Popular doesn’t mean better by any absolute scale.
Popular simply means that more people like this thing than that thing.
Popular isn’t an act of genius. Popular is either an intentional act (to serve a particularly large, homogenous audience) or a lucky break.
The most direct way to become popular is to serve the audience that made the last thing popular. By that definition, popular almost always means ‘not better.’ It simply means that you found a large group and gave them what they wanted.
The world likes popular, but it doesn’t have to be your goal.