My Favorite Albums of 2021

For my first post of the new year, I wanted to take a look back at all of the amazing music of 2021. So many of my favorite artists released music this year which I'm excited to share today! These albums are in no particular order, it would be way too difficult to rank them! 

Chemtrails Over The Country Club // Lana Del Rey

Chemtrails Over The Country Club was a highly anticipated album for me and it exceeded all of my expectations! Many of these songs were my most-played of 2021, with the title track at the very top! This album marked a new chapter for Lana and her career, it expresses a more personal and introspective side of her in a way she hasn't shown before. Her evolution as an artist and as a songwriter in the past year is so admirable. I love all of her albums so much and I have a strong connection with each for different reasons, but with Chemtrails Over The Country Club, Lana is truly at her best (yet). It is a beautiful celebration of the stage of life Lana is in now, and the friends and family that were with her along the way, who are all pictured in the album's cover!

My Favorite Songs: 
White Dress
Chemtrails Over The Country Club
Tulsa Jesus Freak
Dark But Just A Game

Blue Banisters // Lana Del Rey

The music she made in 2021 really is a testament to how talented Lana is as an artist to continuously evolve in her art and by putting out music that is acclaimed to be her best work yet - just for her to turn around and make something even better! Longevity and consistency in that regard is rare to find. Blue Banisters further proves her distinct talent for storytelling through her songs and how she truly is a one-of-a-kind voice of this generation. Blue Banisters is a stunning collection of fifteen songs that are stories of family, friendship, love, loss and new beginnings. "I'm writing my own story. And no one can tell it but me," Lana said on Twitter alongside the album announcement.

My Favorite Songs:
Blue Banisters
Nectar Of The Gods
Sweet Carolina

If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power // Halsey

In so many ways, this is the album Halsey was born to make! It is their most cohesive body of work yet, which is saying something considering their previous three albums are very conceptual and cinematic in their own right. It is heartfelt, empowering and so authentic to her life. At its core, If I Can't Have Love I Want Power is a story of womanhood and all of our shared experiences, no matter how uncomfortable the topics may be at times. It is also their most personal, regarding her pregnancy journey and road to motherhood. These songs are written in such a poetic and artful way, truly pushing the boundaries of modern music. If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power is produced by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, which elevated her sound to a whole new level, and is a collaboration I really hope they continue in the future!

My Favorite Songs: 
Easier than Lying
You asked for this
I am not a woman, I'm a god

Daddy's Home // St. Vincent

Listening to Daddy's Home will instantly transport you to the glamour of New York City in the 1970s - but in true St. Vincent style, she makes that retro sound all her own and turned it into nothing short of a true modern rock classic. She never fails to find a way to reinvent herself and create such a captivating musical universe around her work and a character designed to match. Although I do think she is playing somewhat of Candy Darling type of character for this era with the aesthetic, on these songs she opens up more than ever about her personal life regarding her father, her thoughts on motherhood, contemplating her legacy, and modern-womanhood. I first discovered her music with her 2017 album Masseduction, which has several of my favorite songs ever on it, like "New York" and "Los Ageless". I never thought my love for that album would be able to be topped, but I was wrong! Every single song on Daddy's Home is a stunning psychadelic masterpiece that I have had on repeat since the day it was released. 

My Favorite Songs:
Live In The Dream
The Melting Of The Sun
My Baby Wants A Baby 
...At The Holiday Party 
Candy Darling

Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night // Bleachers

Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night was the long-awaited release of one of my favorite bands, Bleachers. This album is about resilience in overcoming the past and personal hardship, as well as love, loss, faith and trying to find your way in the world. It is also a celebration of New Jersey and New York and the music inspired by it - being from around that area of the East Coast, adds another personal layer for me. These ten songs are so intricately connected to not just the material of this album, but also of their first two albums; Strange Desire and Gone Now. Jack Antonoff truly never fails to make an incredible album that makes a deep impact on the listener - in fact, nearly half of the albums on this list alone he was in some way apart of creating! I had the honor of meeting Jack in July at Electric Lady Studios and had the chance to hear this album for the very first time a few days before it was released (I wrote all about that experience here!). I know I will forever have such a strong attachment to these songs because of those amazing memories about where I was when I first heard them. Especially every time I listen to "91" it never fails to take me back to that day! 

My Favorite Songs:
Chinatown (feat. Bruce Springsteen)
Stop Making This Hurt
Don't Go Dark
What'd I Do With All This Faith?

Red (Taylor's Version) // Taylor Swift

Only Taylor Swift she can make an album from 2012 into one of the highly anticipated releases of the year, all of which was definitely worth the wait! This album is about love and heartbreak and all of the ups and the downs that she experienced at this point in her life when she was 21 and 22 years old. With the added vault tracks we also get more of an insight on her mindset at that time in an even more vulnerable way, especially when it comes to her dealing with growing up and struggling with her rising fame. Taylor's Version is the complete album, the way it was always meant to be. In her initial announcement, she wrote; "Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heartbroken person. It was all over the place, a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end. Happy, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by memories past. Like trying on pieces of a new life, I went into the studio and experimented with different sounds and collaborators. And I'm not sure if it was pouring my thoughts into this album, hearing thousands of your voices sing the lyrics back to me in passionate solidarity, or it was simply time, but something was healed along the way." When I look at the original track list, there are so many songs that jump out at me as being some of the best in her entire discography. It is just as relevant as an album for me when I was 13 and now when I'm 22. I would continuously return to Red over the past nine years because it is something I could always find a new favorite song from or a lyric that connects with me in a way it hasn't before - the same now goes for the new and improved version, as well!

My Favorite Songs:
State Of Grace (Taylor's Version)
Holy Ground (Taylor's Version)
Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (From The Vault)
Forever Winter (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)
The Very First Night (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)
All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)

Fearless (Taylor's Version) // Taylor Swift

To mark the beginning of her journey of re-recording her first six albums to re-claim ownership of her early work, Taylor started with her record-breaking sophomore release of Fearless. In an interview with Republic Records, she said "Deciding on what album to re-record first was pretty easy for me. I always gravitated towards Fearless because I think that, as an album, it was a real coming-of-age. And I look back on that album and it fills me with such pride, and it was an album about hope, and lessons learned, and the effervescence of teenage youth and all that. What more fun than to go back and explore that?" I was only nine years old when this album was originally released in 2008 and in many ways it was the soundtrack of my youth, along with her other early work. It's rare to find an album that I can relate to as much now as I did back then. Getting to relive those memories in such a special way with Taylor's Version was so exciting. 

My Favorite Songs: 
Love Story (Taylor's Version)
Hey Stephen (Taylor's Version)
Forever & Always (Taylor's Version)
Jump Then Fall (Taylor's Version)
Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)

Happier Than Ever // Billie Eilish

Happier Than Ever is quite a departure from Billie's iconic debut, but in the best way possible. She has never tried to be anyone other than herself, which makes her journey of monumental success at such a young age so much more inspiring. Happier Than Ever is a chronicle of the events that followed her meteoric rise to fame since 2019, from her perspective. There has always been so much talk in the media about the way she dresses, her body, her relationships, whether or not she "deserves" all of the success she has, etc. - so in that sense this album is a way of her reclaiming the narrative and telling her own story, her way. There are many dark and emotional themes that are discussed lyrically throughout Happier Than Ever, which kind of juxtaposes the title in that way. Just like Billie's debut, it was completely written, produced, and performed by only her and her older brother Finneas at their home studio. The music has such a timeless sound, one that I can see transcending generations and becoming a classic in her discography looking back years from now.

My Favorite Songs:
I Didn't Change My Number
Therefore I Am
Happier Than Ever
Male Fantasy

Optimist // Finneas

Not many artists can illicit such a strong emotional response in the way that Finneas does. His debut album, Optimist, was completely written, produced and composed on his own which is something so admirable about his artistry. I believe he is one of the most innovative artists of this generation, whether it is on his own solo music, with his sister Billie or with any of the other incredible artists he has worked with over the past few years. His style is so distinct and instantly recognizable. Some of the songs on this album absolutely broke my heart and described certain experiences and emotions in a way I never knew how, while others are so fun and catchy that I listen to over and over and never get tired of. Lyrically, he is deeply honest in sharing his perspective and his personal experiences in a way that is all his own. 

My Favorite Songs:
Happy Now?
Only A Lifetime
Love is Pain
Someone Else's Star

When Facing The Things We Turn Away From // Luke Hemmings

A debut solo album from Luke Hemmings was definitely one of the most unexpected releases of 2021, but it is everything I could've hoped it would be and more! You may know him from his band, 5 Seconds of Summer, which is has been one of my favorites for nearly a decade. Luke is also one of my favorite male vocalists ever, so the idea of a full solo album from him was so exciting. Much like his bandmate Ashton Irwin did last year with Superbloom, I love to see that 5SOS are branching out into other solo ventures while still being in the band. When Facing The Things We Turn Away From is so personal and honest in the way he confronted his most personal struggles and hardships head on. Everything from the vocals, songwriting, production and visuals are absolutely stunning and were perfect at capturing the message and story being told with this album.  

My Favorite Songs:
Starting Line
Baby Blue

Justice // Justin Bieber

Justice picks up right where Changes left off for Justin last year, except instead of it being heavily R&B inspired, this is more of a return to pop music for him. The sound reminds me of the style of music I have grown up loving from him with albums like Believe and Purpose. His vocals, production and songwriting are some of the strongest he has ever released in his career so far. After so many years of not releasing music, I love how often he has been putting out music again - this time with a happier and more mature mindset in life. The new stage of life he is in shines through so brightly with JusticeI am also going to be seeing Justin this summer in New York City, which I'm so excited for! The first and only time I've seen him live was back in 2013 on the Believe Tour, which to this day is still one of the greatest concerts I have ever been to! I'm really looking forward to seeing him again in 2022!

My Favorite Songs:
Deserve You
Die For You (feat. Dominic Fike)
Peaches (feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon)

Solar Power // Lorde

After watching Lorde "disappear into the sun" after her incredible release of Melodrama in 2017, she has finally released her third studio album, Solar Power. Throughout all of her releases, she always knew exactly how to put my feelings into words into such a perfectly eloquent way. Solar Power is quite different from her previous releases - it is much more simple and laid-back focusing on where she is currently at in life. She is much more mature now, there is a sense of serenity and a greater outlook on life in this music, which is so inspiring to see!

My Favorite Songs:
The Path
Solar Power
Stoned at the Nail Salon
Mood Ring
Oceanic Feeling

Star-Crossed // Kacey Musgraves

Although her golden hour may be faded black, Kacey proved that there is still a light for her. This album details the story of two star-crossed lovers, in this case her relationship with her ex-husband. The subject is a stark contrast from her previous release, Golden Hour, which has what I consider some of the most beautiful love songs I've ever heard on it. Much like her previous release, she incorporates a blend of country and pop genres, even though I'm surprised she didn't lean more into pop with this album. It honestly took me a few listens to fully appreciate star-crossed in its entirety, but there are so many gems on this album and now I definitely love it a lot more the longer it has been out.
My Favorite Songs:
what doesn't kill me

Sour // Olivia Rodrigo

2021 was definitely Olivia Rodrigo's year! She seemingly came out of nowhere and ended up with one of the highest selling singles of all time in the matter of weeks. With that amount of pressure, her debut album really could have gone either way, but I really did enjoy much of Sour. This album is so fun and really authentic to her personal experience, one that would relate to many. For her eventual sophomore release, I would love to see her branch out into developing her own distinct musical style and differentiating herself from the expectations or influences placed on her because she truly has so much potential. I'm looking forward to hearing her growth in the future!

My Favorite Songs:
drivers license 
de ja vu
good 4 u
jealousy jealousy

Montero // Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X's debut album also could've really gone either way in terms of quality - as much as I loved his EP and all of his singles, I worried that a full album would've been too gimmicky to be enjoyable. Much like I mentioned with my thoughts on Olivia Rodrigo's album, when an artist has a huge hit right away, the quality can sometimes get lost in the hype and anticipation of a full album. Thankfully that wasn't the case for Olivia, and it wasn't the case with Montero, either! This album blends a perfect mix of both rap and pop in a sound that is all his own. He gets very vulnerable and opens up about his life and his past in such an emotional way, which is a side of him that he hasn't shown in this way before. His story of success and triumph is so important for him to share and deeply inspiring in that way. The production is also really incredible on every one of these songs, some are the most memorable singles of the entire year. All of the collaborations on this album enhance the record even more and add something so special to each song, with features by Elton John, Miley Cyrus, Jack Harlow, Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion. This was such a strong debut from Lil Nas X, I can't wait to see what the future will hold for him!

My Favorite Songs:
MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)
INDUSTRY BABY (feat. Jack Harlow)
AM I DREAMING (feat. Miley Cyrus)

Sling // Clairo

Sling was the first full album I listened to from Clairo and was such a beautiful introduction to her music. This album is so personal and introspective in the way she describes very specific moments in time and captures those emotions into a collection of songs. It is cosy and serene in the way that is very reminiscent of 1970s female folk artists like Joni Mitchell. I'm so excited to dive into more of her work in the future! 

My Favorite Songs:

Revelación // Selena Gomez

Selena's long-awaited first Spanish-language album is a true celebration of her heritage in the most authentic way. Even though I don't understand the language myself, Revelación truly shows that music has no barriers and can connect with us in the most profound ways. 

My Favorite Songs:
De Una Vez
Buscando Amor
Baila Conmigo (with Rauw Alejandro)
Selfish Love (with DJ Snake)

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! I have in-depth reviews of many of these albums linked throughout this post and below that I would love for you to check out! My reviews for my favorite albums from 2017-2020 are also linked below! 

All photo credit to the owners

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