#BestOf2021: Top 100 Tracks (100-76)


101-ᗅᗺᗷᗅ
I Still Have Faith On You
(Polar)

After our Top 50 albums of 2021, it is time to recap our favourite songs of the year. Beginning, as our tradition demands, with the symbolic 101 position, usually dedicated to a guilty pleasure or a track/artist of great relevance during the last twelve months, left bubbling under our selected list. In this case, it is both, as after four decades of their separation Swedish pop behemoth ᗅᗺᗷᗅ announced their return, which automatically was hailed as the comeback of the century. Their new album, ‘Voyage’ unsurprisingly found them at their most mellifluous, but in times of a pandemic recovery that is still uncertain, ‘I Still Have Faith In You,’ at least for anyone whose childhood was left mildly traumatised by the sheer melodrama of Chiquita or for those that treasure some joyful memories soundtracked by ‘Dancing Queen’ or ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’, had the warmth and feel-good embrace of an encounter with a long time absent friend.

The Swedish fab four may have felt slightly dated and their new offerings weren’t even the best ᗅᗺᗷᗅ-like songs around, that honor could go to Pearl Charles‘ glorious pastiche ‘Only for tonight’. However, like theirs, most songs outside the tyranny of the mainstream fusion between EDM, pop and modern R&B formerly called urban music were positively revivalistic. In 2022, whatever your favourite jam from the past may have been, there was a strong chance a current song was influenced by it. This has not been a year for great innovation then, but rather for music which, suitably for the times we are living in, brought comfort and reassurance.

After a decade of futile attempts to revisit it, artists such as Illuminati Hotties; Poppy or even pop starlette Halsey, whose latest album produced by Trenz Reznor and Atticus Ross was one of the year’s biggest surprises, finally made 90s alternative rock legacy great again. If you were longing for the 80s the whole gamut was present, from indie titans Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen bringing the power ballad back; Mitski‘s synth pop that could have sit proudly among the top hits of the late Laura Branigan or Durand Jones & The Indications paying tribute to the decade’s soul grooves. If Britpop was your thang newcomers Wet Leg‘s first singles winked at Elastica and Siouxie; if you preferred girl-fronted indie Japanese Breakfast delivered a great update on those sounds. St. Vincent, Clairo, The Weather Station or Muna digged in US seventies soft-rock; Dry Cleaning added a new chapter on post-punk revival and one of the year’s success stories, Self Esteem, sounded in her biggest single like a XXI century’s update to Baz Luhrmann’s one hit wonder, and that was a great thing!

If you were missing going clubbing, as COVID restrictions are still causing havoc in venues across the globe, dance music producers, at least the few who haven’t been on hold waiting for better times, also looked at the past. The adventurous 90s house reinventions of PinkPantheress; For Those I Love revisiting the music of his teens’ nights out both as a tribute and a way to deal with the passing of a close friend, sounding like The Avalanches fronted by The Streets, and 80’s freestyle-infused bangers such as Anz feat. George Riley‘s were good proof.

That formerly known as urban music genre, denomination now cancelled perhaps by some woke protesters horrified the term was not inclusive of countryside people, kept on producing global hits (Lil Nas X and Doja Cat being perhaps the most remarkable among them) and expanding its influence geographically by mixing its sounds with those of a new generation of Latin, Oriental and African stars who have also given us some of the best tracks of the year. Karol G; C. Tangana; Kali Uchis; Rema; Ckay and even J-pop megastars BTS teaming up with Rap goddess Megan Thee Stallion were just some examples.

And as we talked about music being a source of comfort and reassurance during those difficult last months, for ageing music fans like us nothing is as comforting as finding all-time favourites bringing new work at the top of their game; and nothing more reassuing that finding new ones delivering seminal works to be added to our personal cannon. Low, who gave us another great record full of memorable songs in the same vein of their acclaimed former album and, leaving aside The Bad Seeds, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, who deliver a new album as poetic and devastating as any of their best, stood out among the former. Whereas goood examples of the latter were Cassandra Jenkins, Sault, Lucy Dacus, Jasmine Sullivan; L’Rain;Tirzah and British rapper Little Simz who in another not so great year for hip-hop, gave us the genre’s most fiercely personal statement.

Quite a few of our most awaited releases did not meet the high expectations we had for them, with perhaps Kanye West being the saddest example. But with an industry in tatters, which has complicated the creative, releasing, promoting and performing processes at every step of the way, this is not the time to point at them. Instead, imbued by the timeless, and a bit cheesy, spirit of our 101 position´s occupants, it is time to thank them for the music; for getting over the many obstacles and keep on bringing the goods that have made our lives immensely more bearable, wishing to those who have been prevented from doing so to quickly stand back on their feet.

Here begins the first part of our Top 100 favourite songs of the year, from number 100-76. Hope you enjoy it.

100-SUFJAN STEVENS & ANGELO DE AUGUSTINE
Back To Oz
(Ashtmatic Kitty)
99-EMPATH
Diamond Eyelids
(Fat Possum)
98-HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF
Rhododendron
(Nonesuch)
97-BACHELOR
Back of My Hand
(Lucky Number)
96-NATALIE BERGMAN
Talk to the Lord
(Third man)
95-PAUL WOOLFORD & AMBER MARK
Heat
(Ministry Of Sound)
94-KOFFEE
The Harder They Fall
(Geneva Clud/Roc Nation)
93-LAURA MVULA
Got Me
(Flamingo/Warner Music UK)
92-NAVY BLUE
1491
(Freedom Sounds)
91-DU BLONDE FEAT. EZRA FURMAN
I'm Glad That We Broke Up
(Daemon T.V)
90-VALERIE JUNE
You And I (Moon And Stars / Acoustic)
(June Tunes)
89-CARIBOU
You Can Do It
(City Slang)
88-ADIA VICTORIA
Magnolia Blues
(Atlantic)
87-JULIEN BAKER
Hardline
(Matador)
86-BTS FEAT. MEGAN THEE STALLION
Butter (Remix)
(BIGHiT)
85-ICEAGE
Vendetta
(Mexican Summer)
84-SNAIL MAIL
Valentine
(Matador)
83-JOCKSTRAP
50/50
(Rough Trade)
82-CITY GIRLS
Twerkulator
(Quality Control/Motown)
81-DURAND JONES & THE INDICATIONS FEAT. AARON FRAZER
Witchoo
(Dead Oceans)
80-TEENAGE SEQUENCE
All This Art
(Get Better)
79-POPPY
Her
(Sumerian)
78-THE GOON SAX
In The Stone
(Matador)
77-STROMAE
Santé
(Polydor)
76-SLEAFORD MODS
Shortcummings
(Rough Trade)

And the rest of the list:

TOP 100 TRACKS 2021 (75-51)
TOP 100 TRACKS 2021 (100-76)

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