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: DJ Khaled
This week, DJ Khaled, a veteran of the industry who has really only seen his star explode in this, the era of Snapchat (and Beyoncé‘s Formation World Tour), becomes the second act to knock Drake‘s Views from the top of the Billboard Album 200. (The first, you will recall, was Blink-182). Khaled’s Major Key is his first No. 1 album; it moved 95,000 total units during its first week of release, 59,000 of which were in traditional sales. Seems he did indeed find the key to success. #Blessed
- Sia, whose “Cheap Thrills” remains at No. 1 on the Hot 100 for the third week
- Fantasia, whose The Definition Of… debuts at No. 6 on the Album 200, becoming her fourth Top 10 album
- Rihanna, whose ANTi has officially moved 500,000 units, sales and streams combined (not counting the million freebies)
- Kanye West, who now has 40 Top 40 singles to his name, which is one more than Michael Jackson has
This Week’s Flop Star: Britney Spears(‘ Fans)
God. Dammit. I didn’t want to be here, writing this (again), but here we are. Last week, Britney Spears, who once effortlessly ruled over the pop landscape like a benevolent, Starbucks-addicted queen, announced her long-awaited ninth studio album, Glory. Great news, right? Yes, but… Immediately after the announcement, fan jubilation quickly turned sour when a petition asking Spears’ label to change the album cover started making the rounds (and, subsequently, headlines). Fair: it’s not a great cover! (It’s a screenshot from music video — more on that in a bit — for the love of Godney!) But we live in the age of streaming music, so how much does a cover even really matter? As fans, why help twist the narrative of an album launch into a story about mismanagement? Your queen deserves better.
Unfortunately, the bad news for the Glory era did not end with that particular over-filtered mess. On Friday, Spears released the video for the album’s first single, “Make Me…,” and things devolved further. The video confirmed rumors that the original David LaChapelle clip, which had begun leaking a month before the song even dropped, had been shelved in favor of a newly-shot (and much tamer) version. (Reasons as to why this happened vary.) So “Make Me…,” a music video which also doubles as a commercial for EOS lip balm, came out and was immediately savaged by the very people it was meant to please. Cue the inevitable: for the second time in less than a week, Spears’ own fans launched a petition — seriously, Britney Army: WTF? — calling for the release of the original video. In summation: less than a week into the official pre-album rollout campaign for a project meant to restore some credibility to Spears’ career after the debacle that was Britney Jean, fans have managed to accomplish the exact opposite of what they wanted by turning the Glory era into Britney Jean 2: Electric Boogaloo.
And a chart update: Shortly after the album went up for pre-sale on iTunes, both “Make Me…” and new track “Private Show” (a song so bad it’s hard to believe it’s not a parody) rose into the iTunes Top 10, briefly giving fans hope that the things could be salvaged with some actual hits. Now, just four days later, both songs have plummeted down down the chart, killing that hope dead. (“Make Me…” is already out of the Top 30 for the second time, while “Private Show” has dropped down to No. 74 as of this writing.) On the Hot 100, “Make Me…” drops another 15 spots to land at No. 67 in its third week. So, no, it doesn’t look like the hits are coming. But fans don’t have anyone to blame but themselves