The Music Videos That Get Love on Valentine’s Day

Around Valentine’s Day, we’ve noticed that some music videos consistently become popular, every year. For example, here are the YouTube views of “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder in February 2015:

Total Views* of “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder

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*“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

As Valentine’s Day approaches, YouTube users endearingly share, message and email “I Just Called to Say I Love You” at a much higher rate.

But that’s just Stevie Wonder. Here’s the music that people play the most around Valentine’s Day: 

Songs That Consistently Become Popular on Valentine’s Day
Views of video increased by at least 50 percent on Valentine’s Day, every year, since 2012.1

Artist Song Release Date
Laura Pausini Le Cose Che Vivi
Nat King Cole L-O-V-E
Axel Amo
Franco de Vita Te Amo
Joaquín Sabina or Sabina y Cía Contigo
Adam Sandler Grow Old With You
Stevie Wonder I Just Called to Say I Love You
Savage Garden Truly Madly Deeply
Barry White Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe
Barry White You're the First, the Last, My Everything
Umberto Tozzi Ti Amo
Elton John Can You Feel the Love Tonight
Jovanotti A Te
Axel Tu Amor Por Siempre
Rabito ... Que Te Quiero
Tercer Cielo Enamorados
Chayanne Completamente Enamorados
Bryan Adams Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?
Songs that have at least a 50 percent increase in views on Valentine’s Day vs. average across January, March, April, and May (using the same weekday in the month), 2012 to 2015. To control for well-known songs (and eliminate obscure ones), we’ve omitted any videos that, on average, do not have at least 20,000 views/day outside of Valentine’s Day.

To create this list, we searched for songs with views that increase at least 50 percent on Valentine’s Day, every year, since 2012. Of all music on YouTube, only 18 songs fit this criteria.

Some observations:
  • Barry White and Axel both have two tracks each.
  • Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” (1964) and Barry White’s “Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe” (1974) are the oldest tracks on this list.
  • Spanish, not French, may be the language of love: Seven of the 18 songs are in Spanish, eight are in English, three in Italian, and none are French.
  • The only woman is Laura Pausini (an Italian artist).
Sadly, some of our favorite love songs just missed the cut of a 50 percent increase for four consecutive years, including: “Nobody” by Keith Sweat, “My Love Is Your Love” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston, and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles.

-- Posted by the YouTube Culture & Trends Team

2015: The Year of Fetty Wap

Among this year’s Grammy nominees, Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” epitomizes a rags-to-riches success story. It’s one of the few nominated tracks that, at its inception, was released by an independent artist.

“Trap Queen” charted on Billboard in February 2015, but the song was first uploaded online in April 2014 without any promotion – the DNA of a sleeper hit. What happened in those nine months? How did a high school dropout, with only a couple of years' worth of rapping, rise from anonymity? And, perhaps most importantly, how does a homegrown hit from a small New Jersey city germinate into a full-blown international phenomenon?

To find out, we analyzed the video views for “Trap Queen,” a strong barometer of his popularity, as well as the articles and posts which brought it most attention.

First, let’s examine the ascent of “Trap Queen,” from May 2014 to present day.

Weekly Average Views of “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

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“Trap Queen” experienced huge growth in January 2015, but it took eight months to get there. “Trap Queen” may seem like an obvious hit, but from May to December 2014, it was freely available on YouTube, unknown to most of the music community.

Here’s a timeline documenting the track’s views, articles, and social media that spread the video to new audiences.
May 2014
  • Fetty Wap uploads an audio-only version to YouTube. It receives approximately 1,000 views/day (190,000 total) until he uploads the official music video in August 2014.
  • During this period, “Trap Queen” is a local hit. 57 percent of his views are from his home state of New Jersey, followed by 25 percent from New York and 2.2 percent from Virginia.
August 2014
  • Fetty Wap releases the official video for “Trap Queen” on August 7.
October 2014
  • Views of “Trap Queen” increase to about 15,000/day.
  • A majority of views for “Trap Queen” shift from New Jersey, Fetty’s home state, to neighboring New York.
  • Rapper Bobby Shmurda posts a video of himself singing to “Trap Queen” to his hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers.
November 2014
  • Views of “Trap Queen” increase to about 30,000/day.
  • Hip-hop blog Pigeons and Planes tweets and showcases “Trap Queen” as one of the Best Songs of the Week, one of the first major media outlets to drive visitors to the YouTube music video.
  • Complex Magazine covers Fetty Wap in his first major interview.
  • Fetty Wap signs to record label 300 Entertainment.
December 2014
  • Views of “Trap Queen” remain steady at about 30,000 - 50,000/day.
  • Near the end of December 2014, Trap Queen appears on a number of “best of 2014” lists, including a wrap-up from Huffington Post and Noisey (which called it the “hottest New York record of the year”).
By the end of 2014, “Trap Queen” has received an impressive 2.2 million views, but it still has a long way to go before reaching mainstream status (at the time of writing, it’s been viewed more than 700 million times). The song effectively spent 75 percent of the year under the radar — a perfect example of slow, word-of-mouth growth. But it’s still a local hit, played predominantly in the Northeastern U.S. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New England represent 73 percent of “Trap Queen” plays.

In 2015, however, things quickly change.
January 2015
  • Views for “Trap Queen” skyrocket to 200,000/day.
Month-to-Month Growth of “Trap Queen” Views
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

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  • Having appeared on several prominent end-of-year lists, Fetty is gaining mainstream popularity.
  • Funkmaster Flex, on his radio show, debuts French Montana's remix of “Trap Queen.”
  • For several weeks, “Trap Queen” has gone head-to-head against other hip-hop tracks on hip-hop site The Boombox. It now enters its Hall of Fame after users vote it superior to songs by Fabolous, J. Cole, Dipset, and Lil Wayne.
February 2015
  • Views double again, month-to-month, to 400,000/day.
  • In an interview with i-D, Rihanna says that “Trap Queen” was the last song that she purchased.
  • During a performance, Kanye West brings Fetty Wap as guest to perform “Trap Queen” at the Roc City Classic in New York City, after declaring it to be his "favorite song right now." Footage of Jay Z and Beyoncé, dancing to Fetty's performance amidst the crowd, emerges.

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  • Florida surpasses New York as the most popular source of “Trap Queen” views. “Trap Queen” reaches national status, spreading to multiple states beyond of the Northeastern U.S.
Views of the Official “Trap Queen” Music Video
August 2014 - July 2015


Once “Trap Queen” broke in New York in January 2015, it quickly spread to surrounding states over the course of next month. For Fetty Wap (and, likely, much of hip-hop), the New York market seemed to be a catalyst for mainstream success.
March 2015
  • Views reach the 1,000,000/day mark.
  • Billboard runs an interview with Fetty Wap on March 5, where the rapper expounds on his unique blend of rap and singing: "I just wanted to do something different. Everybody was rapping. Everybody wants to be a rapper so I did something different. I started singing. But I ain't want to be a singer, so I did my own thing."
April 2015
  • “Trap Queen” reach 2,000,000 views/day.
  • In his most televised appearance to date, Fetty plays the MTV Movie Awards alongside Fallout Boy, with the band providing the backing to his performance of “Trap Queen.”
  • Fetty, whose Paterson, N.J., roots are often discussed in interviews, is featured on His mother reveals that despite his perpetual modesty about his musical upbringing, Willie Maxwell II — Fetty Wap's real name — had played the piano and sang in the church quartet where his grandfather served as pastor.
May 2015
Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 5.19.16 PM.png
  • By now, it’s so evident that “Trap Queen” is the summer's biggest track that pop culture site Jezebel names its songs of summer list Beyond ‘Trap Queen.'
June 2015
Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 4.55.20 PM.png

July 2015
  • Peak “Trap Queen.” Daily views of “Trap Queen” climax at approximately 3,500,000/day and growth has stalled to roughly 3 percent more than the previous month.
  • Official video for Fetty’s “679” is released.
Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 5.06.19 PM.png

August 2015
September 2015
  • Fetty's highly anticipated self-titled album is released. It debuts at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart, and proceeds to sell 75,000 copies in the first week.
October 2015
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November 2015
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December 2015

  • “Trap Queen” is nominated for two Grammy Awards in the Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance categories.
Fetty Wap’s path to success was highly unorthodox. Rather than approach his musical career through traditional approaches, Fetty took a more unique route: he promoted the track on social media as far as it would go, and let the excitement of his growing fan base fuel its spread.

No surprise, with a song like “Trap Queen”: it worked.

-- Posted by the YouTube Culture & Trends Team

Tori Kelly: From bedroom EP to Grammy nominee

  • Tori Kelly, who has built her career on YouTube over the past eight years, is nominated for Best New Artist.
  • She’s bootstrapped her community of now 2 million subscribers, built on prolific uploading and YouTube collaborations, a contrast from the tried-and-true strategy of studio releases and radio play.
  • Instead of studio releases, her most-viewed videos are covers (albeit well-timed with official releases) and collaborations, the predominant source for gaining new fans.

At a 2010 “American Idol” audition, Simon Cowell told 16-year-old Tori Kelly that she looked like a human orange, noting, "I thought your voice was almost ... annoying."

Now, at 23, Tori Kelly is nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best New Artist.

She’s built much of her career on YouTube, with subscribers trickling in with every new cover, song, and video uploaded. Unlike most emerging artists, surprisingly, there’s no single track or video that is responsible for her success: her achievements are the result of a steady grind. It’s an aspiring musician’s dream: she has built an enormously loyal fan base at ~2 million YouTube subscribers, and she did it without a major release or significant radio play.

So how did Tori Kelly go from a six-song EP in her bedroom to performing alongside Andrea Bocelli? Of all Tori Kelly-related activities, what attracted the most new fans?

We dug into the data to find out.

First, let’s look at Tori Kelly’s subscribers over the past eight years (shown relative to her fellow Best New Artist nominees, for context).

2016 Grammy Nominees for Best New Artist: YouTube Subscribers
On Artist’s Official YouTube Accounts (including VEVO)

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 4.36.50 PM.png

Tori Kelly’s first real brush with YouTube came much earlier than for the other Best New Artist nominees. In 2007, as a 14-year-old, Kelly uploaded a cover of John Wesley Work, Jr.'s "Go Tell It On The Mountain."

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 9.47.27 AM.png

Tori Kelly’s first upload, singing "Go Tell It On The Mountain"

Over the past several years, she’s released more than 200 videos on her personal account (excluding collaborations with other YouTubers) — that’s more than twice as much as the second most prolific Best New Artist Nominee on YouTube, Meghan Trainor (86 videos). The hustle has paid off: many of her fans have been following her career for years, with roughly a third of her subscribers dating to 2013 or earlier.

Here are the most significant events during this time period, denoted by increases in subscribers to her YouTube channel.

Daily Increase in Subscribers: Tori Kelly’s YouTube Channels
1/1/2010 - 12/31/2015 for ToriKelly and ToriKellyVEVO

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There are some 25 notable “spikes” in the above chart – moments when her subscribers suddenly increased, signaling an important event, such as a new upload, press coverage, or live performance. Let’s take a closer look at each of these spikes.


November 9 (+1,033)
Kelly almost replicates her previous success by collaborating with AJ Rafael and JR Aquino to cover Far East Movement’s “Rocketeer.”


July 22 (+847 subscribers)
Kelly & Todrick Hall cover Beyoncé’s “Best Thing I Never Had.”

November 14 (+608)
Kelly and AJ Rafael cover Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe.”

December 1 (+867)
Kelly joins fellow YouTube musician AJ Rafael to cover Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”


January 22 (+2,815 subscribers)
Kelly duets with beatboxer Angie Girl, performing a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You.” It goes on to receive over 24 million views.

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Tori Kelly’s most popular video, a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You”

August 7 (+1,198)
Kelly releases a live acoustic version of “All In My Head," which receives more than 17 million views.

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Tori Kelly’s “All In My Head”

By the end of 2012, a 20-year-old Tori Kelly has more than 250,000 subscribers, almost entirely built on the success of her covers. None of these videos are breakout hits, but they are brilliantly timed and well-received: astutely, Kelly often covers songs within weeks of their release, and seizes on their initial buzz.

Her cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You,” for example, preceded the official release of the song by three months. Ocean’s track had leaked online in mid-2011, but was promptly removed until its official release in the spring of 2012. Kelly’s cover, meanwhile, came out in January 2012.

Kelly also built off the popularity of Beyoncé’s “Best I Never Had,” releasing her cover weeks after the song’s official debut. Similarly, her second most popular video, a cover of “Suit and Tie,” was uploaded three months after Justin Timberlake released the track.


March 10 (+5,264 subscribers)
Tori Kelly uploads a cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie.”

July 30 (+5,976)
Tori Kelly uploads a Vine of herself singing “Sun Is Out and I’m Feeling OK” in her car on the way to the studio.

September 5 (+2,344)
Scott Hoying (of Pentatonix) and Tori Kelly post a video of themselves covering Katy Perry’s “Roar.”

October 3 (+2,274)
Kelly uploads a lyric video for “Dear No One,” setting it in one of her oldest fan Tumblr sites.

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Tori Kelly’s “Dear No One” lyrics video

November 7 (+3,780)
“Dear No One,” Tori Kelly’s first official Vevo video, is released.

December 26 (+2,947)
Tori Kelly appears as a guest on SUP3RFRUIT, the YouTube channel run by Pentatonix members Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying.


February 27 (+4,044 subscribers)
Kelly premieres “Paper Hearts.”

August 8 (+1,517)
Kelly uploads a video for “Silent,” featured on the soundtrack for “The Giver.”

November 4 (+2,669)
Kelly joins Pentatonix on a rendition of “Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Be Happy.”

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February 27 (+1,902 subscribers)
Tori Kelly releases the official video for “Nobody Love.”

March 31 (+1,959)
Kelly releases a Snapchat-themed lyric video for “Nobody Love” on her own channel.

April 28 (+3,036)
Kelly takes part in a live stream with fans from Google NYC HQ.

May 18 (+4,846)
Kelly performs “Nobody Love” at the Billboard Music Awards the night before.

June 24 (+4,026)
Kelly’s first major label album, “Unbreakable Smile,” is released.

August 3 (+24,775)
Tori Kelly appears as a guest on Miranda Sings’ channel for a vocal lesson.

August 7 (+8,587)
Miranda Sings joins Kelly on her channel and the two perform a unique cover of Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood.”

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August 31 (+6,968)
Kelly performs “Should’ve Been Us” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

October 25 (+3,478)
Andrea Bocelli and Tori Kelly duet at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

It’s worth noting that collaborations with other YouTubers were an important source of subscribers. At the beginning of her career, Kelly would often team up with fellow YouTube musician AJ Rafael, and it was her joint cover of “Thinkin Bout You” with Angie Girl that resulted in Kelly’s most-viewed video. Later, she began to work with members of the prominent YouTube group Pentatonix (10 million subscribers), joining them on their track “Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Be Happy.” She also appeared on the popular channel SUP3RFRUIT (~1.9 million subscribers) and collaborated with Scott Hoying. Finally, in August 2015, the first of her two video with Miranda Sings (6 million subscribers) resulted in the single largest daily increase over the past 6 years (~25,000 new subscribers in one day); in sum, both videos resulted in a staggering 33,362 new subscribers.


January 4 (+2,648)
Kelly lands on the cover of Seventeen Magazine.

If there is one common thread running through Tori Kelly’s career, it is her unwavering work ethic.

Percent of Artist’s Views, by Video
On Artist’s Official YouTube Accounts (including VEVO)

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Over the course of nearly 10 years, she has released a multitude of videos for her fans, whether covers, originals, or vlogs. No single video is responsible for than 10 percent of her total views – a stark contrast to the other Best New Artist nominees, for whom one or two tracks are responsible for the bulk of their popularity.

As validating as winning this year’s Grammy for Best New Artist would be for Tori Kelly, she has already achieved what seasoned musicians have managed to foster: a remarkably caring and involved group of fans.

-- Posted by the YouTube Culture & Trends Team

The Impact of the Grammys on Artist Popularity


  • Grammy nominations tend to have a greater impact on artists who have yet to gain mainstream prominence; winners may see a spike in popularity, but the effect of reaching a newfound national audience is mitigated by prior exposure.
  • In 2015, Brandy Clark was relatively unknown among other Best New Artist nominees (i.e., Iggy Azalea, Bastille, HAIM, and Sam Smith). She had the largest percent increase in popularity on YouTube, following the show.
  • Over the past four years, no artist has benefited more from Grammy exposure than Bon Iver. In 2012, they were famously nominated for Best New Artist, Best Alternative Music Album, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. Following the show, their popularity doubled on YouTube and “Holocene” plays increased 150 percent.
  • The 2016 awards are most likely to noticeably boost the popularity of Best New Artist nominee Courtney Barnett, whose views increased twofold after the announcement and who remains less known within the U.S. than the other nominees.
  • 2016 Record of the Year-nominated “Really Love” by D’Angelo also stands to benefit. Plays for the track tripled in the week following the announcement.

Anecdotally, the Grammys provide a huge spotlight for both winners and nominees, especially for smaller, independent artists (e.g., Bon Iver, or colloquially, “Bonnie Bear,” after the 2012 Grammys).

But how does that exposure translate to YouTube? To determine the Grammys’ effect on artist popularity, we examined the nominees for Best New Artist and Song/Record of the Year over the past five years on YouTube.

First, let’s look at last year’s Best New Artist category, which highlights emerging musicians — artists who stand to benefit the most from Grammy exposure.

Daily Views for 2015 Grammy Nominees for Best New Artist
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

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When we take the popularity of all artists together, it’s clear that last year’s winner, Sam Smith, received a noticeable bump in views on YouTube as a result of his Grammy win (~26 percent views/day increase from week before the awards vs. week after). Trends for Iggy Azalea and Bastille, whose music had already permeated through culture over the course of the past several months, were more modest. Brandy Clark, the least well-known musician of the group, seems to have received little benefit, but the change in her views is masked by the sheer magnitude of the viewership of Iggy Azalea and Sam Smith.

When examined individually, Brandy Clark’s music received the largest boost on YouTube following the Grammys. Even though she didn’t win, the week following the ceremony saw her views spike by 327 percent, receiving a much greater relative gain in popularity than artists who had already been exposed to the public. This increase slowly tapered off until late May, but never returned to baseline, with Clark consistently receiving 25+ percent more views than she did prior to the Grammy ceremony.

Daily Views for Best New Artist 2015 Nominee Brandy Clark
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

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In fact, Grammy nominations tend to have the greatest impact on musicians who have yet to be discovered by a mainstream audience; winners may see a spike in popularity, but are often already fairly prominent, as Sam Smith was, thus having fewer people that have yet to hear their music.

While Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won in 2014, their views/day had only grown by 18 percent in the week following the Grammys compared to the week prior. The largest benefit that year went to Kacey Musgraves, who remained below the radar of the wider public until the Grammy evening, and whose average views grew by 125 percent in the following week. Bon Iver, whose pared down take on folk music sealed their win in 2012, were able to benefit from both their relatively low exposure prior to the award, as well as the boost that a Grammy win provides: after taking home the Grammy for Best New Artist (as well as for Best Alternative Music Album), their views in the subsequent week increased by an impressive 95 percent.

Best New Artist: Percent Increase in Total Views One Week Before vs. After the Grammys
Note: views are approximated using all videos associated with artist
*denotes winning artist

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For Song of the Year and Record of the Year, the results are similar.

Note: Song of the Year and Record of the Year are both awarded to a single track, but for different reasons. Song of the Year is awarded to the songwriters, the people who wrote the lyrics and melody. Record of the Year is awarded to the performer, producer, recording engineer, and mixing.

Song/Record of the Year: Percent Increase in Total Views One Week Before vs. After the Grammys
*views are approximated using all videos associated with track

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Over the past four years, no artist has benefited more from Grammy exposure than Bon Iver. In 2012, they were famously nominated for Best New Artist, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year. Following the show, their popularity doubled on YouTube and “Holocene” plays increased 150 percent. Other indie hits, such as “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys and “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons, were also significantly affected.

Song/Record of the Year in 2015 was an anomaly – every track nominated was a huge hit with millions of views on YouTube. The Grammys didn’t provide significant additional exposure relative to previous years.

Daily Views for 2015 Grammy Nominees for Song and Record of the Year
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

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Three of the six tracks nominated for Song or Record of the Year showed a noticeable increase in popularity. Sam Smith’sStay With Me” won both award categories and subsequently increased from roughly 1.3 million views/day the week before the Grammys to 2 million views/day the week after, a 53 percent change. Hozier’sTake Me To Church” saw a similar increase of about 37 percent over the same period, while Meghan Trainor’sAll About That Bass” grew in views by 22 percent. But the Grammys seem to have had no effect on the popularity of “Chandelier,” “Shake it Off,” and “Fancy.”

Who stands to benefit this year?

The 2016 Best New Artist nominees are an unusual field, including Meghan Trainor — whose “All About That Bass” proved to be unusually catchy and launched the singer to international prominence — and a number of lesser known artists, like James Bay, Sam Hunt, and Tori Kelly, who have received notable acclaim on a lesser scale.

Daily Views for 2016 Grammy Nominees for Best New Artist
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

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Among this second group counts Courtney Barnett, the final nominee, who has been growing in popularity both in her homeland of Australia and within the indie rock community in the U.S. Despite having been included on several “Best of 2015” lists by music critics, her stature remains relatively obscure when compared to the other artists in this category; being nominated led Barnett’s view popularity to nearly double in the week after the announcement (compared to the week before), and — whether she wins or not — previous years would suggest that she’s likely to benefit the most from the evening’s exposure.

Daily Views for Best New Artist 2016 Nominee Courtney Barnett
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

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When it comes to Record of the Year, we also expect attention will be drawn to one track: “Really Love” by D’Angelo. Relative to its fellow nominees, it has the biggest opportunity for Grammys exposure.

Daily Views for 2016 Grammy Nominees for Record of the Year
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

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Compared to huge hits such as Bruno Mars’Uptown Funk” and Taylor Swift’sBlank Space,” D’Angelo’sReally Love” is relatively unknown. When it was announced as a nominee, it tripled in popularity, averaging 12,087 daily plays (one week after the announcement) from 3,809 daily plays (one week prior to the announcement). Expect an even larger change for “Really Love” after the awards show.

Daily Views for 2016 Grammy Nominees for Song of the Year
“Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

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Of all the tracks nominated for Song of the Year, the largest post-Grammy increase in views is likely to go to Little Big Town’sGirl Crush” and Kendrick Lamar’sAlright.” In the past nine months, “Girl Crush” has garnered nearly 41 million views; “Alright,” over the course of the past half year, has received 40.5 million. Although these numbers seem remarkably high, it’s important to note that over the past nine months Wiz Khalifa’sSee You Again,” the most-viewed nominee, has amassed an astronomical 1.4 billion views.

-- Posted by the YouTube Culture & Trends Team