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The Year in Streaming Charts 2021: Olivia Rodrigo Is in the ‘Drivers’ Seat

As the top Streaming Songs Artist of 2021, Rodrigo is the second act in a row to reign after never appearing on the year-end list in previous years.

Olivia Rodrigo, Billboard’s top Streaming Songs Artist of 2021, had never appeared on Billboard’s weekly Streaming Songs chart before 2021.

Never underestimate a good old-fashioned zeitgeisty moment. Spurred by the juicy backstory of its lyrics and earworm nature of, well, every other aspect of it, “Drivers License,” Rodrigo’s debut single, blasted to a No. 1 debut on the weekly Streaming Songs chart dated Jan. 23 and remained there for four weeks.

Billboard’s year-end music recaps represent aggregated metrics for each artist, title, label and music contributor on the weekly charts dated Nov. 21, 2020, through Nov. 13, 2021. The rankings for MRC Data-based 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 MRC Data.

Explore All of Billboard’s 2021 Year-End Charts

Proving that she was no one-trick pony, though, Rodrigo followed “Drivers License” with a No. 4 Streaming Songs debut in “Déjà Vu” in April (it eventually rose as high as No. 2 in June), and “Good 4 U” roared in with an eight-week rule beginning in May. In all, she racked up eight top 10s on the chart throughout the year.

Two of those songs, “Good 4 U” and “Drivers License,” land at Nos. 3 and 4 on the year-end Streaming Songs chart for 2021, respectively, proving that their moments in the sun were far from short-lived.

As the top Streaming Songs Artist of 2021, Rodrigo is the second act in a row to reign after never appearing on the year-end list in previous years. In 2020, Roddy Ricch claimed the distinction, largely on the strength of “The Box.” Unlike Rodrigo, however, Roddy Ricch had made appearances on the weekly Streaming Songs survey in 2019, while Rodrigo was a pure rookie to the chart in her top artist-winning year.

Rodrigo is also the second woman to claim the top streaming artist distinction since the Streaming Songs chart began in 2013 and first since Katy Perry, who crowned the 2014 ranking.

Rodrigo even manages the No. 1 over stiff competition in two-time top streaming artist Drake, who comes in at No. 2. Drake ruled the year-end list in 2016 and 2018, and in 2021 he released the album Certified Lover Boy and snagged two weekly No. 1s of his own in “What’s Next” and “Way 2 Sexy,” featuring Future and Young Thug.

The No. 1 on the year-end 2021 Streaming Songs chart, meanwhile, belongs to a song that never even hit No. 1 on the weekly chart for the first time in Streaming Songs’ year-end history.

That distinction goes to Dua Lipa’s “Levitating,” which peaked at No. 3 on the weekly tally for two weeks in July but claims the overall No. 1 by year’s end. “Levitating” spent most of the chart year on Streaming Songs, entering the top 10 in April and staying there for most of the spring and a large chunk of summer.

“Levitating” is the first song in chart history to lead the year-end list despite never hitting No. 1 for a single week throughout the year, a feat all the more impressive that it didn’t even reach No. 2. The previous high for a non-No. 1 for year’s end was Future’s “Life Is Good,” featuring Drake, which peaked at No. 2 and also ranked at No. 2 on the year-end 2020 tally.

Even the No. 2 Streaming Song of 2021 didn’t reach No. 1. The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears,” which places at No. 2, also peaked at No. 2 in May 2021. Like “Levitating,” it’s boosted not only by being a song that was on the chart at the beginning of the tracking year, it also stayed on Streaming Songs for most of 2021 and was a mainstay in the top 10 for much of the year, in its case winter, spring and into the beginning of summer.

The aforementioned “Good 4 U” ends up the top year-end song that actually reached No. 1 on the weekly survey, and the rest of the top five – “Drivers License” and Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” – did so as well.