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
May-A is Maya Cumming, a 19-year-old artist from Australia. She released her debut EP Don’t Kiss Your Friends on Friday. The EP features songs written from when she was 16 all the way to last year. They include the singles “Apricots”, “Time I Love To Waste”, “Swing of Things” and “Central Station.”
MAY-A describes it, “It follows the course of a relationship, a journey of queer discovery and the growth from an adolescent to a young adult. Each song is a piece of the last four or five years of my life, the most recent track having been written last year and the earliest at 16. As the music developed, so did I. You can listen to me grow up, gain confidence and understand myself through the way I approach my relationships. I hope you enjoy this slice of myself and pieces of the people I’ve loved <3”
FEMMUSIC has featured May-A’s tracks “Swing of Things” and “American Dream” at:
May-A has been compared to Lorde and King Princess. The story has been more about her age than her ability. In a week where the Tokyo Olympics just finished, a 19-year-old is veteran more than an epiphany. The story we see is a self-assured queer musician making her mark and following in the footsteps of others before her. She is an artist to watch for the statements she will make and ideas she will create that will change the view of the woman to follow her.
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Don’t Kiss Ur Friends EP?
MC: Picking which tracks should go on the EP. I’ve been writing songs with my producer for over four years so it was difficult to cut them down.
FEMMUSIC: What were your goals for the album?
MC: Just to get more music out. To give people something that they can hopefully relate to. To give more of an insight to myself.
FEMMUSIC: What was your favorite thing about making the album?
MC: I’m in love with the process of making songs. I wasn’t really thinking about writing a record but more just letting my emotions out each time I needed to. I’m just glad it’s all cohesive.
FEMMUSIC: You’ve signed with SONY in Australia, and Atlantic Records in the US. What made you decide to sign with a major label(s)? What were you looking for in signing?
MC: When I met my A&R at SONY we clicked automatically. She’s this insane powerhouse woman with the craziest energy. Just so excited about music and so ready to listen to everything you throw her way. Atlantic was one of the most diverse teams I spoke to, everyone was so excited and invested in the music. Both labels understood who I was and where I was coming from, they really valued my songwriting and agreed to work with me on my art and give me as much creative control as I needed. I feel really blessed and lucky to have found the people I did.
FEMMUSIC: You worked with Powfu for “Swing of Things.” You worked with Baby Queen for “American Dream.” What do you look for in collaborations? Who else would you like to work with?
MC: I would love to work with Dominic Fike, beabadoobee, or Troye Sivan. I look for someone that I think I would write well with, someone who understands my project and I understand theirs.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
MC: I Just grab a page and write down every single thought I have based around a specific situation and freestyle off that.
FEMMUSIC: What song, not your own, has had the biggest influence on you, and why?
MC: I actually can’t pinpoint a specific song but growing up listening to Taylor Swift and Amy Winehouse definitely heavily influenced the way that I look at the music I write.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
MC: Women make up 13.4% of artists, songwriters, and producers compared to 86.6% of men. It’s extremely rare to have a room solely full of women, and when you do end up in that situation, people like to tell you that you’re trying too hard to “make a point out of it” but a room full of men is completely normal. I’ve only worked with a female producer once. It’s hard for women in the music industry because we’re still talked over and looked down upon. It’s better than it once was but we’re all sick of it.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
MC: The above topics. an increase in the amount of females in the industry, especially producers. A hell of a lot more support for POC, LGBTQ, trans/nonbinary, and disabled artists from the public, from other artists, and from big companies.
Rising 19yo Australian artist, MAY-A, announced her signing to Atlantic Records for the US & UK along with the announcement of her debut EP, Don’t Kiss Ur Friends, coming out August 6th, 2021. She also shares a new version of her latest anthem “Swing Of Things” featuring verses from breakout lo-fi Canadian rapper, Powfu.
Threading together recent breakout singles, ‘Time I Love To Waste’, ‘Apricots’ and ‘Green’, MAY-A’s Don’t Kiss Ur Friends EP is a years-in-the-making debut from an artist who has been writing since the age of 12, but only publicly releasing music since 2020.
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!”
MAY-A is 19-year-old Sydney based Maya Cumming. “Swing of Things” is the follow-up to her previous singles “Time I Love To Waste” and “Apricots,” which together told her story of falling in love for the first time while embracing a newfound sexual identity. “Swing Of Things” is about what happens after infatuation, where things fall apart.
‘Swing Of Things’ is about that longing feeling for things to go back to normal even though you know if you give yourself time to heal, you’ll be better than you’ve ever been. It’s about learning how to live life by yourself again once someone has left your life. Sometimes you need to cut a person off so both people can grow better separately, and most of the time that process sucks. ‘Is your heart out on your sleeve now you’re gone?.’ ‘Is the grass more green from where you’re from?’ are questions I was dying to ask both them and my future self. Ultimately, ‘was this worth it?'”