2022 has begun and we’re already nostalgic about 2021, so we took a look back at the Top 100 songs which got the most radio airplay last year in the UK. Based on the +29,000 radio stations we monitor, here is what we discovered.
Before diving into the specifics, here are a few interesting facts about the Top 100 list as a whole.
It is official, “Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran was the most played song on UK radios in 2021! It got 173,600 radio plays, which represents 8.88% of its global airplay.
The song was released on June 25th, 2021, through Warner’s sub label Atlantic Records, as the lead single of his fifth studio album, = (pronounced “equals”). The song turned out to be more than just a UK success-story, it also became the #2 most played song on radio in the world in 2021 - with an astonishing 1,956,000 plays! (Interested in learning more about how his label and team plans tours? Check out our blog article about it).
Little Mix is a three-piece British girl group which won The X Factor UK in 2011. Since then, they have gone on to release six UK Top 5 studio albums over time, and, as of 2021, have become the 5th best-selling girl group of all time in the world.
Five of their songs made it into the list in 2021, including two songs - “Heartbreak Anthem” (#2) and “Break Up Song” (#20) - in the Top 20! The other songs featured are “Kiss My (Uh Oh)” (#47) with Anne-Marie, “Sweet Melody” (#57), and “No Time For Tears” (#75) with Nathan Dawe.
Released in 2020, “Rain On Me” is the perfect example of what a successful collaboration between two pop stars looks like, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. A song that can withstand time. In 2020, it was ranked #13 on the worldwide Top 100 list ! One year later, it was still getting serious airplay, and turned out to be the #25 most played song in the UK!
Dua Lipa is an English singer and songwriter. She rose to fame in 2017 with the release of her self-titled debut album which included three UK Top 10 singles at the time and got her nominated in five categories at the 2018 BRIT Awards!
In 2021, five of her songs made it into the Top 100 songs on the radio in the UK. “Cold Heart” (#17) with Elton John, “Prisoner” (#28) with Miley Cyrus, “We’re Good” (#31), as well as “Levitating” with DaBaby (#10) and “Don’t Start Now” (#65) - these two last mentioned songs belong to her 2020 album Future Nostalgia. All songs combined, she accumulated 463,100 radio plays in the UK alone! (Interested in reading more about how she took over the world with her album Future Nostalgia? Check out our blog article about it!).
Adele signed her grand return with “Easy On Me”, the lead single from her fourth studio album entitled 30. Although the song was only released on October 15th, 2021, through Sony Music’s Columbia Records, it still managed to gather 67,600 radio plays and became the #48 most played song on radio in the UK in 2021.
Canadian singer whose musical career began when he was discovered by record executive Scooter Braun in 2008. Since, Justin Bieber's released multiple albums and won various awards. In 2016, he became the first artist ever to occupy all Top 3 on the UK Singles Chart!
In 2021, four of his songs were featured amongst the UK’s Top 100 most played on the radio; three of the songs belong to his Justice album which was released the same year: “Hold On” (#64), “Anyone” (#26), and “Peaches” (#60) with Giveon and Daniel Caeser. The fourth song of his which featured in the list is his collaboration “Stay” (#27) with The Kid Laroi.
Released in 2019, “Adore You” by Harry Styles has proven to be a UK radio favorite year after year. In 2021, it was still amongst the Top 100 songs the most played, charting at #72 with 48,600 radio spins.
Topic is a German DJ, producer, and musician. In 2016 he signed a record deal with Sony Music. Release after release he slowly made a name for himself, and eventually reached the UK Singles Chart for the first time in 2018 with his song "Breaking Me".
Three years later, in 2021, “Breaking Me” is still amongst the Top 100 songs most played on the radio in the UK, ranking #70. Along with it are three more of his: “Your Love (9pm)” (#13) with A7s and ATB, “My Heart Goes (La Di Da)” (#53) with Becky Hill, and “Drive” (#67) with Clean Bandit. Of all songs, only “Your Love (9pm)” made it to the Top 100 Worldwide list with 931,000 plays, ranking #19!
Do you remember the 2007 song “Valerie” by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse? Well it’s still going strong on UK radios! In 2021 it was the #98 song the most played on the radio in the UK, with 41,400 spins.
English singer and songwriter whose career started in 2013 when she released her first song and went on tour with Dizzee Rascal. Since then, she’s been in the UK Singles Chart countless times, with hits like "Alarm" and "Ciao Adios".
Considering her past record, it comes as no surprise that Anne-Marie was a radio favorite in 2021 too, with five songs featured in UK’s Top 100 songs: “Don't Play” (#37) with KSI and Digital Farm Animals, “Kiss My (Uh Oh)” (#47) with Little Mix, “Our Song” (#55) with Niall Horan, “Way Too Long” (#86) with Nathan Dawe and Mostack, and “2002” (#99). All songs combined, she gathered 291,700 spins!
The data shown is based on radio airplay collected by WARM (powered by MusicDNA) from January 1st 2021 to December 31st 2021.
It’s worth noting that other radio charts may be influenced by the size and status of radio stations, this means that they will not necessarily consider all radio plays because they value certain radio stations over others. At WARM, all radios are considered equal and as relevant. Transparency is our priority.
What were the most played songs on the radio in the US in 2020? Find out: here.