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A guitar, disco ball, and high heel are in this image for a Meltwater blog about Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, Beyoncé's Renaissance Tour, and the Barbie movie.

Who Won Summer 2023? Barbie vs. Beyoncé vs. Taylor Swift 

Ann-Derrick Gaillot and Elena Tarasova

Sep 5, 2023

Now that it’s over, we can safely say that summer 2023 was the season of blockbuster pop culture events. Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, two of the biggest stars in the world, embarked on their respective world tours. Meanwhile, the highly-anticipated Barbie movie hit theaters worldwide. No matter your interests, you couldn’t go anywhere this summer without seeing or hearing talk about these three influential women (yes, even the fictional one) and their events. 

Using our social listening suite and media intelligence suite, we set out to understand which one had the biggest impact on global, digital conversations. To do so, we looked at relevant keyword, hashtag, and social media handle mentions of each event worldwide from June 1 through August 31 across blogs, broadcast media, comments, forums, news, podcasts, and 12 different social media platforms. 

But before we get to the results, let’s get on the same page. In case you somehow escaped the Barbie, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift crazes, here’s a quick rundown:

  • The Barbie movie — starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, directed by Greta Gerwig — premiered in theaters on July 21, making $162 million its opening weekend. Ticket sales were driven not only by the film’s star power but also by an impressive, much-talked-about marketing campaign. Relatedly, Barbie premiered the same weekend as Oppenheimer, another highly anticipated summer movie. 
  • Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour — supporting her hit album Renaissance — kicked off in Stockholm on May 10. Between June 1 and August 31, it traveled through major cities across Europe and the U.S., including stops in London, Toronto, Chicago, and Atlanta.
  • Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour — a show highlighting all of her 10 original and three re-recorded albums — began in Glendale, AZ on March 17. Its summer tour included dates in major U.S. cities as well as four nights in Mexico City.

To discover which blockbuster captured audiences' attention the most on social media, check out our blogs on the conversation around #barbenheimer, Beyoncé and the Impact of Cowboy Carter, and The Oscars 2024: A Social Listening Analysis.

Table of Contents:

Who generated the most buzz?

Winner: Barbie

A share of voice ring chart comparing mentions of the Barbie movie against those of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour and Beyonce's Renaissance Tour.

By share of voice, the Barbie movie was the most-talked-about event worldwide, especially around its July 21 release. If you felt surrounded by Barbie chatter during that time, it’s easy to understand why by looking at how the movie’s share of voice evolved over time. 

A share of voice line chart comparing mentions of the Barbie movie, Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, and Beyonce's Renaissance Tour.

Overall, Barbie generated more than 6 million mentions over those three months compared to Taylor Swift/Eras Tour’s 3.86 million and Beyoncé/Renaissance Tour’s 1.4 million.

Which tour came out on top?

Winner: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour

Between the two biggest concert tours of the year, the Taylor Swift Eras Tour had a higher global share of voice than Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour this summer. But when you break down their shares of voice by location, a slightly different picture emerges.

Ring charts showing the share of voice of the Barbie movie, Beyonce's Renaissance Tour, and Taylor Swift's Eras tour in the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, and China.

The Renaissance Tour had the highest share of voice in Brazil. There, it generated a significantly higher volume of mentions than Barbie and slightly more than the Eras Tour did. 

Neither tour has visited Brazil — Eras will arrive there in November, while Renaissance is rumored to be hitting Brazil sometime in 2024 — but they are both hot topics of conversation in a country well-known for fans demanding their favorite artists tour there. Though the anti-scalping “Taylor Swift Law” was proposed in the country in June, the buzz around Beyoncé, and whether or not she will bring her tour there, won out.

Speaking of scalping, ticket sales and resales were a major topic of discussion in the global Eras Tour conversation, as shown by our platform’s Trending Themes widget.

A bubble chart showing trending themes of the Taylor Swift Eras Tour with "tickets" having the biggest bubble with 43.5K mentions.

“Tickets” was the largest trending theme, while “sale” was also significant. 

By comparison, the Renaissance tour’s biggest trending themes related to the show experience itself with keywords like “show”, “stage”, and “singer”.

A bubble chart showing trending themes of Beyonce's Renaissance tour with "tour" having the biggest bubble with 13.8K mentions.

Finally, Barbie’s trending themes included the opening weekend and “kids”, related to whether or not the movie appealed to children.

A bubble chart showing trending themes of the Barbie movie with "Barbie movie" having the biggest bubble with 462K mentions.

Which event generated more positive conversations?

Winner: Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour

A bar chart showing the share of voice by sentiment of Beyonce's Renaissance Tour, the Barbie movie, and Taylor Swift's Eras Tour.

The Renaissance Tour may have had the lowest share of voice, but it generated the highest proportion of positive mentions. 

Meanwhile, of the three events, the Barbie movie conversation had the most mixed sentiment. Much of the negative sentiment regarded the film’s content, including conservative backlash to the movie’s feminist and LGBTQ+-inclusive themes and perspectives about gender and sexuality. Notably, the movie was banned for those reasons in Algeria, Kuwait, and Oman, and was pulled from theaters in Algeria.

There was also negative sentiment regarding feminist critiques of the movie’s portrayal of women’s lives. Finally, some of that negative sentiment was in regards to “Barbenheimer” memes that made light of the United States’s atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, provoking backlash in Japan.

What were the top emojis for each event?

To round up our analysis, let’s take a look at the top emojis for each event’s conversations on Twitter.

Barbie’s top emojis were, predictably, mostly pink. 

An emoji cloud showing the top emojis used in the Barbie Twitter conversation.

The most popular emoji, a sobbing face used to convey being overwhelmed with joy or emotion, was joined by pink hearts and the nail painting emoji, as well as two emojis not often used elsewhere, the pink bow and pink flower.

The most popular emoji for the Eras Tour was also the sobbing emoji. However, it was also joined by the Mexican flag emoji, related to her highly-anticipated Mexico City dates.

An emoji cloud showing the top emojis used in the Taylor Swift/Eras Tour Twitter conversation.

The Renaissance Tour’s top emojis stand apart with the bee, a reference to Beyoncé’s nickname, being the most popular. Though, the sobbing emoji was also well-represented. 

An emoji chart showing the top emojis used in the Beyonce/Renaissance Tour Twitter conversation.

The final verdict

Overall, the winner of summer 2023 depends on which metrics you value most. Barbie generated the most mentions, but the Eras Tour was the most-mentioned concert. Finally, the Renaissance Tour was best received. 

In the end, the biggest winners of the summer were the consumers. Each of these giant events provided opportunities for the public to participate in global pop culture conversations on a scale rarely seen in our new era of infinite choice. With the help of our social listening and analytics and media intelligence platforms, we’re able to get a clearer picture of what matters most to these overlapping audiences.

Interested in getting a better understanding of your organization’s presence and audience? Learn how Meltwater can help with a tailored product demo.