Is the media sick of Beyoncé? And has Rihanna replaced her?

Back in February of this year, popular political website ran an article titled ‘Why is Beyonce untouchable?’, focusing on how Bey came out relatively unscathed from two major scandals: Performing for and accepting money from the son of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and going ‘blackface’ for a French photoshoot. While Bey has often been a punching bag across the urban blogosphere and on pop music message boards, the diva has generally remained squeaky clean in the mainstream media; especially when compared to her contemporaries, with everything from fraudulent songwriting claims to her father’s ‘colorful‘ personal life washing off Bey like water off a ducks back.

But has the media now finally turned on Beyonce?

The bad publicity ball started rolling after the release of her new single “Run the World (Girls)”, which has gained coverage from both and Yahoo Music (amongst others) for it’s dismal chart performance: The song has been on a chart free-fall since its disappointing debut at No. 33 on the Hot 100; it’s now currently No. 138 on iTunes after less than three weeks. Bey then made more headlines after being sued for supposedly pulling out of a lucrative video game deal, but it was her appearance at the Costume Institute Gala last week that seems to have really fueled the fire. Video footage of the singer being booed on the red carpet of the prestigious event has received major coverage from bigwigs like the L.A. Times, Yahoo, ABC News, E! News, and the Huffington Post.

Bey has since received further criticism for her promotional schedule: To plug her upcoming fourth album, the booty shaker has been booking headlining gigs at various music festivals — including rock festivals like T in the Park, which has left some festival-goers furious that a mainstream pop artist like Beyonce will be hogging the main stage next to bands like The Strokes and Foo Fighters.

Beyonce’s latest batch of bad publicity comes from British tabloid The Sun, who have just ran an article titled ‘Is Rih Rih bigger than Bey?’, implying that Rihanna has snatched Beyonce’s pop crown. The Sun may be nothing more than a tabloid rag (albeit a very popular one), but they serve to show what the mainstream media are now picking up on the types of arguments that the urban & pop music blogesphere have been debating for years: Rihanna Vs. Beyonce — and they’re clearly team RiRi, with good reason, too. Rihanna may be six years younger than Beyonce, but in just over five years she’s already managed to rack up more hit singles than her older rival. She’s also built her stardom slowly, gradually transitioning into an artist capable of selling millions of albums and successfully touring the world, rather than exploding overnight and peaking too soon. Not to mention that Rihanna has already fought through tabloid scandals thanks to a tumultuous relationship with fellow celebrity Chris Brown, weathering the storm and coming out a bigger star because of it. Her popularity is currently on a continual rise in both the music and fashion world, easily giving Bey a run for her money as the world’s premiere urban diva.

In recent weeks, Beyonce’s pulled some crafty tricks to try squash the problem of bad press with good deeds, while using it to cross-promote her new single: She starred in a highly-publicized fitness campaign called “Move Your Body”, which included a generous visit to a Harlem school that was filmed and uploaded online; and she also (very conveniently) just released her two-year-old version of “God Bless the USA” on iTunes to raise money for charity. So far, neither stunt has done anything to help “Girls” on the charts, and judging by the growing amount of negative publicity around her, it hasn’t helped with that, either.

Are people simply sick of Beyonce? Has Rihanna replaced her? Or is this just a small stumble? It’s still too early to tell, but this album era will prove whether or not Beyonce really is the independent woman that she so often portrays, or if she’s simply nothing more than Daddy’s little girl who can’t make it on her own.

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