Pop Stars and Flop Stars: Justin Bieber’s ‘Cold Water’ Makes Big Splash, Britney Spears’ New Single Gets the Cold Shoulder

Previously On
Sia soars to No. 1! But things aren't so good for Britney.

Climb to the top of the pops and dive deep down into the depths with the flops in our new, improved edition of Pop Power Ranking (now called Pop Stars and Flop Stars).

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: Justin Bieber

Cold Water,” the new Major Lazer single featuring Justin Bieber and , debuts at No. 2 on the Hot 100 on the strength of 169,000 downloads and nearly 15 million U.S. streams. It’s a big debut, period, but especially for a song on which Bieber is just a featured guest. Also consider: last week, both Katy Perry and Britney Spears (more on them both in a bit) released new singles after long absences and debuted outside the top 10. Bieber last released an album less than nine months ago. The people clearly have a thirst, and “Cold Water” has quenched it. So congrats to Bieber, Major Lazer, and MØ, the latter of whom I hope to see really big things from in the future.

Runners Up



This Week’s Flop Star: Britney Spears

Predictably, after last week’s column, I faced the wrath of genuinely angry Britney Spears fans. “It’s too early to call ‘Make Me…’ a flop!” was the general sentiment, though it was expressed much more severely. As I stated at the time, I like “Make Me…” and would like to see it do well, but a lead album single from an A-List pop act debuting outside the Top 10 and losing rank to a promotional Olympics single is not what I would call impressive. Meanwhile, the facts remain as follows: After debuting last week on the Hot 100 at No. 17, “Make Me…” plummets to No. 52 in its second week of release. On iTunes, the song has fallen (as of this writing) to No. 72. Meanwhile, rumors that the original David LaChapelle-directed video has been scrapped and re-shot after leaks (and apparent animosity) do not give the impression that the B9 era is off to a smooth start. Like many of Spears’ fans, I hope “Make Me..” makes a turnaround — I welcome being wrong in this instance (and in this instance only!) — but objectively, I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

Runners Down