The 100 Best Songs of 2021
To witness the birth of a star is a rare thing—but in 2021, we witnessed two. It was just a week into January that Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license” arrived, a debut single so immediate and so relatable that it quickly became a pop cultural landmark, a Song of the Year-level statement that felt like a confirmation: Here was a singer-songwriter poised if not destined to define the next decade just as naturally as she would the rest of the year. Add to that the ascent of Doja Cat, whose kaleidoscopic vision of pop was fully realised on this year’s appropriately titled Planet Her—an album that felt like the radiant present and near future all at once, liquefying elements of rap, reggaetón, Afropop, R&B, dance music and so much more. Elsewhere, we saw hip-hop and drill music continue to dominate our charts, as female country artists continued to be major creative forces and dance-pop continued to thrive. And where viral moments once made for unexpected hits, in 2021 we saw them revitalise older songs from the likes of Kali Uchis and Italian rock revivalists (not to mention reigning Eurovision champs) Måneskin.