This year not only saw the return of live events, but it also saw artists release a slew of impressive records. It’s fair to say that producers used 2020 as a time to create, and their hard work is indeed recognized in 2021.
Many of these records are used where they were meant to be heard—on the dance floor. As music lovers are able to once again reunite and bask in the unexplainable feeling of being at a show where everyone is connected, the hits of 2021 soundtrack the way.
Not only do these records soundtrack the dance floor, but they fuel my life. From groovy house music to future bass, songs worthy of a film score, techno, soulful house, ominous bass, longing sounds and even both hopeful messages and sorrowful lyrics, my music life in 2021 proves diverse—which was much needed after I sought comfort in the familiar in 2020. These tracks offer something for whatever mood I’m in as well as whatever I’m doing—working remotely, working out, working on getting ready for a show and more.
Here, I share 15 of my favorite songs from 2021.
“Wind Tempos” is truly a masterfully produced record, even deserving of being part of a movie score. The track takes listeners on a sonic journey with sounds of rain, enchanting piano, static synths and hypnotizing vocals. The record is inspired after a trip to Japan where Porter Robinson met Japanese pianist Masakatsu Takag, who gave him a disc of Japanese ambient music from the early 2000s. Indeed, “Wind Tempos” proves that Robinson is a genre-smashing artist.
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Salute’s “All About You” boasts enchanting vocals, gently shaking synths and more, creating an emotive, longing and euphonious sound. The Manchester-based artist draws inspiration from a wide spectrum of club music, thus creating his distinct sound. His introduction to various styles of electronic music, such as grime and electro house, was sparked by him playing video games.
Nicole Moudaber reminds listeners why she’s the queen of techno. Her signature hypnotic and smoldering sound is showcased in “The Music Is Mine.” The record comes from her two track EP, The Volume, which proves to be designed for dance floor domination through pounding basslines and spellbinding synths.
Excision proves he reigns in the world of bass music. The melodic dubstep track boasts emotional lyrics, powerful vocals and both delicate and swirling synths, showcasing his diversity as a producer. The track stems from Subsidia Dawn: Vol. 2, which features melodic and lyrical bass tracks. The record is released via Excison’s imprint, Subsidia.
Genre-defying artist Skrillex impresses once again with “Butterflies,” created with Starrah and Four Tet. The upbeat track features playful basslines, captivating vocals by Starrah and chiming synths. Skrillex stuns fans with his rare show at Brooklyn’s Avant Gardner this year.
ACRAZE’s “Do It To It” takes over dance floors. Boasting bouncing basslines, catchy lyrics and club-ready production, it’s no wonder the record is played around the world. The track features vocals sampled from Cherish’s 2006 R&B classic layered with ACRAZE’s rave-ready sound.
Wax Motif’s forward-thinking anthemic record “Come Again,” featuring Scrufizzer, showcases the artist’s bassline-driven house style. The single delivers tons of sonic flare through jouncing basslines, slithery synths and a catchy topline. The track comes from the producer’s forthcoming LP, Hard Street, noted to feature both his club-focused sound as well as tracks not designed for the club experience.
In “Mirror,” Porter Robinson encourages listeners to take a look at their inner selves, thus highlighting how people tend to pick apart themselves when looking inward. “Mirror” conveys this message through enchanting piano, uplifting production, entrancing synths and electronic backbeat. “Mirror” is one of the many stunning tracks that the artist releases on his second album, Nurture.
Ghastly’s future house and future bass banger boasts playful basslines, catchy lyrics and slithering synths. The producer aims to tell stories through his music, which is best seen on this record as it recounts him speaking with a Burning Man attendee. “Burner” is particularly notable as it features Ghastly’s vocals—something he rarely adds to his work. He is known to transcend stylistic borders as he produces everything from heavy hitters to future bass and deep house.
Kerri Chandler’s remix of Bonobo and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’ “Heartbreak” injects soul into the original track. The song is an ode to electronic music’s formative years during the 1970s and 1980s with New York City’s disco revolution. The groovy record samples Christine Wiltshire’s iconic vocal line “I can’t take the heartbreak” from the 1983 classic anthem “Weekend” by Class Action. Chandler is considered one of the pioneers of deep house.
We may have lost dancing in 2020, but we found it in 2021. The track by Fred again.. and The Blessed Madonna chronicles this difficult time for music lovers. Despite this sorrowful message, the upbeat track also offers a positive line for what will come once clubs reopen.
LP Giobbi and Kaleena Zanders stun audiences with “Carry Us.” The record features LP Giobbi’s distinct piano house sound, Zander’s powerful vocals and playful basslines. The track offers an empowering message about getting stronger and overcoming challenges along the way.
Moore Kismet impresses music lovers with “Rumors.” The record proves to be texturally varied, featuring everything from percolating beats to shimmering synths, enchanting vocals and airy production that leads to ominous bass. The 17-year-old artist performed at Electric Daisy Carnival this year, marking them as the youngest producer to ever perform at the renowned festival.
Kaytranada, known for his woozy and groovy house music, brings tons of sonic flavor to “Intimidated,” featuring singer-songwriter H.E.R. Boasting captivating vocals, pulsing bass underlaid with calming production and sounds meant to encourage clapping, the record proves to be masterfully produced. Kaytranada won Best Dance/Electronic Album for BUBBA at the Premiere Ceremony of the 63rd GRAMMY Awards. Previously, he also took home the GRAMMY for Best Dance Recording for “10%” featuring Kali Uchis.
LP Giobbi and HANA join forces to create “Close Your Eyes.” The track, out via Insomniac Records, boasts dreamy and airy soundscapes accompanied by HANA’s enchanting and captivating vocals. Indeed, the exquisite production is designed for pure dance floor euphoria. The record is part of Spotify’s quarterly Mint Singles series, which aims to bring producers, singers and musicians together on co-produced tracks.