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LIST: The 100 Best Songs of 2021 (49-1)

* = came out on December 25, 2020

49. slowthai/A$AP Rocky, MAZZA

Truthfully speaking, the new slowthai album offered a more introspective side of him with Side B, but was just a little too bogged down in BROCKHAMPTONisms to fully capture our attention. “MAZZA”, in contrast, is an all-out psychedelic banger that gets better with each listen. A$AP Rocky is in peak form too, “Watch all the hoes pay attention when I walk in!”, but it’s slowthai’s verse that really lands him on this list.

48. Sufjan Stevens/Angelo De Augustine, “Back To Oz”

Writing an entire album about films is no easy task, but Sufjan and Angelo pulled through on their latest collaboration. Perhaps the most heartfelt and classically "Sufjan" track on the record is “Back To Oz”, a soaring, twinkly ballad about a forgotten Wizard of Oz sequel that is full of personality. “You love me but you don’t know me/In due time, you’ll throw it away” is one of the truest lines of the year, those who blindly adore never keep that energy with time or tribulations.

47. The Weeknd, “Take My Breath”

Coming out strong with Giorgio Mordor-inspired bass and synths, The Weeknd is set to reveal “The Dawn”. While it’s not quite as compelling or shocking as “Blinding Lights”, the production is more originally done and the call-and-response verses feel like a fun and fresh sound for Abel. TAKE MY BREATH… AWAY!

46. Kero Kero Bonito, “Well Rested”

The apocalypse is coming, and the soundtrack is French house. KKB’s longest track to date also happens to be their very best, patient and forceful at just the right intervals. “Well Rested” feels like a perfect summation of the loose concept record of Civilsation, stunning us on every level that it possibly can.

45. Megan Thee Stallion, “Thot Shit”

Tina Snow is back on her hot girl shit, exploding on the track with the same energy she had at the beginning of her career. Her bars are just as hot as her as she calls out her haters and gets revenge the best way she knows how: with continued success. She is hungry for smoke and when Meg has a hard beat to rap on, she creates a fire track. Ahh!

44. Yola, “Dancing Away In Tears”

While the rest of Yola’s Stand For Myself is not exactly our favorite type of music, “Dancing Away In Tears” is a clear outlier. It’s a beautiful soul song about moving and grooving the sadness away; “Breaking up is always hard to do/One last dance is all I want with you” is deeply felt. The emotional and skillful performance on the part of Yola is further brought to life by the bongos, horns, guitars and keys surrounding her.

43. Alice Longyu Gao/Alice Glass, “LEGEND”

Everybody wanna be a legend, it’s a tale as old as time. But by teaming up with an actual legend in Alice Glass, hyperpop mad scientist Alice Longyu Gao drops what might be her very best song. As Glass sings “Alice, Alice who the fuck is Alice?”, we begin to formulate the answer. Alice is a no-holds barred, basic bitch-destroying Anime villain that will stop at nothing until she, or they, is/are at the number one spot. The Alices Album When???

42. DJ Khaled/Lil Baby/Lil Durk, “EVERY CHANCE I GET”

DJ Khaled is perhaps best when he gives a stage to pure excess. He’s like the Simon Cowell of rap, most of what he does is annoying, corny and irrelevant, but once in a while, he pops out a One Direction. In this case, he teams up with good friend of the page Lil Baby (for legal reasons jk), Chicago’s Voice Lil Durk and Tay Keith for one of the most energetic rap tracks of 2021.

41. Beach House, “Pink Funeral”

As a longtime fan of Beach House, I am very tolerant of their continued use of the dream pop genre to explore new avenues of their sound. On “Pink Funeral”, they use gorgeous strings and Chromatics-style drums to build up their noir setting. “This heart of mine goes out of time” Victoria Legrand sings, as if traveling through some sort of musical vortex. I am honestly enjoying this more than anything from their last album thus far, and I hope Once Twice Melody ushers them into a new era of greatness.

40. Charli XCX/Christine and the Queens/Caroline Polachek, “New Shapes”

“What you want, I ain’t got it!” is such a bittersweet phrase to hear from Charli XCX, who’s fans were patiently waiting on another helping of hyperpop. Instead, we get an ‘80s pop ballad that somehow feels more compelling that whatever A.G. Cook production she could’ve sang over. I have definitely missed collaborative Charli, and on “New Shapes”, she brings back two of her besties to help drive her point home. Each feature brings their own unique spin, with Polachek being the best in my opinion. All her references to different dimensions and “twisting [the] heart into new shapes” just feels bold as fuck. Great track, underrated and overhated.

39. Shygirl, “BDE - Shy POV”

Shygirl has never been one for subtlety, “do me right on the floor” being maybe the most direct example of this. That was until “BDE” where in a chipmunk voice she raps “Read my lips, I need a big dick, boy”. She doesn’t stop there, “beat that pussy right, beat that beat that pussy right” she continues. As an unapologetic Shygirl simper, this is fan service, and a dopely produced fan service at that. Where are the applications?

38. Arca, “Prada”

While I definitely love me some Arca experimentation, I feel like she challenges her sensibilities most when she tries to make a normal song. Singing in both femme and masc voices, dueting with herself, she creates a deeply hypnotizing illusion of a reggaeton track. It’s so insanely catchy, with its references to throwing it back while wearing designer clothes. On top of that, the way it flows into the subsequent and more violent “Rakata” is masterfully done. WE NEED A FULL-ON REGGAETON KICK! Por favor Doña.

37. Porter Robinson “Musician”

Spinning the sounds of Daft Punk’s Discovery and the Japanese culture that influenced it into one bright pop force, Porter Robinson takes his style to a new level. It’s honestly revolutionary the way he changes his voice to sound androgenous on this track, and with Sarah Bonito (of Kero Kero Bonito) in toe, he makes one of the most purely blissful electronic songs we’ve ever heard.

36. Spelling, “Always”

Love is one of those song concepts that always grounds an album. Even with all these high concept ideas floating around The Turning Wheel, it’s the simple and effective “Always” that steals the show. “Please don’t steal my heart, don’t make me start over” is sung this specific middle ground between musical theater and Mariah Carey, it has this mystical quality to it that really travels. With grander instrumentation than her previous record, I feel as though Spellling’s talents are given the proper stage.

35. Doss, “Strawberry”

Synthesizing the vibrations of Britpop festivals like Parklife into a wiggly, glistening jelly before breaking into full-on rock, Doss proves herself to be one of the most consistently creative modern producers. Every single stem on this track just fucking slaps, from those rock drums, to the club keys to the warm bass, this song is simply a vibe.

34. Genesis Owusu/Kirin J Callinan, “Drown”

“ONE TWO THREE FOUR!” is such a tried and true way of starting a rock song that I haven’t heard in a while. I love the way that this pair of Aussies in Genesis and Kirin use this ‘80s sound to mask the depressive emotions at play here. It sounds like something that could be played at a soccer game to a bunch of drunken fans who don’t realize the complexities at play. That’s because the blaring guitars, hammed up performances and electric grooves are for the people.

33. Ichiko Aoba, “Asleep Among Endives”

My simple American brain will ever understand the deep thematic complexities at play here, but the opening lines say it all “Listen to the galaxy at the edge of the world”. This is deeply evocative acoustic balladry, like that of an anime closer, rose pedals, rain and all. With Windswept Adan, Aoba showed her talents as a curator with lots of bells and whistles at her disposal. “Asleep Among Endives” shows that she can do just as much with so much less.

32. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, “Old Time”

“Old Time” is the sound of driving a car between dimensions, “Took a wrong turn somewhere/Into the old time, into the old time, for sure/The trees are black and history/Has dragged us down to our knees” Cave sings in his classic rasp. The dissonant pianos and drum roll suggests some sort of major drop on the way, but it just continues to bubble under the surface with all these strange sound effects. The entire affair is so eerie and full of suspense, “by the side of the road is a thing with horns”, it’s like if he were to get out of the car, he would certainly be torn apart. He keeps trudging on, and everything around the car gets so much more horrifying.


While Pray For Paris was certainly the more sound LP overall, Balens Cho has Mach-Hommy’s biggest "banger" of all time. With references to the apocalyptic Book of Revelations, Hommy argues that the devilish goats are much more valuable than the order following Godly sheep. Other than that, there’s just tons of loose bars that absolutely go off “You out here getting left on ‘Seen’ dog, you not on the scene dog” and “Smoke you like Korean BBQ”. he continues to give us masterful work year after year, but his shadowy release patterns keep him on an “IYKYK” basis, and as a musical gatekeeper, I’m good with that.

30. Squid, “Paddling”

Post-punk is a genre that was really popping off in the first third of the year, with this being one of the best products of it. “Paddling” is a six-plus minute anxiety trip filled with creatively sequenced instrumentation including drum pads, slide whistles, vibra-slaps and of course, guitars. This is one of the most thrilling rock songs I’ve heard in recent memory, with lead vocalist Ollie Judge curbing his eccentricities just enough to keep the focus on the excellent jamming on the part of the band.

29. Sharon Van Etten/Angel Olsen, “Like I Used To”

This was such an unlikely team up in 2021, but it happened regardless. The sound on this track is so mountainous, with both Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen giving it their all. This is certainly our favorite Sharon Van Etten track, and one of Angel Olsen’s very best. “Avoiding the crowds like I used to!!!” is a lyric that’s also about to get more real for everyone…

28. Snail Mail, “Valentine”

The title track of her album is the most raw and delusional. After a breakup, Lindsey Jordan (aka Snail Mail) is in complete denial, just trying to put the pieces back together. The chorus brings it from denial to straight up anger “So why’d you wanna erase me? Darling Valentine!” Hey, we’ve all been there, or maybe we were the eraser. Regardless of which party you belong to, this is indie rock and ‘80s fusion that hits you where it hurts.

27. FKA twigs & The Weeknd, “Tears In The Club”

This song is the definition of a heatseeker. It was dropped with relatively no fanfare, and it sounds like a standard song at first. But between FKA’s late night yearnings “I wanna get you out of my hips, my thighs, my hair, my eyes”, The Weeknd’s sultry counter lines and the art-club beat provided by talents like Arca and El Guicho, we get one of the very best pop songs of 2021.

26. Tyler, The Creator/Youngboy Never Broke Again/Ty Dolla $ign, “WUSYANAME”

Negging is one of the most pathetic ways to get to girl's heart, but leave it to toxic ass Tyler to make it sound kind of endearing when he goes “AHHH YOU LOOK MALNOURISHED!”. It’s that deeply rooted irony and jokiness that propels the cheesy but awesome ‘90s R&B of “WUSYANAME”, with a nice assist from Ty Dolla $ign and the left-field GOAT Youngboy Never Broke Again. I still can’t believe that’s him in the middle of the song, but that’s what is so unique about Tyler’s albums, he puts artists in places they’d never be otherwise.

25. Playboi Carti, “Stop Breathing”*

I think his undisputed masterpiece is "Stop Breathing", a song so catchy, most people probably don't listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it's not just about Carti taking his shirt off, and fucking his fans, it's also a personal statement about Carti himself. Hey Pi’erre!

24. black midi, “Chondromalacia Patella”

[fosjowbfigqiywdfgpiwefahfweaw[dghsvp9sdhpg9wh9vhwe0vhwevh0whv0hjv0wje09vjwe09vjw0e9vj0aw9evj09wej09aweuv09eaug09hawe08fvadJcoidsjfcoasdjg09asud0ghas08dfgha98fh08ahf98asdf0iwe0fj90xewutx0mqwjefiqweun9qinwveprjnowefjoawehfciuqwherjqcweoituqwoeucroqwhnetcy1rxiughxaepwnxopqwehtuqwehtgiew9tqwy9ty98weyt9eygyc9weqyt9cweqyt9wqyrqcyw9rcqwyerc98qweycrt9eqwyt09eqwtyceq89wytceqwy9t8yc2q8etryc83ytx083q4yr8mqwprwoeuqnru9qewruqweruweucruqwoeruxo;xqwer figure it out fuck you

23. Japanese Breakfast, “Be Sweet”

It seems like everyone in the indie scene from Snail Mail to The War On Drugs to Sharon Van Etten have been adopting the sonic qualities of the 1980s, but with the exception of two other artists, Japanese Breakfast has really been the queen of this sound with her amazing single “Be Sweet”. Breaking from the clouded indie pop of yore, she really goes for it on this one, letting herself be the star of the show. She just wants her lover to be nice to her with no strings attached, is that so much to ask? She seems nice!

22. Iceage, “Shelter Song”

In the middle of the pandemic when this track first arrived, this was the best song of the year without a doubt, and it might jump back up with Omicron raging. Iceage stripped back the quirks that put them on and replaced them with a more world weary, straight-laced approach to Stones-rock, and it resulted in their best song yet. The line “keep turning, keep turning around ‘til it all spins out somehow” is such a perfect way to describe life in general, as is “they kick you when you’re up, they knock you when you’re done”. This may all seem deeply depressing, but it’s the admission and subsequent solidarity against the cold, unforgiving world that keeps us moving.

21. Baby Keem/Kendrick Lamar, “range brothers”

Say what you want about Baby Keem sounding like Spongebob or being a goofball, he is trying very hard to impress. On “range brothers”, with a needed alley-oop from his cousin Kendrick Lamar, Keem crafts the most addictive rap song of this year by a mile. While it’s not necessarily the most well-written or structured, it’s all the clever earworms and Keem-isms that keep it on repeat for us. Here’s just a couple: “I was raised in the projects we can go at it”, “TOP OF THE MORNING TOP OF THE MORNING”,“Her friend got pornography habits/GIVE ME THAT BIIIIITCH”.

20. PinkPantheress, “Just for me”

“Just for me” belongs to a singular moment and artist, and that goofy Coldplay cover proved it. Even at under 2 minutes, PinkPantheress conveys so much passion and sadness, cutting all the pretenses and bullshit out. She’s obsessing over this person, stalking them while dreaming of them putting roses on her body. She sounds like the female version of Playboi Carti on “Control”, deeply devoted with an underlying hint of evil. On a simpler level, seeing people do weird shit with this on TikTok and Instagram has been one of the more fun parts of being on the Internet in 2021.

19. Kanye West/Playboi Carti/Fivio Foreign, “Off The Grid”

As the different roll outs nerfed certain vibes at play on DONDA, the tag “sonic steroids” that we originally assigned to the record began to fade. By this, we meant that this was workout music that allowed a person to lift weights without focusing on pain, or using anabolic steroids. Thankfully, “Off The Grid” only continued to improve each time it was re-released, with the studio album version being absolutely crushing. Each artist gets their chance to go off. Carti goes “FWAAA!”, Fivio drops perhaps the best rap verse of the year, and Kanye surprisingly keeps up over a choral drill beat. This is music without limits.

18. Lana Del Rey, “Arcadia”

Lana Del Rey has been the subject of a lot of memes and jokes this year, but the attention is for good reason. She is a songwriting powerhouse, continuing to improve herself and upgrade with each passing year. One of her very best tracks, “Arcadia” feels leagues beyond anything from her breakout material. She’s creating the cool rather than following it, with gorgeous strings and slow pianos, as she sings passionate and tragic lyrics like “They built me up 200 feet just to tear me down”.

17. Trippie Redd/Playboi Carti, “Miss The Rage”

To be honest, we at this page thought that Trippie Redd was dead in the water after releasing two horrible albums in Pegasus and Neon Shark, but boy, were we wrong. Not only did he land on our top albums of the year list with the arcadey Trip At Knight, but he gave us one of the most gruesome bangers of the decade so far. Sure, his lyrics mean nothing, “GTA we shoot at helicopters”, but who gives a fuck? This song takes the Pi’erre Bourne formula and hyperstylizes it, plus, we get a rare Carti feature and it’s sick! Fuck yeah let’s rage!


Stalker pop feels like an oddly pervasive genre this year, with that PinkPantheress tape and Playboi Carti’s “Control” being two of the best examples. But leave it to occult psych rock outsiders SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE to add The X-Files elements to it, and turn it into gangstalker pop. “Anywhere that you go, they will find you/You might wait but you're already in the future” lead singer Zack Schwartz croons, like an ominous warning over warped guitars. Everytime I hear this song, it evokes flashlights in a windy, dark forest, putting me in a scary, cold place in my mind for three minutes at a time.

15. Kanye West/The Weeknd/Lil Baby, “Hurricane”

Hearing this track in person at the second DONDA premiere in Atlanta may have been my most cherished memory of the year. After meeting Lil Baby down the block and eating some of the best wings I’ve ever had, hearing his part hit a little differently. It’s how he says it and what he says that hits, “Sipping 'til my stomach hurt, this month I done lost three friends”. He has been able to filter his pain into palettable melodies in a way that no other artist this decade has. On top of that, the last minute audible of a The Weeknd feature that Ye snagged a day before was the gift this track needed, he completely steals the show by singing the already very holy chorus. And as on “Off The Grid”, Kanye sees the youngins killing and perfectly matches the energy. He’s self-reflective and gives us a look into his busy and troubled life, “Here I go with a new chick, still playing after two kids” and “Alcohol anonymous, who’s the busiest loser?” are two of the more damning ones. It feels like a baptism, washing all parties involved of sin, guilt and struggle.

14. St. Vincent, “The Melting Of The Sun”

There is something to be said about having a deep reverence for the past without overlooking all of it’s horrible, mostly male, flaws. On her epic “The Melting of The Sun”, St. Vincent gives the power back to wronged females throughout history like Marilyn Monroe and Joni Mitchell. The entire album is this retconning of the sexist, but musically rich ‘70s, an era where people like her ex-con father were king. Now that she basically became her own daddy after essentially raising herself, she sees fit to go back in time and right all the wrongs of his gender. Many people back then would’ve said “women will be treated with respect when pigs fly” or “when the sun melts”. Well, the pigs are airborne and the sun is melting, what are they going to do about it? Jack Antonoff perfectly captures the tones of the era, with lazy sunday Wurlitzers and twangy sitars in toe.

13. JPEGMAFIA, “Hazard Duty Pay!”

Why weren’t all essentially workers given a gigantic bonus for all the shit they went through? Give them their motherfucking checks! This song has nothing to do with that, but I deeply appreciate JPEG for mentioning that. This one is only available on YouTube and Bandcamp for it’s incredible sample of a Winans track, but go find it, because it fucking rocks. His delivery is extremely aggressive, but controlled in a way that makes it almost melodic with the beat. There’s no real theme at play, it’s just an all out bar-fest, with some highlights being “If you wasn't here for them lows, walk”, “Stock up on weapons and pussy and cars” and “Glock with a switch turn a vegan to spinach”.

12. Genesis Owusu, “Gold Chains”

In our interview with Genesis, a heavy point of focus was the themes and subsequent interpretations of his excellent debut Smiling With No Teeth. The way that it’s meanings morph with each listen is the best part of the album, with “Gold Chains” being the skeleton key. It tackles rap commercialism, depression and even brings forth the troubling imagery of being shackled by “chains”, which has a whole history of its own. With the varying themes come a multitude of talents from Genesis. This song is rap, rock and R&B all wrapped up into one, with Owusu being a monstrous, 3-headed frontman of sorts. More than anything, I’m excited to continue closely covering Genesis for the next ten years of his career. As he put it, other new artists just don’t have “the chest” to do this shit for real, but he does.

11. Mdou Moctar, “Afrique Victime”

While there was no shortage of excellent political, African rock music in 2021, I argue that “Afrique Victime” is the king of the lot. “From prison to Nobel prize, they ceded to Mandela/Africa is a victim of so many crimes/If we stay silent it will be the end of us” Mdou sings in a Saharan spin on Arabic known as Tamasheq. The questions he asks become more pressing as the band continues to speed up, adding echoed ‘80s machine drum hits and riotous guitar solos that melt like the desert sun. This is one of the most ambitious tracks of 2021, and I was happy to have finally been introduced to this style of music after all these years.

10. Doss, “Puppy”

A lot of these track blurbs require a great deal of explanation, but this is not one of them. Doss returned after a seven year hiatus with an EP called 4 New Hits Songs, and each one of them shines in their own way. “Puppy” shines the brightest, in our opinion, it’s pure rave bliss. It is, by all accounts, a perfect electronic dance song. That’s it, simple as that, it makes me want to dance with someone cute.

9. Navy Blue. “1491”*

Ok, now see, this one requires quite a bit of explanation. After conquering the world of skateboarding and fashion via Supreme, 24-year old Sage Elsesser decided that wasn’t enough. After a stellar feature on Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs, his rap ambitions only grew. The full technicolor vision has come to life with our new national anthem, “1491”. This is such a rich rap track, with a Polish sample looping, Sage explains who Navy Blue is. “I’ve been feeling baby blue just like my father’s cigarettes” is one of many deep but catchy lines. It explains so much about him with so few words. Not only that, this track is also a Christopher Colombus diss track, fuck that dude.

8. Jazmine Sullivan, “Put It Down”

As a man who ain’t shit, hearing an anthem about a man who ain’t shit being treated like a king gives me a major confidence boost. Jazmine Sullivan is deeply simping, giving this dude her car keys, dropping all her plans, paying his rent and buying him dinner, but why. “It’s the D” she boldly claims, this is one of the most shameless and honest R&B tracks I’ve ever heard. Yet, Jazmine is the one with the power despite her admission of all this, it's a really interesting way to do a track like this.

7. Mitski, “The Only Heartbreaker”

Mitski’s separation from social media has bred some of the best music she’s ever created, with “The Only Heartbreaker” being her most catchy and poppy since “Nobody”. This song came at the tail end of 2021 as a real buzzer beater, an undeniable breakup ballad that plays into all of her strengths. Longtime fans of Mitski understand her pain deeply, and to see her become the one to make others cry is an expert-level heel turn. This is a far cry from “Your Best American Girl”, she no longer wants to be the “little spoon”. Instead, she’s the loser and the bad guy, the one that gets to be cold for once. The richly layered ‘80s production is an angle that I loved to see her continuing to expand on, she does it in such an artful way that big pop stars like Dua Lipa kind of miss.

6. PinkPantheress, “Pain”

I understand how silly it seems to give a song that’s barely even two minutes long the number six spot. However, this is genuinely the most addictive song of the year. On top of that, it gives the listener such a wealth of detail in such a short amount of time. Pantheress is a stalker, she can’t accept to hear that things are over, and she has absolutely no shame about it. We’ve all felt “the pain” in one way or another, we’ve all been the loser in a relationship, it doesn’t feel good. But you know what does? Hearing those GarageBand drums and keys. This is the type of music that gets me through the best and worst of times. It’s music to be sad to and to dance to, it’s a rare mini-anthem that carries significant weight in a small package.


From those sour guitar notes right up front, you just know that you’re in for something fucked up. Wait, actually, even more than that, just by reading the title, you get a good idea of the mayhem ahead. This feels like the most accurate sonic equivalent to the cover of the record, a childish thrill ride that will certainly kill you and sacrifice you. Just before the listener attempts to settle into the track, it literally breaks. Harsh noise and screaming gives way to synth pop, and vocals from Rivka Ravede who sings “sometimes my impulse is to stare straight into the sun”. Then, it’s a charged up punk song, then it’s a Flaming Lips-style ballad. SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE makes AntiArt, it’s an effortless cool that sounds good because they say it does. Whatever genre they want to make, they make. Whenever they’re done with a song, it’s over. And if they want to name a song after giving sloppy top to Satan without even a mere reference to it in the lyrics, they do it. That’s AntiArt.

4. Adele, “To Be Loved”

Each time that Adele drops a new record, it’s at a time when she has something new to say, an update on her life. Though traditional, the best songs in her catalog capture a snapshot of the emotional palette she is painting with. “To Be Loved” provides an open window into her painful divorce, with lyrics like “I’ll never learn if I never leap/I’ll always yearn if I never speak”. It’s widely appealing and relatable, yet hits a nerve in a way that no song this decade has. Once we get to the conclusion, it’s like watching a car crash in slow motion. It’s messy, people will definitely be hurt, and the damage may never be repaired. As she lets out “let it be known, that I tried!” for the final time, slamming that door on her past, we see her anew. And I cry, every fucking time.

3. Playboi Carti/Kid Cudi, “M3tamorphosis”*

As far as the vampire aspect on Whole Lotta Red goes, no better track embodies the nightcrawling, excessive and demonic new tendencies of Carti more than this track. The blood-red beat by F1thy and Gab3 injects him with this new life, and with Cudi’s hums laced in, he completely transforms into a creature. We have listened to this track a lot in 2021, and all the little details continue to add to it. In the past, he has been criticized for being a mumble rapper. On this track, he is self-aware, screaming “they can’t understand me, I’m talking hieroglyphics”, yet he sounds loud and clear. He “done changed [his] swag” indeed, it’s not misunderstanding Carti that’s the issue now, it’s the genuinely horrifying new approach to vocals he takes. He sounds infected by a bat, and that’s the point. The ad-libs are more rabid, the setting is darker and the feature from Cudi is brutal, this is the metamorphosis.

2. Arca, “Senorita”

When Arca came on the scene in the early 2010s, it would’ve been extremely hard to predict that she would drop the best rap song of any given year. Especially after “Nonbinary”, her particular angle was just never something I could see rivaling anyone in the mainstream or underground. Yet, here we are in the strangest possible timeline, and by God, Arca has done it. Name me a harder set of bars this year than “Bitch, I/Get wrapped up in some shit/Not sure who you think you're dealing with/Phlegm spit in your open hole before I cum in it”...I’ll wait. After she’s done spitting fire, she and co-producer Machinedrum deconstruct the beat to point where it’s not even a rap track anymore, it becomes a Spanish language avant-garde beckoning into the beyond. The best music for our taste falls into one of two categories. It either has to use the structure of straightforward music to sneak in insanity (this song), or be such perfect pop that it goes beyond the genre into legacy status (our number one pick).

1. Kanye West, "Come To Life"

Suprise suprise, we put a Kanye song at number one. But that's the essence of the what makes this track so infinitely superior to every other song that released in 2021, the surprise of it all. After three broadcasted album premieres and a highly publicized album rollout for DONDA that included living in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium for $1 million dollars a night (!), the fans expected an end result to match all that effort. Concluding the third premiere was "Come To Life", an intense, Pixar-like piano and electric guitar opus that was accompanied by visuals of Kanye lighting himself, inside of a replica. of his childhood home, in the middle of a stadium in his home city of Chicago, on fire. The lyrics about wanting to have another life and writing dreams down in pen crescendoed with this scene, of a man living his dreams to the highest possible extent. Not even Jeff Bezos' $5.5B joyride to space held a candle to this, and on top of that, Kanye's voice sounds better than it has at any point during his storied career. Much of what he has said in interviews and on social media has been plagued by overspeaking, but on our song of the year, he is perfect economical with his word choice. This may not be as insane as an Arca experiment or as freewheeling as a SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE cut, but it soars above all else in the fact that it is pop pushed to its limits.

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