Imagine if People named an actor "Sexiest [Gender] Alive" months before he or she had released a hit movie or TV show. It's not unthinkable, certainlythink back to the '90s and the Julia Ormonds and Skeet Ulrichs who scored Next Big Thing magazine covers before face-planting in a flop moviebut it's damned unlikely. Usually chart-topping, newsstand-blanketing fame comes after the public has gone gaga for the emerging star's wares.
In music, it's a lot easier to be a best-seller without blanketing the airwaves. Generations of quirky rock acts, from Jethro Tull in the '70s to the Arcade Fire in 2010, have topped the Billboard album chart without even scraping the Hot 100. But pop, R&B and hip-hop acts generally live and die by the single; hit songs lead to hit albums, full stop.
Nicki Minaj spans all of these genres; she's a new queen of hip-hop who sings like an R&B diva and aspires to pop domination. If anyone should need a big radio hit to become a best-selling star, it's her. So it's a total head-scratcher that only this week, Minaj scores her first Top 10 pop hita year after she dropped her first major-label single, and more than four months after Pink Friday topped the album chart.More »