It's Justin Bieber over One Direction in the great album chart battle
With both their new albums out last Friday, who'll be tops? Our vote goes to the Canadian pop star against fading One Direction
It's a boy wonder battle like no other.
Canadian pop star Justin Bieber and UK boy band One Direction are going head to head on the charts.
Both released their new albums last Friday, sparking a showdown that has not been seen since Kanye West's Graduation and 50 Cent's Curtis dropped on the same day in 2007. (West won, by the way, taking the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts.)
Bieber's fourth album Purpose comes after a year-long, controversy-ridden break from music.
One Direction's fifth album Made In The A.M. is possibly their last before the quartet - Harry Styles, 21, Liam Payne, 21, Louis Tomlinson, 23, and Niall Horan, 21- go on a two-year hiatus, starting in March.
It is also their first album without former member Zayn Malik, 22, who shocked many when he left the group in March.
"It's a friendly competition," 21-year-old Bieber, who announced his release date first, told New Zealand radio station The Edge last month.
"I don't know if they're really going on the road much, but we're talking about them right now, so it gives them some promo, right? So that's probably why they did it."
1D is equally unfazed. Horan said to Kiwi magazine Coup de Main: "There is no need for a fight, if they are fighting. We just happen to be releasing our albums on the same day. It's happened to us before; our first couple of albums were released on the same day as Rihanna."
Styles added: "I don't think anyone makes a record with competing with someone else in mind. I think then you don't make it for the right reasons... It's not a win/lose thing (and) we hope that our fans like it."
Official chart data will not be available until Friday, but early sales records suggest that Bieber is ahead.
US music site Billboard.com reported that industry forecasters predict sales of 525,000 units for Purpose, possibly debuting at No. 1 on their charts.
Made In The A.M. could follow closely behind at No. 2, with an estimated 475,000 units sold.
So who are we putting our money on to win? And will the Beliebers or Directioners prevail? M rounds up both efforts.
Forgiveness is the theme running through Bieber's album Purpose.
It is all about absolution and moving on, something the troubled singer is all too familiar with after his scandals involving underage drinking, assaulting a paparazzo and doing jail time last year for illegal drag racing.
The album led to a US No. 1 single What Do You Mean? in September and dance-pop follow-up I'm Sorry.
His latest and third single, I'll Show You, has some really nifty electronica hooks. All three songs are a marked improvement on Bieber's earlier work, like the cloying Baby.
Not to be outdone, 1D has offered some tasty Brit-pop on Made In The A.M.
Although their first two singles, Drag Me Down and Perfect, are average singalong pop songs, there are gems on the album, such as the earnest, stripped-down Olivia and What A Feeling,which has a rock vibe.
The album has also invited comparisons with The Beatles and The Verve,which is no small compliment.
VERDICT: TEAM BIEBER
While we're still not completely sold on his vocals, his music has matured and sounds more current. 1D's Brit-pop, frankly, is just more of the same.
Bieber is on a world tour, his first in three years, to promote Purpose, and he has released videos for each of the 13 songs on the album.
Personal tweets from celeb pals like singer Ariana Grande and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres have helped increase his exposure.
In contrast, 1D have no tour dates planned to plug Made In The A.M., preferring to do their publicity in the comfort of London. These include a TV appearance on the reality TV singing show that launched them to fame, The X Factor UK , last Sunday, and a BBC Radio 1 interview, which aired on Monday.
Still, at least 1D haven't drawn flak for charging obscene amounts for concerts.
Angry Beliebers have protested that a meet-and-greet session with Bieber, called the Ultimate Purpose Experience, costs a jaw-dropping US$2,000 (S$2,848). The special tickets include a behind-the-scenes tour and the chance to take a selfie with Bieber.
Some fans have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #justiceforbrokeliebersto express their outrage.
He also annoyed fans last month by storming off the stage during a TV performance in Oslo, though he apologised later, saying it had "been a rough week" and that "people in the front row would not listen''. This came a day after he walked out of an interview with a Spanish radio station.
Just a few days earlier, he had swept six awards at the MTV Europe Music Awards (EMAs). In August, he staged a triumphant performance at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs),after which he became emotional and cried.
This past year, 1D's awards suggest British rather than world domination, such as wins for Best British Single (for Drag Me Down) and Best British Group at the BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards, and Best UK/Ireland Act at the MTV EMAs.
In general, the Internet is all about Bieber, while the buzz surrounding 1D has been relatively quiet, which is surprising considering this may be their last hurrah.
VERDICT: TEAM BIEBER
Although Beliebers may be burning big holes in their pockets, it is likely they will still turn up to cheer their idol on. And Bieber's world tour beats 1D's no-tour any day.
Only in our social media-crazed present would this even be a category on its own.
Twitter has released new emojis in honour of both Bieber and 1D's new albums, so fans can have the pleasure of expressing themselves with the cute icons.
Bieber, the second-most followed person on Twitter with 69.8 million followers, released a custom emoji for each of the 13 tracks on Purpose.
The Skrillex emoji with the USDJ-singer's signature partially-shaved haircut for the Skrillex-produced track I'll Show You, and the skateboarder emoji for What Do You Mean?.
Meanwhile, 1D, who have 25.7 million followers, released custom emojis with the faces of each member, allowing fans to use the hashtags #1D, #1DLouis, #1DHarry, #1DNiall, #1DLiam and #MadeinTheAM.
The corresponding 1D emojis then appear automatically after each tweet.
1D fans from 140 countries, including Singapore, participated in a global Twitter contest to win the country its own One Direction Twitter emoji last Friday, the date of the album launch.
The competition, a world first, aims to find 10 countries with the biggest 1D fans and reward each of them with its own One Direction Twitter emoji. Results will be announced today.
Mr Rishi Jaitly, Twitter's vice-president of media, Asia Pacific and Middle East, said: "We've already had over 700 million One Direction tweets in 2015 and we'll be rooting for their passionate Singapore fans to tweet their hearts out and earn one of our exclusive One Direction country emojis."
VERDICT: TEAM 1D
Right after the new emojis were revealed, #1DHarry became Twitter's top trending hashtag. Clearly, Directioners are relishing the chance to plaster Twitter with the boys' faces. Plus, it's a really clever idea to get fans around the world to compete for country-exclusive emojis.
AND THE WINNER IS... BIEBER.
1D seem to be preparing to wind down and call it a day with Made In The A.M. With more buzz and modern electronica flavour, Bieber's Purpose looks primed for an easy victory.
Redemption - and all the rewards that come with it - is his for the taking.