2021 wrapped: The industry's favourite albums and tracks Pt.3

2021 wrapped: The industry's favourite albums and tracks Pt.3

It's December, which means that the biggest names in the music industry are picking their favourite tracks and albums of 2021. Ahead of our bumper review of the year in our next issue, our 2021 wrapped series finds executives from across the business heaping praise on the music they enjoyed most over the past 12 months. 

Already we've shared part one and part two and, today, Warner Chappell Music UK's head of A&R Amber Davis heads up part three...

Amber Davis, head of A&R, Warner Chappell Music UK (above)

TRACK: “Amaarae – Sad Girlz Luv Money ft. Moliy – what is not to love about it!”

ALBUM: “Dave – We're All Alone In This Together! He is an exceptional wordsmith and I really like some of the featured artists he chose to use on the album.”

Toby L, co-founder, Transgressive

TRACK: “Olivia Rodrigo – Traitor. Perhaps surprisingly to some, I got to know and love Olivia’s stone cold bangers really well this year when I directed a concert film with her (Sour Prom). I had a big moment with this song due to the way the lighting, the choreography and set design all merged with what is ostensibly a beautiful melody. She’s a great writer and a hugely talented and honest pop star, a hell of a role model, I’d say. I found her to be a total grafter and visionary when we worked on this project.”

ALBUM: “Arooj Aftab – Vulture Prince. It’s a seamless merging of musical worlds and ideas that feels eternal yet is gently groundbreaking. Her voice and her uncompromising artistic spirit and strength feel new and yet timeless. It’s a special record.”

Tim Major, co-MD, Sony Music Publishing

TRACK: "Shivers by Ed Sheeran. No explanation needed… Just listen!"

ALBUM: "I need to choose two. One new artist: Arlo Parks with Collapsed In Sunbeams. One established superstar: Ed Sheeran with =. Both are just incredible bodies of work and bookend the year for me."

Charisse Beaumont, CEO, Black Lives In Music

TRACK: “In The Fire by Dave, I am only going by how many times I've played it. Data doesn’t lie. The track is storytelling at its finest. It gives you a vivid picture of the struggle our young people are faced with on a daily basis and yet they are judged by society, when it is society that has put most of them in this position in the first place. Every word pierces your heart. It makes me think of the young Marcus Rashford, Daniel Kaluuya, Dave, Ghetts and others who have made it out of the fire against all odds but have never forgotten where they have come from. Everyone deserves the chance to fulfil their dream.”

ALBUM: “Chelsea Carmichael’s The River Doesn’t Like Strangers. It is a vibrant, energetic album, you can really feel the soul and power in her music. Xhosa Cole, J Cole, Nao and Pip Millett’s albums are also really high on my playlist.”

Annabella Coldrick, CEO, MMF

TRACK: "I Just Want To Dance by Sault. So brilliant, so poignant and just a great track.”

ALBUM: “Flock by Jane Weaver. She’s such a great writer and performer and her music has really come into its own in the last few years. It’s so positive to see this, as the industry is so often focused on younger artists and can miss great talent.”

Rob Pascoe, managing director, Motown Records UK

TRACK: “Doja Cat Ft. Sza – Kiss Me More. Just the perfect pop record. Zero fatigue and an awesome video to match. Doja’s a monster!”

ALBUM: “Dave - We’re All Alone In This Together. World-class wordplay, storytelling, production and sequencing. It’s a masterpiece. Heart Attack had me speechless for hours.”

Peter Leathem, CEO, PPL

ALBUM: “Celeste – Not Your Muse.”

Vanessa Bosåen, managing director, Virgin Music UK

TRACK: “French The Kid – Thrill. The melodies, the flows, the languages – French really delivers something completely fresh. 2022 is going to be a big year for him.”

ALBUM: “Self Esteem – Prioritise Pleasure. An album in the truest sense of the word that makes you cry, laugh, dance, sing, change your bad habits and start some new ones. It’s a joy from start to finish.” 

Hannah Overton, managing director, Europe, Secretly Group

TRACK: “Serpentwithfeet – Fellowship has been a big hit in my house, surprisingly popular with toddlers and babies.”

ALBUM: “Yasmin Williams – Urban Driftwood (released on Spinster) is a gorgeous record, with beautiful finger-picking – it gets played a lot at the weekend. I also need to give Arlo Parks’ world-beating album on Transgressive a special mention. It’s been such a pleasure to watch this incredible talent blossom and reach a huge audience with her music and poetry.”

Faron McKenzie, head of BBC Radio 1Xtra

TRACK: "It's tough to say my favourite as there are so many, but what I would say is the track that connected with me the most is Proud Family from Ghetts’ album Conflict Of Interest. He delivers a poetic, soul penetrating account of his life that is so relatable to many – a story of unconditional love, hardship, survival and the Black experience.

ALBUM: "Little Simz's Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is a standout body of work, it’s lyrically uncompromising, deeply emotive and her lyrical prowess enabled her to touch on a variety of topics from love to politics with ease - not to mention her creativity extends to behind the camera too with her directorial debut for ‘Woman’ – she’s phenomenal!"

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