Best of 2021 – Last year we missed doing our annual “Best Of.” This year we present it after a year of quarantine albums galore. Tours didn’t start until May but new music was flowing from the start of 2021. 2022 is already aiming to be a busy year. Here are our choices for the Best of 2021.
We’ve evolved from Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion and others of last year to a new crop of artists.
Best Label – Fire Talk Records – Home to Bnny, Mamalarky, Packs and more this boutique label is setting up to be the next Saddle Creek Records.
Secretly Group @secretlygroup, Saddle Creek Records @saddlecreek, Fire Talk Records @firetalkrecs, Don Giovanni Records @DonGiovanniRecs
Nest New Artist – “New” is always relative. Georgia Maq has been part of Camp Cope, and Isabella Manfredi was part of The Preatures. Our winner is Ashe who album Ashlyn was hard to put down this year.
Georgia Maq @goldsoundz_, Allison Russell @allisonrussellmusic, S.G. Goodman @s.g.goodman, Ashe @ashemusic, Jillette Johnson @jillettejohnson, Hawxx @hawxxmusic, Noa Kirel @noakirel, Kill Birds @killbirdsmusic, Killboy @killboy , Sloppy Jane @sloppyjanebandd , Ydegirl @ydegirl, The Linda Lindas @the_linda_lindas, Allison Ponthier @allisonponthier, Isabella Manfredi @isabellamanfredi, Pom Pom Squad @pompomsquad
Best Local (Colorado) Artist – Local artists can often be touring or even national acts. This category was very competitive with the amount of quarantine albums that came out. Our winner is Companion who mesmerized us in the Spring. They will quickly become a national act.
Best Dance – Dance is also electronic and electro pop. Magdalena Bay & Sofi Tukker are the 800 lb gorillas in this category. Kito is our winner for surprising collaborations.
Magdalena Bay @magdalenabay, Sofi Tukker @sofitukker, Kito @kito
Best Pop – Pop like Indie is often open to interpretation. It is often what dominates at venues. Our winner is Charlotte Cardin whose Phoenix album was one of the best albums this year.
Hana Vu @hanavuuu, Lucy Dacus @lucydacus, Japanese Breakfast @jbrekkie, Baby Queen @queenofthebabies, Charlotte Cardin @charlottecardin, Jess Chalker @jess_chalker_, May-A @mayacumming, Ashe @ashemusic, Girl In Red @girlinred, Angèle @angele_vl, Sloppy Jane @sloppyjanebandd, Nadia Vaeh @nadiavaeh, Olivia Rox @oliviarox, Number One Popstar @numberonepopstar, Bahari @bahari, Noga Erez @nogaerez, Lola Lennox @lolalennex
Best Rock – Rock is often the guitar driven beat that keeps you going. Kill Birds, who have been touring with Foo Fighters are our winner.
Royal and the Serpent @royalandtheserpent, Amyl and the Sniffers @amylandthesniffers, Mattiel @mattielworldwide , Upsahl @upsahlmusicl, Self Esteem @selfesteemselfesteem, Kill Birds @killbirdsmusic, Nadia Sheikh @nadiasheikhmusic, Red Hook @weareredhook, Pom Pom Squad @pompomsquad
Best Indie – Indie always means both a sound but also a level of development. These are the artists at the small venues touring to survive. We have a diverse selection this year. Bnny is our winner.
Best Experimental – There is always a “flinch” moment when you saw experimental. It involves a great deal of risk as personified by our winner Fifi Rong who is working on her dual album set with one album all in English, and one all in Chinese. She is crowdfunding now.
Insect Ark @insectark, Fifi Rong @fifirong, Sasami @sasamiashworth, Irreversible Entanglements @irreversibleentanglements, Haru Nemuri @haru_nemuri
Best Hip Hop – This is the first year that FEMMUSIC has this category. There may be some arguments as to whether all these artists fit it. Coi Leray is the best newcomer in this area. Ray BLK is our winner.
Bia @bia, Tones and I @tonesandi, Doja Cat @dojacat, Sza @sza, Cardi B @iamcardib, Megan Thee Stallion @theestallion, Coi Leray @coileray, Ms Banks @msbanks, Ray BLK @rayblk, Remi Wolf @remiwolf, Tinashe @tinashenow
Best Jazz – We will admit to not hearing as much jazz this year. Laufey is the winner with original interpretations of classics.
Laufey @laufey, Nnenna Freelon @officialnnenna
Best Country – Brandi Carlile is a favorite in this category and will take home more GRAMMYs. Allison Russell wins for being new and original.
Brandi Carlile @brandicarlile, Allison Russell @allisonrussellmusic, Yola @iamyolaofficial, CMAT @cmatbaby, Jackson & Sellers @jacksonsellersmusic, Ingrid Andress @ingridandress
Best Heavy Metal – Infected Rain is a former winner in this category. Jinjer, Halestorm & The Pretty Reckless dominate. The Velveteers are this year’s winner.
Hawxx @hawxxmusic, Edge of Paradise @edgeofparadise, Jinjer @jinjer_official, The Velveteers @thevelveteers, Infected Rain @infectedrain_official, The Pretty Reckless @theprettyreckless, Halestorm @halestormrocks
Best R & B – This category includes powerhouses like Arlo Parks and Dawn Richard. Alewya is our winner for new and original music this year.
Muni Long @munilong, India Shawn @indiashawn, Dawn Richard @dawnrichard, Alewya @alewya11, Arlo Parks @arloparks, Tkay Maidza @tkaymaidza, Danielia Cotton @danieliacotton, Saleka @saleka
Best Surprise – A “surprise” for us is that unexpected performance when it was not expected. It includes some risky performances such as LVXURI and Big Klit. S.G. Goodman is our hands down winner. We caught her as an opener and she garnered as much reaction as the headliner. She is a blunt, and emotive songwriter.
S.G. Goodman @s.g.goodman, Kiesza @kiesza, LVXURI @mx_lvxuri, Big Klit @klitoriusmaximus
Best Comeback – This has been a surprisingly competitive category. Whether it’s the return of ABBA after a long time to Adele’s new album. The big surprise this month is Taylor Swift taking the world with the longest song. She is our winner.
Kylie Minogue @kylieminogue, Avril Lavigne @avrillavigne, Deborah Gibson @debbiegibson, Liz Phair @LizPhairOfficial, Taylor Swift @taylorswift , ABBA @ABBA, Adele @adele, Lorde @lorde
Displaying characteristic wit and candour, Baby Queen says ‘Narcissist’ is “an admission of my own narcissistic tendencies but also me trying to make sense of where those tendencies came from in the first place. I think women are told from the moment they are born until they can form their own opinions that beauty and vanity are the key to their success, and then they are berated when they are older for being self-obsessed or apathetic. Cosmetic companies want us to hate ourselves. There is money being made off our obsession with improving ourselves and our appearances. This song is just saying, ‘Yeah fuck you, I am a narcissist, and I am self-obsessed, but why do you think that is?'”
Today pop’s new anti-hero in ascendance Baby Queen releases her new single “You Shaped Hole.”
The single is the fifth track to be taken from Baby Queen’s eagerly awaited mixtape The Yearbook, set for release September 3 via Island Records/slowplay.
Baby Queen aka Bella Latham says: “I was super heartbroken when I wrote this song, and my ex was dating this beautiful supermodel after dumping me in Clissold Park in North East London. I went through a bit of a wild phase, as one does, and was doing everything I could possibly do to feel better. At the time I had this image in my mind of a hole inside my body that was shaped exactly like my ex, and it was as if I was trying to fill that hole in any way I could, but the things I was filling it with never reached the corners or made me feel any better, they just cluttered my life.”
Rising anti-pop star Baby Queen enlists emerging Australian artist MAY-A for new track “American Dream,” out via Island Records/Slowplay.
Speaking about the track, Baby Queen aka South Africa-born Bella Latham reveals, “This song compares a childlike infatuation with the idea of the American dream, which in hindsight is a bit of a fallacy, but there were people that did get to experience it and reach the prosperity they’d heard about. I’m really into manifestation – not in a spiritual way, just in a very practical sense. I think if you put all your energy into something by talking about it all the time or thinking about it, the course of your life will naturally bend towards that thing. This song is me manifesting my dream to be with a certain person. It’s essentially a song about a childlike crush you are cheeky enough to plan out inside your own head.”
While MAY-A adds, “This song is super fun to be a part of. Bella and I were talking online for a bit about music. I was a big fan of her song ‘Want Me’, so I feel really psyched that she wanted to bring me on to this track. It’s a fun one to sing!”
Alt-pop’s new anti-hero Baby Queen releases her new single “Dover Beach” today on Island Records / slowplay, and it was featured on BBC Radio 1’s Hottest Record.
Her latest “Dover Beach” – a widescreen smash with flecks of The 1975 and optimistic dream-pop like M83 – chronicles the time in October 2020 when she headed to a place she had long dreamt of visiting. Bella says, “In school I was obsessed with this poem called ‘Dover Beach’ by Matthew Arnold and I always wanted to visit the Dover cliffs, so I went there alone on a writing trip in October last year. I actually wrote the melody and lyrics of this song while I was sitting on the beach. It’s about being infatuated with somebody and seeing them everywhere you look. I was kind of pissed that I went to look at the beach, all I could think about was this person, hence the lyric “you stole the view of Dover Beach.” It’s another internal struggle with my own insecurities and a sort of acceptance of the fact that I can’t escape my daydreams of this person, even if I go to a different place.”
The 23-year-old South Africa-born, London-based artist (real name Bella Latham) arrived in the alt-pop sphere barely a year ago but has already carved her name deep into its fabric with her crooked sceptre. Since her first release “Internet Religion” last summer she has dropped a steady slew of singles that place her at the forefront of a musical movement.
She has previously released the singles “These Drugs” and “Raw Thoughts.” Last year she released her Medicine EP.
This year SXSW is online. The line-up is still impressive. Featured speakers include Queen Latifah, Chiquis, Mark Mothersbaugh, Wyclef Jean, Andrew Bird, Mary J. Blige, Carole King, Demi Lovato to name a few. Showcasing artists come range from K-Pop, punk rock, rap and more. Here are some of our recommendations.
Awich – Japanese Rapper Awich released her debut EP Partition in 2020. Her singles include “Bad Bad” and “Shook Shook”
Enno Cheng – Enno Cheng is an institution. She is an author, playwright, screenwriter, actress and singer-songwriter from Taiwan. She formed the band Chocolate Tiger. She is now known for her solo albums.
Kee’ahn –Kee’ahn is a proud Kuku Yalanji, Jirrbal, Zenadth Kes song woman With a name coming from the Wik people, meaning to dance, to sing, to play. In 2020 she released her single “Better Things.” She is part of the Close Up: A Sounds Australia Showcase.
Wavy The Creator – Jennifer Ejoke, professionally known as Wavy the Creator, is a recording artist, photographer, fashion designer and film-maker, born in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria and raised in the United States. She is best known for her song “H.I.G.H”
Speaking with typical candor, Baby Queen aka 23-year-old Bella Latham says, “I wrote this song when I was in a really bad place which was characterized mostly by this idea that I wasn’t a good person and didn’t deserve good things. I think for so long, there were so many parts of myself that I was refusing to acknowledge or pay attention to, and when you ignore your own pain or refuse to face up to your mistakes, you can get yourself into a self-destructive cycle, which is ultimately what ended up happening. I think escapism is necessary, and we all find our escape in different places, but some are just healthier than others. I knew I was taking a risk when I decided to be so uncomfortably honest in these lyrics, but I also knew I had to share this story with people because we all have a monkey on our back and self-destruction is a stranger to nobody. I really want people to know that there is a better life waiting for them should they choose it. If you can learn to like yourself and learn to understand and accept every part of yourself (even the darkest ones), then you won’t feel the need to run away. You really do have the strength to build the life you want to live, and I think I can be proof of that to somebody. “
The video for ‘These Drugs’ also drops today. “The idea for the music video came from the first line of the song, which is one of my favourite lyrics I’ve ever written: “I don’t wanna do drugs anymore. If you saw me through the eyes of a bathroom stall, your skin would crawl.” I became really obsessed with the idea of only ever seeing somebody through the eyes of different bathroom stalls. I think if somebody were to watch actual footage of me in every London bathroom stall I’ve ever been in, they would see some of the most euphoric moments of my life, as well as some of the darkest – and I really wanted to re-create that. I came up with this idea to build four completely different bathroom stalls with different energies and narratives, and to just allow the actions to happen naturally inside each one,” Bella says. “I’m really proud of this video, because it was directed by my genius of a creative director at Polydor Semera Khan and my amazing creative commissioner Saorla Houston. I really believe in them and think they’re incredible, so one night I said ‘guys why don’t you just do it? Why don’t we just do this together?’ It’s the best shoot I’ve ever been on the set of.”
Of the track Bella says: “‘Raw Thoughts’ is probably the most important song I’ve released to date because it’s actually the song that catalysed what has become the sound of Baby Queen. I wrote it near the beginning of 2018 (earlier than any Baby Queen song that has been, or most likely ever will be released) and it sort of came to me like a gift from heaven. I had been on one of the biggest nights out of my entire life and had woken up dreadfully hungover. I think up until that very point in my life, I didn’t know what partying was. I was incredibly innocent and naïve, and this was the moment everything changed for me. I had been going through a terrible breakup, and discovering partying was like discovering freedom. I was going to places my ex had never been, I was meeting people they would never meet and doing things that would make their skin crawl. I think I fell in love with the danger of it. I had realized that I could do or be whoever I wanted to be, even though the only thing I wanted was to be loved by them again. The song came out like word vomit the next day. I was partly thrilled, partly coming down and partly ashamed of myself for what felt like a betrayal of innocence. ‘Raw Thoughts’ is an amalgamation of every feeling. It’s euphoria bleeding into my deep sadness. It sounds like the moment everything changes, because without my knowing it at the time, it was. This song felt like the only way to start 2021.”
South African born, London based Baby Queen released her debut EP Medicine in November.
Baby Queen is releasing her debut EP Medicine on November 6. She has already released the singles “Buzzkill”, “Internet Religion”, and “Medicine.” Today she has released “Pretty Girl Lie”
“I wrote this song after becoming increasingly frustrated with the relationship between my real-life identity and the person I was pretending to be online,” Baby Queen aka Bella Latham explains. “I grew up with really bad body dysmorphia which I believe was partly caused by the image of the stereotypically “pretty girl” I saw in the media all around me, and the fact that photoshop made this image completely unattainable. We’re heading towards a reality wherein everybody edits their pictures, slims their noses, chisels their jaw bones, whitens their teeth and reshapes their thighs. I’m just over it. It’s not cool. It’s actually very uncool. If people aren’t going to stop doing it, then all the kids should know that nothing is real, and this is my way of telling them that.” https://www.instagram.com/queenofthebabies/
London based Baby Queen is Bella Latham. Today she releases her 3rd single “Medicine.
“It’s about a tangle of mental health and navigating your way through this world,” Bella shares, “whilst being so unhappy and equally disillusioned with the cyber landscape that we are forced to live inside, and the different ways people might numb themselves, or try to find a place where they can exist in amongst all of this fucking chaos.” https://www.facebook.com/queenofthebabies/