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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


10. Wolf Alice “Lipstick On The Glass”
(from Blue Weekend)

9. Bachelor “Stay In The Car”
(from Doomin’ Sun)

citattecken “My ex went through a stage of messaging me after we’d broken up, telling me that he’d had a dream about me. This song is for him….”

8. Wet Leg “Wet Dream”
(Single)

“‘Wet Dream’ was written after a pretty shitty break up. My ex went through a stage of messaging me after we’d broken up, telling me that he’d had a dream about me. This song is for him. We wrote and demoed it late at night after yet another one of his unwanted messages appeared on my phone. It was written as a bit of a joke I guess as well as a bit of a ‘fuck you’. I never really thought this song would see the light of day.  It came out all in one go and was about 6 mins long in the demo version. We cut off the fat and rearranged it in the practice room into a 2 minute 30 version. Short n sweet. We recorded it with Dan Carey in his Studio in Streatham. Dan is a cosmic being.”

– Rhian Teasdale

citattecken “…at some point Kelsey said ‘I hope you fuck her with your eyes closed’ and the rest of ‘Think Of Me’ just fell into the room with a SLAP…”

7. Madi Diaz “Think Of Me”
(from History Of A Feeling)

“It was one of the actual coldest January’s I’ve ever experienced in Nashville, and my friend and also wonderful human/artist VÉRITÉ was in town from NYC so we could write for her up coming album together.

I absolutely adore VÉRITÉ’s dark cackling heart and we were in the studio with Konrad Snyder going off on asshole exes, riffing ideas, and at some point Kelsey [Byrne] said ‘I hope you fuck her with your eyes closed’ and the rest of ‘Think Of Me’ just fell into the room with a SLAP and we couldn’t stop laughing.

After we wrote ‘Think of Me’ I think we listened to it about a hundred times in my living room dancing to our new ‘put ur middle fingers in the air if u feel me’ anthem. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever been a part of.”

– Madi Diaz

citattecken “Obviously these songs aren’t really about movies, they’re about us. The films are just a springboard…”

6. Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine “Beginner’s Mind”
(from A Beginner’s Mind)

Sufjan: “Me and Angelo met kind of serendipitously when he had finished a record and was in New York City and played it for me. I really admired his songwriting, then when he was back in the City to promote his second record we were recording some stuff together that was really his music. Then we thought that we should just start collaborating. I think we have mutual admiration and respect and a similar work ethic, which was the basis of all this.

Angelo: “The whole concept of Beginner’s Mind was based on the shoshin idea, which is a japanese buddhist philosophy about not having your mind be too filled with judgement or preconceptions about things, but trying to remain open. I think that that relates to whenever you watch a movie for the first time the movie is still new to you but you’re completely immersed in it; sadness, beauty, pain or fear. You’re so immersed in those feelings that you sometimes forget about your own life. You’re able to view something with the openness a child would, instead of coming at things with preconceptions like us humans often would do. It’s not easy to do that, obviously, but I feel like children do it so easily.

Sufjan: “Angelo had some songs that were his own that he brought to the table. We recorded those and they were very personal. I loved working on those but then this project became something else. It probably allowed us to disassociate and then reassociate in a completely new way. Obviously these songs aren’t really about movies, they’re about us. The films are just a springboard.

Angelo: “We were doing file sharing collaboration on A Beginner’s Mind. I was supposed to go back to New York to finish the album, but then the pandemic happened, so we had to finish some of these songs remotely. This was a song we wrote completely remotely. Sufjan made that piano part for the song and sent it to me. Then I wrote the lyrics and the melody. I own a little recording studio here in Los Angeles where I did the same with a few other songs, like ‘Murder And Crime’.”

– Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine

5. chloe moriondo “What If It Doesn’t End Well”
(from Blood Bunny)

4. Japanese Breakfast “Be Sweet”
(from Jubilee)

citattecken “Since that recording we’ve been learning how to play this onto the drum machine that’s triggered by live drums. It was definitely a learning curve…”

3. The Goon Sax “In The Stone”
(from Mirror II)

Louis: “I wrote it at the end of 2019, it was set two years prior when I was nineteen living in Berlin. The music was influenced by a couple of specific songs, funnily enough songs I would just shazam, pop songs that I heard around. I don’t know if you can tell but it’s like it’s set to a rhythm that I think was a pulsive, slightly danceful influence. It was just on the radio constantly and I think that absorbed into the writing process and also the world of that song. It just felt like that beat was present. But at the same time it was influenced by a lot of early eighties weird pop music, like Young Marble Giants, or ‘Total Control’ by the Motels. That sort of restrained sonic pallette over something very loose was what I think we were trying for with that song.”

Riley: “I think that the beat is made by the tambourine sound. I played the beat with the tambourine on the hi-hats, then we took those off when we played live and almost lost the dancey spirit of the song. So it’s indebted to the tambourine.”

Louis: “It’s the first song of ours that has a combination of drum machine and Riley playing live drums. I guess we’ve done both of those things in isolation with that song. The looseness of that beat is also the fact that it’s both programmed and real drums.”

Riley: “The programmed drums were triggered by my live part so they’re not perfectly in time. With that song we really have to go in and out of time, the tempo changes and that’s important for the way the chorus feels. Since that recording we’ve been learning how to play this onto the drum machine that’s triggered by live drums. It was definitely a learning curve. The more in time we would play, the further away we would get from the drum track!”

– Louis Forster and Riley Jones

citattecken “It was a heavy time and a lot was happening. After David passed away I had this ticket to Norway that I forgot to cancel…”

2. Cassandra Jenkins “New Bikini”
(from An Overview On Phenomenal Nature)

“You can take the song very literally. It’s me walking through my life and getting advice that I need from people. I’m hearing the same thing over and over again; ‘You’ve got to get into the water, get into the ocean’. Either they’re talking about themselves or giving me advice or talking about their loved ones. It’s just this universal thing that we’re all seeking as a way to heal our wounds and also a universal solution that we’re offering each other which, of course, doesn’t heal everything. But in the song I think there’s this tension between people saying it’s the cure-all where, in fact, I was in a position where my friends were offering me advice and I said ‘Yeah, maybe it’s going to make me feel better but it’s not gonna bring my friend back from the dead or change my DNA which is flawed’.

There’s a little frustration in the song, ‘cause at the time I was going through a lot, but there’s also this beauty in the way we relate to and care for each other. Ultimately, we’re just trying to take care of each other and that to me is what this song is about more than this advice. What it means to take someone to the beach when they need to feel better, what it means to give a friend a place to stay when they’re going through something hard, what it means to tell your mother you’re going through a hard time.

What I liked about singing that song for the first time a few years ago – I had only done one solo tour – I sang it right after I had written it so I could barely play it and couldn’t remember the words as I had just put them down. I sang it in Dallas and this older woman came up to me and she said ‘Your song is really powerful as I have so many memories of going to the ocean and it’s helping me’. Here’s a person that took it literally and I liked that. Or you can hear the darker tone as well. I like the bittersweet stuff.

I was diagnosed with a genetic mutation that predisposes me to a lot of cancer, which is the same that my mother has. So I was writing about my DNA a lot and the frustration of being born with a mutation and thinking about what that means. Then David Berman had also just died and I had been playing in Purple Mountains. I was really talking about that a lot. I was also dating someone who has a chronic illness. While writing that song I was dealing with all that stuff. It was a heavy time and a lot was happening.

After David passed away I had this ticket to Norway that I forgot to cancel. When I was asked to go on tour with Purple Mountains I dropped everything, but when the tour was cancelled I realised I had this ticket, so I packed in 20 minutes and went to the airport and got on the plane to see my friends.

When I got back from Norway I went to California. I was going to see this person I was in love with. My mom was very critical and said I needed to take care of myself. A day later she could see that I really wanted to go, so she bought me a new bikini as a way of saying that taking care of yourself means to do what you want to do with your life when you need to do that.

Josh Kaufman is a great improviser and arranger and we didn’t really spend a lot of time, we just played. The drummer who plays on it is JT Bates who is a friend of Josh’s and plays with Justin Vernon. He was in town, they were playing at the Barclays Center which is a giant stadium in Brooklyn. He just came in on the first take without having heard of me, we recorded it and it was beautiful. Then Stuart Bogie came in and did the same thing. Everybody hears they’re great musicians, they do one take and it’s great. We did overwork the track a little bit because I was worried the piano was out of tune, so I re-tracked that very last minute during mastering. It was a kind of rushed record.”

– Cassandra Jenkins

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

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