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Best and Worst of 2021 Music, So Far

Despite everything that is happening in the world, new music continues to be produced at a frenzied pace, driven no doubt by the fact that music is one thing nobody never cut down on. Here’s the best and worst of what we have seen and heard so far this year

Amit Vaidya Feb 05, 2021

American singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo.

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Best Collaboration:

“Lo Vas A Olvidar” – Billie Eilish & Rosalia

Two of the most talented and unconventional global pop stars we have today are Eilish & Rosalia. Together, they create magic for this collaboration featured in the “Special” episode of Zendaya’s hit TV show “Europhoria”. The ballad is both haunting but also incredibly powerful, sung in both English and Spanish. Hands down Rosalia outshines Eilish here mainly because it’s the first time we are hearing in a Eilish-style produced single and the result is just perfecto. 

 Most Likely to Fall Under the Radar: 

“Atlantic” – The Weather Station

Retro rock is all the craze right now, but this works because of the warm production quality and the soothing Fleetwood Mac-esque vocals. “Atlantic” is where I was hoping London Grammar would have sonically reached by now if they opted for a bit more adventure. Thankfully, we’ve got the The Weather Station till then!

Most Nonsensical Song for The Times: 

“Lifestyle” – Jason Derulo & Adam Levine

Okay, I’m not sure what planet Derulo is living on these days. Between the dated production value, the random collaborative partner in Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and the inane lyrics (not that Derulo was ever known for this), but this song feels like it should have come out 10 years ago, not during the ongoing pandemic where there’s hardly a fancy woman thinking about her “lifestyle” when she can’t even use what she already has! I actually think Derulo perhaps need to return back to his more humorous days where he was able to make better fun of himself and things around him. This is just pure banality. 

Song You Can’t Escape: 

“Driver’s license” – Olivia Rodrigo

Perhaps time has finally caught up with me.  I really was unaware that Rodrigo has been around for many years and slowly but surely building up a massive fanbase thanks to her TV roles in “Bizaardvark” and “High School Music: The Series” for Disney. But after a very very long time we have a debut single that knocks it out of the park! Rodrigo managed to debut atop the Billboard Hot 100 and it wasn’t just her fans that fell in love with the single, adult fans instantaneously followed suit. Here’s hoping Rodrigo follows in the footsteps of Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and Ariana Grande to a successful crossover career. 

Least Deserving Hit: 

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“Anyone” – Justin Bieber

Okay, I can say Bieber sounds better than he did through anything released in 2020 but maybe it’s the pandemic, or his marriage, or his contentment with life that’s made the artist feel oh so boring. He’s only 26, but this single feels both dated and really unmemorable. While the whole melancholy vibe worked wonders for Taylor Swift, it feels a bit premature for Bieber who I think still has some juice left to crank out some smashes that don’t follow such a basic formula. 

The “Let’s All Get Along” Song That Works: 

“Undivided” – Tim McGraw & Tyler Hubbard

McGraw has a knack for finding unity through song. After all, before “Old Town Road” there was “Over and Over” featuring Nelly that showed that a crossover hit between country and hip-hop was not only possible, but much appreciated. Having said that, “Undivided” strikes the right chord of balancing the “kumbaya” message with an actually melodious song. They performed the track at the celebration of America on the night of President Joe Biden’s inauguration and for at least 3.5 minutes, their message and the country did in fact come together. 

2021 Comeback Kid So Far, Yup, Already There Is One! 

“Lovely Day” – Demi Lovato

Speaking of the inauguration, viewers tuning in were surprised to see Lovato dressed in her best pantsuit covering the Bill Wither’s classic “Lovely Day”. It was an unexpected cover that blended her charged vocals with Covid front-line medical workers as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda (random much?). I got a lot of flack last month after commenting on Lovato’s lackluster year in 2020 where she just seemed to be trying way way too hard. Boy, maybe with Trump gone she loosened up and the results were fantastic. While the song has been covered a billion times, this synth-pop version actually worked and dare I say would actually be something folks would want to listen to on their Top 40. I’m hoping Lovato takes one step further into this more relaxed and comfortable space again, we could use her there again!

Best Featured Remix: 

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“34+35” – Ariana Grande Featuring Doja Cat & Megan Thee Stallion

Already one of the stellar tracks from her most recent album, the new year began with Grande bringing together two of last year’s most featured and successful female rappers. Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion were last seen swapping places at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 between their “Say So” and “Savage Remix” respectively so it’s nice to hear them come together for this remix. Both of their verses are fire and add an additional level of spice to an already clever little track. 

We’re Gonna Be Hearing This for Many More Months To Come: 

“You” – Benny Blanco, Marshmello & Vance Joy

So, you put two major pop producers together and then come together with Australian singer-songwriter Joy and create a folksy dance anthem, right? Absolutely. The song is a grower but once it soars, it flies higher and higher and there’s no doubt in my mind this will be playing everywhere through the next few months and yup, you’ll even on occasion be singing along to it as well!

Album of The Month: 

Collapsed in Sunbeams – Arlo Parks

20-year-old Parks already has a big number of huge fans including Billie Eilish and there’s good reason for that. She’s the real deal. The Brit manages to find a comfortable spot somewhere between emo and old soul. Lyrically solid, vocally leaning R&B, the album Collapsed in Sunbeams feels classic even on its first lesson. Parks is in for the ride of her life in 2021 and we couldn’t be more excited. 

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