When we last checked in with the best songs of 2020 in December, the world was a drastically different place.
Many music stars shied away from dropping major releases in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flash-forward six months later and the music world is as bustling as ever.
Now, many genres – specifically Pop – are leaning on their most reliable stars for comfort. To which, they answered the call.
Find out which artist and songs made the cut for the best songs of 2021 so far…
Doja Cat featuring SZA – Kiss Me More
From the very first opening notes, Doja Cat is able to create a truly out of this world experience. Like bees to honey, the breathy intro is juxtaposed against the cymbal clashes to create a sticky trap that we don’t want to escape from. Featuring some of Doja’s best singing – as well as some of her best bars – the song also spotlights a rare guest appearance from SZA. In short, ‘Kiss Me More’ has it all.
The Weeknd & Ariana Grande – Save Your Tears (Remix)
As if The Weeknd wasn’t already dominating radio a year after his massive hit ‘Blinding Lights’ was released, he made sure to keep the momentum going. This time, he joined forces once more with faithful collaborator Ariana Grande. While this version is faithful to the original in terms of production, the addition of Grande embeds the song with a heartbreaking poignancy that goes down like the smoothest of drinks. Plus, those whistles. Need we say more?
Olivia Rodrigo – good 4 u
If there was a picture next to whirlwind success in the dictionary, Olivia Rodrigo would be pictured next to it. A year ago, she was on the fringes of celebrity. Now, she is a full-blown music superstar. While she had scored two top 10 hits with ‘Drivers License’ and ‘Deja Vu’ by the time ‘good 4 u’ was released, it was the latter that showed she was a true force to be reckoned with. Imbued with true Pop-punk energy – complete with an unapologetically bitter delivery that is only matched by the spiteful guitar – it provides the perfect catharsis after the year that was 2020. It might not be her “breakout hit,” but it is the one that will forever cement her name in the history books.
Taylor Swift – Mr. Perfectly Fine
Earlier this year, Taylor Swift unleashed her first re-recorded album ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ and shared previously unheard gems. Having been left off of the original incarnation of ‘Fearless,’ ‘Mr. Perfectly Fine’ arguably shines the most out of all the vault songs. A large part of this is that it is quintessentially Taylor Swift. From the biting and clever lyrics, to the Country-meets-Pop production, to the burning heartbreak simmering below the surface, it is everything that made her a star. Despite the age of the song – it was written over a decade ago now – the rough edges of old Taylor seem surprisingly fresh in a music world packed to the brim with the sleekest synths. While we waited this long for this masterpiece, as the old adage goes, better late than never. And it is truly better than anything we could have imagined.
Willow Smith featuring Travis Barker – Transparent Soul
With the Pop-punk genre making a huge resurgence over the last year, many artists are dipping their toes in the pool that is the genre. However, Willow Smith dives headfirst into the deep and recruits Blink-182 member Travis Barker to delve into the deepest of Pop-punk waters with her. From the rip-roaring guitars, to the throbbing drums, to the haunting howls that echo throughout the track, Willow has done something her peers have not: she has managed to stay true to the genre boundaries all the while paving a lane all her own. Short, but oh so sweet, this is one jewel we did not see coming.
CHIKA – Cinderella, Part 1 / Cinderella, Part 2
So, this may be cheating to put two separate songs as the same entry, but when they are this good you have to make exceptions sometimes. Appearing on her Once Upon A Time’ EP, ‘Cinderella Part 1′ and Cinderella Part 2’ are truly the standout tracks. The first part sees the rapper recount the that fateful ball from the perspective of everyone, even the haters. Her bars are as slick and rapid as ever, yet spoken with such ease as if they were conversational, a true testament to her abilities. On the second half, she delivers one of the most opulent and textured R&B jams of the year. The switch between quick bars to soulful crooning with such ease proves how she earned her nomination for Best New Artist at this year’s GRAMMY Awards.
Niall Horan & Anne-Marie – Our Song
They say that the wait is worth it, and in the case of Niall Horan and Anne-Marie’s ‘Our Song,’ it indeed was worth it. The two team up for this catchy mid-tempo track that details the aftermath of a breakup, where something as simple as a song has the pair reliving the best moments of their relationship. The duo’s chemistry is palpable throughout, enhancing the push-and-pull of the waves of emotion. Their gorgeous harmonizing and captivating hook will have this song stuck in your head days, not unlike those flashbacks of your previous relationship. As stunning as it is heartbreaking, ‘Our Song’ sees Niall and Anne-Marie reach for new heights in the pits of heartbreak.
Jonas Brothers & Marshmello – ‘Leave Before You Love Me’
The Jonas Brothers have added a new member to the family: EDM mega-star Marshmello. Together, they join forces for one of the most wistful pop ballads of the year. Anchored by distorted electric guitars, handclaps, and an 80’s-inspired groove that is destined to shatter the hearts of its listeners. While it is the type of sound that could have been found on Nick’s most recent album – ‘Spaceman’ – ‘Leave Before You Love Me’ proves that the brothers are always strongest when they are together and not apart.
Rebecca Black – Girlfriend
If someone would have told me 10-years ago that the ‘Friday’ singer would have made one of the best songs from any given year, I would have laughed. However, I was proven wrong as Rebecca Black has delivered a shimmering Queer-pop hymn that is irresistible from start to finish. Gleefully delirious to the extreme, ‘Girlfriend’ would be a hit if there was any kind of justice for unsung hits. A true anthem from start to finish, may the #justiceforgirlfriend begin.
Silk Sonic – Leave The Door Open
Bruno Mars has always had an affiliation with soul sounds from the 70’s and 80’s, but it’s odd to think that neither he nor Anderson .Paak were born during the height of the Philly soul sound. However, that did not stop them knocking their first collaboration and attempt at the sound out of the park. Complete with fuzzy horns, gentle piano lines, and even a tambourine, Mars once again solidifies his status as Pop’s smartest and most authentic revivalist. A throwback sound for the modern world, Mars and .Paak distort time to create a truly timeless classic.
Do you agree with our picks?