U.K. singer-songwriter Zayn won Top New Artist at the Billboard Music Awards on May 21. Though up against some tough competition, his moves on the Billboard charts in the past year made him a clear winner.
2016 was Zayn's breakout year with the release of his debut single "Pillowtalk" and the Mind of Mine album. At this year's Billboard Music Awards, he was up against Alessia Cara, Desiigner, Lil Uzi Vert and Lukas Graham for Top New Artist. To select the winners, the music magazine compiles data from album and single sales, streaming, radio airplay and social media activity. Looking at Zayn's chart feats, any eagle-eyed fan could tell the former One Direction member would sweep the category.
Zayn departed 1D in March 2015 to take some time off from the industry. In the months that followed, he signed with RCA Records and dropped "Pillowtalk" in January 2016. On the weight of big sales and streaming, he became the first U.K. artist to open at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with a debut entry. Exactly a year after going solo, Mind of Mine was released and he broke another record as the first U.K. male act to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with a debut album. (Recently, his ex-bandmate Harry Styles became the second.) Eventually, Zayn's album was certified Gold in the U.S. for streaming and sales exceeding 500,000 units. He capped off the year with the No. 2-peaking "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" with Taylor Swift from the "50 Shades Darker" soundtrack.
Taking into account all the aforementioned chart stats, Top New Artist at the Billboard Music Awards rightfully went to Zayn thanks to his success last year on the singles and album front. He was scheduled to appear at the ceremony but sadly canceled last minute, writing "finishing up these new songs for you." Zayn's follow-up to Mind of Mine is expected to be released later this year. He previewed the album in March with lead single "Still Got Time" featuring PartyNextDoor.