What makes a Superstar?
The main difference between stardom and superstardom isn't a caped vigilante costume, but popularity. More specifically, online popularity. By monitoring and analyzing artists’ video views, social media engagement, and number of followers throughout various channels over time, we can reliably determine who’s hot right now, and who’s on the rise. With each Superstar, we consider the country of their origin as their main country. For example: Rihanna is a Barbados Superstar, even though she now lives in the UK and/or works in USA.
• Among the more than 450k artists in our database, only the top 200 are considered Superstars.
• More than half of the Superstars are men, but 8 out of the top 10 Superstars are women.
• Less than 20% of Superstar names are groups, bands or duos.
In focus: Brazil vs. UK
Although the two countries do NOT host the largest number of Superstars (the USA holds that title), it’s quite interesting that both have a similar number of Superstar names: Brazil has 15, and UK has 14. Just glancing at the list, it’s obvious which genres reign supreme: with Brazil Superstars, Latin is by far the most popular genre, with two Pop artists and one Hip Hop name alongside. In the UK, the turntables turn strongly in favor of Pop, followed by three Rock acts, and one Electronic artist. The UK also boasts 3 band/group Superstar names, while Brazil leads the duo game – with 4 Superstar duos, to be exact.
Brazil’s Hottest: Sertanejo and Reggaeton.
The 3 highest-ranking artists from Brazil are Marília Mendonça (#31), Anitta (#43), and Gusttavo Lima (#47), all of whom are also in the worldwide Top 50 range. The ladies rocked this year’s Multishow Brazilian Music Awards: Anitta hosted the ceremony, while Marília crowned her live gig skills by winning the Popular Vote for Concert of the Year. But the biggest takeout was launching their new duet “Some Que Ele Vem Atrás”, which gained more than 13M YouTube views in less than two weeks.
The artists’ popularity is more than obvious on Instagram, too, where Marília has 23M+ followers, Gusttavo 24M+, and Anitta leads firmly with 42M+. Looking at their YouTube engagement, two things are clear: (1) Sertanejo is the all-time favorite subgenre in Brazil both on radio and online, as both Marília and Gustavo easily reach millions of views in mere days; (2) launching music via YouTube is incredibly important for Brazilian artists. Just in 2019, Latin tracks took all the top 5 most viewed music video spots positions (more on that later).
Looking at our three Superstars’ data, we can see interesting peaks in engagement whenever they release a new album with accompanying music videos – at certain points, Anitta and Gusttavo Lima even doubled their already impressive engagement numbers in just one month. Marília Mendonça took another approach and kept her engagement rate high and relatively steady by regularly releasing footage of her eponymous, social-media oriented “Todos Os Cantos” tour, which culminated in a TV series in September 2019 and won her the before-mentioned Popular Vote award.
UK Artists Are Popping.
The highest-ranking artists in both the UK and this analysis is Ed Sheeran, who is also the only Superstar among the coveted top 10 (he’s #9). Joining him in the Top 3 are Adele (#26) and Coldplay (#34), one of the rare bands on the Top 200 list. Sheeran, once an indie artist, has worked hard for his Superstar title: not only has he been touring for most of 2019, he also dropped a new album in July, which peaked at #1 on charts worldwide and featured commercially thought-out collabs with names such as Justin Bieber, Camila Cabello, Travis Scott, Eminem, 50 Cent, Cardi B, Stormzy, Dave, Young Thug, and Bruno Mars. The result of his efforts is impressive success on streaming services: Sheeran tops the lists with 50M Spotify followers and a record-breaking 69M Spotify monthly listeners.
More surprising is Adele’s rank, as she hasn’t released new music since 2015, or toured since 2017 – but is rumored to be launching a new album around Christmas 2019. This goes to show the long-term power of a strong social media presence, combined with creating beloved “evergreen” hits, as her average YouTube monthly views still reach 79M, and her Instagram following steadily revolves around the 32M mark – even though there are months when Adele doesn’t post at all.
Ever the odd-man-out, Coldplay are not only one of the rare Superstar groups and Rock ambassadors (only 10 Rock names made it into the Top 200!), they also don’t seem to focus on Instagram as much as other Superstars. Instead, they boast an above-average Twitter and Spotify following, with 23.7M Twitter followers and 21.5M Spotify followers – only falling behind Ed Sheeran when it comes to UK Superstars on Spotify.
Judging from the data, Pop remains the it-genre when it comes to artists’ hotness: the UK proves this by beating Brazil 12:7 when it comes to Top 100 Superstars. Yet Brazil seems to deliberately cater to Latin-speaking countries and communities, wielding YouTube as a weapon to be reckoned with. Just looking at YouTube’s most viewed videos of 2019, the top positions are almost exclusively taken by Latin artists collaborating with one another. What’s even more impressive, we’re talking about most popular songs reaching between 700M and 1.5B views in just a couple of months.
Many interesting music predictions for 2020 are already out there, and it will be interesting to see if any genre manages to dethrone Pop. Whatever does happen, we’ll continue crunching the numbers to stay one step ahead.
Cover photo: Ed Sheeran at Firenze Rocks 2019
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