Jay Sean, Jason Derulo, and Taio Cruz have all scored big hits (especially during the summer months) on pop radio over the course of the last two years. However, the three of them combined have not even topped 500,000 album sales in the United States. On top of that, no one really even knows who any of them are. This leads me to wonder, why is it so hard to create a successful male pop star?
Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Lady GaGa also jump started their careers by releasing a summer single. While “Pon de Replay”, “I Kissed a Girl”, and “Just Dance” were all radio friendly novelties, each of these females eventually became superstars in their own right, moving albums, selling out tours, and becoming media staples. Maybe the guys of pop radio need to start taking a few cues from the females currently dominating the scene…
While I can pretty easily distinguish between Jay Sean, Jason Derulo, and Taio Cruz, I guarantee that the majority of average radio listeners can not tell one from the other. Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Lady GaGa each have a very distinct sound and image, making it both easy to differentiate between them and allowing them to co-exist on pop radio. Could Jason Derulo sing “Down”? Sure. Could Jay Sean sing “Break Your Heart”? Of course. But, could “California Gurls” be mistaken for Lady GaGa? What about “Bad Romance” for Rihanna? No. And that’s why each of these women are stars in their own right. In addition to unique music, they also fulfill a particular niche, with a certain image and sound to match. I am a huge pop music fan, but I could not tell you what a Jay Sean, Jason Derulo, or Taio Cruz, music video looks like. Even people outside of the pop realm recognize some of Lady GaGa’s eccentric outfits, Katy Perry’s Candy Land-themed video, or Rihanna’s bob. While these guys are responsible for some undeniably catchy music, they need to work on the total package if they ever wanted to be upgraded from opening act status.
I really hope that at least one of these guys can not only continue to be successful on pop radio, but also build an actual fan base and start selling some albums. There hasn’t been a true (adult) male pop star since the likes of Justin Timberlake and Usher, so I think we’re about due. Out of this batch, if anyone can do it, it will be Jason Derulo. I was very impressed by his American Idol performance of “In My Head”, and I think with a few more high profile gigs, he could really start making a name for himself beyond just the radio charts.