Chart battles used to be great fun, like the music equivalent of a football derby or an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch but with less blood and mucus. There were cries of sabotage when Rod Stewart beat Sex Pistols to the top spot in 1977, with ‘God Save The Queen’ finishing in second place after being banned from every Woolies in the land. Blur v Oasis in 1995 is still the one to beat, while in more recent times we’ve seen protest campaigns pitting Rage Against The Machine up against insipid and swiftly forgotten X Factor winner Joe McElderry for the coveted Christmas Number One.
But things have tamed a little over the past few years. Just last week saw Rod Stewart, Elbow’s Guy Garvey and a posthumous Elvis album all vying for the same Radio 2 listener CD-shopping-in-Morrisons market. The most exciting chart battle the year has seen so far was that between The Weeknd and Foals, and even then it was hardly Tyson v Holyfield as the normally more outspoken Yannis said it would be “good for him” if their R&B rival won the race (which he eventually did).
That’s why, whatever your tastes, the prospect of two of the biggest pop names in the world going head-to-head when their albums – Bieber’s ‘Purpose’ and One Direction’s ‘Made In The AM’ – are released on Friday (November 13) can only be an exciting prospect. Biebs has already hit out at his boy band counterparts, accusing them of using him for “promo strategy”. But who will come out victorious? Let’s check out the facts and stats before the battle begins.
They both have a great PR angle
Each act finds itself at an interesting crossroads, but it’s a wholly different one. Justin Bieber has seen something of a rebirth recently, surviving an 18-month marathon of daily tabloid headlines to team up with the likes of Skrillex and Diplo on what is seen as his “rebirth” record.
One Direction, on the other hand, are set to release their last album before embarking on a hiatus. Having recently played their last full concert prior to their break, the group are only scheduled to make a few more brief live appearances before parting ways. This album, then, could be seen as the last chance for a while that fans will get to be close to the group.
Bieber is bigger on Twitter
Behind Katy Perry but ahead of Taylor Swift and Barack Obama, Justin Bieber has the second biggest Twitter following in the world with a whopping 69.5 million Twitter followers. Compare this to the 25.7 million followers of One Direction (lower than Shakira, Jennifer Lopez and even their own member Harry Styles) and these stats could be telling of the size and extent of the two fanbases.
Bieber trumps 1D when it comes to Facebook too, with 73,260,628 likes to One Direction’s 38,352,850. Their streaming stats show a much smaller margin, however, with Bieber leading with 22 million monthly listeners on Spotify to 16 million for One Direction.
Directioners are more fanatical
Despite having a smaller audience (according to social media fans, at least), One Direction’s fans (the self-defined Directioners) are perhaps the most loyal, passionate and quite frankly terrifying of all the pop world. Channel 4 documentary Crazy About One Direction showed the extent that fans go to for the band, while some even sent death threats to a magazine because they didn’t like an article about them. This fanaticism could come in handy for the boy band in the battle with Bieber.
The streaming stats back this up too, with One Direction songs streamed more times than Bieber despite having fewer listeners. 1D have been streamed a total of 2.2 billion times, compared to Justin Bieber’s 1.6 billion streams.
Bieber takes the big covers
While One Direction have been markedly quiet on the publicity front in the build up to their album release, Bieber’s press team has really gone all out. The past few weeks has not only seen him grace the cover of NME this week, but Billboard, Complex and I-D too. All this publicity might just help Bieber pip his rivals to the top spot.
But One Direction have the past form
Despite being a household name and worldwide star, Bieber has found it difficult to convert fame to chart success in the same way that One Direction have. The boy band’s last three albums all made it to Number One in the UK, ranking up four Number One singles in the process. Bieber, meanwhile, recently scored his first ever UK chart-topper with ‘What Do You Mean?’ after six years of trying. His last album ‘Believe’, despite reaching Number One, only managed to shift 38,115 in its first week, compared to 142,000 copies of One Direction’s ‘4’ sold.
For all One Direction’s pass success, however, it looks like Bieber might have the momentum, with One Direction’s recent single ‘Perfect’ only making it to second place and Bieber currently having two singles in the Top Ten and three in the Top 40.
Who will win? Watch this space.