When it comes to music, the United Kingdom has produced some of the most famous singers and musicians in the world. Especially during the 2010s, when a number of British singers rose to fame in multiple genres, including rock, pop, indie, and electronic.
Each of these singers has had a significant impact on music during the past 10 years. Whether they are belting out soulful ballads or rocking out on stage, they have all won over fans with their amazing voices and captivating performances.
And in this post, we’re going to take a look at 18 of the greatest and most famous British singers of the 2010s. Let’s get started.
With over 120 million records sold worldwide, Adele is one of the world’s top-selling singers. She released her debut album, 19 in 2008, which received 8x platinum certification in the UK and triple platinum in the US.
Her second album, 21 (2011), topped the US Billboard 200 chart for 24 weeks and achieved Diamond status, while in the UK, it received 17x platinum certification, the highest of all time by a solo artist.
Adele has won 15 Grammy Awards and 12 Brit Awards and was appointed MBE at the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2013 for her contributions to music.
Related: Next, read our post on the top English singers.
2. Harry Styles
One of the most recognizable pop singers today, Harry Styles, is a singer-songwriter and actor who first skyrocketed to fame as part of the boy band One Direction.
In 2017, he released his first solo album, Harry Styles, which debuted at number one in the UK and US.
He released his second album, Fine Line, in 2019. It debuted at the top of the US Billboard 200 with the most first-week sales in history for an English male artist.
Styles has received several awards with 121 nominations and 43 wins.
His single “Watermelon Sugar” earned the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance and Brit Award for British Single of the Year in 2021.
3. Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran is another one of the most popular British singer-songwriters in pop music today, with over 150 million records sold worldwide.
Sheeran started writing music at 11 years old and independently released his first project in 2011 called No. 5 Collaborations Project.
Sheeran won the Best British Male Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act at the 2012 Brit Awards. Some of his most popular songs include “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill,” which broke chart records in several countries by debuting in the top two spots.
Sheeran has collaborated in writing music and performing with other notable musicians such as Elton John, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift.
4. Sam Smith
Sam Smith first entered the music scene in 2012 when they featured on “Latch,” Disclosure’s breakthrough single. They later featured on Naughty Boy’s song “La La La” in 2013, which reached number one on the UK charts.
Their debut album, In the Lonely Hour (2014), won four awards after its release at the Grammy Awards and two more nominations.
Smith also co-wrote, “Writing’s on the Wall” for the James Bond movie Spectre, which won a Golden Globe Award for Academy Award for Best Original Song.
As of 2021, Smith has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and received several awards.
Born in 1993 in London, Stormzy (Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr.) is a British rapper of Ghanaian descent. Stormzy’s music—inspired by grime, gospel, R&B, hip-hop, and artists like Skepta, Wiley, and Frank Ocean—reflects his experiences growing up in multicultural South London.
His career took off with YouTube freestyles and his debut EP, Dreamers Disease, in 2014. His first album, Gang Signs & Prayer, topped the UK Albums Chart, the first grime album to do so.
Some of his notable songs are the 3x Platinum hits “Vossi Bop” and “Own It,” the latter of which features Burna Boy and Ed Sheeran. Both these songs took the top spot of the UK Singles Chart.
6. Alex Turner
Alex Turner has had a highly successful music career since the early 2000s. He formed the band Arctic Monkeys with his friends at 16, and their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, broke history in Britain as the fastest-selling album of all time.
With Arctic Monkeys, Turner has released six albums as the frontman and main songwriter. He started another side project with Miles Kane called, The Last Shadow Puppets, which produces orchestral pop music.
Turner is known for his creative lyricism and musical experimentation. He has won several accolades, including seven Brit Awards, an Ivor Novello Award, and a Mercury Prize.
7. Dua Lipa
Singer-songwriter Dua Lipa has won several accolades and found immense success in her music career. She rose to fame in 2014 after working as a model.
She released her debut album, Dua Lipa, in 2017, which peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart. Lipa received the British Female Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act at the 2018 Brit Awards for this album.
In 2018, her single “One Kiss” with Calvin Harris peaked at number one and became the longest-running number-one single by a female artist for the year. It won the Brit Award for Song of the Year in 2019.
8. Florence Welch
Lead singer of the band Florence + the Machine, Florence Welch, began her music career with her friend, Isabella Summers under the initial name Florence Robot/Isa Machine.
In 2009, Florence and the Machine released their debut album, Lungs, which stayed in the top forty in the UK for 65 consecutive weeks. Their second album, Ceremonials (2011), reached number one in the UK and number six in the US.
Welch was also featured on “Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris, which debuted at number one on the UK singles chart.
9. Ellie Goulding
Ellie Goulding started writing songs at age 15 and became a sensation during the 2010s. Her debut album Lights came out in 2010 and reached number one on the UK Albums Chart.
In November of the same year, her album was re-released as Bright Lights with six more songs, including a cover of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Her single “Lights” peaked at number two in the US.
In 2014, Goulding received the 2014 Brit Award for British Female Solo Artist. Her song “Love Me Like You Do” earned her first Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance in 2015.
10. Leona Lewis
By the time the 2010s rolled in, singer-songwriter Leona Lewis, from Islington, London, was already a household name. After winning The X Factor in 2006, she rocketed to fame with “A Moment Like This and “Bleeding Love.”
In the 2010s, Lewis dropped three albums: Glassheart, Christmas, with Love, and I Am—all of which were successful. During this time, too, she collaborated with Calum Scott to make the Platinum hit “You Are the Reason.”
Though she hasn’t released another studio album since 2015, Lewis continues to tour and has even delved into acting, appearing on the comedy-drama Walking on Sunshine.
11. Jessie J
Jessie J is known for her unconventional musical style that mixes her soulful vocals with various genres. She started her career at age 11, performing in the West End musical Whistle Down the Wind.
In 2011, she released her debut single, “Do It Like a Dude,” with Republic Records. Her song topped the charts in 19 countries. That same year, she received the Critics’ Choice Brit Award and the BBC’s Sound of 2011 Award.
Her album Who You Are was released the same year and reached number two in the UK. Jessie J became the first British female artist to have six singles reach the top ten from one studio album.
12. George Ezra
George Ezra began his music career by studying songwriting at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. He released two EPs in 2013 and 2014 but rose to fame with his hit “Budapest” in 2014.
Ezra’s debut album, Wanted on Voyage (2014), reached number one in the UK and became the third-best-selling album that year. He released Staying at Tamara’s in 2018, but his single “Shotgun” reached number one on the charts in the UK, Ireland, and Australia.
In 2019, Ezra won the Brit Award for British Male Solo Artist. He was also nominated for three other awards: Best British Album, Best British Single, and British Breakthrough Artist.
13. Marcus Mumford
Marcus Mumford is the lead singer of Mumford & Sons, a folk-rock and indie folk band founded in 2007.
Mumford & Sons released their debut album, Sigh No More, in 2009 in the UK and in 2010 in the US. It peaked at No. 2 on the UK charts and received the Album of the Year at the 2011 Brit Awards. In 2012, Mumford was included on the Forbes list of “30 Under 30” music stars for his achievements.
Mumford has released several albums with Mumford & Sons, including four studio albums. He has also produced and written several songs for different artists, such as the album Hold Fast by Christian Letts.
14. Zayn Malik
Zayn Malik first arrived on the music scene as a contestant for the British show The X Factor in 2010 at 17 years old.
He was later added to the boy band One Direction and found worldwide success. In 2015, Zayn left the band to sign with RCA Records as a solo artist.
Heading away from the pop genre One Direction produced, Malik ventured into R&B with his Mind of Mine (2016), his first solo album.
His album found international success and debuted at number one in both the UK and US charts alongside his single “Pillowtalk.”
15. James Bay
James Bay began playing guitar after becoming inspired by Eric Clapton’s song “Layla” when he was 11-years-old.
At 18, he moved to Brighton and studied at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute, where he also began playing at open mics.
In 2014, his debut single “Hold Back the River” achieved certified platinum status. He released his first studio album, Chaos and the Calm, in the same year, and it reached number one in the UK and number 15 in the US.
Bay has received several nominations and awards, including the “Critics’ Choice” award at the 2015 Brit Awards and Best British Male Solo Artist in 2016.
At 8-years-old, Birdy was already writing songs and playing the piano. She began her music career by winning the Open Mic UK competition in 2008 at 12.
At 14, she released her debut single, which was a cover of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver, and it became her breakthrough hit that earned platinum certification six times in Australia.
Her debut album, Birdy, peaked at number one in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Australia when it was released in 2011.
At the 2014 Brit Awards, she received a nomination for Best British Female Solo Artist.
17. Rita Ora
Born in Pristina, SFR, Yugoslavia (modern-day Kosovo), Rita Ora’s family relocated to London when she was just a year old. She occasionally performed at open mics and her father’s pub before signing with Roc Nation in 2008.
Jay Z helped her release “Ora” in 2012, which debuted at number one in the UK. Though her singles “R.I.P.” and “How We Do (Party)” also reached number one on the UK charts, her most popular song is “Let You Love Me,” reaching over 500 million views on YouTube.
She was nominated for three awards at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2012. After her second album was released, she became the first British female solo artist with 13 top ten songs in the UK.
18. Jorja Smith
Rising to fame in the 2010s is Jorja Smith. Born in 1997, in Walsall, West Midlands, Smith began singing at a young age. She released her debut single, “Blue Lights,” on SoundCloud in 2016, and it quickly gained popularity, leading to her breakthrough.
Her first album, Lost & Found, was released in 2018 and was critically acclaimed. It even secured a nomination for Best New Artist at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.
Smith has some great songs under her repertoire worth exploring, including “Be Honest” with Burna Boy. As an artist fairly new to the industry, we can expect much from her in the future.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous British Vocalists Of The 2010s
Many of the British singers on this list rose to fame during the 2010s and continue to release albums and singles today. They cover a range of genres, from pop and rock to indie folk and R&B.
These artists impacted the culture of music in the 2010s and continue to influence the music industry today.
So whichever British singers caught your attention, we wish you happy explorations of their amazing songs and albums.