My 2021 In 12 Songs

Happy New Years Eve! It's officially the last day to say goodbye to all of the good and bad of 2021, and I had one final sentimental retrospective I wanted to share. I've posted about my favorite albums, music videos, and live shows over the last few weeks, but I realized there was one more time capsule from my musical year that actually looked very different. This year, I started bullet journaling for the first time, and as a part of that, I had a spread where I wrote down a song every month. This song might have been my favorite, the most impactful, or the one I listened to most often. My only general rule was that each song had to have been released within that particular month. There are a lot of tracks that I loved that didn't make the other lists but found a home here, and it's a very personal way to chart what was happening in pop each month. In many ways, these songs probably defined my year more than the ones that made my actual favorites list, and I really loved that I had saved a month by month collection of my personal top song by whatever metric I was feeling in the moment. 


 January- It's Time To Go by Taylor Swift
January was a slower month for music this year than last, so the song that defined my month trickled over from the release of Evermore when the bonus tracks dropped on streaming services. While "Right Where You Left Me" has soaked up all the love for these two bonus tracks, it's "It's Time to Go" that immediately won my heart. So much of life is about knowing when it's time to leave, and this quiet anthem has helped me through a year of a remarkable amount of changes. 



February- Overdrive by Conan Gray
I was so incredibly excited about Conan Gray's first release since Kid Krow in March of 2020. From the countdown clock and the train running by on his website to the clips of the music video that were teased on his Instagram, this release was so much fun. While this song really isn't one of my favorites of Conan's (I actually was really upset about the song for the while), the music video was epic, and I have so many fond memories from the weeks leading up to this release that it really did define my February. 



March- Unlearn by Gracie Abrams
Gracie Abrams has been one of my favorite artists of the last two years, and luckily she's been releasing tons of music. This early single immediately won my heart with Gracie's signature simplicity and detailed lyrics. The song felt truly unique and covered an area not often talked about-having to relearn how to be in a relationship after coming out of a bad one. Also, while Benny Blanco's artist project still confuses me, he always produces really cool songs out of it. This music video is also adorable. 

 

April- Deja Vu by Olivia Rodrigo
While Olivia Rodrigo probably defined most people's Januarys with "Drivers License," the Olivia Rodrigo song that had me most intrigued was "Deja Vu." Both the production and lyricism are far more unique on this track to me, and I loved the bubble gum, breezy quality to this track. I'm honestly surprised of the more upbeat tracks on the album that it was "Good 4 U" that wound up being more popular. 



May- Astronomy by Conan Gray
This was the first of Conan's releases this year where I fully loved. "Astronomy" is a breathtaking, emotional song, and I listened to it nonstop for the month of May. I always love a piano ballad, and this fulfilled all of my wishes for a new Conan Gray song. It will be interesting to see if this song eventually makes his sophomore album. 



June- American Dream by Baby Queen
I've been keeping up with Baby Queen's career all year leading up to her mixtape The Yearbook. Her ability to skip between genres is truly impressive going from light, airy pop to pop-punk inspired songs to nearly 2010s pop throwback sounds to spoken word. "American Dream" was among the many of the singles she released this year, and while I wound up having mixed feelings on the project, it'll be interesting to see where her career goes as she embarks on Olivia Rodrigo's SOUR Tour in Europe. 



July- People Watching by Conan Gray
"People Watching" has some of Conan's best writing and the best writing of the year. That first verse is absolutely incredible, and it always whisks me away when it comes on shuffle. Conan perfectly spins the story of this couple's relationship full of quirky, unique details that make them feel so real before the song blooms out into an appeal to find that kind of love. This song never gets old. 



August- Darling by Halsey
Halsey's surprise album of this year, If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power, is my favorite album of the year, and "Darling" was the first song that stole my heart off the album. While the album is generally loud and has been described as industrial, "Darling" is one of the softer moments that takes on a tone reminiscent to a lullaby. It is undeniably comforting. It also has the mix of beautiful imagery and rambly, honest thoughts that always mark my favorite Halsey tracks. 



September- Scarlett by Holly Humberstone
September marked the month that I got very into Holly Humberstone's music through Gracie Abrams posting about Holly's latest release on her Instagram story. I was super excited because she was coming to LA the next month, and while I wasn't able to make it unfortunately, I did listen to her music a ton in anticipation of the show and the release of her new EP. Very similar to Gracie Abrams, Holly makes music that is quiet, understated, and artfully written. She's definitely someone to keep an eye on. 



October- Rockland by Gracie Abrams
Gracie released "Rockland" not long after I heard her play it live at her Roxy show. Gracie's live show was one of my favorites of the year, and I was glad to get one of the unreleased songs from the set so soon after I saw it live for the first time so that I could really digest all of the lyrical nuances of this rather acoustic song. 




November- All Too Well (TV 10 Minute) by Taylor Swift
Red (Taylor's Version) absolutely took over my life in November with the unending well of content and the fact that it became a cultural phenomenon all over again. Of course, finally getting the ten minute version of "All Too Well" after months of anticipation and years of speculation was going to be the cherry on top. I don't know how, but this ten minute song never gets old. 



December- You're So Fucking Pretty by The Regrettes 
This is another song I heard live before the track came out, and it's an equally breathtaking song live and on the recording. Lydia's voice has an aching feel that immediately tugs at your heartstrings. The song is crushingly real about what it's like to love someone who doesn't love you back. This queer heartbreak anthem was my favorite find of December and one of my favorite of the year. 


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