We find ourselves in strange times, almost surreal at some points - with the Covid situation and strange political happenings around the world. This time has been typified by resorting to various home-comforts - including comfort-eating, and comfort-listening to a large degree.
This makes for a healthy does of Nostalgia with lots of flavours of the 80’s and 90’s harkening back to gentler times. We’ve see the continued growth of all kinds of sub-genres - with Twilight / Kitchen Disco being on of my favourites. By and large though what we have is really a new sense of eclecticism. Exemplified by artists like Ed Sheeran - who straddle several genres and keep surprising us with creative collaborations.
I myself, apart from Twilight Disco - seem to find myself leaning still more into slightly whimsical and quirky electronic pop - a genre that’s always been a favourite. While the 2021 Breakthrough Artists section below shows just how eclectic and broad the scope is - across pop, rock, punk, metal, electronica, R&B, Hip Hop and a smattering of instrumental jazz even.
Generally though I seem to largely be wanting something more familiar and comforting, while I feel an experimental phase lies not too far ahead!
I could have selected any of a number of artists to be my poster girl/boy/band of the year - while I felt a strong emotional connection with some of Spill Tab’s (Claire Chicha) recent output in particular. It owes quite a bit of influence to two previous favourites - Billie Eilish and Skott in particular.
In my 2020 review I noted a heavy element of nostalgic sounds - recalling the now relative paradise of the 80's and 90's.
All top five choices in particular have a healthy dose of nostalgia bout them for sure - also of course the sophistication of Twilight Disco! :
While my top album choices prove to be somewhat laid back in many ways, that is not the case with the individual Single or Song choices - which seem rather more sparky and effervescent. Some significant quirky but fairly sophisticated electronic pop! :
This was an unusually arduous task this year as there was generally very little overlap of the main lists - with each magazine and music body advocating for a different set of artists. As a result I have a fairly unprecedented Long List of 150+ candidates - straddling near enough every major genre out there bar classical.
From the Long List I chose circa 20 that appealed to be most - while on a different day I would undoubtedly have made a different selection. Music is such an emotive subject - and for me, like many things. it is dominated by what prevailing mood and plain of existence I find myself on.
As is often the case I find myself leaning towards slightly quirky and whimsical electronic pop - typically female-fronted. While there are a few interesting choices in there too. I did not deliberately set out to make the Long List so eclectic - it is very much a product of these times - and like said has some fairly significant genre coverage including a number of rising stars in instrumental jazz - those alas did not make the short list which follows, then book-ended by the full Long List I compiled from all those leading music resources.
On this occasion I've decided not to do all that pigeon-hole genre assignment as I don't really find it that helpful for my own tastes and rather becomes a limiting exercise instead of a more open exploration.
Note also that I had to disqualify a number from the listing as I had already featured them last year - Inhaler therefore does not feature at all, while I really like Griff - but covered her in last year's selection! This is an incredibly International selection this year with artists coming from all corners of the world - versus the usual UK/US lean.
Apart from Spill Tab at the top of the pile both Short and Long Lists are alphabetical by artist :
* Asterisk / Bold denotes personal favourites - as above!
This list contains confirmed releases - a lot of favourites still under TBC though - as below. These are the properly named ones that have a set release date already (alphabetical as usual) :