Post Malone‘s first three albums — “Stoney,” “Beerbongs and Bentleys,” and “Hollywood’s Bleeding” — are all among the most streamed albums of the century, and the latter two enjoyed Grammy success with Album of the Year nominations. Post’s fourth record, “Twelve Carat Toothache,” however, was a bit of a commercial letdown, though he still got some Grammy attention for his Doja Cat-assisted hit “I Like You (A Happier Song),” which was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Now Malone is back with a new album, “Austin,” which includes the top-40 hits “Chemical” and “Mourning.” Could this mark his return to the general field categories?
While “Chemical” isn’t Post Malone’s biggest hit by any stretch of the imagination, it was still a success, especially considering it’s his first solo hit since “Circles” back in 2019. And since this is a weak year, voters might still have the song in mind, especially since the Grammys do seem to like Malone; he’s gotten six general field nominations overall, more than some of his contemporaries like Ariana Grande, Future, and Dua Lipa, to name a few. The song’s alphabetical position on the Song of the Year ballot could also help, since it’s going to be relatively high. Plus, Malone has got a strong team behind the song: Producer of the Year winner Andrew Watt co-wrote it alongside two-time Song of the Year nominee Louis Bell and one-time nominee Billy Walsh.
As for “Austin” as a whole, it could make it into Best Pop Vocal Album. Malone’s never been nominated in the category, but he is a three-time pop field nominee, so he is certainly somewhat popular with academy members there. In “Austin’s” favor is that this new sound is a bit lighter and more upbeat compared to his previous releases, and is typically what the Grammys seem to want from Malone. “Toothache” might’ve felt too sad for voters (and audiences) to connect to, but this new album touches on personal issues while maintaining a brighter sound that could be easier for voters to digest.
It also helps that this album might be Malone’s poppiest, so it won’t alienate pop audiences who haven’t vibed with his previous hip-hop stylings. Typically, it’s good for an artist to cross over to multiple genres as it expands their potential voter base. But it can be a double-edged sword. Malone wasn’t fully embraced by the rap community, for whom his more emo-rap style could’ve been detrimental, while also making it difficult for pop voters to completely connect with his output. This time around, though, there’s no confusion: “Austin” is, through and through, a pop record.
There might also be more room than usual for Malone to maneuver at these upcoming awards. With the creation of the Best Pop Dance Recording award, a couple of previously assumed Pop Solo Performance contenders could be moved to the new category, leaving space for “Chemical” to sneak into the Pop Solo lineup. As for the album, this year has been particularly weak for pop records, with only Taylor Swift‘s “Midnights” and perhaps Olivia Rodrigo‘s “Guts” seeming to be locked in for nominations. As such, maybe there’s space for “Austin” to break in, especially when some of its other competition (like Miley Cyrus’s “Endless Summer Vacation,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Chemistry,” Ed Sheeran’s “Subtract”) have somewhat underperformed commercially. With Malone’s current singles already improving on the performance of his previous album, voters might think it’s a good time to put him in the lineup to honor once again one of the most popular and influential artists of the last decade.
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