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: Lady Gaga
It was a huge week for Lady Gaga, who wrapped up her Dive Bar Tour, went viral on Carpool Karaoke, and announced a performance at next month’s American Music Awards. But the biggest news of all? Her fifth studio album, Joanne, debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard Album 200 chart, making her the first female artist to score four No. 1 albums this decade. What’s more is she did so by far exceeding initial sales expectations, which initially had her moving anywhere between 90,000 and 140,000 units total. Her actual first-week sales haul comes in at 201,000 SPS (170,000 in traditional sales), a number which gives her bragging rights for the following reasons: it’s 2016’s fourth-biggest debut overall and the second-biggest debut for a female artist. (Regarding the latter, she only lags behind Beyoncé, whose Lemonade moved 653,000 its first week). Given that this is Gaga’s first pop album since the “notorious flop” ARTPOP and also that her lead single fizzled on the Hot 100, those numbers are certainly not to be scoffed at. As they say: another day, another slay.
On the Hot 100, three Joanne tracks make a mark: “Perfect Illusion” re-enters at No. 78, “A-Yo” debuts at No. 66, and “Million Reasons,” Gaga’s next official single, reaches a new peak of No. 57. “Million Reasons” shows potential to become a big hit for Gaga after topping the iTunes sales chart last week and remaining in the Top 10 since then. It is officially being sent to radio this week, so only time will tell if it becomes a Hot 100 Top Ten smash, but things look good so far.
The Joanne era feels pretty nice so far, eh? Unless you’re a hater, of course, in which case my thoughts and prayers are with you and your favs.
- The Chainsmokers, whose “Closer” logs another week atop the Hot 100, making it the longest-reigning No. 1 of 2016
- Ariana Grande, whose “Side to Side” officially becomes the highest-peaking hit of her Dangerous Woman era as it rises this week to No. 7 on the Hot 100
- The Weeknd, whose “Starboy” remains at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and who just announced a massive 2017 world tour
This Week’s Flop Star: Justin Bieber
I think we were all looking forward to the end of Justin Bieber’s mildly disastrous (though, I guess, still profitable)
Tantrum Purpose World Tour, especially given how the man-boy refuses to keep it together on stage. Unfortunately, and despite his clear resentment of having to perform the duties of his job, he just added new dates, so he’s stuck with it… and so are we.
- Drake, whose ill-conceived Kid Cudi diss track “Two Birds, One Stone” has been met with much derision, including from Cudi himself
- The Chainsmokers, who keep getting shut down on Twitter by artists inarguably more talented than they are