Every year for the past few years, I’ve compiled a Spotify playlist as a sort of music year snapshot. Obviously, regional artist releases are the priority, but I’m also trying to add some pop favorites, critical darlings, awesome indie stuff you might never have met and a few tributes to. great artists who died this year. Some years it’s easier than others. The year 2016, for example, which I called “The Year of the Death of Music” after the tragic deaths of Prince, David Bowie, Tom Petty, Leonard Cohen and others, had a very mournful atmosphere. , even though there was so much great music. And 2020 was pretty much the same, with the loss of Bill Withers, Neil Peart, Charlie Daniels and more, but there was also a weirdly cool DIY vibe as artists continued to release music from their forties. . There was a weirdly high musical sensation in 2019, with everyone from STL GLD to the Jonas Brothers to Gary Clark Jr. releasing an incredibly addicting torrent of music. Every year is a little different.
Which brings us to 2021, and so far… 2021 has been weird. Not that there haven’t been good things, especially at the regional level: the work of Annie Brobst, Jafet Muzic, Sapling and others has been in full swing. But on the national front… well… there were hits, sure, but a lot of what came out this year was either out of weird places or mainstream stuff, there was kind of a weird asterisk. above. If ever a year has clearly shown that the music industry is changing, this is it. That said, here are some pop quirks and quirky gems from the year so far.
“Racist, sexist boy”, by Linda Lindas: The live performance of this provocative rock ‘n’ roll track by the young Los Angeles girl punk group took the internet by surprise: the video went viral, and suddenly, a generation of young women having to cope to this junk had a new battle hymn. The recording is low fidelity the whole way, so the sound isn’t great, but it’s still a totally uplifting bunny punch of a song.
“Bon 4 u”, by Olivia Rodrigo: On the surface, it’s a pretty straightforward pop song: a teenage breakup hymn, with a cathartic kiss to an ex-boyfriend. It’s musical popcorn, and frankly, it’s a lot of fun. But the weirdness comes when Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Josh Farro were added as co-writers to “inspire” the song with their own song, “Misery Business”. The same thing actually happened with Taylor Swift on Rodrigo’s “Deja Vu” (which, under the circumstances, is rather ironic.) Do I think Rodrigo and the writers she works with are outright and simply highly visible artist materials? Not really, but it does prove that much of the pop-rock terrain is so well established that it might be difficult to come up with original sounds and ideas. Still, all things being equal, the song pretty much kicks off.
“Savage”, by Sam James: James admitted he was having just a little fun in his forties with his flips from hip-hop songs to country acoustic numbers, but the reaction on Instagram and TikTok has been phenomenal, and these days it’s translated into a real audience. James’ take on Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” is probably my favorite of the bunch. It’s a true one-song barn burner, taken with a light spirit but staying true to the grain and soul of the original. It’s a lot of fun, and a real look at where our popular music is increasingly emerging from, because god knows it’s not commercial radio.
“Butter”, by BTS: Earlier this year, my friend Jenna asked on Facebook, “Why didn’t anyone tell me K-Pop slaps?!? The truth is, the genre really produces some very addicting and catchy tunes, and little more than this one from South Korean boy group BTS. The song hit the Billboard charts and the video exploded on YouTube, breaking all kinds of records. There is nothing inherently weird about it all, as the song does, indeed, slap, but I also wonder the weird reaction to Fela Kuti’s nomination to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, and how Americans and West Europeans get weirdly isolationist when it comes to music – really, that’s not our best look – and it’ll be an interesting conversation a few years from now when Rock Hall starts naming songs. K-Pop groups. It’s going to happen, the flashback will be weird, and frankly none of that will matter because this song is always going to be a dance-pop banger. The internet has made our pop music less Euro-centric, and ultimately it is for the better.
“Driver’s License”, by Ryleigh Modig: Spencer’s teenager Ryleigh Modig didn’t make it to the finish line on “The Voice,” but thank goodness she fought. Her biggest impression was probably straight away with her cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License”, which made good use of her excellent phrasing and her ability to convey emotion. But more specifically, it’s easy to forget that the songs that appear on “The Voice” hit iTunes almost immediately, inevitably making them one of the top-selling singles of any given week when the show airs. . The importance of TV singing competitions is a bit of a stretch, but they do have an impact, and if handled well, having singles as good as this can be a solid building block for a young artist’s career.
“MONTERO (Call me by your name)”, by Lil Nas X: If you take the overtly gay themes out of this song, it’s not much different from a lot of other pop numbers. There are some very sexualized themes, but that’s not unusual these days, and honestly, it’s really easy to get dewormed by this song. Yet the uproar was predictable and overwhelming. Of course, Lil Nas X is a provocative artist, and kindled the flames a bit with a very homoerotic clip featuring the artist having sex with the devil, and then there was a weird adventure selling shoes with blood in it, and & mldr; good yes. America rises quite easily and Lil Nas X has managed to make her artistic statement with flair. It’s still a good song.
“Agatha all the way”, by Kathryn Hahn: SPOILER ALERT for “WandaVision” to come, although really, by now most of those who care have understood the big reveal: that the witch Agatha Harkness, played by Hahn, had manipulated the protagonist, Wanda Maximoff, for its own profit. It wasn’t such a big surprise if you paid attention to it, but NOBODY expected the reveal to be in a ’60s TV series debut credits, let alone expected. let it be released on iTunes, let alone pull number 1, but it does, and it’s still a stupidly addicting piece of music, although I doubt it reads the same if you haven’t watched the series. Always: “And I killed Sparky too!” can be one of the best lines of the year, regardless of the medium.
“Born 2 Die”, by Prince: There is something strange when an artist takes a piece of work from beyond the grave, and we have a lot of that from Prince to look forward to: the man was prolific. “Born 2 Die,” however, on his posthumous album, “Welcome 2 America,” does a lot of what Prince has always done best: finding that place where sensuality and spirituality intersect. This album really showed his willingness to express his social conscience in a very conceptual way, and it works. It’s a great, soulful song on an album that gets better the more you spend time on it.
Visit this article online at Worcestermag.com and Telegram.com to listen to Victor D. Infante’s current 2021 playlist, “‘Gimme Shelter’: A Playlist From the Beginning of the End of the Apocalypse (Maybe) “. Follow the playlist on Spotify to see it evolve throughout the year.