The Weekly Rewind: Music or sport?

Luke Combs took to Twitter last week to campaign for his Oct. 23 release “Forever After All” to go No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. “We have a chance to be the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart,” he said in a video tweet, encouraging his audience to buy the song on iTunes and Amazon. “We’re up against some stiff competition this week,” Combs said, referring to other artists on the chart. 

Is going No. 1 on the U.S. charts something artists should strive for when making music? 

The short answer is no. This damages the intent and quality of music and the relationship between an artist and their fans.

To preface his pleading, Combs began with, “I don’t do stuff like this a lot,” swallowing his pride before he indulged in his personal agenda. Constantly repeating “we” throughout his thinly veiled ploy to debut at No. 1, Combs attempted to reassure fans. “It’s not always about the numbers for me, it never has been,” he said. Rather than focus on the impact that his song leaves on listeners, Combs would be the only one to reap the benefit from this accomplishment; his fans are merely the means to get there.

This comes months after Justin Bieber took to Instagram posting a slideshow of photos explaining how to make his single “Yummy” go No. 1 on U.S. charts. In the post, Bieber encouraged his fans to “create a playlist with ‘Yummy’ on repeat and stream it.The post also targeted his international fans, asking them to use a virtual private network so they could count their streams in the United States. Given that the Billboard Hot 100 ranks the popularity of songs in the United States, pleading fans outside of the country to boost sales is embarrassing. 

Described as a “dead-on-arrival” by critics, “Yummy” was anything but a hit, yet Bieber was eager to earn his sixth No. 1 as his post described the single as his “comeback.The song debuted at No. 2, poetic justice for the overzealous approach he took to get a No. 1. Sure, labels push for their artists to be successful, but when it comes to artists themselves promoting methods to cheat the system, calling this a “bad look” would be an understatement.

When Combs returned to Twitter on Oct. 30 to tell fans that “we came in second place” after learning his single wouldn’t debut at No. 1, karma struck again. A No. 1 debut represents extreme success for a song that can top the charts with only one week of sales. Combs’ referral to his debut as a “second place” song effectively diminishes the merit that this debut would normally have. 

When artists start competing for the No. 1 spot, their music feels less organic and more calculated for status. A No. 1 hit earned naturally from widespread enjoyment is worth much more than a song that made it to the top due to a pitiful campaign.