Texas has a musical tradition as rich as any in the world. (We would know. We just finished writing about 30 of our favorite things about Texas music and only scratched the surface.) Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, Freddie Fender, Janis Joplin, Townes Van Zandt, Jandek, Selena, U.G.K., Erykah Badu, At The Drive-In, Beyoncé, Robert Glasper—the list of artists whose music has shaped the tastes of the world is long.
Also, the Dallas suburb of Grapevine produced rapper Post Malone, and he’s had one heck of a 2017.
Specifically, according to data from music video hosting service Vevo (which manages the YouTube accounts of a huge number of artists), Austin Richard Post, who came upon his nom de rap via a rap name generator website, had the most-watched music video among American audiences this year. “Congratulations (feat. Quavo),” garnered an astonishing 309,357,452 views in the U.S. from January 1 through November 21. For context, that’s nearly 20 million more views than the second-place finisher, Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito (feat. Daddy Yankee),” and more than double the views Taylor Swift’s record-breaking “Look What You Made Me Do” brought in (which, in fairness, earned its 136 million views in just three months).
But though Malone’s 2017 success in this country is undeniable, he isn’t quite the global sensation that some of the other artists he topped on the U.S. chart. “Congratulations” has more than 580 million views globally, but it is dwarfed by the global success of a song like “Despacito,” which racked up an astonishing 4.37 billion views from viewers around the world, according to the data. Artists whose records barely registered in the U.S. dominated the international charts. Shakira’s “Chantaje (feat. Maluma),” which peaked at number 51 on the Billboard singles chart in the United States, was watched by viewers around the world 1.66 billion times; Ricky Martin’s “Vente Pa’ Ca (feat. Maluma),” which didn’t even chart in the U.S., came close to doubling the number of international views that Post Malone got.
None of which is to take away from the domestic success Malone experienced. The rapper is young—he won’t turn 23 until the next Fourth of July—and “Congratulations” was the first single from his debut album. His upcoming 2018 follow-up, Beerbongs and Bentleys, has already produced an international hit in “Rockstar,” which has gone platinum in eight countries so far.
Attempting to cross over as an international superstar does have its drawbacks for Malone, though. His credibility in the American rap world took a major hit last month after an interview with a Polish newspaper. “If you’re looking for lyrics, if you’re looking to cry, if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to hip-hop,” he said. “There’s great hip-hop songs where they talk about life and they spit that real shit, but right now, there’s not a lot of people talking about real shit. Whenever I want to cry, whenever I want to sit down and have a nice cry, I’ll listen to some Bob Dylan.” (Malone later walked back his comments, blaming them on the amount of beer served to him by the interviewer.)
Time will tell if Post Malone is destined for the sort of long-term success that the Texans we name-checked at the top of this story managed to achieve, or if he’s more like the 2017 version of Riff Raff. Either way, he’ll always have “Congratulations (feat. Quavo).”