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U.K. CLASS OF 2020: SONY MUSIC
11/28/20




Insanity Records singer/songwriter Joy Crookes was nominated for the BRITs Rising Star Award and came in fourth in the BBC Sound of 2020 poll. She’s also been tipped for big things by BBC Radio 1YouTubeVEVOMTVAmazonNME and Clash

Crookes signed to Sony in 2017 in partnership with BBC Radio 1’s Mistajam and his Speakerbox label. Her first release under the deal was 2018’s “Don’t Let Me Down.” Crookes has issued three EPs to date and posted two #1s on the U.K. Asian Music Chart, “Early” f/Jafaris and “Anyone but Me.”

Alice Beal, General Manager of Insanity Records, says the label was drawn to Crookes’ personality and ambition. “Joy has such a magnetic personality,” Beal attests. “Her witty, honest approach gives her that extra sparkle above and beyond her music. Whether through social media, her lyrics or live, she has a unique ability to be utterly relatable. We love how ambitious she is, and we’re incredibly supportive of her determination to do things her own way. For me, she encapsulates everything a young female artist should be in 2020.” Look for Crookes’ debut album in 2021, followed by a U.K. and E.U. headline tour.•



Kosovan DJ Regard signed to Ministry of Sound after his track “Ride It” was spotted gaining traction on TikTok as a fan upload. The Ministry team quickly signed “Ride It,” released it on DSPs and watched it go viral and convert across Shazam and radio. Explains Ministry of Sound GM Amy Wheatley, “Regard’s brand grew from there. Being that he’s from Kosovo, there is a certain Eastern European quality to his music, which has really resonated, As the track grew, so did Regard’s profile.” 

“Ride It” peaked at #2 on the U.K.’s Official Singles Chart last year and has since racked up more than 1m in sales and 1.3b global streams, hitting multiplatinum status in multiple territories. Regard was booked for Tomorrowland, and Tiesto reached out for a collaboration, as did Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. Regard’s second single, “Secrets” featuring Raye, was another hit, peaking at #6 in the U.K. in August with more than 400k sales and 140m global streams. It’s reached gold status in the U.K. and Australia. 

“Regard has a unique sound that has connected with audiences around the globe and across platforms,” Wheatley adds. “There’s a warmth and familiarity juxtaposed with freshness. We’re going to continue to release tracks, features and remixes to solidify him as a household name. Live will be essential over the next year.”• 


Headie One hit #1 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart in October with Edna, which is the first British rap debut album to land in the top spot this year. At the time, Relentless Records boss Shabs Jobanputra declared: “Another subculture of British music [drill] has just permeated mainstream society. Headie is at the top of his game. He deserves everything coming to him off the back of his authenticity and talent.”

The rapper has been in development at Relentless for a few years after signing a mixtape deal. During that time, he has, in fact, been key to driving the emergence of the drill scene in the U.K., while collaborating with a host of top talent, including DrakeDave, producer Fred AgainSkeptaStormzy and AJ Tracey

In 2019 Headie One’s mixtape Music X Road hit #5 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart, becoming the highest-charting drill album ever. He’s had seven combined Top 20 hits as a solo and featured act, including two Top 5 berths. In addition, his “Only You Freestyle” with Drake topped the SpotifyApple Music and YouTube trending charts, making Headie One the first drill artist to hit #1 on all three platforms simultaneously. Last year he played Glastonbury and sold out his biggest headline show to date, at London’s 5,000-seat Brixton Academy.

Jobanputra says he signed Headie One in part because “he was telling a powerful story,” continuing, “He’s had a difficult life, and he tells the story with imagination. He has wit and the ability to really get the words right about what he sees.” The artist plans to release two albums next year, which Jobanputra hopes will help realize his international ambitions.•



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