My Top 100 Songs Of 2021

Prince, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Kool & the Gang. It must be my list of favorite songs of 198-, uh, 2021. The aforementioned veterans rub elbows with Dua Lipa, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Wet Leg, serpentwithfeet, Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, The Avalanches, Adele and Little Simz.

Here are my top 100 songs of 2021:

  1. Same Size Shoe – serpentwithfeet        
  2. Love Again – Dua Lipa                                
  3. Body – Megan Thee Stallion                    
  4. Black Like Me – Mickey Guyton             
  5. Easy On Me – Adele                                   
  6. Thot Shit – Megan Thee Stallion            
  7. Up – Cardi B                                                   
  8. Save Your Tears – The Weeknd             
  9. Good Days – SZA                                          
  10. Under the Table – Fiona Apple              
  11. Wet Dream – Wet Leg                               
  12. Rumors – Lizzo & Cardi B                           
  13. Find My Way – Paul McCartney             
  14. Levitating – Dua Lipa feat. DaBaby        
  15. Chaise Longue – Wet Leg                         
  16. I Love You, I Hate You – Little Simz       
  17. Best Friend – Saweetie feat. Doja Cat 
  18. Brando – Lucy Dacus                                   
  19. So I Lie – Miguel                                           
  20. We Go On – the Avalanches feat. Cola Boyyy & Mick Jones                                
  21. Twerkulator – City Girls                             
  22. MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) – Lil Nas X                                                          
  23. Butter – BTS                                                   
  24. Cold Heart – Elton John & Dua Lipa       
  25. Therefore I Am – Billie Eilish                    
  26. Your Power – Billie Eilish                           
  27. INDUSTRY BABY – Lil Nas X feat. Jack Harlow                                                             
  28. Point and Kill – Little Simz feat. Obongjayar                                                                
  29. Scratchcard Lanyard – Dry Cleaning      
  30. Security – Amyl and the Sniffers           
  31. Puppy and a Truck – Jenny Lewis          
  32. Don’t Judge Me – FKA twigs, Headie One, Fred again…                                        
  33. Pursuit of Happiness – Kool & the Gang                                                                       
  34. Savage Good Boy – Japanese Breakfast                                                                       
  35. Pay Your Way in Pain – St. Vincent       
  36. ARE YOU WITH THAT? – Vince Staples
  37. Hot Summer – Prince                                 
  38. Diamond Studded Shoes – Yola             
  39. Solar Power – Lorde                                   
  40. chinatown – Bleachers feat. Bruce Springsteen                                                        
  41. The Divine Chord – the Avalanches feat. MGMT & Johnny Marr                       
  42. Don’t Go Yet – Camila Cabello                
  43. Strong Feelings – Dry Cleaning               
  44. Rainforest – Noname                                 
  45. Working for the Knife – Mitski               
  46. Take My Breath – The Weeknd             
  47. Boomerang – Yebba                                   
  48. ooh la la – Run the Jewels feat. Santa Fe Klan & Mexican Institute of Sound                                       
  49. Candypaint – Joey Purp                            
  50. Free from Gravity – Django Django      
  51. Spanish Doors – Liz Phair                          
  52. Roaring 20s – Flo Milli                                 
  53. Rhetorical Figure – John Grant               
  54. THAT’S WHAT I WANT – Lil Nas X           
  55. The Doll – Audiobooks                               
  56. Strange – Celeste                                        
  57. WUSYANAME – Tyler, the Creator feat. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Ty Dolla $ign                    
  58. White Dress – Lana Del Rey                     
  59. family ties – Baby Keem & Kendrick Lamar                                                                 
  60. Starlight – Yola                                              
  61. The Melting of the Sun – St. Vincent   
  62. Pick up Your Feelings – Jazmine Sullivan                                                                      
  63. I am not a woman, I’m a god – Halsey 
  64. Hertz – Amyl and the Sniffers                 
  65. Please – Jessie Ware                                  
  66. The Adults Are Talking – the Strokes   
  67. Got Me – Laura Mvula                               
  68. We’re Good – Dua Lipa                             
  69. Kiss Me More – Doja Cat feat. SZA       
  70. I Don’t Live Here Anymore – The War on Drugs feat. Lucius                                
  71. Magnificent Hurt – Elvis Costello & The Imposters                                                  
  72. 34+35 – Ariana Grande feat. Doja Cat & Megan Thee Stallion                             
  73. Just One Sec – the Antlers                       
  74. Love Is Back – Celeste                                
  75. Let Me Love You Like a Woman – Lana Del Rey                                                         
  76. Down – St. Vincent                                     
  77. Amoeba – Clairo                                           
  78. Don’t Forget Your Neighborhood – Cola Boyy feat. The Avalanches                
  79. All My Favorite Songs – Weezer            
  80. Sober & Skinny – Brittney Spencer       
  81. Unblu – Jenny Lewis/Serengeti             
  82. Living Proof – The War on Drugs            
  83. Prisoner – Miley Cyrus feat. Dua Lipa  
  84. NDA – Billie Eilish                                          
  85. In His Arms – Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall                                     
  86. Walking at a Downtown Pace – Parquet Courts                                                        
  87. Lost Cause – Billie Eilish                             
  88. Dancing with the Devil – Demi Lovato 
  89. Hope – Arlo Parks                                        
  90. Oh My God – Adele                                    
  91. My Path – Raphael Saadiq                        
  92. Unsmart Lady – Dry Cleaning                  
  93. t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l – Willow feat. Travis Barker                                                
  94. Reason to Believe – Vagabon feat. Courtney Barnett                                            
  95. Paprika – Japanese Breakfast                 
  96. Thumbs – Lucy Dacus                                 
  97. Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish              
  98. Be Sweet – Japanese Breakfast             
  99. Hurt – Arlo Parks                                          
  100. More Life – Cordae feat. Q-Tip

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Throwback Thursday: 1974

In 1974 Grandpa Abe gave ten-year-old me a radio. Very quickly that radio became shy me’s best friend. I hadn’t paid much attention to music previously, only hearing what played in the family care when we went out to eat or to Sunday school or the orthodontist. With my best friend Radio by my side I was exposed to so much more. Mostly I listened to the top 40 station WABC. By the autumn of 1974 I was making weekly treks on my bicycle to Melody Manor to buy whatever single entered the top 40 that week, unless it was something truly heinous like “Cat’s in the Cradle.” It’s a habit I kept up until the mid to late eighties, when “Lady in Red,” “The Final Countdown,” “Hip To Be Square” and Milli Vanilli convinced me to eschew that habit and only buy records that were tolerable. Today’s playlist celebrates the music of the year I started collecting records.

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A Paul McCartney Playlist

Celebrating Sir Paul McCartney’s career in 30 songs is an impossible task. (I initially wrote that it’s a fool’s errand, but that was the first time I typed that expression and it felt weird.) Anyhoosle, this playlist isn’t perfect, though the songs on it are quite spectacular. I do have issues with the opening of “I Saw her Standing There,” however. Putting aside that she was just 17, the “you know what I mean” line that proceeds that rubs me the wrong way. After that, it’s smooth sailing.

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A Kanye West Playlist

My favorite artist to emerge in the 2000s is Kanye West. Not only has he released so many great tracks, he also tries new things with each release, not content to repeat himself or rest on his laurels. Unfortunately, his public shenanigans – some non-music-related, some gimmicky promotional stunts – have distracted from his talent, especially these last few years. This playlist will remind you of his merits. Big fan that I am, I hadn’t heard some of these songs in a while. It was nice to hear them again.

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Throwback Thursday: 1971

I recently read a book about the music of 1971. It was pretty bad. I should have been clued off seeing that the book derived its title from the name of a Rod Stewart album that came out in…1972. The author and I agree that 1971 was a great year for music, though he focused mainly on white acts. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, recently named the number one album of all-time in Rolling Stone, was dismissed as being overrated due to white guilt, something the author clearly doesn’t feel. I humbly suggest that the playlist below shows more of the greatness (and diversity) of 1971’s music than this book.

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Throwback Thursday: 1980

Nineteen eighty wasn’t a game changing year on the US pop chart. It wasn’t 1964. It wasn’t 1991. For the most part it was music business as usual. The death of disco was greatly exaggerated. Just ask any member of Lipps, Inc., should you have any idea what any member of Lipps, Inc. looks like. Seventies hit makers stayed on the charts. Paul McCartney. Diana Ross. Stevie Wonder. Barbra Streisand. The Captain & Tennille did it to us one more time, it meaning having a hit single. A few outsiders snuck into the top 40 with sounds unlike the rest – Devo hit with “Whip It,” Gary Numan with “Cars,” and The Vapors with “Turning Japanese.” In the coming years more such weirdos would make their presence known.

While many of 1980’s hits were great singles, many classics were born outside of the mainstream. Releases such as Bob Marley & the Wailers’ “Redemption Song,” Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Peter Gabriel’s “Biko,” Prince’s “When You Were Mine,” David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes,” and Funky 4 + 1’s “That’s the Joint” are often referred to as classics these days. In 1980, not a single one of them troubled the US Hot 100. Change was on its way. In 1980, rap wasn’t a fixture on the top 40, though its influence was heard in Queen’s #1 smash “Another One Bites the Dust.” The next few years saw #1 hits from Peter Gabriel, Prince, David Bowie and a rap song, plus a top ten reggae song.

Today’s Throwback Thursday playlist shines a spotlight on 1980.

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Producer Spotlight: Sir George Martin

Sir George Martin autographed my copy of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night album, a record he produced. He was about to set to work on a docuseries and I was asked to help with the music licensing.

A movie director takes words on a page, a script, and brings them to life, guiding actors to deliver the best performances possible and deciding on the best ways to convey the story. A music producer plays the same roles in the creation of a record, taking words on a page, a song, and brings them to life, guiding singers and musicians to deliver the best performances possible and providing input as to how the recorded song should sound.

Sir George Martin, born on January 3, 1926, is recognized as one of the most influential producers in the history of pop music. He is best known for producing all of the albums by The Beatles except for Let It Be. It was Martin who suggested the string quartet on “Yesterday.” It was Martin, with recording engineer Geoff Emerick, who combined two distinct recordings of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” played in different keys and at different tempos, into the one with which you’re familiar. Martin suggested speeding up a ballad Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote, which resulted in the #1 hit “Please Please Me.” His production of “I Feel Fine” includes one of the earliest uses of guitar feedback. Martin conduction the string section on “Eleanor Rigby.” He brought in a 40-piece orchestra for “A Day in the Life.” On “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Martin’s use of tape loops, reversing a recording of a guitar solo in playback, and having Lennon’s vocals go through an organ’s speaker, helped Lennon achieve his desire of a recording to sound like his mind on LSD. He played piano on “In My Life,” and sped up his recording of the piano part to match the song’s tempo. He suggested the group replace original drummer Pete Best.

Sir George, who died in 2016, also produced artists other than The Beatles. Here are thirty of his finest productions.