TRACKS OF 2021
Well, 2020 was obviously so traumatic, it took me a whole year to write another blog post. So here are the best subjectively ace tracks of 2021, if you feel like tentatively dancing like there is - literally - no tomorrow.
Spotify playlist here, if that's your cuppa https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2dMjyzKhj3j8EFwxYWS1aG?si=933a227aa7d24754
1. Like I Used To - Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen
Came late to this track, but it got its hooks in me and that was that. Game over, song of the year, In a weird way, it could be the first post lockdown epic, pining for the introverts lost paradise that was 2020 ("avoiding big crowds like a used to" they sing wistfully), whilst shrugging its shoulders at the end of the world. Four minutes of apocalypse, then. With some added Agnetha/Frida video vibes to keep things very 2021.
2. I Am A Woman, Not A God - Halsey
Not (completely) the empowering anthem that the title suggests, this is a jagged edge of a song that throws up more questions than answers about motherhood, sexuality, and the wild binary choices society demands of us. All set to uneasy, propelling industrial gear shifts that never quite settle. Oddly fascinating.
3. Say What You Will - James Blake
'Comparison is the thief of joy' the video deadpans at the end of this lovely song, as James Blake wanders remorsefully around an L.A, haunted by a rival musician evidently doing better than he is. In popping a sly dig at the needy quest for critical (and commercial) validation, he seems to come down on the right side of the equation...namely, who gives a fuck at the end of the day. Anyway, he made it to number three on this list, which is all the critical love one could hope for.
4. I Don't Live Here Anymore - The War On Drugs
Depending on where you sit on appreciating some widescreen Springsteen-esque Americana, this song may be divisive. But I have a soft spot for imaginary roof-down road trips, so I'm all in for this. It's wears it 80's leanings proudly, dropping in some Kim Carnes style synth arpeggios but upping the cinematic ante with some propelling crashes of echoey drums. Stadium-rock-in -your-headphones perfection.
5. Save Your Tears - The Weeknd feat. Ariana Grande
Admittedly this is sort of 18 months old, but was given a 2021 reboot via some purring Ariana vocals, and it's chugging 80's synths and admission-of-guilt lyrics are sweetly affecting. The animated video is a bit boring, so giving you The Weeknd's solo BRIT performance, peddling sou'wester chic in a climate changing storm. Topical.
6. One More - SG Lewis feat. Nile Rodgers
Who hasn't got to the end of an amazing night and craved one more song, perhaps with some added Nile Rodgers bells and whistles? Well...this one's for you.
7. Body and Mind - girl in red
Scandi girl pop has become a genre in its own right, but Norway's girl in red layers on the darkness with a bewitching burn-at-the-stake video, and a chorus that bursts through the deliberately tentative verses to bare its blood stained teeth.
8. Good Ones - Charli XCX
A short, sharp bust of superior pop that goes against the introverted 2021 grain. Ms XCX goes straight into it within the first five seconds, dusts herself down to let rip against herself and a list of unsuitable suitors, over an 80's bassline that is really the star of the show here. And then she's outta there by the 2:16 mark. Proper, exciting pop, this.
9. People, Let's Dance - Public Service Broadcasting
A new take on and old pop pretext - celebrating the hedonism of Berlin in all its 24-hour hedonism, but underpinned by a detached, robotic vocal that sounds vaguely Kraftwerk-esque. It gives a very controlled, distanced feel to the joys of dancing, all of which is painfully '2021'.
10. Keep Moving - Jungle
No amount of Peleton ads shall diminish its potency. Strings dart about, synths bend and stretch, vocals soar. A disco classic that sounds very now and weirdly timeless.
And here's some more slices of amazingness....
11. Burning Bridges - Sigrid
12. Don't Shut Me Down - ABBA
13. How Not To Drown - Chvrches feat. Robert Smith
14. Moth To A Flame - Swedish House Mafia feat. The Weeknd
15. Here Comes The Night - Agnes
16. Can't Hide It - Curtis Harding
17. Chaise Longue - Wet Leg
18. I Do This All The Time - Self Esteem
19. Parking Lot - The Weather Station
20. Weekend Vibe (Vice Remix) - Jubel, Vice
21. How Does It Feel - London Grammar
22. Overdrive - Conan Gray
23. 45 Farenheit Girl - Drew Sycamore
24. Nothing Else Matters - Miley Cyrus, Elton John
25. The Darkness That You Fear - The Chemical Brothers
26. Happier Than Ever - Billie Eilish
27. Beautiful Life - Michael Kinawuka
28. Here's To Another - Anna Of The North
29. April - Annie, Richard X
30. Love Of Your Life (Joel Corry Remix ) - RAYE, Joel Corry
31. Her Body - Nasty Cherry
32. Leave Before You Love Me - Marshmello, Jonas Brothers
33. Lose Your Head (Dave Glass Animals Remix) - London Grammar
34. Holiday - Confidence Man
35. Real Groove (Initial Talk Remix) - Kylie Minogue, Dua Lipa
36. Got Me - Laura Mvula
37. Cosmic Fringes - Paul Weller
38. I Don't Really Care For You - CMAT
39. Street Lights - Florrie
40. The Secret He Had Missed - Manic Street Preachers
41. Feels Right - Roosevelt
42. Chemtrails Over The Country Club - Lana Del Rey
43. Tell Me If It Hurts - Dance Yourself Clean
44. You Can Do It - Caribou
45. Polaris - Damon Albarn