I can’t decide if 2021 flew by or lasted forever – regardless, here we are at its end. As a now annual tradition (two years in a row, woohoo!) Chris, myself, and some of our friends do a roundup of our favorite songs released that year. There are three rules:
•The songs must have come out in 2021.
•You can only choose 25 songs.
•Only 2 songs per artist.
Here’s my final list, with some explanation for why I chose certain songs, and some of my favorite lyrics. They aren’t in any specific ranked order, I just organized them by the flow I liked. You can listen to my playlist both here on Spotify or here on Apple Music. I know the beginning is quite electronic heavy, but for those of you not into that it does change – I promise!
•Ani Kuni by Polo & Pan
As soon as I heard this song I was hooked, especially after watching the music video (which you can view here.) Polo & Pan was heavily a part of our friends group summer soundtrack this year – so much that one summer night sitting in our garden we all decided to impulse buy tickets to their December show in Chicago. After many long months the show came into fruition and it was a great night of dancing and singing and merry making!
•Numb by Sylvan Esso
“Shaking out the numb, let me feel something” – reminds me that physical movement can help my emotional being feel a little better – especially dancing!
•Only Love by Tycho & Benjamin Gibbard
I feel like saying Tycho & Benjamin Gibbard is enough?! If you know you know. Electronic music of my present meets electronic music of my youth.
•Astro Funk by GRiZ
This song (and album) were a HUGE part of the friends group summer soundtrack. Sunny days spent speeding around on a boat, blasting music, watching friends wakeboard, enjoying beer, and basking in the presence of great people.
•Gold by GRiZ
As mentioned above, this album was a significant part of our summer soundtrack. I also like the part where it says “woof” because Chris nails it every time and makes me giggle.
•Catching Smoke by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
This song is very groovy and catchy, but my favorite thing about it is the music video (which can be viewed here.) So weird, beautiful, and brilliant!
•Creatures by Viagra Boys
This is simply my favorite song from their album this year.
•Ain’t No Bread in the Bread Box by Greensky Bluegrass
The original version of this song is great, so of course when one of my favorite bands covers it I love it! This is from the Greensky Bluegrass The Leap Year Sessions, a collection of songs taken from a series of live-streamed performances. Chris and I caught ourselves singing it with gusto a ton this year. Greensky Bluegrass was also the first live concert we went to since Covid began – it was magical and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
•Wish I Didn’t Know by Greensky Bluegrass
Another one from The Leap Year Sessions (a collection of songs taken from a series of live-streamed performances.)
“Here I go spilling my heart with music
Forget everything you’ve learned about me
If I dare, if I may have a say in what you remember will be
I hope it’s the way I’m gonna kiss you”
•Show Me The Door by Billy Strings
We saw Billy Strings THREE times this year! Good ol’ Michigan bluegrass. His 2020 album won a Grammy, and he’s nominated for a few this year too!
“She ebbs and flows like water,and she feels just like wine.”
•Hide And Seek by Billy Strings
My favorite song I saw performed live this year. Such an epic jam session necessitated some wild dancing.
•That Funny Feeling by Phoebe Bridgers
I love everything Phoebe Bridgers does, including this Bo Burnham cover. All proceeds from this song go to Texas Abortion Funds.
•Day After Tomorrow by Phoebe Bridgers
Another great Phoebe cover – this time Tom Waits! All proceeds from this song go to International Institute of Los Angeles, who provide aid to immigrants, refugees, and survivors of human trafficking.
•Brando by Lucy Dacus
An incredibly talented artist, and I love all the film references in this song.
•Song of Trouble by CARM feat. Sufjan Stevens
I’ll take any opportunity to hear Sufjan softly crooning away.
•Before You Gotta Go by Courtney Barnett
Chris and I spent many an evening sitting out on our stoop, sipping beer and enjoying Courtney Barnett.
“If somethin’ were to happen, my dear
I wouldn’t want the last words you hear
To be unkind”
•BOY HOOD by Jon Batiste feat. PJ Morton & Trombone Shorty
I love Jon Batiste, and I love how much this song reps New Orleans. The best part is the transition to jazz towards the end.
•brutal by Olivia Rodrigo
Her whole album is catchy and one I listened to quite a bit this year. A lot of talent for such a youngin’.
•Good Girls (Don’t Get Used) by Beach Bunny
This was my favorite band I discovered this year. Very 90s/00s pop punk, which happens to be one of my favorite genres.
•Love Sick by Beach Bunny
What I said above. 🙂
•Kokomo, IN by Japanese Breakfast
“Watching you show off to the world
The parts I fell so hard for”
•Change by Big Thief
I’m crazy about Adrianne Lenker’s voice and lyrical writing skills.
•Renegade by Big Red Machine feat. Taylor Swift
Mostly included this so my pal Jake wouldn’t yell at me for not including anything touched by Justin Vernon. So here you go – with my girl Taylor Swift!
•All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift
Hands down, absolutely my favorite song that came out in 2021. Myself, like so many other people, can relate past relationships with these lyrics. Plus, the new additions are just so damn good! Check out her live performance of it on SNL here.
“And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punch line goes:
I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age”
•Hard Drive by Cassandra Jenkins
The perfect end of the year (thus end of the playlist) song.
“She said, “Oh, dear, I can see you’ve had a rough few months
But this year, it’s gonna be a good one
I’ll count to three and tap your shoulder
We’re gonna put your heart back together
So all those little pieces they took from you
They’re coming back now
They’ll miss ’em too
So close your eyes
I’ll count to three
Take a deep breath
Count with me””