Top Albums of 2021

words by Casey Seagriff

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At the beginning of the year, I told myself I was going to try to listen to a more vast selection of music. I started following music blogs, searching through TikTok and SoundCloud, compiling these playlists with artists I had never listened to. I have discovered so many albums that I had been missing out on because I just wasn’t looking.

So, as the year comes to an end and my Spotify Wrapped is quickly approaching I am left with an overwhelming amount of music I want to share with the world.

Without further ado, here are the Top 5 Albums of 2021 (and a few that didn’t quite make the cut) from your neighborhood friendly fangirl.

5.  Just Existing by daysormay

The first album on this list is the newest release from alt rock group daysormay. Previously, the band opened up for Tessa Violet on tour and she is even featured on their single “Role Model”. 

I am a long time fan, so this release was highly anticipated for me. And they did not disappoint. This album is filled with familiar feelings of dread for the future while combining the need to succeed. The 10 songs on Just Existing are written and produced by the trio Aiden Andrews, Nolan and Carson Bassett, life long friends who have been making music together since they were young. New music videos were also released as the singles debuted. If you’re a fan of “easter eggs” you definitely want to watch and see what you can pick up!

4. You Signed Up For This by Maisie Peters

“I’m twenty and probably upset right now

I still don’t have my driver’s license”

You Signed Up For This is Maisie Peters debut full length album. It was released in August under Ed Sheeran’s label Gingerbread Man Records and debuted at number 2 on the UK Album Charts. She previously toured with Niall Horan and has collaborated with James Bay.

This album places you directly into your own movie where you are the main character. It is witty and truthful and feels like a bubbly glass of champagne. Maisie Peters created the perfect soundtrack for those who are coming out of their teenage years, confused about the direction of their world, and those who can’t wait to figure it out. 

3. Build a Problem by dodie

Build a Problem is dodie’s second full legnth album, following her 2019 release Human and previous EPs and singles. It includes 14 songs as well as some original demo tracks. She began her career uploading original songs and covers on YouTube. Her musicality has grown so much in the last few years and I urge everyone to listen to this album. I’m positive you will find yourself in at least one of her songs.

She is embarking on a North American and an EU tour in 2022. Tickets on sale now!

2. Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish

“I’m getting older

I’ve got more on my shoulders, but I’m doing better at admitting when I’m wrong”

Not only did Billie Eilish do a complete 180 when she changed from her signature black and green hair to stunning blonde, but so did her music. Happier Than Ever is Eilish’s second studio album that highlights her soft vocals and signature alternative pop production (thanks to her brother Finneas).

The overall album is more mature than her previous work. It puts what being launched into stardom does to your perspective into words and touches on the struggle of making your passion into a career and what comes along with that.

In her song “Not My Responsibility”, she performs a spoken word piece about the constant body shaming her and many other woman recieve both online and in person. There are contradictions after contradictions being put on to women in the industry and it is perfectly encaptured by Billie.

  1. Olivia Rodrigo – sour

Here it is, my number one album of the year: Sour by Olivia Rodrigo.

I’m sure it’s not an exaggeration when I say Olivia Rodrigo took control of the music industry this year. Winner of both the VMA and the AMA for “Best New Artist of the Year”, the “Good 4 U” singer is also nominated for seven Grammy Awards including “Album of the Year” and “Best Pop Vocal Album.” Her success on the charts and from the fans has been unmatched. 

The concept of the album and the way she so perfectly nails what it is like to be seventeen years old is something few can do so authentically. Everyone feels “sour” sometimes. Not to mention the stunning vocal performance of someone so young and new to the industry. Rodrigo’s emotion is conveyed so authentically throughout the album, making it stand apart from many other releases in my opinion.

I’m so excited to see what she does next!

My Honorable Mentions:

When the World Stopped Moving: The Live EP by Lizzy McAlpine & Self Titled EP by Joshua Bassett

Since these releases aren’t technically albums, I can’t rate them in my Top 5, but that does not mean they aren’t deserving of a mention on this list. 

Lizzy McAlpine quickly became one of my favorite artists when I saw a video of her singing on TikTok earlier this year. She released When the World Stopped Moving: The Live EP, a collection of raw and poetic songs, in April 2021.

The production is stripped back which only highlights her vocals and songwriting abilities. She completely transports you into her world and somehow also speaks on exactly what we are all feeling. 

If you haven’t listened to the entirety of Joshua‘s collection, I urge you to. His vocals and overall musicianship is really highlighted through each song. His candid nature is what makes his music unique. You can see this part of his personality shine through in interviews and on social media with fans as well.

And there you have it! My favorites of 2021! What do you think? Did I completely miss the boat or do you agree? Let me know your top albums of this year or your biggest disappointments and what you’re looking forward to next year. If you want to listen to all the songs I didn’t get to include, check out Casey’s Top Tracks ‘21 on Spotify.

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