Pop Power Ranking: Drake Enjoys ‘Views’ from the Top, Beyoncé Still Slays, and Radiohead Returns
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) Meghan Trainor and Ariana Grande
Why group these two women together here at the bottom of our ranking? A couple reasons. One: Career-wise, I’d place Trainor and Grande on the same rung. Both are relative newcomers, having become household names only within the last few years. Both have a handful of memorable hits, though nothing most people would consider “timeless.” Neither one has ascended to the level of, say, a Beyoncé, a Justin Bieber, a Lady Gaga, or a Rihanna. Another reason is that they both have albums out this month, and expectations for both are very high. Trainor’s, in fact, is already out, as an exclusive stream on Apple Music. (It will see an official wide release this Friday, May 13, but it’s already a little worrying that no one seems to be talking about it.) Grande’s Dangerous Woman drops May 20. Here’s the thing, though: both singers launched their album campaigns around the same time in March, and now, just over a week into May, it’s becoming increasingly clear that both campaigns are stalling. Grande, who has released three or four singles, only saw “Dangerous Woman” peak at No. 10 before it began sliding down the chart. None of her other singles have yet made a mark. Trainor fared a little with her lead single, “No,” which has spent several weeks inside the Top 10, though it didn’t reach the same heights that “All About That Bass” did. And like Grande, she has released several other singles that haven’t really wormed their way into that sweet zone where adoration meets commercial success. Trainor’s most recent single came with a video that Trainor herself immediately pulled due to unwarranted photoshopping, and that’s been her most notable PR move since the “No” video dropped two months ago. And none of these failures are due to a lack of publicity. Between the two of them, there has been a Saturday Night Live gig, magazine covers, promotional single pushes, guest features, live performances, and countless other opportunities for both to get word out. In an age wherein Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, and Drake are seeing 12, 17, 20 of their songs hit the Hot 100 simultaneously, is it too much to ask that these supposedly on-the-verge up-and-comers with young, passionate fan bases see their second, third, and fourth singles make some kind of chart impression? It does not bode well for the longevity of their respective album campaigns, and it does not bode well for the longevity of their still-fledgling careers.
Power Rating: 21/100
Last Week: N/A
Despite major competition blowing in during her ANTI era, Rihanna is still finding ways to make it “work.” Her second collaboration with Calvin Harris, “This Is What You Came For,” debuts at No. 9 on the Hot 100, giving Rihanna her 28th Top 10 hit. Will it reach the summit like its predecessor “We Found Love” did? Too early to tell! Meanwhile, Bad Gal’s “Needed Me” makes a sizable leap up the chart, from No. 22. to No. 13. It could be that Bad Gal will soon earn her 29th Top 10 hit. Not bad, Bad Gal.
Power Rating: 50/100
Last Week: No. 4
Some may scoff at the inclusion of Radiohead on a list that seeks to quantify the performance of Meghan Trainor’s latest single, but after the week they’ve had, not including them would be a disservice to their unimpeachable impact upon music (all kinds) and popular culture in general. They popularized the surprise album drop. They have spawned countless (inferior) imitators. And nine albums into their career, they are still pushing their own boundaries. After months (years, really) of anticipation and a full week of teasing (a social media disappearing act, one single and video, then another), the most iconic and (yes, I’ll say it) important rock band of the last 20 years finally unleashed their ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool, upon the world. Reaction has so far been glisteningly positive, which might be a given because it’s Radiohead, though it should be noted their last album, 2011’s The King of Limbs, was met lukewarmly (by their standards, anyway). So maybe it is just as good as everyone’s saying. (It is.) As of this writing, the album is sitting pretty at No. 1 on the iTunes album chart, so expect it to debut high next week. Sales and chart accomplishments aside, it’s good to have the band back and delivering music as beautiful and challenging as this.
Power Rating: 80/100
Last Week: N/A
Yoncé may (temporarily) give up her Album 200 throne, but make no mistake: she’s still slaying all day. Lemonade drops to No. 2 with 321,000 units moved, 196,000 of which were pure sales. Of note (if you’re feeling shady): her second-week pure sales number bests ANTI’s first-week sales-and-streaming-combined total. 11 Lemonade tracks are still on the Hot 100. With her Formation World Tour making headlines and discussion about the album still going strong, expect everything Lemonade to be a fixture all throughout the summer and likely beyond.
Power Rating: 89/100
This week, Champagne Papi has every reason to pop the champagne. His long-awaited Views debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s Album 200 chart with 1.04 million units moved (sales and streaming combined). Those are some big numbers! Bigger than Beyoncé numbers! Not quite as big as Taylor Swift or Adele or even Lady Gaga’s Born This Way in the pre-streaming era numbers! But still pretty big numbers! Of the 1.04 million total, 852,000 came from pure sales, which is, all jokes aside, highly impressive. Additionally, he broke the first-week streaming record. Of course, in this age of complicated chart math, there is some question as to how many of those streams are really, you know, valid. Still, still, still. Congrats, Drake! It is his sixth straight No. 1 album and his own best sales week ever. And that’s not all! This week Drake also earns his first-ever No. 1 single as a lead artist as “One Dance” hits the top of the Hot 100. Believe it or not, Drake has only ever seen that chart’s summit as a guest on a Rihanna song. And more record-breaking Drake news by way of the Hot 100: 20 of his songs chart simultaneously this week, a new record which obliterates the record set by Justin Bieber of November 2015. (Bieber charted 17 songs at once.) So yes, Drizzy is cleaning up. The album surely has a big enough lifespan to take us through the summer, but will it take us beyond? Tepid reviews seem to indicate that it will not, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Power Rating: 95/100
Last Week: No. 2