So last review was just a fever dream right? It was in no way real is it? I’m going to say it’s not.
When is it okay to break your own rules? In this case I really should be looking at Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms, and/or A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burt Ives because All I Want for Christmas is You, and Rockin Around the Christmas Tree are still number 1 & 2 respectfully. Only, it’s past Christmas, and now past New Years. Holiday music is good. It’s valid. It’s just past time and I do not have anything more to say on those songs for now. So I decide to ring in this new year by looking at the song that had been slowly sinking since I started these reviews: Circles by Post Malone.
Post Malone is an anomaly. It feels like nothing about him should work. He looks like what I’d imagine Lean would look like as a person. He makes music that feels like it is for no one. I said Heartless was droning, but it had the veneer of something upbeat. I could see kids getting jiggy (god, what is actually wrong with me? Jiggy? Not dance? Okay) with it. Meanwhile even the songs I “like” are songs made with no occasion in mind. The lyrics are too often cheery to be for when you’re sad (his big hits anyway), but the beats are too lifeless and down to play when you’re happy. Yet, there is an audience for it.
On that spectrum Circles is his best song. This comes from a person who thinks his previous “good” songs are more fun as memes to throw out than to actually enjoy as a song. This song on the other hand is actually an enjoyable listen with some decent depth to it.
It’s light guitar strumming and smooth, steady beat give it a good vibe to suck you in. It feels like a tropical vibe from something off of Childish Gambino’s Kauai. It does not have as much texture in the beats which make prolonged listens (which I do) hard. It has that same mix of contemplation and chill, like everything was being done baked around a bonfire on the beach (that’s the backdrop of the Popular Music YouTube channels lyric video for the song). That’s actually imagine that’s what Post Malone is doing when singing this song (and his raspy whine that I do love for all the Biz Markie-est way is restrained). He is reflecting on the relationship he just had. Speaking of…
It is breakup song for the all of those in an on-again off-again relationship. He literally says they have this figurative dance in the first verse. The idea of a circle being the circular nature of their relationship and nature itself works well in its format. The constant push and pull of wanting to let go or not. The ideas of a relationship going cold and trying to keep it kindle because they know each other too much, and that when they try to separate they just meet again are good visualizations, and storytelling.
It does have some weaknesses. The song mixes its metaphors too often, and in the same verse or chorus. It also does not give us a good picture of what is wrong with their relationship other than they just are different people and he tried and failed to be present. I say that (write is more accurate, but let’s not be pedantic) but his constant onus to push the other half of his relationship to do everything and not be the one at fault gives more than you’d think. If he doesn’t want to be the bad guy and make the stance it shows how little responsibility he wants to take for how events played out.
The narrator seemed to think it was passing fling, and it doesn’t have the same tinge of him lying to himself. It’s more accurate to say it is not baked into the piece. There is one line of him saying it’s just him and it’s easy to let him go. It’s just not present enough. These are nitpicks because that’s not why I’m here for the song, and I think the chorus does kill.
With all that said the music video for this song is weird. So, Post Malone is a knight who travels through a medieval land to rescue a mouthless Rapunzel from a tree fort. There are also hints he was killed and she resurrected him. That would be interesting. The circles they going through is a cycle of past lives reconnecting. Though, with him saying he’s the bad guy now, maybe he is the risen evil king trying to kidnap the princess or queen. We don’t get enough to really tell. It just feels more like this was director Colin Tiley was filming a test reel for him to do fantasy movie. It is definitely not the direction I’d have gone for, and not easy to connect with considering the themes.
You should listen to the song. It’s good. I had lots to say (which is surprising). If you listen/watch music on YouTube I would recommend the lyric video. It fits the themes and has a nice background.