Success is a testament of your achievement.
An artist cannot be a King of Pop if he doesn’t prove himself capable of conquering the music industry—be it through album sales, single sales or chart performances. Let’s analyze the performance of our contenders on those three categories and see who comes out on top (so far).
I have developed a scoring system to assess all the artists’ post-2000s works, which are computed into “Overall Point”. As this is a raw cumulative number, it will favor artists who’ve been around longer to sell more or get more hits. To give a fair chance to the newer contenders, I have produced an “Adjusted Figure” so as to divide the overall point by the number of eras each artist had.
Note: This analysis refers ONLY to the period spanning 2000-2013, from the new millennium to the time of writing. No, pre-2000 achievements are not counted here. That’s why it’s called King of Pop of the “new millennium”.
Album Sales: Usher
Usher is the clear winner, led strongly by the remarkable sales from Confessions—a true juggernaut which remains as the last male album in history to achieve diamond RIAA certification. Had Usher release an immediate follow-up to capitalize on the album’s success, Usher’s points may have reached stratospheric height.
A four-year gap and major demographic shift later, Usher was no longer able to pull the same amount of interests. This allows his competitors to catch up. Among these competitors is Justin Timberlake, whose knack at releasing one multi-platinum album after another gives him a major boost in adjusted rating.
Adam Levine and Justin Bieber, both of which also sell consistently well, tie at third place. Bruno Mars’ young career gives him the benefit of having not released any flop album so far, thereby eclipsing Chris Brown who began to decline after his sophomore album. Not exactly known to be huge album sellers, Ne-Yo, Robin Thicke and David Guetta round up the bottom three.
Single Sales: Bruno Mars
Gifted with crafts and hooks, regular hitmaker Bruno Mars has sold more singles than everyone else—with only two albums! His quick rise to be an icon certainly widens his gap with everyone else. Devoted Beliebers has pushed Justin Bieber to second place, while Maroon 5’s endless string of post-Moves Like Jagger success earns Adam Levine the bronze medal.
Justin Timberlake isn’t doing too shabby, but his single sales has never been as threatening as his album successes. David Guetta comes in fifth—it’s quite unfortunate that his early works weren’t noticed outside of his home country, because once David hits the limelight around 2009, he’s turned into a serious force to be reckoned with.
Chris Brown comes in at sixth, winning by a slight margin to Usher’s seventh place. Ne-Yo unsurprisingly comes at the bottom 2. Right at the deep abyss is Robin Thicke, whose 6x platinum Blurred Lines unfortunately wasn’t enough to redeem himself from 10 years of non-impactful singles (2007’s Lost Without You was his only pre-Blurred Lines single to make enough stir to go platinum).
Chart Performances: Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake’s success never fades. He’s gone on long hiatus yet he still manage to amass at least two Top 5 hits with every album. Bruno Mars, with his enviable streak of seven consecutive Top 10 hits, snatches silver.
Usher takes a big hit. Despite an impressive total of eight #1 hits between 2001-2010, his average hits per album isn’t strong enough to push him beyond third place. Justin Bieber comes fourth; he has never topped the chart but has consistently graced the Top 40.
Chris Brown is a sad case. Judging by the strength of his raw number, he clearly had a shot this round. He’s second only to Usher (whom tumbled) so had he maintained his likability, his songs would’ve performed significantly better on the chart and he might actually lead this time. Instead, the 2009 Fist Brown incident happened and so he wounded at fifth.
Adam Levine’s hit-and-miss career is well-reflected at sixth place. Ne-Yo has enjoyed moderate chart success both as lead artist as well as featured artist, so he conveniently outperforms David Guetta and Robin Thicke.
Overall Success: Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars leads the overall success metrics. The ever-so-consistent Justin Timberlake and remarkable-achiever Usher rounds up the Fab Three.
Justin Bieber’s army of stans did well enough to secure him a fourth place. Underdog Adam Levine is fifth. Basking on early successes, Chris Brown manages a decent sixth place. Moderate hitmaker Ne-Yo is seventh. A little too late into the party, late-bloomer David Guetta is stuck at eight. Future one-hit wonder Robin Thicke is dead last for now, unless he proves with his next singles that Blurred Lines is no fluke.
Do you like the result so far? Who should be on Top 3 when it comes to success?
Success is not the be-all-end-all. In my next updates, we’ll look at a few other metrics before crowning the King of Pop.
All Posts on the King of Pop and Queen of Pop series:
- Introducing the New King of Pop – Part 1: Background
- Introducing the New King of Pop – Part 2: Success
- Introducing the New King of Pop – Part 3: Popularity
- Introducing the New King of Pop – Part 4: Quality
- Introducing the New King of Pop – Part 5: The Also-Rans
- Introducing the New King of Pop – Part 6: The Top Seeds
- Who is the Queen of Pop of This Millennium? Part 1: Background
- Who is the Queen of Pop of This Millennium? Part 2: Success
- Who is the Queen of Pop of This Millennium? Part 3: Popularity
- Who is the Queen of Pop of This Millennium? Part 4: Quality
- Who is the Queen of Pop of This Millennium? Part 5: Also-Rans
- Who is the Queen of Pop of This Millennium? Part 6: Top Seeds