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Deep Dive

Global Smashes And Local Stars: The Top Acts In 10 Countries

While it’s true that hip-hop and Latin music have dominated Billboard’s global charts since their September launch, pop music is far from monolithic. “There are two sides to the coin,” says YouTube tr…

While it’s true that hip-hop and Latin music have dominated Billboard’s global charts since their September launch, pop music is far from monolithic. “There are two sides to the coin,” says YouTube trends manager Kevin Meenan. “On one hand, music has become super global and is traveling like never before. But we’re also seeing that local music still really resonates locally.”

In fact, the hitmakers in most countries are local, according to the findings of a YouTube analysis of the top 2020 acts in 10 world markets. (See charts below.) The video streaming platform —which counts over 2 billion logged-in users across 100 countries and 80 languages (and is a data provider for Billboard’s global charts) ranked the top 10 acts in 10 countries, including the United States. YouTube looked at local view counts of each artist’s discography, including official music videos, live performances, lyric videos and other uploads to the artists’ official channels, as well as user-made videos that incorporated official songs. The measurement period spanned Jan. 1 to Nov. 25.


Meenan discussed the trends that emerged during that almost 11-month time period.

Huge Global Moments
Examining YouTube’s charts as a whole, says Meenan, “nearly every week you see huge global moments that manifest on every chart.” The video for Cardi B’s “WAP” (featuring Megan Thee Stallion), for instance, hit No. 1 in 15 YouTube markets and charted in 50. And while the global reach of K-pop is not news, Meenan points to the international impact of K-pop acts BTS and Blackpink as hallmarks of 2020.

In the United States, both acts hit the upper reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 with English-language lyrics. BTS nailed its first Hot 100 No. 1 and topped both global charts — the Billboard Global 200 and the Global Excl. U.S. — with its single “Dynamite.” And Blackpink became the highest-charting female K-pop group in Billboard history when The Album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in October, with its Selena Gomez collaboration, “Ice Cream,” rising to No. 13 on the Hot 100. On the global charts, the quartet’s “Lovesick Girls” hit No. 1 on the Global Excl. U.S., while “Ice Cream” peaked at No. 6.

The two acts’ success is even more apparent on YouTube, where BTS and Blackpink are truly global phenomenons. Meenan notes that 90% of their respective audiences come from outside of South Korea. “Every release they have essentially charts everywhere in the world for us,” he says. “They’re taking it to the next level, particularly on day one of a release. It has become an event in its own right, where their entire world of fans comes together to watch the video and cross their fingers that they set a record.” And they do: The two groups split eight of the platform’s top 10 24-hour viewership records.

Cross-Culture Collaborations Can Yield Global Hits
In 2020, collaborations between artists from different countries, as well as remixes of songs by acts from other countries, resonated across the globe. Jawsh 685’s “Savage Love (Laxed — Siren Beat)” is a prime example.

The 18-year-old DJ-producer first uploaded “Laxed (Siren Beat)” as an instrumental to YouTube in 2019. Fueled by dance-challenge videos, the track went viral earlier this year. Meenan says it charted in over a dozen markets, including Ireland, Australia, Mexico, Norway and New Zealand. In May, the video peaked at No. 2 in Jawsh 685’s home country and, that same month, at No. 64 on YouTube’s Global Top Songs chart.

“Laxed” got a second life when Jason Derulo jumped on the track — initially without crediting Jawsh 685 or obtaining permission — for “Savage Love.” Once the two artists came to terms, the official release of “Savage Love (Laxed — Siren Beat),” reached the top 10 of the Hot 100. It vaulted to No.1 — and the summits of both global charts as well — on the strength of a remix featuring BTS. The song has also racked up 1.7 billion combined audio/video global streams.

Meenan says the song charted in 56 of the 57 markets where YouTube has official charts, eventually peaking at No. 3 on the Global Top Songs chart and No. 4 on the platform’s U.S. Top Songs tally. “It was inescapable,” he says.

Dance videos and a remix also transformed South African DJ-producer Master KG’s “Jerusalema,” featuring South African singer Nomcebo, into a breakout global hit that charted in 40 markets. Meenan says a remix by Burna Boy helped the track “take over in Africa,” and further fueled by YouTube dance videos, to catch fire on other continents. (A second remix featuring Venezuelan singer Micro TDH and Colombian singer Greeicy also fueled the song’s global success.) The song peaked at No. 17 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart.

“In South Africa there are a lot of really big dance crews that will jump on a hit song,” says Meenan. Once they embraced “Jerusalema,” dance-challenge videos began to spring up on YouTube, TikTok and other platforms. “The news media was covering videos of nurses and then priests all over the world dancing to it,” he says. “It was that classic formula where a viral dance takes off and gives a song new meaning and new life.”

Meenan says one of the most interesting cross-cultural stories this year is the long-simmering development of “Djadja.” The Afrobeats pop track from Malian-born French pop singer Aya Nakamura was first released in 2018, and in France was one of YouTube’s top 10 songs of 2019.

This year, Meenan noticed that “Djadja” was charting in Latin America, and after doing some digging, learned that it had been featured as a synch in the second season of the Spanish Netflix teen thriller series Elite in 2019. As the song accrued a Spanish-speaking audience, Nakamura teamed with Colombian star Maluma for a remix. The new version drove “Djadja” to No. 10 on YouTube’s Top Global Songs chart, and says Meenan, into “the top 40 of virtually every Latin America country where we have charts.” It also peaked at No. 32 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart.

Local Artists Dominate Locally
When YouTube viewership is measured locally, “local music dominates,” says Meenan. “Our French list is almost all French artists, our German list is almost all German artists, our South Korean list is almost all Korean artists, and the U.S. list is all U.S. artists.” With the exception of BTS, Blackpink and Nakamura, the artists behind the 2020 global smashes that Meenan mentions do not appear on the top 10 artists by country lists that are published here.

Hip-Hop Dominates Globally, But Acts Locally
If there’s one thread that runs throughout each country’s rankings, it’s hip-hop. “If you look at Germany, [rapper] Capital Bra is No. 1 this year,” says Meenan. “In France, Jul and Naps top the list. And in Latin America, Latin trap artists such as Bad Bunny and Anuel AA top the YouTube charts.”

Rappers fill eight of the 10 slots on Poland’s artist ranking due to what Meenan calls “one of the coolest weird subtrends”: Each of those acts, as well as the two non-rappers on the list, participated in the #Hot16Challenge2, a video project in which artists compete by posting 16 bars of original verse within 72 hours, and nominating four other local musicians to submit their own. (See Poland chart below.) The contest raised money for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in Poland and was so popular that in May, 44 of YouTube’s top 100 Polish videos carried the hashtag and generated some 700 million views. Polish President Andrzej Duda even submitted a video after he was nominated by one of the participants.

Meenan says hip-hop’s prevalence on the local charts makes sense, particularly in a year that saw a pandemic coupled with civil unrest in many countries: “Hip-hop has always been the voice of the people and reflective of local realities.” As a result, he adds, “YoungBoy Never Broke Again is going to get the vast majority of his views from the U.S., and the Polish rappers are going to get all their views from Poland.”

YouTube can spot hyper-local sensations before they scale: Meenan says he discovered rapper Rod Wave, who is No. 4 on YouTube’s top 10 U.S. artists list, a year and a half ago. “He was the top artist in Jacksonville [Fla.] then, which is where he’s based,” says Meenan. “That was before he broke globally, so you can see how a hip-hop artist can take off within a city because, stylistically and lyrically, they’re going to be more relatable on that local level,” he says. He notes that Atlanta rapper Lil Baby ranks No. 1 in Georgia, Baton Rouge, La., rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again tops YouTube’s Louisiana artists list; and the late Pop Smoke, who hailed from Brooklyn’s Canarsie neighborhood, is No. 1 in New York. “Regionally, you see these differences where certain hip-hop artists, while they do really well in their own country, actually do better in their own cities and states.”

Top 10 YouTube Acts By Country

10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. Marília Mendonça Folk singer-songwriter with Melissa Etheridge-style anthemic delivery. She has over 20 million subscribers on YouTube and her three-hour #LiveLocalMarília Mendonça event on April 8 had over 3.3 million peak concurrent viewers on the platform. That same month, she hit No. 6 on Billboard’s Social 50 in April.
  2. 2. Henrique & Juliano Sweet-voiced duo specializing in sertanejo, a Brazilian country music style.
  3. 3. Gusttavo Lima Romantic pop singer best known for 2012 smash “Balada (Tche Tcherere Tche Tche).” His 2020 single “De Menina Pra Mulher” hit No. 119 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart in November.
  4. 4. Zé Neto & Cristiano Sertanejo duo known for playing huge concerts, and, this year, livestreams; hit No. 29 on the Social 50 in May.
  5. 5. Barões da Pisadinha The Barons of Pisadinha, a duo named after the accordion-heavy stepping genre, peaked at No. 84 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart and No. 178 on the Global 200 with “Recairei.”
  6. 6. Maiara & Maraisa Female country duo with hard-rock voices. The YouTube video for its collaboration with Marília Mendonça, “Quero Você Do Jeito Que Quiser,” has generated over 127 million views.
  7. 7. Jorge & Mateus The veteran sertanejo duo scored 40 million YouTube views with an April livestream.
  8. 8. Now United This 15-member, multinational pop group was created in Los Angeles by Simon Fuller of American Idol
  9. 9. Matheus & Kauan Sertanejo brother duo hit No. 35 on the Social 50 in April.
  10. 10. Anitta Brazilian pop star who has collaborated with Madonna, J Balvin and Snoop Dogg.
10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. JUL Prolific hip-hop star from Marseille whose single “Bande Organisee” featured seven other rappers — including Naps and SCH, both of whom appear below. “Bande Organisee” hit No. 54 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart, and the song’s YouTube video has generated over 209 million views.
  2. 2. Ninho Raised in a Paris commune and influenced by Atlanta trap, his “Lettre a Une Femme” hit No. 5 on Billboard’s France Digital Song Sales chart in 2020.
  3. 3. Naps The French-Algerian rapper formed the Click 11.43 trio in 2008; his most recent solo albums his most recent solo album, Carré VIP, was released shortly after his January announcement that he was quitting music.
  4. 4. DADJU The R&B/electro-pop singer has racked up 2 billion total YouTube views. “Melegim,” his collaboration with rapper Soolking, hit No. 4 on France Digital Song Sales in 2020.
  5. 5. Soprano Veteran rapper-singer whose stage name was inspired by the HBO mob series. His ballad “À Nos Héros Du Quotidien” peaked at No. 5 on France Digital Song Sales in April.
  6. 6. Aya Nakamura The Malian-born French pop singer’s 2018 track “Djadja” charted this year on the Global 200, Hot Latin Songs and other charts thanks to a Maluma remix.
  7. 7. Maître Gims The Congolese rapper-singer-songwriter has collaborated with Sia, Lil Wayne and Sting, with whom he scored a hit, “Reste,” that peaked at No. 2 on France Digital Song Sales in 2020.
  8. 8. Maes Hip-hop mixtape veteran whose 2020 single “Distant,” featuring Ninho, has racked up almost 52 million YouTube views. 
  9. 9. SCH Marseille rapper appears on the multi-artist hit “Bande Organisee.” Two songs from his late-2019 album, rooftop — “Mayday” and “Interlude” — have been popular this year. 
  10. 10. Soolking Algerian rapper-singer who combines pop with reggaetón and rai. “Hayati” hit No. 10 on Germany Songs in April, and “Melegim,” with DADJU, peaked at No. 4 on France Digital Song Sales.
10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. Capital Bra This popular veteran rapper had a 2019 hit with “110,” a collaboration with Samra that featured singer Lea. He also charted several times in 2020, including the top spot on Billboard’s Germany Albums tally with CB7
  2. 2. Samra In addition to “110,” the fast-rapping German hip-hop star had a big 2020: His album Jibrail & Iblis hit No. 1 on the Germany Albums chart, and the single “Berlin” rose to No. 2 on Germany Songs.
  3. 3. Apache 207 German rapper of Turkish descent who hit No. 1 on the Germany Albums chart with Treppenhaus.
  4. 4. Loredana Zefi This former Instagram lip-syncer (with 2.8 million followers) saw “Nicht Verdient” reach No. 1 on Germany Songs.
  5. 5. Bonez MC Leader of hip-hop crew 187 Strassenbande (“Street Gang”) is on the forefront of German gangsta rap. He hit No. 1 on the Germany Songs chart with “Fuckst Mich Nur Ab.”
  6. 6. RAF Camora Swiss-born, Vienna-based rapper whose 2019 album, Zenit, hit No. 1 on the Germany Albums chart.
  7. 7. Kontra K Berlin-based rapper and martial arts enthusiast has had a No. 1 album on the Germany Albums chart every year since 2016.
  8. 8. Ufo361 Trap-inspired rapper with roots in Turkey; scored several top 10 German hits this year, including “Playlist” (with Sonus030) and “Emotions.”
  9. 9. BTS (방탄소년단) The K-pop sensation attracted a record 101 million peak concurrent viewers for the YouTube premiere of its “Dynamite” video and holds three other positions in the top 10 of the platform’s All-Time Top 24 Hour Music Debuts. BTS’ latest album, Be, became its fifth to top the Billboard 200, and “Dynamite” became its first No. 1 on the Hot 100 and both Billboard global charts.
  10. 10. Nimo German hip-hop artist of Iranian descent scored 2020 Germany Songs chart hits with “Kommunication” (No. 6) and “Kein Schlaf” (No. 1).
10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. Official HIGE DANdism (Official髭男dism) Piano-pop quartet scored regional hits before putting out major-label debut Traveler last year. The band’s 2020 hits include “Pretender,” which peaked at No. 114 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart.\
  2. 2. BTS (방탄소년단)
  3. 3. Kenshi Yonezu (米津玄師) The rock singer-songwriter formerly known as Hachi has sold 3.6 million albums under his own name in Japan, according to YouTube. 2020 hits include “Kanden.”
  4. 4. TWICE (트와이스) The nine-member South Korean girl group is huge in both its home country and Japan and landed two singles on the global charts in 2020: “I Can’t Stop Me” peaked at No. 16 on Global Excl. U.S. and No. 31 on the Global 200, and “Feel Special” hit No. 190 on Global Excl. U.S.
  5. 5. King Gnu Pop-rock group formerly known as Mrs. Vinci scored an international hit last year with “Sanmon Shosetsu,” which hit No. 57 on the Global Excl. U.S. chart.
  6. 6. YOASOBI J-pop duo specializing in “vocaloid” synth pop that writes songs inspired by creative-writing pieces submitted to monogatary.com, which is operated by Sony Music Japan. YOASOBI’s first single, “Yoru Ni Kakeru,” hit No. 1 on the Japan Hot 100 in May.
  7. 7. Aimyon (or) J-pop singer-songwriter influenced by American guitar rock. She had several hits on the Japan Hot 100 this year, including “Hadaka No Kokoro,” which reached No. 4 in June.
  8. 8. Yorushika (ヨルシカ) Pop-rock duo of vocaloid producer n-buna and singer suis often creates animated music videos for its songs. The pair’s numerous hits on the Japan Hot 100 in 2020 include “Hana Ni Bourei,” which peaked at No. 6.
  9. 9. NiziU Nine-member J-pop girl group signed to JYP Entertainment and Sony Music. The act is known for its 2020 smash, “Make You Happy,” which hit No. 2 on the Japan Hot 100 and led to jump-rope dance challenges on TikTok. “Step and a Step” hit No. 1 on the chart in December.
  10. 10. Arashi The five-member J-pop boy band, which has released 17 albums since 2001, is getting a lot of fan love since announcing in January 2019 that the group would go on hiatus on Dec. 31, 2020.
10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. Bad Bunny The Puerto Rican Latin trap/reggaetón sensation is Spotify’s most-streamed artist of 2020 and YouTube’s No. 5 top U.S. artist of the year. (He’s also a 2020 YouTube Spotlight Artist.) His latest album, El Último Tour del Mundo, which arrived in November, became the first Spanish-language album to top the Billboard 200, and its single “Dákiti” topped the Global 200.
  2. 2. J Balvin The Colombian global pop star’s 2020 album, Colores, has 332 million on-demand U.S. audio streams. He recently received a record 13 Latin Grammy nominations.
  3. 3. Banda MS The regional Mexican superstars from Mazatlán, Sinaloa, have been making hit albums for over a decade. The group is a 2020 YouTube Spotlight Artist, and its collaboration this year with Snoop Dogg, “Que Maldición,” hit No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart.
  4. 4. Ozuna The Puerto Rican reggaetón and Latin trap star has landed 17 songs on the Hot 100, from “Taki Taki” (with Selena Gomez and Cardi B) to “Adicto” to this year’s hit-strewn album, ENOC. Last year he beat Justin Bieber as the artist with the most YouTube views with over 1 billion.
  5. 5. Daddy Yankee The reggaetón pioneer’s path from Puerto Rican artist to global pop star began with the 2004 hit “Gasolina” and blew up with his 2017 global smash “Despacito.” 
  6. 6. Anuel AA The Puerto Rican reggaeton-trap singer-MC boosts songs into hits, from Ozuna’s “Bebé” (where he’s featured) to his collaboration with Arcángel, “Rojo.” His catchphrase alone, “real hasta la muerte baby,” has been heard in 6 billion YouTube views.
  7. 7. Grupo Firme Formerly Grupo Fuerza, these underground heroes topped Billboard’s Regional Mexican Airplay chart in 2020 with “Yo Ya No Vuelvo Contigo.”
  8. 8. Christian Nodal After racking up over 1 billion views for his 2017 hit “Adiós Amor,” the teenage heartthrob from Caborca, Sonora, has become a regional Mexican music superstar. His 2020 album, AYAYAY!, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Regional Mexican Albums chart in September.
  9. 9. Farruko The Puerto Rican Latin pop veteran started out posting songs on Myspace, then moved into reggaetón and trap, collaborating with Bad Bunny, J Balvin and others. His 2020 hit “La Toxica” hit No. 1 on Latin Rhythm Airplay.
  10. 10. Myke Towers The rapper-singer-songwriter rose from Puerto Rico’s underground hip-hop scene to global stardom through his collaborations with Arcángel, Bad Bunny and others. His 2020 hits include “Caramelo,” with Ozuna and Karol G, which topped the Latin Airplay chart and peaked at Nos. 10 and 16 on the Global Excl. U.S. and Global 200, respectively.
10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. Tymek Opole-born rapper who released two albums and one EP in 2020. His January single “Milion” has over 14 million views on YouTube. The video he recorded for Poland’s #Hot16Challenge2 charity drive generated 1.3 million views.
  2. 2. Szpaku Polish rapper who is both a solo artist and a member of chillwagon. His #Hot16Challenge2 video went viral and has over 52 million views on YouTube.
  3. 3. Bedoes Polish trap-metal artist and founder of the 2115 Gang. “Rewolucja Romantyczna,” a collaboration with Polish producer Lanek, generated 3.3 million views in three weeks. The act’s #Hot16Challenge2 video has over 10.3 million YouTube views.
  4. 4. Quebonafide One of the country’s biggest rappers, he and fellow Polish trap artist Taco Hemingway formed Taconafide in 2018 and released Soma 0,5 mg, which became one of Poland’s best-selling rap albums, according to the Polish phonographic society ZPAV. His biggest 2020 single is “Bubbletea,” and his #Hot16Challenge2 video has over 683,000 views.
  5. 5. Sanah Polish indie-pop singer-songwriter and violinist with three No. 1 songs on Polish radio in 2020, according to ZPAV, including “Champagne.” Her #Hot16Challenge2 video (in which she sings and raps) has over 1.8 million views.
  6. 6. Taco Hemingway One of Poland’s best-selling rappers, he records in both his native language and English. “Polskie Tango,” which was released in July and criticized the country’s right wing government, has over 30 million YouTube views.
  7. 7. Lanek Producer-rapper known for his collaborations with some of Poland’s biggest rappers, including Bedoes, with whom he’s releasing the 2021 album Rewolucja Romantyczna. His #Hot16Challenge2 video has over 1.1 million views.
  8. 8. Mata The rapper’s December 2019 song “Patointeligencja,” an indictment of Poland’s cultural elite, made national headlines and its YouTube video has generated almost 42 million views, while the artist’s #Hot16Challenge2 video has over 11 million views.
  9. 9. Paluch Prolific rapper, B.O.R. Records label owner and a popular underground artist for almost two decades. The artist’s #Hot16Challenge2 video has almost 5.5 million views.
  10. 10. Kubi Producent Polish composer-producer who has collaborated with Bedoes and Szpaku. His July single with ReTo, “Billy Kid,” has over 32 million YouTube views. The artist’s AutoTune-rich #Hot16Challenge2 video has over 542,000 views.
10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. Little Big Dance-rave band from St. Petersburg that was Russia’s entry into the 2020 Eurovision contest (before it was canceled by the pandemic). The “Hypnodancer” video, released in May, has over 152 million YouTube views.
  2. 2. NILETTO Pop singer who won best Russian act at the 2020 MTV Europe Music Awards. His collaboration with Klava Koka in June, “Crash,” has over 120 million YouTube views.
  3. 3. Morgenshtern Russian rapper-producer and YouTube star who recently collaborated with Lil Pump on “WATAFUK?!”
  4. 4. Klava Koka Russian pop singer, music blogger and TV presenter. Her collaboration with NILETTO, “Crash,” is her biggest song to date.
  5. 5. Egor Kreed (Егор Крид) Russian pop rapper whose biggest recent song is “Rolls Royce.”
  6. 6. Artik & Asti Ukrainian pop/R&B duo that records in both Russian and English. The pair’s biggest 2020 hit on YouTube is “Girl Dance.”
  7. 7. Miyagi & Andy Panda Russian hip-hop duo whose single “Kosandra” from its 2020 album, Yamakasi, has over 23 million views on YouTube.
  8. 8. BTS (방탄소년단)
  9. 9. Allj Russian hip-hop artist whose breakout hit was “Rose Wine” in 2017. His 2020 collaborations with Morgenshtern, “Cadillac” and “Lollipop,” were also hits.
  10. 10. Zivert Pop-dance singer and model from Moscow, whose 2018 song “Life” was the most Shazamed song in Russia in 2019. Her latest single is “Dots (Многоточия).”
10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. BTS (방탄소년단)
  2. 2. Lim Young-woong (임영웅) The South Korean “trot” music singer vaulted into the spotlight in 2020 by winning the reality TV competition Mr. Trot, the highest-rated TV show in the country’s history. He has released only seven singles, including this year’s “Trust in Me.”
  3. 3. Blackpink The quartet became the highest-charting South Korean female act in Billboard history when The Album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in October and the single “Ice Cream” peaked at No. 13 on the Hot 100. The group also holds four of the top 10 spots on YouTube’s All-Time Top 24 Hour Music Debuts.
  4. 4. IU (아이유) Although she has focused on acting in recent years, IU has racked up three No. 1s on Billboard’s K-Pop Hot 100.
  5. 5. TWICE (트와이스)
  6. 6. Red Velvet (레드벨벳) The K-pop quintet’s 2017 album, Perfect Velvet, was voted top girl group album of all time by Billboard readers in 2020, and its The ReVe Festival: Finale EP hit No. 3 on Billboard’s World Albums chart in February.
  7. 7. OH MY GIRL (오마이걸) The seven-member South Korean girl group recently broke through in Japan and had a 2020 hit in the region with “Nonstop.”
  8. 8. CHANGMO (창모) The South Korean rapper-producer released his debut album in late 2019 and landed a local hit in 2020 with “Blue Moon” alongside Korean singer Hyolyn.
  9. 9. Young Tak (영탁) The South Korean trot singer finished second in the 2020 Mr. Trot competition.
  10. 10. ITZY (있지) The five-member K-pop girl group released two EPs in 2020, one of which yielded the hit single “Wannabe.”
10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. Diamond Platnumz Bongo flava artist and media mogul — one of East and Central Africa’s most successful stars — has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo and Rick Ross. His 2020 single “Waah!” generated 12 million YouTube views in one week.
  2. 2. Harmonize Tanzanian bongo flava/Afropop artist and dancer whose recent hits include “Jeshi” and “Ushambo.”
  3. 3. Rayvanny Bongo flava/Afropop artist signed to Diamond Platnumz’s WCB Wasafi label. His 2020 single “Number One,” featuring Tanzanian singer Zuchu, has over 5 million YouTube views.
  4. 4. Zuchu One of the most popular female artists in East Africa, the bongo flava singer-songwriter is the daughter of Taarab musician Khadjia Kopa. Her 2020 single “Cheche” (featuring Diamond Platnumz) has amassed 13.1 million views since its September release.
  5. 5. Mbosso Bongo flava singer who started his career as a member of the Yamoto Band before going solo in 2017. His videos for 2020 songs “Sina Nyota” and “Fall” collectively have close to 10 million views.
  6. 6. Lava Lava Rising bongo flava artist whose 2020 releases “Ipekeche” and “Sexy Mama” have blown up in recent months.
  7. 7. Nandy Bongo flava singer-songwriter who finished second in a 2016 continentwide singing competition. She is UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador for Tanzania and had a November hit with “Nibakishie,” a collaboration with AliKiba.
  8. 8. AliKiba Bongo flava/Afropop singer-songwriter, label owner and actor who has been a best-selling artist in East Africa for over a decade. His singles “Mediocre” and “Dodo” are among his biggest hits this year.
  9. 9. Aslay Another former member of the Yamoto Band, the Tanzanian artist was the subject of false rumors that he had died in a road accident earlier this year. His 2020 album Kipenda Roho includes the hit single “Mateka.”
  10. 10. Ibraah This sweet-voiced bongo flava/Afrobeats artist signed to Harmonize’s Konde Music label. His first official single, “Nimekubai,” was released in the spring and has over 1.4 million YouTube views.
10 Biggest Artists In 10 Countries: Mexico, South Korea, Japan & More
  1. 1. YoungBoy Never Broke Again The Baton Rouge, La., MC released three No. 1 Billboard 200 albums between October 2019 and September 2020, with the last topping the chart dated Sept. 26.
  2. 2. Lil Baby The Atlanta rapper had a No. 1 Billboard 200 album this year with My Turn and received two Grammy nominations.
  3. 3. Juice WRLD The Chicago-born emo-rapper’s 2020 posthumous release, Legends Never Die, topped the Billboard 200, and the single “Come & Go” (featuring Marshmello) peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100.
  4. 4. Rod Wave The Florida singer-rapper’s 2020 single “Rags2Riches” hit No. 12 on the Hot 100.
  5. 5. Bad Bunny
  6. 6. Future One of the most influential rappers of the past decade, the Atlanta MC’s 2020 album, High Off Life, became his seventh No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in May. His Drake collaboration “Life Is Good” spent eight weeks at No. 2 on the Hot 100.
  7. 7. DaBaby The North Carolina-based rapper released Billboard’s official Song of the Summer, “Rockstar” (featuring Roddy Ricch), which spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100.
  8. 8. Drake The Toronto rapper-singer, who has redefined hip-hop over the last 10-plus years, was a major chart presence in 2020 with Dark Lane Demo Tapes and singles such as “Laugh Now, Cry Later,” (featuring Lil Durk), which reached No. 2 on the Hot 100.
  9. 9. Eminem Hip-hop’s top-selling album artist in the United States has surprise-released two albums over the last two years. This year’s Music To Be Murdered By produced the Juice WRLD collaboration “Godzilla,” which reached No. 3 on the Hot 100.
  10. 10. Kevin Gates The Baton Rouge, La., hip-hop artist — one of the most respected street rappers of recent years — has released only two proper albums, the last in 2019.


Additional reporting by Trevor Anderson, Eric Frankenberg, Steve Knopper, Kevin Rutherford, Dan Rys and Xander Zellner.