2021 was a major moment for music in Sub-Saharan Africa.
YouTube’s Culture and Trends team, which delves into viewing data to uncover emerging consumer trends, has compiled the most popular music videos from around the world.
The top videos for Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa show there’s a great longing for a sense of community by connecting through various means.
We’ve identified three key insights to help you understand changing consumer and viewing habits — and what this means for your marketing campaigns.
Connecting with dance challenges
Master KG's song “Jerusalema” sparked a dance challenge in early 2020 as people all over the world videoed themselves doing a socially-distanced dance to the song. Despite the track being recorded in his native dialect, Khelobedu, the music united people — from South African school kids to a multicultural dance school in Transylvania, and from church communities in India to healthcare workers in Sweden.
The uncertainty surrounding lockdowns, the need to connect with people, and a timely song created the perfect opportunity for people to find community by coming together to share this dance online.
This trend continues to be popular today. Songs like “Baikoko” by Mbosso, featuring Diamond Platnumz and “Ndovu Ni Kuu” by Krispah, Khaligraph Jones, and Boutross are all Kenyan hits that help us connect, both virtually and in real life. They have inspired countless re-creations thanks to their respective dance challenges.
What marketers need to know: Viral moments like dance challenges are rarely cooked up in a boardroom, virtual or otherwise. They are a consequence of the basic human need for connection. Instead of jumping on existing challenges, or trying to create one of your own, work with artists or creators and allow them the freedom to create something authentic.
Connecting across borders through local languages
It’s easy to assume that music recorded in English is the only type of music that performs well across borders. A look at the trending videos in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa paints a different picture.
Popular music videos are largely for songs recorded in local languages yet a read through the comments shows that the music is enjoyed by people in other countries too. Zuchu’s video for “Sukari” and Kamo Mphela’s “Nkulunkulu” are good examples of this.
Interestingly, the top two videos of the year in Kenya are by Tanzanian artists. And Wizkid’s “Essence”, which is performed partly in Yoruba, was hugely popular in the U.S. last year, earning a spot in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
Amapiano, a genre almost exclusively performed in local South African languages, has seen similar success. This can be seen in the global stream shares of the AmaPianoGrooves playlist on Spotify. According to Rolling Stone this increased 116% globally in 2021, with a 75% increase in the U.S. alone.
What marketers need to know: Authenticity is key for these videos resonating across borders. It’s important to stay true to your brand’s core identity, while adapting your messaging lightly for local nuances. Take fashion brand Tshepo Jeans. They stayed true to the style that made famous faces like Beyoncé and Meghan Markle take notice, while adapting to a ready-to-wear collection for international markets.
Connecting with love
We all have different things that make us happy, but love is the one that we all share. People craved this particularly during the pandemic, and this is reflected in the top trending videos.
For example, songs like Chiké and Simi’s “Running (To You)” and “Siyathandana” by Cassper Nyovest, featuring Abidoza and Boohle. With more than 50 million views between them, it’s clear that audiences are sharing that love.
What marketers need to know: People are more likely to resonate with a video or brand when they can feel a close, personal connection to it. Whether you’re creating a product, a service, or an app, creating a sense of intimacy with your customer is the first step in building a lasting relationship with your customers.
Making music work in marketing
Looking at the bigger picture, there’s another opportunity for marketers to connect with people through music. By investing in music as a key element of advertising, brands are able to drive results. Think of the jingles you remember from adverts you watched in your childhood, or the social media campaigns that have used your favourite tracks. The reason these resonate is because they engage more of your senses and help you connect with a memory, feeling, or community.
U.S. retailer American Eagle, for example, did this effectively in their back-to-school campaign by leveraging the YouTube Charts Top 100 to identify trending music to engage a Gen Z audience. Their campaign saw a 23% increase in branded search and a 10X lift in product interest as a result-showcasing the power of music.
Most viewed music videos in 2021
These are the most popular videos in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa:
- Zuchu - Sukari
- Mbosso ft. Diamond Platnumz - Baikoko
- Otile Brown ft. Jovial - Such Kinda Love
- Willy Paul ft. Miss P - Liar
- Krispah ft. Khaligraph Jones and Boutross - Ndovu Ni Kuu
- Chiké and Simi – Running (To You)
- Teni ft. Davido - For You
- WizKid ft. Tems - Essence
- WizKid ft. Burna Boy - Ginger
- Davido ft. Mayorkun - The Best
- Cassper Nyovest ft. Abidoz and, Boohle - Siyathandana
- DJ Cleo feat. Bucy Radebe - Gcina Impilo Yam
- Intaba Yase Dubai - Sbali
- Kamo Mphela - Nkulunkulu
- DJ Maphorisa and Tyler ICU ft. Madumane, Mpura, Daliwonga and Visca - Izolo
YouTube Trends will keep you up to speed with the latest trends in music and show you how to make sense of it all. For a deeper dive into your specific region, check out the dedicated 2021 Top Ten trending videos page, which you can filter by country.