Karol G, The Weeknd among Vevo’s 2021 top most viewed artists

Lil Nas X saw the most engagement with Lil Baby being the most-viewed in the US

Vevo has released part one of its annual year-end look back on music video viewership, with more end-of-year insights to come this month. Globally, Karol G tops the most-viewed artist chart of 2021, with 3.11 billion views, followed closely by The Weeknd, with 3.10 billion views.

In the US, Lil Baby is Vevo’s most-viewed artist of this past year with 770 million views, followed by The Weeknd with 558 million views. Newcomers to this year’s top 10 most-viewed artist list include Doja Cat with 429 million and Lil Nas X with 382 million views.

Both in the US and worldwide, Lil Nas X secures the top spots in the Vevo Engagement Chart, which ranks videos according to the most likes, shares, and comments across the Vevo network. “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” was No. 1, with “Industry Baby” featuring Jack Harlow in the second spot. Lil Nas X’s success can be attributed to his consistently creative releases and imaginative marketing efforts, such as his sneaker launch in partnership with art collective MSCHF ahead of the release of the Montero album, which drove the viewership of Lil Nas X music videos six-fold.

Another notable mention is singer/songwriter Olivia Rodrigo has grown her viewership 8x to 357 million views in the US in 2021, after breaking into the mainstream with her debut album, Sour.

“Vevo is the music video destination for artists of all genres and career stages. Our charts feature both established stars, such as Taylor Swift and Future, and newer names who also made big headlines this year, like Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo,” shares Vevo CEO Alan Price.

“In 2021, fan consumption and engagement with music videos continued to yield many insights about the vital nature of the music video in driving, shaping and reacting to cultural moments. And artists such as The Weeknd, Doja Cat, and Ariana Grande collaborated with Vevo to further develop their visual catalog and storytelling through Vevo’s original content series, such as LIFT and Official Live Performances.”

Music videos served as soundtracks to events throughout the year.  With this summer marked by celebrity romances, Jennifer Lopez saw US viewership lift following news reports of her rekindling with actor Ben Affleck, who appeared in Lopez’s “Jenny from the Block” music video. In September, viewership of Machine Gun Kelly’s “Bloody Valentine,” starring actress Megan Fox, doubled in the US after he and Fox hit the VMAs red carpet.

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 No. 7 most-engaged-with Vevo music video of 2021 in the US.

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 US 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 No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The increasing popularity of social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram fostered the discovery of new music in 2021, in turn driving the search and viewership of music videos on Vevo. This was especially evident in reviving music videos from years, and even decades, prior, bringing previously-released music videos to new audiences in 2021. Some of this year’s top rediscovered Vevo music videos in the US, fueled by the likes of TikTok, include Mitski’s “Washing Machine Heart” (310% lift); Trinidad Cardona’s “Dinero” (520% lift); and J. Cole’s “She Knows” (710% lift), all of which were first released in the 2010s.

Coupled with this, consumers are increasingly seeking out and enjoying nostalgic content, evident in Vevo’s decades-based linear TV channels, such as Vevo 70s, Vevo 80s, Vevo 90s, and Vevo 2K, which consistently deliver high viewership. Older hits such as Boney M.’s “Rasputin (Sopot Festival 1979)” (270% lift), and Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Let’s Groove Tonight” (580% lift), are also examples of music videos from prior decades that have made a comeback in 2021 in the U.S., particularly via TikTok dance challenges by younger generations.

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.

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Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com
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