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Class of 2021 – The 100 Greatest Songs of the Year!

12 Dec, 2021

Playlist on Spotify at the bottom of each page.

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#11 | #10-#2 |#1


40. Ya Tseen “Knives (feat. Portugal. The Man)”
(from Indian Yard)

39. Charli Adams “Cheer Captain”
(from Bullseye)

38. Pillow Queens “Rats”
(Single)

37. Julien Baker “Favor”
(from Little Oblivions)

citattecken “Upon receiving the tracks from Joe my first thoughts were how it ‘chugged’ along with that sexy slinky pocket, it had some mystery…”

36. HARD FEELINGS “Love Scenes”
(from HARD FEELINGS)

“‘Love Scenes’ was one that wrote itself quickly. Upon receiving the tracks from Joe [Goddard] my first thoughts were how it ‘chugged’ along with that sexy slinky pocket, it had some mystery and atmosphere. For some reason the bassline motion reminded me of songs like ‘Promises Promises’ by Naked Eyes and ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ by Depeche Mode. So when I wrote the melody and words I tried to think in that headspace.”

– Amy Douglas

citattecken “The drums were very inspired by Curtis Mayfield, that furiousness where there’s so much energy and emotion in just the drum beat….”

35. Parcels “Comingback”
(from Day/Night)

“That track was a real combined effort. Jules [Crommelin] had written the keyboard line and the piano, he had been playing that for ages but he never had any vocals on it and didn’t know what the song was about. We ended up recording it just knowing the song was there, just by hearing the instrumental – ‘there’s a song here for sure’ – but we didn’t know what it was. In the end, I ended up writing the vocal line and a lot of the lyrics when I was stuck in Berlin in quarantine and really desperate to get back to Australia.

It was cold, it was dark and I was stuck in my apartment. Just as we were finishing the writing process I was feeling really homesick. There was a chance I couldn’t go back to Australia, it was hard to even find flights over at that time. If you did you had to do hotel quarantine. All the flights were getting cancelled and all the airlines were stopping. So I ended up writing that song during that period, after we had recorded a lot of the vocals for the album, with help from Pat [Hetherington] who changed some of the lyrics so he felt connected to it as well. We recorded it here in Berlin in a small studio, not in Paris where we recorded everything else, on the spur of the moment and then I got a flight to Australia the next day.

The drums were very inspired by Curtis Mayfield, that furiousness where there’s so much energy and emotion in just the drum beat. It’s constant and so intense and really tugs on your emotions, it’s always going and never stopping.”

– Noah Hill

34. DMA’s “1 Way”
(from I Love You Unconditionally, Sure Am Going To Miss You EP)

33. Adia Victoria “South For The Winter (feat. Matt Berninger)”
(from A Southern Gothic)

32. Beach House “Superstar”
(from Once Twice Melody EP)

citattecken “I grew up in the suburbs of New York City and I had a really bad attitude toward the place and wanted to escape…”

31. Small Black “Postcard”
(from Cheap Dreams)

“‘Postcard’ is about being ok with where you’re at. And not idealizing the life you see someone else living far away from you. I grew up in the suburbs of New York City and I had a really bad attitude toward the place and wanted to escape. Looking back now, I can see that a lot of my experience there formed my identity as an adult, even if I didn’t want it too. I only made it about 20 miles away to Brooklyn!

This song was heavily influenced by the book Holy Land by DJ Waldie which is a prose account of growing up in Lakewood, CA, one of the first suburbs in America and considered the Levittown (where my Mom grew up) of the West.”

– Josh Kolenik

30. Foxing “Draw Down The Moon”
(from Draw Down The Moon)

29. Snail Mail “Headlock”
(from Valentine)

28. Shelley FKA DRAM with Summer Walker “All Pride Aside”
(from Shelley FKA DRAM)

27. Balthazar “Hourglass”
(from Sand)

citattecken “Our sound is in the psychedelic world of music but I love post-punk. Being in New York, I think everybody wants to be in a really cool post-punk band…”

26. Acid Dad “Smile You’re On Camera”
(from Take It From The Dead)

“I’ve called that song a one-off. The one-off post-punk song on the album. Our sound is in the psychedelic world of music but I love post-punk. Being in New York, I think everybody wants to be in a really cool post-punk band. I really love Wire and even have a Wire tattoo. I love that band. I was listening a lot to their album The Ideal Copy and that song serendipitously came out in practice. That’s where the sound came from; the driving beat and the driving bass line.

I write lyrics backwards. I have ideas and then try to piece them together to focus on something. Then I came up with this theme of thoughts of addiction in your head. Like when you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re ‘Damn, I really want a Diet Coke right now’ or a cigarette. That voice in your head telling you to do something, that nagging want for something. Or like a fever dream.

That song worked, there’s a lot of reverb and stuff that puts you in that headspace. For the vocal effect I use Death By Audio’s equipment. They’re based in Brooklyn, really cool. Oliver [Ackermann], the main guy who started the company is in the band A Place To Bury Strangers. They’re tech wizards and design all their own effect pedals and guitars. So I use their Echo Master, a really sweet little analogue delay. I use it live, too. I have three or four. Use them and break them all the time, you know!

I think the title was more of a working title, I’m not gonna lie. You walk around the street and see those ‘Smile you’re on camera’ signs and think ‘Oh, I’m gonna make that into a thing’. But it refers to how you’re constantly being watched. The Big Brother vibe. The same thing going back to the addiction or that drug voice in your head, it won’t ever leave you, it’s always in the back. It worked, but on paper you won’t really be able to put that together unless you have some background.”

– Vaughn Hunt

citattecken “It’s the only real ‘love song’ on the album, one where the context of love (in a world falling to pieces) hopefully gives the song more meaning…”

25. Will Stratton “When I’ve Been Born (I’ll Love You)”
(from The Changing Wilderness)

“This one started life as kind of an uptempo solo guitar barn burner, but after playing it on a few tours in the UK back in 2017, I realized I liked it better played at a more contemplative speed. It’s the only real ‘love song’ on the album, one where the context of love (in a world falling to pieces) hopefully gives the song more meaning and urgency, rather than a sense of hopelessness or ambivalence.

My favorite part of the recording of the version that made it onto the album is the break before the final chorus, where Ben Seretan plays some beautiful slide guitar and my neighbor Justin Keller plays some tender saxophone. Sean Mullins and Carmen Rothwell did a brilliant job on the drums and upright bass here, and Katie Mullins’ lovely backing vocals were a pleasure to record and mix. I’m glad this one has struck a chord with people. ‘If the fascists win, I’ll love you.'”

– Will Stratton

24. Keaton Henson “Invite”
(from Fragments EP)

23. Big Thief “Certainty”
(Single)

citattecken “Tehachapi” came along during a season of working with my hands instead of my head. It was a wonderful way to write…”

22. Margo Cilker “Tehachapi”
(from Pohorylle)

”Tehachapi” came along during a season of working with my hands instead of my head. It was a wonderful way to write; finding myself exhausted, yet calm. I think the song was mostly memorializing the present moment – springtime in Sonoma County – more than anything. This song seems to set folks’ toes to tapping and that sure makes me smile.”

– Margo Cilker

21. Penelope Isles “Terrified”
(from Which Way To Happy)

#100-#81 | #80-#61 | #60-#41 | #40-#21 | #20-#11 | #10-#2 |#1

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