Singles of 2021 Ranked

I am a singles simp. I live and breathe singles. Here are all the singles I've listened to this year so far with my own comments and ratings.
Updated January 25, 2021

Bill Wurtz - here comes the sun
I'm high off of Bill Wurtz, and this could be recency bias, but this is the best song I've ever heard from Bill Wurtz and that alone makes it worth the top spot. Just to be sure I wasn't just starved for new songs, I had to listen to his previous good stuff, and what I've found? It's still the best.
The video's step up is the 3D graphics he's worked a few years on, but what makes this tune work so well is the complex chord changes and transitions, especially on the "favorite part of the video" where the synth horn comes in and you get this crazy drum beat with the light treble instruments and I'm in a whole new world. This song is full to the brim of these crazy changes, more so than Mount St. Helens, and this is the first time I've ever heard a piano so bright when it shows up near the end. It's a banger, it's here, and thank god for Bill Wurtz.
Please don't delete it.
Danny Elfman - Sorry
Yeah this is nearly winning 2021 already. What a way to start the year with Danny Elfman going darker than his darkness has ever been, consuming the manic energy of avant-rock for his own devices, including but not limited to the crazy panned vocals and the drums that are destroying the sound barrier. The riffs are also sick.
One minute of this is worth listening, if the whole song wasn't already worth it. If you drop it a minute in, I question your ears.
Stereolab - Dimension M2
An indietronica tune with an insane bridge that will chuck you up into space before switching between of a ton of drum loops to eventually bring you back to the beginning groove, it's an immediate favorite of the year. While not necessarily a surprise if you're one of the, like, 50 people who listened to the compilation album it comes from, it's still absolutely amazing Stereolab. Another recency bias pick for sure, but a good one.
Sweet Trip - Walkers Beware! We Drive into the Sun / Stab-Slow
This high up for the sake of the A-side more than the B-side, although the B-side is great too (more dreamy ambience is always welcome!). What makes this excel is not only the promise of a true return from Sweet Trip after a decade at their near prime, but the melody being so well executed and the production being almost immaculate. And this is just a tease for the final product. How DARE YOU Sweet Trip, give us the full version already!
Lice - Ask Anyone
How does one cope with the loss of MF DOOM? The villain himself has left his throne empty, but here we have two rappers who knew him well enough to make their own tribute off of a remixed Poo-Putt Platter. Those who wanted Aesop Rock to be serious and more focused on being raw and true will get it here, giving bars such as ""Even when the heart is pure, the brain is mush / Thank you for the stories, and a fuck you to the normies". This packaged with his great rhyming and flow composition makes him almost the perfect fit to do a tribute to one of the greatest. Homeboy Sandman is wearing his heart out on his sleeve here, and this is where I cry because he's raw.
"Breeze I have this memory of me and you
Rapping Meat Grinder to each other at a BBQ in BK
Got the same memory with a couple other people too
Trading DOOM lines, that's what people do
You were always kind to me in person
I tried to play it cool but I was always kinda nervous
Thirty Summers a guide in the muddy waters
To the man with many names: I hope you're somewhere with your brother, yeah"

Julien Baker - Hardline
Lyrically, this would be a hard song to play more than once. The lyrics are darker than black, discussing drug blackouts, abuse, and maybe life is all black, baby. Julien does a great job of delivering this above the blackness with an energetic performance and great musicality that leaves me able to run this on the tape again. And yes, I am a massive pussy.
Dayglow - Close To You
Bedroom pop is usually a genre I bounce right off of, not sure why. I can name only two artists that it didn't (Soccer Mommy and Jack Stauber), and Dayglow didn't really change my mind with Fuzzybrain. Songs like Listerine, for example, just sounded too squeaky clean for me, which is a lot of what the genre sounded like to me. But something clicked with this song and maybe I need to re-explore, like, everything. Or maybe it's just this song in particular that works. The beat is so fun and easy to dance to, the layering works so fucking well, and his voice is suddenly the best thing to hear. His timbre with lines like "I guess that's alright" is suave as hell. Going to be listening to this for the next few months for chill vibes.
Danny L Harle & DJ Danny - On a Mountain
Gorgeous. Both this and the MV. Clean production that's well deserved, and from the biggest surprise, a PC music composer. For those who are turned off by the PC Music culture, this might be a good appetizer for things beyond the label. Sadly it's too short. Maybe one day there'll be an extended mix of this?
Black Country, New Road - Track X
Wait, the guy with sunglasses who's a modern Scott Walker, known for crazy experimental post-rock off of the last single from 2019, is making mellow love music with minimalist design and instrumentation? Do you take checks? I don't have the cash for you to take my money.
Bicep - Sundial
The fact that the skips in this are accidental is insane. Well, at least they've built so much around an accident that it sounds completely intentional, despite evidence to the contrary. The vocals that shine in and out on this are light and ethereal, a sample from a Bollywood film that works so well here. The group says it's haunting and melancholic, I found it warm. The beat under it could sound harsh under different mixing, but it holds back in certain places enough to keep it interesting. This is the future garage single to listen to.
Deadmau5 & Wolfgang Gartner - Channel 43
If there's one thing I've learned about deadmau5 from his MasterClass and watching his streams, he's the kind of musician who literally throws everything against the wall in a DAW and whatever works, works. This lead to Strobe and I Remember, the exceptions to the rule for what is usually just OK or decent house that varies wildly from there. But now, it lead to this crazy 2000s electro house that includes complextro instrumentation in just the right amount to please both crowds.
You best believe you should listen to the extended mix.
Yubin - Perfume
I am simping for Yubin, just try and stop me.
The Antlers - Solstice
Gorgeous, almost too happy for its own good, and maybe the happiest The Antlers has been since ITAOTU, my favorite album from the group. The one chord it builds over and over again is hypnotic, the falsetto vocals almost perfect, and the timbre of the guitar is so pretty. It's warm. I can't wait for this album.
Lana Del Rey - Chemtrails Over the Country Club
Lana Del Rey is the female version of the recent Joker in terms of her, uh, politics.... and a lot of other things, but thankfully her music typically has avoided that side of her. Not to say I don't like politics in music, I fucking do, but enlightened centrism no thank you. Chemtrails being a lyric? Sure, why not. It's minute.
What fucks here is the production, dear lord I simp for Antonoff's production and I will fight all haters. The backing that builds and fucks, the distortion that slowly creeps in before sliding away, the performance getting more and more ethereal... it's hypnotic.
Viagra Boys - Girls & Boys
LCD Soundsystem is not brave enough to write lyrics such as:
They make me feel I'm all alone
The only real friends that I've got

Dance-punk that fucks.
Molly Nilsson - Hey Moon
Black Lives Matter. Fuck fascists. Go support this re-release because every dollar goes to BLM. It helps that the music is a great classic from the 2000s that needs more love.
And, uh, fuck John Maus.
Jeff Rosenstock - Illegal Fireworks and Hiding Bottles in the Sand
Should I watch Craig of the Creek? This is a full version of the outro posthumously dedicated to MF DOOM (as it was recorded by Jeff before the villain's death), and suddenly Jeff is rocking the shoegaze look and I'm all for it. And it's optimistic, also.... a surprising look for Jeff. NO DREAM was the dead opposite. But no now we're not alone cause "you'll be waiting for me in my dreams". Comfy.
Weezer - All My Favorite Songs
Everyone on AOTY: "This song sounds like AJR"
Me: "I've literally only listened to one song from AJR in my life (I'm Ready) and it sounded absolutely nothing like this and was fucking terrible, but if the rest of AJR sounds like this maybe I should listen to more AJR"

Not quite sure what to think of the lyrics to this one. Is it self-referential to Cuomo's feeling directionless about his favorite songs vs what people tend to like, or is it way more simple than that? Whatever, I like the song's production and musicality a lot, with the opener reminding me of Across the Sea in terms of song structure. It then switching it to strings and eventually a nice drum beat with good falsettos is great! I'm not big on that annoying horn that comes in about 2 and a half minutes in, but it's short-lived. Looking forward to the album with some hesitancy.
Madlib - Hopprock
A vibe and a half. Great production from Four Tet. Just takes a minute to actually START. Madlib isn't exactly known for longform songs to be fair, but Four Tet is here too so.... huh.
Molly Burch - EMOTION
The nu-disco train continues into 2021, maybe the only thing we want to keep from 2020. A chorus that melts your brain and production that melts your heart. Just sit back and play this to warm yourself up this winter.
Haru Nemuri - bang
Haru can literally make anything with a loud beat or guitar riff and her vocal performance will energize the shit out of it. What I'm saying is she is scientifically incapable of missing.
Blanck Mass - Starstuff
Prog electronic that goes. Not the full version which has a part that's way better, but I can live with this.
London Grammar - Lose Your Head
Ashnikko - Deal With It
Kind of glad the sample was cleared for this to be able to hit the shelves, because not only do I find it a good sample but it helps make the song that much more enjoyable. Yeah, the chorus isn't exactly treading new waters (unlike the MV... I'm not funny), but the funny lyrics themselves and the immaturity of it works well enough to make it a great breakup song with high energy. I love how the lyrics start with such a twist at the beginning.
shame - Nigel Hitter
David Bowie - Tryin' To Get To Heaven / Mother
I don't think this is quite on the level of profiting after his death, considering this is the label Bowie himself founded (ISO Records), and the fact that they waited so long to release, it feels like they gave enough time for it to really sink in because Bowie's death is timeless. People are incorrectly assuming this is the same label that owns all the compilations from Bowie or the same one that released the Is It Any Wonder EP. It is not. Different labels own different stuff from Bowie.

Good covers from Bowie though. The originals are better (I think), but these songs were already depressing and hearing Bowie sing them makes me tear up.
Run the Jewels - JU$T [What So Not Remix]
What So Not remixing a song and it actually being good? January 2021 still manages to surprise me.
I really don't like What So Not as a composer, at least so far as it's been running without Flume. Not All the Beautiful Things didn't have a single good thing about it. But color me surprised when not only do they remix one of the best songs off of RTJ4, but it's actually still a great song that only gets touched up as much as necessary?
The song is almost too similar to the original, still being as harsh as the original with nearly the same performance in terms of mixing and structure, but the beat is now much harder and the drop makes perfect sense (thankfully doesn't have an instrumental for after the drop, thank god, just let Zack ride it out). Is it better than the original? No, I think the beat does undermine Pharrel just a tad. But in terms of remixes, this works just fine.
Olivia Rodrigo - drivers license
The production is too squeaky clean with that piano you hear in a thousand songs, and the song feels like a missed opportunity in terms of dynamics, but god does Olivia sing so well and sound so sincere that I can't help but melt to her performance. The lyrics aren't going to win awards, but the first verse had such a deep cut for me and I'm not sure where it came from. Not the first time a Disney star went to her own music career, but it's not typical for one to have this good of a first impression.
Ariana Grande - 34+35 (Remix)
Megan doesn't need to be here and adds nothing. Doja adds some funny lyrics and her signature style, but it doesn't quite gel. But it starts with Ariana and the music is still the same and that's fiiiiiiiiiine byyyyyyyyy meeeeeeeeeeeee.
Selena Gomez - De Una Vez
That 30 second outro is heavenly, but damn does it come too quick. This track could've been 2 minutes longer with just that. Selena still lacks that passion I didn't get from Rare and pretty much everything else from the past two years, but she's right: she DOES sound better in Spanish.
Billie Eilish & ROSALÍA - Lo Vas A Olvidar
I haven't seen Euphoria so I don't honestly know the exact context of when this would play in the show (looking it up it seems to be in a scene for a special episode? Also should I watch this show?), but outside of that context I think the song is delightful with a few very underwhelming parts. FINNEAS brings a very deep space with nice sparse percussion that barely beat over the solos of the song, while Rosalia brings the better performance before the end with her incredible vocals, good use of autotune, and her usual charisma. I think Eilish kinda suffers on the duet parts, not because her voice clashes but because Rosalia outshines harmonically to the point where it's sometimes difficult to pick her voice out.
The big problems are the lyrics and that incredibly underwhelming ending. The lyrics, for such a really sparse song, are super basic. I'm not sure if I can pick out problems or good lyrics out of it, very generic. That's fine since the performance can surpass the lyrics, but for memorability sake that leaves only the melody to stand on its own. I also found that ending lackluster, just ends abruptly with not the greatest lyrics to end on. Again, maybe this makes more context in the show. Who knows.
Still a good song from these two singers who both changed the music industry in the areas they're in.
Alice Glass - Suffer And Swallow
This is so close to being a great song that it's frustrating, and it's certainly not Alice's vocals or the bass that's putting this song back. It's the space in the mix and the melodies not being up to par. If this had one memorable melody, it'd be the banger to start the year. Instead it's just OK.
Danny L Harle & MC Boing - Boing Beat
My guilty pleasure of January. No judging.
The Ruins of Beverast - Anchoress in Furs
I didn't expect to hear vocals as clean as this in a Ruins of Beverast song, but sure why not. Pretty good doom metal that's more rougher around the edges in terms of atmosphere than Exuvia was, and I'm not convinced by some of these riffs as they sound less interesting, but this is still pretty solid.
Mogwai - Ritchie Sacramento
Generic dream pop from Mogwai about the people lost from the previous years is still good dream pop imo. It's carried a lot by its vocals, but it lacks drive on the production and something creatively interesting. Still, it's a vibe.
Chevelle - Self Destructor
The production sucks ass but everything else here is good enough that it's up here for the sake of an eventual live performance that will kick ass.
Hayley Williams - Teardrop
A continuance of Hayley wearing her inspirations right on her sleeve, this is a cover of one of Massive Attack's absolute classics, Teardrop.
No, this is nowhere NEAR better than the original, in fact this sounds like she did this last minute, which is a shame because this isn't even the first time she covered this (last time was for a talent show performance). The MV makes that pretty clear, like this was just her covering it in the shower or something. It still sounds good, having the nice beat from the OG and Hayley giving her top tier Paramore vocal performance, but one really wishes she made this a more personal style instead of a shower cover. Imagine during the instrumental break, the guitar from PFA harmonized with the melody, the drums kicked harder, and it could've sounded like something vaguely similar to Lianne's "Weird Fishes" cover. Would've been a dream.
Unfortunately that's not what's here. What's here is good, and as a song it's good, but as a cover, MEH, MEH I SAY.
Kings of Leon - The Bandit / 100,000 People
KOL going minimalist in 2021 as their return to form? Regardless of the quality of the singles, that's interesting on its own.. The Bandit is a familiar melody that stays nice the entire time, so I'm sold. 100,000 People could be less boring, though. I just don't find the backing all that interesting.
Juice WRLD & Young Thug - Bad Boy
Can we all agree that most of these posthumous Juice WRLD releases would've been a lot better if, like Mac Miller with Circles, got 2-3 years in production to try to make them the best they could be, instead of releasing every single thing under the sun as terribly mixed as it could be?
Maybe the producer wanted to keep Juice WLRD's creative vision, I don't know.
The good thing is that despite the mixing, Young Thug does a good job lyrically and the video makes me feel a lot better that this was more a love letter from Thug when he was hanging out with WRLD than a "corporate label must MAKE THE MONEY $$$".
But please for the love of god, don't release something almost every month. Put time between the releases. Time would at least look better for the label's PR if this actually ended up being a money grab.
Guapchat - Face2Face
Justin Bieber - Anyone
This is, hilariously, the best song from Bieber ever. The most tolerable song, the easiest to listen to, and the best lyrically. That doesn't mean it's a good song. That doesn't mean the lyrics are good. They're just the best he's ever had, and that makes me either scared for 2021 or grateful for it.
It's missing the punch in terms of music, at least on the last third. The build comes really late and the drums at that point sound incredibly cliche, but the production before then? Really good! I especially like the synth percussion that permeates through the whole thing, it's a nice heartbeat for the song. Even if it falls short in a lot of areas, it's at least falling short. The lyrics themselves also aren't killing me. Generic? Yes. Bad generic? No.
I can live with this song.
Glass Beach - beach life in death
One of my favorite starting up bands from 2019 covering one of my all time favorite bands? And it's a cover from my favorite album of all time, Twin Fantasy? Yep! And they kinda botched it. Kinda.
Apparently some sites are frothing at the mouth, and it's not too hard to see why? Beach Life In-Death is a song that's very formative for people who listened to the OG Twin Fantasy in high school who are now in their late 20s, or on the other hand, Twin Fantasy (2018) is a big teenage album right now and personal to a lot of people. In both senses, I can see this feeling invasive? I can understand that. I've listened to both Twin Fantasys an unhealthy amount. While this isn't my favorite song from it, looking at my phone music stats shows a playtime I'm embarrassed enough not to say. But I also think that kinda love for it shouldn't generate a goddamn mob of hate for it.

The song itself isn't bad. Part 1 and Part 3 are definitely the most weird in terms of how they spin the cover. It's much more moodier, calmer, and more synths, especially Part 1. The electric guitar itself takes an insanely large backseat until the end, so the interest curve and the dynamics aren't nearly as interesting as the original was, but the melodies and lyrics themselves were already pretty good that it coasts, and the synths for Part 1 are nice!
Part 3 might have the worst change, though, with an incredibly lackluster ending that just kinda gives out. The dynamics of this, or at least the emotional impact of it, is not that great. To compare to the original, of course it's going to pale in comparison (the original has Will fucking SCREAMING), but this on its own just feels so much more barren?
What's really good here, however, is Part 2. I love how the instruments cut out and suddenly we have this incredible piano timbre that sets up the throughline for the voice later.

This shouldn't be looked at as a replacement for the song, that's a laugh. But I don't think the song itself is that new.
slowthai & A$AP Rocky - MAZZA
Slowthai slipping on a trap beat. ASAP Rocky outshining him. Not what I expected from 2021.
Needed a better trap beat too.
DaBaby - Masterpiece
d.a. got that dope has pretty decent bass heavy beats, which is exactly what's paired up for DaBaby's "Masterpiece", which decidedly isn't a masterpiece. Boring ass delivery in some parts with some questionable lyrics such as "Clown ass n****, better ketchup / You ain't even mustard, that shit, that bologna", but I do like how Verse 1 goes and the boastful energy works for half of it. Another track where the beat outstays DaBaby's welcome.
Zara Larsson - Talk About Love
I can't tell if this was just made for radio time or Zara is actually just switching back to her previous direction of being generic. If it's the former, I hope it works, because this is at least better than most "made for radio" singles. If it's the latter, this bites, but at least it's not bad? I don't know how to describe it, but there's this high pitched EE-ee that mimics the melody which comes in the chorus that I feel like I hear in so many different pop songs in the past year and I'm getting kinda tired of it. You hear it after "love" at 0:44. Can we not do that please?
Foo Fighters - No Son Of Mine
Foo Fighters? Heh. More like BOOMER Fighters... I'm not funny.
I'm totally hipping this from somebody else but this really does sound like Vietnam War music. I can't tell if Foo Fighters is going full boomer disowning of "NO SON OF MINE" or pointing out hypocrisy and asking people to stay on the right path. The answer is obviously the latter, but because of how bland some of the music is, it does feel like Foo Fighters is aging.
Flo Milli - Roaring 20s
Kenny why

Yes, I know Kenny usually makes beats like this. But this one just doesn't work with Milli for me. Seems a bit too much like it was made for TikTok, which admittedly is where a lot of her audience is, but I don't think it excuses the terrible samples. Everything else about this is fine. Milli's lyrics are what you'd expect (if not better than her last work), and her tone is the usual.
Saweetie - Best Friend
Great performance from Doja and Saweetie, but the production on this is so lackluster that it cripples both artists. Rocco please stop producing, even if you're morally better than Luke, who apparently also produced this too even if it doesn't sound like one of his. Now there's even less excuses for Doja to be making music with a rapist.
Zayn - Vibez
Scribz Riley, one of the producers for this song, makes shit way too clean in almost every work he does, and this is no exception. The song sounds like every other R&B song out there. It's at once Zayn's (because lyrically this is completely him, for better or worse), and yet nobody's and everyone's. Even if this completely boring and yet tolerable R&B made Billboard, it's not because the song is memorable. It's just modern.
Foo Fighters - Waiting On A War
You know what? Fuck Greg Kurstin's production. The production on this is shit. The acoustic guitar is too bright and flimsy, Dave's voice sounds muffled and lacking any kind of bass, and the recording is just... so bad. The lyrics aren't great either, the music has a moment of "IT'S GOING TO GO HARD" and then it doesn't. At least the song is mad forgettable.
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February 2021 Playlist