Guitars are back in popular music thanks in large part to a new class of artists eager to let riffs fly.
Over the past year, pop-punk and alternative rock have reasserted their place in mainstream music — and this year’s 21 Under 21 list reflects that resurgence, with nearly half of the artists loosely fitting that mold.
In 2020, on the heels of TikTok fame, jxdn became Travis Barker’s first signee to his DTA Records label (an imprint of Elektra). “I was interested in someone his age venturing into that [pop-rock] sound,” Barker told Billboard in August 2020, emphasizing how jxdn’s social media savvy is a huge selling point for breaking an artist now. “It’s a big reason why he’s popular, but it’s one of the reasons that rock bands in general are not popular, because they don’t know how to use social media,” said Barker. “I just feel like it’s one of the things that makes an artist [today], love it or hate it.” In the last year alone, Barker has also helped young talent including Willow, Nessa Barrett and LILHUDDY land alternative and rock hits.