Drake's "Views" just broke the American Music Awards record for the most nominations in a single year. Now the rapper, who is pictured on the cover of the record-breaking album sitting atop the CN Tower in Toronto, is looking down on Michael Jackson.
Drake's record-setting 13 nominations for "Views" surpassed Jackson, the previous record-holder, and his 11 nominations for 1984's "Thriller." And the AMAs are not the first of Jackson's records that Drake has snatched. He also matched Jackson's feat of topping both the Hot 100 Singles chart (with "Hotline Bling") and the Billboard Top 200 albums chart (with "Views") for seven consecutive weeks. Many critics have compared the rapper's career to the boundary-breaking singer, but Drake still has a long way to go to unseat the King of Pop.
For starters, Drake qualifies for more categories at the American Music Awards than Jackson ever could have. Drake is nominated in both the Male Pop categories and the Rap/Hip Hop categories. Jackson would have never been in the Rap/Hip Hop categories in the 1980s, which means Drake's nominations accomplishment is a bit inflated.
But that aside, the AMAs are not exactly the most prestigious event in music. The 34-year old event, created by Dick Clark Productions and ABC to compete with the more highly regarded Grammys, is a populist awards show and has gone through great lengths to court publicity, including handing out Lifetime Achievement Awards to 25-year olds. While the Grammys are awarded on the basis of votes by members of the music industry in the Recording Academy, the AMAs are determined by a public fan poll on the award show's website. Nominations for the AMAs are determined by popularity measured by record sales, airplay and social media engagement. But popularity is not everything.
"Thriller," which is still the best-selling album of all time, is considered a masterpiece. The album was lauded upon its release and the praise has held up. Rolling Stone placed "Thriller" 20th on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" in 2003 and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers put it at number three on its list of the "Definitive 200 Albums Of All Time." It won seven Grammy awards, including Album of the Year, and songs from the album, most notably the title track, continue to garner significant airplay today. "Views," on the other hand, while popular, has received mixed reviews from critics and was generally considered to be a retread of superior material Drake had recorded earlier in his career.
Speaking of Grammys, Jackson won a total of 13 Grammy Awards from 36 nominations throughout his career. Drake has won just one award from twenty-seven nominations — the 2017 nominations that would include "Views" have not yet been announced.
Jackson was a generation-crossing, boundary-breaking star who helped usher in the music video era, integrate pop music, revolutionize R&B and live showmanship. Drake's cultural impact is nothing to sneeze at — he has almost single-handedly put the Toronto rap scene on the map and introduced a new level of sensitivity to Hip Hop — but he will not be surpassing Jackson anytime soon.