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It Takes More than Words for Entertainers to Influence Americans
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It Takes More than Words for Entertainers to Influence Americans

When popular entertainers take the stage, they often have the world on edge eager with anticipation. But musicians, celebrities and athletes aren’t only in the spotlight when they’re performing. In an era where everyone’s lives are digital and nothing is private, it’s often what happens off-stage that drums up the most attention.

It’s rare to find outspoken celebrities and entertainers who aren’t looking for attention. But the attention isn’t always positive. In fact, a recent Nielsen analysis of select entertainers found that hip-hop artist, fashion designer and entrepreneur Kanye West isn’t as influential among Americans as he claims to be.

The artist, who recently performed on live TV to support his latest album, “The Life of Pablo,” was recorded beforehand proclaiming that he is 50% more influential than any other human, living or dead. He even cited Stanley Kubrick, Pablo Picasso, Pablo Escobar and Paul the Apostle as people whose influence he has exceeded. The data, however, says otherwise.

Among U.S. adults 18 and older who know of Kanye West, 24% consider him influential. That percentage, however, is lower than the average across the hip-hop landscape, as 30% of Americans think hip-hop artists are influential. Additionally, 34% of Americans think musicians are influential, while only 28% think sports figures and TV/film stars are influential. West’s influence doesn’t appear shaped by age either, as 28% of Millennials (consumers age 18-34) view him as influential, just 4 percentage points more than all adults.

West, who is no stranger to the tabloids or using social media to express himself, has definitely created a persona for himself, one that many find offensive. In fact, Miley Cyrus is the only entertainer in the analysis who ranks higher when it comes to being viewed as offensive.

So if West is a low ranker when it comes to influence, who do Americans see at the opposite end of the spectrum? Oprah Winfrey tops the charts, coming in at 200% more influential, and Taylor Swift, who West has been feuding with since 2009, is viewed as 129% more influential.

As with West’s, Winfrey’s and Swift’s influence is not pegged to a specific age group, as nearly the same percentages of Millennials view them as influential as all adults.