Vanguard News’ top 21 songs of 2021


Vanguard Staff

Like in every year, music in 2021 has flourished and diversified in terms of awarding musicians of color as seen in the American Music Awards of 2021. As the year wrapped up, each staff member, including our adviser, named their favorite song that was released in 2021 and its significance to them.

  1. Fever — Enhypen: As kpop group Enhypen continues to rise as a future super group under the management of HYBE entertainment, their 2021 release of  2nd mini album BORDER:CARNIVAL included one of the best Kpop releases of the year – Fever. This R&B and psychedelic rock track follows the previous concept, focusing on the dilemma and emotions of youth as they explore their true self and  society. The synths and delicate vocals in this song adds even more color to the song giving it a glowing aura that attracts millions of listeners. Nevertheless, this song is a true embodiment of the future of Kpop with young groups such as ENHYPEN continuing to impress listeners with new surprises, making them a group to keep an eye on in the near future.
  2. All Too Well (10 minute version) (Taylor’s version) (From the Vault) — Taylor Swift: This song is my favorite song because the emotion she puts into the song is palpable and she describes her feelings vividly. Her lyrics make you want to cry in the best way possible and even though it’s 10 minutes long, you still want to replay it over and over again. Also, it’s so refreshing to hear new verses in an old song, and Taylor truly gave us a masterpiece with this one.
  3. Day and Night — Eric Reprid: Produced by Marc Wavy and sung by Eric Reprid, “Day and Night” has been on loop in my playlist for the longest time. I’ve been a huge fan of Eric ever since I heard his song “Pay Me” and listened to his album “Cold World,” and his new song “Day and Night” does not disappoint at all. Reprid’s vocals, especially his falsetto when singing “She keep comin’ at me every day and night,” compliment the striking guitar riff in the beginning and the catchy beat throughout the song, making it my favorite. 
  4. Enemy (from the series Arcane League of Legends) — Imagine Dragons, J.I.D: On November 6th, 2021, Arcane, an animation series inspired by popular computer game League of Legends, was released, and has been seen as possibly one of the most successful creations in Netflix show history. In the series, its theme song, “Enemy” by Imagine Dragons featuring JID. appeals to its audience with upbeat instrumentals and well-paced vocals from the lead singers. The lyrics highlight the joy of revenge and the thrilling experience of confronting one’s rivals that differs from the traditional view of “enemies”. This  self-strengthening approach was inspiring to the audience and further illustrates the theme of the animation series as well. 
  5. Centrefold — Genesis Owusu: I think a lot of music that comes out and is popular all have a very similar sound and this guy’s sound is something completely different. You can hear a heavy 70s funk/soul influence that isn’t popular in a lot of today’s music. In addition, he mixes his stuff beautifully and has a smooth falsetto that just makes you want to chill to it.
  6. Permission to Dance — BTS: My favorite song of 2021 is permission to dance by BTS because it’s uplifting and motivational. Throughout the pandemic, this song has been a positive light and has become fun to listen to. I also love the music video itself because the use of bright colors lifts my mood, and the choreography is exceptional.
  7. Easy On Me — Adele: My favorite song for 2021 was Adele’s Easy On Me. The reason is due to the unique vocalization and instrumental melody. Also, the beat elevates shortly after the start of the song, and isn’t overly excessive in repeating the chorus, like many other songs do. I believe that Easy On Me is the type of song that can be listened to consistently without ever getting boring. 
  8. t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l — WILLOW, Travis Barker: It’s a super fun song which I loved listening to especially when it first came out. The beat and tune are really upbeat and easy to listen to over and over!
  9. PRIDEFUL — NF: NF’s release of Prideful gave listeners yet another insight into the sometimes bleak world of performing. He presents a failed relationship but presents it in a way that is both truthful yet invigorating and enjoyable. NF gives both sides, and saves the blame from either party, giving a refreshing take on real topics.
  10. Every Summertime — NIKI: Featured in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, this song is a personal favorite of 2021 primarily due to its laid back melody and nostalgic lyrics that create an atmosphere of reflection and renewed energy towards the end of the year. 
  11. Waiting On A Miracle (From “Encanto”) — Stephanie Beatriz: A song I like from 2021 is Waiting On A Miracle by Stephanie Beatriz, because it has a fun tune. Another reason I like this song is because it is very relatable and appeals to children in immigrant families. I also like the song because of Hispanic representation and how the movie it is from gives importance to minorities in America.
  12. Beautiful — Anne-Marie: Beautiful by Anne-Marie presents self-acceptance with lyrics change; are we beautiful to we are beautiful. She uses her body as a self- comparing example and later she tells that ignores everything and stops comparing herself to another. Beautiful’s message is very essential and important for those who are teenagers or growing.
  13. Ever Since New York — Harry Styles: This song is one of my all time favorites because of the meaning behind the lyrics. Harry includes lyrics such as “Tell me something I don’t already know”, “Brooklyn saw me, empty at the news. There’s no water inside this swimming pool. Almost over, had enough from you” and “And I’ve been praying, I never did before. Understand I’m talking to the walls. I’ve been praying ever since New York” which are in general lyrically beautiful, and seem to hold a deep meaning to him. The last minute of the song has some very good vocals and shows how amazing Harry is at singing.
  14. MONEY — LALISA: As Asian artists are getting increased exposure in the mainstream music industry this 2021, Kpop group BLACKPINK member LISA released her first ever solo EP with the song MONEY being one of its b-sides. With a catchy beat and trendy dance moves that correspond the overall aurora of the video, Lisa  not only showed her skill as a talented artist but also a trendsetter for future Asian artists as she earned great success being a  minority artist. With a total stream of 300M on Spotify and 405M streams on Youtube, Lisa proves that “money” is solely  a small part of her success this year.
  15. Jail (ft.Jay-Z) — Kanye West: Jail is one of the tracks in Kanye West’s  long awaited tenth studio album “Donda” released August 29,2021. In the song, Kanye (now named Ye ) reunites with hip-hop icon Jay-Z forming the iconic “The Throne” duo. In the song Kanye explores his sins and crisis as he feels as if he is being put inside a jail and seeking forgiveness from religion and a higher power. Through the candid discussion of regrets and failures from Kanye and Jay-Z, people can also feel the pain and sorrow of themselves. Ultimately, this song set  a reminder for listeners to live an upright life despite unforeseen chaos and challenges this 2021.
  16. Run It (feat. Rick Ross & Rich Brian) — DJ Snake, Rick Ross, Rich Brian: Produced  by DJ snake, Run It is a song track dedicated to the recent blockbuster  movie “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. In the song Rick Ross and Rich Brian utilizes heavy synth bass and versatile verses to empower the audience and illustrate the power of Shang-Chi as a cultural icon. Through the song, the personality and identity Shang-Chi is shown as a hero that celebrates the culture of Asian community and rallies against the lack of diversity in the mainstream regarding the forgotten heroes of this country that should be remembered once again.
  17. INDUSTRY BABY (feat. Jack Harlow) — Lil Nas X, Jack Harlow: During 2021, Lil Nas X continues to shock the music industry with his unique sonic universe and concept that deals with the queer community and his own identity struggles.  The song INDUSTRY BABY is yet another statement he created against the world’s prejudice and hate. Instead of agreeing to those statements, Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow boldly bashed those comments with their heart-felt verses and lyrical skills thus making them truly icons for the young generation of musicians that dares to break stereotypes and challenge the boundary of traditional music industry.
  18. Woman — Doja Cat: From the rich and beautiful music video with red hues to the empowering lyrics about femininity and sexuality, this song has been a huge hit in 2021. Doja Cat specifically criticizes how society perpetuates women to compete against each other, giving birth to the “not like other girls” trope. She also mentions femininity, which isn’t dependent on whether or not a woman is a “princess,” “tomboy,” or a mother— all characteristics are equally feminine. I thoroughly enjoyed the message and the catchy tune along with the narrative music video.
  19. SOMEBODY — keshi: This sensual pop song with a relaxing lo-fi vibe combined with keshi’s vocals has been at the top of my playlist this year. I love how the guitar complements his voice and makes the entire song very pleasing to listen to. The sensual lyrics are backed up by the aesthetic music video with chandeliers and a flower garden. 
  20. I am not a woman, I’m a god — Halsey: This song talks about Halsey’s motherhood and their views on femininity. I love the powerful lyrics and Halsey’s portrayal and views of childbirth. The entire album is very lyrical with a great tune, but this song stands out to me from the rest.
  21. just like magic — Ariana Grande: This song about manifestation and the law of attraction with its relaxing tune is my favorite song in Ariana Grande’s album. I love the positive aura Ariana’s vocals give off, perfectly complimenting the groove of the song. I also love the self-affirmations in the lyrics that show Ariana becoming confident and healing over time.