It’s hard to say when exactly Post Malone became one of the most popular artists in America, but he now has a chart milestone to cement his case. Today, Billboard reported that his 21 Savage-featuring single “Rockstar” reached No. 1 on the Hot 100, after spending three straight weeks at No. 2. (And as Billboard notes, 21 Savage beat the odds to earn his first No. 1 before Twenty One Pilots.) The song’s chart-topping status seemed inevitable during its first week of release, when it achieved what our chart-obsessed co-worker David Turner refers to as the “streaming triple crown,” or when an artist has the top song on Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud at the same time.
But somehow, “Rockstar” isn’t even Posty’s top feat of the week. He also pulled off something that you might only see during a post-award show bump, or whenever people start buying that damn Michael Bublé Christmas album every year. His debut album Stoney, which came out last December, entered the top five on the Billboard 200 for the first time (peaking at No. 4 with 45,000 equivalent album units). Granted, it was an incredibly slow sales week, in which a Christian rapper who no one in the office had heard of before today topped the charts with a measly 55,000 equivalent units. But still, the staying power required for this to happen is impressive: Billboard notes that it’s the longest climb for a continuously charting album (i.e. one that isn’t returning to the top five) since Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black in 2008.
Of course, the non-album single “Rockstar” might be driving fans to go back and check out Stoney, but an older song has also made a surprise run on the chart nearly a year after its release. Following a viral fan-shot performance video, which currently has more than 132,000 retweets, Malone’s “I Fall Apart” debuted at No. 26 on the chart dated October 7. It was never released as an official single. That’s how you make a hit today.
Most music writing this year has assumed a topical post-Trump frame, but maybe we should spend more time reckoning with post-Malone America.