We all know that celebrities drive pop culture. When it comes to social media, they often have huge followings on their own pages, but also are mentioned by other celebrities, fans, and publications, shaping conversations and culture. We took a look at some of the major names of 2021 that had the most social media buzz this year and where they peaked.
20. Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, became a sudden household name after reading her poem The Hill We Climb at the inauguration of President Joe Biden in January. Her fame translated into social media stats, with a 120% increase in Twitter followers, 278% increase in Instagram followers, and a 484% increase in Facebook fans this year. She later served as co-chair for the 2021 Met Gala.
19. Doja CatIn 2021, Doja Cat released her album Planet Her, collaborated with major artists such as SZA, Saweetie, Megan Thee Stallion, and Ariana Grande, won Best New Pop Artist at the iHeart Radio Music Awards and Top Female R&B Artist at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, and was able to perform live, all bringing her career to the next level.
18. Megan FoxMegan Fox has been a household name for years as an actress, but she stirred up even more conversation this year with her friendship with Kortney Kardashian and her romance with musician Machine Gun Kelly. Fox also starred in Midnight in the Switchgrass and Till Death in 2021.
17. Olivia RodrigoIn January 2021, Olivia Rodrigo released her hit single “Driver’s License” which broke records for streaming on Spotify and hit number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. She then released two other singles, “Deja Vu” and “Good 4 U” before releasing a full album, Sour, in May. At the end of the year, Rodrigo’s tour dates for 2022 sold out within seconds.
16. Meghan MarkleMeghan Markle made headlines this year as she and her husband Prince Harry stepped down from their senior roles in the British Royal Family. In a televised interview with Oprah, Markle shared her struggles with mental health and other important issues during her time in the royal family. The couple welcomed their second child, Lilibet, in 2021, bringing Markle’s name back into the spotlight, this time in a more positive way.
15. Lil Nas XLil Nas X had people talking this year with a string of publicity stunts, controversies, and new music releases. The artist is well known for his social media prowess and ability to hop on trends, and he played that up in promoting his new music this year. His song Montero (Call Me By Your Name) debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the accompanying music video elicited strong reactions. He also released the singles “Sun Goes Down”, “Industry Baby”, and “That’s What I Want” ahead of his album Montero.
14. Elon MuskThe Tesla CEO made headlines this year in several ways. He split with his wife, Grimes, in 2021, his company SpaceX continued to work on space travel, and he hosted Saturday Night Live. Musk also continued to be popular on social media, using it as a way to communicate with his cult following as well as major global figures.
13. Harry StylesHarry Styles had a big year, between Grammy nominations, cameo in the Marvel Universe as Eros, launching a cosmetics line, and selling out stadiums across the country for his tour. The One Direction alum has a dedicated fan base who are ready to engage with whatever content even mentions him on social media.
12. Ed SheeranEd Sheeran released his fifth studio album = in 2021, with hits like “Bad Habits”, “Shivers”, and “Visiting Hours” topping the Billboard charts. He also collaborated with several extremely popular artists, including Coldplay, Elton John, SUNMI, and Jessi.
11. Britney SpearsBritney Spears made headlines this year as she faced legal battles against the conservatorship that controlled her life. Fans rallied behind the hashtag #FreeBritney, and her conservatorship was terminated in November. Many other celebrities showed their support for Britney throughout the year on social media.
10. Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift has been re-recording and re-releasing her albums so she can own her masters, and this year Fearless (Taylor’s Version) came out in April and Red (Taylor’s Version) came out in November. With the re-release of Red came the 10-minute version of her song “All Too Well”, with an accompanying short film, and the song became the longest in history to hit number 1 on the Billboard Top 100.
9. Megan Thee StallionRapper Megan Thee Stallion not only released her own music in 2021, but also collaborated with BTS, Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, DJ Snake, and Blackpink. Her album Something for Thee Hotties debuted at #5 on the Billboard charts. She also won the highest number of BET Awards, was named one of Glamour’s women of the year, and took home three American Music Awards.
8. Simone BilesGymnast Simone Biles started off 2021 by pioneering the Yurchenko double pike on vault, the first woman to land it successfully, and won the U.S. National Championship. Biles joined the U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo, competing in the team competition to win a silver medal. She withdrew from all but the beam individual finals due to mental health concerns and took home bronze for beam. Biles created a conversation on social media around athlete mental health and self-advocacy.
7. Jennifer LopezJennifer Lopez had a range of career experiences this year; she performed at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of Joe Biden, released new singles, launched a skincare line, and filmed several upcoming films. She made the most headlines this year for her separation from fiancé Alex Rodriguez and rekindled relationship with Ben Affleck.
6. Tom HollandActor Tom Holland starred in several major films in 2021, including Chaos Walking, Cherry, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and, most notably, Spider-Man: No Way Home which broke box office records for its opening day. Holland also started publicly dating his Spider-Man co-star Zendaya in 2021.
5. Billie EilishEilish released her sophomore album Happier Than Ever in 2021, with several songs that topped the charts. She also won Best Song Written for Visual Media and Record of The Year at the Grammy Awards, and Apple TV+ released a documentary about her rise to fame entitled Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry. Eilish was a co-chair of the 2021 Met Gala, alongside Timothee Chalamet, Amanda Gorman, and Naomi Osaka.
4. SaweetieSaweetie rose to fame with songs like “Best Friend” that quickly became a TikTok trend. In 2021 she released an EP and was featured on songs with other artists like Little Mix. Saweetie embraced the influencer and brand partnership world this year, securing deals and collaborations with brands like McDonald’s, Netflix, Morphe, PrettyLittleThing, and KISS Colors.
3. AdeleIn 2021 Adele broke records for most streams of a song in one day with her single “Easy on Me”. She released her new album 30 to international success in November. Adele also had a life TV performance and exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey, and announced her 2022 Las Vegas residency.
2. ZendayaZendaya racked up several film credits in 2021, with featured roles in Malcolm & Marie, Dune, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and Spider-Man: No Way Home, all with positive reviews of her performance. She was praised for her fashion choices on a variety of red carpets this year. As mentioned above, she also started publicly dating her co-star Tom Holland in 2021.
1.BTSSure, they’re not a single person, but their influence is so strong it deserves a spot on this list- they’re the current most popular band in the world. Their social media metrics are astronomically high, and their members broke record after record for follower count when they joined Instagram in 2021. This year BTS released hit singles including “Butter” and “Permission to Dance”, and were featured on Coldplay’s song “My Universe”.
Did your favorite celebrity or influencer not make the list? Reach out to us to see how they compare!