Top 10 Best Songs of 2021 (So Far)

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Top 10 Best Songs of 2021 (So Far)

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
After what happened last year, we deserve some bangers! For this list, we'll be looking at the greatest and most prominent songs that have achieved success throughout 2021. Our countdown includes Cardi B, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, and more!
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Top 10 Best Songs of 2021 (So Far)


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 best songs of 2021 (so far).

For this list, we’ll be looking at the greatest and most prominent songs that have achieved success throughout 2021.

Which 2021 tune has been your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: “Rapstar”

Polo G
Released as the third single from Hall of Fame, “Rapstar” encapsulates everything that makes, well, a rap star. In the song, Chicago native Polo G delves into the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of musical success. He flaunts his wealth, power, and sexual prowess while at the same time reflecting on exhaustion, anxiety, and drug use. All of this is backed by a unique trap beat composed of ukulele plucks, provided by Swiss social media star and music producer Einer Bankz. It’s an original concoction that Polo G and his producers pull off flawlessly, resulting in the rapper’s first number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. It will certainly be one of many.

#9: “Up”

Cardi B
Billboard’s 2020 Woman of the Year continued her dominance in 2021 with “Up”, her fifth number one single on the Hot 100 and her follow-up to the enormously popular “WAP”. Part hip hop and part Chicago-based drill, “Up” displays Cardi at her absolute best. She effortlessly rides the pulsing beat while proving her technical talents as a rapper. Her flow is catchy, and the lyricism is both dense and hilarious, filled to the brim with those signature Cardi B one-liners we’ve all grown to love. “WAP” was a hard song to follow, considering its cultural dominance, but Cardi pulled off the near-impossible with “Up”, its title signifying her rise through the cultural stratosphere.

#8: “Be Sweet”

Japanese Breakfast
This uniquely-titled band is headed by Korean-American musician Michelle Zauner. After she lost her mother to cancer, she expressed her anxieties and fears through her dream-pop music, particularly in her debut album Psychopomp. But “Be Sweet”, from her third album “Jubilee”, is very different - a funky and groovy tune bathed in soothing synth lines that evoke a gloriously nostalgic atmosphere. This tone is visualized in the song’s music video, which comes complete with beautiful neon colors and an “X-Files” theme. It makes sense that this type of song and video would be released in 2021 - a time when anxiety is peaking, and people are perhaps looking back to better and more joyful days.

#7: “No Son of Mine”

Foo Fighters
This Seattle-based rock band is one of the most consistent of the modern era, with each new single a guaranteed success on mainstream rock radio. 2021 is a big year for the band - not only did they release their tenth studio album, but they’ll also be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They kicked the year off right with “No Son of Mine”, a banging tune that would be right at home in the ‘80s metal scene. It’s harder and more ferocious than most Foo Fighters songs, complete with a fast tempo, propulsive drums kicks, and a deep, sludgy guitar tune. This was done to honor Lemmy and his iconic band Motörhead, who has long remained one of Grohl’s musical heroes.

#6: “Leave the Door Open”

Silk Sonic
Bruno Mars has been collaborating with Cardi B in recent years, with consecutive top five singles in “Finesse” and “Please Me”. In 2021, he and Anderson .Paak made Silk Sonic, having met and collaborated on Mars’s 24K Magic World Tour. Their first single is “Leave the Door Open”, a soulful R&B tune ripped straight from the ‘70s that continues Mars’s mastery of the genre. Mars and .Paak make for a winning vocal combination, and the song is both sultry and sweet, backed by lovely pianos, cellos, and violins. It was also a huge commercial success, becoming Bruno Mars’s first number one single since “That’s What I Like” in 2017.

#5: “Lost Cause”

Billie Eilish
With Billie Eilish’s new look comes “Lost Cause”, the fourth single from her long-awaited sophomore album Happier Than Ever. Eilish continues to collaborate with her producer brother Finneas O’Connell, and he resumes Eilish’s signature minimalist sound, imbuing “Lost Cause” with little more than simple drum beats and a synth bass. The lyrics are caustic and personal, dealing with an ex-lover who is now considered a “lost cause”. Eilish is also back with her distinctive sultry voice, and the chorus proves one of the catchiest of her short but incredibly promising career. Between this and “Your Power”, Happier Than Ever is shaping up to be a worthy follow-up to When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

#4: “Kiss Me More”

Doja Cat feat. SZA
The Los Angeles-based Doja Cat scored a huge hit with 2020’s “Say So” from her album “Hot Pink”. The lead single from her next studio album, featuring SZA, promises more great hits. “Kiss Me More” is a disco-influenced R&B tune inflected with sensuality and dreaminess. The bass line is heavy and the vocals are buttery smooth. Honoring its disco dance roots, “Kiss Me More” interpolates Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” into its chorus, all but guaranteeing earworm status. With “Kiss Me More” and the Saweetie collaboration “Best Friend”, Doja Cat continues to demonstrate her talent.

#3: “Good Days”

SZA
Dropped as a surprise release on Christmas of 2020, but not seeing significant success until 2021, SZA’s “Good Days” was the singer’s first solo top ten hit, peaking at #9 on the Hot 100. It’s a dreamy tune with beautiful, echoey vocals and an ethereal guitar-driven beat. The music video depicts SZA dancing in a forest setting with giant colorful mushrooms, visually evoking the song’s fantastical, almost otherworldly sound. “Good Days” is a treat for both the brain and the ears, its lyrics poetic and its music beautiful.

#2: “Driver’s License”

Olivia Rodrigo
Olivia Rodrigo stunned the world with her debut album Sour, which produced two vastly different number one singles in the excellent pop punk anthem “Good 4 U” and the melancholic “Drivers License”. The latter was a surprising success, spending eight weeks atop the Hot 100 and making Rodrigo the youngest artist to debut at number one. Rodrigo and her producer Dan Nigro prove exceptional songwriters, as “Drivers License” starts slow and introspective before culminating in a rousing finale that’s sure to set hairs on end. Rodrigo was instantly compared to the likes of Taylor Swift and Lorde — two modern legends that certainly make for good company.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Peaches”, Justin Bieber feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon
Bieber Continues His Foray Into R&B with Smooth Success

“Control”, Mannequin Pussy
A Romping Indie Rock Classic

“Transparent Soul”, Willow feat. Travis Barker
Willow Smith Collaborates with a Pop Punk Legend to Give Us ‘90s Vibes

“When You See Yourself, Are You Far Away”, Kings of Leon
The Nashville Rockers Return from a Five Year Hiatus with a Six-Minute Epic

“Girlfriend”, Rebecca Black
Black Sheds Her “Friday” Reputation for Good & Ventures Into Hyperpop

#1: “Astronaut In the Ocean”
Masked Wolf
Okay, okay, just kidding.

#1: “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”

Lil Nas X
Our top spot actually goes to “Montero.” “Old Town Road” made history by spending nineteen consecutive weeks atop the Hot 100, and it’s hard to follow up such a monumental and history-making success. But Lil Nas X managed to do it with “Montero,” an electro hip hop tune with reggaeton influences that’s received enormous amounts of attention. Many have praised it as a groundbreaking moment for queer music, while some social critics in the US condemned the lyrics and video as immoral. No other song of 2021 has received such a degree of national discourse, and no other song has such an instantly-iconic chorus. It’s bombastic, it’s catchy, and it has something to say. In short, it’s the best song so far released in 2021.
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