As 2021 fades out, I’m thinking about what recent music releases I’ll keep playing into 2022. Each year brings hot songs of the moment, but then there are songs that will stay with us for years to come. Here are 12 of my favorites.
“Silk Chiffon” by Muna feat. Phoebe Bridgers
Fans of this fun-loving song might let you in on an observation. As Phoebe Bridgers sings how “life’s so fun,” we’re just not sure if she believes life is fun or if she’s trying to convince herself. It works, though, because sometimes we all have to convince ourselves to let our worries go. In those moments, put on “Silk Chiffon,” along with maybe some rollerblades, and let life be fun.
“New Person, Old Place” by Madi Diaz
I could choose any song from the Nashville singer-songwriter’s album “History of a Feeling” to put on this list. I’m picking this one because of her simple reflection on what it means to move forward from pain in lyrics like, “I used to, but now I don’t do that.” This song has Diaz looking to brighter days.
“Like I Used To” by Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen
This powerhouse collaboration is also about revisiting the old days, but the good parts and the parts that make you feel like yourself. It’s just a good time to hear these two voices together. It’s also a good time to take the song’s advice and dance alone while listening.
“Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigo
No one can deny the effect of “Drivers License,” Rodrigo’s breakthrough hit that music critics deemed the song of the year within the first month of the year. But her debut album features others show-stoppers, like “Good 4 U,” which I think has better replayabity than the ballad that introduced us to the teenage star.
“Light of a Clear Blue Morning” by Waxahatchee
At some point in 2021, I came across a Dolly Parton song I had never heard before that felt like a perfectly cheesy and much-needed ray of sunshine. And that’s the story of why I listened to “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” at least once a day for a month. I was delighted to then come across a toned-down cover by Waxahatchee, the moniker for singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield.
“Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilsh
I wish I could go back and hear this song for the first time over and over. But it never gets old to hate that city along with Eilish and sometimes scream along with her.
“Camera Roll” by Kacey Musgraves
It takes one listen to this song to know it’s going down in history as one of the best breakup songs. You can almost hear Musgraves sing to herself after she made the mistake of going through her own camera roll.
“Healing” by Fletcher
Pop singer Fletcher slowed things down for this song about trying to get over something, but not yet making it to the finish line. When she sings, “I ain’t there yet, but I’m healing,” it reminds me of another Musgraves song with the lyrics, “Healing doesn’t happen in a straight line.” Both have served as comforting mottos over the ups and downs of a year like 2021.
“Soft Spot” by Claud
Claud was the first musician to be signed to Phoebe Bridgers’s Saddest Factory records. Their debut album, “Super Monster,” is something you could listen to all day. The highlight of your day would probably be “Soft Spot.” Pro tip: If you have a crush on someone, you should send them a link to “Soft Spot.”
“Leave the Door Open” by Silk Sonic
This retro-feeling tune takes the cake for best feel-good vibes of the year. We all needed a pick-me-up in the form of this debut number from the new super-duo composed of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak.
“Remember Her Name” by Mickey Guyton
There’s a reason Guyton, a country singer-songwriter, named her debut album after this inspirational song. None of us should forget her name, her music or how it makes us feel. “‘Remember Her Name’ is a song for anyone who has ever felt less than, forgotten or up against impossible obstacles,” Guyton said in a press release.
“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift
Of the new-to-us songs on Taylor Swift’s rerecorded version of “Red,” there’s a few that will likely be considered as career highs. Swift’s expanded version of “All Too Well” should be considered the best thing that’s ever been hers. And it’s the very best thing I heard in 2021.