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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


20. Riki “Marigold”
(from Gold)

citattecken “…we’d rather do something that’s ‘us’ than just another hardcore band. We know that the guitars can melt people’s ears at times but that’s fine, ha ha!”

19. Enola Gay “Salt”
(from Gransha EP)

“With that track we really wanted to convey the nightmare that we’d been thrown into, because it’s an anti-Brexit song. It was actually written the day before the Tories were voted in. It really points the finger at that. You know, you just voted for Brexit and then voted for the most incompetent party possible to deal with us.

The thing about being from Northern Ireland, because it’s still technically part of the UK, that’s another thing us Irish people have been thrown into. We’ve been thrust into somebody else’s problem, and because this is the only place where there is a land border there’s talk about bringing back a hard border which will infringe upon our Irish identity. For some people that’s where the UK starts and ends.

We’re not interested in making music for somebody else, at the end of the day we make music that we want to listen to ourselves. We understand that it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s fine by us ‘cause we’d rather do something that’s ‘us’ than just another hardcore band. We know that the guitars can melt people’s ears at times but that’s fine, ha ha!

All our tunes are written around the drums and bass, guitars are added second last and vocals last. Music first, then whatever you’re feeling should go on top of that. The guitar sound happened by accident. It’s a combination of two pedals which is a secret that I’ll keep… All I will say is: wait ‘til you hear it on the bass!”

– Joe McVeigh

citattecken “I really focused on the lyrical element of it and I felt like that is what changes it. It’s a balance between storytelling and description and melody…”

18. Cautious Clay “Wildfire”
(from Deadpan Love)

“I wrote the song in a situation where I could be the most raw in the sense of only a guitar and a voice. Pretty much strip back the entire element of it. There are some songs of mine that are stripped back but a lot of my music is kind of upbeat and has a lot of production values to it. So I really wanted to write a song where I felt I could be super minimal. I hadn’t really done a song that way. For all intents and purposes that song is just myself and a guitar that slowly builds in with strings and synthesizers that I made on the last chorus. Finally having the ability to lean into the vulnerability of my voice – because I haven’t always been comfortable with it – and express that in a way that felt confident and comfortable for myself was a huge step for me. I love to layer vocals and create the type of energy like in the last chorus. It’s super fun.

The song in general is about self reflection and putting yourself out there even though you know it might not work out. Whether it’s between yourself, like an internal conflict, or if it’s with another person that you care about. First and foremost it’s about that feeling. ‘You’re starting up a wildfire in my heart, I hope it’s what you want and not just what you do’ is like, are you just playing games with me or how you really feel about a situation.

Of the things that are going on in the song, the chords I’m using are not new, but I look at it in the context of lyrics. I really focused on the lyrical element of it and I felt like that is what changes it. It’s a balance between storytelling and description and melody. You put all of these things together and figure out how to move on from there. There were certainly times where I wanted to change myself sonically, but those things are very nuanced in a song like ‘Wildfire’.”

– Josh Karpeh

citattecken “Finally I stumbled upon this shouty singalong chorus that likened summer frivolity to the reckless romantic escapades…”

17. illuminati hotties “Pool Hopping”
(from Let Me Do One More)

“‘Pool Hopping’ existed first as a weird guitar riff that was very fun to play but had no business being in any of the songs that I was writing for Let Me Do One More. I would play the riff constantly at rehearsal, at sound check, and pretty much any time that I was noodling around on guitar it came out. Finally I stumbled upon this shouty singalong chorus that likened summer frivolity to the reckless romantic escapades that typified a very specific point in my life.

Capturing ‘fun’ became equally as challenging as capturing the restlessness and wavering confidence of being in your 20s, on the precipice of adulthood. The whip-fast production scene changes and sneaky micro-musical moments littered throughout ‘Pool Hopping’ all contribute to this breakneck momentum that feels simultaneously crushing and freeing when all i was trying to do was figure myself out.”

– Sarah Tudzin

16. The Marías “Hush”
(from CINEMA)

15. LoneLady “(There Is) No Logic”
(from Former Things)

citattecken “…with this the melody was my jumping-off point. The chorus, to me, felt so joyous and immediately reminded me of my mother…”

14. Le Ren “Dyan”
(from Leftovers)

“In songwriting, there is this phenomenon that happens where a fully formed song comes out of nowhere as if it had been waiting for you. This was the case for ‘Dyan.’ I started it one morning last January and by the end of the day it was complete.

Generally, I start my songs with lyrics then build the music around them, but with this the melody was my jumping-off point. The chorus, to me, felt so joyous and immediately reminded me of my mother. With that thought in mind, the lyrics came very organically as I pictured her and the distance between us.”

– Lauren Spear

citattecken “This one is all about the production and sounds for me. Always wanted it to be glitchy and weird. Was probably the trickiest one to come together…”

13. W.H. Lung “Figure With Flowers”
(from Vanities)

“‘Figure with Flowers’ started life on a plane to Iceland Airwaves in November 2019.
I left my laptop mic recording for a part of the journey and then just chopped bits together and processed them to death when we arrived – mostly sat with a lovely view in the Reykjavík Art Museum (very sophisticated I know…).

The bass line I first added on software synth in the AirBnB and the wail sounding sample is a vocal sample from Hannah about 18 months before. The song was originally stupidly long – and with the help of Chris in his old studio in Leeds we chopped it down big time. When we went back at it in the Nave with Matt – we cut it back even more and went to town on the weird percussion sounds and drones that go on throughout the track.

This one is all about the production and sounds for me. Always wanted it to be glitchy and weird. Was probably the trickiest one to come together but I reckon we got there in the end. I have a particular soft spot for it as it reminds me of that trip to Iceland and a time when things were starting to get exciting for us as a band.”

– Tom Sharkett

12. Mustafa “The Hearse”
(from When Smoke Rises)

citattecken “When I hear this song I hope that I can grow into a new version of myself who is detached from painful relationships…”

11. Revenge Wife “Earthquake”
(Single)

“I don’t really know where to start with this song. Honestly I wonder if I just feel things too deeply or maybe I spend too much time alone pondering my insecurities. ‘Earthquake’ was really me trying to figure out why I wanted someone who didn’t want me back. It’s interesting because now time has passed and the lyrics mean something different to me than they did then. In general, in life, I sometimes think rationalizing emotions or experience or relationships is futile because any answer that I come up with will eventually change with time. ‘Earthquake’ lyrically is such a page of my diary. I had just gone through a breakup, this was the first song I wrote after almost two months of utter heartbreak. It was a long time for me to wait to write. I just couldn’t do it.

Anyway I came up with the chorus walking around one day, humming to myself. I got in with Ceci G who is an iconic female producer/song writer and I remember her being like “oh yes!” When I told her how sad I was because she knew we would write a good song. Ha! It’s true though, from discomfort comes… something. At a certain point we handed it off to Ryder Bach, one of my best friends and collaborator on a ton of Revenge Wife stuff (he’s mixed everything so far) and he added a bunch of production stuff too. Ceci and I first wrote it right before Covid, so by the time Ryder was working on it we were all remote.

When I hear this song I hope that I can grow into a new version of myself who is detached from painful relationships. Is that the goal? Self-isolation? Or maybe healthy relationships hahah, that’s a path too I suppose.”

– Elizabeth Nistico

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

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