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
Trailblazing Nigerian R&B singer Ray Blk releases a new video for her single “M.I.A.” A highlight off her eagerly-awaited debut album ‘ACCESS DENIED’ (September 17 on Island Records), the single and new visuals feature Def Jam artist and “R&B legend in the making” (NME) Kaash Paige, who has worked with the likes of Travis Scott, Alicia Keys and Moneybagg Yo.
Produced by acclaimed East London film director Darnell Depradine (Aitch, Potter Payper, Jacob Banks), the video serves up pure feel-good summer energy as we see Ray enjoying quality time with family and friends and familiar faces such as Kojey Radical and MNEK. The video switches gears and delivers a slinky evening scene as Ray and Kaash escape onto the streets of London and Los Angeles, respectively.
On the video, Ray says: “For the video I wanted to have a bbq with my friends and family because the essence of the song is just about having the best experiences with someone you love, as being surrounded by my friends and family is when I feel my best and in my element. We shot it in South London but it looked and felt like we were away somewhere, similar to the lyric in MIA about your loved one feeling like a vacation, because it’s not about where you are, but who you’re with.”
Darnell Depradine says: “I’ve wanted to work with Ray for a long time so I knew we had to make something amazing. Everyone really worked well to make it a special day, we literally had a bbq gathering to make everything be authentic and I feel we really got that feeling we wanted,”
Today, trailblazing Nigerian R&B singer Ray Blk announces her highly anticipated debut studio album ACCESS DENIED set for release on September 17th via Island Records. A highlight off her upcoming project, Ray drops her anthemic new single “M.I.A.” featuring Def Jam artist Kaash Paige, who has worked with the likes of Travis Scott, Alicia Keys and Moneybagg Yo.
Speaking about the upcoming album, Ray says: “I’ve been looking forward to this moment of releasing my debut album since I was 13 in the studio with MNEK learning how to write songs and knew for certain I wanted to be a singer. Access Denied is for those who like myself, know disappointment too well and have learned to create boundaries as a coping mechanism for self protection. I’ve opened up about how the childhood I had made me guarded, how disappointing relationships made me fear love and how being told no so many times in the music industry kicked me down, but I got back up. I want people to listen to this record and value themselves enough to deny access to those who are undeserving, and to also value themselves enough to keep believing in themselves when they’re denied access to certain spaces and say yes to themselves when the world tells them no.”
Featured guests on the 14-song set include Giggs, Stefflon Don, Kojey Radical, Suburban Plaza and of course Kaash Paige. The album has been years in the making and Ray is thrilled that she will be able to share her artistry, heart and soul with her fans.
“MIA is my summer anthem as we’re released from lockdown,” Ray explains on the inspiration behind the track. “It’s just about escaping, or being with someone who feels like an escape, like you’re on holiday and just at peace, away from the noise. After being in lockdown for so long and being overwhelmed or feeling low, I’m ready to be out with the people I love the most in our element with this playing in the background as the soundtrack to our summer.”
Ray has spent lockdown writing and recording her long-awaited debut album which promises to be one of the cultural highlights of the year, reminding everyone what a truly special and unique artist she is. She also wrote and performed “Warriors”, the lead track from the hugely acclaimed 8 times BAFTA nominated film Rocks, which has also been nominated for Sync Of The Year at this years Music Week Awards.