Pop Stars and Flop Stars: Sia Soars to No. 1, Britney Spears’ ‘Make Me’ Makes Meh Debut
Welcome back to Pop Stars and Flop Stars, which, as I explained earlier, is a revitalized (and shortened) restructuring of the feature formerly called Pop Power Ranking. Here’s the drill: each week, I’ll name a Pop Star — someone who secured the lion’s share of No. 1s, trophies, and/or other cultural gold stars (both tangible and intangible) — and one Flop Star who… well, you get the idea. And that’s about all there is to say. Let’s get into it.
This Week’s Pop Star: Sia
Goodbye, “One Dance.” After 11 non-consecutive weeks at the top of the Hot 100, Drake’s lock for Song of the Summer has finally, finally been dethroned. Sia’s “Cheap Thrills,” a remix of which features Sean Paul, takes the top spot after 23 weeks on the chart. Sia has long been one of the hardest working women in the industry, writing songs for Beyoncé (“Pretty Hurts”), Rihanna (“Diamonds”), Britney Spears (“Perfume”), Katy Perry (“Double Rainbow”), Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, and many, many others. (Though “Cheap Thrills” is her first No. 1 single as a lead artist, she previously reached the chart summit as the writer of Rihanna’s “Diamonds.”) In short: Sia deserves this victory. And what’s more: “Cheap Thrills” is, objectively, a great pop song. Here’s to many more No. 1s for Sia, both as a writer and a pop star in her own right.
- Katy Perry, whose Olympics single “Rise” outsold and out-peaked Britney Spears’ official lead single, “Make Me…,” debuting at No. 11 on the Hot 100 with sales of 137,000
- Rihanna, whose Calvin Harris collaboration “This Is What You Came For” reaches a new peak of No. 3 on the Hot 100 and who, it was just announced, will star as Marion Crane on the final season of Bates Motel
- Drake, whose Views still rules the Album 200 and whose “One Dance,” despite being knocked off its perch, is still sitting pretty at No. 2 on the Hot 100
This Week’s Flop Star: Britney Spears
It pains me to have to write this, but here we are. After months of teasing and hype, “Make Me…,” the lead single from Britney Spears’ forthcoming ninth studio album finally dropped last week. Despite my less-than-enthusiastic opinions about much of Spears’ output over the last decade, I was surprised to find I legitimately like the song (minus G-Eazy’s useless verse), and I am not alone. So what’s the problem?
Though “Make Me…” shot to No. 1 on iTunes shortly after its release, it quickly lost ground to Katy Perry’s “Rise,” released the same day, and then to a bunch of other, older songs. As of this writing, “Make Me…” is already outside the Top 30 on iTunes, which is, objectively, not good for the lead single from a top-tier artist just over a week after its release.
On the Hot 100, “Make Me…” debuts this week at No. 17. That’s not terrible, but it also isn’t spectacular. Given the song’s quick tumble down the iTunes charts, its floundering behind Perry’s promotional single, it would take a certain kind of naive optimism to believe “Make Me…” will be able to stick it out and become the hit Spears’ fans would like it to be. Perhaps the song will rise if radio takes to it, if streams explode when the video comes out, and if Spears actually does something, anything to promote it. Until then, unfortunately, “Make Me…” simply isn’t shaping up to be a big summer smash or even a confidence-inspiring lead single.