10. Shungudzo - "It's A Good Day (To Fight The System)"
Alexandra Shungudzo Govere, better known as Shungudzo, is a Zimbabwean-American philanthropist, singer, songwriter, record producer, gymnast, journalist and reality television personality. Shungudzo released "It's a good day (to fight the system)," the first single from her debut album I'm not a mother, but I have children, by Svikiro Records/Young Forever/BMG on October 30, 2020, as part of her three-track manifesto I (motsi), which was released on October 30, 2020.
9. Sofía Valdés - "Handful of Water"
Sofía Valdés is a 20-year-old singer/songwriter born and bred in Panama. Valdés began to learn to play guitar at the age of eight and wrote her first song at 13 and she also studied at fine-arts schools in the U.S. and U.K. “Handful of Water” was released on October 16, 2020, and it was the second single released by Valdés of what would later become part of her debut EPVentura. The song's lyrics casually drifts into Spanish lyrics — Valdés has stated that this was completely unintentional but ultimately chose to keep it in the final version, in recognition of her heritage.
8. Brett Dennen - "See The World"
Brett Dennen is a folk/pop singer and songwriter from California. His seventh studio album, See The World, was released in July 2021. In an 88FIVE Live at Amoeba Music Hollywood interview, Dennen told the Independent 88.5 FM that the album's title track was a song largely inspired by his son (it was meant to be a ballad for him) but somehow it had turned into something bigger when he wrote the chorus, "get out and see the world with your own eyes." He says that's when the song turned into something that could be about anyone, anything, about revelations, expanding minds, or even being more environmentally conscious. "See The World" was released as a single on April 23, 2021.
7. Yola - "Diamond Studded Shoes"
Yolanda Claire Quartey known professionally as Yola, is an English musician, singer and songwriter. Yola received four nominations at the 62nd Grammy Awards, including the all-genre Best New Artist category. Yola has stated about "Diamond Studded Shoes," “This song explores the false divides created to distract us from those few who are in charge of the majority of the world’s wealth and use the ‘divide and conquer' tactic to keep it. This song calls on us to unite and turn our focus to those with a stranglehold on humanity.” The song is part of her second studio album Stand for Myself, which was released on 30 July 2021, via Easy Eye Sound. The album debuted at number 196 on the Billboard 200 chart and at number 46 on the UK Albums Chart chart, being her first entry on both charts. The album was nominated for Best Americana Album at the 2022 Grammy Awards.
6. Jon Batiste - "I Need You"
Jon Batiste is an American musician, bandleader, and television personality. Batiste regularly tours with his band Stay Human and appears with them nightly as a bandleader and musical director on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert since 2015. Batiste's latest studio album, WE ARE, was released on March 19, 2021 to overwhelming critical acclaim. The album was envisioned by Batiste as he processed the tumultuous times of 2020. Jon Batiste has said that "I Need You," according to uDiscovermusic.com, “This song is a vibe cleanse, after 2020, this is like a warm hug. Let’s bring the vibes back!” The single was released on January 22, 2021.
5. Amythyst Kiah - Black Myself
Amythyst Kiah is an American musician, singer and songwriter from Johnson City, Tennessee. According to Shore Fire Media, Amythyst says "'Black Myself’ is the first song I’ve written that was confrontational, I’d always made it a point to sing songs that anybody could relate to, but this was something that had been welling up inside me for a long time. The reception of the song so far has given me hope that there are people out there who are ready to confront the shared trauma of racism, to look within ourselves and see how we might be perpetuating racist beliefs, and to do what is needed to create equality for all people.” Released on February 19, 2021, the song was the first single for her then-upcoming album Wary + Strange.
4. Wet leg - Chaise Longue
Wet Leg is a British indie band from the Isle of Wight, founded by Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers. Their debut album is set to be released on April 8. Their debut single, "Chaise Longue", was released on 15 June 2021, via the Domino Recording Company, and gained media notice for earning millions of streams and video views.
3. Flock of Dimes - Two
Jenn Wasner launched Flock of Dimes, a solo project formed in 2011 to explore the more atmospheric side of pop. Flock of Dimes allows Wasner to experience more experimental recording techniques and songwriting outside of the burgeoning success of her main musical outlet Wye Oak. "Two," released on February 3, 2021, was the first single by Jenn Wasner that she would ultimately include in her second full-length album Head of Roses under the moniker, Flock of Dimes.
2. Japanese Breakfast - Be Sweet
Japanese Breakfast is an indie rock band headed by Korean-American musician, director, and author Michelle Zauner. The band released its third studio album Jubilee on June 4, 2021, on the label Dead Oceans. The album garnered them a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Album, as well as Best New Artist at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards. On March 2, 2021, "Be Sweet" would be the first single released for this album and the accompanying music video was directed by Michelle Zauner herself.
1. Durand Jones & The Indications - Witchoo
Durand Jones & The Indications is an American contemporary R&B and soul group founded by the core songwriting trio of singer Durand Jones, singer/drummer Aaron Frazer, and guitarist Blake Rhein. Formed in 2012, the band came to prominence as part of the soul revivalist movement around the time of the reissue of their debut album in 2018. Their second album American Love Call was released in March 2019, followed by Private Space on July 30, 2021. On May 12, 2021, the soul outfit released their first single, "Witchoo" along with news of their then-upcoming third album, Private Space. In an interview with Billboard about the then-new single and album, Aaron Frazer said “We spent a lot of the last year separated from each other, stuck in our separate boxes. It was tough in so many ways, but it also shook us out of our rhythm and allowed us to look inward and experiment with different sounds and new approaches to our songwriting.”