Pop Power Ranking: Justin Bieber Breaks Fans’ Hearts, Gwen Stefani Turns Heartbreak Into Success, and More
Climb to the top of the pops and dive deep down into the depths with the flops in our latest edition of Pop Power Ranking.
Welcome back to Pop Power Ranking, my attempt to make sense of the week that was in the world of pop. Please consult the inaugural Pop Power Ranking for a bit more information on how I put this together (and also check out last week’s ranking for a peek at how things have moved around), but also know that it’s pretty self-explanatory — I start with the flops and end with the week’s biggest winner — and that you can probably just jump right in…
When you pay $2000 to meet Justin Bieber in person but only get to take a picture with a cutout of him instead… pic.twitter.com/Yopm375mwM
— Shady Music Facts (@musicnews_shade) March 26, 2016
Let’s get this out of the way: Justin Bieber is still riding high on an unprecedented (for him, at least) run of successes. He is flip-flopping with Zayn Malik for the title of Spotify and iTunes’ No. 1 artist. He has a song in the Top 10 of the Hot 100. (And another just outside at No. 11. And another, “Company,” rises to No.66 this week.) Purpose is still perched high on the Album 200. OK? Props where props are due. But his long campaign to convince a skeptical public that he is a misunderstood boy-genius moving beyond his youthful indiscretions encountered a major roadblock this week when he announced the cancellation of his fan meet-and-greets. Biebs claims he finds the encounters draining to the point of depression, and that’s valid enough (if a little weaksauce for a superstar of his stature). But there are reports that some fans who shelled out between $900 and$2,000 for the meet-and-greet packages won’t be refunded without giving up their tickets to his concert. To that I say: what in the actual f***? That’s bullshit. That’s scam-level bull.shit. Certainly Bieber’s fan base is… intense… to say the least, so in a way it’s easy to imagine how uncomfortable those meet-and-greets are for him. Still, the singer has had a somewhat tortured history with his Beliebers, with rumors circulating for years that he secretly detests his fans. This development isn’t doing anything to help that persistent perception. Lastly, that he claims he is pulling the plug on the meet and greets so he can focus on could delivering “the best show you’ve ever seen,” is a sentiment that rings a little bit hollow amidst accusations of lip-syncing.
Power Rating: 32/100
Last Week: N/A
This week, Meghan Trainor’s “No” enters the Top 10 of the Hot 100, giving Trainor the fourth Top 10 hit of her (very young!) career. “No” jumps from No. 12 to No. 6, and it seems likely to gain steam as airplay grows and downloads stay strong. Trainor also released another track from Thank You, “Watch Me Do.” (Listen above.) What peaks will Trainor reach as she continues her Thank You album campaign? It remains to be seen, but things are looking good for all those aboard the M-Train.
Power Rating: 40/100
Last Week: N/A
Rihanna’s “Work,” despite a somewhat baffled initial reception, is work, work, working. The track remains atop the Billboard Hot 100 for the sixth consecutive week. Impressive, but not as impressive as the following: Rihanna has now spent 57 weeks atop the Hot 100 over the course of her career. If (read: when) she notches two more weeks with a No. 1 single, she will tie the f***ing Beatles for second-most weeks atop the chart. On the Album 200, ANTI slips down to No. 3. (It was No. 1 last week, but earned the dubious honor of doing so with the lowest sales for a No. 1 album ever.)
Power Rating: 68/100
Last Week: No. 1
2) Zayn Malik
You may have heard that former One Direction member Zayn Malik has gone solo. You may have heard that his debut album as a solo artist, Mind of Mine, is out now. #BuyMindofMineOnItunes. Or stream it for free on Spotify. Either way. Mind of Mine dropped to warmish critical reception, and it is poised to debut at No. 1 on the Album 200 chart next week. Good news for Zayn. Great news for Zayn. Still, with projected (pure) sales of 120,000 – 130,000, it’s not exactly a home run, is it? (Those numbers will look much bigger when streaming is factored in, but streaming is not the same as buying.) Sure, Mind of Mine is technically a debut album, but given his history in one of the most popular boy bands of all time, his No. 1 single, and a nearly year-long promotional campaign for his more “adult” new music, that number feels awfully low.
Power Rating: 77/100
Last Week: N/A
1) Gwen Stefani
Thank u everyone at Interscope #were#1 gx pic.twitter.com/Moh5llIA32
— Gwen Stefani (@gwenstefani) March 28, 2016
Whether as a part of No Doubt or as a b-a-n-a-n-a-s solo star, Gwen Stefani has proven herself to be one of the biggest music stars of the last two decades. So it comes as a bit of a shock to learn that she has never had a No. 1 album as a solo artist. That changes this week. This Is What the Truth Feels Like, Stefani’s first solo album in a decade, debuts atop Billboard’s Album 200 with 84,000 units moved (76,000 in pure sales), making Gwen one of only five women to have No. 1 albums as a solo artist and as a member of a band. Truth’s actual sales numbers are pretty tepid, but that’s the game in 2016. Congratulations, Gwen! The truth looks good on you (and on the charts).
Power Rating: 86/100
Last Week: No. 3