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UCLA Radio Music Round Up 2020-21

Written by on March 29, 2021

We polled our team on their favorite tracks from last year, and what they’re looking forward to this year. Here is what they had to say.


Eleonor Palabrica

Favorite Album of 2020: After Hours by The Weeknd

this album has zero skips and it honestly helped me through the transition from normalcy to the pandemic so i will love it forever and always. each song on the album can stand on its own and that says a lot in how he composed his album to be so fucking strong and have every song serve its purpose rather than having “filler” songs.

Favorite Song of 2020: Say It by girl in red 

this song pains me but in a good way. it’s a song that makes me feel ‘love.’ it’s a song that i can blast in my car, windows down screaming the lyrics.

Favorite Music Video of 2020: uleum by Mokyo

(the mv isn’t anything fancy but it was enough for the lyrics and it had me crying so there’s that) the music videos matches the lyrics and the simplicity of it all can get someone super emotional. it was just super raw and watching it made me feel like i was going to be okay too.

Favorite Artist of 2020: The Weeknd

he provided us with a bangin album and music videos that matched the vibe. nothing was half assed and he is a true artist. he is a true performer that is all

Artist to Watch in 2021: AG Club

they’re a new-ish hip hop/rap collective from the bay, they’re really paving the way for themselves and picking up traction since they’ve been collabing with other artists like a$ap ferg. i just think they’re doing good and they have a steez about em that i think people will gravitate too. we just need a new collective that’s not brockhampton there i said it 🤭

Dream Collab for 2021: Andre 3000 x Frank Ocean

i know frank ocean admires andre 3000 and the both of them are well known but underrated and under appreciated in the mainstream. i also think if they were to put out a song together they wouldn’t need to give us music for years to come ( even tho they both are silent currently lol) i just think they’d compliment each other really well and i know their lyrics could hurt my heart

Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: Silk Sonic by Anderson .Paak & Bruno Mars

what they’re cooking up is about to BANG. the sound they’re going for after hearing leave the door open is bringing me back to like good days? idk how to explain but like it makes me wanna sway while my eyes are closed and not a lot of music these days makes me feel that way

Favorite Album of 2020: Limbo by Amine

I think of it as a “limbo” between Amine’s sound, with rap, hip-hop, and R&B that makes me consistently head-bop throughout the entire album. Overall Amines is just incredibly unique skill with incorporating catchy beats into raw lyrics.

Favorite Song of 2020: Black Swan by BTS

Just the aesthetics in Black Swan by BTS deserves its own award. Holistically the song is incredible with a beautiful choreography, timeless music video, dreamy instrumentals, deep lyrics…. I could go on. No doubt favorite song of 2020.

Favorite Music Video of 2020: Brown Skin Girls by Beyonce  

It boosted my confidence and self-love insanely. I consider the music video an Oscar winning short-film; The beautiful aesthetics and confidence seen in the Black women represented in the video makes it my go-to for a confidence booster.

Favorite Artist of 2020: The Weeknd

He reinvented the meaning of commerciality by visually representing his persona with even showing up to award shows all bandaged up. Older mellow sounds, 1980s twinkles, and new aesthetics in his After Hours made me obsessed with his newer discography. He has insane musical capabilities and is just getting started in reinventing his persona, instrumentals, and aesthetic.

Artist to Watch in 2021: Dizzy Fae

I recently listened to her and I think she is the perfect artist to define the new wave of the synth-pop sound that has been common in todays top songs.

Dream Collab for 2021: TWICE x Post Malone

Would explode 2021. Not a feature, but an even lyric distribution that would perfectly balance TWICE’s bubbly music and Malone’s rap. Overall would be a sculpted masterpiece.

Favorite Album of 2020: Pixel Bath by Jean Dawson

This genre-blending album is energetic yet still really well-written overall. It definitely gave me a brief main-character moment while I listened for the first time at home during the pandemic.

Favorite Song of 2020: peas by boylife 

The song provides a sentimental and personal perspective of the loss of a close friend, revealing parts of the artist’s coping process. The song builds so beautifully throughout and presents really powerful instrumentals.

Favorite Music Video of 2020: What Kinda Music by Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes

This music video really brings Yussef’s drums to life. The video does a really great job of presenting a more abstract interpretation of someone who may feel like an outcast or who deals with social anxiety.

Favorite Artist of 2020: Boldy James

Although he debuted in 2013, he dropped some really stellar projects this year, some where he worked with prominent producers like The Alchemist and Sterling Toles. He consistently presented a lot of instrumental and lyrical detail in all of his 2020 projects, especially in his album Manger on McNichols.

Artist to Watch in 2021: Joyce Wrice

An independent alternative R&B artist. She previously worked with artists like the Free Nationals, UMI, Lucky Daye, Westside Gunn, and Rejjie Snow. She also just released a new song called “On One” with rapper Freddie Gibbs as a feature! Her debut album is releasing mid-March, and I’m excited to hear what she’s been working on.

Dream Collab for 2021: SZA x Frank Ocean 

I’m still waiting for Frank to drop his cover of SZA’s “The Weekend” that he teased on Instagram in 2019.

Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: TYRON by slowthai

The two-part format starts with more hard-hitting tracks while the second half reflects more cinematic instrumentals. The album also included some great artist features and overall presents slowthai’s versatility as an artist.

Favorite Album of 2020: Couldn’t Wait to Tell You… by Liv.e 

Easily my favorite album for 2020. Dusty looping samples, hazy production and her vocals evoke the smell of incense, weed smoke and shea butter; what more can you ask for.

Favorite Song of 2020: Shimmy by Aminé

Packs the punch of nostalgia filled old school rap (it is an ODB sample after all) with the contemporary bounce and punch of this era’s sound.

Favorite Music Video of 2020: Strong Friend by Teezo Touchdown

Teezo is truly one of the most creative artists out there right now and he’s just starting to get the attention he deserves. His left field surrealist aesthetic shines through all his art, music and videos.

Favorite Artist of 2020: KeiyaA

I had KeiyaA and Liv.e tied for my favorite album of 2020, and struggled to decide to between the two for this one too. Either way, you need both of these women’s music in your life!!!

Artist to Watch in 2021: Teezo Touchdown / Reggie

This is a tie for me, Teezo impressed the fuck out of me with the handful of singles/videos he dropped last year. He clearly has star power and is on his way to making a big impact. Reggie, another Houston, TX native now living in LA, only has 3 songs out but already feels like the second coming of D’Angelo; this has me extremely tuned in.

Dream Collab for 2021: Bobby Shmurda x Kenny Beats

This is the track that the culture needs! A new Shmurda hit to usher us through (hopefully) the end of the pandemic would be *chef’s kiss*. BOBBY BITCH

Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: With the Shifts by Maassai / Smiling With No Teeth by Genesis Owusu

I’d say these are the projects I’ve been most impressed with this year so far. Still holding my breath for Kendrick and Frank to drop.

Alexander Quezada

Favorite Album of 2020: Wuddaji by Theo Parrish

Legendary Detroit house producer and Sound Signature founder, Theo Parrish returned late last year with a new studio album. Unlike most electronic music, the album is predominantly reliant on live instrumentation and vocals like predecessor American Intelligence and to the later works of Moodymann (a frequent collaborator and the other third of Detroit collective 3Chairs). Wuddaji is an extension of Parrish’s eclectic and experimental raw sound that was introduced in his debut and now classic 1999 release First Floor. Parrish certainly never departed from the experimental deep house eloquently produced since, instead the album is an extension with a heavier employment of jazz and funk. It’s wonky, but also beautifully soulful.

Favorite Song of 2020: Western by Mk. Gee

Coming from the momentum of his wonderful debut 2018 Pronounced Mc.Gee and his sophomore follow up Fool one year later, LA based multi-instrumentalist and singer Mk. Gee came into 2020 with a well-crafted and conceptual follow up, A Museum of Contradiction. The highlight, for me at least, was the single Western, an airy and lush song that plays well into the album’s themes of time and loneliness. The instrumentation also surpases the bedroom soul sound I began following him for in the first place. “Western” takes us to a completely different and funky dimension.

Favorite Music Video of 2020: Unlocked (short film) by Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats 

After faking beef on Instagram Live and Twitter, Denzel & Kenny dropped the surprise collab album, UNLOCKED in February of 2020. The album itself is a banging 22 minutes of a internet hardcore rap that pays homage to the eclectic sampling of Madlib, the vocal interludes of the late and great MF Doom, and the furious rhyming of the Wu-Tang Clan. And the mini-movie reflects this, and more. The plot revolves around Denzel being upset at Kenny for leaking the project only to conclude that they were actually lost. Using Kenny’s USB-powered helmet (which he claims to have bought at a Guitar Center in Guadalajara), the two travel a series of animated worlds to retrieve the files. Curry cited the styles of anime like Cowboy Bebop and the Gorillaz  to have inspired the short film while also using claymation and employing pixel cartoonist Mike Manor to work on the visuals. Check out the new remix album UNLOCKED that dropped a couple weeks ago for some excellent remixes from Joey Bada$$, Smino, and others!

Favorite Artist of 2020: Flo Mili

Having blown up on Tik Tok for her Playboi Carti and Ethereal remix “Beef” in 2019 and 2020, Flo Mili impressed flow, rhyme skills, and wit proved her to be good reasons for her success. Luckily, Flo Mili also had a great 2020 even as the pandemic ravaged on. Her abrasive energy that she displayed on her debut Ho, why is you here and on her now viral collab with $NOT “Mean” proved her to be far more than just another hype rapper. Her raw aggression and lyrical finesse make her well deserving of her success. I am absolutely hype for what she has planned this year.

Artist to Watch in 2021: Tkay Maidza

Make no mistake, Tkay Maidza had a great 2020, especially having released her second instalment to the Last Year Was Weird series in August, which employed glossy and futuristic instrumentals with the help of JPEGMafia and Kari Faux. But the Australian rapper/singer has already been making bigger waves this year with her single “Kim” with Yung Baby Tate, which was a boastful and 808 heavy trap banger, and with a creative video to accompany it. Since Maidza’s forward-thinking music has kept her on an insane roll for some time already, I can say that she is someone I think deserves to blow up even more this year!

Dream Collab for 2021: JPEGMAFIA x Earl Sweatshirt

I’ll admit that there’s not much of a reason to believe the two would release music together. But how cool would it be if they did?! Peggy and Earl are some of rap’s most creative and skilled producers and rappers in the game, but they are polar opposites at this point. Peggy has been making glitched out and industrial hits, having more recently embraced his more slick, elegant, and sensitive side on EP1 and 2 that were released late last year and earlier last month respectively. Meanwhile, Earl’s maturity since his days in Odd Future has continued to be more introspective and profound as his instrumentals become more soulful, especially after Some Rap Songs and Feet of Clay. Hopefully the two will join forces and put the best of their worlds together and release more anti-capitalist bangers as we so desperately need.

Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: Isles by Bicep

The legendary Belfast house duo and founders of the Feel My Bicep blog turned record label, Bicep has graced us with yet another release this year following up the amazing self-titled debut from 2017. They return to Ninja Tune with Isles, a more listen focused and left-field sophomore album. The result are crip synth patches and broken beat drum sequences that culminate to 49 minutes of sophisticated house, electro, UK Garage, and even what seems to be a dabble in Chicago Footwork on the track “Saku” with Clara La San. As a result, the cuts on Isles transcend the standards of the genres they were inspired by. While slightly less club-oriented as their debut, Isles shows Furgeson and McBriar at their most daring and spontaneous, while also being attentive to sonic detail.

Kate Santos-Patron

Favorite Album of 2020: Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle

LITERALLY THE BEST they are amazing vocalists and can pull off visuals like no one else.

Favorite Song of 2020: Better by BoA

This makes her 20th anniversary of being the most impactful K-Pop star (she can even be counted as a J-Pop star). The song is FUCKING GOOD and the best kpop song of 2020.

Favorite Music Video of 2020: Nonbinary by Arca

She looks gorgeous in the music video and the aesthetics are immaculate.

Favorite Artist of 2020: Yukika 

City pop revival princess and she has made one of the best K-Pop albums in 2020 called “Soul Lady”!!!!!

Artist to Watch in 2021: Yves Tumor

They’re nonbinary and Black! And they made an amazing indie/alternative album in 2020 so PLS GO CHECK IT OUT!!!

Dream Collab for 2021: [SO MANY]

Rina Sawayama and Tiffany Young (using Tiffany’s run for your life concept because they could body a 2000s beat), Chloe x Halle and Megan thee Stallion (SO POWERFUL I would faint and Megan with Chloe x Halle aesthetics MWAH), Kylie Minogue and Charli XCX (old lgbt and young lgbt, this collab would be unstoppable), LOONA and Yukika (The girls that have similar beats that could compliment each other PLEASE!!!!), Normani and Tinashe (Dancing duo can bring another pop or RNB hit).

Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: GONE GOLD by Lexie Liu

Her first self-produced album and her songs are amazing….YUMMY.

Favorite Album of 2020: Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers

I’ve been a fan since the only songs she had out were on her soundcloud, so watching her growth in writing and production has been a really beautiful journey for me. This also felt like the perfect album for the pandemic. It sort of feels like the world is ending. The album makes you feel comfortable in suffering, which sorta garners hope I think. The perfect anthem to a year indoors.

Favorite Song of 2020: Circle the Drain by Soccer Mommy 

It’s a song about sadness that makes me feel happy. that’s all i need in a song these days.

Favorite Music Video of 2020: I Know the End  by Phoebe Bridgers

this is the whackest video i’ve ever seen. she makes out with an old lady, she mirrors the apocalypse, she wears a skeleton suit, she gets soaked in a bathtub. this song is the ultimate illustration of a crumbling world and everything going to madness, but in a fuck-it kind of way. The apocalypse doesn’t seem scary or sad, it seems unhinged and comedic. reminds all of us that nothing should be taken too seriously, even when everything’s coming to a crashing halt.

Favorite Artist of 2020: Phoebe Bridgers

she had her SNL debut, put out punisher, got featured in GAY TIMES MAG, was on Jimmy Fallon, wrote savior complex, what more could someone ask for

Artist to Watch in 2021: beabadoobee

but that’s been known.

Dream Collab for 2021: SZA x Daniel Cesar 

i’m ready. 

Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: Driver’s License by Olivia Rodrigo

fuck it. i’ll take a good cry, i’ll admit to my lameness. it’s a SLAP.

Sam O’Brien

Favorite Album of 2020: Pillowland by Jam City

After spending the past 5 years producing for others rather than themself, Jack Latham dropped his third album to little fanfare last November, aside from a cryptic teaser trailer just a week before release. To say the least, across the 10 songs on this album Latham blurs the edges of Rock and Pop elements from the past 50 years to sustain a beautiful, soft, and hazy fantasy that feels infinite-but only lasts 32 minutes.

Favorite Song of 2020: Autechre by Metaz form8

Calming, a bit mournful, shifting, always rising and falling. The pulse that comes every now and then feels restorative.

Favorite Artist of 2020: A.G. Cook

This thread says it all.

Artist to Watch in 2021: Klein

She’s always been brilliant, so I’m sure she will release even more amazing music this year. https://klein1997.bandcamp.com

Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: Cheater by Pom Poko

They took the sound from their 2019 debut and refined it for an even tighter and more focused burst of energy. Noisy indie rock that feels forward-thinking and playful, a seemingly harder and harder thing to do.

Favorite Album of 2020: Is Anybody Out there? by DPR Live 

NGL there were no good, full no skip albums in 2020 

Favorite Song of 2020: Cheating is a Crime by Takayan

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Favorite Music Video of 2020: Sensitive by Serena Isioma

Again there were no good music videos but this was a vibe lol

Favorite Artist of 2020: Britney Spears

My most played according to spotify is DPR LIVE and Takayan but I already mentioned them so that’s boring sooo probably Britney Spears #FreeBritney

Artist to Watch in 2021: Kali Uchis

For sure

Dream Collab for 2021: 

Anyone who will bring Joji out of his hiatus and make ACTUAL good music with him (tea)

Lindsay Hafer

Favorite Album of 2020: Tenderness by Lolawolf

This album is only 7 songs long, but each one carries totally unique musical elements and styles. It combines R&B, electro pop, and rock to create an emotional but badass anthem.

Favorite Song of 2020: Lockdown by Anderson .Paak

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Favorite Music Video of 2020: All my girls like to fight by Hope Tala

This song and music video truly display the star power of Hope Tala. She combines Spanish instrumental influences with fierce lyrics to create one of the most catchy and cool songs of the year. The music video features amazing dancers and videography, which tie the whole idea together. It is definitely worth a watch.

Favorite Artist of 2020: Hope Tala

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Artist to Watch in 2021: Tobi Lou

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Dream Collab for 2021: Loyle Carner x Hope Tala

I would love to see this collab take place because the two sounds of these artists could mesh together to make something amazing. Loyle Carner’s smooth and soothing vocals combined with the sweet and feminine voice of Hope Tala would be the most beautiful thing I can imagine, especially when considering how masterful each of their lyrics are.

Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: Silk Sonic by Anderson .Paak & Bruno Mars

This is still in the works, only one song has been released so far, but I think this duo is bound to create some beautiful and catchy music. Their musical styles are somewhat similar, but I think they will bring out new sides of one another.

Favorite Album of 2020: How I’m Feeling Now by Charli XCX

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Favorite Song of 2020: claws by Charli XCX

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Favorite Music Video of 2020: XS by Rina Sawayama

Favorite Artist of 2020: Charli XCX

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Artist to Watch in 2021: That Kid / ENHYPEN / Tomorrow X Together

im calling it rn ENHYPEN or Tomorrow X Together will reach huge success one day

Dream Collab for 2021: Charli XCX x That Kid

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Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: Friday (REMIX) & Girlfriend by Rebecca Black

not an album but Rebecca Black has been dropping GREAT ass singles aka the friday remix and girlfriend, i would keep my eye on rebecca black O.O

Favorite Album of 2020: What’s Your Pleasure – Jessie Ware

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Favorite Song of 2020: Forgive Me by Chloe x Halle

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Favorite Music Video of 2020: Forgive Me by Chloe x Halle

Favorite Artist of 2020: Charli XCX

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Artist to Watch in 2021: Claud

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Dream Collab for 2021: Frank Ocean x SZA

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Favorite Album of 2021 So Far: Silk Sonic by Anderson .Paak & Bruno Mars

I’m pretty stoked to see what is going to come out of this silk sonic collab!

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