2021 was a year of fantastic music. From live performances resuming to favorite songs hitting the waves, there was a lot to enjoy. Now, Vevo is taking us on a journey back through 2021 to see who the top artists were along with exploring some key trends from throughout the year. From favorites to trends and everything in between, here’s what we listened to in 2021.
Top Artists in the US and the World
Vevo is the world’s largest music network, so they have a good perch from which to view where music trends are going. Vevo every year looks back at the artists and trends over the year that had us tapping our toes, and then release the recaps as a fond farewell.
This year, some familiar faces made the top artist list and some trends made us feel young again. Here are the top artists from around the world along with their view counts:
- 10. Maluma: 1.89 Billion
- 9. Camilo: 2.02 Billion
- 8. Os Barões da Pisadinha: 2.04 Billion
- 7. Billie Eilish: 2.12 Billion
- 6. Taylor Swift: 2.29 Billion
- 5. J. Balvin: 2.30 Billion
- 4. Justin Bieber: 2.47 Billion
- 3. Ariana Grande: 2.59 Billion
- 2. The Weeknd: 3.10 Billion
- 1. Karol G: 3.11 Billion.
In the United States, the list looks a little different:
- 10. Morgan Wallen: 379 Million
- 9. Lil Nas X: 382 Million
- 8. Drake: 428 Million
- 7. Doja Cat: 429 Million
- 6. Ariana Grande: 438 Million
- 5. Taylor Swift: 471 Million
- 4. Chris Brown: 476 Million
- 3. Future: 481 Million
- 2. The Weeknd: 559 Million
And the top most-watched artist in the US?
- 1. Lil Baby: 770 Million.
Lil Baby has taken the honor for the past two years, so either his music really is the best – or his videos are extra special. It’s probably a combination of the two, if we’re being honest.
It’s no surprise to anyone that superstars like T-Swift, Lil Nas X and The Weeknd are hits both in the US and around the world, but there may be some surprising names.
In order to establish these numbers, Vevo’s team explains in a statement, “Vevo identified and analyzed music video viewership spikes from the end of 2020 through December 2021, comparing the current two-week rolling average vs. the prior two-month rolling average. The dates of these spikes were then matched with the current events and developments that drew viewers to these music videos.”
The Source shares, “‘Every year, we really look forward to publishing our Most Viewed Videos of 2021. As the global music video destination for artists of all genres and career stages, it’s really exciting to see which videos resonated at scale and made an impact this year with our audience,’ said JP Evangelista, SVP of Content, Programming and Marketing, Vevo. ‘The Weeknd has had a standout year, topping our Global and U.S. charts with ‘Save Your Tears.’ The must-watch video is a perfect example of Abel’s creativity as he pushes boundaries and made something truly groundbreaking for his fans.
‘From established names like Lil Baby and Karol G to the next generation of stars like Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo, we have seen artists push the boundaries of creativity and storytelling and our audiences have consumed these across a range of screens across our network.'”
Although some big newer names took top honors this year, 2021 was a year of reflection. Taylor Swift re-released her first album, Adele came back with a new hit album, and some artists from the past returned. You might have missed it – but ABBA came back.
Vevo’s team says in a statement, “During the fall, there were several new recordings from beloved artists such as ABBA, Adele, and Taylor Swift. In October, Vevo saw Adele’s catalog trending following the announcement of her new studio album, 30, with a 10-fold lift in views, and ‘Easy On Me’ generated engagement with fans, becoming the #7 most-engaged-with Vevo music video of 2021 in the U.S.
That same month, ABBA announced a reunion and their first new album in 40 years, and their hits, such as ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Take a Chance on Me’, saw a 170% lift in U.S. views. In November, Taylor Swift’s catalog also jumped 5x as she released ‘All Too Well (Taylor’s Version),’ the first 10-minute song to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.”
Even the stars were gazing back into the past, as Ben Affleck returned to his first great love: pop superstar Jennifer Lopez. And other musical love affairs had tongues wagging as Machine Gun Kelly started walking the red carpet with his soulmate, Megan Fox in 2021.
TikTok helped drive a resurgence of old songs that everyone loved but forgot existed, and normal people found themselves hitting it big on the social media platform. Songs that came back to thrill or haunt us – depending on if you love or hate him – include Mitski’s “Washing Machine Heart”, Trinidad Cardona’s “Dinero”, and J. Cole’s “She Knows” all of which were first released in the 2010s.
Earth, Wind, and Fire came back in 2021 and Olivia Rodrigo had a breakout year with 8x the viewership she had in 2020; it was definitely a year of old meets new.
So what does that mean for 2022? Well, we can take a look at the 2022 Super Bowl for a possible hint of what’s to come. Diehard hiphop fans were thrilled to find out that the next super bowl will be a blast from the past, with a nod to the present with Kendrick Lamar.
Super Bowl LVI will be held at SoFi Stadium next year, home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers.
It’s a ’90’s throwback extravaganza, with some huge names from the pre-’00’s hiphop world taking the stage. The event is being organized by Jay-Z’s JRoc Nation, and performers include:
- Dr. Dre
- Snoop Dogg
- Mary J. Blige
- Kendrick Lamar.
The performers have a whopping 43 Grammy awards between them and 22 #1 Billboard Top 200 Albums. If the halftime has you feeling like you’re not sure what year it is, there’s a reason for that; old artists are back.
So could 2022 be the year of everything old and familiar? It’s a good possibility. But collaborations with more modern stars like Kendrick Lamar and the success of newbies like Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo prove that the young guns won’t surrender their thrones that easily. Most likely, 2022 will be a blend of both the familiar and the new, and we can’t wait to see what that becomes.