Bieber’s number one with the girls, but not with Billboard
The Beatles had 20, Elvis had 18 and Michael Jackson racked up 13. Even Wham! managed a respectable two.
No, we’re not talking about girlfriends, but something just as hard to get – Billboard Hot 100 number one hits.
So how is it that the biggest star of the millennium, with as many screaming female fans as The Beatles or Elvis, hasn’t scored a single US number one hit some seven singles into his career?
Even Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby”, with over 600 million YouTube views, only climbed as high as five on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
With this barely average record, poor Justin has to stand embarrassed, holding his oversized baseball cap and staring enviously at people like Gregory Abbott, Little Eva, “112” and Juvenile – people the world has never heard of but who achieved what he has so far failed to do, climb to the top of the world’s biggest chart.
The talented young Canadian must feel like an RSL Club cover artist when he thinks about Stevie Wonder, who at the same age had charted four top 10 US hits including his number one debut “Fingertips”.
He barely even rates a mention in comparison to Michael Jackson who by the age of 17 had four number one hits with his brothers in the Jackson 5, as well as his solo classic “Ben” which was released when Jackson was 13.
It begs the question of how an artist who has in the palm of his hand consumerism’s strongest army – screaming teenage girls, has failed to even threaten the top spot.
In his defence, the method by which Billboard calculates its charts (based on downloads, airplay and physical sales) has been criticised as dubious over the years, to say the very least. It’s kept classics like Elvis’s “Burning Love” and The Beatles’ “Penny Lane” from top spot in place of Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-ling” and Englebert Humperdinck’s “Release Me” respectively.
Bieber has nearly 12 million Twitter followers (second only to Lady Gaga), over one billion YouTube views, a blockbuster 3D concert film and a world tour under his belt, but the Never Say Never star has failed to match even Rolf Harris in terms of singles success in the United States.
Harris rose to number three on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” in 1960.
But Bieber isn’t alone in stars who seem to batting below their average on the Hot 100. Bob Dylan, arguably the greatest songwriter in Western history, failed to post a number one.
His 1965 masterpiece “Like a Rolling Stone”, regarded by many to be the best song ever, only made it to number two and was pipped at the post by the Beatles’ rock classic “Help!”
Admittedly, Justin Bieber did make it to number one in France with “Baby” and two of his LPs have claimed top spot on the Billboard Album charts. But possibly the most famous person in the world deserves a number one US song.
His precociousness is a huge reason behind his success to date, yet surprisingly, it may also be holding him back.
With his trademark blonde flick seemingly given the sack, Bieber may be trying to forge a new and more adult image in the hope of cracking the ceiling. His advisers are surely aware of the modern market’s cynicism towards younger stars.
Hillary Duff and Aaron Carter – while hugely successful – have not come close to claiming top spot on the hallowed Billboard Hot 100.
Call it taste, call it jealousy but it seems modern music buyers are reluctant to fully endorse the younger generation of talent. It’s even forced Lil’ Bow Bow to lose the “Lil” from his name and coincidentally to enter the most successful period of his career.
It seems if Justin Bieber wants to do the same he’s going to have to say adios to his youthful lustre and embrace the music industry as a talented musician in his own right.
No more duets with juvenile children of Men in Black stars, no more video clips set in bowling alleys, no more tweets about schoolwork.
If Justin wants to climb to number one and match his fame and talent with results on the charts he sadly needs to grow up.
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