China’s Weibo Bans BTS Fan Account for Illegal Fundraising

Chinese social media platform Weibo banned a fan club of BTS from posting for 60 days, saying it had raised funds illegally, days after photographs of a customized airplane funded by the fan club were posted online.

The fan club account, which had over 1.1 million followers on Weibo, was centered around BTS member Jimin. The restrictions imposed on the account came amid China’s campaign to clean up the entertainment industry and clamp down on “irrational behavior” exhibited by fans.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a “national rejuvenation” with tighter Communist Party control of business, education, culture and religion.

The party has since reduced children’s access to online games and is trying to discourage what it sees as unhealthy attention toward celebrities. Last week, the government banned effeminate men on TV and banned idol development shows for their “low moral values” that could be a bad influence on the youth.

The BTS fan account was banned from posting on Weibo after images circulated online last week of a customized airplane from Jeju Air with images of Jimin on it. The customized airplane was part of the club’s plans to celebrate his 26th birthday in October.

The stunt drew swift criticism online for its excess. Following the backlash, the account issued a statement last week on its feed urging fans to be “rational” when chasing celebrities for a “harmonious and healthy internet environment.”

Weibo said in a statement Sunday that the group has been banned from posting for 60 days after it was found to have raised funds illegally.

“Weibo firmly opposes such irrational star-chasing behavior and will deal with it seriously,” the statement said.

The fan club began raising money in April to prepare for the birthday celebrations, according to state-owned media Global Times, with over 1 million yuan ($150,000) raised in the first three minutes of the fundraising activity and 2.3 million yuan ($360,000) in the first hour.

The club also planned to run advertisements celebrating Jimin’s birthday in newspapers like The New York Times.

It is not uncommon for K-pop fans worldwide to celebrate the birthdays of their favorite celebrities by taking out advertisements in newspapers and billboards or customizing public transport vehicles with images of their idols.

Many fans also fundraise to donate to charitable causes such as funding education for the underprivileged or sponsoring wild animals in stars’ names as part of such celebrations.

Weibo also said in a separate statement on Sunday that it banned 21 other fan accounts for 30 days for posting “irrational star-chasing” content. The banned fan accounts were mostly centered around K-pop celebrities, such as members of South Korean boy bands NCT and EXO, and girl group BLACKPINK.

Celebrities in China are often pressured to conform to values espoused by the Chinese government or face the repercussions. Celebrities such as Fan Bingbing and Zheng Shuang have been fined heavily for evading taxes, and popular actress Zhao Wei last week had her name removed from credits of films and TV shows she had starred in without explanation.

Chinese singer and actor Lu Han, a former member of popular K-pop group EXO, said Sunday (Sept. 5) that he would cut ties with Swiss luxury watch brand Audemars Piguet after a video circulated online last week showing its CEO refer to Taiwan as an “ultra-modern, high-tech country.”

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, objects to any reference to the self-governing island as a country. Under the one-country policy, other countries have diplomatic relations with either China or Taiwan, but not both.

Halsey Scores Third No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales Chart With ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’

Halsey’s new studio album, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart (dated Sept. 11), marking her third No. 1 on the list. She previously also opened at No. 1 with her last two releases, Manic (in 2020) and Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2017).

If I Can’t Have Love was released on Aug. 27 and launches with 70,500 copies sold in the U.S. in the week ending Sept. 2, according to MRC Data.

Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart ranks the top-selling albums of the week based only on traditional album sales. The chart’s history dates back to May 25, 1991, the first week Billboard began tabulating charts with electronically monitored piece count information from SoundScan, now MRC Data. Pure album sales were the measurement solely utilized by the Billboard 200 albums chart through the list dated Dec. 6, 2014, after which that chart switched to a methodology that blends album sales with track equivalent album units and streaming equivalent album units.

The new Sept. 11, 2021-dated chart (where If I Can’t Have Love debuts at No. 1) will be posted in full on Billboard’s website on Sept. 8, one day later than usual, owed to the Labor Day holiday in the U.S. on Monday, Sept. 6. For all chart news, follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.

Of If I Can’t Have Love’s sales of nearly 70,500 in the week ending Sept. 2, physical album sales comprise just over 52,500 (with 25,300 on vinyl, 27,200 on CD and a negligible sum on cassette) and 18,000 via digital download.

If I Can’t Have Love also debuts at No. 1 on Billboard’s Vinyl Albums chart. It additionally starts at No. 1 on the Tastemaker Albums chart, which ranks the top-selling albums of the week at independent and small chain record stores, having sold just over 6,000 copies, across all formats, through those sellers.

Kanye West’s surprise-released Donda album, which arrived on Aug. 29, debuts at No. 2 on Top Album Sales with just under 37,000 copies sold — all from digital downloads. (A physical release for the project has yet to be announced.) Donda is West’s 11th top 10 on Top Album Sales — the entirety of his charting efforts.

Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour falls 1-3 with 28,000 copies sold (down 66%).

OneRepublic’s latest studio effort Human bows at No. 4 on Top Album Sales with 17,000 sold. It’s the third top 10 for the act.

TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s former No. 1 The Chaos Chapter: Freeze, falls 2-5 with 14,000 sold (down 68%) and Billie Eilish’s chart-topping Happier Than Ever dips 4-6 with 12,000 sold (down 34%).

CHVRCHES lands its third top 10 on Top Album Sales as the band’s new studio album Screen Violence debuts at No. 7 with nearly 12,000 sold. Just over 5,000 of that sum came via vinyl LP sales, enabling its debut at No. 6 on the Vinyl Albums chart.

Rock band Turnstile notches its first top 10 on Top Album Sales as Glow On bows at No. 8 with 11,500 copies sold. It was a strong performer on vinyl, with nearly 8,000 copies sold via the format — landing a debut at No. 3 on the Vinyl Albums chart.

The Beach Boys’ archival set Feel Flows: The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions – 1969-1971 debuts at No. 9 on Top Album Sales with 10,000 sold. It’s just the second top 10 for the band since the Top Album Sales chart launched in 1991. The group previously hit the region with the 2012 studio album That’s Why God Made the Radio, which debuted and peaked at No. 3 (June 23, 2012-dated chart).

Rounding out the top 10 is J. Cole’s former No. 1 The Off-Season, which re-enters the chart at No. 10 with 7,000 sold after its release on vinyl LP on Aug. 27. The album sold 6,000 copies on vinyl in the week ending Sept. 2, and the set bows at No. 5 on the Vinyl Albums chart.

Remembering Sarah Harding and Her U.K. Chart Hits With Girls Aloud

Sarah Harding, who died on Sunday (Sept. 5) after a battle with breast cancer, aged just 39, left behind a massive impression on the U.K. charts as part of the pop outfit Girls Aloud.

The five-piece, consisting of Harding, Kimberley Walsh, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Cheryl Cole, was a pop juggernaut through the noughts, collecting four Official Chart U.K. No. 1s singles and 21 Top 10s.

Twenty of those Top 10s were consecutive — a feat no female group has come close to matching, and the singers’ roaring success was confirmed by Guinness World Records, which in 2011 declared Girls Aloud as the “Most Successful Reality TV Group”.

Girls Aloud’s career got off to the loudest possible start with a No. 1 for their debut single “Sound of the Underground.” The single enjoyed a four-week stint at the summit and was followed with a cover of the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” (2004), a collaboration cover of Run-DMC’s “Walk This Way” (with Sugababes, 2007) and the BRIT Award-winning “The Promise” (2008). Both covers were charitable efforts.

The group assembled on the TV talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, and went on to score six top 10 albums, including two leaders. Each of their five studio albums was certified platinum (300,000 units) in the U.K.

Following the last of those studio efforts, the No. 1 Out of Control from 2008, the band went on hiatus, and in March 2013, Girls Aloud announced their split.

Harding was diagnosed with breast cancer last August and was told earlier this year that she likely wouldn’t be alive by Christmas. Despite the grim news, she published her memoir Hear Me Out in March of this year, and, later, released a previously unheard single “Wear It Like A Crown,” with proceeds going to The Christie NHS Foundation, where she was receiving treatment.

“I know she won’t want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease,” Harding’s mom Marie wrote on social media, “she was a bright shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered instead.”