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Faces of the Music Industry: Newbies Edition

A brief review of this year’s biggest breakout stars.

In March 2020, COVID-19 stopped the world. There was one industry, however, that continued to thrive: music. From Olivia Rodrigo to Lil Nas X, the music industry has welcomed some mega stars over the past year. . Meanwhile, experienced artists like Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber have undergone some major turning points in their careers, cementing their statuses as pop royalty. Let’s take a look at a few of the newer stars and what they’re doing right. 

Olivia Rodrigo

Rodrigo is a budding pop princess who has already guaranteed her spot in the industry with her debut single, “Driver’s License.” This smash-hit spent ___ weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and Rodrigo’s follow-up singles “deja vu” and “good 4 u” dominated both the charts and popular social media apps like TikTok for months. What Rodrigo does well is writing heartfelt songs that take the listener back to their high school days, which makes sense, as she currently stars in Disney+’s High School Musical spin-off. In each of her songs, Rodrigo imbues a perfect mixture of modern pop and nostalgic teen angst. In the wake of her incredible debut album Sour, it’s safe to say that she’s here to stay.

Recommended Songs: “brutal,” “traitor,” “drivers license,” “happier,” and “good 4 u” 

Artist Rating: 7/10

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X took the music industry by storm with his hit 2019 song “Old Town Road.” When Billy Ray Cyrus joined Lil Nas X on the remix, this country-trap hybrid became an even bigger success and spent weeks playing at every party and reigning on top of every chart. And Lil Nas X is anything but a one-hit-wonder as he has conquered 2021 with ease. His most recent album’s first single “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” debuted at #1 and was accompanied by a fiery music video. Lil Nas X welcomed rapper Jack Harlow on the horn-heavy “Industry Baby,” which is filled with catchy hooks and visuals. His debut album Montero proved something all of his fans knew from the start: Lil Nas X is here to stay. 

Recommended Songs: “Industry Baby,” “That’s What I Want,” “Dolla Sign Slime,” and “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” 

Artist Rating: 8/10

Doja Cat

This triple-threat singer, rapper, and songwriter has been active in the music industry for years now, and her fame and talent have only continued to grow. With her early hits “Tia Tamera” and “Juicy” she was bound to blow up, which is exactly what happened. With the help of Tiktok, Doja had her biggest hit “Say So” peak at number 1 on the charts. And although her album Hot Pink was impressive, Doja’s Planet Her is literally out of this world. If there’s anything we have learned about what to expect from Doja, it’s to expect the unexpected. Her quirky personality and lively music make her an amazing performer, something no one expected of her before she made it big. Doja is an artist to look out for, and I can only imagine how much better she’ll get with time. 

Recommended Songs: “Get Into It (Yuh),” “Love to Dream,” “Been Like This,” “Ain’t Sh-t,” and “Need to Know.” 

Artist Rating: 9.5/10

If there’s one thing Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, and Doja Cat all have in common, it’s that they’re all making a big impact on the music industry by refusing to be boxed in to/as ______. Each of these artists is cementing their places in an industry that’s ever-changing. While it’s clear that the music industry may be unpredictable, I say these stars are here to stay.

Hi, I'm a Public Relations Major with a concentration in Intercultural Communication. currently navigating my third year at Temple. I enjoy all things pop culture, astrology, & Beyoncé. Feel free to connect with me on my socials to get to know her more!
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