This week, Post Malone returned to Number One on the Hot 100. He got there with “Sunflower,” a light, breezy collaboration with Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee. It’s not a huge surprise that this song topped the charts. “Sunflower” was recorded for the Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse soundtrack, a movie that to date has made about $150 million, according to Box Office Mojo. What’s more, it’s not a simple tie-in — it’s featured heavily in the movie, and anyone who loved the movie (it’s currently sitting at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and, from experience, most people who see it end up loving it) will likely love the song as well.
However, even without the conception, release strategy and exposure afforded to it by its attachment to a blockbuster hit, “Sunflower” would be a straightforward bet for streaming and radio success for one, exceedingly simple reason: It’s a Post Malone song.
It’s unclear when, exactly, Post Malone became one of the three most popular rappers alive, but he is undeniably here to stay. “Sunflower” had a lot going for it, but the numbers for “Wow.,” another recent Post song, albeit without the Spider-Man boost, suggest a similar level of automatic listenership that can’t be waved away.
“Wow.” is, in every way, a less charming song than “Sunflower.” It doesn’t have the falsetto acrobatics of Swae Lee, or the association with the charming Miles Morales. What it does have is more Post, right up front and center, over a West Coast-indebted elastic beat. As of this writing, it’s the second most-played song in America on Spotify, handily outpacing “Going Bad,” the recent high profile collaboration between Meek Mill and Drake. The only song being streamed more on the platform is — you guessed it — “Sunflower,” the other recent Post Malone song.
Popular on Rolling Stone
What’s more, “Wow.” is picking up steam where things really matter: radio. According to Nielsen BDS, which tracks radio play, the song is getting bigger by the minute. Last week, the song grew by 1,700 plays — a strong number that’s only likely to rise, given to radio’s susceptibility to momentum narratives (and its overwhelming love for Post Malone).
It’s tough to say with any certainty what’s behind Post’s rabid popularity. House money, as always, is on race: America loves a white rapper, though that’s likely not the full takeaway here. Regardless of the reason, the simple fact remains that Post Malone is more or less bulletproof right now, presumably months away from any sort of official new album release.
“Wow.,” it would appear, is a successor to “Congratulations,” a drone-y collaboration with Quavo that had barely any of the Migos in it. It was all Post Malone, and in retrospect it served as the first post-“White Iverson” warning that the music industry had a behemoth on its hands. It’s increasingly clear that very little has changed since then. You’ll be hearing a lot more Post Malone in the coming year (or ten).