There’s one reason why Michael Jackson’s status as King of Pop was never contested: he is indisputably the most popular solo male act ever.
Pop music in itself is derived none other than the word “popular”. Simply said, you can’t reign if you have no fans. When it comes to popularity, who among the current batch of male acts could be MJ’s worthy successor?
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”.
Music Video Views: Justin Bieber
This whole category is Justin Bieber’s game. Hands down.
Fans love him. Haters love to hate him. But everyone’s definitely talking about him (and watches his videos, for that matter) so at the end of the day he’s still the one having the last laugh.
Bruno Mars is a far second, but the gap begins to close when you divide by the number of music videos uploaded. This basically shows that Bruno’s popularity never quite hit Bieber’s fever-pitch fandom, but the general public as a whole enjoys him enough that Bruno is able to generate buzz and sustain interest everytime he releases a new music video.
David Guetta comes in at a respectable third place, largely due to the strength of his ubiquitous smash hits during the 2010s dance craze. But also due to the fact that his official YouTube channel doesn’t contain videos from his early pre-fame days. For whatever reasons, Chris Brown managed a fourth place despite being America’s Most Hated Artist. Adam Levine’s popularity seems to fade sometime in mid-career, but his earliest and most recent Maroon 5 works were strong enough to earn him fifth.
Ne-Yo, Justin Timberlake and Usher didn’t do very well. This is mostly a technical error—especially for Justin and Usher, whose videos are definitely NOT unpopular! The low rankings are reflective of the fact that their music videos are not products of the YouTube generation. Most of their airplay dates back to MTV and TRL, so had we been using a different measurement these artists would’ve certainly done better.
Robin Thicke comes last. While the performance of his old videos certainly contributed to his low score, more importantly to note, Blurred Lines didn’t do very well either. It amassed pretty good amount of views, but by the standard of a viral video, it’s underwhelming—and by the standard of a viral video WITH NUDITY, it’s embarrassing.
To give you a picture, Blurred Lines video has been out for 6 months and it got tonnes of publicity for staying at #1 for twelve consecutive weeks in US chart. Total views so far? 190+ million. Now let’s compare it to true viral videos: Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball video only needed one month to reach 200+ million views. Another comparison? Psy’s relatively lesser known Gentleman has been out for six months as well, but has 3x the views.
Social Media Fans: Justin Bieber
This is a no-brainer: Justin Bieber easily tops the list.
David Guetta snatches the silver this time. This is certainly that one list in which David’s old unknown works has no adverse effect on his score. Bruno Mars continues to do well, this time ranking third. Justin Timberlake and Usher follow next, showing that their fandom successfully transgressed from early 2000s to the social media generation.
Chris Brown gets a steady sixth place. Adam Levine gets a decent seventh. Ne-Yo doesn’t seem to have many fans so he can only be happy that he’s not last.
Right at the bottom is Robin Thicke. And this is that one list in which he’s not punished for his pre-fame works. Even Carly Rae Jepsen acquired a good amount of fans during her short-lived fame. In a way, this suggests that Blurred Lines became popular because the song has always had SUMMER JAM SMASH potential regardless of who sings it, and Robin Thicke’s persona has little or nothing to do with its success.
Overall Popularity: Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber tops the overall popularity metrics. At second place, Bruno Mars proves to be big too. World’s most famous DJ, David Guetta is third.
Chris Brown did amazingly well to finish fourth. Imagine how much higher he could’ve been if the Rihanna incident never happened. Justin Timberlake, Usher and Adam Levine all did pretty well as well. Ne-Yo has never been THAT popular, so eight place is kinda expected. Robin Thicke is predictably last.
How do you feel about the result? Is Justin Bieber the right King of Pop?
Let’s flip the table on the next post. Forget popularity, let’s assess the quality.
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