YouTube users can't stop streaming Latin Pop

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

Daddy Yankee and RosalíaImage source, Getty Images
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Daddy Yankee and Rosalía are the most streamed male and female artists of the year to date

There is no better measure of the world's listening tastes than YouTube.

The site reaches more than 1.9 billion people every month, more than any other music steaming service, and most of those users are listening to Latin Pop.

Spanish-language songs make up half of YouTube's Top 10 for the year so far, led by Daddy Yankee's Con Calma, with 1.15 billion views.

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Ariana Grande's 7 Rings is the only entry sung entirely in English, with K-pop and Bollywood completing the chart.

Catalonian singer Rosalía, who came fifth in the BBC's Sound of 2019 list, had the highest-viewed video by a female artist, with Con Altura - a reggaeton track that samples dialogue from a Dominican TV show.

The song topped YouTube's music chart for 12 weeks after its release in March, at one point presiding over a top 10 that was 80% Spanish.

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"This is the new order of things in the increasingly diverse, genre-melding, multilingual world of pop," wrote New York Times' pop correspondent Joe Coscarelli in an article dissecting Rosalía's breakout single.

"Language is no longer a barrier, world rhythms mix and cohere, cross-cultural collaboration is common and hip-hop influence seeps in from all sides."

South Korea is also an increasingly dominant voice in global pop, with girl group Blackpink racking up 468m views for the arresting, colourful video for Kill This Love [the title is the only English line in the song].

Their boyband counterpart, BTS, have the eighth most-watched video of the year for their track Boy With Luv.

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Hindi singer Dhvani Bhanushali has also scored a major hit with the sweetly-sung Vaaste Song - which was the first Indian track to rack up 50 million views in seven days.

The 21-year-old singer is signed to T-Series, India's biggest record label, which also runs the world's second-largest YouTube channel.

"We definitely see that musicians from places outside the US are really writing the handbook on YouTube," the site's global head of music, Lyor Cohen, told the BBC. "I like to say they have a PhD in YouTube.

"These artists not only have the sound that appeals to music lovers around the world, but they know how to make the platform work for them and maximize global reach. That's the beauty of YouTube - genres crossing borders and artists building fanbases, no matter where they are."

Spotify and YouTube are democratising music, added Sebastian Krys - a Grammy award-winner who has worked with Shakira, Luis Fonsi and Gloria Estefan.

"Before, music was curated by the record industry gatekeepers, who were generally middle class, middle-aged white men. And now it's curated by the masses," the Argentine producer told the BBC last year.

"There is more interest now in what other people and cultures are doing."

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The highest-charting British artist on YouTube's chart is Sam Smith, whose duet with Normani, Dancing With A Stranger, is the eleventh most-watched music video of the year so far.

Freshly-minted pop star Billie Eilish also made the top 20, with 351m views for her single Bad Guy, putting her in 12th place.

Songs released before 2019 continue to record big numbers on YouTube, too, with Luis Fonsi's Despacito adding 456m views since January, pushing its all-time total to 6.3bn.

The 2017 song is now the most-watched video on the site by a margin of more than 2bn.

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