Ultimate Roundup: Top 20 Artists of 2016

We’ve covered the Top 20 Songs of 2016, now it is time to see which artists ruled the roost this year. One can have the smash hit of the year but to be the top artist requires impressive levels of activity across the broad spectrum of radio airplay, streaming, social, and sales. Last year T-Swift took top honors, The Weeknd broke out, Mark Ronson actually did go big off of just one song, and Luke Bryan was the Country representative. Let’s see what this year looks like…

  1. Drake
  2. Adele
  3. twenty one pilots
  4. Justin Bieber
  5. Rihanna
  6. The Chainsmokers
  7. Beyoncé
  8. The Weeknd
  9. Future
  10. Kevin Gates
  11. Ariana Grande
  12. Meghan Trainor
  13. Justin Timberlake
  14. Taylor Swift
  15. Eminem
  16. Sia
  17. Florida Georgia Line
  18. Kanye West
  19. Fetty Wap
  20. Flo Rida

Yeah boy, we can dig that. We’ve got pop, hip-hop, EDM, alternative/rock, and Country all representing.

Drake. This is pretty simple. The dude leads the pack in sales and streaming, is #2 in airplay, and #10 in social. He has held the #1 Ultimate 100 Artists spot for 15 weeks, including a 13-week in a row run from May to August, and he’s hasn’t left the Top 10 once all year. That’ll do it. The now 30-year-old Torontonian rapper dropped tracks non-stop around Aprils Views album release and is closing the year out strong with more new material around More Life. Making good music is always priority number one, but in this day and age being prolific, pacing releases, and utilizing all of the various outlets available are clearly key to top-line success.

Adele ended 2015 in a massive way with the release of her 3rd album, 25, in November. The incredible sales numbers allowed her to make last year’s Top 20 at #19 with only a few weeks of activity and set her up to begin 2016 from a strong position. She started the year at #1, has mostly lived in the Top 20 with consistency, and has never dropped below #30. This easily earns her the #2 slot this year.

We saw twenty one pilots get 2 entries in the Top 20 Songs of 2016Stressed Out came in at #8 and right next to it is Heathens at #9. As of this week’s charts they still have 3 of the Ultimate 100 Songs when you throw Ride in there. It is quite impressive for an alternative/rock act to have this kind of mainstream success these days. The duo from Columbus, Ohio connects big-time with fans through their unique tunes and engaging live performances. Blurryface was a big step in their evolution as songwriters and musicians, and having such a cool track on the very successful Suicide Squad soundtrack kept the momentum up in a big way. Here we have another act that hasn’t left the Top 20 all year and has lived in the Top 5 for many weeks, including taking #1 for 2 weeks in August.

Pop/EDM duo The Chainsmokers had been developing for a couple of years, and their breakout cut, #Selfie, really put them on the map in 2014. They could have gone the one-hit-wonder route but no way…they surged higher and higher as they released successful track after successful track. Roses (ft. ROZES) led the way, Closer (ft. Halsey) is a smash and our #1 song of 2016Don’t Let Me Down (ft. Daya) was big-time, and they are closing out the year well with All We Know (ft. Phoebe Ryan) and Setting Fires (ft. XYLØ). Quickly climbing into the Top 50, the guys held #1 for 10 weeks between August and October. All the while their Total Fans just about quadrupled to nearly 10 million.

Beyoncé has been a major story ever since the groundbreaking and unorthodox release of Lemonade. Her Superbowl 50 performance was superstar-level, her Formation World Tour is one for the history books, and her sales and streaming numbers are impressive. Bey jumped from #32-13 after that Superbowl gig, pinged #1 on May 5th, and was a Top 10 fixture from spring into fall.

The Weeknd has truly brought a new sound and attitude to mainstream soul and pop music. In 2015 he smashed into the big leagues with Beauty Behind the Madness and finished the year at #2. Just about a year later he dropped Starboy (ft. Daft Punk), which with just over 2 months of activity  made #15 on Top 20 Songs of 2016, and is currently #1 on the 12/8 Ultimate 100 Songs chart. The recent release of the Starboy album threw him right back to the top of the heap: he started the year in the Top 5, is currently #1 on Ultimate 100 Artists, and will likely finish the year in the Top 5. Bam.

As with Top 20 Songs of 2016 we have to give a hearty handshake to the boys of Florida Georgia Line for being the sole Country representatives here, at #17. Last yearLuke Bryan took this honor, which proves that this young duo is the real thing and a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future. Dig Your Roots dropped and shot this act into the Top 5 after a summer of Top 10 and Top 20 activity behind the single, H.O.L.Y., and their massive tour. May We All (ft. Tim McGraw) is doing well right now and will lead them into 2017 with some gas.

Next up we’ll sift through the data and let you know the Top Emerging Artists of 2016…one of our favorite areas to explore!

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Top 20 Songs of 2016.

History buff? Click here to see 2015’s Top 20 Artists!


Want to keep up with what’s hot week-to-week throughout the year?  Be sure to check out all of our charts, including Emerging Artists, Top Tours, EDM, Latin, and Country at http://www.ultimatechart.com