While independent artists struggled to make ends-meet this year (with no live gigs), fresh, new music continued to be brewed and released at a staggering rate. With streaming apps battling it out for user retention, and no new film music being released, 2020 was all about independent artists growing their fan bases. For the first time, it became an even-playing ground where big budget music videos couldn’t be shot, it was all about innovative ideas for animation videos, and audio finally being back in focus.
Disclaimer: I’m an independent artist and also double up as Head of Marketing at Big Bang Music and this is my personal opinion for the year that’s gone by.
The top 10 songs for me:
1. Level Up – IKKA Ft. DIVINE
This one was Ikka’s big arrival and he’s really popped after this song. DIVINE has absolutely changed the game – he’s a real hit-maker now more than a HipHop artist – the song with it’s vibrant production, beats, relatable verses has the country hooked!
2. Home Alone – Hanita Bhambri Ft. Soham Mallick
Haunting voice, great melody and writing makes ‘Home Alone’ one of my favourite tracks of the year. Hanita is an absolute inspiration and one of those musician-entrepreneurs that we all need to be.
3. Alag Aasmaan – Anuv Jain
He’s had an absolutely smashing year and this song is as good as it gets. Simple melodies on the uke, easy listening and a beautiful voice makes Anuv a really special artist and a force to reckon with in the indie ecosystem.
4. Control – Armaan Malik
With a solid army of fans, Armaan’s release with Arista Records was big on Spotify Charts and got him a billboard on Times Square. The song’s production, the hook and Armaan’s effortless singing makes this an ear-worm and an instant hit for pop fans.
5. Kasoor – Prateek Kuhad
Prateek Kuhad writes hooks like no other, and makes everybody fall in love with his words. Simple, catchy with a focus on lyrics – that’s why I think Prateek’s music resonates with so many of us. The music video and song went viral in the couple days of the song release (even though there were demo versions of this song available online before this).
6. Behkay – Shor
The Hyderabad-based producer has been making a universe of his own with 3-4 releases this year. With amazing aesthetics, great song arrangements, unusual production chops, Shor has a neo-pop sound going for him, which is distinct yet relatable. Watch out for him.
7. Dear Madeline – Dhruv Visvanath
Dhruv made sure everybody sat up and noticed his work ethic during the pandemic – he literally released a song every month this year. While all of the new songs were beautiful, this one really stood out for me – acoustic brilliance with amazing harmonies is what attracted me to it. Listen to it here.
8. Rab Raakha – The Yellow Diary
I’m absolutely obsessed with their sound – it’s so fresh, and this was my favourite song of the year on my Spotify Wrapped too. Their melodies, Indian elements and prog rock influences make them a truly unique outfit.
9. Qareeb – Kamakshi Khanna
Kamakshi sounds like a dream on this track with her Hindi debut – acoustic brilliance on the guitar, exceptional vocal production and overall, just really fresh sound. Check out the animation video too – it’s really good.
10. Maahi – Rahi
Rahi is a Kashmiri singer-songwriter and his voice and melodies take you back to the Indi Pop era – the music video is beautiful and shot in Kashmir.