By Emma Sánchez 

Despite the pandemic being especially hard on musicians who thrive off audiences and collaboration, there have been some amazing new music releases this year. This list of artists, new albums and singles was hard for me to compile — there were just too many amazing new releases to choose from. But for now, here’s a short list of new music that’s come out during the pandemic, paired with my opinions.

Ashnikko’s “Daisy”

This song actually came out in July, but it’s since gone viral. From the first listen I was immediately hooked. The beat makes this a very in-your-face song, especially paired with lyrics like “I’m crazy but you like that.” Ashnikko’s giving us bars, as demonstrated by her previous hit “STUPID,” but in this song, we see her vocals come through with an eerie hook that has been stuck in my head all week. 

Qveen Herby

If there’s one artist who works quickly during the pandemic, it’s Qveen Herby. This year, she gained an even larger following with her cover of “WAP,” originally sung by Cardi B. 

My all-time favorite is her song “Self Aware,” featuring Durand Bernarr. The music video consists of them flexing different flawless outfits while delivering melodies with no facial expression. This single showcases her true talent and range, making me wonder why she hasn’t gotten millions of views already. 

Gorillaz’s “Song Machine: Season 1”

When Gorillaz announced they would continue releasing music in collaboration with other artists for their new album “Song Machine: Season 1,” I was ecstatic. Each song is unique and does a wonderful job of showcasing their musical guests.

“The Pink Phantom,” their collaboration with Elton John and 6LACK, came out on Oct. 1. The piano-ballad style of this song is a perfect fit for Elton John, but surprisingly incorporates 6LACK’s verse very well.

My personal favorite on the album is “PAC-MAN”  featuring ScHoolboy Q. “PAC-MAN” makes use of vintage beats and video game sounds, which then get taken to the extreme during ScHoolboy Q’s verses. The album is definitely a new style for Gorillaz, but each song still embraces a lot of Gorillaz’s old work.

Joji’s “Nectar

All in all, Joji’s new album “Nectar” is more about the vibe than anything else, as Joji’s sleepy low range and powerful falsettos are paired with a blend of orchestral and electronic sounds. One standout song I really love is “Run,” which pays homage to classic rock with stronger vocals and occasional growls, as well as an arpeggiating electric guitar. The guitar line in “Run” reminds me of the guitar part in the Beatles’ “Because,” which was originally a reference to the first movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” It’s like reference-inception and I find that very cool.

Melanie Martinez’s “The Bakery”

“The Bakery” is something different for Martinez, as she normally writes dark music with themes of childhood and nursery rhymes. This piece is a lot more laid-back and something you can bob your head to. What stands out is the groovy bass line and simple beat that repeats throughout. This, paired with her well-thought-out harmonies, makes “The Bakery” one of her best works so far. 

Megan Thee Stallion’s “Don’t Stop,” featuring Young Thug

The music video for “Don’t Stop” is perfect for Halloween. It references director Tim Burton’s movies Alice in Wonderland and Edward Scissorhands, but Megan has fun with the concept and includes masked voguing dancers and a naughty CGI Cheshire cat. Many people mentioned that the visuals for the music video are more enticing than the actual song, and at first, I agreed. After a few listens though, I quickly changed my mind. The hook for “Don’t Stop” is especially catchy and makes for a fun song to turn up to.