Pop Stars and Flop Stars: Frank Ocean Rules the Charts and Beyoncé Ruled the VMAs (at the Expense of Everyone Else)
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: Frank Ocean
After years of delays and rumors and false starts and frustration, Frank Ocean finally bestowed not one, but two albums unto the world and those of us who live in it. The first, a visual album called Endless, hit Apple Music on Aug. 19. Blonde, which functions as a more proper followup to 2012’s Channel Orange, followed that same weekend. This week, Blonde debuts atop the Billboard Album 200 with equivalent sales of 276,000, 232,000 of which are from pure album sales. (It is the third-largest debut of the year after Drake’s Views and Beyoncé‘s Lemonade.) Of course, the project was also met with rapturous critical acclaim, proving that some things are, in fact, worth the wait.
- Beyoncé, who gave the performance of a lifetime at the 2016 VMAs before walking away as the show’s most decorated artist in history
- Britney Spears, whose new album, Glory, has been well-received and who returned to the VMAs stage for the first time in nine years for a not-disastrous performance
- Rihanna, who took home the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs and performed not once, not twice, not thrice, but four times during the show
This Week’s Flop Star: Basically Everyone at the VMAs Who Wasn’t Beyoncé
- Nick Jonas and Ty Dolla $ign, whose on-the-nose performance of “Bacon” in a diner and then outside in front of a random-ass Duane Reade was the stuff of flop legends
- The Chainsmokers and Halsey, who gave the worst VMAs performance of the night
- Rihanna, who though she performed four times, was upstaged by Beyoncé’s more visionary set
- Britney Spears, whose VMAs performance, though not bad, demonstrated she’s lost the ability to even lip sync convincingly
- Kanye West, who couldn’t stop himself from once again referencing Taylor Swift in a rambling, pointless speech that lacked the impact of last year’s Vanguard decree
- The VMAs themselves, which experienced a sharp drop in viewership