This author knows he will get stung by the Beyhive for saying Taylor Swift has just toppled Beyonce to become the biggest pop star of the decade. But this isn’t an article to criticize Beyonce, who is a fantastic performer and a very likable person. This author isn’t even suggesting that Swift is actually better than Bey. However, she is bigger.
To be sure, Beyonce is having quite a decade. In 2013, Bey reinvented the music industry with her surprise self-titled album. Her Super Bowl performance earlier that year was just about the best performance the world has ever seen. And after Lemonade, one could argue that Beyonce has reached a new peak of her career.
There are some who say that like Madonna in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, Beyonce is this decade’s Queen of Pop. But by breaking all sorts of records with “Look What You Made Me Do,” and having two songs in the top five at once, Taylor Swift has not only proven her relevance again, but has arguably become the biggest pop star of the decade.
There was a lot of vitriol aimed at Taylor Swift when she released “Look What You Made Me Do” last month, but Swift has outdone the critics. Variety recently talked about all of the records Swift broke with her new single and video.
“Released Aug. 25, Swift’s ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ single was accompanied by an animated lyric video that became the most-watched lyric video in its first day of release, notching 19 million views within 24 hours, easily zooming past the Chainsmokers-Coldplay collaboration ‘Something Like This,’ which had 9 million day one views earlier this year.”
But that was just the beginning. The official video for “Look What You Made Me Do” garnered 43.2 million views in one day, beating out Adele’s “Hello” for the record. The video currently has over 488,000,000 views. It’s headed towards being the most viewed music video ever.
The success wasn’t a fluke; after a month, the song is still No. 3 on Billboard‘s Hot 100. Taylor Swift’s album Reputation is expected to break sales records when it is released on November 10. Her 2014 album 1989 is one of the biggest selling albums of the decade, so that will be hard to beat.
Beyonce may have had some very successful albums, but she has yet to have a very successful single this decade. In 2016, “Formation” peaked at No. 10, while “Sorry” peaked at No. 11 in 2016. Her only previous big hit this decade was “Drunk in Love,” which peaked at No. 2 in early 2014, but dropped off fast. During the previous decade, Beyonce had several mega-hit singles including “Crazy in Love,” “Halo,” “Single Ladies,” and “Irreplaceable.”
Not only has Taylor Swift beat Beyonce in album sales this decade, but she has released a string of successful singles. While Beyonce has become primarily an album artist, Taylor Swift is both a singles and album artist.
Then, there is the concert scene. Both artists have done incredibly well and have been selling out multiple stadium dates in many cities. Each presents a completely different kind of concert experience, but both have the same effect — fans walk out extremely satisfied.
Over the past year, it looked like Swift was going to succumb to Beyonce as this decades official Queen of Pop. But Swift, despite all the critics, has proven how resilient she is, and all signs lead to Reputation becoming another successful mega-hit album.
This isn’t to say that Beyonce can’t catch up to Swift. There are still a little more than two years left this decade. But Beyonce would need to release an album in the league of Thriller in order to catch up to Swift in album sales. And it certainly doesn’t look like she’ll topple Swift when it comes to hit singles either. You can certainly argue that Beyonce is better, but you can’t argue that she is bigger than Taylor Swift this decade.
[Featured Image by Jason Merritt and Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]