Even though we’re only two months in, 2021 has already given us a ton of great, new music. Whether you’re looking for some new artists to listen to and love (Arlo Parks and Pink Sweat$) or you’re looking for some established artists to stream new music (Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift), 2021 has brought it all. Here is a list and descriptions of the best songs to come out so far in 2021 from slow R&B jams to upbeat pop hits.
“Heaven” by Pink Sweat$
David Bowden, known by the name Pink Sweat$, dropped the lead single “Heaven” ahead of the release of his first album “Pink Planet,” which came out on Feb. 12. His music is a mix between the smooth, melodic voice of The Weeknd and bass lines reminiscent of HER. “Heaven” is a sleek, R&B ballad about the feeling of finding love. Pink Sweat$ gained a ton of popularity after the release of his EP “The Prelude,” and his most popular hit “At My Worst,” which even caught the eye of Kehlani, who joined Pink Sweat$ for a remix duet of the song which you can listen to on Spotify here.
“Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift
It’d be nearly impossible to make a list of the best songs to have come out so far this year and not include the immaculate re-recording of one of Taylor Swift’s biggest hits, “Love Story.” On Feb. 11, Swift announced that the full re-recording of “Fearless” entitled “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” will be released on April 9, and she dropped “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” a few hours later. Swift’s vocals have matured so much over the past 13 years that listening to “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” makes you think of the 18-year-old country star who wrote this song with no knowledge of how it would change her life and career, giving a brand new meaning to the line, “We were both young when I first saw you.”
Check out “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” here and look out for the full re-recording of “Fearless” on April 9.
“Trigger” by Hayley Williams
Only nine months after Hayley Williams’ debut solo album, “Petals for Armor,” dropped on streaming services everywhere, the Paramore lead singer surprised everyone by releasing her second album, “Flowers for Vases/Descansos.” While “Petals for Armor” was filled with rich rock and pop sounds (reminiscent of Williams’ Paramore hits), “Flowers for Vases/Descansos” emulates the folk, country sounds of stripped back guitars. If “Petals for Armor” was an anger explosion, “Flowers for Vases” is what happens when the smoke of betrayal has cleared. Williams’ voice stands front-and-center throughout the album, anchoring the listener to the ache and loss in her voice. Track four, “Trigger,” is the stand-out on the record. The soft, repetitive guitar plucking allows the lyrics to emerge to their full potential, showcasing Williams as the brilliant songwriter she has always been. Williams says in the first verse, “All I ever had to say about love is a sad song/I get off on telling everybody what went wrong/It makes me feel like the pain had a purpose/Keeps me believing that maybe it’s worth it.”
“Chemtrails over the Country Club” by Lana Del Rey
This is the first music she’s released since her masterclass album in lyrics, mood and connection, “Norman F***ing Rockwell,” which earned Del Rey two Grammy nominations for Song of the Year and Album of the Year. “Chemtrails over the Country Club” continues the picture-perfect duo of Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff, one of the most prolific writers and producers of this day and age. “Chemtrails” echoes a similar sentiment to the one that Del Rey has been emoting since her breakout album “Born to Die”: a sentiment of Californian escapism and somber notes. This is Lana Del Rey doing what she does best, making you feel like you’re drifting in a boat off the coast of an unknown island, contemplating your life’s choices.
Check out “Chemtrails over the Country Club” here and stream the new album of the same name on March 19, 2021.
“How Much Can A Heart Take? Feat. YEBBA” by Lucky Daye
Up and coming R&B artist Lucky Daye spent years and years working as a songwriter and back-up vocalist for other artists, such as Boys II Men, Ella Mai and Mary J. Blige, to name a few. Now he has made his own name by releasing his debut album, “Painted,” which earned him four Grammy nominations at the 2019 Grammys. On Feb. 11, 2021, Lucky Daye released his first EP since 2019, entitled “Table for Two.” The standout hit from this EP is his track two duet with YEBBA, entitled “How Much Can A Heart Take?” YEBBA, who has been featured on songs with famous artists like Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, is known for her immaculate, heart-wrenching vocals. She now takes on Lucky Daye for this smooth R&B, reminiscent of something Alicia Keys would put out.
“Gasoline feat. Taylor Swift” by HAIM
Soft rock/pop band, HAIM dominated the 2020 music scene when their third album, entitled “Women in Music Pt. III” was released last June. That album earned the sister trio two Grammy nominations for the upcoming 2021 Grammys, including Album of the Year. On Feb. 19 the group released the deluxe edition of “Women in Music Pt. III” featuring three new tracks and two remix duets of the songs “3AM” and “Gasoline” featuring Thundercat and Taylor Swift, respectively. This marks the band’s second collaboration with Swift, the first being HAIM’s feature on track six of Swift’s ninth studio album, “evermore,” entitled “No Body No Crime.” “Gasoline” reaffirms the knowledge that HAIM is making music nobody else is making right now, with smooth vocals about infatuation mixed with a Californian-styled production.
“Overdrive” by Conan Gray
Conan Gray’s debut album “Kid Krow” came out in March of 2020 and got to spot number five on the Billboard charts, making him the biggest new artist to debut in 2020. Gray was hailed as the new star child of pop music, with “Kid Krow” being filled with teenage angst and nostalgia, as the production was reminiscent of an 80s club scene. He was truly breaking-out for his standout hits “Maniac” and “Heather.” On Feb. 19, 2021, Gray released his brand new single, “Overdrive,” which is the driving in your car with the sunroof open and screaming the words in the shower pop hit the world needs right now.
“For Violet” by Arlo Parks
20-year-old British singer-songwriter, Arlo Parks released her debut album “Collapsed in Sunbeams” on Jan. 29, 2021. Parks’ music reflects that of a coffee shop in the middle of Santa Monica. Her specific lyrics and dreamy voice are what you should listen to if you love Phoebe Bridgers, but she’s getting a bit too depressing for you. The song “For Violet” stands out most among the tracklist, with its subtle complex themes and hidden heartbreak. Parks is making a name for herself, her escapist lyrics and her cool demeanor all across the world.