What Happened on YouTube for This Year’s BRIT Awards Nominees?

February 24, 2016

Each year, the BRIT Awards honor the best in British music. While the categories range from the best male and female artists to the best producer, perhaps the two most novel awards are presented for the year’s best British Artist Video and the best British Breakthrough Act. What did YouTube’s music fans think of the nominees? We dug into the data to find out.

Here are the nominees for British Breakthrough Artist:

First Year Active on YouTube
Studio Release
Most Popular Track
(by 2015 YouTube views)
Top 3 Countries
(by 2015 YouTube views)
Jess Glynne
August 21, 2015
London England
1. U.K.
2. Italy
3. U.S.
Years & Years
July 10, 2015
London England
1. U.K.
2. Poland
3. U.S.
Catfish & the Bottlemen
September 15, 2014
Llandudno Wales
1. U.K.
2. U.S.
3. Australia
Alternative rock,
Indie rock
James Bay
March 23, 2015
Hertfordshire England
1. U.K.
2. U.S.
3. Germany
Indie rock,
Folk rock, Soul
Wolf Alice
June 22, 2015
London England
1. U.K.
2. U.S.
3. Brazil
Alternative rock,
Indie rock

All roads lead to London
This year, it seems that much of the talent in the Breakthrough Artist pool hails from the capital, with R&B songstress Jess Glynne, electronic trio Years & Years, and indie rockers Wolf Alice all having origins in London. James Bay, the soft-spoken troubadour who shot to fame after a video of one of his open-mic performances surfaced on YouTube, isn’t far off, growing up in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, an hour’s drive north of the capital. The lone exception to this are Catfish and the Bottlemen, from the northern Welsh seaside resort town of Llandudno (population: 20,710).

Heat Map of Breakthrough Artist Nominees’ Origins

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Jess Glynne and Years & Years vie for “Most Watched” title

Daily Views for BRIT Awards 2016 Nominees for Breakthrough Artist
Views expressed as a proportion of the highest view count, based on content ID, for U.K. viewers

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If the Breakthrough Artist award were given out to the most popular musicians of 2015, YouTube viewers’ choices suggest that Years & Years would be the winners. The group’s success in the past year, due, in large part, to the tremendously positive response of their single “King,” which was also initially nominated for a BRIT Award in the Video category, is undeniable. After a huge surge in views during the summer, which saw the release of their debut album, "Communion," and the premiere of their triptych video for the track “Shine,” the band’s popularity has returned to a high, but comfortable baseline.

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Years & Years’ “Shine #ChooseLight

While Years & Years’ views have steadied, those of Jess Glynne, whose memorable appearance on Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be” led to a 2015 Grammy win in the Best Dance Recording category, have been growing. Although she began the year relatively low, tracks like “Hold My Hand” and “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself” have boosted her profile significantly, eventually leading Glynne to become the most-viewed artist in the group, according to daily views.

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Jess Glynne’s “Ain’t Got Far to Go

James Bay, who also recently received a Best New Artist Grammy nomination, began the year strongly, and has been the most impressively consistent musician of the group. Catfish and the Bottlemen and Wolf Alice, both representing the more niche, indie-rock contingent, follow. Despite their relative obscurity, both have produced impressive debuts, with Catfish and the Bottlemen’s “Cocoon” and Wolf Alice’s “Moaning Lisa Smile” drawing significant praise from critics.

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Catfish and the Bottlemen’s “Cocoon

British Artist Video: All Hail Adele

Daily Views for BRIT Awards 2016 Nominees for British Artist Video, Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2015
Views based on Content ID for U.K.-based users

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 12.13.25 PM.png

The Best British Artist Video nominees can be organized into two broad groups. Adele, in a class of her own, forms the first: her video for “Hello” has received a steady torrent of plays, and is the fastest clip in YouTube history to reach 1 billion views. Her daily numbers are so high, in fact, so as to distort the scale of the graph, so we zoomed to the final months of 2015 to get a better sense of the viewership details.

Daily Views for BRIT Awards 2016 Nominees for British Artist Video
Views based on Content ID for U.K.-based users

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 12.10.51 PM.png

The second group of nominees comprises four videos in close competition: Little Mix’sBlack Magic,” One Direction’s NASA-inspired “Drag Me Down,” Jessie J’s contribution to "Pitch Perfect 2," “Flashlight,” and Ed Sheeran’s compilation of home footage used in “Photograph.”

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Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph

If we’re talking numbers alone, Adele will continue with her customary post-album-drop award sweep. If past fan favorites are the litmus test, One Direction are likely to triumph: they’ve won the 2014 and 2015 awards for “Best Song Ever” and “You & I,” respectively.

-- Posted by the YouTube Culture & Trends Team