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You can review Post Malone's artistry without putting his looks under scrutiny, you know

No need.

POST MALONE’S MUSIC is, let’s say, an acquired taste – similar to that of Monster, the energy drink he’s become synonymous with.

2018 American Music Awards Source: Hubert Boesl

Despite this, his signature brand of rap-rock-folk-pop (the most ambitious crossover event of the year, you might argue), resonates with plenty of people. His upcoming Valentine’s Day gig at the 3Arena sold out in record time. He was, undeniably, one of the most watched acts at Longitude this summer. He managed to break a 34 year-old album chart record previously held by Michael Jackson in August.

As difficult as it is to put a finger on his brand, people are buying in to it in their droves. Does that make it good? That’s subjective, of course. But there is a lot to question about Post’s craft – the misogynistic undertones of his lyricism (though this highlights a borader issue that’s industry wide.) You could question his authenticity as an artist in what he presents – the materialism typically associated with rapping kingpins, while seemingly feigning the sweet sincerity of the bedroom folk artists perhaps he initially set out to be. It’s understandable why people – particularly music journalists – find him so disingenuous. 

This is where the criticism should end though, but it doesn’t. Post has become the butt of many a meme on the internet because of his own personal appearance and style. The cast of Queer Eye were bombarded with requests to give him the Fab 5 treatment, which Post himself put down to people thinking he’s “ugly and smells”.

In a recent review of his Posty Fest gig, Post is described as looking “like he crawled out of a primordial swamp of nacho cheese”, in the first paragraph. Further on, he’s compared to someone who has been “clubbed over the head by a cartoon peacock”. Post’s look is certainly unconventional (under eye face tattoos, anyone?) but to use it as a means to criticise something you don’t enjoy – or perhaps, don’t understand – is lowest common denominator journalism. Is there a need to resort to insults in an effort to bring ‘colour’ to a piece?

It’s a lazy (and downright nasty) narrative, one which the majority of music writers have been working hard at to override. While it’s long been a problem when it comes to female artists – describing what they wore on stage, their makeup, how their bodies look – the review shows male musicians aren’t exempt from it either. Had the reviewer in question been reviewing a female artist, it begs the question whether he would have chosen to go in as hard on their appearance for the sake of context? Is this just a case of a man ragging on another because it’s seemingly more acceptable? 

Bottom line – if your critique has to come back to their looks, your review probably isn’t very good. 

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