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8 musically-inclined Australian creatives reveal their favourite tracks of the year

PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOBIAS ROWLES

WORDS BY ELIZA SHOLLY

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While 2021 wasn’t exactly the post-pandemic year we had hoped for, there were a few silver linings. I was bequeathed this music column for one, where I got to wax lyrical about my favourite subject.

For any music fan, the end of the year brings an opportunity to dissect the greatest releases from the last 12 months. I usually take to my notes app, where my list lives for no one else to read.


Looking for more music-centric content? Try our Music section.


This year, I thought it could be a fun idea to consult some of my favourite tastemakers as well. Keep reading for some of my favourite musically-inclined Australian creatives and their top song and album releases for 2021. I also wrote their bios myself and they are wholly unapproved by the subjects. Enjoy, and see you in 2022.

Raheem Hall, music journalist, bedroom DJ and UK music aficionado

 

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What was your favourite album(s) that came out in 2021? And why?

Pink Pantheress, To hell with it. PinkPantheress sounds exactly how we wished the Fairy Bread McFlurry should’ve tasted. Her celestial voice laid on top of jungle-laced riddims really ignites something in my soul. The Y2K samples prevalent in her production bridge the gap between millennials and Gen Z. Nostalgia done correctly.

What was your favourite song that came out in 2021?

Unknown T, Goodums (Colors version). One of 2020’s breakout drill artists delivered the HARDEST Colors this year. Sweet incantations sail over soft keys and drilly percussion whilst T effortlessly glides along with the vocals. The crossover you never knew you needed.

What embarrassing track(s) will definitely be on your 2021 Spotify wrapped?

The Pointer Sisters, Automatic. Now, this is my JAM. Literally impossible to play this one and not break out into song ’n dance. ’80s cheese-disco-pop, whatever you wanna call it! Banger.

@lessthanrem

Nick Bond, one half of Juno Disco and fellow Kanye West apologist

 

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What was your favourite album that came out in 2021?

Easy pick – City Slicker by Ginger Root.

Why/best tracks?

The first few singles off Ginger Root’s City Slicker EP fucked me up immediately upon release. ‘Loretta’ and ‘Juban District’ are the Japanese-American/American-Japanese artist’s first foray into the world of ‘city pop‘ – a late-’70s/early-’80s funk/disco movement from Japan.

I’ve rinsed this thing front-to-back so many times that the hard copy that’s on its way to me right now can probably be returned to sender. But if you do need a jumping-off point, ‘Loretta’ and ‘Juban District’ are more addictive than heroin.

What was your favourite song(s) that came out in 2021?

Outside of the Ginger Root tracks, the new Parcels album had some ridiculously infectious songs. I will admit that I was completely transfixed by the whole ‘Gucci in the desert‘ gag they pulled, but when you delve deeper, you’ll find a blissful, breezy, hands-in-the-air soul/funk track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a peak-era Curtis Mayfield album.

What embarrassing track(s) will definitely be on your 2021 Spotify wrapped?

There’s every chance that Sisqo’s ‘Thong Song’ (both the OG and the Artful Dodger remix) will be landing on my 2021 wrapped and I am fully prepared to discuss the seminal works at length with anyone who is yet to fully appreciate them.

@junodisco

Sarah Morgan, DJ, chaotic playlist maker and co-founder of The WIP Project

 

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What was your favourite album(s) that came out in 2021? And why?

Genesis Owusu’s debut album Smiling With No Teeth hit hard for me from the very first listen. I’ve also been rinsing Remi Wolf’s album, Juno.
I love Remi Wolf and her whole aesthetic.

She’s a zany 25-year-old Californian with so much to say and it feels like she’s completely forging her own authentic path through the industry. ‘Street You Live On’ and ‘wyd’ are my favourites but I’m pretty sure my housemates are pretty sick of me playing pop music of my UE boom all day every day.

What was your favourite song(s) that came out in 2021?

Silk’ by Moktar [and] ‘Sun Phase’ by Pretty Girl. And, speaking of Genesis Owusu, Harvey Sutherland’s remix of his track ‘Gold Chains’ is a jungle stomper that I listened to on repeat this year. A double whammy of domestic talent.

What embarrassing track(s) will definitely be on your 2021 Spotify wrapped?

Wow there’s an absolute platter of cringe in there to choose from. I’d say ‘Give You Hell’ by The All-American Rejects holds the most shame. Still slaps though.

@hellowipproject

Bri Kennedy, DJ, FBi host and victim of my dancefloor musings

 

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What was your favourite album(s) that came out in 2021?

2021 was the year Manchester sweetheart/club queen Anz dropped one of my favourite EPs of all time, All Hours. Special mentions to Little Simz’s Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, Tinashe’s 333 and IJALE’s OTTN (On to the Next)!

Why/best tracks?

Anz has really nailed it with this one. The melody from ‘You Could Be (ft. George Riley)’ is what I imagine pure joy sounds like. I closed one of my favourite gigs of the year with the track ‘Last Before Lights’ and it was peak dancefloor energy.

What embarrassing track(s) will definitely be on your 2021 Spotify wrapped?

A rogue track that I rinsed this year (and always) is Turn Me On [by] Kevin Lyttle. My roommates will attest. Nothing screams horny, hot (la niña) girl summer like this track.

@bria.wav

Louis Hanson, TikTok’s boyfriend, GQ columnist and expert soft-launcher

 

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What was your favourite album(s) that came out in 2021?

Olivia Rodrigo, Sour.

Why/best tracks?

Don’t scoff at me. My mid-2021 was defined by Sour. Why? Because I’m dramatic. Listening to every track is like receiving a welcomed punch to the dick – you were expecting it, you even asked for it, but it’s painful every single time. And you’d do it again because you’re a sucker for pain.

What was your favourite song(s) that came out in 2021?

You cannot look me in the eyes and tell me there isn’t any other answer to this than Billie Eilish’s ‘Happier Than Ever’. I’m sorry – there just isn’t. It’s currently 30 degrees here in Melbourne (La Niña is shaking) and I’m tapping these answers out the front of a cafe (very European, very chic) and still I have shivers thinking about that blessed drop… ‘YOU MADE ME HATE THIS CITTTTTTTTTTY’. Shakespeare could never.

What embarrassing track(s) will definitely be on your 2021 Spotify wrapped?

‘Sneakernight’, Vanessa Hudgens. It’s called taste.

@louishanson

Lucinda Price, crypto-hoarder, Froomes World CEO and Tame Impala groupie

 

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What was your favourite album(s) that came out in 2021?

Montero by Lil Nas X.

Why/best tracks?

This is a once-in-a-decade album. Lil Nas X transcends genre, age, time, earth. ‘That’s What I Want’ makes me feel thirteen years old. When I listen to it in the car, I scream the chorus and pretend I’m in a convertible Lexus like Regina George in Mean Girls.

What was your favourite song(s) that came out in 2021?

‘Unfazed’ by Mossy. This song came and hit me right in the dick – it’s pure, dreamy, emo hyper pop. Mossy is a project by Jamie Timony, an Australian artist who is also an actor, podcaster and lead singer of These New South Whales.

I’m a big fan because he’s a multi-disciplinary creative who seems unafraid to do lots of different things. He is also responsible for the song ‘What’s In The Garage’ by Fungible Token which I am going to watch immediately after I send these answers back.

What embarrassing track(s) will definitely be on your 2021 Spotify wrapped?

I don’t believe in embarrassment as a concept, so I’ll just tell you my top track: ‘Lost In Yesterday’ by Tame Impala. If you’re reading this and want to sell me your ticket to their 2023 show please message me!

@frooomes

Maia Bilyk, DJ, FBi radio darling, music publicist, internet friend

 

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What was your favourite album(s) that came out in 2021?

Indigo De Souza – Any Shape You Take, Yebba – Dawn, Slowthai – Tyron, Danny L Harle – Harlecore, John Glacier – Shiloh: Lost For Words.

Why?

They each have their own uniquely transportive ability to make me feel like Lisa Simpson swaying side to side, hands in the air, in pure unadulterated bliss and a multitude of moods over 40 minutes.

What was your favourite song(s) that came out in 2021?

Shady Nasty’s ‘PRETTYB0YZ’. They’ve shown more depth, originality and prose across two EPs than most over entire careers, and will be the next great Australian band.

What embarrassing track(s) will definitely be on your 2021 Spotify wrapped?

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures anymore, but absolutely ‘Perfect Day’ from Legally Blonde.

@djmajybajy

Ben Ilobuchi, writer, funny human and professional provedore of taste

 

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What was your favourite album that came out in 2021?
Men I Trust, Untourable Album.

Why/best tracks?

​Men I Trust are one of the only creators whose art truly moves me. Every song feels like it was made personally for me. When I heard they were making a new album I was prepared for them to not reach the insane bar I’d set for them, but they soared right over it with Untourable Album. I’ve rinsed it. My favourite tracks would have to be ‘Organon‘ and ‘Tree Among Shrubs’.

What was your favourite song(s) that came out in 2021?

I’ve been listening ‘New York, Paris and London’ by HighSchool quite a lot. It’s ironic, considering their band name, because my edgy Joy Division obsessed high school self would’ve loved them. They’re a Melbourne band as well which is cool. It’s nice to listen to stuff by local musicians who aren’t just friends-of-friends who I’m being forced to pretend are talented to be polite.

What embarrassing track(s) will definitely be on your 2021 Spotify wrapped?

​’Mmm Yeah’ by Austin Mahone (ft. Pitbull). ‘Sexy Bitch’ by David Guetta (ft. Akon). Will not be explaining.

You can follow Eliza here.

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