Top 50 Songs of 2021 (So Far) by EJ Scanlan
Can you believe it? We’re halfway through 2021 already, and what a half-year we’ve had. Despite a third lockdown, a government scandal and live music still struggling, we’ve had top quality EPs, albums and singles all the way through. Today, we’re going to be celebrating these songs through a list dedicated to the 50 best songs released in 2021 so far, Part 1.
For this list, I’m choosing what I believe are the 50 best songs released in 2021. There is no limit on genre and I’ve tried to limit songs to four per artist maximum. This list will also include songs released in the second half of December 2020. All of these picks are my own opinion and obviously, I haven’t heard everything that’s been released this year, but I’m intrigued to know what you would add to the list.
Before we dive in with the Top 50, here are six songs that didn’t make it, but I just couldn’t afford not to mention:
“American Beauty” by Biig Piig (from The Sky Is Bleeding)
“Black Hole” by Griff (from One Foot In Front Of The Other)
“Dark Days” by Yard Act (from Dark Days)
“KILL IT” by VUKOVI
“Never Let Me Down” by Gorgon City feat. Hayley May (from Olympia)
“You Were Perfect & I’m Sorry” by Mickey Darling
All of these songs are remarkable in their own way, but what exactly are my 50 favourite songs of 2021 so far? Part 1, No. 50 to No. 26
#50 – “The Walls Are Way Too Thin” by Holly Humberstone
Following the release of her critically acclaimed debut EP, “Falling Asleep At The Wheel”, Lincolnshire based singer-songwriter, Holly Humberstone’s second release of the year, “The Walls Are Way Too Thin” tackles claustrophobia and anxiety in a gorgeous indie-pop track, proving that Humberstone is the next big thing.
#49 – “TELL THE TRUTH” by Jon Batiste (from WE ARE)
Fresh from working on the soundtrack to Disney Pixar’s “Soul”, the Academy Award winner released his debut album, “WE ARE”, which is remarkable from start to finish. “TELL THE TRUTH” is a gorgeous jazz song that shows that Batiste is going to be massive among the jazz scene in many years to come.
#48 – “Keep Moving” by Jungle (from Loving In Stereo)
London based duo Jungle revolutionised the electronic music scene in 2014 with the release of their self titled Mercury Prize nominated debut album, with their sophomore record “For Ever” showcasing the band’s continuous growth. “Keep Moving”, the lead single from the duo’s forthcoming third album “Loving In Stereo” is a testament to their distinctive sound and made themselves, once again, a force to be reckoned with.
#47 – “Bed” by Belot
Belot is a London artist that has really captured my interest over the last six months. She’s a pop-star in the making, and “Bed” proves this. Clocking in at just two minutes six seconds long, the song is innovative and just superb. I’m excited to see what else she creates.
#46 – “Back To Basics” by Fredo (from Money Can’t By Happiness)
Fredo is probably my favourite UK Grime artist out there right now. Produced by frequent collaborator and 2019 Mercury Prize winner, Dave, the hallowing and brooding instrumental of “Back To Basics” drifts along as Fredo goes “back to basics” in terms of rapping about the streets, his gang war with the opps, his newfound money and the women. Everything about it works and is one of my favourite grime songs of the last year.
#45 – “Last Dance” by Stefania
The first (and maybe not the last) song to appear on this list from the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, Stefania represented Greece with the remarkable “Last Dance”. Coming 10th overall, this song is a gorgeous pop song which to me sounds like a ballad for the last night we had before the planet stood still, featuring t of this world vocals from the 18-year-old as she screams the empowering lyrics: “this ain’t our last dance”.
#44 – “Ideal Woman” by Celeste (from Not Your Muse)
Celeste has taken the meaning of “rising star” to a whole new level over the last couple of years, from winning BRIT Awards to topping the BBC Sound Of 2020 poll, and her music has shown that she deserves everything she’s accomplished. Although I’m incredibly critical of her debut album, “Not Your Muse”, its opener, “Ideal Woman” is a beautiful ballad that I believe is one of the best songs of her entire career thus far.
#43 – “Seize The Power” by YONAKA (from Seize The Power)
YONAKA are one of the UK’s biggest new rock bands, but the title track from their upcoming mixtape, “Seize The Power” crosses genres and creates an incredible feminist anthem that is up there with their best work to date. It’s quite fair to say that the power is theirs, and they took it.
#42 – “Oblivion” by Royal Blood (from Typhoons)
British rock duo Royal Blood have completely reinvented themselves on their third studio album, “Typhoons”, but “Oblivion” shows the very best of both their new and old sound in one magnificent track.
#41 – “gold rush” by Taylor Swift (from evermore)
Taylor Swift’s ninth studio album and the sequel to its gorgeous predecessor, “folklore”, and whereas its follow up “evermore” may have been a little more underwhelming than expected, “gold rush” is just gorgeous. Its themes of jealousy and anxiety are ever-present and its executed exquisitely.
#40 – “Fellowship” by serpentwithfeet (from DEACON)
On the final track from his sophomore album “DEACON”, serpentwithfeet created a gorgeous soundscape with “Fellowship”. Dedicated to “anyone who has had a good friend or been a good friend”, its beautiful sound transports you to another world for its duration, and it’s gorgeous.
#39 – “Shy Away” by Twenty One Pilots (from Scaled and Icy)
Released as the lead single from the band’s sixth studio album, “Scaled and Icy”, Twenty One Pilots created one of their best songs. Wrote as a piece of advice for lead singer Tyler Joseph’s brother while he was walking him through the creative process of how to write a song in his home studio, the song is a ballad to loved ones and pop-rock fans everywhere.
#38 – “The Bandit” by Kings Of Leon (from When You See Yourself)
Kings of Leon’s first song in under five years, “The Bandit” is the definition of how to create a perfect American indie-rock banger. I don’t know what more I can say, just listen to the song and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
#37 – “Slowly” by NewDad (from Waves)
NewDad are probably my favourite up and coming band right now. The Irish rockers debut EP “Waves” is exactly how you execute an indie-rock EP, and “Slowly” is one of the big highlights from it. From its riveting guitars to Julie Dawson’s beautiful melancholy vocals, everything adds up to create the next big Irish indie band.
#36 – “Found Out” by Martha Skye Murphy
Martha Skye Murphy is an artist I admire so much. Her EP, “Yours Truly”, released in November 2020 was my favourite EP released last year, and I was excited to see what else she could create. “Found Out” is a gorgeous song with excellent production all the way through. I hope the entire world falls in love with her and her incredibly distinctive style.
#35 – “Spinning” by No Rome, Charli XCX & The 1975
No Rome has never really impressed me until the release of “Spinning”. Its stunning production mixed in with Charli XCX’s and The 1975’s distinctive sounds make for a standout collaboration. Probably my favourite of the year so far.
#34 – “no body, no crime” by Taylor Swift feat. HAIM (from evermore)
It’s the second Swift song on the list, and I’m not going to apologise for that. “no body no crime” is a fun yet brooding track that provokes anyone who listens to move their body and sing along, even if they don’t know the words.
#33 – “You Stupid Bitch” by girl in red (from if i could make it go quiet)
Norwegian rocker girl in red has been unstoppable since coming 2nd in the 2020 Prospect Music Award. From becoming TikTok famous to becoming an inspiration to the whole of the LGBTQ+ community, she has been on fire. Despite me disliking her debut album “if i could make it go quiet”, the big standout from the record is “You Stupid Bitch”. Its simplistic rhythm and lyrics to its thunderous guitars make it a fantastic song full stop. And how can you not have “the perfect one for you is me” going round your head non-stop for a week after you’ve heard it? It’s magnificent from start to finish.
#32 – “skeletons” by Easy Life (from life’s a beach)
Leicester’s Easy Life have been another band that has been completely unstoppable over the last couple of years. They’ve been going from strength to strength with every release they’ve put out, and “skeletons” from the band’s debut album “life’s a beach” is maybe the best song they’ve ever made. From Murray Matravers’ vocals to the incredible production, this is a masterpiece.
#31 – “Let Them Know” by Mabel
Pop-star Mabel has also released the best song in her discography so far. Its production throughout is incredible yet Mabel’s distinctive vocals make it so no other artist could make this song any better. This is Mabel at her very best, and I want to see way more of this.
#30 – “Lost” by Jake Bugg (from Saturday Night, Sunday Morning)
When you think of Nottingham musician, Jake Bugg, you may think of folk music, a Mercury Prize nominated debut album, and a little song called “Lightning Bolt”. Would you ever think of him as a remarkable pop star with stellar million-pound production? Neither did I until I heard “Lost”. Bugg has taken a risk here, and I love that. The whole song works on a variety of levels and it makes me very excited for his fifth studio album, “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning”.
#29 – “I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE” by Måneskin (from Teatro d’ira – Vol. I)
Straight after Italian rock band, Måneskin became the first rock band in 15 years to win the Eurovision Song Contest, I predicted that Måneskin would completely revolutionise the rock music scene and it’s fair to say that I was right. “I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE” is a catchy fun rock song that the whole world has adopted. Everything about it is utter perfection, and to say that it helped Måneskin become the first Eurovision artist ever to get two UK Top 10 singles in the chart at the same time, makes it even more historic and legendary.
#28 – “Loneliness” by Birdy (from Young Heart)
For 10 years now, Birdy has continuously impressed critics and audiences alike with her music, but “Loneliness”, the second single to be released from the 25-year-old’s fourth studio album “Young Heart” is probably the best she’s ever released. Its simplicity and rawness captured me from the second I pressed play and I’m certain that it will continue to do so for many years to come.
#27 – “Portra 400” by Arlo Parks (from Collapsed In Sunbeams)
“Portra 400”, the final track from 2020 Prospect Music Award winner Arlo Parks’ debut album “Collapsed In Sunbeams” rounds off one of the best albums of the year. Parks’ lyrics, the incredible production, everything about it is fantastic.
#26 – “Play The Greatest Hits” by Wolf Alice (from Blue Weekend)
The first (and maybe not the last) track to appear from Wolf Alice’s third record “Blue Weekend” is the incredible “Play The Greatest Hits”. 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.
So what do you think? Which songs are your favourite songs of the year so far? Feel free to let us know by following @ejscanlan Instagram and Twitter and @totalntertainmt on twitter and @totalntertainment on Instagram