My Favorite Songs of 2021

               With a full year of WILT under my belt, I can safely say I listened to a lot of music in 2021. Almost every day began with my latest obsession or a new album. I drove and walked to work with either the radio or a CD playing. I listened while cooking, cleaning, or writing. Any moment that could be filled with music was. In the end, we’ve come away with a list of 260 qualifying songs, but which are the best of this year?

               The Rules of The List:

  • The song does not need to have been released in 2020 but listened/loved by me during this year. It must have earned a spot in a monthly WILT playlist or been an honorable mention.
  • Only one song per artist – an exception will be made for collaborations or features.
  • Rather than ordering the songs by release or genre, I’m going to put them alphabetically by artist.
  • Instead of a reason (because then this would be really long), I’ll be posting some of my favorite lyrics from the song which might explain why it is here.
  • Each song will be marked with the month it initially appeared in WILT so we can see its longevity or if any trends emerge.

               Let’s tune in to the final playlist of 2021!

  1. “Teenage Dirtbag” by Amy Shark ~ June ~ I’ve got two tickets to Iron Maiden, baby / Come with me Friday, don’t say maybe
  2. “Till Forever Falls Apart” by Ashe and FINNEAS ~ March ~ Oh, I know I had the best time falling into love
  3. “Deal With It” by Ashnikko feat. Kelis ~ January/Honorable Mention ~ We both know it wasn’t love, it was just a big bad habit
  4. “Top Again” by AUDREY NUNA feat. Saba ~ May ~ Clinks on the patio, mistress on my daddio
  5. “Thelma + Louise” by Bastille ~ September ~ Leave your job and your gaslight man
  6. “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish ~ August ~ You clearly weren’t aware that you made me miserable, ooh
  7. “Welcome to the Internet” by Bo Burnham ~ June ~ Would you like to fight for civil rights or tweet a racial slur?
  8. “Trailer Trash” by carolesdaughter ~ May ~ Money can’t fix a damn thing
  9. “BIJIN” by CHANMINA ~ May ~あの時狂った精神に才能が開花
  10. “Frankenstein” by Claire Rosinkranz ~ June ~ When I’m mad, he’ll kiss me till I’m numb and then not treat me so bad
  11. “Think About Things” by Daði Freyr ~ August ~ You can tell me anything and I’ll listen
  12. “Sushi in Tokyo” by DVNA ~ April ~ Brand new places for me to explore never felt like this before
  13. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto ~ December ~ A seven-foot frame, rats along his back / When he calls your name it all fades to black
  14. “Deep End” by Fousheé ~ February ~ Life ain’t fair, you fight for your cut
  15. “Twin Size Mattress” by The Front Bottoms ~ November ~ Make sure you kiss your knuckles before you punch me in the face
  16. “Serotonin” by girl in red ~ March ~ Oh, been breaking daily / But only me can save me
  17. “Mess It Up” by Gracie Adams ~ May ~ We can make it better, breaking every habit
  18. “honey” by Halsey ~ September ~ And now she’s impatient and I’m complacent
  19. “Demons” by Hayley Kiyoko ~ January ~ You can’t go and pray this type of pain away
  20. “Favorite Place” by Humbear ~ June ~ Spent the sunshine thinkin’ of you
  21. “Hip To Be Scared” by Ice Nine Kills feat. Jacoby Shaddix ~ July ~ Valentino couture mixed with violence and gore
  22. “Lockdown” by Indyah ~ January ~ All I need is honesty and honestly / I just really need somebody
  23. “Eldest Daughter” by Isabel Pless ~ November ~ I’m back on my routine loving bullshit
  24. “Tuesdays” by Jake Scott ~ February ~ It’s not just picture perfect dancing in a white dress
  25. “Our Word” performed by Jessie Shelton from 36 Questions ~ October ~ Three times went crying to my parents / Who said they’d make it go away
  26. “So So Sick” by Joyce Wrice ~ January/Honorable Mention ~ Waiting by my phone while you out here chasing
  27. “All Your Exes” by Julia Michaels ~ April ~ Like you were waiting for me to be the first thing you fall for
  28. “breadwinner” by Kacey Musgraves ~ October ~ You’re gonna give it all and give it all / But you won’t get it back
  29. “Two Week Notice” by Leanna Firestone ~ October/Honorable Mention ~ And you used me to boost your resume
  30. “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” by Lil Nas X ~ April ~ Romantic talking? You don’t even have to try
  31. “doomsday” by Lizzy McAlpine ~ October ~ I feel more free than I have in years
  32. “Mata Kohore / Stoned at the Nail Salon” by Lorde ~ September ~ Noho atu ki te hunga nā rātou koe i poipoi
  33. “Roses” by Mae Estes ~ February ~ A ribbon tied around your mistakes in a pretty vase
  34. “ZITTI E BUONI” by Måneskin ~ September ~ Siamo fuori di testa ma diversi da loro
  35. “Milestone” by Matt Walden and Joey Kidney ~ February ~ Because we aren’t afraid of what is unknown
  36. “Tainted Love” by Milky Chance ~ December ~ For I toss and turn I can’t sleep at night
  37. “Soledad y el Mar” by Natalia Lafourcade feat. Los Macarinos ~ September ~ Ver nuestros recuerdos en los mares
  38. “jealousy, jealousy” by Olivia Rodrigo ~ May ~ I wanna be you so bad, and I don’t even know you
  39. “Zombie!” by Orla Gartland ~ May ~ ‘Cause babe, what’s yours is mine / All your drama and your trauma
  40. “Dear August” by PJ Harding and Noah Cyrus ~ March ~ I spend every evening praying for the dawn
  41. “Monster” by PVRIS ~ August ~ I guess you never learn ’til you live and you lost it
  42. “Seventeen Going Under” by Sam Fender ~ November ~ You hurt them like they’re nothing
  43. “when was it over?” by Sasha Alex Sloan feat. Sam Hunt ~ April/Honorable Mention ~ And last time I stayed over at your place and you woke up alone
  44. “SUPERDUPER” by Shelby Taylor ~ June ~ His entire room is littered with cans and trash and clothes and this dude just has “NO FAT CHICKS” in all caps as his bio so like even if his room was clean I would still be stressed plus his taste in wall art is questionable- at best.
  45. “Something for Your M.I.N.D.” by Superorganism ~ April ~ Mama needs food, how about a barbecue?
  46. “champagne problems” by Taylor Swift ~ March ~ You had a speech, you’re speechless / Love slipped beyond your reaches
  47. “Time of My Life” by UPSAHL ~ August ~ Yeah, baby, it’s my birthday / But I still wanna die
  48. “Touch Off” by UVERworld ~ January ~ 天国への道は 地獄から繋がってる
  49. “transparentsoul” by WILLOW feat. Travis Barker ~ May ~ I don’t fucking know if it’s paradise or it’s a trap
  50. “Psycho Killer” by The Wrecks ~ February ~ You’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything

If we break it down by month, we can see that most of my favorite songs came from May; July, on the other hand, only contributed one song to the Best Of list. On average, about five songs from each month made it, which shows there’s about a 25% chance of staying power from early on in the year till the end. November and December, however, had less because—obviously—I haven’t formed as long-lasting connections with most of those songs.

The interesting thing is that Spotify puts out a Top Songs playlist each year. Obviously it doesn’t have my same rules and goes by its own algorithm (and doesn’t account for physical media or other platforms). Still, between that Spotify playlist and the list I put together myself, there isn’t much of a match. Out of 100 songs on Spotify’s list, only 20 made it on here. This is largely because I don’t allow more than one song per artist which guarantees that, in 2021, artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, and Billie Eilish wouldn’t dominate everything else. Plus, momentary obsession does not equal longevity. So, in the end, this list is necessary.

Once again, my Best Of is dominated by female artists. However, I did slightly increase the number of male artists so maybe I’m finding the right niche the appeals to me. Compared to last year, it’s obvious that I spent more time listening to foreign artists since we have songs in Japanese, Spanish, Italian, and te reo. We also have English-speaking artists from Australia, England, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, and Norway. Most of the list is still American, but I’m glad I’ve gone at least a little worldwide. Other countries have awesome artists and music to offer and it’s great to discover these different sounds or voices.

I’m hoping that 2022 will bring greater diversity in my artists, the genres, and the variety. I will probably stick to my old favorites but there’s so much to explore beyond that. 2021 may have been the year I got into classical and lo-fi, obsessed even further about Taylor Swift, and dove headfirst into whatever caught my attention. Who knows what the new year will bring? I’m excited to listen.

You can find the complete What I Listened To 2021 playlist here.