The Best Songs of 2021

In a year full of brilliant music and not enough concerts, I somehow managed to listen to 1,814 different artists (according to my Spotify Wrapped). Here are some of my favourite songs which have came out since January 1st, complete with playlist at the end. I hope you find something you enjoy šŸ™‚

Possibly the best song to come out of this year was Little Bit Of Love by Tom Grennan. Just hearing this makes me feel nostalgic and extremely emotional. In a time when pop feels increasingly superficial and commercially-oriented, this one cuts straight through to the heart. It’s already racked up 200 million streams, and is shaping up to be the biggest (and best) track of his career.

Another song doing really well in the charts this year was Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender, which came about not only because it’s one of the best indie rock tracks in recent memory, but because Tiktok found it. Well. Hearing an entire bar in Derby singing this song at top volume at half one in the morning was a moment I won’t forget in a hurry, and it made me love it even more.

January was made bearable by You Me At Six’s seventh studio album, ‘SUCKAPUNCH’. The whole album was brilliant, but the opening track Nice To Me was a standout highlight. February was even better with the release of Normandie’s third album ‘Dark & Beautiful Secrets’, when I could have put all 11 songs into this post. I managed to limit myself to three – Renegade, Mission Control and Thrown In The Gutter. Although I didn’t get to see YMA6 live with Bring Me The Horizon (it was slightly above my price range), Normandie’s tour in October featured the best show I’ve ever been to. I had a bad throat when I went, and completely lost my voice by the end. Completely worth it though.

If you need a band who know who to create a great album with intricate stories and stunning soundscapes interwoven throughout, you need Wolf Alice, who returned in style with their first new music in nearly four years, June’s ‘Blue Weekend’. In just six months this has got me through every single emotion, and much like 2017’s ‘Visions Of A Life’, it is simply perfection. I’ve got ready for a party with Play The Greatest Hits, let out anger with Smile, chilled out listening to Lipstick On The Glass and dissociated in the freezer aisle at Lidl to Feeling Myself. I didn’t buy anything I went there for…

Rock and indie is only some of my taste, though, and this year more than ever, I’ve needed dance bangers to get me through. The Motto by Tiesto and Ava Max may have only been out for a few weeks, and complimented with dumb lyrics and the slap house which has infected dance music the last couple of years, but it’s great to switch your mind off too for three minutes. See also; Bang Bang and The One by Imanbek and Rita Ora; Playing With My Heart by Besomorph and Karra; and Chain My Heart – Topic and Bebe Rexha.

If you like your electronic music a little more chilled, Gorgon City released their incredible album ‘Olympia’ in the summer. Fittingly released during a heatwave, the warm sounds of their music can carry you through the cold winter nights. Never Let Me Down is the peak of the album, with a 90s piano melody carrying through the blend of nostalgic and modern house which Gorgon City have become known for. Lost Feelings and Thoughts Of You are more melancholic, and are the perfect tracks to finish a quiet evening with.

One of their collaborators, the weird and wonderful Sofi Tukker, themselves released a track so good this year that it makes this list. Sun Came Up, which features John Summit, transports you straight to a sun-drenched beach. The urge to dance is irresistible. If a fun dance-pop song is more your thing, Spanish girl group Sweet California dropped Whisper in August, and although it seems to take rather a lot of inspiration from Little Mix’s Sweet Melody, it’s an absolute banger and must-have for any pres. Speaking of, the legendary Cascada is back with Timmy Trumpet for their collaboration Never Let Me Go, which has everything you could ever want to get the party started.

On the complete other end, Billie Eilish dropped her sophomore album ‘Happier Than Ever’ in August, and NDA was my favourite. Admittedly, it only crossed my path because the chorus’ use of auto-tune generated some controversy, and earned comparisons to the work of a certain Charli XCX. Its use as an instrument made this one stand out, along with its lyrics longing for a quieter, normal life, where she doesn’t have to vet everyone she comes close to with a non-disclosure agreement.

Martin Garrix and Tove Lo also felt more subdued earlier this year when they released the beat-focused, calm bop Pressure. Being long-time fans of both artists, I’d have never expected this to be the result of their work together – but it is simply magnificent. And with new music coming from both in 2022, I’m feeling very excited.

Drum and bass has had a great year, with even more to come. If You Want It by Wilkinson is a single off of his upcoming album, ‘Cognition’ which is to be released in February 2022. If you like laid-back, liquid D&B, I’m sure you know Wilkinson well – if you don’t, you may remember his 2013 top 10 hit ‘Afterglow’ with Becky Hill. With a similar sound, High Contrast’s beautiful remix of London Grammar’s Lord It’s A Feeling manages to both combine Hannah Reid’s haunting vocals with minimalistic electronic beats. She could sing any style she likes and it would sound heavenly.

Coming from Scotland is Ewan McVicar’s breakout hit Tell Me Something Good, which gives 90s-tinged techno and searing deep vocals a modern twist. On the opposite scale, CHVRCHES released one of the most emotional songs of the year with How Not To Drown, featuring Robert Smith of The Cure. I can’t understate how perfect it is.

MARINA released her fifth album Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land in June, which is action packed with searing pop melodies and politically relevant, feminist lyrics. The title track is my favourite. And if you want feminism from a completely different angle, BDE by Shygirl and Slowthai is a great track, even if its explicitness makes WAP look like a Kidz Bop smash. Don’t listen around children, parents, or anyone a bit sensitive to that sorta stuff!

I hope there’s something here that you like – the playlist with all of these songs is below. I’m looking forward to seeing what music 2022 brings!

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