The 10 best songs of 2021, as voted by you

Best of 2021: It’s been a phenomenal year for music. As the world has made a temporary return to normalcy, artists and producers have done the same, returning to studios without shutters, going on long postponed tours, and channeling the inspiration generated by a reunion with the world behind us. surrounds in new ideas.

Great ideas are born from great tracks – and there was no shortage this year, from the exultant pop of Charli XCX to the ambient introspection of Jon Hopkins.

Here are the tracks that you voted the best of 2021.

1. Winner, Best track of 2021: Charli XCX (feat. Christine and The Queens and Caroline Polachek) – New Shapes

Absolutely storming this year’s poll with more than half of the votes cast, the winning 2021 track carries the flag of a new generation of pop artists transforming the bright neon sounds of the 80s into radical new forms.

Showcasing the magic that can happen when you bring together three of the best songwriters and singers working in contemporary pop in one room, New forms describes the story of a failed relationship over dizzying synthesizer blasts and an anthemic, pulsating chorus. Heartbreak has never sounded so good.

2. Jon Hopkins with Ram Dass, East Forest – Sit around the fire

Never before have the two songs that snatched the top spots in this poll been so remarkably dissimilar. A world away from the maximalist pop bangers of Charli XCX, Jon Hopkins Sit around the fire is a delicate work of ambient spiritualism.

Taken from his latest album, Music For Psychedelic Therapy, the track weaves vaporous sound textures around an evocative recording of spiritual teacher Ram Dass, creating a unique enveloping experience that has the power to soothe, captivate and even heal.

3. Silk Sonic – Fly like me

Silk Sonic’s 70s R&B anthem An Evening With Silk Sonic captures everything we know and love about this golden age – warmth, extravagance, and smoother vibes than you can make a glockenspiel – and Distills it into a tirelessly funky concoction that is best served over ice and consumed lying on a lounge chair in your nicest robe.

The concept behind Silk Sonic may have started as a joke shared by Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak on tour, but the precision production chops and mind-blowing musicality displayed on tracks like Fly like me is not a question of laughing.

Jimmy Edgar met SOPHIE at the Fabric club in London in the early 2010s, forging a creative partnership that led to stunning live performances and collaborative production work for Vince Staples and Charli XCX. Their first joint outing, landing on Edgar’s LP CHEETAH BEND, closely followed SOPHIE’s untimely death earlier this year.

Capturing the quirky sensibility that makes these two producers great, METAL is said to be “a reflection of our love for intricately carved designer sounds on boutique computer hardware,” according to a statement on Bandcamp by Jimmy Edgar. To our ears, it sounds like what a particularly creative alien might come up with if you tasked them with recreating trick music, and we love it.

5. Overmono – So U Kno

Without a doubt one of the biggest club tracks of 2021, Overmono’s So you know acted as a kind of anthem for our collective return to the dance floor this year. Irrepressibly propulsive and deceptively simple, this one shows that you really don’t need a lot of complex elements to create an absolute banger: in this case, a low garage house beat, a cavernous Reese bass and a grip. pitch – perfect vocal samples will do.

6. Blawan – Under the belly

Over the past decade, British post-dubstep-gone-techno producer Blawan’s has moved away from the genius vocal sampling that characterized breakout tracks like Get me down and why are they hiding their bodies under my garage? – these days he is best known for bringing out overwhelming rhythms from his elaborate modular configuration.

On his last outing, however, Blawan reversed the script and picked up some of the magic that ran through his early work. Woke Up Right Handed EP is full of gems, but stands out Under the belly is one of the strangest, most mind-boggling club tracks to land this year, channeling what sounds like the oom-pah beats of a marching band into utterly fierce distortion.

7. Fred Again – Dermot (see you in my eyes)

Fred Again has found time to release not one, but two albums this year, while working on four of Ed Sheeran’s chart-topping singles, though we’re not surprised the man seems to have boundless enthusiasm for the musical creation that is really a joy to see.

Built around samples found on the web, contributed by collaborators and recorded on his iPhone, the Actual Life series is an inspirational document from Fred. Our group selection is Dermot (see you in my eyes), which reworks the voice of Irish singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy into a track that manages to be both incredibly dancey and sentimental to tear at the same time.

8. Elkka – Burnt Orange

Signed under Ninja Tune’s Technicolor imprint, London-based DJ and producer Emma Kirby released the EP Euphoric Melodies in May and the lead track Burnt orange immediately turned heads and caught ears with his subtle yet powerful amalgamation of house and electronica.

“I wanted to create music for intimate and public spaces,” Emma said of the track on her Bandcamp. She has undoubtedly perfected a balance between the two, producing a tenderly propulsive dance cut that rivals her influences – Four Tet, Floating Points, Bonobo – in its ability to reward both headphone listening and on the dance floor. dance.

9. Loraine James – Running Like That (feat. Eden Samara)

While she’s already made a name for herself with a handful of standout EPs and her Hyperdub debut in 2019, it was Loraine James’ Reflection this has firmly placed the producer on the map as one of the UK’s most exciting experimental electronic artists. Filled with biased, glitchy beats and alien synth textures, this is his most captivating and singular musical statement to date.

Running Like That is a clear climax, perfectly capturing the record’s disregard for the genre by laying an Eden Samara’s R&B vocal performance to a choppy, grime-adjacent beat, producing something both innovative and intimate. Or, as one particularly insightful Bandcamp user described it: “Aphex Twin for people who have sex.”

10. Dave & James Blake – Both Sides of a Smile

What does this track not have? In one of the most awesome collaborations of the year, Dave and James Blake integrate deep lyricism, impeccable composition and next-level production into a song that poignantly reflects a relationship gone awry.

Arriving at eight minutes, Two sides of a smile does wonders with the extra running time, creating dramatic tension towards a slow-burning climax that makes you wonder why these two haven’t written an entire album together.

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