We have gotten the worst material out of the way, now its time for the best. 2021 has had some really good songs come out and thats why I would like to highlight 50 of them. We've had vets come back, newcomers rise, and bonus tracks come out better than most of the album. I would like to present to you all of the songs (one per artist) I liked to come back to often this year so without further ado, lets get into it.
50.Lana Del Rey-Arcadia
Lana Del Rey came out with two mediocre albums this year, but some songs from those two albums stood out and this one stood out the most in my opinion. Lana Del Rey's melancholic appraoch to singer/songwriter sounds vintage but this track has a lot of modern aspects to it such as synthesizers, melodramatic singing and much more. Lana might not be the most versatile artist, but sometimes she comes out with a great track like this.
49.Aesop Rock-Long Legged Larry
Aesop Rock making childrens music was bound to be great, I didn't know it would be this great. Long Legged Larry could work as a book but it works just as well as a song. It's about a high jumping bullfrog with super long legs and all of the adventures he has to partake in. The beat is also very quirky and it fits with the storytelling that goes on throughout this track. Let's show some more appreciation for Long Legged Larry.
48.ABBA-Don't Shut Me Down
The new ABBA album was not their greatest work, but the promotional single was up to par with their classics. The disco groove, the synth bass, the harmonies is all classic ABBA. Its not like it sounds made in the 80s because the production has a lot of reverb and contemporary trickery to make it sound like an ABBA song that would fit in 2021.
47.Polo G-Bad Man (Smooth Criminal)
Polo G finally stepped out of his comfort zone and god dammit it works. My friend showed me this song and I was surprised by the direction Polo G was going with this song. Flows were switched, the melodies worked but most of the time, it was hardcore bars all over the track and unpopular opinion, Polo G is better when he's rapping but the singing works too. Polo
g shows himself that he can potentially overcome his singular style.
46.Freddie Gibbs (Ft.ScHoolboy Q)-Gang Signs
Freddie Kane doesn't miss. After a killer 2019 and 2020, Freddie Gibbs toned it down slightly in 2021 but what came was some solid singles and this one was my favorite. Good flows and a good ScHoolboy Q feature as well. The beat is mellow but its trappy enough to vibe to.
The YouTube turned rapper really turned himself around with this project as well as this song. This is a beautiful mix of trap, art pop, EDM, industrial and noise rock. Quadeca truly outdid himself not only as a rapper but as an artist too. He has evolved so much during the pandemic and I cant wait to hear what he has next.
Amine always is a colorful artist but he has yet to reach this territory of color. One vibrant, quick paced banger with a double timed drum pattern laced with slick flows and cadences. It's also a new stage for Amine as he sounds more ambitious, experimental and left field. He's usually sounding similar to other rappers and has a hard time standing out, but this time around, he's leaning toward his own style and I'm liking it.
43.Vince Staples-ARE YOU WITH THAT?
I will admit that I wasn't a big fan of this album when it came out, but its honestly grown on me. Im still more of a fan of the bouncy and bright Vince Staples but im all for this new direction. The beat by Kenny Beats is also really nice. The kick hits and the loop is melancholic like the gang related lyrics on this song. I also like the flows on this song as they ride with the beat really well.
42.Juice WRLD ft.Young Thug-Bad Boy
Im usually not a fan of posthumous releases in any form, but this song is too much of a banger to skip on. Both Young Thug and Juice WRLD bring catchy and ear-grabbing flows and vocal inflections over this noisy and playful Pi'erre Bourne beat. The noisy synths, the classic Pierre Vox as well as the catchy hook and unmatched chemistry between the two artists. Rest In Peace Juice WRLD and don't worry, when lists are done, I will review his new album.
41.King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard-O.N.E
Taking a break from the hip hop, King Gizzard came out with two albums that I both enjoyed. This track stood out more than others as its a psychedelic journey with microtonal riffs and linear vocal melodies and drum passages. From the ambient pop sounding intro to the bluesy jam passage, this song is a kaleidoscopic beast.
40.Nas ft.Cordae & Freddie Gibbs-Life's Like A Dice Game
Never wrong to dabble in some nostalgia and this song drenches it. The verse and hook was written during the sessions of Nas' 1994 classic, Illmatic and wasn't realeased officially until this year, with new names. Cordae delivers his usual laid back lyricism and then Freddie Gibbs goes with his slick gangsta persona and Hit-Boi delivers this beat that would be perfect to freestyle over. God damn....Nas has had a killer 2021 and this song is proof.
Turnstile came with a bang with an amazing Post-Hardcore album. Brendan Yates' anthemic vocals mixed with B-rady's simple riffs and D-Fangs pummeling drums is just a perfect combination. The riff change on this too is perfect as the mix of hardcore punk with modern production techniques makes something loud and abrasive without sounding like too much. Highly recommend this album and song to literally anyone.
The opener to Poppy's latest album got me hooked. After the aggressive release that I Disagree was, she evens out the loud and the soft but less like a two sided coin, but more like a grunge track. Poppy solidifies herself as one of the most personality filled frontman of our modern time and the hook proves it. The hook is so childlike but its over this aggressive instrumentation and it sounds so freaking sassy and I love it. She also goes quiet on the verses so the chorus sounds more powerful than it actually is.
37.Deafheaven-Great Mass Of Color
Deafheaven proves that they are more than a black metal band once again as they take away the black metal sounds completely. This album might not be their strongest but "Great Mass Of Color" is up to par with some of their best. Its a great mix of Shoegaze and Post-Metal that we knew they had. The clean tone is nice and chorus-y and the distorted part hits hard but the melodious vocals contrast it perfectly. Its an anthemic song from the boys
36.illuminati hotties-Pool Hopping
God damn this song is so cute. The vocals are so quirky, the riff is like a mix of pop punk and twee pop. the hook is super catchy and quirky and everything surrounding it is just so wholesome. The melodies that mesh with the chants are like candy. Matter of fact, this whole song is like a piece of candy. Yes, if candy was a song, it would be this.
35.The Weeknd-Take My Breathe
The Weeknd has advanced his sound once again as its like a mixture of synth wave and Disco House music. The Weeknd continues with his Michael Jackson devotion but with new influences. He's done it with garage and synth wave and now he's done it with house and its a perfect combo. Knowing his past collaborations with Daft Punk, Abel already knows how to fit with these type of tracks and it turns out as a progressive groovy synth anthem.
34.Baby Keem ft.Kendrick Lamar-family ties
Speaking of progressive, this is what progressive trap sounds like. The three beat banger with a Kendrick Lamar feature is the match for a perfect Baby Keem track. I wouldn't consider this track his best (as that would easily go to "STATS") but its a banger and a half. Also, Baby Keem shows massive potential as he basically outraged Kendrick on this song. Don't get me wrong, Kendrick kills it but Baby Keem is on a whole other level on this track flow wise and lyric wise. Surely Kendrick has the cadence changes and quotable, but that just shows how great this track is.
33.Tyler, The Creator-LUMBERJACK
Tyler shows that he still has it lyrically. After two seminal 2010s albums, Tyler goes back to basics coming with some amazing one liners and catchy flows. This battles the 90s hip hop this track obviously takes from. The sample is actually from an old Gravediggaz song from 94 and Tyler modernizes it with a perfect promo for this album.
32.Trippie Redd ft.Playboi Carti-Miss The Rage
This is without a doubt Trippie Redd best song. The beat is amazing, the flows that Trippie brings are super playful and the Carti feature just needed to happen for a beat like this, but Trippie surprisingly outcrops Carti on this thing and Carti kills it. This is one of the best trap bangers of 2021 without a doubt.
31.Backxwash Ft.Ada Rook-I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES
Backxwash's last album was very dark and horrific, same with this album and with this track, you can see that this is louder and more exotic. The cyber FX, the industrial drums, and dark piano are all great as well as Backxwash's verses but the real highlight on this is Ada Rook. Her hook is so sinister as she sounds like the demon from the Exorcist reincarnated. Yeah, this track is a fucking horror movie.
30.Isaiah Rashad-Headshots (4r Da Locals)
Isaiah Rashad doesn't dissappoint when it comes to a vibey track. This track has a laid back Memphis vibe with jazzy chords, a melodic hook and comatose flows. A lot of what I like from Isaiah is that he just makes intentionally underperformed songs. His lyrics are the equivalent to 2 joint hits which makes this song...the perfect soundtrack for your second hit.
29.Mastodon-Pushing The Tides
Mastodon delivered a great album but it had great highlights like this track right here. On this track, they channel their inner Metallica with thrashy riffs, anthemic vocals and relentless drum fills. The hook is also classic Mastodon with anthemic qualities to it. This track right here resemble some of the qualities I love about Mastodon. Their progressive approach to metal, Brann's badass appraoch to drums and Troy and Bill's dark riffs. This is just classic Mastodon right here
Its hard to say in words on why I love this track so much. The bars have multi-syllable rhyme patters and the beat sounds exactly like the album cover. Its a unique combo that works for Earl too, its not the psychedelic minimalism but more of a abstract cloudy rendition of modern trap music and Earl does it justice. Im just glad to hear Earl Sweatshirt is back at it again with a new sound.
27.Animal Collective-Prester John
On the other side of things, Animal Collective return with something that goes back to their Merriweather sound. The harmonies, the dreamy loop sequences and LSD trip like effects. Alongside this, we have a melodic bassline, simple chord progression and pop like structures with the exception of the intro and outro. Animal Collective really did what they were best doing and developed into something more refined and it might not be up to par with their Merriweather material, but its in the same ballpark.
Everything I love about Pi'erre is on this track. A catchy chord progression, bouncy drums, quirky vocals, video game like synths and a very adventurous aesthetic. A lot of Pierre's beats are like trap versions of MarioKart courses and it makes sense that the album cover shows him in a car on a video game. This is just a great trap song with simple punchlines, simple melodies and one amazing beat.
25.Angel Olsen & Sharon Van Etten-Like I Used To
Indie darlings Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten teamed up to make a retro Heartland track that touches on Tom Petty influence, Fleetwood Mac influence and a little bit of Springsteen. The instrumental tastes like American Pie and the vocal deliveries, harmonies and lyrics match it well too. Just a well-crafted Heartland track.
24.Doja Cat ft.SZA-Kiss Me More
Im not usually big on Doja Cats music, but I love this song. The beat is groovy, the chord progression is nostalgic but is also filled with so much personality. Doja Cat's rap verse is horny as hell (like Doja Cat usually is) but it works and SZA compliments this track too. She brings these sensual melodies with unforgettable moments like the "half-man" moment. Just a well crafted pop song.
23.Weezer-All My Favorite Songs
Weezer doing chamber pop might not be the coolest sounding match, but this track is a super innocent sounding pop song. the harmonies, the piano based rock as well as the usual Weezer combine in a great way. I will also note that the strings are mixed beautifully and Rivers' teenage sounding lyrics are a unique contrast to it. Trust me, this Is a great combo.
22.James Blake-Life Is Not The Same
James Blake using his soulful voice over a mellow trap beat is great. TakeADaytrip take a mellow piano loop, trap drums and manipulated vocals to make an amazing instrumental to James Blake to vent over. When it comes to James Blake's music, it's pretty good, but he rarely wows me, but this track definitely did. Definitely a track I come back to often.
21.Kero Kero Bonito-The Princess and the Clock
Electropop's Kawaii girl Sarah teams up with the other two Kero Kero Bonito members once again and this track is so joyous. The chorus melody is catchy and the beat sounds like a level of Geometry Dash and I love it. When the chord progressions change in the bridge and solo....its perfect as it makes it sound way more adventurous and climactic. Speaking of the keyboard solo, it might be the keyboard solo of the year. Its short and sweet but packs the punch. Just a well crafted electro pop song.
Idles went out of their comfort zone and made an abrasive and noisy industrial rock track with an MC Ride like delivery from Joe Talbot. Its honestly less like an Idles track and more like a Death Grips track and Kennys contribution on this album makes this track sound more noisy and hip hop oriented. Joe Talbot proves his versatility as a frontman and Kenny also shows his versatility as a producer as he is now able to make industrial punk rock with a cool contrast in the end.
19.Porter Robinson-Look At The Sky
Porter Robinson killed the Electronic scene this year. This was one of the best EDM anthems of the year and that is because of the uplifting lyrics, anthemic synth melody and hook and perfect drops. Something about Porter's brand of EDM is so comfy. It's soft but its not mellow. It bangs like EDM should but the instrumentation he uses are so pillowy and cloudy. This song is like a very soft couch at an EDM club where everyone is taking LSD. Porter is built different.
18.BROCKHAMPTON ft.Danny Brown-BUZZCUT
I knew BROCKHAMPTON was back when this song was released. The heavy and colorful beat, Kevins amazing verse, Danny Brown's energetic feature as well as the psychedelic outro. Its everything that is lovable about BROCKHAMPTON plus a great feature. Im glad BROCKHAMPTON went back to this direction for parts of this album. A lot of people will agree with me, but BROCKHAMPTON are at their best when they make bangers.
17.Yola-Diamond Studded Shoes
Easily the best country song of the year. It's one of those songs that sound happy with a sad subject matter. Yola talks about knowing something isn't ok when "we know it isn't" The track has a bluesy riff and solo as well as ZZ Top like rhythm sections. To top it off, Yolas amazing vocal delivery. Theres hardly anything bad about this track and Yola deserves any credit she gets If she releases songs like this.
God this track is amazing. The arpeggiated electric piano, the Floydian like grooves, the sitar riff, the short bluesy guitar solo and of course, the vocal delivery that oozes sensuality. As well as the soulful background vocals and climactic hook. This track is what St Vincent needs to continue with. These anthemic Psych Funk tracks with a lot of personality.
15.Lil Nas X ft.Jack Harlow-INDUSTRY BABY
Despite how immediate this track is, this grew on me heavy. The beat is basically flawless and Lil Nas' vocal delivery is anthemic and catchy. The harmonies, the vocal mixing and everything surrounding it is an amazing recipe for a hit. The Jack Harlow feature Is also filled with personality with legendary one liners and catchy flows that just work. Just an amazing pop song. The military drums, the fanfare horns, the hard hitting drums and bass and of course, the legendary intro. A future classic.
14.Spellling-The Turning Wheel
You know, it's tracks like these that make me think that art pop will always be in a good place. It takes the classic ingredients of people like Kate Bush and Bjork and makes it more personal to the artist. The synth riff, anthemic guitars and piano intro fit perfectly into Spelllings fantasy like voice. Im pretty sure Spellling did most of the mixing on this album, but this is mixed fantastically well. Everything pops out to a necessary amount. If you're into ambitious pop like I am, go ahead and listen to this journey of a track.
13.Black Country, New Road-Concorde
After releasing the tense and dramatic debut, Black Country, New Road debut a new sound that leads more into their post-rock directions to make the genre catchier and more infectious which will rarely go wrong. Whats best about Post-Rock is the atmospheric climax it leads to, but if thoughtful lyrics are added, it will be a major bonus, and this song has that bonus.
12.black midi-Slow (Loud)
Probably the most infectious track on this list. The tight riff, the complex drumming and arrangements as well as the impeccable dynamics. I just love how perfectly crafted this album turned out. From the loud intro to the chaotic outro, this track goes bonkers from beginning to end. black midi showed that they were more than an experimental math rock band, but an avant-prog band using a lot of jazz influence, Brazilian influence and fusion influences as well and I think this track exemplifies it the most.
11.Taylor Swift-All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)
Taylor Swift proves to us once again that she is an amazing songwriter. Her lyricism just gets better and better as time passes but this track was made all the way back in 2012. She goes in extremely vivid detail on this song about her past relationship with Jake Gylenhaal on this track as she cuts no bullshit from this whatsoever. The newly Jack Antonoff produced track goes through a progression and a journey as the instrumental compliments it. When I first heard it, it blew me away and it still blows me away to this day. Even Taylor Swift nay-sayers will vibe with this.
10.Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine-Back To Oz
It was really hard to think of one track to single out of this perfect album, but "Back To Oz" was just too good not to pick. the electric guitar riff as well as the luscious chorus is beautiful. I also like the Wizard Of Oz themed lyrics as well as the triumphant guitar solo at the end. The song is top tier Sufjan and you know me, you know Sufjan is one of my all time favorite songwriters and he just doesnt dissappoint on this album. I think this song and album will become a big part in Sufjan legendary status in the indie community.
9.Injury Reserve-Superman That
Despite the lack of "single" quality the Injury Reserve album had, this track became the most standout. The noisy and abrasive shots of sampling (from Black Country, New Road's "Athens, France") as well as the Arca style drums are hypnotic and a psychedelic experience. The Experimental mix as well as the message that Ritchie brings in the lyrics not only create an amazing song, but a track that shows how ambitious Injury Reserve is able to go.
8.CHVRCHES ft.Robert Smith-How Not To Drown
God, this song is so infectious. The believable vocal delivery from both acts as well as the anthemic hook, this track is a well crafted Pop Rock track with a good Robert Smith feature. The song is produced immaculately and the subject matter really leads to your own interpretation. For a group that I wasn't that familiar with at first, they really caught my attention with this track as its a great blend of Alt Rock and Synthpop that you cant deny.
Easily one of the most epic hip hop songs in recent memory. Little Simz is sounding hungry as ever over this hardcore instrumental. Talking about politics, her upbringing, her introversion and overall strengths and weaknesses. Simbi shows how versatile she is with flows and how she can annihilate a triumphant beat like this. A lot of the strengths come into that, but the melodic hook and epic intro also helps with this track too. This song is just epic.
6.Billie Eilish-Happier Than Ever
Billie Eilish never wowed me like this before. On this album, there were some solid ballads and some catchy pop hits, but the penultimate title track was the one that blew me away. Starting off as a poppy folk ballad, it then leads into an emo pop track until the noise gets turned to 11. The production by FINNEAS meshed with Billie's over the top vocal performance showcased a side of her we've yet to see this clearly. Billie keeps on showing promise as you can't deny her skill.
Coldplay might not be the most consistent group, but this is already one of their best songs. Instead of channeling back to their melancholic style of Alternative Rock, they create a space prog epic with Disney like orchestras, atmospheric synths and piano rock verses. All of that leads to a very triumphant guitar solo and outro. Coldplay really went above and beyond and I'm so glad that they released this to show that they still got it. Never underestimate Coldplay again, knowing what they can do.
4.Kanye West ft.Andre 3000-Life Of The Party
After dropping the massive album that was DONDA, Kanye dropped more material and this song was the one that stood out, It not only stood out compared to the singles but the album as well. The atmospheric soul based cut was a perfect blueprint for Andre and Kanye to brutalize with emotional bars and charming melodies from Kanye. Andre starts the song with an amazing feature (like usual) and Kanye matching it. Knowing what he did during DONDA and JESUS IS KING, it's cool to hear Kanye go this hard on a track. We honestly haven't heard him go this hard on a track since Life Of Pablo. Andre on the other hand makes sure he gives the track justice because talking about losing your mother is a serious topic and I assure they do NOT joke around on this track.
3.Japanese Breakfast-Be Sweet
You're probably wondering why this track is so high, well its just so fun. The bassline is so rhythmic and the beat is so groovy and Michelle's amateur vocal delivery gives the track so much personality. Everything about this track is great. The production, the harmonies, the hook and the bassline all are super memorable from first listen and that immediacy is just so key to indie bops like this one.
2.JPEGMAFIA-Hazard Duty Pay
Words cant explain how much I love this song. JPEGMAFIA is a heavyweight producer as he flips this vintage synth funk sample to perfection. If you know Peggy, you know this song but its so much better. I always Peggy put his all with all of his music, but he overdid himself.....again. The flow just fits perfectly to this fantastic instrumental. Honestly....this song right here just shows everything I love about Peggy. Unique production, fantastic one liners and unparalleled energy.
1.Silk Sonic-Leave The Door Open
I was honestly torn between the top 4. Those songs all were in consideration for #1 but this track just makes the most sense. It's so smooth and sensual. Both Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars compliment each other perfectly and the chord changes, harmonies, production and subject matter all just work. Its super nostalgic yet super fresh and sometimes the purest forms of music comes in that way, and that's why this song is my favorite of 2021.