Hitting the mid-way point in this year’s list season, and it’s time to leave the industry’s most stunning visuals behind and dive headfirst into the music that most delighted our ears in 2021. The tracks that had us hitting repeat; the most anthemic singalong choruses, the most memorable earworm melodies, and the biggest bops that had us up and dancing. Here’s Belwood’s most loved songs of the past twelve months.
10. Crown Lands – Context: Fearless Pt.1
Band comparisons often feel like lazy praise, but Rush are my all time favourite band and I’ve never heard anyone else capture quite the same magic until now, never mind while still putting their own stamp on the sound. On this track Crown Lands offer up impressive and intricate musicianship, compelling melodies, and a sense of scope and adventure, in a track that always keeps you guessing.
9. Griff – Black Hole
The spectacular break-out single from one of Britain’s most promising rising stars. This delightfully dark slice of pop perfection boasts what is easily one of the biggest hooks of the year. Just teeming with intoxicating melodrama overtop an irresistible beat, it’s a track that I don’t think I’ll ever tire of. Griff has had the golden touch this year and this is the jewel in her crown.
8. Manchester Orchestra – Obstacle
The highest peak from an album full of highlights. The gorgeous dreamy folk vibes, the bright little guitar flourishes and expressive drum work on its interesting rhythm, the slow burning build up towards a truly heavenly bridge that boasts the most striking lyricism from The Million Masks Of God. ‘Obstacle’ is quite the experience, where every step of the journey feels even more compelling than the last.
7. Gang of Youths – the angel of 8th ave.
While still riding the high from discovering Gang of Youths for the first time, listening to Go Farther In Lightness in every free moment I could grab, providence gifted me a brand new single at the perfect moment to fuel my new obsession. The propulsive bass line, uplifting synth driven chorus, and anthemic calls of “there’s heaven in you now” were the final push that made me fall deeply in love with this band.
6. The Amazing Devil – Drinking Song for the Socially Anxious
The introvert’s national anthem, this endearing and candid track from The Amazing Devil perfectly captures the listless feeling of being awkward and out of place at social gatherings. How tiring it is maintaining a façade and the euphoria that comes from connecting with someone that you can just be yourself with. Plus, the line “If God made us all in his image, then God’s a fucking nerd” is worth a spot all on its own.
5. Adele – Easy On Me
Much like ‘Hello’ nearly six years prior, ‘Easy On Me’ managed to capture the hearts and minds of music fans across the globe in a matter of seconds with just a few piano notes and that legendary voice. But there’s more magic at work than just the hype of Adele’s return. Something about ‘Easy On Me’ keeps you coming back to get hurt again time after time. It resonates and lingers in your spirit in much the same manner as some of her very best work.
4. Olivia Rodrigo – good 4 u
Following in the wake of two singles that launched her career into the stratosphere in record time, Olivia Rodrigo managed to turn it up a few notches with the irrepressible charm of ‘good 4 u’. A euphoric and effervescent arrangement, lyrics simply seething with venom, and an undeniably addictive earworm chorus, all come together to make this pop punk powerhouse the biggest bop of the year hands down.
3. Foy Vance – It Ain’t Over
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. The better part of a decade ago I heard an unreleased song at one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. It wasn’t a song I thought I’d ever hear again, and yet here it is in all its glory, captured and revitalised with a dreamy and expansive arrangement. It has opened a window to the past, and all those fond memories from brighter days come flooding back in an instant whenever I press play.
2. Novo Amor – Haven
I sincerely doubt I’ve spent more time on a menu screen in my life than I did for the main menu in Life is Strange: True Colors. This song in the background just had me completely enraptured every single time, to the point where I’d boot up the game just as an excuse to listen to it. True to its name, ‘Haven’ feels like a safe sanctuary of otherworldly beauty, an unspoiled hopeful oasis offering an escape from grim reality.
1. Maisie Peters – Funeral (feat. James Bay)
An absolute gem that I fear may have slipped past many people’s radar. Maisie has been producing top ten worthy tracks all year; but while her debut album had some of 2021’s strongest singles, it’s this delightful duet from her soundtrack for season 2 of Trying that had me hitting repeat the most. It boasts some of her finest lyricism to date, her and James Bay’s vocals turn out to be a match made in heaven, and it leaves me wanting more in the best possible way.