Top 21 of ‘21: The Best Songs of 2021

Paul Enicola
2 min readDec 6, 2021


Because for an unusual year, 20 just wasn’t enough.

Man, it’s tough to whittle the list down without feeling bad for those that didn’t make the cut. I know I always say this year after year when creating lists of the year’s best—whether films, albums, songs, and (on rare occasions) even books.

And with this year’s lineup of really, really great songs, I’d be remiss if I didn’t preempt you with said customary frustration.

“Man, it’s tough to whittle the list down.”

In my defense, though, I found it challenging to list the best songs of 2021, since I had a couple of songs that made my preliminary list—but got axed because they were apparently released as singles last year, despite the albums that contained said songs were only released this year. To just do away with the possible confusion, I went ahead with disqualifying them. After all, my best song of 2020, Jessie Ware’s “Remember Where You Are,” was released as a single this year—despite Ware’s album What’s Your Pleasure? being released in 2020.

That means, much to my regret, Arlo Parks’ “Black Dog” and Jazmine Sullivan’s “Pick Up Your Feelings” didn’t make it.

The striking thing, nonetheless, is that among the 21 songs that made the final cut, 14 of them were from female acts. Call it what you want, but from mainstream acts to independent artists, female artists rocked 2021.

And rock hard they did.

First, my honorable mentions:
Arlo Parks, “Black Dog”
Arooj Aftab, “Mohabbat”
BTS, “Butter”
Jazmine Sullivan, “Pick Up Your Feelings”
Pearl Charles, “Only for Tonight”
PinkPantheress, “Just for Me”
Radiohead, “Follow Me Around”
Silk Sonic, “Put on a Smile”
Snail Mail, “Valentine”

Without further ado, here are the 21 songs of 2021:

21. Justin Bieber, “Peaches” feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon
20. Wild Pink, “Oversharers Anonymous”
19. Doja Cat, “Kiss Me More” feat. SZA
18. Bo Burnham, “That Funny Feeling”
17. Lucy Dacus, “Hot & Heavy”
16. Lorde, “Fallen Fruit”
15. Little Simz, “Introvert”
14. Clairo, “Amoeba”
13. Adele, “Easy on Me”
12. Kacey Musgraves, “Good Wife”
11. The Weather Station, “Tried to Tell You”
10. José González, “El Invento”
9. Morgan Wade, “Wilder Days”
8. Billie Eilish, “Your Power”
7. Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, “Like I Used To”
6. Cassandra Jenkins, “Hard Drive”
5. Bleachers, “Stop Making This Hurt”
4. Japanese Breakfast, “Be Sweet”
3. Silk Sonic, “Leave the Door Open”
2. Taylor Swift, “All Too Well (10-Minute Taylor’s Version)”
1. Coldplay, “Coloratura”

Here’s to great music in 2022!



Paul Enicola

Film (and sometimes music) critic. Writer by profession, musician by passion.