Every week, Scoreboard brings The Knockturnal readers the 411 on who is moving up and down the charts in the U.S., with an artist feature and a check-in on the international Scoreboard.
Billboard Artist Top 10
For the magazine dated July 16, 2016
See the full chart at http://www.billboard.com/charts/artist-100
|Billboard Artist Top 10||Name||Billboard 200 Album Rank||Billboard Hot 100 Singles||Highest Charting Single|
|1||Drake||1||11||1: One Dance|
|2||Twenty One Pilots||4||3||9: Ride|
|3||Rihanna||5||4||5: This Is What You Came For|
|5||Justin Bieber||17||2||28: Love Yourself|
|6||Adele||7||1||13: Send My Love (To Your New Lover)|
|7||Meghan Trainor||10||2||16: Me Too|
|8||Justin Timberlake||−||1||2: Can’t Stop The Feeling|
|9||Ariana Grande||13||2||17: Dangerous Woman|
The dominance of Drake remains the top story of the Billboard scoreboard this week and his Summer ’16 may be one for the ages. Just this week he set a record by spending an eighth week at #1 on the Hot 100, Billboard 200, and the Artist 100 simultaneously. With 11 tracks on the Hot 100, he has clearly given the scoreboard more than just one dance.
@champagnepapi is denying 8 usual suspects the #1 spot in this week’s Artist Top 10 and I’ll ponder his success further in this week’s scoreboard feature. Behind that crowd, coming in at #10 is North Carolina folk Americana band the Avett Brothers. The (two) Avett brothers and two more bandmates have been representing Cabarrus County since 2002 and their appearance on the charts this week is driven by their ninth album True Sadness, which debuts at #3 on the Billboard 200. Why are they sad and how true is their sadness compared to, let’s say Lana Del Rey? My guess is they are sad because Seth Avett had more drama in the last few years than your average singer-songwriter, leaving his wife of five years for Dexter star Jennifer Carpenter. According to Billboard, some fans “persisted in loudly voicing their displeasure about his personal life.” #sadface Unlike Taylor Swift, the Avetts do not sing defiantly about how they go on too many dates, but track 11 is “Divorce Separation Blues.” Perhaps Lana Del Rey’s sad genius is in not getting married in the first place.
@theavettbrothers don’t feature their two non-brothers much on social media
Artist Spotlight / International Scoreboard: The Weeknd
This week the Artist Spotlight and the International Scoreboard join forces to zoom in on one of the most intriguing and fascinating artists today, Abęl Makkonen Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd. It is the friggin’ weekend, but @abelxo brings us dark, fashionable, and dangerous R&B, not R. Kelly fun. And his impact on the Scoreboard has been noted: 21 charted tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 since 2012, two #1s, two Grammies, an Oscar nomination, the #3 Billboard artist of 2015 honor, and, by my tally, he is the #5 artist of 2016 so far (#24 this week on the Artist 100).
While @abelxo is a chart champion today he, to parrot his buddy Drake, “started from the bottom.” Born in Toronto to Ethiopian immigrant parents, the Weeknd was raised by his mother and grandmother. He left home at age 17 one weekend and that became his name, after dropping the “e” to avoid a copyright confrontation with an established Canadian band. His first online mixtape House of Balloons blew up after Drake shared a link to it on his blog in 2011. The Weeknd then sang “Crew Love” on Drake’s Take Care…and the rest was history.
Speaking of history, why has the Weeknd been so successful with his gloomy and sometimes disturbing brand of Toronto R&B? Let’s go back in time to Michael Jackson and his most popular hit, “Billie Jean.” MJ had hits with ballads, smooth dance grooves, and funky rockers, but “Billie Jean” and its spiritual sequel “Dirty Diana” displayed a brilliant state of pop paranoia. Those Billboard #1s were rock star cautionary tales filled with tension and a very unique MJ anger, which he expressed through his moonwalking and contrortion-filled dancing. The Weeknd covered “D.D.” on his second mixtape in 2011 and named MJ as one of his inspirations (along with Prince and…speak of the devil…R. Kelly) in an interview with Pitchfork last year.
One of the most successful uses of the “Billie Jean” formula before the Weeknd blew up was Kanye West‘s “Flashing Lights” and the subsequent 808s & Heartbreak album. Those moody and profound Kanye releases were heavily played on all my devices from 2007 to 2010 and it’s too bad that Mr. West has left the formula behind for a more confrontational style of hip-hop today.
Amazingly though, Kanye’s 808s vibe has become an even more dominant sound in R&B and hip-hop today thanks not only to Drake and The Weeknd, but also Future, Travis Scott, Bryson Tiller, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Frank Ocean, and Zhene Aiko, among others. The hushed war stories expressed in songs like “Hotline Bling” and “The Hills” match the vulnerable confessional highs of “Billie Jean” and “Flashing Lights” and explain why Drake, The Weeknd, and Future are three of the top male artists in the U.S. today (along with a third Canadian Justin Bieber who had his own take on “Billie Jean” a few years ago with “Maria”).
The Weeknd’s vibe has also rubbed off on his female partners through a number of duets including Ariana Grande (his first Top 40 and Top 10 hit on the Hot 100), Sia, Lana Del Rey, and most recently Beyoncé. Although “Can’t Feel My Face” proved that @abelxo could also succeed in pure pop, that hit is an outlier. @abelxo’s singular style is a result of combining the MJ/Kanye formula with soft touches of Aaliyah and Sade smoked in the back of a hazy Toronto lounge.
Any other week, the Scoreboard would be finished by now, but given the tragic shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas this week, I would like to express condolences to all the victims and raise a call for peace and reconciliation in this violent America we call home. Killing and hatred are in no way the means to solve society’s problems. Stay safe, Knockturnal readers.