In 2021, the music industry did what it could to recuperate from the COVID-19 lockdowns of the prior year. Concerts returned, artists went back to the studios, and music videos were filmed once more. Many artists took the time away from society to write new music to release in 2021. It seems that time away gave many lots of inspiration and lots of incredible music to release in 2021. All of the genres of music are coming back with ferocious vigor. We’ve collected a few highlights that stood out to us. We’re definitely not going to hit every milestone, but we’re going to at least list some favorites!
Big Time Rush Returned
Anyone who watched Nickelodeon between 2009 and 2013 probably remembers the boy band Big Time Rush. Seen on their TV show with the same name, Big Time Rush was a band made for the Nickelodeon show then later became a real band signed by Nick Records. Created during the boy band resurgence, they were a big hit for the network, touring all over the world. But sadly, the group only stayed together until 2013, and after that they all decided to release their own music. Fans were devastated, but it seems that after the massively successful return of The Jonas Brothers, Big Time Rush wanted a piece of the action. After years of being broken up, in July 2021, the band announced two concerts in December in Chicago and New York City. Both shows sold out within three days.
The band announced their comeback with a tweet, “WE ARE BACK! It’s been a minute, but we couldn’t be more excited to see you! Let’s make up for lost time” (see tweet below)
Olivia Rodrigo Released Her Debut Album Sour
Olivia Rodrigo has become something of an icon to Gen-Z and her debut album was talked about by music lovers of all genres. Rodrigo gained popularity from her roles on the Disney Channel TV show Bizaardvark and the Disney+ show High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (try saying that 5x fast). The Disney+ quickly cultivated a huge following, and the cast of the show is said to be really close. So close in fact that Rodrigo was rumored to be dating her co-star and love interest on the show, Joshua Bassett. Once her debut song “driver’s license” was released, a ballad about heartbreak, fans immediately connected the dots. This only created more buzz around her upcoming debut album that was an instant success upon release on May 21.
Alex Ramos and NPR describe the album is “one of the few pieces of music that's explicitly angry at an ex for sharing with their new lover the music you consider yours. How could they? Rodrigo knows how much this hurts; her frustration is written all over the record.”
The album is all about failed romance and is described by Pitchfork as “a nimble and lightly chaotic grab bag of breakup tunes, filled with both melancholy and mischief.” Sour debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, remaining in the top 10 for months after its debut. Sour is an impressive debut for the singer who is just 18 years old. Olivia Rodrigo is definitely one to watch in the coming years.
The Ulysses Owens Jr. Big Band Released Soul Conversations
This was an anticipated album from Ulysses Owens Jr. Soul Conversations is the renowned drummer’s recording debut with his exciting new 19-piece outfit, the UOJ Big Band, as well as the artist’s first release on Outside in Music. The repertoire mixes jazz classics with band-member originals. The accent is on uplift and joyful harmonies laced with the blues. Reviewer Mike Hobart said about the album, “arrangements are focused, solo strength is at a major high, and the showcase brass is as tight as a nut.”
Lil Nas X Released “Montero”
As an openly gay rapper, Lil Nas X was both praised and demonized when he came out. Sadly, homophobia is still a problem, and it was doubled since many Christian families considered the rapper to be “kid friendly” since his track “Old Town Road” became very popular, surprisingly among kids. Since then, Lil Nas X has made it clear that just because kids enjoy his music, it does not mean he makes music for kids. In 2021, he released music with a lot more grit,