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: Twenty One Pilots
I don’t know much about this band, nor do I care to learn — what I have I would describe as deplorable white rap-rock that with 311 and Bloodhound Gang lineage — but apparently they have “made history” as the first “alternative duo or group” to score two consecutive Top 10 hits on that chart. “Heathens,” which jumps up to No. 4 on the Hot 100 this week, is taken from the Suicide Squad soundtrack album, which debuts this week at No. 1 on the Album 200 with surprisingly robust sales. So, you know, good for them, I guess, even though their music isn’t any good.
- Sia, who claims a fourth week atop the Hot 100 with “Cheap Thrills”
- Ariana Grande, whose “Into You,” continues its slow climb up the Hot 100, landing this week at No. 13, a new peak
This Week’s Flop Star: Justin Bieber
Though Justin Bieber can turn this week to the Hot 100 for some soothing news — his collaborations with Major Lazer and DJ Snake land at No. 2 and No. 12, respectively — the notoriously combative “bad boy” has mostly been in the news all week due to the high school lunchroom drama that follows him around like a deranged stalker. The long and short of it as follows: Bieber made his relationship with 17-year-old model Sofia Richie, daughter of Lionel, “Instagram Official,” and shortly thereafter threatened to make private his account when, apparently, a wave of negative, bullying fan comments directed at his new squeeze caused him distress. Then, for some reason, Bieber’s ex, Selena Gomez, jumped into the mix, throwing shade at Bieber and his immature temperament. This all escalated until Gomez called Bieber out for cheating multiple times while they were together. Bieber reportedly responded by claiming that Gomez cheated on him with Zayn Malik. Later, Bieber made more than good on his earlier threat and deleted his Instagram account. It’s not the first time he has pulled the plug on a social media account, and so we know, most likely he’ll be back. (After all, so much of his fame is tied up in the rise of social media.) So what does that inevitability make all of this? It’s simply a very easy (and petulant) way for him to attract attention. But why does he need it? He has two songs in the Top 20 of the Hot 100. He has the luxury of not stooping to the level of Azealia Banks and Demi Lovato, and yet he does. At this point, it’s become infuriatingly exhausting. Here’s hoping he keeps his account offline, because, honestly, we’ve had enough.
- Selena Gomez, who, despite claiming to want to step out of the shadow cast over her career by her relationship with Bieber, continues to engage with the aforementioned man-boy and the narrative of their now-dead romance at every available opportunity
- Britney Spears, whose “Make Me..,” despite rebounding a bit on the Hot 100 — it’s up 24 spots to No. 43 this week, most likely thanks to video streams — still has no solid hit leading up to the release of Glory, out in less than two weeks