The Hollywood Reporter’s inaugural Platinum Players power list honors 25 acts in music who are on top of the charts and at the top of the game. They move the needle on culture. They own their narratives. They create songs and albums that define a generation and connect with listeners all over the world. They blend genres, set records and break them, only to set new records. They perform for thousands — and, in some cases, millions — on tour. In other words, these are the artists who have defined the year in music.
Beyoncé is still riding off the success of her Renaissance album, which brought her Grammy wins to 32 this year, making her the show’s most decorated recipient of all time. And with all that gold comes silver — the sequins and disco ball cowboy hats, worn by Queen Bey and the Beyhive during the Renaissance World Tour, a game-changing, moneymaking, internet-breaking pop culture moment for the history books. The tour broke records with $461.2 million in ticket sales so far, according to Touring Data, and became the highest-grossing tour by a female act ever, boosting both local and national economies.
Boygenius is everywhere. The supergroup of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker performed at Coachella. Billie Eilish brought them out as special guests during a show in London. And Bridgers shared the stage with her bandmates during her first stop opening for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. The extremely talented individual performers make up a must-listen collaboration — and the record is proof. The album, which was released in March and earned a perfect score rating from Rolling Stone, is an artistic, indie-rock adventure that rocks in all the right ways.
Bryan marches to the beat of his own drum — technically, he’s a country singer, but his music blends sounds like rock, alternative and singer-songwriter vibes to make something that is truly his own. And it’s working: In the same week, his new self-titled album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, while his single “I Remember Everything” with Kacey Musgraves debuted on top of the Billboard Hot 100. Bryan had the biggest streaming week for a rock album in history, and it’s the first rock album to hit No. 1 in more than a year. And “I Remember Everything” is the first song in history to hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, Hot Country Songs and Hot Rock & Alternative Songs charts. Up-and-coming artists might want to follow Bryan’s parade.
As the sound of Afrobeats continues to rise — especially with the newly announced best African music performance category at the Grammys — Burna Boy is at the forefront and continues to break ground for the genre. This summer, he became the first Nigerian artist to headline a U.S. stadium when he performed at New York City’s Citi Field, which houses 40,000 seats; a year earlier, he was the first Nigerian act to headline Madison Square Garden. In August, he released his seventh studio album, I Told Them … with appearances from J. Cole, 21 Savage, GZA and RZA. And he was a special guest on the opening night of Dave Chappelle’s It’s a Celebration B!%?#&$! Tour at MSG, where Chappelle was seen backstage learning the signature dance to Burna Boy’s anthemic “City Boys.” Burna stays on fire.
Country music reached new levels on the pop music scene this year, and Combs is one of the main reasons. His cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of the year’s biggest hits, and he also had major success with the platinum hit “Love You Anyway.” In one week, those songs were No. 1 and 2 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, making Combs the first solo artist to hold the top two positions. He was named entertainer of the year for the past two years at the CMA Awards and is defending his honor at this year’s show, set for Nov. 8.
A decade after releasing her most successful album to date, Bangerz, Cyrus bloomed on the charts this year with “Flowers,” which set several streaming records and spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The irresistible groove — with a music video filmed at the famed Los Angeles house where Frank Sinatra once lived — is from Endless Summer Vacation, which became the 30-year-old’s 14th top 10 album. It was accompanied by a Disney+ concert special, and her endless year didn’t end there: She appears on Dolly Parton’s upcoming rock album; she released another top 10 hit with “Used to Be Young” from her latest album’s digital reissue; she launched another concert doc special, this time for ABC; and she voiced the character Van for season two of Netflix’s Big Mouth spinoff Human Resources.
Lana Del Rey
THR cover star Lana Del Rey has been one of the most consistent artists since dropping 2012’s Born to Die, now considered a classic that has influenced pop stars around the world, including Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and more. From Ultraviolence to Norman Fucking Rockwell! to Chemtrails over the Country Club, Del Rey has showcased her sharp songwriting, vivid storytelling and vocal coolness on songs that feel epic and grand. And with the addition of this year’s Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd — another beautiful collectible that sits on her musical mantel — she’s proven that you can influence pop culture without being loud and everywhere. She always lets the music do the talking. Read THR’s cover story.
Has there been a year when Drake didn’t dominate the charts? He easily has been one of the most consistent artists since releasing his official debut single in 2009 and hasn’t missed a beat since. You can write a thesis about his musical takeover because there’s so much data to support it: He’s the artist with the most Billboard Hot 100 hits — 298, to be exact. He’s the artist with the most top 10 hits — 69. And he’s set records for most hits in the top 5, top 20 and top 40. And with a new album out in October, the rapper-singer is expected to extend his records, creating an even larger margin between him and whoever is second place. Though he stopped submitting his work for Grammys, he still continues to win them. Drake is unstoppable.
Everyone’s still playing Eilish’s first two albums from 2019 and 2021 — streaming numbers don’t lie — but the talented singer-songwriter blessed the world with another dynamic single that could win her, and her uber-talented brother-producer-songwriter-engineer-BFF Finneas, another Academy Award. “What Was I Made For?” is a hit from the Barbie soundtrack, even reaching the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. And while we wait to see what fire Eilish and Finneas cook up for album No. 3, we’ll wait patiently by listening to her amazing cover of Drake’s 2015 hit “Hotline Bling,” released this year, and rewatch Eilish’s acting debut in Donald Glover’s Emmy-nominated Prime Video series Swarm.
Taylor Swift and Beyoncé aren’t the only ones having fun selling out 60,000-seat stadiums on tour. So is Karol G. The Colombian superstar wrapped her Mañana Será Bonito Tour in September that included two nights at both the Rose Bowl and MetLife Stadium. The tour was in support of her album of the same name, which became the first all-Spanish-language album by a woman to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It featured the Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hit “TQG,” on which she partnered with fellow Colombian Shakira, winning best collab at the MTV Video Music Awards. This year, Karol G also signed a major deal with Interscope Records, home to Lady Gaga and Billie Eilish, and she’s set to kick off 2024 in a major way — she’ll star opposite Sofía Vergara in the Netflix series Griselda, which debuts in January.
Ice Spice came out swinging with hit songs, easily claiming the title of rap’s new princess. Even Taylor Swift became a fangirl, inviting the rapper to remix her hit “Karma,” which reached the No. 2 spot on the Hot 100. And the collaborations don’t end there: With dual degrees from the Nicki Minaj School of Music and the Cardi B Rap Academy, Spice launched multiplatinum hits alongside Minaj with “Princess Diana” and “Barbie World” from the Barbie soundtrack, as well as “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” with PinkPantheress. A proud New Yorker with a cool and calm flow, Ice Spice’s delivery is hard to resist, especially when she’s rapping hilarious lines like: “She a Barbie bitch with her Barbie clique/I keep draggin’ her, so she bald a bit.” Insert laughing emoji here.
Jelly Roll is on a roll: His mix of country music with rap and rock is a winning formula that’s helped him become one of music’s top new acts, though he released his first mixtape 20 years ago. His hard work is truly paying off — he’s had albums and songs land on the country, rap, rock, pop and adult contemporary charts; he won three CMT Music Awards for his hit “Son of a Sinner,” which went to No. 1 at country radio; “Need a Favor,” from his newest album Whitsitt Chapel, is another No. 1 hit and is nominated for single of the year at the Country Music Association Awards, where his five nods make him the second most nominated act.
Jones was a rising teenage Disney Channel star, but her music didn’t take off when she originally thought it would. A decade later, she launched a No. 1 hit at R&B radio with “ICU,” a sultry, smooth smash that helped the multihyphenate win new artist honors at this year’s BET Awards and NAACP Image Awards and makes her one of the frontrunners for a best new artist nomination at the Grammys. The star of Bel-Air, the spinoff of the hit ’90 TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has a striking vocal ability that not only impressed fans around the world but fellow famous musicians, including Justin Timberlake, who jumped on a remix to “ICU.”
We all know the challenges that come with going solo after being in an international group — it isn’t easy, but Jungkook of BTS makes it look smooth. BTS may have hit the pause button as various members complete military service, but Jungkook is having the most fun by topping the charts with the thumping hit “Seven,” a collaboration with Latto that reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The song performed so well around the world that it reigns as Billboard’s No. 1 global song of the summer in 2023. But there’s room for everyone on the charts, and his BTS brothers are also enjoying success: Jimin launched a No. 1 hit this year with “Like Crazy”; V released his solo debut in September; and Suga dropped an album in April.
The breakthrough alternative-folk singer recently sold out New York City’s Radio City Music Hall for two nights, and at one of his shows, he learned his single, “Stick Season,” hit platinum status while his album of the same name is a gold success. Kahan has slowly built a strong fan base that connects with him and his openness over his mental health struggles, from depression to anxiety. Kahan’s already had 19 songs reach Billboard’s Hot Rock & Alternative songs chart, including five top 10 hits, and his newest hit, “Dial Drunk” with Post Malone, is on its way to becoming a certified pop smash.
Lil Uzi Vert
It’s ironic that in the year celebrating 50 years of hip-hop, there were seven months when no rap album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200. But Lil Uzi Vert saved the day. The star ended the drought in July when Pink Tape became the first rap album to reach No. 1 this year. Eighteen of the album’s tracks debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, making Lil Uzi one of the rare acts to log 100 career entries on the Hot 100 in its 65-year history. And while Rihanna was this year’s halftime show all-star, Lil Uzi was a big part of the Super Bowl thanks to the Philly native’s Jersey Club anthem “Just Wanna Rock,” which the Philadelphia Eagles played as they entered the big game. The song is so addictive that Super Bowl champs Kansas City Chiefs trolled the Eagles by dancing to the TikTok-approved smash after winning the game.
For years, Metro Boomin worked behind the scenes and produced major hits for Future, Drake, Migos, Post Malone, The Weeknd and others. But this year, he stepped into his own limelight and topped the charts with his sophomore album, Heroes & Villains — further proving that producers are leading artists, too. His single “Creepin’ ” — a remake of Mario Winans, Diddy and Enya’s “I Don’t Wanna Know” — features 21 Savage and The Weeknd and is a multiplatinum success. Metro’s so in-demand, he was recruited to produce the all-star soundtrack to the animated film Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the sequel to the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Minaj deserves applause for holding the female rap torch for years as the sole woman on the hip-hop scene. Thankfully, that’s changed and the industry is currently flooded with various female voices, some directly influenced by Minaj’s style and sound, from Doja Cat to Ice Spice. While she’s inspired others, Minaj is still at the top of her game and putting out hits, including “Super Freaky Girl,” “Princess Diana,” “Red Ruby da Sleeze,” “Barbie World” and “Last Time I Saw You.” And more of that is on the way: She’s launching her own label, Heavy on It, and will release her highly anticipated fifth album, Pink Friday 2, later this year.
When Petras became the first out transgender artist to win a major-category Grammy this year, she thanked “all the incredible transgender legends … who kicked these doors open for me.” And she’s proudly continuing to break the glass ceiling for others to join her. Petras won the Grammy alongside Sam Smith for the hit “Unholy,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 and made Petras the first openly transgender solo artist to reach No. 1 in the U.S. After years of pursuing music, she finally released her debut studio album, Feed the Beast, which features collaborations with Nicki Minaj and Banks, and is being promoted on a world tour.
Latin music has been a global phenomenon and streaming juggernaut, with the Latin trap and pop sound leading the way. But in the past year, acts like Pluma have pushed the traditional regional Mexican sound to the top of the charts. The success makes Pluma the leading nominee at this year’s Billboard Latin Music Awards (Oct. 5), where he has a whopping 21 nominations. Throughout the year, multiple Pluma songs will dominate the top 10 of the Billboard Hot Latin songs chart (as of press time, he had five of the top 10 songs). With the release of his album Génesis, he placed 25 songs on the Hot Latin songs chart in his career, breaking the 24-title record set by international superstar Bad Bunny. Pluma also made history when “Ella Baila Sola,” his collaboration with Eslabon Armado, reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first regional Mexican top 10 in the chart’s history.
Rodrigo made a major splash on the music scene with her 2021 Grammy-winning debut, Sour, which became the fastest album in history to have all of its songs certified RIAA platinum or higher. She’s not slowing down with the recent release of GUTS, which features her signature pop-rock anthems that have us all, including grown-ups, screaming at the top of our lungs. “Vampire,” the new album’s lead single, blasted to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and made Rodrigo the youngest artist in Hot 100 history to debut three hits at No. 1, following “Drivers License” and “Good 4 U.” And she’s not even 21 yet.
Swift could easily make this list based on the monstrous sales of her rerecorded Taylor’s Version albums. But she continues to work overtime — per usual — and dominated the year in music with her 10th album, Midnights, which performed so well that she became the first artist to occupy every single spot in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 with songs from the album. And let us not forget about her groundbreaking, four-hour-long Eras Tour, a trek so hot it blasted her 2019 track “Cruel Summer” to the top of the charts. Up next? Conquering Hollywood with the Oct. 13 theatrical release of her filmed Eras Tour.
“I might kill my ex,” SZA sings on her worldwide hit “Kill Bill.” She should sing about killing the music game. The singer reached historic heights this year with her sophomore album, SOS, which topped the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart for more than five months, making the project the chart’s longest-leading No. 1 of the 21st century thus far. Multiple songs from the album have become chart-topping singles — from “Shirt” to “Snooze” — and the success further proves why SZA will be the top contender at the upcoming Grammy Awards.
Nigerian superstar Tems hasn’t even released her full-length debut album yet, but she’s already a Grammy winner and Oscar nominee. On songs she co-stars on — like Future and Drake’s “Wait for U” and Wizkid’s “Essence” — her serene vocals stand out the most, and her soothing sound has helped songs she released in 2020 and 2021 become streaming successes in 2023. “Free Mind,” for example, spent 22 weeks at No. 1 on R&B/hip-hop radio this year. Not only was she featured on Beyoncé’s “Move” alongside the icon Grace Jones, Tems was recruited to co-write Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, earning the singers their first Oscar nominations.
Long gone are the days that Wilson made a living impersonating Hannah Montana. The country music star is at the top of her game — and if you don’t believe us, just ask the CMA Awards. The singer led in nominations at last year’s CMAs, and she’s done it again this year, pulling in nine noms — even earning a bid for entertainer of the year, which isn’t easy to pull off when your first hit song only came three years ago. But Wilson is special, and the country music world has adored the breakthrough performer, who writes music that is relatable and real. And acting is still one of her hobbies — Wilson landed a recurring role in season five of the hit series Yellowstone, which has featured her music since its second season.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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