The music scene seemed to be limited in 2020, due to reasons that should be obvious to anyone reading this in the 21st century. Concerts shut down very suddenly, releases were cancelled, and studios stopped recording. Even drake, who regularly releases some of the most popular music to come out each year, was limited to releasing a pack of previously recorded demo tapes in 2020. The music industry seemed bleak, and the idea of a resurgence seemed unlikely. But as surely as Rihanna is to ignore her fans, the musical world will keep on rolling.
The biggest hit that music fans suffered in 2021 was the loss of live shows. Throughout 2021, live music has largely returned to the normal state that we were used to, with concerts and tours from many big-name artists. Phoebe Bridgers, Harry Styles, and The Rolling Stones were some of the biggest musical acts to perform across the country. I would be remiss to not mention the most infamous live event of the year, Kanye West’s DONDA Sessions. Over the span of a couple of months, Kanye essentially took the audience through the production of the album by playing updated versions of each song with each session. The approach was definitely a unique one but Kanye drew criticism for constantly changing the release date and then just not dropping the album. Kanye’s lies notwithstanding, DONDA’s album rollout turned out to be one of the most iconic moments of 2021.
After a slow year for music, 2021 came out swinging with releases from many of the biggest artists of the last decade. Weezer, Lana Del Rey, and J. Cole all released their albums in the first half of the year. As the year continued, fans were met with work from Drake, Kanye West, Lana Del Rey (again), Adele and many more big-name artists. Along with releases from today’s biggest artists, 2021 brought new releases from artists who have not seen releases in decades. Modest Mouse, ABBA, and Duran Duran came back to release full albums well removed from their last release. While some of these albums may have been welcomed with mixed reviews, the return of these older artists proved that the music industry would not be phased by 2020. After years of anticipation, Adele and Lorde also saw it fit to end their musical droughts, with the release of “30”, and “Solar Power” respectively. 2021 even saw the breakout of one of the biggest artists of the last few years, Olivia Rodrigo. After her first single, “Driver’s License”, blew up, the former Disney received unprecedented amounts of success after the release of her album “Sour”.
Tik Tok continued to prove to be a dominant force in the music industry in 2021. Not only did new viral songs emerge out of the app, but a couple of artists who found major success on the app in 2019 continued to find success in popular media. Lil Nas X and Doja Cat, whose albums were both met with critical and commercial success, showed that Tik Tok influence the careers of actual create and good musicians. Lil Nas X and Doja Cat’s success was not exactly out of left field, but seeing them continue the success they found in 2019 shows that the damage done to the music industry in 2020 was not permanent.
If 2021 is anything to go by, we have a great year of music to look forward to in the coming months.