Pop Stars and Flop Stars: Nobody Does No. 1 Like Barbra Streisand, Especially Not Britney Spears

Frank Ocean and Beyoncé Rule
Last week's PS & FS sees Frank Ocean ruling the charts and Bey ruling everything.

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: Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand’s latest album of duets for adults who consider themselves contemporary, Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway, debuts this week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Album 200 chart. It is her 11th No. 1 album, widening her lead over Madonna as the female artist with the most No. 1 albums. (Madonna has eight.) Billboard also notes that Streisand’s reign atop the charts spans nearly 52 years — her first No. 1 album, People, hit the top spot in October of 1964. Keep that factoid in the back of your mind as we mosey on down…

Runners Up

 

This Week’s Flop Star: Britney Spears

Despite being her best album in more than a decade, Britney Spears’ Glory debuts at No. 3 on the Album 200 with 111,000 combined units, 88,000 of which were traditional sales. (For comparison, 2013’s Britney Jean debuted at No. 4 with 107,000 copies sold; streaming did not yet factor into the album charts.) Glory’s failure to hit the chart summit is not due to lack of promotional effort: Spears performed at the VMAs and on The Today Show, appeared on “Carpool Karaoke,” and has been popping up on radio and in magazines for weeks. So why, then, is The Princess of Pop’s latest project moving Selena Gomez Revival numbers? (And that album debuted at No. 1…) The common rebuttal to this line of questioning is usually: “She’s been in the game for 20 years, a Top 3 debut is great!” Tell that to Barbra Streisand. (Or Beyoncé, for that matter.)

Runners Down