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Ed Sheeran tops PPL most-played artist list for 2021

By | Published on Tuesday 21 June 2022

Ed Sheeran

Popular recording artist Ed Sheeran remains popular. In case you were wondering. He was very much the most-played artist on radio and TV – and in pubs, clubs and shops – in the UK last year. So says collecting society PPL. And I see no reason for them to lie about something like that.

With the society crunching all of its data ahead of its AGM yesterday, Sheeran topped the overall artist list it compiled, and also had the most-played song with ‘Bad Habits’, which explains why you know every word of that track despite not knowingly ever hitting play on it.

The musician has been the UK’s most-played artist every year since 2018 – except in 2020, when he didn’t release anything new and had to make do with [just being number two behind Dua Lipa](

In 2021, Dua Lipa was down in third place, with David Guetta rising up to number two. Little Mix came in fourth and Coldplay fifth.

In the track chart, Calvin Harris’s collaboration with Tom Grennan, ‘By Your Side’, comes in at two, and Grennan appears again at three with ‘Little Bit Of Love’. In fourth place, The Weeknd’s 2019 single ‘Blinding Light’ returns to the top ten, and at five is Coldplay’s ‘Higher Power’.

Sheeran topping both charts is, says PPL CEO Peter Leatham, “a testament to the quality of his output [and] the strength of UK music at a time when the global music landscape is more competitive than ever”.

Yeah, maybe. Here are the top tens…

Most-played artists
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

Most-played tracks
1. Ed Sheeran – Bad Habits
2. Calvin Harris – By Your Side feat Tom Grennan
3. Tom Grennan – Little Bit of Love
4. The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
5. Coldplay – Higher Power
6. Rag N Bone Man – All You Ever Wanted
7. Galantis, David Guetta and Little Mix – Heartbreak Anthem
8. Years & Years Starstruck
9. Miley Cyrus – Midnight Sky
10. Joel Corry, Raye and David Guetta – Bed