Spotify's 30 most-streamed Minnesota music acts of all time

Look at this weird Mount Rushmore of Minnesota music: The Andrews Sisters, Prince, and Owl City

Look at this weird Mount Rushmore of Minnesota music: The Andrews Sisters, Prince, and Owl City Wikipedia Commons; AP; provided

Ten years ago every music nerd was also a digital archivist, downloading songs and squirreling them away -- by artist, by genre, by rating -- into expertly curated iTunes libraries.  

Then, poof

With the advent of music-streaming services, every iPod was replaced with God-sent apps loaded with almost every song imaginable -- from Tchaikovsky to the Troggs to T-Swift.

Now that streaming accounts for 75 percent of U.S. music sales revenue, we wondered: Which Minnesota acts are cashing in? To appease those hyper-local concerns, we asked the team at Spotify to supply a list of our state's most-streamed artists of all time. The resulting names include the old (turns out this Prince guy was popular), the new (pop-rock savants Hippo Campus are conquering the world), the Jesus-y (who the hell are Don Moen and Jason Gray?), and plenty of other surprises. 

But, to quote the 1991 Bill Murray/Richard Dreyfuss vehicle, what about Bob? We alerted Spotify reps about the absence of Hibbing, Minnesota's favorite son, and they assured us they're looking into it. If our downtown mural is to be believed, and Bob Dylan is, in fact, at least as Minnesotan as Owl City, his Spotify numbers would likely chart near the tippy-top of this list: 5,973,900 monthly listeners and a biggest hit ("Like a Rolling Stone") with 117,926,368 plays. 

Curious how these streams translate into royalty payments? Consult this nifty and possibly depressing online calculator (Tidal and Google Play seem to be the most artist-friendly services). 

1. Owl City

Top hit: "Fireflies" (254,546,598 plays)
Monthly listeners: 4,614,364

We knew Adam Young was the synth-pop boy king of Owatonna, but the whole damn state? Proof's in the streams. Eat your heart out, Bob. 

2. Prince

Top hit: "Kiss" (104,760,154)
Monthly listeners: 6,199,959

Prince's discography just arrived on Spotify in February, so the Purple One has been racking up serious plays. Prince was notoriously protective over online distribution of his music, meaning many younger listeners are just now taking their first dives into his deep catalog. 

3. Atmosphere

Top hit: "Sunshine" (31,469,959)
Monthly listeners: 790,837

The pioneering indie rap duo boats six career-spanning tracks with 1 million-plus plays. 

4. The O'Neill Brothers Group

Top hit: "Little Talks (Instrumental Version)" (3,196,011)
Monthly listeners: 537,226

Our first WTF entry. Brothers Tim and Ryan O'Neill are apparently a mega-selling instrumental piano duo from New Prague. Huh!

5. Hippo Campus

Top hit: "Way It Goes" (25,265,427)
Monthly listeners: 1,577,499

Anyone who has witnessed the frenzied youngsters at Hippos shows won't be surprised. Primed with educations from arts-focused Twin Cities high schools, the supremely polished rockers seem poised for even bigger things.

6. Semisonic

Top hit: "Closing Time" (129,147,727)
Monthly listeners: 2,413,792

Before he wrote smash hits for Adele, Dan Wilson cranked out his own signature jam with Minneapolis alt-rockers Semisonic. "Closing Time" trails only "Fireflies" on this list for all-time plays. 

7. Trampled by Turtles

Top hit: "Wait So Long" (27,287,816)
Monthly listeners: 926,123

The Duluth-launched bluegrass pickers have a fanbase that travels extremely well. They're loyal streamers, too. 

8. Motion City Soundtrack

Top hit: "Everything Is Alright" (29,613,880)
Monthly listeners: 700,179

MCS were always sneakily bright stars of the '00s emo/pop-punk boom. They split in 2016, but Moog-candied anthems like "Everything is Alright" (29.5 million plays) and "The Future Freaks Me Out" (12 million) will live forever. 

9. The Andrews Sisters

Top hit: Feature act on Bing Crosby's "Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas)" (22,501,972)
Monthly listeners: 784,484

Straight outta Mound, harmonizing sisters LaVerne, Maxene, and Patty dominated the charts around World War II, eventually selling 90 million records and landing 46 top 10 hits. They're still making noise from beyond the grave in the digital age. 

10. Next

Top hit: "Too Close" (63,158,382)
Monthly listeners: 1,607,569

Twenty years ago, unironic R&B boner jam "Too Close" ascended to No. 1; it's loved by all, save for one unnamed City Pages staffer. 

11. Don Moen

Top hit: "Give Thanks" (4,240,055)
Monthly listeners: 174,789

Enjoy this story about the popular Christian musician/preacher being raised from the dead. 

12. Sir Neville Marriner

Top hit: "Canon and Gigue in D major, P.37" (14,070,439)
Monthly listeners: 807,403

The recently deceased English conductor led the Minnesota Orchestra in the '80s, so Spotify wanted to include him. Any friend of Planet Earth narrator Sir David Attenborough is a friend of ours! 

13. Soul Asylum

Top hit: "Runaway Train" (73,240,562)
Monthly listeners: 1,231,964

In 1993, "Runaway Train" powered these Minneapolis alt-rockers all the way to the White House

14. Poliça

Top hit: "Lay Your Cards Out" (13,088,064)
Monthly listeners: 180,156

Channy Leaneagh rose from the ashes of local favorites Roma di Luna to worldwide prominence with Poliça, her swirling, synth-drenched, percussion-packed breakout act. 

15. Brother Ali

Top hit: "Forest Whitaker" (10,231,223)
Monthly listeners: 311,890

The other pillar of Rhymesayers Entertainment, Ali is a master technician with soulful, socially conscious rhymes. Through no fault of his own, he was born in Wisconsin but has been a Minneapolis fixture since the '90s. 

16. Lipps Inc.

Top hit: "Funkytown" (72,135,396)
Monthly listeners: 1,325,720

One-hit disco wonder "Funkytown" is funky, sure, but it's also the source of a landmark copyright battle between writer Steven Greenberg and Universal Music Group.

17. The Replacements

Top hit: "Swingin' Party" (6,088,765)
Monthly listeners: 477,980

Imagine if the 'Mats, Minnesota's greatest rock band, had landed a hit, just as one-time Paul Westerberg acolyte Dave Pirner did with Soul Asylum. At least Lorde's a fan

18. Lizzo

Top hit: "Good As Hell" (23,479,569)
Monthly listeners: 884,231

Does rising, empowering, Atlantic Records-signed rap star Lizzo count as local? We'll keep claiming her

19. Judy Garland

Top hit: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (31,682,688)
Monthly listeners: 883,062

Dead at 46 following a tragic life, the gifted actor/singer famous for portraying Dorothy in 1939's The Wizard of Oz was born in Grand Rapids in 1922. 

20. Sally Dworsky

Top hit: "Can You Feel The Love Tonight ('The Lion King'/ Soundtrack Version)" (66,479,882)
Monthly listeners: 1,139,627

This St. Paul voice actor/musician voiced Nala in The Lion King, in addition to appearances in The Prince of Egypt, Mulan, and recurring spots on A Prairie Home Companion.

21. Home Free

Top hit: "Ring of Fire" (5,948,518)
Monthly listeners: 234,788

Champs of NBC's The Sing-Off in 2013, Mankato's Home Free have parlayed their a cappella act into a successful touring machine. 

22. Mitch Hedberg

Top hit: "Sandwiches" (6,608,695)
Monthly listeners: 115,899

The St. Paul alt-comedy icon died in 2005 at 37, but his cultishly devoted fans are still streaming the hell outta his deadpan one-liners. Click here to revisit 50 killer Hedberg jokes. 

23. Mint Condition

Top hit: "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)" (16,951,575)
Monthly listeners: 581,243

These Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis discoveries managed one hit with 1991's "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)." Stokley Williams' Minneapolis R&B crew has steadily churned out albums ever since. 

24. Jonathan Young

Top hit: "Heroooooooooooooooooooo!" (2,278,181)
Monthly listeners: 157,810

More than 1.2 million YouTube subscribers gobble up this Minneapolis musician's geekily triumphant metal covers, ranging from the Pokemon theme to "Living on a Prayer."

25. Low

Top hit: "Words" (3,369,038)
Monthly listeners: 380,316

The celebrated Duluthians form Minnesota's last great and sustainable indie-rock band, if we're to believe City Pages. 


Top hit: "Shoot 'Em Down (feat. MGK, Blackbear)" (6,349,836)
Monthly listeners: 222,493

Click here to see us trash the Bloomington "hippie-hop" star; click here to see us deep-dive on his tabloid-y romantic life. 

27. John Maus

Top hit: "Hey Moon" (8,870,690)
Monthly listeners: 389,307

Austin is famous for two things: the salty pork blend of Spam and the melodious genre blend of experimental pop favorite John Maus. 

28. After the Burial

Top hit: "Lost in the Static" (10,468,882)
Monthly listeners: 252,941

Co-founder/guitarist Justin Lowe died tragically in 2015, but his blistering Minneapolis metalcore band is forging ahead

29. Mason Jennings

Top hit: "Something About Your Love" (7,460,615)
Monthly listeners: 221,396

Like Brother Ali and Lizzo, Jennings is a suprise adoptive Minnesotan. At 43, the indie-folk journeyman is more than two decades into a solid career. 

30. Jason Gray 

Top hit: "Sparrows" (7,891,230)
Monthly listeners: 315,478

The contemporary Christian star from Minneapolis has a hit song about how even sparrows know God rules... for some reason.