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The Best Album Releases Of 2021

Music To My Ears

Despite 2021 being a challenging year in many ways, the music that has been released has been the cream of the crop. Artists have really risen to the occasion, knowing that the world needs something good to come out of a partially disastrous year, and delivered the best albums of their careers.

Music is all around us all the time; whether it be the Christmas carols you hear played in the mall while you’re shopping, the radio station that your Uber driver is tuned into, or the time you spend creating the ultimate playlist for your girl’s night in, music is everywhere! Let’s take a look at some of the top albums of the year and what makes them so special.
Ed Sheeran “=”

Yes, that’s an album title. Don’t be concerned or put off by the interesting title, though; as usual, Ed Sheeran has delivered the goods. Some people find the artist a little too earnest, but both we and the charts disagree.

These days, finding someone who says and means something, especially in music, without irony, is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Ed Sheeran is a gooey, heart on his sleeve kind of romantic, and we love how open and honest he is. As an artist, Sheeran has evolved, and Equals (that’s how you pronounce the album name) makes that obvious. His album covers a range of sounds, which makes a nice change from his previous offerings.

The Bruce Springsteen-esque track “Tides” deals with his ascent to the heights of pop stardom and how he’s handling it. Never one to stray too far from his original path, Sheeran, hopeless romantic that he is, penned “Collide” in honor of his wife, Cherry.

Both that and “First Times” pay homage to his adoration for her. The album proves that earnestness is a commendable trait, especially the eulogy “Visiting Hours” that honors Sheeran’s mentor, Michael Gundinski.

Image by Cottonbro via Pexels
Olivia Rodrigo “Sour”

Many have commented on the likeness of a certain Olivia Rodrigo song to a certain Paramore song, and to give the 18-year-old her credit, Rodrigo had stated that she was, in fact, heavily influenced by the pop-rock group when she wrote it. This Disney star turned professional singer does not have time to waste on ballads that span minutes; her entire album is a mere thirty-four minutes spread across eleven songs.

She hurtles through the tracklist with a level of honesty that makes it clear why she only needs a few minutes to say what she has to say. Many artists who have been in the industry longer and are more experienced have trouble opening up the way Rodrigo does over the course of “Sour.” She taps into the raw emotions of teenagehood that we all know so well and extracts the most condensed meaning that she can from every experience.

Rodrigo, being as young as she is, takes that as a license to play with different sounds and styles throughout the album, and we are here for it. She lays bare her frustrations in “Brutal” and says, “I’m so sick of seventeen; where’s my EXPLETIVE teenage dream?” We hear you, Olivia.

Rodrigo was nominated for a whopping seven Grammys at the tender age of eighteen and is not planning to give up the spotlight any time soon. Radio hits like “Deja Vu” and “Good 4 U” show her versatility and vocal prowess.

Image by Eric Esma via Pexels
Lil Nas “Montero”

Known for his flamboyant and trendsetting sense of style and for the hit Old Town Road, Lil Nas is not afraid to say what he means. If he had done a few things differently, if he had failed to embrace the many facets of who he is, the rapper might have been but a footnote on the Billboard Charts.

Thankfully, that is not the case. On his first full-length album, where he was kind enough to share his real name with us, Lil Nas has shown how deep the younger generation’s understanding of themselves really runs.

Not content to stick to any one genre, Lil Nas embraces gritty rock n roll riffs, pop sounds, and rap all in one go. Some of his work has raised more than a bit of controversy; for example, Call Me By Your Name shocked many conservatives the world over. The hit video features Lil Nas “sinning” in what we can only assume is the Garden of Eden, being banished to hell and embracing every single second of it.

Despite the controversy and the song’s popularity, we believe there are more intriguing offerings on the album, like “Lost in the Citadel,” a new-wave-influenced track. Lil Nas flirts shamelessly (as he should) with many genres and flexes his talent muscles on this album, and it’s an unmissable event.

Of course, this list barely scratches the surface of all the incredible music that was released this year, but it’s enough to get you wanting more! Who knows what 2022 will bring.\

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