Awards season is a time to celebrate some of the biggest names in creativity. The Grammy Awards, in particular, are always quite the pop-culture phenomenon: the red carpet looks, social media debates on which artists were “robbed,” the acceptance speeches and, of course, the music. This year, the 64th Annual Grammy Awards — which were supposed to occur in January — were postponed due to COVID-19 concerns and will now be held on Sunday, April 3rd.
Our staff here at KCPR voted on what we believe were among the best releases from 2021 if we — hypothetically — had a say in the Grammy Awards’ “Big Four” categories: Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist.
Song of the Year: “Magpie” by Lava La Rue
Runners up: “Paprika” by Japanese Breakfast, “Valentine” by Snail Mail, “Waiting” by TOPS
This song from the London-based hip hop and R&B artist was originally released in February of last year. This song is a track from her latest EP, “Butter-Fly.” Seamlessly blending melodic rap verses with psychedelic and rhythmic background instrumentals, “Magpie” creates a soundtrack for those who yearn for a connected society plagued by capitalism and other forces.
Listen to “Magpie” here.
Album of the Year: “Juno” by Remi Wolf
Runners up: “Any Shape You Take” by Indigo De Souza, “Jubilee” by Japanese Breakfast, “I Know I’m Funny haha” by Faye Webster
California grown Remi Wolf’s debut album swept new fans off their feet. Addicting choruses, funky ad-libs, swirling harmonies and powerful vocals define this fast-paced album and give it a unique edge that most other pop albums simply do not have. From spunky first track “Liquor Store” to nostalgic and catchy “Street You Live On,” Remi Wolf creates an album that might appear to be a stream of consciousness–but hidden within off-beat references and obscure details of everyday life are deeper messages, from the rituals of alcohol dependency to feeling out of place in a “perfect” relationship.
Listen to “Juno” here.
Record of the Year: “Be Sweet” by Japanese Breakfast
Runners up: “Summer’s Over” by Jordana and TV Girl, “Better Distractions” by Faye Webster, “Hush” by The Marías
“Be Sweet” is only one of the many amazing songs from Japanese Breakfast’s album “Jubilee” that has had heavy rotation on KCPR’s airwaves over this past year. San Luis Obispo was lucky enough to host the band for a night at the Madonna Expo Center back in November, and this song has been well-loved since its release in early 2021. The production of this record stands out with smooth and sweet melodies, an addictive bass and synth combination, rock undertones and Michelle Zauner’s captivating voice all made this record what it is, garnering millions of streams across varying platforms. The band is nominated for Best New Artist in the 64th Annual Grammy Awards this year.
Listen to “Be Sweet” here.
Best New Artist: Honeyboys
Runners up: Indigo De Souza, Black Country New Road, Japanese Breakfast
San Luis Obispo-based band Honeyboys has made their mark in the local music scene. From the San Luis Obispo Downtown Farmer’s Market to shows in Los Angeles, Honeyboys have grown their fanbase from hundreds to thousands over the past year. The band’s latest release, “Green Tea,” uses a creative analogy to tell a story about a relationship that is not meant to be, and other releases touch on similar subjects that college students can relate to. Honeyboys continue to put a unique spin on California surf-rock and indie-pop genres, releasing catchy singles and performing covers of songs from different genres during their live shows.
Cayley O’Brien is a content writer for KCPR.org Ollie Lamkin is a designer and DJ for KCPR.