Which pop star has the most hits on YouTube?

Adele, Rihanna, Ellie Goulding and Coldplay performing sets at the BRIT Awards
Hit records: (clockwise from top left) Adele, Rihanna, Ellie Goulding and Coldplay all have music videos with hundreds of millions of views on YouTube Credit: Getty

They used to say that video killed the radio star – it might be truer to say now that video makes the radio star.

Thanks to YouTube, more of us are watching pop videos than ever before… and we’re doing so in staggering numbers.

The global reach and access of YouTube mean that a four-minute promo clip for a song that just 10 years ago might be seen on a few music channels or by dedicated fans searching online, will be watched hundreds of millions of times all across the world. And in some special cases, more than a billion times.

YouTube makes superstars of artists – putting them on TVs, computer screens, tablets and smartphones worldwide. And the sheer scale of that power is strongly evident at this year’s BRIT Awards.

Adele’s Hello accumulated 27.7 million views in its first 24 hours online

No less than six of this year’s nominees are in the exclusive Billion Views club – and many more have amassed the kind of audiences for their videos that pop stars a decade ago could have only dreamt about.

Big band: Coldplay’s Paradise has been viewed more than 654m times on YouTube Credit: Getty

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In November, Williams picked up the prestigious BRITs Icon Award, and regularly clocks up huge viewing figures for his videos: Feel has been watched more than 71 million times (that’s more than once for every man, woman and child in the UK), while Candy has clocked up 68 million. Expect to see those figures rocket after his performance at this year’s awards.

But if these seem like astronomical numbers, brace yourselves.

Coldplay, nominated for Best British Group again this year, have amassed hundreds of millions of views for their videos: Paradise alone has been watched more than 654 million times; Viva La Vida 365 million.

Stream queen: Rihanna has seen her collaborations reach more than a billion views Credit: Getty

The Billion Views Club

The numbers get still more astonishing. Dance supremo Calvin Harris’ collaboration with Rihanna, This Is What You Came For (up for the Best British Artist Video and Best British Single gongs this year), has been viewed no less than 1.2 billion times in the seven months since its release. It marks Calvin’s second entry in the Billion Views Club: his 2014 hit Summer has racked up 1.03 billion hits and counting.

Another of Calvin Harris’ collaborators has amassed similarly impressive YouTube statistics. Ellie Goulding – nominated for Best British Female Solo Artist – also has a number of videos in the Billion Views Club. Burn (released in 2013) has notched up viewing figures of 1.02 billion, while 2015’s Love Me Like You Do has been watched 1.3 billion times.

Superstar: Ellie Goulding will be hoping to be named Best British Female Solo Artist Credit: Getty

That leaves another four of this year’s nominees in this most exclusive of clubs. Sia – a contender for Best International Female Solo Artist – has the 18th most watched video of all time, with 1.5 billion views of her single Chandelier; while fellow nominee Rihanna has notched up figures of 1.2 billion for her 2010 collaboration with Eminem, Love The Way You Lie.

What a record: Adele is Britain’s most viewed pop star on YouTube Credit: Getty

Greatest of all time?

Bruno Mars – who will be performing at this year's BRITs – and Drake may be battling it out for the International Male Solo Artist award, but on YouTube there’s really only one winner: although both are Billion View members in their own right (Drake’s Hotline Bling with 1.1 billion views, and Bruno Mars’ The Lazy Song with 1.03 billion)… but the man from Hawaii’s 2014 collaboration with Mark Ronson, Uptown Funk, has racked up an extraordinary 2.1 billion hits – that’s the equivalent of about one in four of the entire world’s population.

Uptown Funk has racked up an extraordinary 2.1 billion hits

Which only leaves Adele. Last year’s Queen of The BRITs is nominated in the Best British Artist Video category this time round… but remains our biggest homegrown YouTube phenomenon.

When she released Hello in 2015, the song accumulated no less than 27.7 million views in its first 24 hours online – more than a million an hour, or 7,700 every second. The video has gone on to become the 9th most viewed clip on YouTube of all time, with more than 1.8 billion hits. The 1.03 billion views of Rolling In The Deep almost pale in comparison.

Would these songs have been so huge without YouTube? Would the artists who created them have enjoyed such success? Of course: quality shines through – that’s what The BRIT Awards is all about. But the sheer scale of global reach that the platform provides is an entirely new phenomenon… leaving only the tantalising question: who will be the next Adele? And what will be the next billion-view video?

The priceless side of music

In this series of articles, brought to you by Mastercard, the Telegraph looks at what makes British music priceless – and how that brilliance is celebrated at the incredible BRIT Awards.

2017 is the 19th year of Mastercard’s headline sponsorship of The BRIT Awards. Whether it’s walking the red carpet with their idols, accessing sold-out tickets or going to an intimate gig, Mastercard helps cardholders live the priceless side of music. Mastercard also continues its sponsorship of the much sought-after British Album of the Year award.