Paul Fletcher's Top 15 Songs Of 2021

Let's face it, for my favorite songs of the year I could've easily done a Top 50 or 100, but then I'd just be rattling off all the songs I listened to that I kind of liked.

These are the ones that got more than a few listens. Some of which probably got hundreds of listens.

Honorable Mention - Coldplay - Higher Power

I don't have anything super deep to say about this one. It's just Coldplay in a form I rather enjoy.

#15 - Adele - Easy On Me

I'm sort already over this one, BUT it's impossible to discount the spine tingling, goosebump inspiring impact this song had when it was first released. In the midst of a down time in humanity, there voice was reintroduced to us and I needed it more than I realized.

#14 - Billie Eilish - Your Power

Not the biggest Billie fan, but this song sort of felt reflective to me. Delicate and beautiful, but carrying the weight of a 500 LB. dumb bell.

Also showed some range from Billie we maybe hadn't really seen before.

#13 - Dessa - Bombs Away

Let's use a sports analogy.

Your favorite Minnesota Twin player is at the plate. Said hitter is waiting for a fastball. SURE that fastball is coming. BUT the pitcher on the mound knows hitter knows that. Ya see, the pitcher has been around and knows exactly she is doing. So, this pitcher throws the nastiest curveball EVER and the hitter swings and misses.

The Dessa

The me. Although I didn't swing and miss cuz I LOVE this song. I just did not expect it at all.

I love how vulnerable it is. It's almost passive, yet demands your attention. And Dessa's vocal is just fantastic. Unlike anything I would've expected.

#12 - Ed Sheeran - Overpass Graffiti

Here's the truth. I don't connect with Ed like I used to. BUT I still LOVE him as an artist and respect the hell out of him too. AND I feel like sticking up for this song.

While super precious critics, I like to call them douchebags, are knocking songs like this down, I love songs like this. Here's a quote from one of those bags:

"Ed Sheeran is older now; he’s married and newly a father. With all this change comes a new set of trite observations about love, life, and partying amid anonymous and synthetic pop music."

So, let me get this right. Observations about real life and real love, like that of having a child, are now trite and thus pointless and not worthy of critical acclaim? Well, I hole heartedly disagree.

Ed, please keep writing from you heart and by all means keep doing Don Henley, highway drivin', head bobbin' synth pop like this.

#11 - Walk Off The Earth & Phillip Phillips - Hold On To Your Love

I love both of these artists. And now they've collided!? Come on.

The thing I love most about this song is something super trivial.....I just really dig Phil Phil's voice over a totally different sound for him. It works!

If you've been struggling with something in your life or in your past, this song is a comfort. Let it be a cozy blanky.

#10 - Imagine Dragons - Follow You

Perhaps the most predictable, well actually there's one higher up the list that's even more predictable. When Imagine Dragons release an album, unless they really screw it up, there's likely to be at least one song on my list of favs from that year.

This is quite different from the boys, yet familiar. The new album has a theme I can get behind.......mental health awareness. No secret that Dan Reynolds has fought his own demons the last couple years and they seem to manifest themselves through this record. This album felt so in touch with the reality of today.

OH YEAH and it had a GREAT video Hahahahahahaha

#9 - Spoon - The Hardest Cut

There's a word to describe a song like this.....I like to say "crunchy". It just has that crunch. I was SO stoked to have Spoon at the Basilica Block Party and then, with the Avett Brothers have some band issues, we got even more Spoon as they were charged with stepping into the headlining spot. Cool with me!

Word on the streets is the new album, due out in February, is as straight forward a rock record as the mega indie rock band has ever done, inspired by certain segments of the 60's & 70's.....what's got 2 thumbs and loves that idea? Sorry for that.

Anyway, dive into this song. It unfolds as a bit of psychological warfare within your own mind......the story of the song that is. Or just take it at face value as a song that rocks socks.

#8 - Foals - Wake Me Up

Careful! Proceed to this song with extreme caution. It's perhaps the years most unlikely dance anthem.....I mean, if you're down to disco in NYC in the late 70's or early 80's, I don't know my disco THAT well.

This band comes with some serious rock pedigree. They've released some seriously heavy hitters, so this sound totally caught me off guard. That's okay though. Sometimes that's good. It grabs your attention and punches you in the face.

#7 - Duran Duran - Invisible

If you paid ANY attention to my social media or listened to Cities at all in 2021, it had to be tough to not notice that Duran Duran won the year for me, personally. From interviews, early sneak peek of the album, etc etc.

The band that absolutely captured my curiosity in the 80's, came back for me in the least likely of years. I had NO clue these dudes could still bring it like they did. I would, in fact, argue that this latest album, "Future Past", is their best to date. And I'm not just getting caught up in what's most recent. I don't remember loving so many songs on a DD album like this one.

Spoiler alert, this song could've been higher, but I wanted to spread out the Duran Duran tracks

#6 - Royal Blood - Boilermaker

Listen. This band is a DUO. 2 British dudes making ALL that noise. I can't explain why, but I've never dove deep into their albums, but I've liked every song I've ever heard. Makes no sense, right?

This is the latest that I love. Royal Blood is on a roll too, in 2020 we got an insanely cool jam called Trouble Coming, then Typhoons early in 2021 and now Boilermaker.

Just sit back and let it come to you.

#5 - Eddie Vedder - Long Way

Okay, top 5, things are getting serious. Although, this really isn't a contest. These are songs. They were all #1 at some point in the year, depending on timing and their new hotness.

Honestly, this isn't my favorite effort from Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder. HOWEVER, his less than great efforts are still better than most. If I loved this it would be #1 without a second thought.

Still his one of a kind vocal and storytelling are there with a Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty approach musically. It's still Ed, it's still really good.

#4 - Imagine Dragons - It's Okay

This song was a direct hit to my heart and, quite frankly, my head. Because the last couple years I've been sorting out and figuring out my own head. Addressing mental issues I didn't even realize existed. I just knew I was allowed to be happy and had every reason TO be happy, yet some days I just wasn't.

That said, I'm great.

This song hits all of that, which so many are struggling with right now, right on the head. Listen. The beats are fun. The chorus is catchy AF. And those lyrics. Man, those lyrics.

#3 - Durry - Who's Laughing Now

This song has flat out slayed me since October. A brother/sister duo from Burnsville Austin & Taryn Durry are on the verge of busting out of the local scene, thanks to a viral attack on TikTok. (this is the good kind of attack)

Infectious as any song I've heard in 2021, it's also got a message we can all relate to, or could relate to at some point in our life.

Austin Durry's vocal is as memorable as it is gravely, in a good way. This jam will feel familiar and cozy after 2 listens.....okay probably just one, but I don't want to set the expectations too lofty.

#2 - Olivia Rodrigo - Deja Vu

Like I said earlier, every song on this list was #1 at some point. And this song might have spent as much time at #1 as the actual #1.

DO NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER, you've heard that one right?

Olivia had multiple strikes against her. Pop princess, ewww. Former Disney kid turned artist, ewww. AND she was really put on my radar by my 5 year old listening over and over. How can a 5 year old have ANY credibility? Well, I don't know but she does now because Olivia Rodrigo is ABSOLUTELY the real deal. Not that you need me to tell you this. You've been on the bandwagon far longer than me.

Not only is she the real deal, I'd say she's the new Alanis Morissette.

Their careers are so similar:

  • Once pop princesses at a young age, finding their own footing and having that footing be, pretty much, telling a boy (or boys) to kindly F off.
  • Alanis' album was "Jagged Little Pill". Olivia's is called "Sour". I mean I would imagine that pill being quite sour. Right?
  • OH and these albums came out of nowhere and both propelled to mega stardom on their own merit. Not because of some machine creating hype.
  • Given they're from different eras, there are sonic similarities.

There are probably more, but I don't have all day. Just trust me. LOL

I believe this song is one of the greatest break up song stories in a long time. It's an original concept and that's not easy to do. I love it.

Please watch this video and follow the lyrics, you'll see what I mean.

#1 - Duran Duran - Anniversary

Please reference all I said about Duran Duran in the #7 slot.

This song is a celebration, to me, of an incredible career for DD. And holy smokes, how about Simon Le Bon's vocal at 62 years of age (63 years old now). Listen to a live performance below so you can see just what I mean about his vocals.

It's classic Duran Duran, but new and fresh at the same time. It's like a reboot. It feels current, yet pays the right amount of respect to the sound we grew to love from this band. I don't know how you can't be addicted to that guitar riff.

I read the perfect quote about this song, "It is anthemic, joyous and utterly triumphant."


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