Ed Sheeran named 2021's most played artist and claims top single for Bad Habits

Ed Sheeran was named the most played artist for the fourth time in five years.
Credit: PA
Ed Sheeran was named the most played artist for the fourth time in five years. Credit: PA

Pop superstar Ed Sheeran has added another record to his collection after being named the most played artist of last year, and also claiming the 2021's most played single with Bad Habits.

In doing so he became the first artist to claim both accolades in two different years.

He previously won both titles in 2017 with the release of his album Divide and hit single Shape of You.

It was also the fourth time in five years that Suffolk star Sheeran has been the UK’s most played artist, being dethroned only in 2020 by Dua Lipa following the release of her chart-topping second album Future Nostalgia.

Adele is the only other artist to have topped both charts in the same year, with Rolling In The Deep and the popularity of her album 21 in 2011.

The annual charts are compiled by music licensing company Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) from music usage and airplay data from radio stations and television channels as well as public performance locations.

Tom Grennan, originally from Bedford, crowned a break-out year by claiming both the second and third most played tracks of 2021 with By Your Side with Calvin Harris and Little Bit Of Love respectively.

Peter Leathem, chief executive of PPL, said: “Congratulations to Ed Sheeran for having the UK’s most played track of 2021 and being the UK’s most played artist of 2021.

“His chart-topping success over the last five years is a testament to not only the quality of his output but also the strength of UK music at a time when the global music landscape is more competitive than ever."

Most played tracks of 2021

  • 1. Bad Habits – Ed Sheeran

  • 2. By Your Side – Calvin Harris featuring Tom Grennan

  • 3. Little Bit Of Love – Tom Grennan

  • 4. Blinding Lights – The Weeknd

  • 5. Higher Power – Coldplay

  • 6. All You Ever Wanted – Rag’n’Bone Man

  • 7. Heartbreak Anthem – Galantis, David Guetta and Little Mix

  • 8. Starstruck – Years & Years

  • 9. Midnight Sky – Miley Cyrus

  • 10. Bed – Joel Corry, Raye and David Guetta

Most played artists of 2021

  • 1. Ed Sheeran

  • 2. David Guetta

  • 3. Dua Lipa

  • 4. Little Mix

  • 5. Coldplay

  • 6. The Weeknd

  • 7. Justin Bieber

  • 8. Calvin Harris

  • 9. Taylor Swift

  • 10. Pink