Digital Music

Did Chart Topper Kris Wu Just Game iTunes?

image from is2-ssl.mzstatic.comKris Wu, a Chinese-Canadian actor, singer and former member of EXO, topped the iTunes song chart on Monday. For almost 24 hours, Wu had all 5 tracks in the Top 5 with the exception of Ariana Grande’s just released single “Thank U, Next." But Wu's success appeared under some unusual circumstances and according to one source, won't count towards this week's chart tabulations.

Kris Wu is wildly popular in China, but not well known elsewhere. Here's how Variety describes the scheme:

"First, his album hadn’t yet been released in China, where the label purportedly purposely held it back so it could come out on Wu’s birthday, Tuesday, Nov. 6. Typically, albums come out on Fridays worldwide, as per the global release date change instituted in 2015. But in the U.S., it was already available on iTunes, released by Interscope Records on Nov. 2…"

"It’s not hard to see how fans from China, with a population of more than 1.3 billion, could impact a chart so swiftly but how were those living in the famously curtained country, which doesn’t even have access to Twitter, able to make a purchase on a U.S. platform? And was it a grassroots fan effort to flood the iTunes store or did the album’s backers manipulate the system in order to generate buzz for their new act? Another source surmises that there was “a plan to game the U.S. system to gain traction in the U.S. and mobilize a new audience.”'

Either way, Variety is reporting that these sales will not count toward the Nielsen Billboard charts. Apple has not yet commented.

Scooter Braun, whose client Ariana Grande's release was overshadowed by Wu's stunt,  first expressed consternation in a now deleted tweet, and then seemed to accept another explanation.

View this post on Instagram

Over the past few days I have become aware of an artist named @kriswu. Last night we had an opportunity to connect and talk and show respect. We learned of eachother since many rumors have come out about both us in connection to his newest release. Kris is a great artist who on a global scale is a star. It was explained to he and I last night that because his release was held back in China for his birthday his fans went and got the music any way they could and that was US Itunes. Once the release in China took place the fans had their access. He has never been removed from the charts on iTunes. That is false. Those were real people from the US and international community and not bots like many have rumored. I have never wished anything bad for Kris nor any other artist and those saying otherwise are wrong. Any fans of anyone I manage who are using this opportunity to spread any sort of division or racism are dead wrong and I won’t stand for it. The music community is international and no longer held by borders. Kris happy birthday and you showed yourself to be a global star. Glad we got to connect and speak and keep your head held high. This is just the first of many achievements for you. And for those using my name for false rumors now you know exactly where I stand. Keep it positive.

A post shared by Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) on

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