The best new artists of 2021

A year of impressive debuts

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Collegian File Photo

By Molly Hamilton, Assistant Arts Editor

While all our old favorite artists from Adele to Drake to Taylor Swift blessed their fans with new music this year, some new voices flew under the radar. Here are seven artists who broke onto the scene this year that you should keep an eye on going into 2022.

Softcult

With a gritty, distorted sound that falls somewhere in between Paramore and Bikini Kill, Softcult is quickly making a name for themselves in the realm of alternative music. Made up of twins Phoenix and Mercedes Arn-Horn, the group seems to draw most of their inspiration from shoegaze and pop punk. Their first EP, “Year Of The Rat” features five equally impressive tracks. “Take It Off” is a scathing feminist statement that begins with the standout line, “You don’t want a girlfriend / You just want a doll.” If the Canadian duo keeps up their current momentum, you can expect to hear a lot more from Softcult in the coming year.

PinkPantheress

If you’ve been on TikTok at some point in the past year you’ve heard of  PinkPantheress. She released her debut album, “to hell with it,” shortly after a few of the singles from the project went viral – and the rest of the track list does not disappoint. Her sound calls to mind Lily Allen, Grimes and Clairo, but it can’t easily be categorized. It’s wholly unique—an exploration of y2k trends and something completely new. The English artist’s sonics seem to be engineered for the internet, most are less than two minutes long. If you’re looking for a glimpse into the future of pop music, you might want to turn your attention to PinkPantheress.

CARR

CARR’s debut album “I’m Just Bored” can best be described as a delightfully self-indulgent callout directed at all the guys who have wronged the L.A.-based singer-songwriter. On “Kiss Me When I’m Dead” she taunts, “You can f**k me in your head / Close your eyes and play pretend / That we’re more than friends.” The rest of the album is chock-full of witty insults, all delivered with a veneer of niceness. CARR manages to take all the classic struggles of young adulthood, particularly as a woman and make them new again.

Soulex

A disciple of Lana Del Rey, Soulex’s EP “Liquid Bombshell” is a highly polished debut. From clever wordplay on “Honda” to dark, hypnotic melodies on “Black Sabbath,” the Atlanta-native has all the makings of a great songwriter. Her sound is a sultry blend of hip-hop and pop, with a bit of Amy Winehouse-esque angst thrown in for good measure. With a carefully crafted aesthetic reminiscent of vintage pin-ups, Soulex is undoubtedly one of the most unique artists to emerge this year.

Susannah Joffe

Although she began releasing music in early 2020, Susannah Joffe took off on the indie scene with “Backseat,” a single released in April of 2021. Her second single of this past year, “My California” saw similar success, which is no wonder given its evocative songwriting captured in lines like “The world flashed orange and all eyes were on you / Wish I’d known in July the sky would nеver be as blue.” Hailing from Austin, Texas, Joffe’s country roots are evident not only in her storytelling abilities, but in her raw, wistful sound.

Peach PRC

This Australian singer gained traction on TikTok with her first single of 2021, “Josh,” a bubblegum-pop breakup anthem. In November she revealed a softer side with the release of “Heavy,” which, although it’s still drowned in synth, showcases a slower, dreamier sound. To close out the year Peach PRC penned “Christmas Kinda Sucks,” an impossibly catchy track laced with cynicism in lines like, “Reindeers are just a few UPS trucks.” Given that she has yet to release a full-length EP, she’s certainly one to watch in 2022.

Griff

English singer-songwriter, Griff, has been on the music scene for a couple years yet only released her first studio album in June of 2021. “One Foot In Front Of The Other” is a euphoric trip through a world of pop melodies and bouncy, layered vocals. The standout track, “Shade Of Yellow” is surprising in its use of distortion and well-crafted lyrics, yet comfortably encapsulates all the best elements of pop. The album received incredibly favorable reviews, and her latest single, “One Night” effortlessly matches the level of excellence set by her debut.

Molly Hamilton can be reached at [email protected].