The Top 21 in 2021: DJs and live musicians

Rounding up and celebrating some of Skiddle's most searched for artists of the year

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 21st Dec 2021

A year of highs and lows, as was to be expected, 2021 has certainly been a turbulent one for live music.

Beginning in a nationwide lockdown before gradually easing through the spring, cautiously welcoming back gigs and raves in nightclubs and venues before peaking in the summertime/early autumn, with something that resembled a normal-ish festival season. It felt unreal to be back at it, shoulder to shoulder on sweaty dance floors and in the green fields of the British countryside, singing and dancing to the anthems of the year. And there were plenty of them - from Little Simz 'Introvert' and Sam Fender's 'Seventeen Going Under' to Jayda G's 'All I Want' and Joy Orbison's 'Better', to name just a few.

Where we'll all end up before the New Year comes around? Your guess is as good as ours. But enough of that noise already. We're here to celebrate the artists that have received the most love from you over the past three-hundred and fifty-plus days. So, without further ado, here's a rundown of the most searched for artists on Skiddle this year, our Top 21 of 2021, starting at number 21...

 

(Click or tap on the artist names below for tickets and more...) 

 

 

21. Jamie Webster

Going from strength to strength, Liverpool F.C.'s unofficial mascot and lucky charm, Jamie Webster is continuing along the path to certain chart domination.

The twenty-seven-year-old singer-songwriter, a much-beloved figure in the northern port city, has been delivering his live show to audiences across the UK throughout the last quarter of the year, selling out all three of his hometown bookings, as well as new music, in the form of four new singles from his second album, Moments, set for release in January 2022.

The footage above shows Webster going for it on stage at The Olympia in his native Liverpool, on the final date of his first UK tour just last weekend.

 

Find tickets for Jamie Webster live - here

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20. Nova Twins

Ferocious punk-tinged duo, Nova Twins are setting the alternative music world ablaze for all the right reasons. The pair, made up of vocalist/guitarist, Amy Love and bassist, Georgia South, first broke onto the scene back in 2020 winning 'Best UK Breakthrough Band' at the Heavy Music Awards and have since capitalised on their success. 

They've collaborated with fellow girl group, Dream Wife, who produced a remix of 'Bullet' from last year's album, appeared live on the request of Frank Turner at his Lost Evenings in London shows, and announced their own headline tour in 2022, which will see them rocking out on stage in over twenty destinations across the UK and Europe. It's hardly surprising they made the list. 

 

Find tickets for Nova Twins live - here

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19. Greentea Peng

Just four years have passed since Greentea Peng, AKA London-based singer, Aria Wells, made her first foray into the music industry and only two since she came to everybody's attention after a beguiling performance on aesthetic music platform, ColorsxStudios in 2019. Four years on and she's fast becoming the face of the UK's thriving neo-soul scene. 

The songstress, whose voice has been likened to that of Amy Winehouse and influential neo-soul legend, Erykah Badu, has been hammering live dates throughout 2021, with many rescheduled from 2020, in addition to making time for the studio. She recently released her debut album, Man Made in June, via Universal Music, to widespread critical acclaim and is gearing up for even more releases and performances in 2022.

  

Find tickets for Greentea Peng live - here

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18. Jamie Duggan

There are few who can claim to be a pivotal figure in the progression of a popular music genre or movement the likes of bassline, but Jamie Duggan is most certainly one of them. The UK garage pioneer, Ministry of Sound compilation curator and record label boss (Nocturnal Records) has done what he's always done in a live setting when restrictions have allowed him to this year - Go full throttle.

He's had us all scrambling for tickets to his shows in 2021 and for good reason. Just check out the scenes in the video above from his set at the Sound of Bassline party in Sheffield last weekend. Crikey. 

 

Find tickets for Jamie Duggan live - here

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17. The Sherlocks

South Yorkshire indie outfit, The Sherlocks have travelled the length and breadth of the country this year, performing to intimate audiences in grassroots venues in preparation for their forthcoming tour in 2022. 

Announced in the autumn of this year, the group set out their plans to hit the stage in some of the UK's finest live music establishments throughout February and March, all in celebration of their latest full-length record, The World I Understand, also due for release early next year. 

Expect to see them popping up on festival lineups both here in the UK and in Europe over the returning summer festival season in 2022.

 

Find tickets for The Sherlocks live - here

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16. Bicep

Bookings for Irish dance duo, Bicep are, unsurprisingly, already flying in thick and fast for 2022. Off the back of yet another excellent year for the twosome, one of the biggest pairings in electronic music, dance fans can now begin looking forward to watching them performing crowd favourites the likes of 'Glue' and 'Apricots' at open-air music events such as Snowbombing, Primavera Sound and brand-new Margate festival, SANDS next spring and summer.

Can we expect new music from Bicep in 2022? No rumours have been heard in regards to a follow up to this year's lauded sophomore LP, Isles, at least not in the early part of the year anyway. Keep those fingers crossed people.  

 

Find tickets for Bicep live - here

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15. Hot Chip

There aren't many bands that have as much fun on stage as Hot Chip do. Their live shows have become a thing of legend. Wonky tunes meet wonky dance moves and wonky attire, and apparently, you guys are here for all of that. And why not! We're here for it too!

Although there hasn't been much opportunity for the group to be their weird and wonderful selves this year, they did manage to sneak in a few shows, one of them being a headline slot at Lattitude 2021, the UK's first full-capacity festival since 2019 and part of the government's COVID event pilot scheme. 

The video above was taken at this year's Lattitude Festival and shows both audience members and band humbled by the moment they're were able to come back together again to enjoy live music. We're not crying, you are!

More of the same next summer, please!

 

Find tickets for Hot Chip live - here

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14. Shy FX

The original nuttah, Shy FX features once again on our end of year 'most searched for' list, and we can absolutely see why.

An icon of the bass music scene, here's a DJ/producer who knows exactly what's he doing, putting together some of the finest jungle and drum n bass tracks to ever originate from the world-leading British scene. And when he spins them live, boy oh boy, do they go off!

Recently reviving his Digital Soundboy imprint, laying eight years dormant, and releasing a brand new EP with fellow sound system destroyer, Breakage, Shy FX isn't showing any signs of slowing the older he gets, now forty-five years of age can you believe!

Let's hope for more big tunes and big performances in 2022.

 

Find tickets for Shy FX live - here

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13. Amelie Lens

Belgian techno Queen, Amelie Lens is a huge name amongst ravers across the world and another big personality on stage, alongside the aforementioned Hot Chip, to play an important role in reintroducing live music to the people this year. 

To mark the return of non-socially distanced events in the city of Brussels, and across the entirety of Belgium, Lens lent her sought-after expertise, providing eager dance fans with a stonking five-hour-long set of techno heaters in front of the Atomium at Arena 5, a new open-air concert area on the Place de Belgique.

Since then, she's been spotted thrusting her fist up and down and through the air, stomping her feet and shaking her head to the BPM of one-forty at Bristol's Motion, Manchester's O2 Victoria Warehouse, Leeds' Mint Warehouse and London's Printworks, to name just a few UK dates. 

She's got a whole bunch of exciting dates planned for the coming year. Hit the link below and check out some of the events with tickets already on sale. 

 

Find tickets for Amelie Lens live - here

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12. Darren Styles

A name that is synonymous with British hardcore dance music - Darren Styles is the main man.The go-to guy. He needeth little to no introduction. 

Still going strong after two decades, originally a member of 90s hardcore dance group, DJ Force & the Evolution, Styles has recently rounded off a massive year, concluding his Hard Generation Tour of the UK at the Concorde 2 in Brighton just last weekend. Will he be back in 2022? Is the Pope Catholic?

He's already been announced for some big festivals next year, some of which will have been absent from their usual places of action for almost three years. On the list of places to catch him live in the coming New Year is Ultra Music Festival in Miami and Belgium's Tomorrowland. 

 

Find tickets for Darren Styles live - here

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11. Sam Fender

North East England's answer to Bruce Springsteen, Sam Fender is probably the standout name of the year as far as guitar music goes. Breaking through back in 2019 with his debut record, Hypersonic Missiles, the North Shields born singer-songwriter had a lot to contend with as the world entered lockdown less than six months after its release. But it didn't deter him...

Entering the studio once again this year, he released his highly anticipated follow-up, Seventeen Going Under. Well received by fans, critics and peers alike, the record has made basically everyone's end of year list and has been voted the 'Best Record of 2021' by the BBC Radio One team. 

Check out the official music video for 'Spit Of You' from the new LP above, featuring an appearance from 'This is England' star, Stephen Graham.

 

Find tickets for Sam Fender live - here

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10. Hybrid Minds

There aren't many others who do drum n bass as well as the lads in Hybrid Minds do. Having been a leading entity of the liquid drum n bass sound for closing in on a decade, the pair sure know a thing or two about creating anthems that turn venues inside out. So to find out that they'd broken into the top ten of this year's most searched for artists was of little surprise to us. 

Spoiling us all to another heavy-hitting album this year, Reflections, released back in October, Hybrid Minds had us skanking with trigger fingers held high at some of this summers biggest events - from Detonate Festival and Electric Woodlands Festival to Outlook festival and Boardmasters 2021. 

Tickets for Hybrid Minds dates in 2022 can be found and purchased on the link below... 

 

Find tickets for Hybrid Minds live - here

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9. Solardo

The loveable Manc-rapscallions, Solardo also make the top ten for the second year in a row, moving up a spot into number nine. 

The production and mixmaster partnership between Mark Richards and James Eliot has proved to be as solid and as prolific as it ever has been throughout 2021, with the pair releasing a stack of club-ready bangers the likes of 'Get Your Money', 'The Acid Trip', and the big one, 'Power' over the year.

You've probably found yourself at one point or another this year on a dance floor, in a field somewhere or maybe even in an ancient fort within the Croatian city of Dubrovnik having it big to a Solardo anthem. We have very little doubt. 

 

Find tickets for Solardo live - here

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8. Lee Butler

A long-standing favourite amongst the UK house music contingent, northern powerhouse Lee Butler is the multi-award-winning DJ who just keeps on delivering the goods. Still hitting the decks hard after more than two decades in the business, pumping out massive tunes to even bigger audiences on the regular, the lover of all things dance has now unquestionably reached icon status.

A trusted curator and knowledgeable music buff, Butler has co-founded his own popular music event, Reminisce Festival, which has previously hosted the likes of Judge Jules, Ian Van Dahl and Seb Fontaine, as well as launching his own radio station, In-Demand Radio, on which he still hosts a regular Breakfast show. 

Find out where you can see Lee Butler live in the Uk and across Europe in 2022 on the link below...

 

Find tickets for Lee Butler live - here

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7. MK

Billboard-topping Detroit native, Marc Kinchen, more commonly referred to as MK, has achieved even more chart ranking success this year, issuing a bounty of house tracks including a shimmering, piano-loaded remix of Celeste's 'Stop This Flame' from her UK number one album, Not Your Muse.

Turning his hand to new challenges, the American producer, who turns fifty next year (the moisturising regime must be working well), was also seen collaborating with a certain English car manufacturer earlier in the year. Making a cameo appearance in an advertisement for Jaguar's latest F-Pace model, MK also worked on and supplied the soundtrack (obviously) for the TV clip, another 2021 release, 'Lies' featuring UK vocalist Raphaella.

2022 already looks set to be a busy one for Kinchen, with performances lined up in Poland at FEST Festival, the U.S. at the Phoenix Lights Festival in Arizona and Land Beyond Festival in Brighton to name a few.

 

Find tickets for MK live - here

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6. CamelPhat

The most searched for artist of 2020, Liverpudlian duo CamelPhat have dropped five places but still remain within the top ten of our 2021 list. The fight for the number one spot has obviously been a close one this time around.

Irrespective of their placing in our 'Top 21 of 2021', the CamelPhat chaps have still had a mega year, taking their grammy-nominated back catalogue and mesmerising live show to new faces and places around the world. They've also spent time grafting on some pretty stunning productions, linking up with CIRCUS boss man and bonafide selector, Yousef on a couple of melodic offerings, summoning those Balearic sun-set feelings you get right before a big one in the clubs around Ibiza. Get us on a plane right now!

 

Find tickets for Camelphat live - here

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5. Chase & Status

Fans of Chase & Status will be alert to recent changes on the group's social media pages as of late. Bare of almost any content, the remaining images state that a brand new chapter is coming for the London-based production outfit in 2022, with a link to a URL 'Whatcamebefore.net'. Upon searching this URL, you'll be greeted by one webpage with the following message:

"THE DNA OF EVERY PRODUCTION. THE ENERGY OF EVERY PERFORMANCE. THE EUPHORIA OF EVERY RAVER. SIGN UP FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER OF CHASE & STATUS: WHAT CAME BEFORE. MUCH LOVE, WILL & SAUL".

Mystery. Intrigue. Excitement. There's also a small media player in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Click on that and be met by an old school, prodigy-esque, rave organ sound. A sneak preview of things to come from the pair? We really hope so. 

Whatever these guys have planned, we'll put good money on them appearing in this list once again at the end of 2022. Mark our words. 

 

Find tickets for Chase & Status live - here

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4. Bad Boy Chiller Crew

Eyup Mush, what's this?

We were pretty gobsmacked when we saw that the Bad Boy Chiller Crew had made it into the top five of the most searched for of 2021, but maybe we shouldn't have been all that surprised...

The northern monkeys have had a monumental rise this year, switching out the old format of shooting videos on smartphones in the back gardens of their Bradford homes to making epic, big-budget features for their own massive bassline hits - such as 'Footsteps On My Shoes', '450' and 'Don't You Worry About Me' (Check out the full video above). 

They've also been doing the rounds on the live circuit this year, hitting up stages in front of thousands at events the likes of Electric Woodlands Festival and Spring Break Amsterdam. Expect bigger things from the bad boy chillers in 2022.

 

Find tickets for Bad Boy Chiller Crew live - here

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3. Patrick Topping

Everyone's favourite Geordie DJ, Patrick Topping has seen his popularity grow even further this year, as is clearly evident here. Jumping from number six on last years list to number three in 2021, the TRICK record label honcho, superstar selector and talented producer has come out of this topsy turvy period smelling of roses (and probably money). 

Ok, so maybe it's not all been good news. Scottish dance fans had been looking forward to seeing Topping blow the roof off of Edinburgh's Royal Highland Centre warehouse complex last weekend but alas, COVID and Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon had other ideas. Still, there'll be plenty of opportunities to catch him doing his thang live in the coming New Year.

Hit the link below to find tickets for his upcoming dates, including festival appearances at Forbidden Forest 2022 and Sonus Festival.

 

Find tickets for Patrick Topping live - here

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2. Sonny Fodera

You might remember that in last year's most searched for artist roundup, we told to you be ready for some hefty tunes from the Aussie-born DJ, Sonny Fodera, who spent a great deal of time tinkering and finessing in the studio throughout the first lockdown. And were we wrong to prepare you for an onslaught of storming dance hits? Er, we think not.

Sonny Fodera delivered spectacularly on the prophecy we had foretold almost a year ago to the date, releasing some of the biggest records of his career thus far, many of which were included on his sixth studio album - Wide Awake. 

Over the summer and autumn, he's been witnessed by hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people worldwide, unleashing his groove-driven house records on crowds at events the likes of Lovebox Festival, BeachJam and Back To Love in London's Finsbury Park.

If you're yet to experience a Sonny Fodera set, we highly recommend following the link below and grabbing a ticket for one of his forthcoming dates in 2022. You won't regret it. We promise. 

 

Find tickets for Sonny Fodera live - here

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1. Carl Cox

The GOAT. The legend. The godfather of the UK house music scene, Carl Cox takes the 'most searched for' top spot in 2021 and deservedly so.

The world-renowned three-deck wizard, who's been at the very top of the electronic music game since the 1980s, has had yet another outstanding year, headlining returning festivals the likes of Creamfields, playing a reminiscent event on Brighton Beach in the summer and being voted number two on DJ MAG's list of 'Top 100 Alternative DJs in 2021'.

On top of a jam-packed touring schedule, he also recently found the time to publish his own autobiography, obviously titled 'Oh yes, Oh Yes' (A last-minute Christmas gift that will please any dance music fan). Seriously, is there no end to this man's talents?

Expect more mixes, remixes and plenty of huge performances from Cox in 2022, with appearances already confirmed at the first-ever edition of Creamfields South and the Ultra Music Festival in Europe. 

  

Find tickets for Carl Cox live - here

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And that concludes our list of the top twenty-one most searched for artists on Skiddle, in 2021! We hope you enjoyed finding out who took the spot and who did and didn't make the cut as much as we did! We'll be back with another roundup in 2022 - stay tuned...

 


 

Fancy listening to some of the records from our top twenty-one artists of 2021? Why not check out the playlist below...

 

 



 

Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.

 

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