Today I’m giving you my list of top songs of 2021 and if you’re a list-addict (like your’s truly) I hope you enjoy reading through this list (and obviously listening to the songs). The fact is, 2021 was an interesting year, especially when it comes to music.
This year was less than an arsehat than the dumpster fire that was 2020. Sadly there wasn’t much happening on the live music front (especially in South Africa), but there I believe that a glimmer of hope is on the horizon. There were some festivals in the UK and the USA (with more than 1000 attendees) and this gives me hope for the future. Hopefully things will be more like 2019 in 2022 (Covid-19 variant permitting). The fact that Mieliepop 2022 is going ahead is definitely the silver lining around my 2022 cloud.
Well, enough beating around the bush, let’s get into it. I tried to limit this list to ONE song per artist.
Here are my Top 30 Songs Of 2021
1. Foo Fighters – “Waiting On A War”
Dave Grohl has stated that “Waiting on a War” was inspired by a conversation with his 11-year-old daughter:
“Last fall, as I was driving my daughter to school, she turned to me and asked, ‘Daddy, is there going to be a war?’ My heart sank as I realized that she was now living under the same dark cloud that I had felt 40 years ago. Every day waiting for the sky to fall. Is there more to this than that? Is there more to this than just waiting on a war? Because I need more. We all do. This song was written for my daughter, Harper, who deserves a future, just as every child does.”
2. Royal Blood – “Boilermaker”
A “Boilermaker” is a cocktail comprising a shot of whisky dropped into a glass of beer. Here, Mike Kerr from Royal Blood is looking to drink as his “savior” from his depression. He describes the incessant dark thoughts mingling inside his head as like a cocktail shaker as he stares at the bottom of his glass.
Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme produced the track, which Royal Blood recorded at his Pink Duck studio in Los Angeles. Mike Kerr said: “I had ‘Boilermaker’ up my sleeve and it felt like a very natural decision to go and cut that track at his studio. Josh is such a strong-willed character. He gave us such confidence in ourselves.”
3. Albert Frost – “Everlasting”
This track is definitely one of my favourite songs of 2021. Albert Frost released a new studio album, Sacred Sound in 2021. This track was the first single off it.
4. Chevelle – “Self Destructor”
Chevelle released their ninth studio album, Niratias this year. This track was the lead single off the album (and yes, it’s a goodie).
5. Death From Above 1979 – “One + One”
Canadian Rock Duo Death From Above 1979 released a new studio album, Is 4 Love this year. This was one of the singles off the album and definitely one of my favourite songs of 2021.
6. The Tazers – “Dream Machine”
Joburg rockers The Tazers released a new EP earlier this year. “Dream Machine” was the title track off the EP. It’s probably one of the tracks I’ve listened to the most in 2021.
7. Middelvinger, Francois Van Coke & Hunter Kennedy – “Alles Is Gecancel”
Directed, filmed and edited by Michael Ellis, who also directed Middelvinger’s “In Die Begin Bongathon” video, “Alles Is Gecancel” is a comment on the absurdity of extreme forms of Cancel Culture, a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles.
8. Gazelle & Jack Parow – “Hiekomkak”
This catchy track is brought to you by the same two guys that brought you “Hosh Tokolosh” nine years ago. I really hope this track gets its fair share of spins at parties and clubs this summer.
9. The Offspring – “Coming For You”
American Punk Rockers, The Offspring released a new album, Let The Bad Times Roll this year. This is one of the most popular tracks off it.
10. Ed Sheeran – “Bad Habits”
Ed Sheeran dropped a new album entitled Equals his year. This is probably one of the most played songs of 2021. I’m not a huge pop music fan, but this is catchy AF.
11. Olivia Rodrigo – “Driver’s License”
“Driver’s License” was Rodrigo’s debut single and it was released in January 2021. It’s off her debut album, SOUR. It made its debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. Yes, I know it’s pop, but it’s good pop and it’s also catchy AF. Don’t judge me.
12. Ruby Fields – “R.E.G.O”
In case you did not know, Ruby Fields is an Australian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and occasional radio host. She dropped this track and music video in April 2021.
13. Greta Van Fleet – “My Way, Soon”
This track is off Greta Van Fleet‘s 2021 album, The Battle at Garden’s Gate. The track was actually released in October 2020.
14. Rise Against – “Nowhere Generation”
“Nowhere Generation” is the title track off Rise Against‘s ninth studio album (which was released in June 2021). This is definitely one of my favourite rock songs of 2021.
15. Diamond Thug – “Purple Skies”
“Purple Skies” follows the relationships between two brothers, and is an exploration of loss and grief, as well as an ode to life, love and youth. The track asks the question, how do we deal with the death of someone close to us when it was this person who gave us life? “Purple Skies” breathes a brief world into existence, filled with joy, love, anger, loss, and moments of shared celebratory joy.
16. Alex Lahey – “On My Way”
The track plays during the end credits of the critically acclaimed animated movie The Mitchells vs. the Machines, which was released this year on Netflix. Alex Lahey is one of my favourite singer-songwriters from Australia.
17. Matthew Mole – “I’m With You”
Matthew Mole released this track in June 2021. Mole holed himself up in a log cabin on the mountain and recorded this little gem. It’s definitely one of my favourite songs that was released by a South African artist in 2021.
18. The Wombats – “If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You”
Asked about the meaning of “If You Ever Leave, I’m Coming With You”, which he describes as “a very enjoyable punch in the face” frontman Murph said: “It’s kind of about being so blissfully unaware that you don’t know when you’re family’s leaving you and that’s where the song kind of came from.” The track is taken from their upcoming studio album (which is set for release in January 2022).
19. Citizen – “I Want To Kill You”
“I Want To Kill You” is taken from Citizen’s Life in Your Glass World album (which was released in March 2021). In case you did not know. Citizen is an American rock band from Southeast Michigan and Northwest Ohio that formed in 2009.
20. Manchester Orchestra – “Bed Head”
The track is taken from the 2021 album, The Million Masks of God. “Bed Head” is two old friends existing in two separate realities. It’s a conversation about the lives they lived, the consequences of life’s decisions, and finding purpose in trying to be better.
21. Corne Pretorius & Hunter Kennedy – “Liefde is ‘n Werkwoord”
This track is an ode to relationships and definitely one of my favourite Afrikaans songs of 2021. I’m curious to find out what Corne Pretorius is going to throw our way in 2022.
22. Ross Harding – “Resurrection”
Displaying a rich and versatile vocal tone as a singer, and accomplishment as a guitarist, Ross Harding is known for his fusion of blues and hard rock with strong elements of classic rock, 90’s alternative, grunge. This aptly named first single from his debut release as a solo artist, is about rebellion, change, and rebirth of oneself for the better.
23. Pat McCay – “Where The Light Gets In”
Previously performing with the band, Two Minute Puzzle, Pat McCay’s musical journey has evolved greatly, much like he has. His magnetic stage presence, charming and entertaining demeanour, coupled with his ability to shift between joy and vulnerability in quick succession, make both him and his path deeply relatable. In addition, his songwriting reflects a raw, poetic and deeply soulful storyteller, with a good story to tell.
24. Springbok Nude Girls – “Crystal Ball”
Yes folks, the Nudies released a new album in 2021. This is definitely my favourite track off it. I’m curious to see what these classic South African rockers are going to throw our way in the near future.
25. Jeremy Loops & Ladysmith Black Mambazo – “This Town”
This track is taken from Jeremy Loops’ EP, Souveneirs (which was released in October 2021). It’s one of the colabs that many of us were waiting for and it doesn’t disappoint.
26. Lorde – “Solar Power”
This was the title track off her third studio album. It was released in August 2021.
27. Cannons – “Bad Dream”
The ethereal track is the Los Angeles-based band’s first offering of new music since signing to Columbia. Cannons are an American indie pop band formed in 2013. The band consists of lead vocalist Michelle Joy, guitarist Ryan Clapham, and keyboardist and bassist Paul Davis.
28. Jack White – “Taking Me Back”
This track is taken from Jack White’s upcoming album, Fear Of The Dawn, which is scheduled for release in April 2022.
29. Lowborn – “Devil”
According the band, “This song is about how even in some of our lowest points it is insanely hard to ask for help. We get so used to it, but getting help means change and that can seem far more terrifying.”
30. Sunken State – “Separation Has Begun”
This Joburg based metal band finally released their debut album in 2021 (Solace in Solitude). This was the first single off it.
Well, there you have it, my top 30 songs of 2021. It’s nearly impossible to include all my favourite songs of this year on one chart, so sadly everyone can’t make the cut. Feel free to comment below to let me know WHICH songs should’ve been on this chart (in your humble opinion).
If you wanna have a laugh, check out ADoseOfBuckley’s Worst Songs of 2021 below. This guy doesn’t really doesn’t have a filter.
Watch this space for updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.