Pop Power Ranking: Prince’s Eternal Impact, Beyoncé’s Life-Giving ‘Lemonade,’ Rihanna’s Slip From the Top 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 our last 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…
5. Rita Ora
— Rita Ora (@RitaOra) April 21, 2016
Rita Ora, like countless other celebrities, took to social media to express her sorrow at the Prince’s death last week. Her response was, in true Rita Ora fashion, a bit more over the top (and self-serving) than others’, but fine. Do you, Rita. While her tweet could have languished in any number of “Celebrities React to Prince’s Death” listicles that sprung up within hours of The Purple One’s untimely passing, it ended up taking on a life of its own when Lily Allen playfully responded “pics or it never happened.” The implication — or, at least, the implication that people wanted to exist — was that Ora had invented her story as a way of refocusing attention on herself. Here’s the thing: Ora can sleep tight knowing she was, in fact, Prince-approved, but Allen’s tweet (which I do genuinely believe was misinterpreted as shade, because Allen’s just not the type to needlessly drag, especially in these circumstances) allowed people the opportunity to participate in America’s true favorite pastime: bashing Ora. As if that weren’t enough, shortly after Beyoncé dropped Lemonade, certain fans latched onto a theory that Ora is the infamous “Becky with the good hair” referenced in “Sorry.” This is partly due to years-old rumors Jay Z had an affair with Ora, and partly due to Ora’s own, uh, timely (deliberate?) garment choices. What do these two tales have in common? Not much, except they illustrate that Ora has become, over her rather vague career, a pop music punching bag. And without a hit to her name in the United States, she’s really just become a punching bag minus the pop music.
Power Rating: 13/100
Last Week: N/A
What is going on with the Dangerous Woman era? When it officially began last month, all looked golden for Ariana Grande. “Dangerous Woman” is inarguably one of the singer’s best, most mature songs, and it was received rather warmly. It reached No. 10 on the Hot 100, but never surged past that spot. This week, “Dangerous Woman” takes another tumble, from No. 13 to No. 15. Grande has released a couple of other singles, none of which made a huge dent on the Hot 100. The most recent, “Let Me Love You,” featuring Lil Wayne, debuts all the way down at No. 99 this week. Of course, the album is not yet out; it’s too early to predict what will become of this era. However, it’s is a little concerning that more than a month into this promotional cycle, nothing really seems to be sticking. Compare the performance of “Dangerous Woman” to that of Meghan Trainor’s “No” or Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home.” Both of those songs, released around the same time and by artists on, I would say, about the same level as Grande, climbed up and stayed in the Top 10. Also chuck in the fact that the album’s forgotten false-start first single, “Focus,” performed notoriously poorly. That all of this comes off a year in which Grande was very, very, very high profile (if sometimes not for the best of reasons) makes the tepid performance even more baffling.
Power Rating: 35/100
Last Week: N/A
That “Work” by Rihanna reign has, at last, let up. Ending “Work”‘s nine-week stint at No. 1, Desiigner’s “Panda” takes the top slot on the Hot 100. “Work” falls down to No. 4. Still: nine weeks on top is an impressive feat any way you look at it. (Unless the way you look at it is simply that there wasn’t much competition.) You can’t take that away from her! But as “Work” slows down, the hope, presumably, of Rihanna and her team is a new ANTI cut will rise to take its place. Is that happening? It’s too early to tell, but the prognosis isn’t… incredible? A few weeks ago, Bad Gal released the steamy “Kiss It Better” video, which one would have thought could have pushed the song into the upper echelons of the chart on streams alone. That didn’t happen. It charts this week at No. 70. “Needed Me” is faring better, as this week it jumps from No. 33 to No. 23. This is likely thanks to the release of its video last week. Not bad, but with the video already out, I can’t say I think another No. 1 is looking anything close to guaranteed.
Power Rating: 58/100
Last Week: N/A
— Drizzy (@Drake) April 25, 2016
Prepare yourselves for the Summer of Drake. Like winter in Westeros (I don’t watch Game of Thrones; does that reference work?), it is coming. Drake’s long-awaited Views From the 6 drops April 29, This week, Drake shared the album cover and news that the sure-to-sell-a-katrillion-copies album will have around 20 songs. Thirst for a proper new Drake album (his first non-mixtape release since 2013) is reaching peak frenzy. Also good news for Mr. Graham: “One Dance” shoots up to No. 3 on the Hot 100, giving Drake his 17th Hot 100 Top 10 hit. Will it be his first song as a lead artist to go No. 1? Who can say, though it’s certainly a possibility.
Power Rating: 78/100
Last Week: N/A
Bow down. We knew it was coming — we didn’t know exactly how or when, but we knew — and then it came, and still, somehow, it felt like shock. A soul shock. It was the shock that she’d done it again, that it was as good, maybe better, than it was when she did it back in December 2013. On Saturday, Beyoncé “surprise” premiered her “visual album,” Lemonade, as an hour-long HBO special and an exclusive (for about 24 hours) TIDAL release. Response was swift, powerful, relentless. The album, so far, has been met with near-unanimous critical acclaim and, and has already spawned controversial thinkpieces, a bizarre and hilarious Rachel Ray witch hunt, an endless treasure trove of memes, discussion about her marriage to Jay Z, and, bottom line, a breathless and exciting news cycle all about a creative and visionary pop force at the top of her game. Early projections have Lemonade, now available to purchase from digital retailers, moving 500,000 – 600,000 copies and debuting at No. 1 with only four days of sales eligible to be counted. Songs from the album have taken over the iTunes singles chart. The album, to the surprise of no one but to the delight of nearly everyone, has taken over pop culture.
Power Rating: 100/100
Last Week: N/A
And a special note about Prince…
Though I don’t feel it is appropriate to assign an arbitrary Power Rating number a recently-deceased legend, I do think it is important to highlight the profound effect Prince’s death has had on the cultural landscape over the last five days. Whether you consider yourself a Prince fan or not, there is no denying the decades-long influence he has had over popular music and pop culture in general. His loss, sudden and tragic as it was, was painfully, tangibly felt, especially as it followed so closely the death of another beloved (and relatively young) musical genius, David Bowie, back in January. In addition to the usual mass eulogizing, there has also been a massive resurgence of interest in Prince’s art. This week, Prince claims both the No. 1 and the No. 2 spots on the Album 200. A third Prince album also claims a spot in the Top 10. Singles like “Purple Rain” have reentered the Hot 100. He achieved so much in life, and he continues to inspire even after death. There’s no point in trying to break it down; his power, even now, is so obviously unquantifiable.
PLEASE RETURN NEXT WEEK FOR ANOTHER EDITION POP POWER RANKING TO SEE IF UR FAVS MADE THE CUT.