2021 was a year of recovery.
Sometimes it seemed like music was all we had to get us through the most trying times of the year. This year end list is arrived at by considering streaming numbers across reports by four of the major streaming platforms- Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Boom Play and Audiomack- cultural impact, nationwide airplay and social media relevance. We present the most popular songs of 2021.
10. Jowo- Davido
Davido’s Jowo off his A Better Time album was released late last year but most of its impact was carried over into 2021. Backed with an eye-popping promotional video, this bouncy, melodious stunner simply could not miss. Airplay particularly in the first half of the year was relentless even as Davido continues to prove to be one of the biggest hitmakers notching up assists on hits by Teni and Adekunle Gold.
9. KPK (Ko Por Ke)- Rexxie x Mohbad
2021 was the year that amapiano moved from South Africa to find a welcoming home in Nigeria. The union of amapiano and afrobeats was a surprisingly effective one creating a legitimate sub-genre in the process. The anthemic KPK, a throbbing, relentlessly paced duet by zanku pioneer Rexxie and the Marlian camp’s MohBad was one of the finest- and biggest- displays of this kind of cultural mix.
8. Highway- DJ Kaywise feat. Phyno
More amapiano heat came in the form of this certified banger from DJ Kaywise with vocal assists from everyone’s favorite rapper Phyno. Groovy, addictive and scoring heavy rotation on social media platforms, Highway was one of the most inescapable tunes of 2021. Who could say no to that bass line, or to Phyno delivering ego boosting lyrics in Igbo?
7. Peru- Fireboy DML
Peru has come a long way from its humble origins, after it was reported to have been leaked prematurely by Olamide. Fireboy’s lovable ditty about jamming in San Francisco and Miami has since blossomed gradually into a bonafide hit single. Look forward to Peru dominating well into the new year as well thanks to a hotly anticipated remix with British superstar Ed Sheeran.
6. Monalisa- Lojay
Monalisa is a brilliant mix of afrobeats and South African house music as engineered by the iconic Sarz who can probably create chemistry with a rock. The union between Lojay and Sarz created the impetus for this feel-good tune to become a main fixture of 2021, soundtracking every house party and club gathering from north to south of the country.
5. Bounce- Ruger
In a year when Blaqbonez cornered the market on the ribald and the raunchy, fresh faced newcomer Ruger also made a huge splash in this space with his breakout single. The eye-patch wearing Ruger was a major sensation thanks to the sweaty, electrifying rhythm of Bounce, a no holds barred declaration of the act of copulation. Sex never sounded sexier than on Ruger’s Bounce.
4. Rock- Olamide
Olamide is an icon, a legend and the moment and with Rock, off his latest album UY Scuti, he attempts a change of direction yet again. The YBNL boss is enamored by a lady and his tone is tender yet convincing as he croons sweet nothings elevated by the seemingly tentative but strategically placed piano licks. No one could resist with Rock doing insane numbers on streaming platforms and scoring heavy rotation on radio.
3. Feeling- Ladipoe Ft. Buju
What to say about Feeling that hasn’t already been said? According to Spotify, Feeling is the most streamed Nigerian song of the year. The stellar duet also finished top 10 on Apple Music and was ubiquitous on TikTok for most of the year. The song was enough to cement the stardom of both Ladipoe and Buju as they would go on to enjoy a hugely successful year.
2. Love Nwantiti- Ckay
Love Nwantiti was one of the biggest miracles of the year. Thanks to a viral resurgence powered by a TikTok challenge where the song has accumulated a massive 15 billion views as well as global remix releases of the original 2019 sleeper, Love Nwantiti became the little song that could. An unlikely Billboard Top 40 run soon followed and the music video topped 150 million views on YouTube.
- Essence- Wizkid feat Tems
The Grammy nominated Essence is probably the most successful Nigerian song ever. Wizkid and Tems’ duet became a global sensation with the Justin Bieber remix becoming the first Nigerian song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number 9. Essence was named the year end best song by Rolling stone magazine.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.