Let’s be honest – 2021 was a mess. With the pandemic continuing to play havoc on the world, it’s been a really tough time for everyone. Fortunately, however, many musicians got down to work on creating new material – and whether it was to try and conjure up a sense of healing and togetherness, or simply release their own frustrations, there were some incredible new tunes going around.
Now that we’ve reached the end of the year, it’s always a good time to look back and reflect, and that’s exactly what I have done! As the Spotlight curator, I’m proud to bring you my 9 favourite tracks of the year. It was a herculean effort to narrow down the nearly 150 songs I reviewed to just 9, but here are my top picks for the year!
Kaysha Louvain » Nobody Does It Like Me
Yes, it was I who called Kaysha Louvain’s latest single, ‘Nobody Does It Like Me,’ one of the tracks of the year. And after numerous listens, I stand firmly by that belief. Filled with emotion, sincerity, power, and passion, ‘Nobody Does It Like Me’ simply has everything!
Broke Casino » Tell Me (I Want You)
The five-piece indie rockers from Manchester produced an absolute cracker in the form of ‘Tell Me (I Want You)’. An upbeat and energetic tune that’s filled with intricate synths, Tame-Impala-esque basslines and just an all-around good vibe, ‘Tell Me (I Want You) has spent the year on my On Repeat playlist!
Cal In Red » Act Like
I fell pretty hard for Cal In Red this year, the musical project of Michigan based brothers Kendall and Connor Wright. Their release, ‘Act Like’, was a dreamy little synth-pop tune that was unashamedly influenced by heavyweights like Tame Impala, Beach House and MGMT. Melodic, nostalgic, and catchy-as-hell, ‘Act Like’ is more than worthy of its spot on our list!
Elise » Ragdoll
‘Ragdoll’ is a dark, eerie, and poetic tune from the ridiculously talented Irish-based indie singer/songwriter Elise. Delicate, atmospheric, and soul-stirring, ‘Ragdoll’ entered my brain and refused to leave! I’d walk around my flat humming the tune all day long.
Emilia Tarrant » September
Calming, melancholic, and just simply beautiful…Emilia Tarrant’s ‘September’ was a track that the whole team just couldn’t get enough of. On the tune, the talented Hampshire-based singer/songwriter reflects on a time of change – and does so in the most ethereal, reflective, and tender fashion.
Evran » Birds of Stone
Simply spellbinding! ‘Bird of Stone’ is an atmospheric, personal, and emotional journey from Norway-based producer and artist Gøran Skage, who performs under the moniker of Evran. Soothing, ethereal, and melancholic, ‘Bird of Stone’ was certainly a standout tune of the year for me!
Far West » Make It Up
Ryan Settles is a Santa Cruz-based synthpop artist who performs under the moniker Far West. Earlier in the year, he released ‘Make It Up’, a beautifully breezy, nostalgia-filled tune that I simply couldn’t stop listening to! Poppy, uplifting, dreamy, ‘Make It Up’ was the perfect tonic for a bad day at the office.
Fintan McKahey » Lost Balloons
Fintan McKahey delivered an incredible song with his charmingly mellow, warm, and inviting tune ‘Lost Balloons’. A track that serves as “a gentle reminder to take a breath and let life unfold at its own pace,” in the artist’s words, ‘Lost Balloons’ was certainly a standout of the year!
Nouel » Milky Way
Another track that spent the entire year on my On Repeat playlist was ‘Milky Way’ from Swedish based singer/songwriter Nathalie Nedeljkovic, who’s better known by her stage name, Nouel. Her comforting, whispery vocals and the delicate instrumentation on ‘Milky Way’ make it an enchanting and warm tune that glues itself to your brain in the most comforting of ways!
Fertility House – Mockingbird
The Esprits – In A Hurry
Bridges – Rabbit
Lisa Akuah – We Will Pass
Gina Royale – Down From Your High
After Arden – We Are On Fire
Mike Vitale – Time Machine
We will return with a brand new season of reviews next week. In the meantime, don’t be shy to follow our playlist on Spotify!