Here is our final part of our top 100 songs nos. 20-1 by EJ Scanlan
20 – “Limbo” by Royal Blood (from Typhoons)
“But I should stop and take my own advice. It’s no wonder I found myself lost ignoring all the signs.”
Royal Blood made a triumphant return with the release of their third studio album, “Typhoons”, and despite the record being quite problematic at times, it has some excellent tracks, and “Limbo” is this record’s strongest. It has this gorgeous sound all the way through that sounds so uniquely Royal Blood with it sounding so new and different to what they’ve done before.
19 – “Play The Greatest Hits” by Wolf Alice (from Blue Weekend)
“Well the fast life is fast and I am so weak, I fall in love with the first fucking creep.”
“Play The Greatest Hits” from Wolf Alice’s perfect third album “Blue Weekend” is an excellent rock track. The song, where the narrator is trying to numb their emotions through the music that is playing, allowing them to forget the heartbreak they are experiencing, is incredibly relatable, with Joff Oddie’s lead guitars at their absolute peak during this energetic power song inspired to spark mosh pits everywhere.
18 – “Burning Bridges” by Sigrid
“I could tell you the truth but you’d call me a liar. Tried to wave a white flag but you set it on fire”
If you thought Sigrid couldn’t get any better than her standout single “Strangers”, think again. “Burning Bridges” is a majestic pop song that is perfect in every way. From Sigrid’s remarkable vocals to the out-there production, this song has everything and a climax that is one of my favourites of the year. Bring on Album #2 in 2022!
17 – “Chaise Longue” by Wet Leg (from Wet Leg)
“Is your mother worried? Would you like us to assign someone to worry your mother?”
Wet Leg are a band I adore. Their debut single “Chaise Longue” is cheeky, provocative and just pure indie perfection, also featuring one of my absolute favourite lyrics of the year (see above). The unprecedented success of the song is just a testament to how great this band are and how this song at the very least will join the likes of “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand and “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis as one of the best indie-rock songs of all time.
16 – “Hope” by Arlo Parks (from Collapsed In Sunbeams)
“You’re not alone like you think you are. We all have scars, I know it’s hard. You’re not alone. You’re not alone.”
“Hope” is a song that is needed more so in our humanity now than ever before. Parks’ storytelling is on top form as usual and the song stands out so much on its own. With Arlo’s performance at the 2021 BRIT Awards, the song was given a new lease of life and a whole new meaning, resulting in the denotation that this song can be interpreted in so many ways, which is what makes this song so fresh and Arlo Parks an artist of a generation.
15 – “Film Scene Daydream” by Alfie Templeman (from Forever Isn’t Long Enough)
“I was so naïve until I turned fifteen. A living mystery, the world was one big dream”
Alfie Templeman’s songs just seem to hit different right? Very similar to “Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody” which we spoke about earlier, “Film Scene Daydream” is so much fun and gives off a lot of serotonin that’s needed now more than ever. Tracks like these deserve all the success in the world.
14 – “Lo Vas A Olvidar” by Billie Eilish and ROSALÍA
[Translated] “Tell me if you still miss me. Tell me if you still won’t forgive me.”
Made for the TV series, Euphoria, “Lo Vas A Olvidar” is a dark yet beautiful song where you can feel the raw emotion coming from both Eilish and ROSALÍA, even without understanding the Spanish language. Everything about it is sensational and does the best thing that any collaboration can do: show off brand new sides to both artists which they can develop on in the future.
13 – “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” by WILLOW feat. Travis Barker (from Lately I Feel Everything)
“I don’t know if it’s paradise or it’s a trap. Yeah, they’re treating me like royalty, but is it kissin’ ass?”
So, it’s fair to say that WILLOW has come a long way from “Whip My Hair”. “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” is a remarkable pop-rock song with influences from the likes of Paramore, Avril Lavigne and Fall Out Boy. Its success on TikTok has made its users take the song to their hearts and it’s not hard to see why. This is maybe my favourite pop-rock song in recent years.
12 – “The Doll” by audiobooks (from Astro Tough)
“Thousands of tears came sprawling out of hеr Cupid eyes. We wеre both just there, standing there, wet from the rain in Coventry”
I first came across audiobooks when a fan of my work spotted me at a gig I was at in London and told me that I had to listen to this band. I did and I’ve been hooked ever since, and “The Doll” is the most sensational and bat-shit crazy song I’ve heard in a very long time. Its incredibly creative lyrics and spoken-word style is innovative and just spectacular to listen to and accompanied by David Wrench’s tense and danceable production, it makes for an incredible song, one of the very best of the year.
11 – “Tout l’univers” by Gjon’s Tears
[Translated] “The whole universe. Our two hearts under the ground. At the centre of the rifts and the aftershocks, we will meet at the point of impact. How can we heal our exploding hearts?”
This year’s Eurovision Song Contest was one of the best in many years, but Gjon’s Tears from Switzerland gave us one of the best entries in Eurovision’s 65-year history in my opinion. “Tout l’univers” is an emotional ballad with a gorgeous yet empowering instrumental which, in terms of the songs themselves, makes this one of the very best of all time…
10 – “Pill Or A Lullaby (4 AM till Sunrise)” by Lola Young (from After Midnight)
“I’m not tired. I’m just scared to turn the lights on”
Lola Young is an artist I discovered 18 months ago and have been obsessed with ever since. In August, she released my favourite EP of the year, “After Midnight” and the entire EP is sensational all the way through, but the final track, “Pill Or A Lullaby (4 AM Till Sunrise)” is one of the most gorgeous piano ballads I’ve ever heard. The simplicity of the song is second to none, then lyrics of overwhelming dread and anxiety is a real standout and mixed in with Young’s emotionally raw yet empowering vocals, the track is one of the most stunning ballads you’ll hear this year.
9 – “Ordinary” by YONAKA (from Seize The Power)
“Is this what you want? Is this what you came for? You live for the ordinary.”
The second track to be released from their mixtape, “Seize The Power”, YONAKA have created their best song yet. All about living in the moment, “Ordinary” creates a song that leaves you on the edge of your seat wanting more, while also making you want to mosh and headbang and dance with strangers. One thing is for certain, once we get out of this pandemic, we won’t be taking anything for granted ever again, and “Ordinary” reinforces that very fact.
8 – “Hustle” by Sons of Kemet feat. Kojey Radical (from Black To The Future)
“You could test my spirit, just not today, I got demons on my back and a lot on my plate”
It’s fair to say that Shabaka Hutchings is my favourite ever jazz musician, and Sons Of Kemet is my favourite of his projects. “Hustle” is a genre-bending progression of their previous work with Kojey Radical’s addition an incredibly welcomed one. The story being told is beautiful and sensational, and it’s a song that has truly revolutionised the jazz music genre forever.
7 – “The Last Man On Earth” by Wolf Alice (from Blue Weekend)
“You were the first person here and the last man on the Earth… but does a light shine on you?”
“The Last Man On Earth” is an unconventional song to put as your comeback single, but not for Wolf Alice, who knew what they were doing. The lead single from their new album, “Blue Weekend”, the track is a slow piano ballad that oozes with beautiful production, vocals and lyrics. It takes you on a journey that leaves you with goosebumps every time you hear it.
6 – “Thursday” by Holly Humberstone (from The Walls Are Way Too Thin)
“I thought maybe if I dyed my hair I’d feel more independent, but it’s nothing like the picture on the box now I regret it
The first time I heard Holly Humberstone perform her beautiful track “Thursday” was at her homecoming show at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms, and I was blown away close to tears, and the original recorded version sounds just as emotional. The ballad showcases Humberstone’s stunning vocals and production as she sings lyrics of heartbreak and deceit, ringing true to lots of people in bad relationships. It’s raw, emotional and incredibly beautiful to listen to.
5 – “Feeling Myself” by Wolf Alice (from Blue Weekend)
“He’s had so many lovers; don’t mean he’s been pleasing anyone.”
Here we have the most beautifully produced song of the year in the form of “Feeling Myself”. Despite Rowsell’s impeccable vocals and lyrics, the sensational synthesisers are the biggest highlight of the track, however, showcasing Wolf Alice’s masterful instrumentation and band chemistry, with a finale that will ensure anyone who listens to it will get a tonne of goosebumps, making Wolf Alice unlike any other band out there in the world.
4 – “I Do This All The Time” by Self Esteem (from Prioritise Pleasure)
“You see, when the air warms up like this it brings every single memory of you back and it makes me so sick, I can’t breathe… Except I am still breathing, aren’t I? Sometimes I think that’s the problem.”
You may remember that I reviewed Self Esteem’s sophomore record, “Prioritise Pleasure”, which despite it having critical acclaim, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the record. However, when speaking about the album’s lead single, “I Do This All The Time”, I said… ‘I love the honesty provided in this track. I love how the anxieties and complications of being a person in the world are explored expertly. This is one of the best lyrical songs of the year so far, and it’s fantastic. Its production is sensational, I’m lost for words with how amazing this track is. Wow.’ I still think that only my opinion of this track has changed bucket loads, I’ve got way more praise for it. The lyrics are completely resonant and are things that a lot of people need to hear, this track is absolute perfection, and is by far the best song in the pop genre this year. Self Esteem is fantastic, and this song completely deserves to be The Guardian’s Song of the Year.
3 – “Introvert” by Little Simz (from Sometimes I Might Be Introvert)
“Angel said, “Don’t let you ego be a disturbance”, inner demon said, “motherfucker, you earned this”, like they strip you of everything you’re deserving, realize there is a prison in us, we are conditioned as fuck.”
Little Simz is an artist that has captured my interest for a few years now, but I’ve never truly been impressed with her, until she dropped “Introvert” from her upcoming fourth studio album, “Sometimes I Might Be Introvert”. Simz continues to fight on with her battle to tackle the national government’s corruption and lust for money – no matter if their profits are to the detriment of others – along with the prejudiced calamities a Black woman faces in a time of crisis all around the world. The track’s presentation of this, alongside its instrumentation is remarkable.
2 – “Aye” by Sam Fender (from Seventeen Going Under)
“They watched Boudica fall to the Romans, they watched Lennon as they shot him dead, they watched Jackie pick up Kennedy’s head, they watched kids go to Epstein’s bed. They watched Hollywood whitewash remake movies of napalm falling like water on rock.”
Sam Fender has created one of his most politically charged songs yet, and this has some of the best lyrics I’ve ever heard in any song I’ve heard this year. “Aye” targets our government and broadcasters and calls them out for being what they are, but does so in a way that even makes the far-right consider what he’s saying. Fender’s songwriting ability is complex, understated and filled with cutthroat honesty with heart, and “Aye” has that in bucket loads. From the repetition of “hate the poor” to the oozing and rocky instrumentation, “Aye” is a fantastic song and the best-written song this year by far.
1 – “The Beach” by Wolf Alice (from Blue Weekend)
“Lost in my mind was a storm from the beach, the perfect circle gave a moment of peace.”
The opening to North London band Wolf Alice’s third album “Blue Weekend” is “The Beach”, and it is textbook on how to pull off an album opening. From a gorgeous guitar ballad to the gradual build-up with a finale of brass and a provoking mystery, wanting to know much more about what’s to come through the record. It’s the perfect start to the perfect album… and my favourite song of 2021.