Zweitausendeinundzwanzig — My Favorite Music of 2021

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Welcome to my annual list of my favorite music of the (last) year. While I used to burn CDs, since 2016 I’ve been offering links to playlists on Apple Music and Spotify instead.

Playlist on Apple Music

Playlist on Spotify

This list, my 17th annual, is a sampler of my favorite music that I discovered this year. I hope you enjoy it.


1. Loki Green Theme

Natalie Holt, Loki: Vol. 1 (Episodes 1-3) [Original Soundtrack] (2021)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe shows on Disney+ have been great to look forward to over the last few years. Returning to the television norm of my youth, new episodes drop on a weekly basis, giving you something to look forward to every week. The Loki series was one of the best, yielding halloween costumes and a great score. This year’s collection kicks off with a track from that show.


2. t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l (feat. Travis Barker)

WILLOW, lately I feel EVERYTHING (2021)

I found this song, along with several others in this collection, from the Song Exploder podcast. WILLOW is Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.

3. Summer Girl

HAIM, Women in Music Pt. III (2019)

Last year the track “I Don’t Wanna” from the same album made the list. I love the bass line.

4. And So It Went (feat. Tom Morello)

The Pretty Reckless, Death by Rock and Roll (2021)

The title track from this album was released as a single the year before and made the list; this year it was this song with Tom Morello that did so. The Pretty Reckless are perpetual favorites of mine. Other songs I liked on the album were “Only Love Can Save Me Now”, “My Bones,” and “Turning Gold.”

5. Typhoons

Royal Blood, Typhoons (2021)

The title track narrowly edged out “Trouble’s Coming” and “Boilermaker” for making it on the list.

6. Vertigo

Alice Merton, (single) (2021)

Alice Merton made my 2019 list with “Mint”. I’m looking forward to her full album later in 2022.

7. Four Letter Words

K. Flay, Inside Voices (2021)

This track is definitely not my usual genre. But- the beat. The beat!

8. Levitating

Dua Lipa, Future Nostalgia (2020)

Another track that isn’t my usual thing- this one is suspiciously mainstream to be appearing in one of my collections.

9. Distorted Light Beam

Bastille, (single) (2021)

10. Serotonin

girl in red, if i could make it go quiet (2021)

Serotonin is another find from Song Exploder.

11. Los Chucos Suaves

Los Lobos, Native Sons (2021)

Remember Los Lobos? They’ve been around a looonng time, charting in 1987 with La Bamba, but active since the 1970s. While I don’t speak Spanish and have no idea what this song is about, the the horns and drums immediately grab my attention.

12. Maria También

Khruangbin, “Con Todo El Mundo” (2018)

Khruangbin returns with this bass-heavy track. Other songs I loved from this band last year were Christmas Time is Here, the coolest Christmas music you’ve ever heard, and Texas Sun, off of an EP with the same name.

13. There’s No Crying in Mexico


Umphrey’s McGee is a jam band that I’ve never really gotten into. This is starting to change, as I find myself listening to them on a regular basis. This instrumental track offers a driving beat. For more typical Umphrey’s McGee fare, check out their Hall of Fame albums, a collection of their best live work over the past year.

14. Heat Above

Greta Van Fleet, The Battle at Garden’s Gate (2021)

Greta Van Fleet’s sophomore album was more subtle than the first, but still excellent. This band last appeared on my 2019 album with The New Day, and have been on three of the last four of my favorite playlists.

15. Kumbaya, Life Rolls On

Brett Dennen, “See the World” (2021)

Singer/songwriter Brett Dennen last appeared on my 2018 list for Already Gone.

16. Conflicted (feat. Joe Satriani)

Kitt Wakeley, “Symphony of Sinners and Saints” (2021)

This sounds like something that should come from a soundtrack, but doesn’t. Good album overall, but this track adds the guitar fire of Joe Satriani.

17. Sound the Alarm (feat. Rivers Cuomo & Royal & the Serpent)

The Knocks, (single) (2021)

18. Saturday

twenty one pilots, Scaled and Icy (2021)

Last year Level of Concern was on my list, and I insisted that I don’t like this band. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

19. Headphones Baby

The Vaccines, (single) (2021)

20. The Let Go (Full Band Version)

Elle King, (single) (2020)

Although she hasn’t made any of my collections until now, I’ve been enjoying Elle King’s gravelly voice for the last couple of years. She ranges between blues, country, and rock. Another good track from the last year is Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home), a duet with Miranda Lambert.

21. Waiting on a War

Foo Fighters, Medicine at Midnight (2021)

22. That Dress

The Pale White, Infinite Pleasure (2021)

23. Rosebud

Jeff Beck, You Had It Coming (2000)

I’m about to finish a multiyear tour through Jeff Beck’s catalog. This track came from the album Rollin’ and Tumblin’, which also featured You Had it Coming, which made it onto last year’s list.

24. Layla (feat. Tret Anastasio)

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’) (2021)

At first listen, I wasn’t as wowed as I felt I should have been. As time went on, I started to appreciate this album more, and it has become my Favorite Album of 2021. It also played a part in one of my big achievements in 2021- riding my bike to the top of Rist Canyon. I was listening to his album on the climb up. A few miles from the top there is a short downhill section- I hit it right for the bridge in Layla. Simply sublime.


25. The Magpie

Marian McPartland, She Swings with Strings (1964)

A friend recommended this jazz legend to me, and I listened to her catalog in 2021. I simply love this album, and this song does a great job of ending this year’s collection.

See you for the 2022 list!

The Annual Pronunciation Guide

To native English speakers, Zweitausendeinundzwanzig looks intimidating, but it breaks down as follows:

  1. Zwei (2)- pronounced with an “s” sound, followed with “veye” (rhymes with eye), all packed into a single syllable
  2. tausend (1000)- pronounced like the English word “thousand”, replacing the “th” sound with a straight “t” sound (there’s no “th” sound in German)
  3. ein (1) – pronounced like “swine” without the “sw”
  4. und (and) – pronounced like it looks
  5. zwanzig (20)- pronounced like the English word “swan”, with a “z” in front instead of an “s”, followed by “zig”

Now mash that all together in one single word. Yes, this is an actual German word. There you go, that wasn’t so hard, was it? And yes, it literally translates to “two thousand one and twenty.”

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