Top 10 favourite songs of 2021

Despite the craziness of this year–hey, don’t tell anyone, but planning a reno and then moving out while purging a ton of belongings that was long overdue, storing half of the kept stuff and taking half of it with you once you finally find a place to live, then having one third of the household teaching from home while another third is schooled at home, dealing with the stress and strain and time-sucking of the reno itself, then moving back in before the snow flies toward the end of the year, all during a pandemic, is a wee bit stressful–I was still able to enjoy a lot of music.

As it should be. Music is hugely important to me. It soothes, it energizes, it inspires… a day without hearing (or playing) music of some kind is a day that could’ve been improved upon.

Just as I did for the first time last year, I made a new Spotify playlist comprised of all the songs I added to various other playlists this year (hence the jumble of genres you’ll find in there).

2021 will forever be the year I discovered Dinosaur Pile-Up, who I can’t wait to see live if they ever make it here at a time when we aren’t in a lockdown (hey, remember those days we took for granted?). It’s also the year where I discovered that a lot of songs I used to have on previous playlists and mix CDs in bygone eras had been overlooked in my current playlists (hence an awful lot of older songs in there you may wonder how I’d missed them in past decades; I didn’t miss them, I simply forgot about them because of my crappy memory, thank you very much). Those older/previously enjoyed songs won’t appear among my top choices of this year, since that would be dumb.

Without further ado, in something approximating the chronology of when they were added, crank up your volume and enjoy my top ten favourite songs I first heard in 2021:

It frankly wasn’t easy to narrow down which Dinosaur Pile-Up songs should be called favourites, since this year I added (and keep listening to a lot of) 19 songs of theirs to various playlists. Start Again, though, was easily one of the most often played.


Another song of theirs I can’t get enough of. I could hear this when I first wake up or right before bed or any time in between. Give it here.


I covered this song already in this post, and it hasn’t changed. I love this song.
Fun fact: Matt Berninger and I have the same vocal range. He just looks better singing it and is somewhat better known for it. But if you think that I don’t take full advantage of that fact whilst listening to The National songs in the shower, I’ve got some news for you…


Still an odd video for the lyrics, but the song is gorgeous and hits you in the heart.


One of the more folky songs I’ve enjoyed in a long stretch. The lyric “This past year I got so much older” rang particularly poignant having heard it in the first (pleasepleaseplease be the only) full year of the pandemic.


On rare occasion I’ve read some words or heard a song that have been not just inspirational but put entire story ideas in my head. This was one of those songs. I’m noodling on the details but it may turn into a movie script before too long. Content warning for swearing for the fourth-last word (yeah, I know, but it was enough to get the song marked Explicit on Spotify, so just a heads up…)


I only discovered ZZ Ward this year, and I think that may have been via going down a Gary Clark Jr. rabbit hole. He does the lead guitars on this song and for anyone who likes blues and hasn’t heard him yet, Gary Clark Jr. is well worth your time to look up. Super groovy riffs here that got the song duly added to my Driving Music playlist.


Um… content warning.
This song is several years old at this point, but I only caught wind of it recently. It’s a surprisingly upbeat, peppy tune for the broadly anti-intolerant message. That message, and the repeated titular words, of course won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I dig it a lot.


Another odd video–I mean, the pigeon-headed guitarist?–but I’ve listened to this song a lot since I first heard it on the radio a few months back.


I came to Billy Bragg’s music sideways. Despite a lifelong passion for music, I don’t know that I’d heard his work until a few years ago when my wife mentioned hearing A New England on the radio for the first time in forever. Had I been doing an annual top ten liked songs back then, that probably would’ve topped it, because I listened to that song a lot after she introduced me to it.
It was then just a few weeks ago, in looking for a live album by The Watchmen, that I came across an entirely different live album that had this song in the middle of it. I suspected it wasn’t a Watchmen song from the vibe, so looked up the lyrics to find it’s an old Billy Bragg song. As it is, I happen to prefer this Daniel Greaves cover to other versions I’ve heard by Bragg himself, but there you have it.
Greaves and I don’t share the same vocal range, but I’ve already listened/sung to this a ton of times and have been dedicating the lyrics and their odd timing to memory in the hopes of doing it justice.
A gorgeous, touching song.

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