The Best Songs of 2021

It’s brutal out there, and that’s why, more than ever, we needed the consoling and prodding pleasures of popular music to help everything make sense in here. [Stage direction: taps chest, knowingly.]

This list of the 50 best songs of 2021 — out of about 500 that were under consideration — is a modest attempt at representing what a fruitful year it was across genres: pop (Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift), hip-hop (Little Simz, Tyler, the Creator), hip-hop-pop (Doja Cat), R&B (Jazmine Sullivan, Leon Bridges), country (Mickey Guyton, Carly Pearce), classic singer-songwriters (Brandi Carlile, Aimee Mann), jazz (Esperanza Spalding), punk (Turnstile, the Linda Lindas!), TV and movie themes (Sparks) … even a crazy little thing called rock (Måneskin, Manchester Orchestra and, sure, Olivia Rodrigo). Take a look, and click on the images to take a listen.