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15 Least Popular Pop Music Artists According to Millennials: Ranked

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Modern pop music emerged in the mid-1950s in the United Kingdom and the United States. In its true form, pop music is a combination of musical types or genres. There are influences from the jazz era of the 1920s and 30s, ragtime of the early 1900s, and the big band era of the 1940s.

In its current form, pop music is adaptable and eclectic and borrows elements from many different music styles. Pop music is part of most Americans’ daily lives, even heard in advertising, on television and the internet. Simply put, pop music is a huge part of our current culture.

Pop music is short for popular music, and the most common names you’ll hear include Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Lady Gaga and Rihanna. This is just a short sampling of what current pop music has to offer.

For this article, we looked at what artists are least popular with Millenials. Using YouGov’s survey, we looked at artists known by 3/4 (75%) of the people surveyed. As you read, you’ll see that there’s quite a gap between artists who are well-known and those who are popular, signifying that pop artists may be known for things other than their music – good or bad.

Why We’re Covering This

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According to the Recording Industry Association of America, 9 out of 10 social media users access music through social media.

From the global economic stimulation from Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour to the everyday jingles you hear on television, pop music plays a huge part in our lives. Millennials are known to be socially conscious, and choose companies and artists they believe are invested in positive change. Many companies follow pop music to reach their target audience – Millenials. Consider that and the fact that the music industry creates $170 billion in value to the annual GDP and supports 2.47 million jobs, and it’s easy to see why popular music may affect your wallet. From the least popular pop artists to the most popular country artists, Millenials are important to any advertising strategy.

15. BTS

BTS | 2019 Billboard Music Awards - Show
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The members of BTS are currently serving their time in the South Korean military.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 47% (tied)

Only 47% of Millenials felt BTS was a popular band, even though they’re one of the most successful K-pop groups in history. The seven members shot to international fame after Bang Si-Hyuk signed them with his studio Big Hit Entertainment. BTS stands for Bulletproof Boy Scouts and performs Korean pop music. The band started its first world tour in 2015 after releasing their hit “The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1 and Part 2.” In 2016, they released the album “Wings” and debuted on both the Billboard 200 and the Canadian Hot 100 charts. The group has since split so each member can serve their required time in the South Korean military.

14. Lizzo

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Lizzo upbeat lyrics and messages about body positivity resonated immediately with listeners.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 47% (tied)

Lizzo is only popular with 47% of Millenials, but likely finds a bigger audience with Gen Z. She’s an American flutist, rapper and singer who focuses her music on women’s empowerment and body positivity. Her music is a blend of rap, pop and R&B, and she is known for her hits like “About Damn Time.” She won two Grammys before her music was overshadowed by accusations of a toxic work environment from several dancers.

13. 98 Degrees

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98 Degrees released their first album in 1997 and opened for Janet Jackson on tour.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 47% (tied)

The group 98 Degrees differs from most boy bands, in that they formed as a group and were then picked up by a record label. Other boy bands were formed or created by the label. 98 Degrees consists of band members Justin Jeffree, Nick Lachey, Drew Lachey and Jeff Timmons. Their debut single  “Invisible Man” peaked at No. 12, and they went on to sell more than ten million records. Other singles you may remember are “Because of You,” “Give Me Just One Night” and “I Do (Cherish You).”

12. Carly Rae Jepsen

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Carly Rae Jepsen earned third place on the show Canadian Idol.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 47% (tied)

Carly Rae Jepsen released the best-selling domestic Canadian single ever and the biggest-selling song globally with “Call Me Maybe.” She attended the Canadian College of Performing Arts and performed in many of the school’s theater productions. After being encouraged by a teacher to audition, she earned third place on Canadian Idol, the Canadian spin-off of the original American Idol. She signed a recording contract after touring with other performers from the show and now performs on Broadway.

11. Joe Jonas

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Joe Jonas is the front man of the popular band the Jonas Brothers.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 47% (tied)

As the frontman of his band Jonas Brothers, Joe Jonas was part of a multi-selling group with multiple Grammy nominations before splitting off on his own. In 2011, Jonas announced his first solo album and released the lead single “See No More” featuring Chris Brown. From then until 2019 when the band reunited, Jonas enjoyed lukewarm success in music and acting.

10. Mel B

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Mel B was one of the original Spice Girls and was nicknamed Scary Spice.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 47% (tied)

One of the original Spice Girls, Mel B was known as Scary Spice. After selling 100 million records with her group, Mel B split off on her own in 1998 with “I Want You Back.” She continued to release several more albums and singles before settling into a career as a talent show judge and television personality. Her other popular songs include “Feels So Good” and “Tell Me.”

9. Jonas Brothers

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The Jonas Brothers has a style described as power pop or pop punk.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 47% (tied)

The Jonas Brothers can thank the Disney channel for their rise to fame, after their appearance in the Camp Rock series. In almost two decades, the band has released six albums including “The Album,” “Happiness Begins,” “Lines, Vines and Trying Times,” “Jonas Brothers,” “A Little Bit Longer” and “It’s About Time.” The group split and reunited several times over the years, with each member toying with the idea of a solo career.

8. Boy George

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Before his solo career, Boy George was the lead singer for Culture Club and Jesus Loves You.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 46% (tied)

Boy George was only popular with 46% of Millennials, but most are too young to remember his music. After a tenure as the lead singer of the Culture Club, he emerged as a solo artist in 1987 and released nine studio albums, 48 singles and five compilation albums. Most would know him for his songs “Bow Down Mister,” “Everything I Own,” “The Crying Game” and “Love is Leaving.” He was recognized for his outstanding services to British music by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors with the Ivor Novello Award in 2015.

7. Susan Boyle

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Susan Boyle found instant popularity after appearing on a reality show.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 46% (tied)

Susan Boyle is a Scottish singer who has sold over 25 million records. She rose to fame after an appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, where she performed “I Dreamed a Dream.” Her second studio album came out in 2010 and she became the first woman artist to top both the US and UK album charts. She performed for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant at Windsor Castle in 2012 and has released eight total studio albums.

6. Barry Manilow

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Despite poor reviews from music critics, Barry Manilow always had the respect of his peers.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 46% (tied)

Only 46% of Millenials considered Barry Manilow popular, although he likely fared better with older generations like Gen X or Baby Boomers. His career has spanned seven decades with hits like “Mandy,” “I Write the Songs” and “Can’t Smile Without You.” Many critics turned away from Malinow’s music, although his peers praised him for his work. He’s written songs for himself and other popular artists, as well as songs for commercials, films and musicals. He’s one of the world’s best-selling artists.

5. Victoria Beckham

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Victoria Beckham was a member of the popular girl group Spice Girls.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 46% (tied)

One of the original Spice Girls, Victoria Beckham is known for her solo work in fashion and for her marriage to popular soccer star David Beckham. She also had a short-lived solo career after the Spice Girls split in 2001 when she released two top 10 singles in the United Kingdom. She’s starred in several reality shows and made several cameo appearances in popular shows like Project Runway and American Idol. The Spice Girls reunited for a short time to perform at the Summer Olympics closing ceremony in 2012, where Victoria Beckham reappeared as Posh Spice.

4. Adam Lambert

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The public first noticed Adam Lambert as a runner-up during the 2009 season of American Idol.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 44% (tied)

Adam Lambert got his first big break on the 2009 season of the popular show American Idol, where he finished as runner-up. That same year, his debut album “For Your Entertainment” debuted on the United States Billboard 200 at number three. He released “Trespassing,” his second solo album in 2012, and became the first openly gay artist to top the United States Billboard 200. He’s sold more than five million singles and three million albums worldwide and founded the Feel Something Foundation, a philanthropic organization centered around human and LGBTQ+ rights.

3. R. Kelly

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R. Kelly’s career was overshadowed by continuous allegations of inappropriate behavior toward minors.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 44% (tied)

R. Kelly is unsurprisingly unpopular with Millennials, as he is currently serving time for racketeering, sex trafficking and child pornography production. Allegations of improper conduct with minors shadowed his entire career, even as he released hits like “I Believe I Can Fly,” and won three Grammy Awards. He temporarily joined the group Public Announcement and although a jury acquitted him in 2008 for his marriage to underage singer Aaliyah, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2022.

2. Solange Knowles

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Solange Knowles had a successful music career after writing songs for her sister’s band Destiny’s Child.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 43%

Perhaps better known as Beyonce’s little sister, Solange is a former backup dancer for her sister’s band Destiny’s Child. In 2003, she released her first solo album, “Solo Star.” She’s a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and signed a record deal in 2007 with Geffen Records after a short marriage and several years of motherhood. Her last release in 2012 inspired a tepid response from both critics and fans.

1. Clay Aiken

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Clay Aiken got his start after becoming the runner-up in the show American Idol.
  • Percentage of Millenials who ranked this artist as popular: 37%

Clay Aiken was the runner-up in the second season of the popular show American Idol and released his debut album “The Measure of a Man” in 2003. There was controversy surrounding Aiken’s season of the show, as many believed that winner Ruben Studdard only came out on top because the show was unprepared to handle the sheer number of votes that came in. Aiken has since written a memoir, had a televised Christmas special and even ran for the United States House of Representatives.

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