Ever since his 2011 debut, +(“Plus”), the 27-year-old English singer/songwriter has enjoyed a meteoric rise, penning Billboard hits and snagging more than 20 awards. In 2017, he finally surpassed Taylor Swift, with whom he collaborated on the 2012 album Red.Sheeran’s ÷(“Divide”) exploded on the charts in March 2017, debuting at #1 in five countries and becoming the fastest selling album by a male solo artist in the UK. It was buoyed by the success of two very different lead singles: the dancehall-inspired “Shape of You” and the wistful, U2-esque “Castle on the Hill.”
Sheeran became the first artist ever to have two songs on the U.S. top-10 chart at the same time. He ended 2017 with the best-selling album and single in the world. He was also the year’s most-streamed artist on Spotify. ÷ has been certified multi-platinum in 36 different markets; “Shape of You” in 32.
Eclectic choices continue to pay off for Toronto’s preeminent rapper. In early 2017, Drake released More Life, a 22-song project he defined as a “playlist.” Including studio albums and mixtapes, it is the 31-year-old artist’s tenth release.The playlist features a colorful array of producers and guest vocalists. Defying genre, Drake plays with musical references from British grime to Afrobeat. In a never-before-seen coup, all 22 songs on More Life made it to the Billboard charts.
More Life breezed past 1 billion U.S. streams not even a month after it dropped. It topped the R&B Album charts in the US and UK, ending the year at #2 on the US chart. The single “Fake Love” sold 784,000 copies in the US.
A perpetual chart champion, Taylor Swift asserted her dominance in 2017 by releasing an album in November and still being one of the three best-selling artists of the year. Reputation, Swift’s sixth studio album, offers more of her trademark confessional pop with a dark, electronic edge.The album sold 1.2 million copies in its first week in the US–the biggest opening since Adele’s 25 in 2015. It went on to become the best-selling album in the country in 2017.
Lead single “Look What You Made Me Do” sold around 200,000 digital copies on its first day. It became Swift’s fifth number one single and was followed by the equally successful “…Ready for It?” Reputation has been certified triple platinum in the US.
Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and Bruno Mars fill the next three spots on IFPI’s 2017 list.