Here we are, already more than halfway through the year… 2021 is a year for recovery and reconnection. While everyone is anxious to get out of their shells, leave old habits or ways of thinking behind, many artists have dived headlong into something new.
Curious to discover which album releases made my 2021 unforgettable so far? Below you can discover my ultimate favorites and recommendations. Enjoy reading!
Olivia Rordrigo – Sour
I first discovered Olivia on the Disney+ show “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” at the beginning of 2020. And “All I Want” was the first track I became obsessed with. I had it on repeat for days and also started following Olivia on social media. Little did I know that she would be THIS famous a year later…
Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR is the perfect debut album. It draws on familiar genres and themes, which is probably why she has been compared so much to the likes of Taylor Swift or Paramore. While it has echoes of other popular artists, Rodrigo brings her own vocal and songwriting talent to the album.
Part of the reason that she has been so successful is that her album speaks to a lot of issues that teenagers and young adults nowadays face. The album begins with the song ‘brutal’, which speaks to the way that the expectations of being young don’t meet up to reality. And yes, I can agree. (haha)
The main accomplishment of this album is that Olivia managed to sidestep the trap that many Disney stars have previously fallen into. Though many younger teens do enjoy Rodrigo’s music, it seems to appeal to older audiences as well (I’m 24 so I can confirm this). SOUR is definitely my number one album of 2021 so far and I’m really curious to see which artist may be able to top that!
Ashe – Ashlyn
Ohh, Ashe! I love her music soooo much! She’s a remarkably talented singer-songwriter! Ashe has been buzzing for a few years, guesting on dance singles before releasing the long string of singles and EPs — including “The Moral of the Story,” a 2019 collaboration with Billie Eilish’s brother FINNEAS — leading up to her debut full-length album Ashlyn. Trust me, it will make your ears feel blessed.
Made during the pandemic, Ashe admitted that this whole album reflects about time. If it’s lost, spare, short, long, good or bad time, it doesn’t matter, but all of the songs have something to say about it. Creating something in a historic and horrible moment surely wasn’t easy, especially when it came to writing her feelings down and releasing it to the world, but she did an amazing job.
Ashe wants us to understand that all of the problems, at some point, will go away, and also make it very clear that whoever is listening should use their time wisely. Just like in the song “Kansas”: “it’s only a matter of time“. She delivered not only music, but her soul in it.
Anne-Marie – Therapy
Anne-Marie. Literally one of my favorite British pop stars! She’s constantly making waves in the charts and a real fan favorite, nothing is stopping her. From starting out collaborating and touring with Rudimental to taking to the stage solo, she’s unstoppable right now.
What I love the most about her? She’s always been a down-to-earth and very kind artist. Offering a relatable sense of normality amid the sometimes unapproachable world of mass pop, her songs feel more like friendly beer garden conversations with your mates, as opposed to algorithm-chasing anthems. That same big personality is all over the album and she never tries to shrink to fit in.
There are a handful of brilliant collaborations on Therapy. ‘Our Song’ with Niall Horan, the fist-pumping dance track ‘Unloveable’ sees her reunite with her old touring buddies Rudimental. And ‘Kiss My (Uh Oh)’ is a swaggering team-up with Little Mix that reworks Lumidee’s noughties classic ‘Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)’. It’s a flawless combination!
Demi Lovato – Dancing With The Devil: The Art Of Starting Over
After an overdose nearly ended her life, Demi Lovato sings powerfully and directly about her past and who she wants to become. This album feels like the beginning of a whole new life and I’m totally here for it!
Arriving alongside the documentary, Demi’s 7th album, Dancing with the Devil…The Art of Starting Over takes control of the narrative. Across 19 songs, Lovato leans into they personal struggles; the pop star who once professed a desire to “be free of all demons” has seemingly accepted the reality that they must live alongside them.
Dancing with the Devil expands to reveal the person Lovato is—or aims to be—today; there is a lot of shed skin, rewritten endings, and references to reaching heaven. Even when Demi strikes an upbeat or optimistic tone, it’s difficult to look beyond the tragedy at the album’s core. With this album, Demi asks the listeners to trust that what they went through is enough. And it brings us closer to the singer than ever before.
Tom Grennan – Evering Road
Tom Grennan’s 2018 debut Lighting Matches was a huge success. Following up such success means only one thing: returning with a more personal record. Evering Road – named after the London street he lived on with his ex- surprisingly isn’t an album dwelling on heartbreak with Lewis Capaldi-style tearjerkers.
Current single “Little Bit of Love” charted at Number 2 in its first week and was only prevented from reaching the Number 1 spot, because Grennan’s collaboration with Ella Henderson (“Let’s Go Home Together”) was at the top spot. Grennan’s soulful voice really suits a banger and he must know this, because Evering Road is packed full of them.
Tom’s music has certainly evolved as he has grown into his style. He explores many emotions that follow a break-up, such as wanting to ignore phone calls at 3am or realising the relationship has reached an ending point. He can be really proud of this album! It’s a masterpiece!
Julia Michaels – Not In Chronological Order
I’ve been a Julia fan for a few years now and I can tell you, I’ve never been waiting and looking forward to a debut album for so long! And in all honesty, Julia Michaels pulls the strings of pop.
Julia’s first full-length album, Not In Chronological Order, showcases love in all its guises – infatuation, jealousy, bitter rebounds, “butterflies, a thousand kinds” – from the position of someone in a stable relationship. And the album also showcases pop in all its guises, from the position of a true songwriter, not pop star.
Pop-rock girl power? ‘All My Exes’ – tick. Self-love ballad? ‘That’s The Kind Of Woman’ – tick. Disco dance-floor bop? ‘Wrapped Around’ – tick. Michaels’ versatility is peerless. She also knows exactly when to deploy emotion.
Julia’s superpower is undoubtedly her ability to articulate everybody’s secret thoughts. She claims these songs were too personal to give to anyone else, but she colors her writing for others with the same relatable honesty that wins listeners over in their millions. If you haven’t already, please give this wonderful album a listen! I promise you, there won’t be any regrets.
Måneskin – Teatro d’ira – Vol. I
I haven’t taken Eurovision seriously in the past years but this year it was really different. It’s moments like this though that I treasure because I love unexpectedly finding an artist that I end up loving and this has happened with Måneskin.
Måneskin have been topping the charts in Italy. They came second in the Italian version of X Factor and won the Sanremo Music Festival 2021 as well as of course Eurovision 2021 so why haven’t we heard of this band before?
The fact I don’t understand a word they are singing on Teatro d’ira: Vol. I. apart from in their English songs “I Wanna Be Your Slave” and “For Your Love” doesn’t matter to me. Italian is a beautiful language and listening to Måneskin just makes me want to learn the language. Also, Damiano’s voice is wonderful. His vocals are on point in every song. I love them even more when they are performing live!
This band knows how to write music and this album excites me more every time that I hear it. The winning Eurovision song “Zitti E Buoni” (Shut Up and Behave in English) kicks off the 8 track album which sets the mood of enjoyment! I know for sure that Måneskin are set for a huge career and I hope we get to hear a lot more from them in the future.
2021 was already a fantastic year musically and there are still many releases to look forward to! What is your favorite album so far? Or which new album release are you counting down to? I’m curious!
Lots of love,