Music Observer’s Top 10 Artists in 2021

Music continues to inspire and entertain millions across the globe. It is powerful enough to break barriers that, even with the differences in language, songs can still penetrate into a certain culture. This makes music one of the most powerful platforms for self-expression and individuality. Behind every song is an artist carrying their own unique narrative, putting their heart and soul into the craft and pouring everything into lyrics and melodies. Despite the growing number of artists in the music industry, some still emerge to the top, making it easier for music lovers to distinguish who is worth listening to. Here are the top ten artists to watch:

  1. Drake

Born Aubrey Drake Graham in Toronto, Ontario, on October 24, 1986, music icon Drake is one of the most successful artists in the scene today. Drake began his journey in the entertainment industry starring in various commercials and eventually rising to fame as he played the role of Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation in 2001. Five years later, Drake fearlessly launched his music career, beginning with a mixtape called Room for Improvement. That cemented his name in the music industry as one of the biggest rappers in history. His name got even more buzz when the artist signed a deal with Lil Wayne’s label Young Money Management. To date, Drake has won over 100 awards, four of which were Grammy Awards. He also received 44 Grammy nominations and 81 nominations on the Billboard Music Awards. 


  1. The Weeknd

Born to Ethiopian immigrant parents, Abel Tesyafe, better known as The Weeknd, is one of the biggest names in the R&B and pop scenes. He is best recognized for his emotionally invested music, which has obtained multi-platinum sales and Grammy nominations. The singer, songwriter, and record producer is originally from Toronto, Canada. He began making a buzz in the music industry by uploading anonymous songs on YouTube under his moniker. It wasn’t long before The Weeknd dominated the mainstream music scene. In 2011, he launched three mixtapes, House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. In 2013, the artist released his debut album called Kiss Land. His sophomore album soon followed suit, entitled Beauty Behind the Madness, which became the number one album on Billboard 200. 


  1. Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Isabel Rodrigo, simply known as Olivia Rodrigo, is a singer, songwriter, and actress. Her songs have generated quite the buzz among today’s audiences, recognized for her unique storytelling and note-worthy vocals. Olivia set a record high with the launch of her hit song “Driver’s License,” making her the youngest female artist ever to top the Billboard Hot 100. Olivia starred in several movies and television shows, including playing the lead role in An American Dream: Grace Stirs up Success, Disney’s High School Musical Series, and Disney TV’s Bizaardvark. Olivia began her music journey at age 12 while growing up in Murrieta, California. She is also known for her singles “Deja Vu,” “Good 4 U,” and “Happier.” Recently, Olivia made waves when she released her debut album Sour. The music video of which has gone viral with over 12 million views on YouTube.


  1. Andrew Neil

Andrew Neil’s artistic journey began in 2009 after sustaining a head injury in a car crash. Out of nowhere, Andrew began to chart his own journey into songwriting, which he kickstarted by learning the keyboard, and then the guitar by writing songs. Struggles with Mental Health and Cancer have framed his lyrical content. Alt Rocker and close friend to the late Daniel Johnston, Kathy McCarty says this about Andrew’s new album “Sunny Side”: “The outpouring of melody and counterpoint is deeply affecting, seeming to come directly from a heart so genuine that it is almost too pure for this world”.

Spotify: Andrew Neil

  1. Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.

Legendary performers Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. are 7-time Grammy Award winners who earned 15 gold and 3 platinum records. The couple can currently be seen in Questlove’s Summer of Soul (..Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). McCoo and Davis are working on an expanded version of their first album in 30 years, Blackbird: Lennon-McCartney Icons, released in April 2021 to critical acclaim. The husband-and-wife duo, who paved the way for countless Black artists, just became the first Black couple to receive a Hollywood Walk of Fame honor, their second Walk of Fame honor.

Spotify: Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.


  1. Winona Oak

After landing various collaborations with What So Not and The Chainsmokers, Winona Oak is indeed one an artist to watch. The Swedish singer and songwriter is known for her ethereal and enchanting songs, which encapsulate her upbringing in the Nordic forests of Sweden on Solleron, a small island known as the “Island of the Sun.” She spent most of her childhood with more animals than people, making her gentle, sympathetic, and unique in many ways. Winona produces beautifully haunting songs that have captivated listeners across the globe. In 2018, the rising artist signed with Neon Gold and Atlantic. Later in the year, she released a music video for her cover of the song “Don’t Save Me” by Haim. Starting 2020 with a bang, Winona releases her debut EP called Closure, dubbed as a “portrait of ethereal melancholy.”


  1. Ruger

Sometimes when you hear a song for the first time, you know. That was the case with Nigerian-born Afrobeat artist Ruger’s unconventional dancehall hall debut EP – Pandemic. It was not about knowing that Afrobeat has the best sounds or that the debut EP was a hit with millions of views on Youtube; there was a weight to the songs that earmarks it as the beginning of something important. 

Born Michael Adebayo, Ruger was officially unveiled as one of the newest additions to the Jonzing World record label currently distributed through Mavin Records. This eye-patch-wearing musical talent dominates the Nigerian music scene with his ferocious lyricism, the infectious Afrobeat sound going viral on social media platforms like TikTok, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram. 

Learn more about Ruger by visiting his Instagram page. In addition, you can watch his videos on Youtube.

Instagram: @rugerofficial  

YouTube: Ruger Official  

  1. Blxst

When Blxst sings, everything changes. You find yourself unconsciously moving to the beats, the addictive sounds instantly filling you with warm, fuzzy feelings and awakening the dancer in you. This Los Angeles-based artist first made a musical statement with his 2019 hit “Hurt,” which instantly went viral. Then, riding the wave, he released one of the best projects of 2020, his EP, No Love Lost. Each of the eight songs was conceptually powerful, his smooth, unique laidback style shining through in a perfect fusion of beats and lyrics to peak at number 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

With collaborations with established artists like Ty Dolla $ign, Tyga and more on the horizon, Blaxst is on an upward trajectory to success and recently released his new song with Bino Rideaux, “Sixtape 2,” on  July 16. 

To learn more about Blxst, visit his Instagram. In addition, you can watch his videos on Youtube.  

Instagram: @blxst  

YouTube: BLXST 

  1. Nilüfer Yanya

There are no rules to being a great artist—they come in all forms. Still, the ability to combine influences from indie rock to soul, jazz, and trip-hop into a musical treat takes the lead, and London-based Indie artist Nilüfer Yanya is proving that she is an artist worth her salt. 

Making her debut in 2019 with the full-length album Miss Universe, Yanya sparked a stream of appreciation from fans, peers and established artists. Her breathy vocals with unabashedly honest lyrics blending perfectly with inventive guitar work and big drums. As revealed by her last song, Yanya’s talents stay evolving, her music consistently entertaining and flourishing with every release. 

To learn more about Nilüfer Yanya, visit her Instagram page. In addition, you can watch her videos on Youtube. 

Instagram: @niluferyanyaaaaaa  

YouTube: Nilufer Yanya  

  1. Baby Queen

Baby Queen is unique—her hypnotizing voice armed with biting wit and unbridled emotional honesty while still sounding like your little secret. Born Arabella Latham, this South African–born singer-songwriter, has a fearless lyrical talent that transcends the need for traditional career milestones. 

In 2020, the London-based artist blew us away with her debut EP Medicine, an evolution from her first single, “Internet Religion,” effortlessly cemented her sound and hallmarks as one worth the attention. A brilliant lyricist with a knack for making sparkling pop songs, Baby Queen makes cynical satires and uses them to examine critical issues, from the toxic effects of social media to depression and mental health. Her latest singles “Dover Beach” and “Raw Thoughts” have racked up raving reviews putting her in an upward motion for success. 

Learn more about Baby Queen by visiting her Instagram.  And listen to her music on Spotify. 

Instagram: @queenofthebabies  

Spotify: Baby Queen

Posted by Eric Thomas

Eric Thomas is an Entertainment Journalist. He has spent almost a decade of his life supporting music enthusiasts shine in the competitive industry they are in. He has worked closely with artists in the past and posted all these stories for the public to see.

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