Looking back over the past year, what lessons can we learn from the Music Moves Europe Artist Chart?
CHART ANALYSIS: Crazy lessons from a crazy year
No, it wasn’t a good year for rock bands, who couldn’t perform during the summer festivals to attract new fans. For instance, Irish post-rock band Murder Capital only moved up eleven notches in twelve months from #45 to #34. On the other side, British poppy R’n’B singer S1mba wasn’t anywhere in this chart a year ago, now he’s at #4, thanks to his huge TikTok hit Rover (Warner), as highlighted in this column in August. As pointed out in July, the female voices were doing well in 2020. An example is German soul-pop singer Zoe Wees at #3, who enjoyed a huge pan-European radio hit with Control (Caroline). Despite the borders were closed and many radio stations were focused on national material, this was a hit not to be missed.
Another remarkable thing, which appeared is that you don’t have to sing in English to cross borders. Swedish singer-songwriter Viktor Leksell at #7 sings his big hit Svag (Sony) in Swedish, which means ‘weak’. It was a hit in the rest of Scandinavia, but we found border breaker activity in Poland, Switzerland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Ukraine as well. But the crisis also meant opportunities for indies, as you could read in this column in June. British pop singer Alfie Templeman at #5 and British soulful pop singer Arlo Parks at #6 both performed in January at the ESNS Festival and released a lot of material since then. Alfie’s biggest hit was Forever Isn’t Long Enough (Chess Club), and had three other singles. Arlo released even six singles, of which Green Eyes (PIAS) had the most success. Both artists will release their debut albums later this year.
Of course, this month there are also new entries in the Music Moves Europe Artist Chart, and they reflect the stories above. Six newbies, half of them on indies, half of them not singing in English, and none of these are guitar bands. The highest of the new entries is Estonian rapper Nublu at #78, who borrowed his artist name from a dog in an old Estonian children’s book. His self-released single Universum is also popular in Latvia and Finland. Also new in is British rapper with Gambian roots Pa Salieu at #85. Five of his tracks are breaking borders nearly all across Europe, especially Betty (Warner). His career will undoubtfully profit from being nominated for the Sound of 2021, the BBC shortlist of most promising new acts for the upcoming year. Four other nominated acts are also in this chart: the already mentioned Alfie Templeman at #5, Greentea Peng at #50, Holly Humberstone at #73 and Griff at #88, all British.
Next up at #93 is German language R’n’B singer Lune. Her self-released track Gebe Auf (“Give Up”) is not only played in the German-speaking countries, but also in The Ukraine and The Netherlands. One notch lower, Wes Nelson is a British newcomer at #94. His soulful R’n’B song See Nobody (Universal) gets airplay in Scandinavia and Germany. Master Peace from the UK combines indie-pop with hip-hop at #99 on PNE (Universal), which crosses over to Sweden, Switzerland and Slovakia. And French rapper UZI is ‘at the party’ in French-speaking countries with A La Fête (Sportback), entering at #100.
Wishing you a healthy and musically interesting 2021 on behalf of the charts team,
Music journalist and radio professional from The Netherlands