[Image via Instagram]
The Weeknd has been unavoidable over the last couple months, scoring number one hits and making Billboard history, setting the VMA's ablaze and most importantly, releasing his highly anticipated sophomore studio album Beauty Behind The Madness.
The Canadian crooner has fully embraced his crossover pop status, parting ways with his longstanding dark and mysterious nature (for the most part, at least) and delivering one hell of an album.
Now, the first week album sales numbers are in, and we have a clearer picture of just about where The Weeknd's stands in terms of popularity. As Billboard reported, BBTM managed to debut at number one on the Top 100 albums chart, making it the second-biggest debut of 2015. The official numbers count 412,000 equivalent album units for the week (which factors in streaming data in addition to traditional unit sales). As of today, only Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late had a better overall total for pure album sales in a week this year (with 535,000 equivalent sales). It should be noted that The Weeknd also currently holds 11 (!) spots on the Billboard Top 100.
These numbers solidify that The Weeknd is now an unquestioned superstar in the music world. There is also no doubt that recycled sales statistics are boring as hell, so let's talk about what this means. Even when considering the massive changes throughout the music industry over the last few years, with the rise in streaming and the continued descent of album sales, first week album sale totals still provide one of the more acceptable barometers of mainstream mass success. Topping the 300K mark is a big deal, and having the second highest debut week of the year is a BIG, BIG feat. These are superstar numbers, and falling short to only Drake in a year that saw plenty of high-profile releases, not only for hip-hop/R&B (Kendrick, Big Sean, Meek) but all genres (Luke Bryan, Mumford & Sons, Zac Brown Band), places The Weeknd in the highest tier of A-List artists.
Is this the peak of Abel's success, or merely the beginning to a long, fruitful career in the apex of celebrity? Factoring in The Weeknd's jump to a more commercially palatable sound, it's not out of the question to assume this is just the start of something bigger. With his album's debut second only to Drake, some are starting to wonder whether Abel has already surpassed his fellow Canadian. While it seems premature to directly compare the popularity of the two, I can honestly say I wouldn't be surprised if Abel does in fact grow into a more popular act sometime at some point in the near future.
Let's throw sales metrics completely out the window, though, and focus on a completely unscientific view that might prove most valuable. My mother is a great measure of success, as in, if she is familiar with something I can safely assume it's incredibly popular. She could name maybe one Drake song, and yet has told me multiple times this summer how much she likes "that Weeknd guy" (admittedly, a little weird for me). Album sales be damned, I can tell you if he keeps churning out music my mom finds notable enough to tell me about, The Weeknd could be the biggest thing in music not named Taylor Swift.
Hell, even Obama knows what's up.
[By Brendan Varan. He swears his mom isn't as lame as he makes her sound. Follow him on Twitter.]