Music of the year: students’ top 4 artists of 2021


Anjali Ashok

One hundred students were asked about their favorite artist of the year during a poll conducted in the cafeteria.

Anjali Ashok, Arts & Style Editor

After the pandemic-dominated year of music, 2021 was a return to normalcy for the music industry. Major artists like Lana Del Rey, Kanye West and Billie Eilish released new albums and explored unique genres of music from their usual styles with songs devised during the lockdown. 

“The way these artists have grown up and developed their music is really [appealing] to us [as fans],” Giri said. “More personality and character development have been shown which is what a lot of people like.”

Four artists in particular, Taylor Swift, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo and the K-Pop band BTS were widely recognized following their new releases.


Taylor Swift

This year, Taylor Swift’s re-releases of popular older albums as “Taylor’s Version,” including “Fearless” and “Red,” brought her more recognition. Her fame continues to grow, as shown while being shown as the Top Female Artist of the Year at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards in May. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” was released most recently on Nov. 12. According to Forbes, after just five days, the album had the largest sales week of 2021 in the US, as of Nov.18. 

“My favorite artist is definitely Taylor Swift,” sophomore Jasmin Giri said. “She is very creative with the ways she creates her songs and I just love her songwriting techniques in general.”

With 42 of 100 students naming her as their number one artist in a cafeteria poll, her popularity and monthly listeners is the highest within the school community.

“I listen to her songs on a daily basis,” Giri said. “It’s like a routine for me now.”



Having released a new album on Sep. 3,“Certified Lover Boy” Drake tops the charts in 2021. Nominated for the Artist of the Year award for the American Music Awards, his album included more than 20 popular songs. 

He grabbed eight of 10 spots available on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart. Many of his popular hits like “Knife Talk” gained popularity through the social media platform TikTok.

“I always discover my favorite songs through TikTok,” sophomore Rashi Adhikari said. “When the song becomes really popular it starts appearing on my For You Page a lot and if I really like it, I will listen to it on Spotify.”

Drake’s single, “Way 2 Sexy,” made it to the top spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 songs and, as of Sep. 15, was Number 1 on the chart. All 21 songs featured on Drake’s new popular album have hit the charts, helping him to gain fans all over the world.


Olivia Rodrigo

Widely known from “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” Olivia Rodrigo wrote her debut album “Sour” when she was just 17 years old. With powerful hit singles including, “drivers license,” “deja vu” and popular pop-punk hits like “brutal” and “good 4 u,” “Sour” showcases a diverse sound for a first album. 

“I thought ‘Sour’ was really good and a really amazing debut,” junior Ashika Ganta said. “Her music just felt more fresh in comparison to a lot of the music in the beginning months of 2021.”

Gaining popularity in her singing during the lockdown, Rodrigo represents a Gen Z teenager, appealing to many young listeners. Her single “drivers license” was the first song of the year to hit 1 billion streams according to Billboard. Many of Rodrigo’s songs reference real-life experiences like her breakup, providing potential for her following albums.



Korean boy band BTS, formed in 2010, gained fame following the craze of Korean Pop music in 2017 among American teens with the introduction of BTS and BLACKPINK. BTS’ most recent song release was “Universe,” a collaboration with Coldplay, and a remix of “Butter,” featuring Megan Thee Stallion. 

“‘Butter,’ ‘Permission to Dance’ and ‘Film Out’ are three of my favorite tracks [by BTS] from this year,” senior Srinidhi Yelimati said. “‘Butter’ and ‘Permission to Dance’ radiated such a nice, positive vibe that helped me feel a lot better about the current situation of the pandemic. [I also really enjoyed] “Universe” since the music video was well-made, and the song’s message is very special.”

BTS’ fandom name is known as the ARMY with over 40.8 million members around the world. After 11 years in the industry, many people have gotten hooked onto their catchy choruses and vibrant instrumentals.

“I became a fan in May of 2018,” Yelimati said. “I was completely hooked and fell down a rabbit hole of wanting to learn all of their names and listening to their entire discography. Their music gives me bursts of energy and makes working out and running much more enjoyable.”