Back again, kiddos! While everyone was recently obsessed with posting their Spotify year-end reviews (me included), I was busy taking notes and making hard decisions with regard to what I would include on my top 5 lists this year (the fourth year in a row that I’ve done it!). This first paragraph is merely the boilerplate preface to inform the reader that this is a three-part series where I follow in the footsteps of my favorite music blogs and present my favorite music of the year. As per usual, it will be broken down into three parts: 5 Favorite New Releases of 2021, 5 Favorite NOT New Releases That I Rocked Hard in 2021 and 5 Songs I Made My Ears Bleed With — Both New and Old — in 2021. With a few close calls worth mentioning, I’ve chosen to provide a few honorable mentions at the end of each post as well.
All three sets are in no particular order unless otherwise noted.
This is Part 3 of 3.
TOP 5 TRACKS, NEW AND OLD, 2021
The Linda Lindas – Racist, Sexist Boy
Album: Racist, Sexist Boy (Live at LA Public Library) – Released: 2021
In music, there isn’t much I love more than when an artist whose hardships and passions I could never fully appreciate due to my privilege makes me feel their emotion. Nina Simone has the most examples of this, of course, but now we can add the Linda Lindas to the list. The band, made of young women age 11-17, was formed in 2018 but hit the scene hard in May 2021 when they performed at the Los Angeles Public Library. Their track Racist, Sexist Boy leaves little open to interpretation: a riot-girl rallying cry against xenophobic, misogynist male youths performed by the only population capable of accurately capturing the angst — teenage Asian-American and Latinx girls. It’s the most punk rock thing I heard all year.
The Interrupters – Bad Guy
Album: Bad Guy (Single) – Released 2019
Earlier this year I was obsessed with the Billie Eilish version of this song. Last year’s post even included her version on the list. It was by accident, however, that I came across this insane Ska cover on YouTube by Hellcat/Epitaph talent The Interrupters. Eilish’s song about poseurs is killer content for a Ska band already but the beat, up-stroked guitar and vocal stylings of the cover somehow make the song even catchier than it already is. Then, as if it couldn’t get much better, the trombone kicks in and proves that Bad Guy was meant to be a Ska song. What. A. Banger.
Prince – Purple Rain
Album: Purple Rain – Released: 1984
This song is just as old as me and it’s still out here changing lives. I’ve loved this song, quite literally, my entire life, yet this year it took on a whole new meaning. When I asked Katie to marry me, it was a warm, rainy June evening. I’d arranged some candles, a table settings and some flowers on the table. I’d whipped up fish tacos and burger sliders (to mimic our first-date dinner) and assembled a playlist of my favorite love songs. I set everything up in secret and right before I told Katie she could go outside, the rain was picking back up despite the setting sun shining through the clouds. And guess what song was playing when she went outside and saw everything?
Hosier – In a Week (featuring Karen Cowley)
Album: Hozier – Released: 2014
This went from a song I’d never heard before to being one of the most-played songs on my Spotify. Just like Billie Eilish and In This Moment, Katie introduced me to Hozier but unlike the previous two artists, the latter came at such an incredible time. In a Week was on her playlists for a while before she let me know she thought it would be a a great song to be our first dance song at our wedding. We then played it in the kitchen and danced together while Hozier and guest Karen Cowley crooned about the beauty of dying together and letting the world feed on everything you worked so hard on achieving in your lifetime. I couldn’t think of a more beautiful way of welcoming in our life as a married couple!
Morgan Wallen – Somebody’s Problem
Album: Dangerous: The Double Album – Released: 2021
Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album has by far been my favorite record this year, new or old. With that said, it was really difficult to pick one true favorite song from that album but I think it’s Somebody’s Problem. Not only is the song incredibly sweet, it’s a great expression of the importance of being in love with someone despite their flaws, maybe even because of them.