Top 100 Tracks of 2021
My 100 favourite songs of the entire year
Here we are folks; the real big one of list week. We have finally arrived at my top 100 singles of 2021!
This is the list in which I will be going over my collection of favourite tracks the entirety of 2021 had to offer. But of course, I’ll lay out the rules for what you may expect to count as eligible for a list like this.
Basically, any track that was released in 2021, or is affiliated with a larger project that was released in 2021 (like an album) is eligible to make it on this list. I have made exception to tracks that were released between the release of last year’s list and New Year’s Eve. I should also add that it is only one song per project, as a way to make things a bit more vibrant.
I will be going through the first 50 in a fairly quick-fire manner, as a way to try and keep this article from being an overly long read, and from number 50 upwards, I will be adding music videos. However, if you would like to listen to all of my favourite singles at once, you can find a spotify playlist towards the end of this article (consider it a reward for getting through this article in one piece).
Trust me when I say, while 100 tracks does seem like a lot, narrowing the sheer amount of amazing music down to this amount was still a phenomenally difficult tack, and I had to be ruthless. That being said, don’t be disheartened if your favourite tune isn’t on here.
But with all of the pleasantries out of the way, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. And by that, I mean a look back on a hundred phenomenal tunes; starting, of course, with number 100.
100: Delaire The Liar — HALLOWEEN
On an EP that’s absolutely brimming with emotion, both musically and in regards to its narrative, “HALLOWEEN” stands as a leading example.
99: CASISDEAD & La Roux — Park Assist
Who would’ve thought that these two would’ve sounded so good together? But aside from that, they create something pretty damn unique.
98: Milo Korbenski — Rockford II
Introduced to me towards the final month of 2021, I was impressed with how this song’s whimsical ambience managed to grow on me so swiftly.
97: YONAKA — Raise Your Glass
If we’re talking about YONAKA as an anthemic band, few other tracks display that side of them quite as perfectly as this epic and emotive tune.
96: Biffy Clyro — A Hunger In Your Haunt
A brilliant way to follow the opener for their latest album, “A Hunger In Your Haunt” is a track that’s bursting with that familiar and anthemic Biffy feel.
95: Mastodon — The Crux
Out of all the tracks to be found on Mastodon’s new album, “The Crux” was undoubtedly the one that stuck out to me as the most Mastodon-esque.
94: Beach House — Once Twice Melody
The opening title track to Beach House’s new album, “Once Twice Melody” carries a creeping rhythm and soothing melody that really grew on me fast.
93: serpentwithfeet — Sailors’ Superstition
By pairing a catchy and warm production, courtesy of Take A Daytrip, with serpentwithfeet’s gorgeous vocals, we were all treated to a very great track.
92: KAYTRANADA & Thundercat — Be Careful
KAYTRANADA has shown to compliment the styles of featured artists well, but his track with Thundercat is definitely a shining example of this quality.
91: girl in red — Body And Mind
A track that is full of conviction and catchiness, “Body And Mind” was definitely one of the biggest highlights of girl in red’s debut album.
90: Half Moon Run — How Come My Body
While Half Moon Run’s new EP definitely served as a great reminder of the band’s soothing atmosphere, this track in particular carried that through.
89: Lorde — Solar Power
I feel like this track alone was the sole reason that Lorde’s album of the same name was so highly-anticipated. “Solar Power” is an iconic 2021 tune.
88: Ocean Grove — CALI SUN
Ocean Grove continue serving that signature sound that made their 2020 run so good, and has listeners very exciting for what they have in store for 2022.
87: Blu — Blu(e) World
Blu ends his newest album off on a high, with an emotive tune that is the second in recent years to put “It’s A Blue World” to good use as a sample.
86: Westside Gunn & Rome Streetz— Peri Peri
When it comes to the classy feel that made Westside Gunn’s mixtape so memorable, “Peri Peri” is the first to come to mind regarding said quality.
85: Billie Eilish — Your Power
Following the trail that was blazed by Billie Eilish back in 2019, “Your Power” presented a more mature artist, reflected by the more acoustic instrumental.
84: Earl Sweatshirt — 2010
The later half of 2021 saw Earl Sweatshirt pop out from another quick hiatus, and by the futuristic sound of “2010”, he might have an exciting project soon.
83: alt-J — U&ME
The first original track that alt-J had released in quite some time, “U&ME” proves to listeners that the band’s whimsical sound has stood strong.
82: Foo Fighters — Making A Fire
I can quite honestly say that “Making A Fire” may just be one of Foo Fighters’ most anthemic tracks in years, and a good reason to listen to their new album.
81: ABRA, Playboi Carti & Boys Noize — Unlock It
Surreal, exy, and gritty, “Unlock It” is an absolute bop. All of the artists involved allo this track to be an exciting experience from end to end.
80: Years & Years — Starstruck
Since Years and Years became an Olly Alexander solo project, it was a bit uncertain when it comes to what exactly would happen next. But with the vibrant and energetic “Starstruck”, things are going in a promising direction.
79: IDLES — Crawl!
I definitely appreciated the fact that IDLES were aiming to push the boat out further with their newest album. However, you sometimes just can’t go wrong with the familiar, especially in the case of IDLES and this awesome tune.
78: Poppy — On The Level
“On The Level” is a brilliant example of how Poppy has managed to implement just enough of her extremely unique aesthetic into a track that has a balanced level of accessibility and quirk, and is equal parts catchy and intriguing.
77: Madlib — Theme De Crabtree
There was one thing in particular that Madlib’s Sound Ancestors excelled at; creating a colourful palette of different vibes. “Theme De Crabtree” is one of the most atmospheric tracks amongst an already atmospheric bunch.
76: Black Honey — Fire
The lead-up to spring was an absolutely perfect time to release a track as feel-good and as empowering as Black Honey’s “Fire”. Being the penultimate anthem, this tune felt like the cherry on-top of an already great album.
75: J. Cole — a p p l y i n g . p r e s s u r e
Out of all of the tracks to be found on J. Coles intriguing and thought-provoking album, I feel like this track simply stood out as one that was insanely catchy, and brought forward that early 2010’s vibe which I love.
74: Limp Bizkit — Dad Vibes
The fact that 2021 saw the return of Limp Bizkit after 9 odd years, really proves just how much of an insane musical year it’s been. And with Dad Vibes being the very first sign of their return, it definitely felt the most enjoyable.
73: Don Toliver & Kali Uchis — Drugs N Hella Melodies
For the longest time, I felt that “Smoke” would’ve been the track off of Don Toliver’s new album to make it here. However, this track grew on me a tonne, thanks to its indulgent and lavish feel, along with Kali Uchis’ feature.
72: St. Vincent — Down And Out Downtown
In regards to the New York inspiration behind the atmosphere of St. Vincent’s album, I feel that no other track on the project presents that aesthetic better than “Down And Out Downtown”. This track is serene with a dash of grit.
71: Eyedress & Dent May — Something About You
Easily one of the catchiest and most memorable tunes from Eyedress’ most recent album, “Something About You” is also the most warm and summery musically. Given it was originally released in the summer, it felt ideal.
70: Porter Robinson — Musician
A beautifully wholesome telling of Porter Robinson’s deep love for music and musicianship, this track definitely stood as one of the biggest reasons I was interested to listen to Robinson’s 2021 album in the first place.
69: Dua Saleh & Amaarae — fitt
Ever since I discovered Dua Saleh back in early 2019, they have just kept getting better and better with their sound. “fitt” sees saleh being more catchy and more memorable than ever, thanks to the tracks engaging production.
68: Black Country, New Road — Track X
Out of the many out-there tracks that Black Country, New Road’s debut album brought, I enjoyed “Track X” the most, as the song best displayed the insane level of musical chemistry that all members of this exciting group share.
67: Arlo Parks — Porta 400
The closing track of Arlo Park’s gorgeously soothing and wholesome album Collapsed In Sunbeams, “Porta 400” epitomises Park’s optimistic attitude and atmospheric alternative sound that made the entire project such a treat.
66: Wolf Alice — Smile
There was a real feeling of nostalgia that I got from listening to this track from Wolf Alice. Perhaps it’s the fact that this sounds closest to their early 2010’s material. I also adore the subtle yet noticeable progression this track has.
65: Gender Roles — Dead or Alive
This energetic and colourful banger essentially served as my introduction to Gender Roles as a band. I had that underlying feeling that this track would sound amazing live, and when I finally experienced that, I was right!
64: Jordan Rakei — Clouds
Jordan Rakei’s newest album served as a great opportunity for me to experience a project with more focus on Rakei’s vocal performance. This tracks instrumental really works to empower said vocals brilliantly.
63: Olivia Rodrigo — deja vu
One could say that most of the tracks on Olivia Rodrigo’s SOUR could be about the same person. However, the story and songwriting behind “deja vu” felt especially well-made, and Rodrigo’s vocals make it all the more better.
62: Jazmine Sullivan & Anderson .Paak — Price Tags
No; I’m not just putting this on here because Anderson .Paak’s on here (although it definitely helps). But “Price Tags” oozes with a lavish ambience in its production, which helps Sullivan make this tune feel especially nostalgic.
61: Mykki Blanco & Blood Orange — It’s Not My Choice
Serving as my introduction to the wonderful Mykki Blanco, “It’s Not My Choice” is soulfully nocturnal in its atmosphere. This effortlessly had me immersed and engaged, and made a swift Mykki Blanco fan out of me.
60: Kid Cudi & JAY-Z — Guns Go Bang
One of the tracks that is part of the motion picture soundtrack of a western motion picture The Harder They Fall, “Guns Go Bang” sees Kid Cudi & JAY-Z stand as a dream team. The two really make this track uniquely their own, whilst fitting with the aesthetic of the movie in the best ways possible.
59: Tash Sultana — Sweet & Dandy
There were quite a lot of amazing teaser tracks for Tash Sultana’s 2021 album released in the previous year. But given how “Sweet & Dandy” is not only the final teaser track for the album, and the only one to be released in the new year, the tune also stands as one of the most colourful vibes the record has.
58: Sons Of Kemet & Kojey Radical — Hustle
While Sons Of Kemet’s Black To The Future didn’t quite make the cut for my top 50 albums list, it was still a marvellous project. Along with this, it was most certainly teased in an incredible way, thanks to the creeping progression of this intriguing and engaging track, complete with awesome chemistry.
57: Gorillaz, Jelani Blackman & Barrington Levy — Meanwhile
With the three tracks that Gorillaz’s EP brought to the table, it was this opening track that undoubtedly stood out. I absolutely loved the layering, as well as the use of the features artists on here. The way this track was expertly crafted definitely helped with its great level of engagement and enjoyment.
56: Royal Blood — Mad Visions
I cannot lie, there were lots of tracks that came with Royal Blood’s third album that could’ve made the cut on here. However, I feel that “Mad Visions” squeezed their way through the rest by the merit of how festival-ready the whole thing sounded. I envisioned this track live from the moment I heard it.
55: Pendulum — Come Alive
Given that this was the first brand new Pendulum track I had heard in years, it was absolutely fantastic to find out that their unique rock-heavy dance sound hadn’t changed in the slightest. And amongst the four great tracks on the band’s new EP, “Come Alive” stands out as the most epic and anthemic.
54: YUNGBLUD — fleabag
In many ways, “fleabag” feels like a spiritual sequel to YUNGBLUD’s standalone 2019 track “Loner”. And given that the aforementioned 2019 track was my introduction to YUNGBLUD, along with how “fleabag” was released shortly before seeing him live, there tonnes of sentiment here.
53: JPEGMAFIA — ARE U HAPPY?
While my actual favourite track from JPEGMAFIA is unfortunately unavailable on Spotify, “ARE U HAPPY?” was definitely a highlight off of LP!. This track stood out from the rest by the merit of conveying a more supportive message, all while a more mellow production still carries the signature quirks.
52: Gary Numan — I Am Screaming
There’s no denying that Gary Numan’s 2021 album Intruder was musically dark throughout, and I loved the apocalyptic feel that the record championed. But when it comes to tracks, I feel that “I Am Screaming” embodies all of the album’s qualities the best, whilst adding little sprinkles of classic Numan.
51: Obongjayar — Message in a Hammer
For the second year in a row, we have Obongjayar behind number 51 on my top singles list. This time, we arguably have the most energetic track he has ever put out. Everything from the unrelenting rhythm, to the insanely warm atmosphere, makes “Message in a Hammer” one of Obongjayar’s best.
50: Parquet Courts — Black Widow Spider
While I hadn’t enjoyed Sympathy for Life as I did for Parquet Court’s previous album, I still enjoyed this track a tonne, for being simplistically awesome. There was just something about “Black Widow Spider” that really had me on board. Along with this, it seamlessly presented the band’s signature flair.
49: Amyl and The Sniffers — No More Tears
One thing that I constantly praise Amyl and The Sniffers for, is how the Australian punk band manage to bring such a retro sound into a more modern musical landscape. “No More Tears” carries that quality through perfectly, with a brilliantly old-school punk sound, and the bombastic energy to match.
48: KSI, YUNGBLUD & Polo G — Patience
I have to give it to KSI, he has really evolved as a musician in the year of 2021. And when it comes to this fact, none of his tracks surprised me more than “Patience”. Stylistically different to KSI’s previous tunes, and boasting some awesome featured artists, this track definitely serves as a springboard for KSI.
47: R.A.P Ferreira & Scallops Hotel — listening
This year saw Rory Ferreira’s two most well-known aliases come together under the album Bob’s Son. When it comes to the project as a whole, both the styles of Scallops Hotel and R.A.P Ferreira can be noticed, which is especially the case with the minimal abstraction and melodic class of “listening”.
46: Myd & Bakar — We Found It
I truly wished that I had listened to “We Found It” earlier in the year, prior to Last Minute Reviews Week. The brilliant progression of the track, along with its wholesome spring atmosphere, was all tied together with the addition of Bakar as a feature. Once I did listen to this track, it grew on me super fast.
45: In The Pines — Under Your Chin
Given that the album this track appears on was one of the very first we had received in 2021, the remarkably warm and uplifting sound of “Under Your Chin”. It truly had me super hopeful towards the year ahead, and has built up loads of sentiment as a result. The bridge especially still sounds phenomenal.
44: Architects — Giving Blood
The more Nu-Metal direction that Architects moved towards with their newest album, definitely felt like a step in the right direction for me. And by the way that “Giving Blood” sounds, with that awesome guitar riff and overall dramatic feel, this track definitely had me engaged with its raw brilliance.
43: MIKE — Evil Eye
MIKE’s 2021 album Disco! was another project that the rapper had knocked out of the park. But when it came to picking out the best track amongst the bunch, I felt that I couldn’t really go wrong with said album’s first teaser. The retro sound brought forth by the sample, “Evil Eye” was a prominent pick.
42: black midi — Chondromalacia Patella
Having not truly listened to black midi until the release of their 2021 album, one quality that I cannot praise enough is just how much the band champion the use of phasing, which allowed them to ebb and flow in and out of intensity. I feel that this track was undoubtedly the best candidate for this.
41: Raf Rundell — Turning Tides
My hopes for Raf Rundell’s 2021 album were certainly set high, with thanks to his 2020 teaser “Monsterpiece”. I am pleased to say that those hopes were met with some incredibly atmospheric tracks. The album’s penultimate track especially, stood out as a highlight for not only the album but the year as well.
40: Xiu Xiu — Killing Distance (Long Hind Legs Cover)
It’s strange to think that the best track that Xiu Xiu released in 2021 by a long shot was in fact their cover of the Long Hind Legs hit “Killing Distance”. This rendition of the track really stayed true to the retro underground electronic aesthetic, bringing it into the new musical landscape of 2021 with minimal effort. That being said, there wasn’t a track that felt quite like this in 2021.
39: Greentea Peng — Jimtastic Blues
While Greentea Peng’s MAN MADE was definitely a generous album, in regards to its many vibrant and warm tracks, I feel that I had to choose the album’s closer as my pick for this list. “Jimtastic Blues” is energetic, bright, and jam-packed with that summery feel. Above all else, it is unmistakably a Greentea Peng tune through and through, and shines as a awesome last track.
38: Playboi Carti — Rockstar Made
Technically a 2020 tune, I know. However, my appreciation towards the opening track for Palyboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red grew exponentially in the year of 2021. This track in particular stood as one of the greatest examples of how Carti tunes start off sounding too poorly made, but ingeniously grow on the listener overtime. “Rockstar Made” is an iconically catchy track.
37: Kid Kapichi — Self Saboteur
Speaking of tracks that grew on me more in 2021, I truly had a newfound appreciation for “Self Saboteur” upon the release of Kid Kapichi’s debut album This Time Next Year. As well as that album, this track was certainly one of the highlights of their live performance as well. Lastly, this track sums up the premise of the album overall, and simply sounds downright awesome!
36: Gengahr — Under The Skin
Following their absolutely awesome 2020 album Sanctuary, I was certainly keeping my eyes peeled for Gengahr going into 2021. And while “Under The Skin” was their only release of 2021, it was clear that the band went above and beyond to give this track a truly dramatic tone. The progression of this song is flawless, and makes every phase of it musically sensational.
35: Injury Reserve — Bye Storm
As I quickly began to learn more about Injury Reserve through their 2021 album, there were many tracks that could’ve been placed on this list. But simply in terms of the track that absolutely had most of my attention, it had to be the closing track “Bye Storm”. There’s just something about the fuzz-heavy guitar and poetic lyrics, that really allowed this album to end with a bang.
34: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes & Lynks — Go Get A Tattoo
I never really expected a band like Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes to collaborate with an upcomer like Lynks; but thank high heavens that they did. Thanks to not only Lynks’ quirky lyrical contributions, but also the post-punk band’s newfound aesthetic, “Go Get A Tattoo” wound up being one of the most fun listens of 2021, and a highlight of The Rattlesnakes’ new album.
33: Turnstile & Blood Orange — ALIEN LOVE CALL
At number 33, we have yet another unexpected but amazing collaboration; that being one between Turnstile and Blood Orange. As if that collaboration didn’t make “ALIEN LOVE CALL” unique enough, it also stands as one of Turnstiles most atmospheric and relaxing tracks in their entire discography. Thus, it also made for one of the greatest tracks of the summer of 2021.
32: Sam Fender — Aye
If there’s one thing that Sam Fender does incredibly, it’s pumping out the anthems. And amongst all of the amazing tracks on his sophomore album Seventeen Going Under, nothing screamed “anthem” quite like “Aye”. This track begins by drawing our attention towards Fender’s words, before progressing more and more into an awesome finale. A truly awesome listen.
31: Baby Keem & Kendrick Lamar — Family Ties
Ok; so pretty much the only thing that 2021 didn’t deliver on was a new Kendrick Lamar album. But thanks to his cousin Baby Keem, we got pretty damn close. By being, for many, an introduction to Baby Keem, he had our attention with his own talents; not just the inclusion of Kendrick. That being said though, having the modern hip-hop legend on the track did help.
30: Jungle — Can’t Stop The Stars
Jungle definitely brought us one of the most feel-good albums of the year with Loving In Stereo. And as a result, a lot of the tracks could’ve been on here by the merit of carrying that feel-good quality so well. However, with the additional grandeur implemented into the album’s closing track “Can’t Stop The Stars”, putting that track on here as number 30 felt like a no-brainer.
29: Tyler, The Creator, Lil Uzi Vert & Pharrell Williams — JUGGERNAUT
As I mentioned in my albums list, CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST felt like a celebration of Tyler’s success. With that, it of course needed a good old show-offy track. I felt that “JUGGERNAUT” seemed like the perfect fit for this. This track feels like Tyler in his absolute element. And by featuring his idol Pharrell Williams, this hard-hitting tune feels like a full-circle moment for The Creator.
28: Richard Dawson & Circle — Lily
Out of all of the intriguing ballads to come out of the amazing collaborative record of Richard Dawson and Circle, I feel that “Lily” is one of those tracks that brings out the best in both artists. Dawson’s storytelling comes into full effect, with the true story of his mother as a junior nurse. As for Circle, their prog-rock sound makes for a memorably haunting, yet oddly charming track.
27: ToyQueens — WINE.
If you haven’t yet listened to ToyQueens yet, do so now! This solo artist and close friend had an absolutely insane run, in the earlier chunk of 2021, and brought out some of his most incredible tunes yet. The cream of the crop for me had to be “WINE.”, as this track reflects ToyQueens himself perfectly. ToyQueens, and this track especially, bring forth a uniquely gritty groove.
26: Tkay Maidza — Syrup
As a result of the more hard-hitting tunes being more well-received on Tkay Maidza’s 2020 EP, to release a track like “Syrup” felt like a wise decision. But on top of that, this track is likely one of the most hard-hitting tunes I’ve heard from Maidza to date. The insane level of bass this tune has, allows “Syrup” to stand in a league of its own. It is certainly one of 2021’s most badass tracks.
25: slowthai — focus
While slowthai is definitely revered by many fans for his hard-hitting and gritty tunes, there’s something to be said about his more mellow and melodic tunes as well. This was why the double-sided nature of TYRON was so enjoyable. And when it comes to the more mellow half of that album, “focus”, with a production from Mount Kimbie and Kenny Beats, shone brightest.
24: JID — Skegee
I had been introduced to JID this year, with quite the handful of phenomenal tracks. But if I had to pick one, it would need to be “Skegee”. More so than being just a hip-hop banger, JID tackles the topics of both intergenerational racism and the Tuskegee experiments in the 1930s. This strong narrative is injected into a track that stylistically feels reminiscent of To Pimp A Butterfly.
23: Spellling — Little Deer
Spellling’s album The Turning Wheel has received a great deal of well-deserved praise for just how gorgeous the composition behind all the tracks were. And with the album’s opening track especially, I completely understood this. The way that Spellling’s own vocals tie themselves in so brilliantly with one of the most beautiful instrumentals of 2021, is utterly awe-inspiring.
22: Silk Sonic — Smokin Out The Window
Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak are absolute powerhouses in their own right. However, they both go a step beyond under the joint name of Silk Sonic. The harmonies throughout the project are awesome to listen to, but on the likes of “Smokin Out The Window”, is simply on another level. Paired with an remarkable instrumental structure, these two make this track exceptional.
21: Rejjie Snow, MF DOOM & Cam O’bi — Cookie Chips
While “Cookie Chips” was definitely a 2020 release, I only really discovered it upon listening to Rejjie Snow’s 2021 album. But given the fact that the late MF DOOM appears as a feature artist on this thing, the serene and peaceful production, and lyrical focus on how time flies, there’s definitely a new layer of appreciation to be added to this gorgeous and colourful track.
20: VUKOVI — HURT
In the year of 2021, VUKOVI slowly yet surely seems to be setting the stage for their third album cycle. And by the way that tracks like “Hurt” are sounding, we’re surely in for a treat. Not only does lead singer Janine confront the trauma’s of a past relationship with fire in her gut, but those lyrics are laid out over a truly awesome sounding , hard-hitting, and utterly epic rock sound. Not to mention, this track was an absolute blast to listen to with their live show.
19: Blue Lab Beats, Kaidi & NK-OK — Não Tem Nada Não
Having discovered Blue Lab Beats this year, there were tonnes of amazing, vibrant, and feel-good tracks to choose from. But after sifting through my favourites, I ultimately settled on this insanely groovy tune off of their 2021 album The Sounds of Afrotronica. There’s just something about “ Não Tem Nada Não” that really scratches a certain itch. Maybe it’s the slower and more slinky rhythm, or maybe it’s the nocturnal feel, or it’s just plain awesome!
18: Bob Vylan — CSGB
Bob Vylan’s We Live Here was an absolute masterpiece of an EP. And while the closing track of said EP isn’t the most lyrically deep of the tunes that can be found there, I do feel that “CSGB” has one major thing going for it. When it comes to how Bob Vylan actually sound musically, no track displays this as well as this one. Especially given that this EP was the first that many may have heard of this artists, this track was an essential topper for a remarkable EP.
17: Lady Gaga & Dorian Electra — Replay (Dorian Electra Remix)
For those of you that have read my top tracks list for 2020, you may remember that “Replay” was my favourite tune from Lady Gaga’s Chromatica. That said, it should come as little surprise that the remix of that track is my favourite of the remix album. But why so high up on this list? The answer lies with Dorian Electra, and how they have breathed new life into this remix. Thus, the “Replay” remix actually surpasses the already incredible original song.
16: Horsey — Lagoon
One thing’s for sure; Horsey had burst onto the scene with an absolutely out-there album in 2021. And when it really comes down to it, I feel that “Lagoon” (and of course its music video) shows once and for all how bonkers this band truly is. Aside from that, however, there definitely is a beauty to be extracted from the overall oddity of this song, and the near-merry atmosphere of the ever-switching instrumental definitely gave off a summer-ready vibe.
15: IDK — Peloton
When it comes to the range of summer tunes that the musical year of 2021 had to offer, IDK’s “Peloton” is undoubtedly one of the finest examples. Aside from bringing the shed-load of warmth you’d expect to hear from a summer tune released in June, “Peloton” carries an extremely soulful production, that was expertly put together. As a result, this track stood as a fantastic teaser track for what would ultimately be a marvellous album release from IDK.
14: Lingua Ignota — MANY HANDS
While I have been amazed by the sounds put out by Lingua Ignota before, the musical project of Kristen Hayter truly blew me away this year with the release of SINNER GET READY. This album was a harrowing listen for the most part, but also oddly beautiful at other points. But if I had to pick one track from there, “MANY HANDS” sticks out as one that pretty much sums up the premise of the album as a whole, and points towards the albums title lyrically.
13: Lil Nas X & Jack Harlow — INDUSTRY BABY
It absolutely fills me to the brim with pride to see somebody like Lil Nas X triumph so greatly in the year of 2021. Honestly, this really has been a big year for the hip-hop artist. But Lil Nas X’s pride in himself is what truly matters here. I feel that no track boasts that quite like “INDUSTRY BABY”, an anthem which comes with an awesomely catchy and triumphant production, a feature from Jack Harlow, and a stellar music video to boot.
12: Freddie Gibbs — Winter in America (Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson Cover)
Across the Black History Always EP Music For The Movement Vol.2, a project which celebrated Black History Month in America, Freddie Gibbs’ gorgeous cover of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson’s “Winter in America”, stood out as its greatest highlight. It was great to see an artist as well-known as Gibbs on here, and it definitely helped draw more attention to this important project. But along with that, we get an absolutely remarkable cover as well.
11: Armand Hammer, The Alchemist & KAYANA — Black Sunlight
Thanks to both The Alchemist’s ingenious production, and Armand Hammers complex yet engaging lyrical deliveries, it was tricky choosing a song from Haram to put on here. But when I really think of it, “Black Sunlight” is one track from that project I look back on more fondly than the rest. The use of sampling is top-notch, allowing this track to be one of the most melodically brilliant of 2021. The lyrical flows also make this track super dynamic.
10: Brent Faiyaz, DJ Dahi & Tyler, The Creator — Gravity
I must be honest, “Gravity” was one of the first tracks this year that really struck me as something special. While it was primarily the Tyler, The Creator feature that had me on-board in the first place, my introduction to Brent Faiyaz, and his vocals on this track, ultimately stole the show. Not to mention, the insanely vibrant production, courtesy of DJ Dahi, tied all of the elements of this track together, packaged in a bright and whimsical musical box.
9: Yves Tumor — Jackie
There are two things that absolutely go hand-in-hand; they are Yves Tumor, and echoing guitar riffs. If last years “Kerosene!” hadn’t proved that already, then “Jackie” most certainly will. On top of the roaring guitars that allow this track to be so atmospheric, we also have an extra engaging drum pattern, and heartful lyrics from Yves Tumor themselves, that can be easily sung along to. All in all, this track is an exceptional combination of several great elements.
8: Alfie Templeman — Forever Isn’t Long Enough
While this track from Alfie Templeman was originally a 2020 release, it still managed to become the biggest summer anthem of the following year. Besides which, what better candidate to represent Templeman’s phenomenal 2021 album, than it’s title track. “Forever Isn’t Long Enough” carries absolutely everything one could hope for from a summer anthem. A colourful and vibrant atmosphere, an upbeat energy, insane groove; this track has it all.
7: Genesis Owusu — Goodbye
Genesis Owusu’s debut album saw the Australian artist champion so many styles, allowing for every single track having its own unique set of enjoyable characteristics. So picking a favourite track from said album was the hardest thing of all. However, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that the album’s closer “Bye Bye” rises above as my favourite track of the project. As most closing tracks should, “Bye Bye” epitomises the utterly incredible record it’s on.
6: Nas — Store Run
In regards to tracks off of Nas’ King’s Disease II, it was a truly close call between “Store Run” and “Moments”. However, I ultimately leaned towards “Store Run”, simply by the merit of wowing me first. Besides, this track does a brilliant job of focusing on the core focus of King’s Disease II, and that is to show some musical tough love towards the listener, encouraging them to keep an ambitious and straight-headed mindset, to get to the position that Nas is in.
5: Kanye West, Kid Cudi & Don Toliver — Moon
Even with some of the controversies surrounding Kanye West and his album cycle of Donda, this track is absolutely beautiful, whichever way you slice it. Besides which, it honestly is Don Toliver, Kid Cudi, and of course the production that steal the show; it’s the perfect Kanye track for people that don’t like Kanye, and a perfect track for those who do. I love the fact that the production is stripped of a rhythm, and is instead just one gorgeous melody.
4: Scarlxrd — Red Light
One of the most exciting artists whose music I had dived head-first into in 2021 would be none other than Scarlxrd. This primarily came with the release of his earlier 2021 album DXXM II. Not only out of those tracks on the album, but out of all the tracks this year, it was “Red Light” that I found myself replaying the most. But with an explosively bass-heavy beat, and Scarlxrd’s signature throat-killing vocals, who in their right mind could blame me?
3: BROCKHAMPTON & Danny Brown — BUZZCUT
In my mind, BROCKHAMPTON had been a little hit-and-miss between 2018 and 2021. However, I had my mind completely and utterly blown when listening to “BUZZCUT” for the first time. Not only is this track the best BROCKHAMPTON has sounded since SATURATION, but it may just be the best the band have sounded ever! And I haven’t even mentioned the Danny Brown Feature, the surreal production, and the amazing album that followed.
2: Gojira — Amazonia
Yet another track I had playing on repeat this year, “Amazonia” proves that Gojira are true champions of their completely epic sound. But instead of stopping there, the band add a twist to take this track in particular one step further. Gojira focus on highlighting the atrocities of deforestation, pairing this lyrical focus with tribal musical elements, and a charity campaign. Gojira really gave their all on this track, and are deserving of claiming number 2.
1: Little Simz — I Love You, I Hate You
When thinking about the number 1 track of 2021, it was the most obvious thing in the world that Little Simz was going to make it there. I actually saw the rap artist’s first teaser for her new album cycle, titled “Introvert” as a clear contender for song of the year, and probably would be here, if not for the later teaser track “I Love You, I Hate You”
I genuinely listened to this track yesterday, and it still left me with a lump in my throat. But way back in early July when I first heard this, I had never felt so certain in my life, that this was going to be my favourite track of 2021.
Both this track and “Introvert” share this quality, but the orchestral elements were an ingenious way to make them two of the most epic-sounding rap songs I’ve ever heard.
But where “I Love You, I Hate You” stands out from “Introvert”, starts with the fact that it is more balanced in its fusion of orchestral music and UK Hip-Hop, even adding some subtle reggae sampling for good measure. Nevertheless, it definitely feels like more of a Little Simz song, whilst not compromising any of those unique elements.
This wasn’t an easy song for Simz to write either; she said this herself. But “I Love You, I Hate You” laid the artist’s feelings bare, regarding the heartbreak she felt, given to her by her family, and her father. The way she approaches this lyrically is so emotionally mature that every word had my full attention.
Such an emotionally raw song lyrically, and such an emotionally grand song musically, “I Love You, I Hate You”, in my mind, is nothing short of an absolutely perfect track. Very rarely would I say something was perfect and truly mean it, but I truly mean it here.
You can listen to all 100 of these track in one place, with my spotify playlist below.
So there you have it, my top 100 tracks of 2021, which warps up my triad of project lists. However, list week isn’t finished just yet.
You’ll be able to check out my favourite other musical tidbits of 2021, with my “End Of Year Review”. In that article, I will going over my favourite musical tidbits, shedding light on the few disappointments of musical 2021, and covering my hopes and intents for the fast-approaching year of 2022. So stay tuned.