Here are my Top 10 Singles of 2021!
10. "STAND FOR MYSELF"
Yola hits a mighty climax with her emphatic "I'm alive!" refrains in this glimmery and rootsy anthem.
9. "NEW MIRRORS"
Sunny wave of synthpop from sibling duo Minimal Schlager.
8. "KNUCKLE TATTOO"
An immediate earworm--girlhouse's pulsating rock single with distinctive lyrics ("Don't trust a man that can dance with a knuckle tattoo ... / he's got a band with a van and a bad attitude") felt both familiar, like a worn 90s grunge track, and yet, like a breath of fresh air.
7. "KEEP MOVIN'"
In another difficult year, Jungle kept things going with this forward-looking, string-drenched dance nosh.
6. "BACK TO OZ"
Somehow Sufjan Stevens manages to churn out so many well-crafted, yearning pop songs. This bittersweet tune reaches back into childhood and the fever dream that is Return to Oz.
5. "THE MELTING OF THE SUN"
Extremely grand rock song cleverly references some golden music influences of yesteryear and also includes a killer vibrating guitar solo. The SNL performance from this year was a memorable showstopper.
4. "ACROSS THAT FINE LINE"
Pleasing, driving epic post-punk tune that feels celebratory and bittersweet. Like the girlhouse song, this one is a cozy alt-rock throwback while simultaneously sounding fresh.
Fabulous song from Tyler, the Creator. Unapologetic (and funny) lyrics. Its sounds swirling like a record, this brief track was on repeat for me throughout the year.
I've been a fan of Polo & Pan's trip-pop music and remixes for a few years now, and also Pino Donaggio's Body Double score is a favorite of mine. So I was particularly chuffed to hear a mashup of Donaggio with Pilot's "Magic": a skilled, incredible sonic experience.
1. "BE SWEET"
Beautiful, quietly powerful pop-rock. The chorus, perhaps unintentionally, reflects the hope a lot of us are feeling in the midst of chaos right now ("Be sweet to me, baby / I wanna believe in you"). Impressively, lead singer Michelle Zauner also released her haunting memoir Crying in H-Mart this year as well.