous with heavier. While most of the music is fresh, a good amount of the lyrics struggle to live up to many people’s poetic standards. The lyrics in most of the songs can be considered as a shallow delivery of these impressionable topics. A great example of this is the song “Enemies”, featuring DaBaby. The motives for the song, as stated by Malone in an interview with Spotify, are the collective reflection of DaBaby and Malone, who together realize that most friends can be fake. This is a great topic of conversation because I’m sure we’ve all been there once or twice, but the lyrics are, as some would say, a bit lacking. They aren’t too deep, but they get the message across. This trait can also be found in a lot of the other more introspective songs. I don’t want to say that this was necessarily a bad thing or impacts the overall quality of the album in a super horrible way, but it gave me that weird feeling of dissatisfaction and emptiness again. Malone isn’t solely infamous for his delivery of poetic justice, but some of the greater songs on the album really do pack more of an emotional punch and that’s owed to the lyrics. There are plenty of other songs that give some clever lyrical wit, and again, this is usually found in more of the upbeat songs rather than the ones that just sound sad. My favorite example is “Allergic”, which is poppy, light and also features one of my favorite bars on the album: “I took your drugs and pills just to feel something else//’Cause I can’t feel you no more.”  

Featured artists add a little sugar and spice

Another offbeat trait this album has is the astounding number and pleasantly weird range of featured artist, from Halsey to Travis Scott to Ozzy Osbourne. A lot of variety was added to this album, and to my knowledge, no one is complaining about this. It makes the album all the more tasteful. It helps weave different styles into this blanket album that covers a good number of genres.   Hollywood’s Bleeding is true to Post Malone’s persona and further reveals his talent and vision. Although lacking in some lyrical respects, the album has more than a few redemptive qualities and fresh sounds that everyone should listen to. This album will long continue to be prominent in his career and will continue to be played on repeat. Top Tracks: Circles Saint-Tropez Goodbyes Recommended if you like: Rae Strummurd Yung Pinch Juice WRLD
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons