To honor Black Music Month at YouTube, we looked at total views in 2016 (Jan 1 - May 31) and identified the most popular black musicians by decade. These artists continue to stand the test of time and underscore the contributions of black musicians to culture.
1920s: Louis Armstrong - 46,468,385 views in 2016 (through May 31st)
Louis Armstrong’s career spanned decades, and on YouTube he remains one of the most popular artists from the first half of the 20th century. His 1967 recording of “What A Wonderful World” is his most popular track, viewed over 130,000 times per day in 2016.
1930s: Billie Holiday - 20,273,058 views in 2016 (through May 31st)
Within Nat King Cole’s YouTube catalogue, L-O-V-E is the most popular track. Every year since 2012, it’s one of 18 tracks to double in views on Valentine’s Day, as YouTube users endearingly share and link to the video.
1950s: Ray Charles - 68,571,028 views in 2016 (through May 31st)
Among Ray Charles’ top 10 songs on YouTube, the seventh most popular track is from the later years of his discography: “Seven Spanish Angels,” a duet with Willie Nelson that reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles in 1984. This year, it has had nearly 5 million views.
1960s: Marvin Gaye - 130,647,559 views in 2016 (through May 31st)
Bob Marley and The Wailers are the third most-viewed artist on this list, with nearly 300 million views this year. One of their single-day highest views (7.3 million views) occurred on February 7, 2015, which marked Bob Marley’s 70th birthday.
1980s: Michael Jackson - 1,046,087,180 views in 2016 (through May 31st)
Dr. Dre’s popularity grew significantly on YouTube in 2015, following the release of the film “Straight Outta Compton.” His most popular track on YouTube, “The Next Episode,” has had over 116 million views in 2016.
2000s: Rihanna - 1,970,465,898 views in 2016 (through May 31st)