Ed Sheeran was the most-played artist in the UK last year, according to new figures from music licensing body PPL. The star also had the most played song of the year with Bad Habits.
It is the fourth time in five years that Sheeran has been named the UK’s most played artist, counted by plays on radio, TV, pubs, clubs and shops. The singer last topped the most played songs chart in 2017 with Shape of You, on which he recently won a high court copyright case.
Peter Leatham, chief executive of PPL, said Sheeran’s continued success is “a testament to the quality of his production [and] the strength of UK music, at a time when the global music landscape is more competitive than ever.”
But Bedford-born singer Tom Grenon may be coming in for Sheeran’s crown.
The singer, who was recently hospitalized after an attack in New York, had the second and third highest-playing songs of 2021. Their Calvin Harris collaboration, Buy Your Side, took the runner-up spot at third place with their lead single Little Bit of Love. The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights was the fourth most played track of 2021, even though it was initially released in November 2019.
The song, which has sold three million copies in the UK, was recently named the biggest hit on the US Billboard charts, beating Chubby Checker’s 1960 single The Twist. Another long-running chart maker was Miley Cyrus’ Midnight Sky – a modern riff on Stevie Nicks’ Age of Seventeen – which peaked at number nine on the UK charts.
French DJ David Guetta also had two tracks in the top 10: the Heartbreak anthem, in collaboration with Little Mix, and recorded with Bed Ray and Joel Corey. This feat helped him become the second most played performer of 2021, while Dua Lipa finished third. Little Mix, which announced an indefinite hiatus last year, also made it to the top 10 for the fifth year in a row.
Pink appeared at number 10, reflecting the enduring popularity of their back catalogue on UK radio. Last year, PPL named the US star the UK’s most-played female artist of the 21st century.
The organization announced its charts to coincide with its annual report. It said it had collected total revenue of £252.8m; The proceeds were shared among 147,000 artists and rightsholders.