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DEMI & SELENA:
DUELING DIVAS

Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato have a great deal in common, including the fact that they have new albums hitting on consecutive weeks this month. The pop starlets, both 23 years old, recently inked new deals in a continuing effort to shatter their once-wholesome, Disney-driven images.

Gomez, now signed to John Janick’s Interscope after seven years with Hollywood, is set to release Revival—her fifth studio album since 2009 and the first through her new deal—on 10/9. This is President of A&R Aaron Bay-Schuck’s first major project since joining the label last year. Lovato, meanwhile, will release Confident—her fifth studio album since 2008, under a new joint-venture deal that combines the efforts of Island, Hollywood and Safehouse; the latter, launched by Philymack manager Phil McIntyre, and also houses his client Nick Jonas in a pact with Island.

In a 2014 interview with HITS, Disney Music Group honcho Ken Bunt noted, “When Mio [Vukovic] came on board officially, the first two projects he had to work on were Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, who were the two biggest successes for us out of the gate. Selena had a #1 single and album. Demi’s album debuted at # 3 in the U.S. and reached # 1 on iTunes in over 50 countries around the world. She’s now selling out arenas. I think it made a statement.”

The parallels between the two go way back. Both Lovato and Gomez launched their careers on the children’s television series Barney & Friends in 2002. Lovato went on to star in the Disney Channel movie Camp Rock before getting her own TV show on the network, Sonny With a Chance, which aired from 2009 to 2011. Gomez came to prominence after landing the lead role in the network’s Wizards of Waverly Place, which ran from 2007 to 2012.

With so many similarities, it will be interesting to see how close their first-week sales are. Looking back at 2013, Gomez’s Stars Dance opened to 97k, while Lovato’s Neon Lights snagged 111k.

In regard to their respective setups, Lovato is featured on the September cover of Cosmo, her Sketchers campaign will run through the album’s release and she’s confirmed to host SNL the day after its street date. The title track, produced and co-written by mega-hitmaker Max Martin, impacted Top 40 radio 10/6. Recently, she performed on MTV’s VMAs, Kimmel’s outdoor stage and the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Vegas; she’s confirmed for GMA on 10/29. The gold-certified lead single “Cool for the Summer” has sold 707k so far and peaked at #3 at Pop radio, with more than 100m in audience. The video—released in July—is currently approaching 90m views.

Gomez is featured in the latest iPhone commercial, she’s partnering with Target on the exclusive deluxe version with bonus tracks and she’s currently a global brand ambassador for Pantene. It’s important to note that Gomez’s seriously devoted fanbase (#Selenators) could boost her numbers significantly, given that she’s among the top four most-followed people on Instagram worldwide. Lead single “Good for You,” featuring A$AP Rocky, debuted with 182k, marking the biggest first-week number of her career as well as the biggest of any female artist this year. The track, which was #1 at Pop radio for three straight weeks, has sold nearly 1.1m to date and has registered north of 129m Spotify streams—also a career best. The video, released in June, is Vevo-certified, boasting 135m+ views. The follow-up, “Same Old Love,” sold 144k last week and is poised to break into the Top 20. Word has it that Max Martin worked on a track from Gomez’s album, “Hands to Myself”; whether or not it will be her next single has yet to be confirmed. She’s also announced a headlining tour that begins next May.

Gomez has the power of smash singles and strong socials on her side, while Lovato has the reputation of an album-oriented artist. Will one significantly outperform the other? There are two budding divas and one spotlight; will they be able to share it, or will one be overshadowed?•

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