Ed Sheeran Dominates U.K. Airwaves In 2021 – Billboard

Ed Sheeran’s bad habits led him to a double crown in the U.K. for 2021, as the singer and songwriter is named the year’s most played artist, with the most played track.

Sheeran doubles-up on PPL’s most played charts of 2021, finishing as the most played artist of the year in the U.K., and his hit “Bad Habits” was played more than any other song.

According to the music licensing organization, Sheeran is the first artist to bag both titles twice.


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The first time was in 2017, when the Englishman held both top spots in PPL’s Most Played Charts, as ÷ (divide) and “Shape Of You” ruled the airwaves.

The only other artist to do the airplay chart double was Adele, when 21 and “Rolling in the Deep” dominated in 2011.

Sheeran’s huge year played out on the Official U.K. Charts, with = (equals) debuting at No. 1, for his fifth successive leader. Equals spent four weeks at the summit.

“Bad Habits” led the Official U.K. Singles Chart for a whopping 11 weeks, and was one of four Sheeran appearances at the chart summit during the calendar year, including album track “Shivers” and novelty songs “Merry Christmas” with Elton John and “Sausage Rolls for Everyone” with Ladbaby and Elton.

“Congratulations to Ed Sheeran for having the U.K.’s most played track of 2021 and being the U.K.’s most played artist of 2021,” comments PPL CEO Peter Leathem.

“His chart-topping success over the last five years is a testament to not only the quality of his output but also the strength of U.K. music at a time when the global music landscape is more competitive than ever.”

Homegrown artists were king, as Dua Lipa, Little Mix, Coldplay and Calvin Harris also cracked the artist Top 10.

PPL’s annual Most Played Charts are compiled from exclusive U.K. recorded music usage and airplay data captured from radio stations, TV channels, and public performance locations, including offices, shops, bars, nightclubs, music venues and festivals.

The organization collected £252.8 million ($310 million) for performers and recording rightsholders during 2021, up 12% from the prior year, and representing the second-best performance in its 87-year history, notes Chris Barton, PPL CFO.

During the reporting period, PPL distributed money at least once to 147,000 performers and recording rightsholders.

PPL’s most played tracks chart of 2021

  1. ‘Bad Habits’ – Ed Sheeran
  2. ‘By Your Side’ – Calvin Harris Feat. Tom Grennan
  3. ‘Little Bit Of Love’ – Tom Grennan
  4. ‘Blinding Lights’ – The Weeknd
  5. ‘Higher Power’ – Coldplay
  6. ‘All You Ever Wanted’ – Rag’n’Bone Man
  7. ‘Heartbreak Anthem’ – Galantis, David Guetta & Little Mix
  8. ‘Starstruck’ – Years & Years
  9. ‘Midnight Sky’ – Miley Cyrus
  10. ‘Bed’ – Joel Corry X Raye X David Guetta

PPL’s most played artists chart of 2021

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. David Guetta
  3. Dua Lipa
  4. Little Mix
  5. Coldplay
  6. The Weeknd
  7. Justin Bieber
  8. Calvin Harris
  9. Taylor Swift
  10. P!nk

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