Ranking the Top 10 Most Popular ABCD Music Artists

Just when you though this was a blog of learnded scholars, I hit you with some Buzzfeed content. My curiosity was piqued after reading this thread on Reddit, which discussed some of the top ABCD musicians and their ethnic origins. I decided to do a little digging, and after coming up with a pool of prominent ABCD artists, ranked them via their Google Trends ratings (5-year window), while also denoting their ethnic origins.

On methodology:
Ratings were only averaged for the US, UK, and Canada, as this is where virtually all ABCD’s live, and should expect to make their mark. Results were also weighted by each countries population (naturally since this is a popularity contest). I was wary of using a simple global aggregate, as the results are heavily swayed by how popular these artists are in India/Pak/Bang/Lanka, which I think defeats the entire purpose of evaluating (and encouraging) Desi success in the diaspora. Mixed ABCD’s were allowed, provided they were at least half-Desi, and actively celebrated their Desi origins. You also needed to have been born or raised in the diaspora to qualify. And finally, if anyone is confused, ABCD refers to American Born Confused Desi, but is generally taken to mean any person of South-Asian background living in the West.

The ranking is below, from most to least popular. I was unable to identify an ethnicity beyond “Pakistani” for a couple artists, and any help doing so would be appreciated. Feel free to shout-out any ABCD artists you think I missed.

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Zayn Malik — UK — Pakistani — Punjabi
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M.I.A — UK — Sri Lankan — Tamil
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NAV — Canada — Indian — Punjabi
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Jay Sean — UK — Indian — Punjabi
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Riz Ahmed — UK — Pakistani — Muhajir
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Krewella — USA — Pakistani
Naughty Boy — UK — Pakistani — Punjabi
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Nadia Ali — USA — Pakistani
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Bohemia — USA — Pakistani — Punjabi
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Imran Khan — Dutch — Pakistani — Punjabi

Looks like UK ABCD’s take the cake over their US counterparts 5–3. Pakistanis also come out winners with 7/10 spots. Punjabis of any nationality claim 6/10 spots, though this could be higher as I’m unclear on the exact ethnicities of Krewella and Nadia Ali beyond Pakistani. Canada somewhat surprisingly only snagged one spot with Nav, but they seem to have a decent ABCD music scene that will eventually produce some popular acts.

A few artists who missed the cut include KSHMR, Zack Knight, Mickey Singh, and Sickick. Artists who were too whitewashed to qualify include Norah Jones and Charli XCX. I’m not an expert on these artists, and could certainly be talked into removing (or including) someone on the whitewashed list.

Comments and critiques appreciated as always.

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