100 songs that got us through 2021
A five-hour playlist tracking the pop-punk resurgence, TikTok hits and epic rerecords.
Are you sitting in silent isolation, faced with another disappointing holiday season? We’ve got just the thing to improve your current setup: a playlist of the 100 best songs released in 2021. After all, the new music offering wasn’t so bad this year! Artists released what they spent 2020 locked up at home creating, and some even returned to concerts and festival stages to bless us with the live experience we so craved.
Adele returned with 30, recent i-D cover star Billie Eilish blessed us with Happier Than Ever and Lorde waved her blissful NZ lifestyle in our faces with Solar Power. We also saw the unexpected but very welcome return of pop-punk with Olivia Rodrigo breaking records left, right and centre; and Willow Smith collaborating with both Travis Barker and Avril Lavigne. Hyperpop, and its subgenre digicore, bubbled up across the world too – glaive and ericdoa even signed to major labels. And of course, TikTok wielded its power even further over us all by catapulting musicians like PinkPantheress to fame.
Remember when tween punk legends The Linda Lindas went viral with “Racist, Sexist Boy (Live at LA Public Library)", a song written about an encounter with an ignorant kid at their school, back in May? What about when Taylor Swift released a re-recorded version of her 2012 album Red and thought, why not make “All Too Well” last 10 minutes? Or when Lizzo and Cardi B collaborated? Or the period when Lil Nas X’s album rollout sent homophobes into a frenzy on a near-weekly basis?
Aside from that, we developed a healthy obsession with chaotic Japanese idol group ATARASHII GAKKO! and everything felt right with the world when MUNA got Phoebe Bridgers to feature on the queer, horny and very feel-good “Silk Chiffon”. In this playlist you’ll find all the above, as well as music by Lil Baby, Shygirl, Mustafa, Beabadoobee, FKA twigs, ROSÉ, John Glacier, Lana Del Rey, BERWYN, Arca (who dropped four albums at once), Lorraine James, Caroline Polachek, KAM-BU and a whole load more.
In no particular order, here are the 100 songs we loved most in 2021.