To say that 2021 has been a fantastic year for music is an understatement. With albums from music greats like Adele and the emergence of music duo Silk Sonic, the list of incredible albums that have come out this year is extensive. If I put them all in this article, I’d be writing for about as long as it takes to get Grammy nominations for 2023 and you would be reading for about twice as long.
So without further ado, here are my top 5 albums from 2021:
- “An Evening With Silk Sonic” by Silk Sonic
When Silk Sonic burst onto the scene earlier this year with their smash hit “Leave the Door Open”, social media and myself alike found ourselves frothing at the mouth for more from the music duo composed of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. Fans awaited the album announcement impatiently and the duo took a liking to teasing them about when the album might come, and then it happened. The world went silent for just a second as .Paak and Mars announced that their album would be coming on November 12th, and that fans wouldn’t have to wait any longer for their long awaited project to hit streaming services. With hits like “Skate” and “Smokin’ out the Window” taking Tik Tok by storm, this highly anticipated album made sure to give fans exactly what they wanted. Each nostalgia driven track boasts incredible vocals from .Paak and Mars alike and features incredible lyricism all tied together by immaculate production. After 2020’s questionable releases, this gem of an album revived all hope for a return of superb music, and this album should certainly be at the top of every list of great albums from this year. Silk Sonic’s “An Evening With Silk Sonic” is a 10/10 masterpiece of an album, and leads this list of best albums of 2021 with good reason.
- “30” by Adele
When I heard that Adele was dropping a new song in October of this year, I felt like a kid in a candy store, finally getting the lollipop I wanted after asking my parents for weeks if I could have it. It felt surreal to get an announcement from Adele after an almost five year hiatus. I was skeptical at first. I am a Rihanna fan after all, but once I saw Adele promoting the single I couldn’t contain my excitement. “Easy on Me” felt safe. It felt like Adele projects that we had heard in the past, and my interest wasn’t necessarily piqued as I felt she would be playing her return to music safely. Man, was I wrong. At song number one I found myself enticed by the new sound Adele was electing to use but by the time I reached “My Little Love” I found myself enamored with her incredible vocal ability and the new sound she was taking on. By the time I reached the beautiful end that “Woman Like Me” was, I knew that Adele had put out perhaps her best work of art yet. The vulnerability in her voice, lyrics, and production makes for a project minted with gold. A few songs knock the album down to a 9/10 but this incredible album is roaring triumph for Adele.
- “Mood Valiant” by Hiatus Kaiyote
If you have read any of my articles in the past, it is no secret that the unwavering power that is Hiatus Kaiyote is perhaps one of my favorite music acts of all time and so to hear that after a hiatus of about six years, that the band was making their return to music with an entire album, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by excitement. The band released their lead single “Get Sun” with Arthur Verocai earlier this year and shortly after, the entire album “Mood Valiant” followed. I don’t know where to start with this album. It’s so incredible it doesn’t need exultation from me, it simply sits in its greatness and exudes a simple truth: the album is flawless. With songs like “Red Room” and “And We Go Gentle” sprinkled in amongst power house songs like “Stone and Lavender” and “Sparkle Tape Breakup”, this album is one of a kind. Taking on the successful musings of past works created by Hiatus Kaiyote and adding in new flavors, the album makes sure to distinguish itself from former projects put out by the band all while making sure to assert that the sound that Hiatus Kaiyote is known for is still ever present. This album has made its way onto my favorite albums of all time list and easily takes a 10/10 score.
- “Heaux Tales” by Jazmine Sullivan
Although Rihanna still remains albumless after her 5 year long hiatus, this year might be one of the greatest years of comebacks in a very long time. So far every single act mentioned above has seen a hiatus of at least five years and the tale for R&B great Jazmine Sullivan is no different. After about six years, Sullivan has burst back onto the scene with her ever-enticing “Heaux Tales” and she has made sure to make her return worth it. Sullivan is known for her powerhouse vocals and those same vocals take no backseat for this album. In fact, they are as brazen as ever, cutting through melodic tracks and elevating sweet R&B backings to driving forces for her voice like a raging storm. Tracks like “On it” and “Pick Up Your Feelings’ ‘ send this incredible album into orbit and assure that the album outlasts its competitors. After being long overrated and underappreciated, Sullivan’s album has forced a wider audience to take a good long look at Sullivan and pay attention to her incredible presence. This album is a solid 8.5/10 and it certainly deserves the praise that it has gotten.
- “lately I feel EVERYTHING” by WILLOW
To cap off this list of great albums WILLOW’s “lately I feel EVERYTHING” is another roaring triumph among this list of heavy contenders. Though imperfect, this album is still perhaps one of the best albums to be put out in a long time. Taking on the familiar sounds of the rock genre, Willow Smith does an incredible job of making a rock album sound familiar and fresh all at once. The powerhouse vocals in songs like “t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l” and “lipstick” drive this album into a high octane fever pitch and leaves audiences reeling for more, ut certain aspects of this album leave that same audience without the drive and power that it needs to make this album incredible. Nonetheless, this debut work of art is a triumph for WILLOW and while imperfect, the album still assures that it’s contenders have something to fight with. Her future albums will certainly have much to learn from, but we can all bask in a great album despite the flaws that it does have. This album is a strong 7/10.