Before another adventurous year comes to an end, music is her passion's content editors and equality ambassadors reflect on their favorite pieces of work by female-presenting artists, released in 2021. In this article, Sofia, Norma, Jime, Sigrid, and Rebecca introduce you to their favorite songs, albums, and artists of the year. We hope you take this extra dose of feminine inspiration and empowerment to kick off your new year full of power and determination.
BILLIE EILISH "HAPPIER THAN EVER" by SOFIA
My top album for the year is undoubtedly Billie Eilish’s new album “Happier Than Ever”. It’s inevitable that when she releases music it’s going to be topping every chart out there, but for me, her growth into her adulthood and honesty of experiences of sexual assault in her music is what has made this a standout album for me. My favorite song is “Your Power” because I find the lyrics honest and powerful, speaking directly to a teacher (or just generally someone in a position of power) about their exploitation and abuse, and about not feeling remorseful for the action, only for getting caught. A story that is heard all too often.
Billie Eilish has always been an artist I have admired for how well she seems to know herself. While reaching her adulthood in the public eye, she tried to protect herself from the sexualization of young women in the media through her clothing. Now she is older, she is exploring new sides of herself (unfortunately not without the judgment of people who don’t know her). Not only that, but she’s speaking out more for animal rights and using her fame to bring about positive change. I think she’s a great role model for younger generations, and at the end of the day, she’s consistently making amazing music.
BITTEN BY "ANIMAL" by SIGRID
She writes songs, plays pretty much every instrument perfectly, has founded her own music label Baby Chick Records, and a co-working space The Nest in Vienna has her own chicken coop at home and was on tour with f.e. Herbert Grönemeyer. Bam! If you don't know her yet, you should definitely catch up and listen to all her previous releases on a continuous loop.
Bitten By stands out from the mainstream and uses her very own genre. Go ahead and support her.
NICKY NICOLE by JIME
The release of her second album "PARTE DE MI" with national and international collaborations was selected by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the "Best Spanish-language and Bilingual Albums of 2021, a Tiny Desk Concert, a stellar performance positioning her as the first Argentinean to perform on the successful American show The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Pa Mis Muchachas, a song in collaboration with Cristina Aguilera, Becky G, and Nathy Peluso plus a performance on the stage of the Latin Grammys awards. But it doesn't end there, the award for "Los 40" revelation artist in Spain received with great praise from Rosalia, shows all over the world, headlining international festivals for 2022, many collaborations with artists from all over the world, and a recent sold-out tour in Argentina that raised the music industry from the ashes after these two years of the pandemic. This was part of the powerful 2021 that the Argentinean singer Nicky Nicole had at a professional level. I think the reasons why I chose her as my artist of the year are more than enough.
I think it's impossible to get to all this without talent, I have heard and read more than one interview where their peers constantly praise her for what amazing she is inside a studio, and for the respect that comes from her person, but Nicky Nicole's greatest talent goes beyond the artistic, values, humility, and convictions of this artist of only 21 years old, prove to be the main key to getting where she is today, with only 3 years of professional career.
"That she is also thinking about the ones to come is super important, as women and as artists."
Nicky Nicole about Cristina Aguilera
Nicky is one of the Latin American artists who has taken it upon herself to shatter misogyny in the music industry, using her massive reach and popularity to promote real change in feminism. She is part of an inclusive generation, a new wave of artists that managed to consolidate itself at the top of all its goals by carrying and defending the flag of equality as the main standard to the highest, teaching not only to the youngest and those of her generation, but also to the older ones, that women have the same rights as everyone else, defending this position both on and off the stage, even together with artists from other genres, as she did also in this 2021 with the Uruguayan Rock band "No te va Gustar", who invited her to collaborate in the song "Venganza", a strong lyric that talks about femicides, the fear and gender violence that many women suffer, where Nicky with her style and rhymes, leaves a message more than clear about how we women feel in many situations in life, or also as part of "Pa mis Muchachas" an empowering song for which nothing more and nothing less than Cristina Aguilera invited her to collaborate, along with her compatriot, the successful and empowering Nathy Peluso and Becky G in an empowered track that talks about women who go for everything without consequences or limitations, a song that is going strong in this last part of the year, and that supports even more the promising future of women in the industry, being Cristina one of the maximum references of the music at an international level. "That she is also thinking about the ones to come is super important, as women and as artists," said Nicky Nicole in a recent interview.
Do not forget this name, Nicky Nicole became an artist that will transcend in time, there is no doubt about it, her accelerated tour is a sign of the times.
ANÄÏS by NORMA
I don't know about you, but I love listening to song covers! Some days I spend hours hopping from one cover discovery to the next.
It must have been early 2021 when I came across a version of the song "Belle" (Musical Notre-Dame de Paris) by chance on social media platform Instagram. The cover video was already created in 2020. Accompanied by piano, the artist named Anaïs, who was unknown to me until then, creates a listening experience to feel good with her soulful voice. How many times have I listened to the cover? I have stopped counting.
From this point on, the newcomer has followed me through the year with more beautiful covers and single releases.
The fact that she grew up bilingual can also be discovered in her music. Whether in English, German or French, danceable pop of dreamy ballads, she never fails to inspire me with her versatility.
Only in December, she served us her latest song "Small Catastrophe" plus a colorful music video.
Anaïs is one of my personal discoveries of 2021 and it brings me great joy to see her grow. I look forward to what else she will share with us in the form of her music. Fresh vibes and emotional moments in her music that I would absolutely recommend
JOY CROOKES "SKIN" by REBECCA
Having enjoyed Bangladeshi-Irish singer Joy Crookes' neo-soul EPs on love, politics, and mental health for a few years now, I knew that her debut album would absolutely get under my skin. And it did not disappoint.
Between harmonious beats, soulful storytelling of highs and lows of the human experience, and an unforgettable sense for aesthetics, Joy Crookes' thirteen-track-long SKIN is an empowering introduction of the London-based artist. Ageless and free of trying to fit in with current fads, her sound reminisces of early Amy Winehouse, but also pays tribute to soul queens like Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. Behind a sweet-as-honey voice hides a smart, layered young woman with cheek-in-tongue stories to tell, governments to criticize (Brexit, this one is for you!), and stances to take.
Joy Crookes touches upon taboo topics such as dealing with the suicidal tendencies of a loved one ("Skin"), the gentrification of her home base in London ("19th Floor"), and working through the long-lasting effects of a violent intimate relationship ("Unlearn You"). Her songs are excerpts of her life experience as a 23-year-old woman of color, as well as a comforting shoulder to lean on for those who experienced similar trauma or struggles.
"It's important to open up a dialogue, speak out, make mistakes - that's okay and that's how progress happens."
Joy Crookes about "Feet Don't Fail Me Now"
The cherry on top of her full package of pleasant sounds and empowering lyrics are Joy Crookes' impeccable aesthetics. Always paying tribute to her South Asian roots, Joy Crookes serves looks and visuals in every music video, on every single cover, and every photo shoot. In fact, her visual storytelling and concepts are actually so iconic, that they have been reproduced on covers of well-known K-pop stars. Copycats and aesthetics aside though - Joy Crookes' weaving traditional Bangladeshi clothing, henna tattoos, and hairstyles into an effortlessly evocative aesthetic only comparable to great fashion icons of our time (think Beyoncé, Zendaya, and Tracee Ellis Ross) brings South Asian beauty and greatness to the big screen. By implementing elements of her cultural background in all of her work, she teaches the audience about Bangladeshi symbolism and traditions, as much as she brings visibility of an underrepresented South Asian community to the mainstream. In her music video to "Feet Don't Fail Me Now", Joy Crookes claims her ground as a Bangladeshi woman by doing a motorcycle stunt in traditional clothing, in front of a group of men. "I have experienced [...] that Bangladeshi women are often defined by the men in their lives. I decided to wear the white saree and do a 'wheelie' in front of a group of Bangladeshi men to take back that power to write my own narrative", she says.