- Words Notion Staff
They've been stuck in your head all year...now it's time to look back at the best and biggest tunes for 2021.
"good 4 u" by Olivia Rodrigo
With over a BILLION streams on Spotify alone, "good 4 u" shot Olivia Rodrigo into the stratosphere and made 2021 her breakout year. Now, she's one of the biggest stars in the world. Not only is the song catchy AF, it's also relatable for almost anyone who's been through a breakup.
"MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" by Lil Nas X
Another track hitting the billion plus club is "MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)" by Lil Nas X. If the music video featuring Lil Nas riding a stripper pole into hell to give a lap dance to the devil wasn't enough to seal the deal, the dramatic, flamenco guitar-infused beat is.
"Good Days" by SZA
Sparkling production soundtracks SZA's reminisces over a failed relationship: "I worry that I wasted the best of me on you, baby / You don't care". There's also moments of strength, where she sings "I don't miss no ex, I don't miss no text / I just choose not to respond". SZA said she wrote it as a "mantra for herself" and it's certainly become that for countless others this year.
"Thot Shit" by Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion weaponises her sexuality on the throbbing, fast-paced "Thot Shit". "Looking at the mirror like, ‘Damn, I don’t brag enough,’” Megan raps, showing us that being hot is not just mindset but a way of life too.
"Woman" by Little Simz & Cleo Sol
A beautiful celebration of Black African women and their multi-faceted divinity, Little Simz teamed up with the angelically-voiced Cleo Sol for "Woman", taken from her critically-acclaimed 'Sometimes I Might Be Introvert' album.
"Kiss Me More (feat. SZA)" by Doja Cat
Snogging, macking on, lipsing, necking... whichever way you name it, sometimes there's nothing better than a good old kiss, and that's exactly the sentiment Doja Cat and SZA captured in this bubblegum banger which sampled Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical". Oozing with effortless musical chemistry, this was arguably one of the best collabs of 2021.
"SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY Remix (feat. Kali Uchis & Moliy)" by Amaarae
A sleek standout from Amaraae’s 2020 debut 'The Angel You Don’t Know', this Kali Uchis feature remix has been living in our heads rent free since it dropped. The vocal purrs, falsetto whispers and unapologetic yet sugary-sweet statements of "Get the fuck outta my way/ I'm gonna get paid" scream BDE and we're so here for it.
"Good Ones" by Charli XCX
Charli XCX switched gears from hyperpop to dancefloor banger-pop with this absolute TUNE. Incredibly dramatic and OTT, it's signalled the beginning of a new mainstream era for the star. And when Charli says something she means it, jumping on a club number "OUT OUT" with Joel Corry, Jax Jones and Saweetie, and serving us the impeccable "New Shapes" with Christine & the Queens and Caroline Polachek.
"Pain" by PinkPantheress
2021 belongs to PinkPantheress. The viral TikTok star found her name by teasing short-but-sweet confessional lyrics over 2-step and breakbeat melodies. Most tracks barely touch the 2 minute mark, but "Pain" was one of the first that truly had Zoomers in a chokehold.
"Bunny Is A Rider" by Caroline Polachek
Caroline Polachek sings of Bunny - the mysterious girl we have all wanted to be. Sexy, intriguing and beguiling, the sonics mirrored the lyrical content perfectly on this track that saw Polachek team up with PC Music alum Danny L Harle for a deliciously weird pop number.
"Chaise Longue" by Wet Leg
Debuting this year and quickly becoming one of the most buzzed-about bands, Isle of Wight duo Wet Leg showed that they know how to strike a perfect balance between silly and serious with their first ever single, which is still a fan favourite to date.
"Good Without" by Mimi Webb
Mimi Webb gave Adele a run for her money with her belted-out pop ballads in 2021. "Good Without" was the first single that truly launched the Notion 90 cover star; an emotional, affirming song about moving on from a breakup.
"When You Were Mine" by Joy Crookes
Taken from her incredible debut album 'Skin', Joy Crookes explained that "When You Were Mine" is "about an ex-partner that ended up being with a man after we broke up. It’s a song about accepting their love, but wishing the same for myself". A joyous melody soundtracks Joy's tale, filled with trumpets, hummable piano and hip-moving drum beats.
"t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l feat. Travis Barket" by WILLOW
WILLOW really pinned us all up against the wall with this one. Climbing into our brains through the medium of - where else - TikTok, the pop-punk single calls out fakes and liars with sneering confidence, accompanied by power guitar chords and drums from Blink 182's Travis Barker.
"UK HUN? (United Kingdolls Version)" by The Cast of RuPaul's Drag Race UK, Season 2
I'd like to give thanks to Drag Race UK for the creation of this utter masterpiece. Featuring Notion 89 cover star Bimini Bon Boulash and United Kingdolls Tayce, Lawrence Chaney and A'Whora, no other assembly of absolute HUNS could have a nation randomly shouting "BING BANG BONG" at each other with such vigour. A song for the ages.
"Promises" by Cleo Sol
Soft and tender, Cleo Sol's "Promises" from her 'Mother' album feels like a lullaby. Soul-nourishing from start to finish, she sings of loving herself even though a lover left her. One big sonic hug.
"Peaches (feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon)" by Justin Bieber
Taken from the Beeb's sixth studio album 'Justice', which ticked off a number of high-profile features, "Peaches" was the inarguable highlight. A summery, earworm R&B jam, Daniel Caesar's light and smooth vocals mix deliciously with Giveon's deep and velvety verse to make this one addictive bop.