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Queen Bey vs. The King of Pop: Who Reigns Supreme?

Updated on May 23, 2017

I know, I know, it is blasphemous to even think someone may be the greatest pop star other than Michael Jackson. His style, song catalog and impact on pop culture have reigned second to none since the 1970's. But, there may be a new contender coming to snatch his throne. This artist is the personification of fierce and is perhaps the only entertainer with the résumé to even contemplate as having a greater career than the legend Michael Jackson. Of course, I am talking about the diva herself, Mrs. Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter.

Early Career

Beyoncé’s merits speak for themselves. She burst on the scene with her group Destiny’s Child and has risen to level of icon in the years that have followed. Destiny’s Child had fourteen songs in the Billboard Top 100 list including four songs which peaked at number one. They also sold over 60 million albums and were nominated for fifteen Grammy awards, winning three. Their status as one of the most talented and successful groups in music history is without question. And Beyoncé was the leader of that group.

Michael Jackson also began his career as a member of a prominent singing group. The Jackson 5 (later known as the Jacksons) rose to fame in the early 1970’s and became the model for future boy bands such as New Edition and New Kids on the Block. According to Billboard.com, they had 21 songs on the Hot 100 list, including four songs which peaked at number one. Also, according to newyorker.com, they sold approximately 50 million albums (it is hard to determine accurately the number of albums sold because Motown refused to have its sales audited by the industry). Astonishingly, they were nominated for only two Grammy awards and did not win either one. However, they were a worldwide phenomenon and influenced artists to come. And Michael Jackson was the stand-out performer of that group.

Advantage: Beyoncé

Destiny’s Child sold more albums and won more Grammy awards.

Solo Career

Beyoncé’s résumé as a solo artist is definitely impressive. Her first single “Crazy in Love” rose to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 list and she has not looked back. According to Billboard.com, she has an amazing 45 songs chart on the Hot 100 list. This includes: “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), “Irreplaceable,” “Check on It,” “Baby Boy” and the aforementioned “Crazy in Love,” which all peaked at number one. She has a staggering 46 Grammy nominations as a solo artist and has won 18 total Grammy awards. Also, Nielsen Soundscan reports Beyoncé has sold approximately 60 million albums worldwide. That is an incredible figure in this digital streaming and Youtube era.

Michael Jackson has impressive numbers as well. He had 43 songs enter the Billboard Top 100 list, but the real shock is the staggering number of songs he sang which rose to the top of the chart. Twelve of his songs reached number one and that is a feat not even the Queen Bey has surpassed. These songs include such timeless gems as “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and “Rock with You.” Mr. Jackson was nominated for 36 Grammy awards and won 15 including the prestigious Grammy Legend award and the Lifetime Achievement award. But, the real jaw-dropper is the number of records Michael Jackson sold. There are conflicting reports, but, according to Statisticbrain.com, the consensus number of albums Michael Jackson has sold is 750 million copies worldwide. Let me repeat that just in case you fainted. The consensus number of albums Michael Jackson has sold is 750 million. This figure is spearheaded by the album “Thriller” which, according to Dailymail.com, has sold over 100 million copies worldwide.

Advantage: Michael Jackson

I understand we are living in the era of streaming, but 750 million sales is an unbelievable number. Shieeet, he has sold more albums just with “Thriller.”


Rabid Following

Beyoncé may have the most devoted group of followers in the entire entertainment industry. Beyoncé is the Queen Bey and the Bey Hive’s job is to protect and worship Beyoncé at all costs. Quite frankly, I am treading carefully writing about them because I do not want to become their latest victim. Beyoncé has an army supporting her and will completely destroy anyone who throws shade her way. While some may feel the Hive may border on being obsessive; it is astonishing to see a group of fans so dedicated to their hero. Simply put, the Bey Hive is not to be fucked with.

Michael Jackson had a group of loyal fanatics as well. However, his group was just fans who were ecstatic to see him perform and would occasionally faint whenever he was in their presence. While this is admirable, it is not unique. Many big-time artists have fans faint at their shows. Recently, a fan fainted at a showing of “Hello Dolly!.” While I am sure “Hello Dolly!” is an excellent show with a talented cast, this shows how easy it is to get excited and faint

Advantage: Beyoncé

The Bey Hive…need I say more?


Cultural Impact

This is where it gets tricky. When the Queen Bey drops an album or makes any type of move, Twitter and other social media sites are abuzz with people talking about her in their mentions. The term “boy, bye” is popular because of her. Her performance of “Formation” in the Super Bowl continued a national discussion about police brutality. Quite literally, anything she does is news.

Michael Jackson was on a whole ‘nother level with his cultural impact. When Michael Jackson performed on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, and debuted his moon walk dance, the country was frozen. The next day, everybody was moon walking. Can you imagine the number of tweets that performance would have garnered? Let’s not even mention the “Beat It” leather jackets which were a staple of early 80’s fashion. I remember wanting penny loafers when I was a child simply because Michael Jackson wore them. That is impact.

Advantage: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson would have broken the internet if it was a thing during his performance at Motown 25. He created a dance which was engulfed by the masses and a fashion style which was copied by millions.


Conclusion

Michael Jackson’s grip on the claim of being the greatest pop artist is stronger than the glue that keeps Donald Trump’s hair on his head. At this point, it is a foregone conclusion his achievements will triumph over any competitor attempting to usurp his throne. For Beyoncé to even be in this discussion is a testament to her otherworldly talent and beauty. For now, though we may re-visit this discussion later as the Queen Bey has shown no signs of slowing down, Michael Jackson should still be considered the greatest pop artist of all-time. But, like someone close to Beyoncé once said on a song when comparing himself to another legend, if she ain’t better than Mike, she’s the closest one.



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