2021 was a win for music. Definitely better than 2020, however, there were still struggles. Although so many amazing tracks came out this year, here's a breakdown of the top 20.
#1 Heat Above - Greta Van Fleet: Comin' in super extremely hot at number one, this song debuted on February 10, 2021 (six days before my birthday by the way) and it just felt like the most perfect song to spiritually lift me out of winter depression. Here's a fun fact for ya: Heat Above is actually an older GVF song and I always loved listening to the original versions from their early days of concerts on YouTube before I even knew it would be on The Battle At Garden's Gate. Things come full circle for this band a lot.
#2 No Love In LA - Palaye Royale: "No Love In LA" from Palaye Royale was released in July 2021 and the world premiere happened to be on 1057: The Point, a local alternative station in St. Louis, Missouri. The track was debuted by radio deejay Lux who has always been very fond of the band and interviewed them when they played at Pointfest in 2019. The song exclaims how the singer (Remington Leith) feels about the fakeness, fake famed individuals who live in LA and think the glamorous life will live forever. This was one of my favorites from this year because the chorus is a statement screaming back at lifestyles of the rich and famous, with being an upbeat track.
#3 Johnny Wants To Fight - Badflower: This song is definitely my favorite off of Badflower's latest release "This Is How The World Ends", simply because it's a fun song about tough guys trying to act cool and always wanting to get into fights. The song was released as the album's fourth single in September 2021 and has gained tremendous success along with the other singles since.
#4 It's Permanent - Ultra Q: "It's Permanent" from Bay Area rockers debuted in October 2021 (just in time for spooky season) and takes you through a gothic nightclub with a bass line that's unforgettable, drums that are repetitive and energizing, and lyrics that take you to another planet. Frontman Jakob Armstrong states, "If nothing else, I hope this song provides a couple of minutes of gothic escapism."
#5 The Barbarians - Greta Van Fleet: Track number eleven on "The Battle At Garden's Gate", the song offers heavy mellotron riffs as well as loud guitar licks and a chorus that I can never get out of my head. Especially when frontman Josh Kiszka sings, "Are we prisoners or renegades?"
#6 She Already Knows It - The Bad Spins: Released along with their debut album, With Me Now, "She Already Knows It" produces super tight vocals and harmonies along with a beat that will make you want to jam to it all day long.
#7 Another Last Time - Dirty Honey: If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might have an idea of how much I love this song. This song is one of those songs like "Closing Time" by Semisonic . It's got the same type of feeling, but in a different way. It reminds me of last call at a bar, the encore song at a concert, a goodbye in general. Dirty Honey definitely did us right by having this track on their debut album.
#8 Different Kinds Of Light - Jade Bird: Jade Bird's music is heavily influenced by Americana and Folk artists of the past. The title track from her 2021 album presents soothing vocals as well as gentle guitar strums. Different Kinds Of Light tones it down and reminds me of what real music is. My favorite lyrics are - "Who's gonna call you tonight? Who's gonna make you feel storms and thunder? Who's gonna bring you to life?"
#9 Can I Believe You - Fleet Foxes: A bit of a change for Fleet Foxes, who have been around for a couple of decades now. It definitely sounds like a church hymn, the track somewhat takes you on some kind of biblical or spiritual journey and is one of the most amazing songs I've ever heard.
#10 Damn Strait - Scotty McCreery: The title track from Scotty McCreery's 2021 LP release and one of my favorite songs from this year, "Damn Strait" is about hearing a song or multiple songs by George Strait, that reminded the singer of a past relationship and how they can't listen to those kinds of songs anymore.
#11 Long-gone and Heartworn - Ida Mae featuring Jake Kiszka: The start of Jake Kiszka's , of Greta Van Fleet, solo career. Collabing with Chris and Stephanie Turpin that make up the Folk-Rock duo Ida Mae, released their LP Click Click Domino in July 2021 and added the rocker from GVF to their track, "Long-gone and Heartworn".
#12 Machine Gun - Badflower: The second-to-last track on Badflower's "This Is How The World Ends" it explains the hard truth and reality that so many face. It hits home for many people and lyrically, it could not be more real. I've had multiple people tell me this is their favorite song from the new album and I think it's so real and even if people haven't personally experienced what the song is saying, it still hits home and makes them realize situations people go through.
#13 Stardust Chords - Greta Van Fleet: Another banger from The Battle At Garden's Gate, "Stardust Chords" sets the tone for the entire album, however it's also the most unique song on the album. The lyrics, "Even sinners go to drink the wine, break the bread" surprised me so much when I first listened because it's a religious reference I know too well.
#14 The Wire - Dirty Honey: "The Wire" is the perfect song with the perfect riff. Straight off their debut album, it offers a repetitive guitar riff sure enough to get stuck in your head for days. As for the vocals, "I'm a fool for you and that thing that you do" are very relatable lyrics.