And so ends another strange year on planet Earth. When we ran this column last year, we lamented the pause on live music and the very sudden readjustments musicians were having to make as they frantically tried to monetise live-streaming and try to keep their heads above water. Covid strain Omicron B notwithstanding, we appear to be probably/possibly/maybe out of the woods... Sort of.
Live music is back with a bang and the music itself has somehow gotten even better. Suffice to say, those of us who scratch a living writing about music have had a lot to talk about. It was a time of our own homegrown stars rising up, snatching crowns and achieving generational greatness. Adele, of course, dominated with 30, but just as worthy of premiership status are Dave, Ghetts, Little Simz, Arlo Parks, Cleo Sol and Children Of Zeus, as well as newer stars like ENNY, Knucks, KAM-BU and BERWYN shaking up their respective scenes, shattering genre boundaries and generally making the world of UK music more thrilling than ever.
Sadly, as well as welcoming new greats, we also said goodbye to some others, including the untimely passing of rap icons DMX and Biz Markie, and music/fashion powerhouse Virgil Abloh. And, as always, there have been plenty of discussions dominating the timeline—from major labels choking vinyl pressing plants to streaming platforms dictating our listening habits and, sadly, the unimaginable horror of Astroworld where 10 audience members tragically lost their lives. As ever, it’s only through honest and responsible reporting that we can do these conversations justice.
With that in mind, here are some of the best pieces of music journalism that dropped in 2021, chosen by the Complex UK music team (and extended family).