Pop Shop Podcast: MAX Learns a 'Life Lesson' From Slow-Burn Success of 'Lights Down Low'; Plus, Our Favorite Oscar Moments & More

 Jade Ehlers 


Welcome to the new episode of the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast, your one-stop-shop for all things pop on Billboard's weekly charts. In addition, you can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop.

Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard co-director of charts Keith Caulfield and Billboard deputy editor, digital, Katie Atkinson, every week on the Pop Shop Podcast, which can be streamed on or downloaded in iTunes. (Click here to listen to the previous Tuesday’s edition of the show on

On our latest episode, MAX is back on the podcast to talk about the slow-burning success of his biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit yet, "Lights Down Low," featuring gnash. "I’m so happy that it’s this song, it’s this story, it’s what means so much to me and to my whole squad," MAX said of the personal story. "I can’t imagine it being something else. It’s been the learning lesson of only doing things that you really believe in and are passionate about because, if it were something that I didn’t feel this way about, it would be very empty. It’s definitely a life lesson: Even if it takes forever, just fight for the things that you really care about and believe in."

It hasn't taken forever, but it did take quite some time: The song has so far peaked at No. 20 on the Hot 100 and continues to climb up our Pop Songs chart, hitting No. 7 this week. In fact, it took 27 weeks to hit the Pop Songs top 10 -- the second-longest climb ever, after the 31-week trek of Edwin McCain's "I'll Be" in 1998.

"It’s meant so much more in such a special way because I think that It’s given such a gravity to the song to be able to know that there are the people that have heard it from the very beginning or maybe people are just starting to hear it," he said. "When people feel a part of something with you, it’s so special."

Another piece of the song's resonance has been its emotional video, which shows a single-shot perspective of MAX in his apartment, cycling through failed relationships and one-night stands before finding his real-life wife, Emily, and then growing old with her. "The simplicity is the space," MAX said of the video's one-room set. "The space is simple, just like the song."

So what's next for the singer/songwriter? A new album is in the works -- but he's not going to rush it. "It’s getting there!" he said. "It’s beautiful that ['Lights Down Low'] has had the success that it’s had, but of course there’s this new pressure in a lot of ways. The hardest thing for me is not to give into that pressure. It’s so interesting, because then people are like, 'OK, well, now you need this. Now you need an uptempo banger but it’s got to be personal.' Those kinds of things start to come together. And when you’re trying to do the thing, the thing rarely happens. And that’s my biggest excitement, because we’ve learned to fight for what we believe in with this song, and the vision that goes behind it."

Also on the show, Keith and Katie break down the 90th annual Oscars and some of their favorite moments, as well as chart chat about Bon Jovi's This House Is Not for Sale album re-entering the Billboard 200 at No. 1, Post Malone's "Psycho" (featuring Ty Dolla $ign) debuting at No. 2 on the Hot 100, and the 30th anniversary of Kylie Minogue's debut on the Billboard charts.

Listen above and click here to subscribe/rate the Pop Shop Podcast on iTunes.


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