Now in their third year of running, the Apple Music Awards were announced yesterday; with The Weeknd being crowned Global Artist of the Year; Olivia Rodrigo, Wizkid, and H.E.R. also securing major wins.
Just like the previous installments of the event, the third annual Apple Music Awards recognized the best and boldest musicians of 2021; who’ve been impeccable on the streaming service, while having influence on global culture.
According to Apple’s website, their Music Awards honor achievements in music across five distinct categories — Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Top Song of the Year, and Top Album of the Year — and winners are chosen through a process that reflects both Apple Music’s editorial perspective and what customers around the world are listening to the most.
A new category of awards for Regional Artist of the Year, recognizing artists from five countries and regions: Africa, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia was introduced. The Regional Artist of the Year awards recognize artists who made the greatest impact culturally and on the charts in their respective countries and regions.
“The past 12 months have proved to be a remarkable year for music, and we’re thrilled to honor the artists who are shaping culture and connecting with fans around the world on Apple Music,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats.
“This year we’re also recognizing more regional artists, showing the world the impact of extraordinary talented musicians who are making waves globally.”, he added.
Without further ado, here were the winners as announced by Apple:
GLOBAL ARTIST OF THE YEAR: The Weeknd.
While accepting the accolade, in his words, Abel a.k.a The Weeknd said: “I’m so grateful for this huge honor and want to thank Apple for all its support, not only for my work but also for great music by newer artists, where it matters so much for creators to be found and supported.”
Filtering R&B and pop through an ambitious widescreen lens, The Weeknd took over popular music and culture on his own terms. The global superstar’s 2020 album “After Hours” quickly surpassed one million pre-adds on Apple Music, and is the most pre-added album of all time by a male artist on the platform. “After Hours” also holds the record for the most streamed R&B/Soul album in its first week in 73 countries. The smash single “Blinding Lights” peaked at No. 1 on Apple Music’s Daily Top 100: Global chart, and ranks as one of the 20 most Shazamed songs of all time. The Weeknd also hosts the massively popular taste-making Apple Music Radio show “MEMENTO MORI,” celebrated for its eclectic playlists and major world premieres. He’s graced recent covers of TIME, Forbes, Variety, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and GQ, and blew away fans with his 2021 Super Bowl LV Halftime Show, which was one of the most Shazamed moments of the year.
BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST OF THE YEAR, ALBUM OF THE YEAR, AND SONG OF THE YEAR: Olivia Rodrigo
Olivia Rodrigo won Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year at the third annual Apple Music Awards.
For Olivia Rodrigo, 2021 will go down as the year of epic firsts. The 18-year-old singer-songwriter released her tear-soaked debut single, “drivers license,” in January, which quickly topped the charts and became one of the most streamed new releases of the year. “drivers license” registered the highest first-week streams ever for a debut single by an artist on Apple Music globally, reaching No. 1 on the Daily Top 100: Global chart, where it remained for over a month, and was the fastest-ever debut solo track by a US artist to accumulate five million Shazams.
“I did my first interview for ‘drivers license’ with Apple Music, and so much has happened since then,” Rodrigo said. “It’s truly surreal. Thank you to Apple Music for these amazing awards.”, said Olivia in her remarks.
SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR: H.E.R.
“I am very honored and blessed to receive this recognition,” H.E.R. said. “As a young Black and Filipino artist, and a woman who is on the stage giving my all, there’s no doubt that representation is important. Thank you so much, Apple Music.”
Award-winning singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist H.E.R.’s work within the R&B genre grew even more expansive in 2021 with the release of her acclaimed 21-track album “Back of My Mind,” which captures the artist at her most brilliant, confident, and freewheeling. The chart-topping album was the third most streamed R&B/Soul album on Apple Music in its first week of release by a female artist this year, with singles “Damage” and “Come Through” (featuring Chris Brown) both spending multiple weeks on the Daily Top 100 chart in over 30 countries. The former Apple Music Up Next artist also penned the anthemic original “Fight for You” for the celebrated motion picture “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and covered Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” for Apple Music’s exclusive “Juneteenth: Freedom Songs” compilation.
ARTIST OF THE YEAR (AFRICA): Wizkid
“Thank you to Apple Music for this award,” Wizkid said. “It’s a blessing to get to do what I do, and I’m proud to be representing for Africa.”
Singer-songwriter Wizkid is one of Africa’s biggest crossover acts, having worked with Drake, Skepta, and Chris Brown, among others. The Nigerian musician first found regional success in 2011 with the massively popular single “Holla at Your Boy,” which appeared on his debut album, “Superstar.” Wizkid went global in 2016 after his collaboration with Drake on “One Dance,” which soared to the top of the charts in 15 countries. Between 2019 and 2020, Wizkid was featured in Beyoncé’s projects “The Lion King: The Gift” and its companion piece, “Black Is King.” In October 2020, he released “Made in Lagos,” his critically acclaimed and most commercially successful album, which included his hit song “Essence,” a track that gained 125 million plays on Apple Music and over 2.8 million Shazams. This past year, he’s been the most streamed African artist on the continent on Apple Music and ranked on the Daily Top 100 charts in 60 countries, in addition to his monthly plays on Apple Music growing by more than 250 percent outside of Africa. He’s also been featured on Apple Music’s Today’s Hits and R&B Now playlists, and he’s a frequent guest on Apple Music Radio shows, including “Africa Now Radio,” “The Ebro Show,” “New Music Daily with Zane Lowe,” and “OVO SOUND RADIO.”
ARTIST OF THE YEAR (FRANCE): Aya Nakamura
“I am extremely honored to be the very first Francophone artist to win an Apple Music Award as Artist of the Year (France),”. “Thank you, Apple!” said: Nakamura.
French-Malian pop singer Aya Nakamura is the most streamed Francophone artist in the world. Best known for her hit song “Djadja,” she has released three albums featuring countless chart-topping songs, including “Copines,” “Pookie,” “Plus Jamais,” and “Jolie nana,” and she has been on the cover of Apple Music’s Hits Français playlist. In France, Nakamura is one of the only female artists to consistently appear in the streaming charts in a market dominated by male rappers, and her album “AYA” garnered the highest first-week streams for an album released by a female artist on Apple Music. Her songs “Jolie nana” and “Plus Jamais” hold the top two spots for the highest first-week streams for a song by a female artist on Apple Music in France, and all 15 songs on the album entered the Daily Top 100 chart in France, Belgium, and Niger, with “Jolie nana” peaking at No. 1 in those countries. Her song “Bobo” also peaked at No. 1 on the Daily Top 100 chart in France, Niger, Cape Verde, and Micronesia. It marked her fifth single topping France’s Daily Apple charts.
Other winners include: Japan’s OFFICIAL HIGE DANDISM, Scriptonite from Russia, and RIN from Germany.
About the Apple Music Awards:
Apple designed a series of physical awards that represent the extraordinary craftsmanship integral to creating music. Each award features Apple’s custom silicon wafer suspended between a polished sheet of glass and a machined and anodized aluminum body. The result of this multi-month process, before it is sliced into hundreds of individual chips, is stunning and distinctive. In a symbolic gesture, the same chips that power the devices that put the world’s music at listeners fingertips sit at the very heart of the Apple Music Awards.
The Apple Music Awards celebration kicks off Tuesday, December 7, 2021, with interviews, original content, and more all streaming worldwide on Apple Music and the Apple TV app. Music fans who are not already subscribed to Apple Music can sign up for a three-month free trial at apple.com/apple-music.