This week, Post Malone and 21 Savage dethroned Cardi B for the number one song on the Billboard tracks with “Rock Star.” The catchy, melodic song is the first number one for both artists, a feat achieved thanks to their fans, streaming platforms — and a video featuring nothing but the hook on a loop? A quick YouTube search of “Rock Star” brings up the following video, which loops the first eight bars of the song for the entirety of the clip.
Other moments in popular hip-hop songs have gotten similar treatment, from the comedic “Syrup Sandwiches” flip of Kendrick’s “Humble” to the damn near hypnotizing “running through the six” loop from Drake’s “Know Yourself,” to everything on the Talking Nonsense page. Those were presumably fanmade videos though made for fun. This loop of “Rock Star” was made by Malone’s Republic Records — just about two weeks before Billboard publicly announced that they were set to factor in a song’s Youtube streams into their chart formula.
Billboard never offered an official date for when that process starts, or whether it has already. Did the chorus-looping video, which doesn’t feature a Malone or 21 Savage verse, count toward “Rockstar’s” Billboard stats? If so, Republic Records’ tactic is clever, but a bit devious.
The video contains a pull-through link to different streaming services to listen to the full song, but it seems like they could have just placed those links on the official video or a lyric video. Also, timing the loop at 3:38, the same length of the original song, is disingenuous to listeners who clicked the link thinking it was the full song. That’s probably why the comments are disabled and the like/dislike ratio isn’t visible.
The video has five times as many views as the second highest viewed video on the Republic Records channel, and it doesn’t appear that the chorus-loop process was used for any other recent songs on the channel. What gives?
There’s been no word from Billboard or Republic yet on whether this video helped “Rock Star” get to number one, but if it did, it could be a slippery slope which leads to other artists and labels trying to cook the numbers with a little YouTube ingenuity.