In early February 2020, BTS did what had been expected of the group for multiple years: They set a new mark for the most weeks at No. 1 in Billboard’s Social 50 chart history.
The Feb. 8-dated Social 50 saw the boy band score its 164th week at No. 1, besting what long seemed like an insurmountable mark: 163 weeks by Justin Bieber. Little has changed since; at the time, BTS had been No. 1 since July 29, 2017, and it’s remained atop the tally for every week since breaking Bieber’s record.
So it’s little surprise that BTS is the No. 1 artist on Billboard’s year-end Social 50 chart, having ruled the ranking for nearly half of 2017, all of 2018 and 2019, and all weeks in 2020 thus far. Its social engagement, as tracked by Next Big Sound, continued to soar over its competition, in some weeks doubling the amount of the chart’s No. 2.
BTS was also the year-end Social 50 Artist in 2019, 2018 and 2017.
Billboard’s year-end music recaps represent aggregated metrics for each artist, title, label and music contributor on the weekly charts dated Nov. 23, 2019, through Nov. 14, 2020. The rankings for Nielsen Music/MRC Data-based year-end recaps reflect equivalent album units, airplay, sales or streaming during the weeks that the titles appeared on a respective chart during the tracking year. Any activity registered before or after a title’s chart run isn’t considered in these rankings. That methodology detail, and the November-November time period, account for some of the difference between these lists and the calendar-year recaps that are independently compiled by Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
Of course, it wasn’t a year of social media wins alone for BTS. The 2020 chart year (Nov. 23, 2019-Nov. 14, 2020) saw the group score a No. 1 album — its fourth — on the Billboard 200 with Map of the Soul: 7 in March, and “On,” the lead single from that album, scored what was then its top rank on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 4, the same week. Even that personal best was topped in September, when “Dynamite” landed at No. 1 for three weeks, K-pop’s first Hot 100 ruler. The group got a second No. 1 on the Hot 100 during the tracking year when they were featured on Jawsh 685 and Jason Derulo’s “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat).”
The rest of the year-end Social 50 top 10 is largely made up of the usual players as well. EXO spends a third straight year as runner-up at No. 2, despite a 2020 largely marked by the group’s hiatus while many of its members pursued solo or subunit projects. NCT 127 ranks at No. 3, besting its previous year-end best of No. 7 in 2019, concurrently scoring its first top 10 and top five on the Billboard 200 with NCT #127: Neo Zone, the 2nd Album, a No. 5-peaking release in March.
2020 marks the first time in the chart’s history that the year-end top three is filled exclusively by K-pop acts, and four of the top five are from South Korea as well, thanks to Seventeen at No. 5. Ariana Grande is the top American artist at No. 4, following a year that saw her release her latest album Positions just in time for the year-end charts (No. 1 on the Billboard 200 dated Nov. 14); she also scored three Hot 100 No. 1s, two via collaborations (“Stuck With U” with Bieber and “Rain on Me” with Lady Gaga), plus “Positions.”
SB19, Tomorrow X Together, Ateez, Blackpink and Billie Eilish round out the top 10, marking the first time in the year-end top 10 for SB19, Tomorrow X Together and Ateez.