It makes sense that most of the best-selling musicians today are also well-liked by the public that buys their music. You might be surprised, however, by the results of a survey suggesting that the most popular contemporary music act of all predates its peers by a generation or more.
To compile a list of the music artists with the highest approval ratings, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the results of a survey conducted by YouGov, an international market and data analytics website. The survey included more than 440 individual performers and groups and included more than 1,200 participants in five categories: Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1981), Millennials (1982-1999), men, and women. Participants were asked whether they “really like,” “somewhat like,” “neither like or dislike,” “somewhat dislike,” or “really dislike” each one. Artists were then ranked according to the percentage of those who expressed a positive opinion of them.
To determine the song or songs by each artist on the list that peaked at No. 1 (if any), 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, current through mid-April 2023. (You might be surprised to learn that several of the most popular artists here are among the most popular artists who have never had a No. 1 hit.)
Six of the top spots overall were held by female performers: Adele, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift. Adele, second overall, was the only performer to appear among the top five in all five groups surveyed, and was the top choice for Millennials and women. Keys, third overall, appeared in the top five in four of the groups.
As for the most popular contemporary artist…That would be the Eagles, the Southern California group that first synthesized country and rock into a mellow, polished sound in the 1970s. The six-time Grammy winners got the nod from Generation X, Baby Boomers, and men. “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)” and “Hotel California” are two of the biggest-selling albums of all time, accounting for a total of more than 35 million copies sold. And the Eagles continue to tour today. (These are the 100 best-selling pop albums of all time.)
To compile a list of the most popular contemporary music artists, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the results of a survey conducted by YouGov, an international market and data analytics website, that included more than 440 musicians. The survey was conducted using an online interview completed by more than 1,200 respondents. Respondents were shown a picture and given the name of the director and were asked to answer to what extent they like or dislike each one of them. Possible responses were “really like,” “somewhat like,” “neither like or dislike,” “somewhat dislike,” “really dislike.”
To determine the songs by each artist on the list that peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Chart data is current through the week of April 2023.
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