Not to be Swifties on main, but we’re feeling 2022 now that the world is ringing in the new year! And although we’re pumped to see what this year has in store for music, we’re still not entirely over all the cool releases 2021 gave us. Artists like Halsey, Lil Nas X, and Olivia Rodrigo really made it their year in spring and summer, but some of our favorite smaller (and legendary!) artists kept the content coming through a cold December. Let’s take a look back at how 21 of our faves finished off 2021!
AJ already gave us one of the best albums of the year when he dropped SKYVIEW in October, but he made the release even sweeter with a deluxe edition on December 17th! The tracklist now includes live performances of ‘Miss You,’ ‘I Choose You,’ and ‘Cheap Red Wine,’ and he delivered stunning performance videos of each of the three songs. ‘Maybe’ he’ll have even more surprises for us in the new year!
Between releasing their OK Orchestra album in March and making ‘Way Less Sad’ a huge (and Gold-certified) hit, AJR had a spectacular 2021! They closed it off by hitting our TVs on New Year’s Eve to perform their smash ‘Bang!’ and ‘Record Player,’ a collaboration with Daisy the Great. We can’t wait to see what incredible singles and collabs AJR offer us in 2022.
Alesso & Katy Perry
Alesso and Katy Perry gave us the last high-profile collaboration of 2021 with ‘When I’m Gone,’ a post-breakup anthem that’s filled with confidence and knowing your worth. In his signature superstar style, Alesso celebrated the new year with sets in Miami on New Year’s Eve and a show in Las Vegas on New Year’s Day. Meanwhile, our pop queen Katy kicked off her own Vegas residency, PLAY, on December 29th!
After already treating us with her star-studded KEYS album in the beginning of December, the one and only Alicia had one more trick up her sleeve when she unveiled a stunning short film! The film touches on identity and self-acceptance, featuring a young version of Alicia and a stunning soundtrack including her gorgeous new songs ‘Best of Me,’ ‘LALA,’ and ‘Only You.’ Her multi-dimensional mind and ambition are exactly the inspiration we needed to face the new year head-on.
Andrea & Virginia Bocelli
The Bocellis might just be the most talented family in Italy, if not worldwide! Andrea and his 8-year-old daughter Virginia teamed up for an end-of-year collab with their beautiful rendition of ‘Hallelujah.’ We think this was the perfect way to close off the festive season, and we’re still not over the fact that Virginia is only 8 yet sings like that! This will definitely be a staple on our 2022 holiday playlists.
It was a tender debut for my daughter Virginia and a show in which we symbolically took the hand of the world to finally turn the page, bolstered by the magic of the spirit of Christmas, thanks to music that rose to prayer, dispensing smiles and positive energy.
Avril blessed us with an acoustic version of her recent hit ‘Bite Me’ on December 17th, with a fun music video directed by the equally incredible MOD SUN! On New Year’s Eve, she took over Los Angeles to perform the original version with Travis Barker. 2021 was truly her comeback year and we can’t wait to hear her new pop-punk album this year.
Charli XCX is going into 2022 with her head high, incredible music at the ready, and a stronger bond with her fans than ever before, even when COVID-19 halted her live shows. During the pandemic, she made her how i’m feeling now album with some help from fans over Zoom and Instagram Live, and she’s celebrating this period of her life with a new documentary, Alone Together! The film shows off how she connected with her listeners throughout the pandemic and she dropped a trailer in December. We can’t wait to watch the full thing at the end of January, but until then, we’ll be watching her appearance in Saturday Night Live’s “The Christmas Socks” skit on repeat.
Pop-rock outfit Daytime TV are gearing up to release their debut album in February, but they gave us a little treat in the meantime with a stripped-back version of their song ‘Hush!’ They recorded a series called the “Antwerp Sessions” at a Victorian home in Manchester, England, and we love that they’re reimagining their songs in such a unique way. ‘Hush’ is about two lovers struggling to balance work with their romance, and we can’t get enough of the intriguing, at times outlandish, lyrics.
Stories like that are like gifts from above to us songwriters. I tried to put myself in this guy’s shoes and write from his perspective.
Frontman Will Irvine
We can’t wait to hear Dead American’s New Nostalgia next month, but in the meantime, we can jam out to their new track ‘Choke!’ They offer such a slick take on post-hardcore and industrial rock without sacrificing the angsty emotions that come with the genre. Their main inspirations include My Chemical Romance and New Found Glory, so you know they have a cool sound. If you’re a rock fan, you need these guys on your radar in 2022!
Every word on this record is ours; it’s no one else’s. We’ve never been able to say everything we need to say, and this record gave us an outlet to do it. Life sucks a lot of the time, but there’s always some good to come from the sh*t. We’re all a lot more alike than we think. From the sh*t, you get this weird, beautiful art-thing that is this record.
Evanescence turned The Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe’ into a haunting piano and string ballad with their stunning cover! We never expected them to tackle a Beatles song of all things, but we’re so glad we did. The cover really shows off their versatility and ability to put their own spin on any material they take on. It proves why they’re rock legends and we can’t get enough!
If you fell in love with gnash and Olivia O’Brien’s ‘i hate u, i love u’ in 2016, you’re already a Garrett Nash fan! gnash started going by his birth name in 2021 as he stepped towards more personal, vulnerable music with his singles ‘Palm Trees’ and ‘Super Glue.’ He said goodbye to the momentous year with a cover of Fountains of Wayne’s pop-punk classic ‘Stacy’s Mom,’ and this full-circle moment is giving us all the feels!
’Stacy’s Mom’ was my favorite song in 5th grade. I’ve always wanted to cover it & when the idea came up in a session with producer Elie Rizk, I jumped on the idea right away. This song is important to my history & I hope you enjoy.
After winning The Masked Singer in December, we’re convinced there’s nothing Jewel can’t do! She’s celebrating her time on the show with her Queen of Hearts EP, which includes all the covers she performed on the show as her Queen of Hearts character. And after you listen to her takes on iconic tracks by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, she’ll be the queen of your heart, too.
Performing on the Masked Singer was fun for me because it allowed me to pay homage to songs that inspired me to be a songwriter and a singer, like [Édith Piaf’s] ‘La Vie En Rose’ and [Patsy Cline’s] ‘She’s Got You.’ Those have long been favorites, and being able to pour myself into these heroic songs to challenge myself vocally was really wonderful. It was also fun because I was able to pull from all genres and all eras, which a person rarely gets to do. That is why I was inspired to release all the songs I chose; I had so much fun interpreting these songs that I wanted to share them!
OMEGA X is gearing up for the comeback of the year on January 5th, and we can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves for their LOVE ME LIKE mini-album! Throughout December, they gave us a little taste of what’s to come with gorgeous teasers and the project’s tracklist. And even just from hearing their new highlight medley, we know this is gonna be one of our favorite mini-albums of 2022. If you’re not already a FOR X, this EP will convert you!
Ravive gives us just the right amount of heartbreaking nostalgia on ‘7 Yrs,’ a reflection on a long-gone relationship that manages to celebrate her growth at the same time. We can’t believe this is only her third single – it could easily fit on our playlists next to artists like Billie Eilish and Halsey! It’s only a matter of time before she becomes one of the biggest names in alt-pop, so now is the perfect opportunity to get her on your radar so you can watch her ascend to superstardom.
’7 Yrs’ really broke my heart. I haven’t seen the song’s subject in seven years, and looking back on my relationship with that person, I wanted to dial back into one specific day – the last that I saw him. It was the day I realized that I could no longer keep running back to something that was hurting me – so I gathered my things, and left without looking over my shoulder. I stepped out into the early morning sun, hopped into my old Toyota Corolla, and drove into a new phase of life. It’s now been more than seven years since that day; this song was written some time ago. But the uncomfortable nostalgia factor of this song makes it all the more gut-wrenching.
Rxseboy, Bootleg Boy, & Heroe
After working with artists like Chloe Moriondo and Alec Benjamin, Rxseboy put together a superstar lineup of his own with his new track ‘Leaving!’ He recruited Bootleg Boy and Heroe for this bittersweet song about the aftermath of a breakup. Between haunting vocals and vulnerable lyrics, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. And even though it’s about falling out of love, we’ve never been more in love with these three or their sound.
This song is about learning to live with the newfound freedom and guilt that comes along with falling out of love with the person you thought was your forever.
Start The Week Over
Start The Week Over are one of the most exciting up-and-coming rock groups, and they gave us a cozy end to 2021 with an Acoustic Sessions EP! It includes stripped-down versions of five songs, including ‘Keepaway’ and ‘You On My Mind.’ We love that this project shows off the band’s versatility while giving us new ways to listen to their music.
SZA was already one of our favorite artists, but 2021 really proved her talents and superstar status. She appeared on Doja Cat’s smash ‘Kiss Me More,’ the Dear Evan Hansen and Space Jam: A New Legacy soundtracks, and managed to fit her own iconic new tracks (including ‘Good Days’) into her busy schedule! Her latest single, December’s ‘I Hate U,’ broke the Apple Music record for the most first-week streams for a female R&B artist as well as topping their global Daily Top 100 chart.
Featured Image Source: Photo by Ryan McFadden, Edited by Madison Murray for THP