Who is the most popular music artist of this century?

Adele would top my list, but she's only fourth according to these rankings

If polled, who would you choose to top your popular artist(s) chart since the start of the millennium? My choice would be Adele, although in a recent study she ranks only fourth. Shurely shome mishtake as Private Eye would say.

Music is an age-old part of society, but over the past 21 years technology has made it more accessible with a variety of artists and genres at our fingertips. With this in mind, OnBuy.com were eager to find out the most popular music artists of the 21st century. To do so, data sourced from across the globe, via YouGov rankings, Instagram, Google search volumes, Spotify and YouTube, was normalised to establish a popularity score out of 600 for each of the millennial artists analysed.*

The 10 Most Popular Music Artists of the 21st Century:

OnBuy.com can reveal that Ariana Grande is the most popular music artist of the century, with a popularity score of 399 out of 600. Wouldn’t know a song of hers if you played it for me. Must be an age thing. The newly engaged singer boasts 214 million Instagram followers and more than 81 million monthly Spotify listeners, the highest across the board.

Ranking second is Pink who rose to fame in the year 2000 with her debut single “There You Go” . Pink claims one of the highest quantity of Instagram hashtags and the fourth highest YouGov popularity rating of 71%. However, Pink is let down by her small Instagram following of just eight million (must try harder!), widening the gap between Ariane Grande by 124 points.

Following on is Ed Sheeran and Adele, who scored 270 points and 266 points, respectively. Sheeran holds the highest number of YouTube views, with over five billion on his single “Shape of You”.  Finally, someone whose songs I know. Despite having over two billion fewer YouTube views on her top hit, Adele scores 75% on the YouGov popularity score, the highest across the board.

Also making the top ten are: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Prince, Beyonce, Shakira and Bruno Mars with an average popularity score of 217 out of 600.

One of my favourite Carpool Karaokes

The 10 Least Popular Music Artists of the 21st Century

RankArtistPopularity Score out of 600
3Olly Murs32
4Paloma Faith32
5Spice Girls37
6Lily Allen45
7Billie Piper49
8Tina Turner49
9George Ezra51
10Kelly Rowland54

OnBuy.com can reveal that McFly stand as the least popular music artists of the 21st century with a popularity score of just 9 out of 600. The boy band, formed in 2003, scored lowest for nearly all factors except search volumes (27,000) and Spotify monthly listeners (more than a million) respectively contributing seven points and two points to their overall score.

Busted, the British pop punk band, rank as the second least popular with a score of 15. Busted hold the second lowest YouTube views on their top hit “the year 3000,” with less than 13 million views and the second lowest Spotify views (893,000).

In joint third place are Olly Murs and Paloma Faith, with an overall popularity score of 32 points out of 600.

These two millennial musicians are followed by the Spice Girls, Lily Allen, Billie Piper and Tina Turner, with an average popularity score of 45 out of 600.


(1) Popular millennial music artists sourced from YouGov Popularity Survey alongside their YouGov popularity percentage

 (2) Instagram was used to calculate the number of hashtags and followers for each artist analysed. For The Jackson 5, WHAM!, and Fleetwood Mac the sample average was used

(3) Ahrefs Search Volumes were used to calculate average monthly search volumes for each artist

(4) Spotify Monthly Listeners: number of monthly listeners on Spotify

(5) YouTube Views: Number of YouTube hits for each artist’s most popular song

(6) As the factors have differing units of measurement, this was accounted for by using min-max normalisation to normalise the data. Each category is out of 100. The normalised data was added up for each artist to find the final score out of 600

David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *