Review: Post Malone’s ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’ features melancholic tunes

by Shera Bhala | 10/17/19 2:00am

Fall is the season of change. Musically, Post Malone has changed from a hardcore rap/pop mogul to a gentle sad boy with his new album “Hollywood’s Bleeding,” released earlier this fall. His third album reflects complex emotions of melancholia and regret, differing profoundly from the aggressive, angry lyrics of his past two albums.

The title track sets the tone for the album with its dark, tragic mood. Malone laments, “Was scared of losin’ somethin’ that we never found/We’re running out of reasons, but we can’t let go/Yeah, Hollywood is bleeding, but we call it home.” Contemplating the vacuous nature of Hollywood and the ruthless, vampiric nature of its inhabitants, the 24-year-old musician questions his surroundings. Malone illuminates the certain exhaustion and emptiness associated with a culture desperately searching for fame and fueled by alcohol and drugs. Contributing to this emptiness, he also considers the loss of a love interest, who fell out of touch. Clocking in at two minutes and 36 seconds, “Hollywood’s Bleeding” is short and sad, like many of the other songs in the album.

Contributing an exciting collaboration to the album, “Staring At The Sun” mixes Malone’s vocals with that of SZA. Her music blends genres, easing the transitional nature of the album. Their voices smoothly combine, yet always seem to be running away from the listener, in the most soulful manner. Characteristic of Malone, his voice seems to travel on a plane different from the listener, making him seem far away. The lyrics plead for another chance with a lover who is slipping out of reach.

“Myself” presents as a similar plea for a lost lover. Malone sings about all the places he has visited for shows and tours, but all of the moments he missed with someone he cares about. The song also considers the greedy, soulless persona of Hollywood: “I made so much, spent so much/And I can’t get enough.” The album profits only provoke a need for more profits, creating a vicious cycle demanding for more money. This vapid urge is the bleeding wound that a suffering Hollywood faces.

In the album, Malone also discusses how, in terms of social media and the issues of self-image and detachment, Hollywood is a microcosm of the world. People are glued to their phones, devoting themselves to their social media content and comparing themselves to others, which is addressed in “Internet.” Malone assesses this issue, singing, “The lifestyle we live is just too dangerous/Paranoid since they’ve been leakin’ my s—/Wonder if it’ll come out on the web.” The lack of privacy due to the social media phenomenon troubles Malone, who disapproves through a quicker tempo, redolent of his previous albums.  

Most familiar in sound to Malone’s previous albums “Stoney” and “beerbongs & bentleys” is “Allergic.” Sharp and shocking, “Allergic” is a solid transitional song, as it contains slow, quieter elements as well. He references the hard-partying scene of Hollywood musicians, similar to themes of his older songs. In the past, songs like “Deja Vu,” “No Option” and “rockstar” were preoccupied with sex, drugs and status, whereas his newer songs exhibit a saddened, but matured perspective.

Assertive and independent, “I’m Gonna Be” demands respect for Malone. He announces “I’m gonna do what I want, when I want, when I want, yeah (Yeah)/I’m goin’ hard ‘til I’m gone, ‘til I’m gone, ‘til I’m gone, yeah (Gone, yeah).” Emblematic of his new perspective, he may be sad, but he is mature and unwavering in his commitment to being himself. Malone thus refuses to conform to notions of who he should be as a musician.

Malone’s voice is subtly raspy and completely desirable. “Saint Tropez” offers smooth rhymes and complementary beats. The song examines the rewards and glamour that fame brings, and leaves room to think about the downsides of such rewards. 

“Circles” grounds the album in melancholy once again. The cycle of a turbulent relationship is described with the lyrics “Seasons change and our love went cold/Feed the flame ‘cause we can’t let go/Run away, but we’re running in circles.” Discussing love, loss and pain, the young singer bears part of his soul, which is usually hidden, through “Hollywood’s Bleeding.”

The talent of Malone stems not only from his vocal capabilities, but from his raw emotion, which he bravely shapes into lyrics. His music blends despair, anger and hope into a smooth fusion that is heart wrenching in the best and most relatable manner. Paranoid and fearful, yet slow and thoughtful describes his tone. His voice is demanding yet elusive and always leaves the listener wanting more. Malone seems to be shedding the very stereotypes of the stoner, hard-partying singer that previously constrained him.

Deviating from this typecast, he creates a new category for himself that blends pop and rap into soulful, thoughtful music, evading clichés and embracing originality. Malone has changed his public image with “Hollywood’s Bleeding.” He is sending a message about his feelings and about the dark culture of Hollywood. What the pensive Malone needs to offer next are stitches for the bleeding mess of Hollywood.