Beyoncé and Rihanna are both polarizing figures in today’s music industry. Both have amassed significant fan bases by constantly reinventing their sound, and both have “haters” who spit whenever their names are mentioned.
A recent piece from Rolling Stone broke down “the ultimate battle of the divas” comparing single sales, YouTube hits and radio play. And apparently, Rihanna’s not doing too badly.
Beyoncé surpasses Rihanna in album sales – “4” sold 310,00 units its first week, while Rihanna’s “Talk That Talk” sold 197,000. But Rihanna’s single sales and YouTube views are far greater than Beyoncé’s.
Singer Beyonce Knowles. (KENA BETANCUR - REUTERS)
Why? It’s mainly because Rihanna’s Euro-techno-rave-esque sound is pulling in a wider range of listeners at the moment. It’s the direction that pop seems to be going into. And although Beyoncé has pop appeal, her audience is still mainly looking for R&B.
Rolling Stone put it this way: “It’s too easy to ignore or simply never encounter content on the Internet, so Beyoncé’s web-centric hits are focused mainly on an audience already inclined to pay attention to her every move. Since Rihanna’s hits are more difficult to avoid, they escape the echo chamber effect of the Internet, where a song like “Countdown” can be intensely loved by a cult audience while never breaking through to the world at large.”
Die-hard Beyoncé fans aren’t happy that King Bey is being compared to Rihanna. They took to Rolling Stone’s comment section, arguing that Rihanna is simply a “singles artist” while Beyoncé’s accolades – 16 Grammys! – speak to her artistry.
However, fans of both of the artists admit that they are seeing a lot more of Rihanna than they are Beyoncé lately. And it has a lot to do with Rihanna’s sound.
“Rihanna makes music that can be played at a broader range of clubs. Plus, her lyrics can be really raunchy. Younger fans like that,” says Chantel Petty, who has loved Beyoncé since her Destiny’s Child days, and became a fan of Rihanna after the release of Rated R.
A perspective piece published in the Los Angeles Times late last month detailed the intricacies of Rihanna’s artistry. The writer argued that Rihanna’s team has mastered the ability to read the trends saying, “Who’d have thought that the 17-year-old who sassily flounced through 2005’s “Pon De Replay” would ride the beat-driven experimentalism of “Umbrella” or the 4/4 Euro-synth dance-pop of “Don’t Stop the Music” up the charts two years later? Or would be singing about sadomasochism?”
Then there’s the Twitter thing. Beyoncé’s Twitter account has more than two million followers but not a single tweet. Rihanna’s Twitter account, on the other hand, is booming. She’s foul-mouthed, personable and, at times, funny.
“Rihanna’s Twitter is what made me like her,” says Brittany Miller, a long-time Beyoncé fan, who agrees that the age of both artists’ fan bases could be the reason for Rolling Stone’s findings.
“I do agree but at the same time it’s kind of invalid to say because Beyoncé’s album sales still don’t compare to Rihanna’s. I just think Rihanna is a little more interesting and provocative. Her fan base is both young and old, while Bey mostly caters to an older crowd,” says Miller.