2021 has brought a lot of good and bad to everybody’s lives. But when it comes to music, 2021 has introduced just about every different kind of album into our world. Whether you want a coming-of-age masterpiece, hometown nostalgia or 80s funk influence, 2021 has provided it all. Here is a list of the best albums to come out of 2021!
“Home Video” by Lucy Dacus
“Home Video” is the most necessary listen of 2021. Lucy Dacus’s album “Home Video” depicts childhood whims, desperate nostalgia and young love at its best and most destructive.
The album features catchy and melodic tracks such as “Hot & Heavy,” “Brando” and “First Time,” which all showcase her ability to write hard-hitting lyrics about growing up and growing apart. The album’s gut-wrenchers “Thumbs” and “Please Stay” showcase Dacus at her best; painful songs about absent fathers and the options to change a life you don’t like, respectively. With “Home Video”, Lucy Dacus has set her status alongside fellow collaborator, Phoebe Bridgers, as one of the best current soft-spoken voices and heart-wrenching lyricists writing about life, loss and love.
Best track: “Please Stay” for the lyric: “Go back to school, go back to sleep/Tell the secrets you can’t keep/Begin, be done/Break a vow, make a new one/Call me if you need a friend or never talk to me again/But please stay”.
“An Evening with Silk Sonic” by Silk Sonic
The debut album from superduo Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak “An Evening with Silk Sonic” features the 70s groove sounds missing from current music. “Evening” elevates the best parts of Bruno Mars from the “24K Magic” era and turns it into something else entirely. Mars and .Paak together created an album that sounds like something only the two of them could have created together. With hits like “Leave The Door Open” and “Smokin Out The Window,” “Evening” fills itself with new-age beats, exquisite trumpets and undeniable vocals and melodies coming from two of the best and innovative artists around today.
Best track: “Smokin Out The Window” for the lyric: “I thought that girl belonged to only me/But I was wrong/’Cause she belongs to everybody”.
“You Signed Up For This” by Maisie Peters
Maisie Peters’ debut album, “You Signed Up For This” is the necessary dialogue album for coming of age. Peters–who grew up in London–is only 21 now, and this album contains her at her best. After releasing individual singles over the years and one EP, “You Signed Up For This” combines heartbreak anthems (“Love Him I Don’t” and “Volcano”), soft acoustic tracks (“Talking to Strangers” and “Tough Act”) and pop-perfect songs (“I’m Trying (Not Friends)” and “Boy”). This album is a patchwork-quilt-kaleidoscope of the ages 18 to 21 and hits the nail on the head of every intention.
Best track: “Villain” for the lyric: “If she’s the girl of your dreams, the best thing you’ve ever seen/Well, what does that make me, then?/I’m your villain”.
“Jubilee” by Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast is an indie-rock band headed by Korean-American powerhouse, Michelle Zauner. Their third album, “Jubilee,” has something for everyone on it, as it is filled with 80s pop synths, delicate harmonies and eloquent prose. Zauner’s ability to write fascinating stories paired with melodic wonders is her superpower and evident best on track nine, “Savage Good Boy,” which details billionaire greed and manipulation written to a perfect pop background. For new-age writing, graceful vocals and undeniable good vibes, “Jubilee” is a must-add to your car rides.
Best track: “Kokomo, IN” for the lyric: “Wherever you find your way to/And though it may not last/Just know that I’ll be here longing/If you ever come back”.
“In Defense of My Own Happiness (Complete)” by Joy Oladokun
Joy Oladokun’s third studio album “In Defense of My Own Happiness” is the compilation of released songs over the years (“Breathe Again” and “Sunday”), beautiful collaborations (“Bigger Man” feat. Maren Morris) and aching new songs (“Sorry Isn’t Good Enough”). “In Defense” solidifies Oladokun as one of the most unique, eloquent artists around in the present day. Her smooth voice and storytelling can’t help but make you think of Tracy Chapman. However, Oladokun makes it clear in “In Defense” that she is building a league of her own.
Best track: “Jordan” for the lyric, “Now we’re building our own promised land/On this new ground we stand/God bless the work of our hands/And make good on our plans”.
“30” by Adele
“30” is not for the faint of heart. Adele’s first three albums were heavy emotions mixed with longing and growing up, but “30” takes those themes to all new meanings. Adele’s fourth album is written as a letter to her son for when he gets older and is able to understand her reasons behind deciding to divorce her husband–and his father–in pursuit of her own happiness.
“30” does have moments of joy and elation on songs like “Oh My God” and “Can I Get It,” but Adele’s best moments are inevitably her soaring vocal ballads. Before on “19” and “21,” Adele experimented with some jazz sounds, but on “30” she dives right into the different style and makes it the background sound to nearly every song. “I Drink Wine,” “All Night Parking” and “Love Is A Game” feature Adele’s mesmerizing songwriting written to jazzy backtracks. This easily makes “30” somehow sound exactly like the best of Adele while also sounding completely new and unheard of.
Best track: “To Be Loved” for the lyric: “To be loved and love at the highest count/Means to lose all the things I can’t live without”.
I hope there is some music on this list that will make you feel better wherever it finds you; studying for finals, walking to your last class of the semester or on your drive back home for winter break. Have a wonderful end of your semester and a very restful winter break. Happy listening!
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