Madonna is the indisputable Queen of Pop simply by the fact that she’s the most successful female artist of all-time.
Her sales is unstoppable, rivaled only by all-time greats such as The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. If any of our eligible contenders want to be Madonna’s successor, she needs to prove that she can sell on her name alone. Let’s dissect this into three different categories: album sales, single sales and chart performances.
Unfortunately, as we have truckload of candidates, I don’t have enough space to list both “Overall Point” and “Adjusted Figure” like I did with my King of Pop series. Hence, the statistics I’m going to present in this Queen of Pop series are the “Adjusted Figure” (i.e. after dividing the overall point by the number of eras each artist had gone through, so as not to unfairly favor those who’ve been around longer).
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 Queen of Pop of “THIS” millennium.
Album Sales: Adele
Of course Adele (#1) had this in the bag. 21 is the only album to be certified diamond ever since Usher’s Confessions in 2004. When Adele released 21 in 2011, albums are no longer selling well but that doesn’t stop Adele one bit. Taylor Swift, who appeals to both loyal country listeners and rabid teenybopper fans, is at #2. Together, Adele and Taylor Swift leave the other competitors in the dust.
Carrie Underwood (#3) also has the advantage of loyal country fanbase. Britney Spears comfortably sits at #4, thanks to juggernaut performance from her early careers. Alicia Keys and Fergie are great album-sellers as well, tying at #5.
Next comes the mid-packs: Beyonce (#7), Kelly Clarkson (#8) and assortment of artists tying at #9 (Avril Lavigne, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani and P!nk).
Mariah Carey (#14) luckily nudged out The Emancipation of Mimi in 2005, bringing up her overall album sales. Katy Perry (#15) and Miley Cyrus (#16) are huge modern stars, both aren’t doing bad but they don’t exactly prove that their album sales are of Queen-caliber. Madonna and Shakira tie at #17, followed by Jennifer Lopez (#19), why-should-I-care-about-albums-when-I’m-acing-my-singles Rihanna (#20) and Nicki Minaj (#21).
Then comes the flop zone. The Spirit Indestructible clearly destruct Nelly Furtado’s career (#22), ditto for Ke$ha’s Warrior (#23). Leona Lewis (#24)? Well, she remains a one-album wonder.
Single Sales: Katy Perry
This is obviously Katy’s (#1) forte, whom with her sophomore effort Teenage Dream broke the record for having the most #1 singles from one album. Gaga’s (#2) string of singles from The Fame + The Fame Monster also put her close to the top.
Nicki’s a monster when it comes to featured singles, coming at #3 even after adjusting the figures. Other single giants (or former giant, in #7’s case) are Taylor (#4), Adele (#5), Fergie (#6), Ke$ha (#7) and Rihanna (#8). Carrie (#9) and Beyonce (#10) aren’t doing too shabby either.
Next are the just-okay single-sellers: Kelly (#11), Miley (#12) and P!nk (#13). Alicia (#14), Avril (#15), Britney (#16), Mariah + Shakira (#17), Christina (#19) have been declining in recent years, but on average is doing well thanks to early successes.
Barely escaping the flop zone are Gwen (#20) and Madonna (#21). JLo (#22) has occasional smash hits but unfortunately too many flops. And we can only pray that someday Leona (#23) and Nelly (#24) will recover from the pits of irrelevance.
Chart Performances: Taylor Swift
Taylor is a beast who can even make her non-singles chart inside the Top 40. Otherwise, Katy a.k.a. the female MJ (#2) would’ve been first instead. Gaga (#3) is predictably near the top, while Fergie (#4) successfully escapes the law of diminishing returns as she’s released only one solo album so far.
Once again, Nicki (#5) gets boost from the performance of her many successful featured singles. Ke$ha (#6) had an excellent streak of Top 10 singles that even C’mon and Crazy Kids couldn’t ruin her ranking. Beyonce (#7) and Rihanna (#8) remain as some of the most successful black female artists ever.
Expectedly, the mid-pack consists mostly of non-dance pop artists whose appeal are confined to their niche genres: Gwen (#9), P!nk (#10), Carrie (#11), Adele (#12), Kelly (#13). Except for Mariah (#14) and Britney (#15) who are out of their prime. Miley (#16) is climbing the ranking and will probably hit the Top 10 by the end of the Bangerz era, while Alicia (#17) is on her way to the flop zone.
Christina (#18) and JLo (#19) are leading the flop packs. Being a non-US artist, Avril’s (#20) performance on Billboard Hot 100 wasn’t amazing even back in her heydays. Ditto for Madonna (#21) and Shakira (#22) despite having a few decent eras. Nelly (#23) and Leona (#24) remain at bottom two as always.
Overall Success: Katy Perry
So after combining the points from the three criteria…
Congratulations to Katy (#1), whose Teenage Dream is definitely one of the most successful female eras of the new millennium. Runner-up Taylor (#2) is unarguably the most successful pop crossover artist since Shania Twain in the 1990s.
At some point, Gaga (#3) was indisputably the #1 pop star so even after a few blunders she’s still near the top. Fergie (#4) enjoys untarnished solo legacy. Nicki (#5), Adele (#6), Ke$ha (#7), Beyonce (#8), Rihanna (#9) and Carrie (#10) rounds up the Top 10.
Unlike the Top 10 (minus Carrie and Adele), the mid-packs are the non-Madonna-lite artists who don’t usually feed on controversy to fuel extra interest on their music: P!nk (#11), Kelly (#12), Gwen (#13) and Alicia (#14). Miley (#17) is climbing while stars whose prime are on the early 2000s such as Britney (#15), Mariah (#16), Christina (#18), Avril (#19) and JLo (#20) are beginning to go down.
I’ll refrain from further beating the dead cows, so I’ll just list them: Madonna (#21), Shakira (#22), Nelly (#23) and Leona (#24).
Do you like the result so far? Who are your Top 5 when it comes to success?
We’ll look at popularity and quality metrics next before officially crowning the new Queen of Pop, so come back in the next few days.
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