The Diamond Collection, by Post Malone
Those who are aware of the record label drama between Post Malone and his label over the release of Twelve Carat Toothache will likely rightly view this short album of only nine songs as having the distinct air of contractual obligations about it. And there is nothing unreasonable about this view. It is common for labels to produce greatest hits albums in various shapes and sizes for past musicians whose masters they hold, and this is likely to be only the first and not the last for Post Malone. Indeed, no other artist has yet had eight diamond singles. This achievement seeks to frame Post Malone as one of the most notable artists of the last few years, and it is indeed an immense accomplishment. It is no surprise that Post Malone would seek to turn such success into a lucrative recording contract with the label that saw his greatest success, but it appears that is not to be, and this album will likely make Post Malone a free agent a bit past his peak success. By all accounts, Post Malone has been good about providing at least a few hit singles to his albums–even his last album had a couple of hits, and this collection has a new song to drive some interest in “Chemical.” Is this compilation a worthwhile one? Let’s find out.
This album, as mentioned before, is a short song of only nine songs. The songs are taken from Post Malone’s first three studio albums as well as one new song. The collection begins with Post Malone’s first hit, “White Iverson,” whose moody spoken word lyrics and braggadocio were easy to make fun of at first, but whose melancholy and drive make a lot more sense in the context of Post’s career. “Congratulations,” featuring Quavo, is a that might be viewed as more empty flexing, but it takes a dark view of the hard work and dedication needed to succeed and the envy and hatred such success causes. “I Fall Apart” is an honest and touching piano ballad featuring a lot of effects on Post’s voice that portray the heartbroken nature of Post Malone when dealing with matters of the heart. “Rockstar,” featuring 21 Savage, is another moody and atmospheric song that seems to portray being a rock star as being a joyless experience marked by drug use, promiscuity, violence, and conspicuous consumption. “Psycho,” featuring Ty Dolla $ign, provides an atmospheric listening experience with lyrics that show Post Malone in a feeling of paranoia fueled by alcohol abuse, expressing the belief that money doesn’t solve the problems that afflict the singer, but spending money on diamonds and cars and other items out of the absence of any better solutions. “Better Now” shows a thoughtful Post Malone reflecting on the fallout from a bad relationship where both partners are claiming that they are better now, even though there are still regrets and reflections on the past with continued dependence on drugs and alcohol to cope with life. “Sunflower – Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse” is one of the perfect soundtrack songs where Post Malone and Swae Lee combine to make a song that is often viewed as a devoted long song but which is a far darker song about broken people seeking solace in other broken people, but with a fear that love is not enough to make life better. “Circles,” one of the biggest hits of all time, as hard as it is to believe, is a beautiful but downcast song on a doomed relationship that it is impossible to let go of nonetheless. “Chemical,” the lone new song on this collection, features some lovely autotune and more reflection on the way that the chemical nature of attraction and the chemicals of smoking with someone draw people together, even those ill-suited to successful relationships.
To be sure, this collection is the absolute bare minimum of the greatest hits of Post Malone over the last five years or so. There are at least several other songs not included here that would have been easy enough to add and that may make their way to future collections. A couple of songs off of Hollywood’s Bleeding have more than a billion streams and may make the 1.5 billion streams soon enough that are required to earn diamond certification, and if that happens it would be good to see them added to this particular collection to make it a more sizable album, though it is unclear if that sort of plan is what the label has in mind. Listening to these songs allows one to reflect on the essential continuity of Post Malone over the course of his career in having made songs that express hopes for wealth and success but that are uniformly downcast when it comes to areas of mental health, the ability to cope with life’s struggles, or relationship melodrama. For all of the success that Post Malone has found in his career, one thing that is lacking in any of these songs is a sense of joy or real happiness. The lyrics and music of songs exist in a drug and alcohol-induced haze, but without a sense of uplift or progress, something that appears all too common when one looks at the careers of many artists of the past decade or more. Yet for all of the lack of progress, Post Malone’s desire to come to grips with and honestly express his state of mind and state of feeling is admirable in its honesty; rather than feeling angry at him as is the case with some other artists of this age, I just feel a sense of compassion for him and a desire that he might find peace and happiness.