Post Malone had the honour of kicking off P25 Music, a year-long celebration in partnership with Universal Music Group, on Saturday — the official Pokemon Day, no less — with a virtual concert that live-streamed on Pokemon’s YouTube and Twitch accounts, and its website. The tribute was short, clocking in at just under 15 minutes, but set the stage for what the rest of P25 Music might look like: a showcase of the vast world of Pokemon while also appealing to your casual listener of the Hot 100.
And it’s not as if Malone was on stage with his rendition of the classic PokeRap (although this writer, for what it’s worth, would’ve loved to see it). It might have looked like any other virtual concert — if it weren’t for the various Pokemon that swirled around Malone throughout the show. Like the Travis Scott “Fortnite” concert that came before it, the P25 Music kickoff took advantage of its format to make the experience one that was truly unique, if not a little surreal.
The concert kicked off with an animated version of Post Malone (one that debuted in preparation for the event earlier this week) greeting a stadium of what looked like hundreds of thousands of pixelated fans, jumping into his hit “Psycho” as a giant Pikachu electrocuted the stage. As Malone continued to perform, he was swept away on a floating piece of land to tour various environments to find different types of Pokemon. After soaring among the Butterfree, he found himself in a dark forest, surrounded by the glowing Shiinotic and Umbreon as he transitioned into one of his biggest hits, “Circles.”
Eventually, he was also whisked away to more of the Pokemon world — from the skies with Braviary, down to the seas with Jellicent. He went on to virtually perform his new contribution to P25 Music, his cover of Hootie & the Blowfish’s “Only Wanna Be With You,” which samples the Ecruteak City theme from “Pokemon Gold and Silver” to give it that Nintendo flare, while dancing along with Charizard and Groudon.
Is there something a little bizarre about watching a cartoon Post Malone vibe with a legendary Pokemon while singing his rendition of a Hootie hit? Sure there is. But, in its own way, that alone is a fitting tribute to Pokemon’s long relationship with top musicians. After all, who can forget Donna Summer’s powerful vocals on “The Power of One” to cap off “Pokemon: The Movie 2000”? Pokemon has always recruited famous artists to celebrate their Pocket Monsters — Malone (who’s apparently a Pokemon fan himself, holding onto a Game Boy Color just to play the games) is just the latest in a long legacy.
After Malone returned to the stadium, closing out his set with his Quavo collaboration “Congratulations,” he teased some of what’s to come in P25 Music: new music from Katy Perry, J Balvin and “many more artists.” And it’s anyone’s guess as to which Pokemon Perry and Balvin will dance with, or which of the game’s classics they might sample in their new offerings. But it’s clear The Pokemon Company is pulling out all the stops to celebrate 25 years of one of the world’s most durable franchises.