Some songs I really enjoyed this year, in alphabetical order by artist.
“Phoenix” / Big Red Machine (feat. Fleet Foxes & Anaïs Mitchell)
Get you a song that’s both intimate and epic. We’ve got horns, we’ve got big, wistful choruses, and we’ve got a long talk with a friend, sitting in the sunset, contemplating life. Can’t ask for much more.
“45” / Bleachers
Sad boy acoustic ear candy.
“Comedy” / Bo Burnham
One of my brothers and I had a debate about this song: is Bo Burnham just trolling us, or are his questions sincere? It was a while later that I realized of course it’s both.
“Coloratura” / Coldplay
Coldplay have a knack not only for great album closers, but for great bridges on their album closers. On this year’s space-themed Music of the Spheres, the finale “Coloratura” breathes and builds for about five minutes like any old song before the band lets loose for a big bang that really does feel like a space jam.
“CLEAR” / indie tribe, DJ Mykael V, Jon Keith, nobigdyl., Mogli the Iceburg
Where the jokes abound, the sincerity abounds all the more. Indie tribe is having a lot of fun, but they really do mean business (literally: they cracked the Billboard 100 with no label or radio support). “CLEAR” is a manifesto of their faith, entrepreneurial spirit, and verbal flair.
“justified” / Kacey Musgraves
The lead single from Kacey’s new album was bound to be compared with 2018’s gem, Golden Hour. “Justified” does indeed retain that record’s simplicity (for example, only three words are greater than two syllables). This makes her music feel effortless, and that’s about how much energy it cost me to press play on this again and again.
“deja vu” / Olivia Rodrigo
For best results, play this in the car, loud.
“Nothing New” / Taylor Swift & Phoebe Bridgers
Taylor’s re-recording project is basically time-travel, where our present self gets to visit something from the past. In “Nothing New,” the gap between then and now is instructive. 31-year-old Taylor re-inhabits the insecurities of her 22-year-old self, forcing us to ask things like, “I wonder how she’s grown up since then?” and, more to the point, “I wonder how I’ve grown up since then?”
It was hard to pick just a few songs, so here’s a whole list of songs I liked from 2021.