December is now here and that means it is time to roll out a Don’t Blink tradition. Tonight I put on my super official music critic hat and rate my top 5 songs from the past 12 months. Well, since it is just December 1, more like 11 months. Truth be told, I have already heard enough when it comes to music in 2021 and I wish that was a compliment.
This is my eighth year presenting Brent’s Top 5 Songs of the Year. Some years the song selection is good. Some years, like in 2020, the selection was average. Sadly for our ears, some years are bad. When it comes to my amateurish musical critiques, I think 2021 has been a down year.
Of course, I will take my share of blame for this conclusion. I continue to dive deeper into SiriusXM and I would be lying if I said my dial is always turned to Hits (the top 40 station). But where I lack listening to contemporary music on the radio, I think I fill my trending music gap by overhearing the TiKTok videos that Sid watches.
So without further ado, here is my 2021 countdown…
5. Adele – “Easy On Me”
As what will be a theme throughout this countdown, I can’t relate to the lyrics but I still like the song. After a five-year hiatus, Adele is still Adele. The way she nails notes in “Easy On Me” takes me on a ride, especially when she elongates the words “easy” and “feel.” The sadness is richly present in the song and even though I don’t like to feel sad when listening to music I respect how this track can grab at you.
I remember hearing this song for the first time driving back to Spokane from Pullman one night and just taking pause. I think “powerful” is a good word to describe “Easy On Me.” Adele might have landed on my bad list in 2012, but I must give her credit in 2021.
4. Elle King and Miranda Lambert – “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Okay, first off…what a combination! It was anybody’s guess what type of sound would be produced when Elle King and Miranda Lambert collaborated. I think it is obvious that in the initial verses that it is in the style of King even though Lambert is doing most of the singing. But once the chorus starts (at which point the song really starts to get good), there doesn’t seem to be a King or Lambert influence. Rather, it is just a high energy good time.
If I was still in college, I think this would be a perfect pregame song before hitting the bars. It is fun, upbeat, and a hodgepodge of different styles. This definitely isn’t an easy listening or contemplative song…it is meant for tailgates and bonfires…and this countdown deserves one of those.
3. Olivia Rodrigo – “Good 4 U”
I always say to be weary of songs that use numbers and single letters as words in the title but I must make an exception for “Good 4 U.” It was the year of Olivia Rodrigo as she delivered hit after hit. A lot of her music was slower, belt-it-out type ballads but those tracks never interested me much. Besides, we have Adele to deliver those songs, right?
But when she changed up the tempo with “Good 4 U” I couldn’t help but listen. Yes, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I like this song but I fell for its catchiness. It is fun and a ride. The quick pace and energetic chorus was enough to keep me engaged through the whole track. I also liked how it kept me waiting. Who didn’t hold out for the “Ah-ah-ah-ah” interlude? Or who didn’t join Olivia to sing the “like a damn sociopath” line? “Good 4 U” was fresh and it was also the perfect song for the summer. I have lots of memories of our family driving the sun-soaked streets of Spokane during June and July with this song blaring in the background. Well done, Olivia.
2. The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber – “Stay”
The fact that my wife loves this song might have something to do with its favorable spot on the countdown but not its overall presence. You see, I really like “Stay” too and it would have made this list regardless of Sid’s fondness for it.
I like music with a unique hook and Kid Laroi and Bieber accomplish that with this track. “Stay” has edge and it has sophistication (because I am so sophisticated when it comes to music haha). The way the artists seem to “punch out” lyrics when they get to the end of verses is pleasing to my ear. Although the end of these verses include a four-letter word I don’t necessarily enjoy, I can let it pass for this song…I just got to make sure not to let Sloan listen to it.
In the same way that “Good 4 U” saves good stuff for the end, “Stay” does too. Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber singing together to close the track is the way it should be. Now I am no Belieber but that kid (I guess I shouldn’t call him a kid anymore) is talented.
1. Jonas Brothers and Marshmello – “Leave Before You Love Me”
How did the chill, easy listening song of the countdown reach #1? Well, a few reasons. I like “Leave Before You Love Me” because it has a really nice flow that allows you to either think deeply about something or to just kind of close your eyes and relax. The vocals are soothing and the beat mellow. In my opinion, it is just a very well put together song.
“Leave Before You Love Me” also earns extra points because of its viral component. It has enjoyed a prolific run on TikTok and was even utilized by yours truly. The song will always remind me of Sloan because I used the track in this TikTok video that showcased my daughter getting ready for her first day of school. What more can I say? I would that is enough to make “Leave Before You Love Me” the top song on my list.
Thank you for jamming out with me tonight. Also, thanks to the artists above for providing me with a soundtrack of memories. Do you have an undisputed favorite song of 2021? Don’t Blink.
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2020
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2019
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2018
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2017
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2016
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2015
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2012