By Mike Romero
2021 saw the Provo scene recovering in a big way after 2020. At least 150 different artists released music in Utah Valley last year alone. The 10 songs below were all released by Provo/Provo affiliated artists in 2021 and were the most-streamed Spotify tracks of the year. A one-track-per-artist limit was imposed in order to give a broad snapshot of the local scene. Cover songs and songs released as singles prior to 2021 and re-released as part of a larger album during 2021 were not included. Keep reading to see who had the #1 local hit of 2021.
10. DVDDY – “What Isn’t Here” – 132,000 Streams
A high profile collaboration between DVDDY, Caslow, and Kellin Quinn of Sleeping with Sirens, this song sees DVDDY solidifying his vision for emo and EDM fusion. This song is epic. The kicks are tight, the snares are stadium-sized, and it’s catchy as h*ck.
9. Sunfish – “Whatever” – 164,000 Streams
The solo project of Carter Sears, Sunfish made waves in Utah with the 2021 release of his debut LP Sunfish For President. “Whatever” is a high octane rock romp with zany synths and a kooky build that would please fans of the B-52’s and The Hives simultaneously.
8. Royal Bliss – “Fire Within” – 180,000 Streams
“This song is a message to and for my kids,” frontman Neal Middleton says. “It’s for people who are struggling.” For fans of Daughtry and Three Doors Down, Royal Bliss is keeping post-grunge alternative rock alive. They recently signed a record deal with Capitol Records after touring relentlessly for 20 years.
7. Trey Warner – “CARRY ON” – 190,000 Streams
Some might recognize Trey Warner for his acting career. He’s appeared in dozens of commercials for notable Utah businesses: RC Willey, Vivint, Homie, and Larry H. Miller, just to name a few. What many don’t know is that Trey Warner is a songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist with some serious chops. We’ll let “Carry On” speak for itself.
6. Cinders – “Growing Up” – 210,000 Streams
Dubbed “Rowdy Acoustic Pop” once upon a time, the Cinders sound has evolved into something significantly less acoustic and significantly more rowdy. “Growing Up” features their signature gang vocals over chugging guitars and a shifting 5/4 beat. Longtime fans will be pleased to hear that their joyful keyboard hooks are still around and working their magic. Cinders is something all their own.
5. Adam Turley – “Pure Bliss” – 260,000
The greatest pop producer in Utah that nobody is talking about, Adam Turley has been quietly amassing millions of streams on Spotify to a criminally low amount of local fanfare. That needs to change. He dropped his first LP, COLOR, in 2021. In addition to “Pure Bliss,” it features additional bangers “La La La (I’m On Fire) [Feat. Garon Brett]” and “Bipolar Heart.”
4. Jonny T – “Silver Screen” – 400,000 Streams
It’s been difficult to get an accurate stream count for this song, because every time we check back it has 5-10k more. Foreign Figures’ guitarist and producer, Jonny T has only released 4 singles as a solo artist. But he’s killing it. 3 words to describe this song: Spooky. Groovy. Guitars.
3. The National Parks – “UFO” – 540,000 Streams
The standout track from A Mix for the End of the World pt. 1, this feels like an extension of the ideas The National Parks first developed on their third record Places – but done right. It incorporates weird sounds and synthesizers without sacrificing the organic instrumentation that has won them fans for nearly a decade. The dusty guitar tones from Wildflower even make a joyful appearance. It’s a fun amalgamation of all sides of The National Parks to date.
2. The Strike – “Looking For Love” – 586,000 Streams
The Strike have been reviving and evolving genres from bygone eras for as long as they’ve been a band. From 60’s and 70’s soul to 80’s rock, they have a real talent for recreating synth, guitar, and drum tones to create an authentic listening experience. Listening to “Looking For Love” is like stepping into an alternate timeline where the 80’s never died.
1. Citizen Soldier – “If I Surrender” – 2,650,000 Streams
Citizen Soldier is perhaps the biggest Utah musical success of the last two years. Like Royal Bliss, Citizen Soldier is tapping into the post-grunge and alt-rock fanbase with astonishing results. Their secret weapon? Brutally honest lyrics and a passionately frank discussion about mental health in the modern era. Lead singer Jake Segura’s vocals are beautiful. There’s no other way to describe his performance.
These 10 artists aren’t the only locals having success. While our list of most-streamed local songs has a pretty narrow definition, other artists are crossing over into the mainstream in various ways. For example, Cayson Renshaw and Tishmal both landed high profile collaborations with Grammy-nominee Kaskade. Eagle Mountain’s MASN went viral in 2020 and was signed to RCA records, accumulating over 50 million streams this year. Other Utah alums are enjoying major label success: The Aces, Ritt Momney, and The Backseat Lovers are becoming household names all over the US. Established acts with Provo connections continue to thrive. Mindy Gledhill, Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, and The Moth & The Flame all had releases in 2021. Most notably, The Killers relocated to Park City, UT and released an entire concept album about life in Nephi, UT. Things are looking really good for the scene. Bring on 2022.