NPR
The Best Music Of 2021: NPR Staff Picks

Bob Boilen

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Palehound's Ellen Kempner and Jay Som's Melina Duterte perform as Bachelor.
Tonje Thilesen, Courtesy of the artist

Palehound's Ellen Kempner and Jay Som's Melina Duterte perform as Bachelor.

Some of my favorite music of 2021 came from artists who were new to me — a contrast to my 2020 list, the year COVID made it extra challenging to the unknowns. Among the new finds are the Isle of Wight rock and droll duo Wet Leg; Charlie Hickey, who covered a Phoebe Bridgers song as a 13-year-old, now she's singing on his record; Olivia Rodrigo, with an expressive and explosive album on youthful heartbreak, and Arooj Aftab's smoky and solemn reflections, have all made for a year I'm grateful for.

Top 10 Albums of 2021

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

1. Lucy Dacus, Home Video
2. Bachelor, Doomin' Sun
3. Steady Holiday, Take The Corners Gently
4. Olivia Rodrigo, SOUR
5. Arooj Aftab, Vulture Prince
6. Tōth, You and Me and Everything
7. Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine, A Beginner's Mind
8. Cassandra Jenkins, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
9. Jónsi, Obsidian
10. Ada Lea, one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden

Top 10 Songs of 2021

▶ LISTEN ON SPOTIFY

Support comes from

1. Wet Leg, "Chaise Longue"
2. Lucy Dacus, "Thumbs"
3. Cassandra Jenkins, "Hard Drive"
4. Bachelor, "Back Of My Hand"
5. Olivia Rodrigo, "brutal"
6. Tōth, "Turnaround (Cocaine Song)"
7. Arooj Aftab, "Suroor"
8. Saint Sister, "Manchester Air"
9. Rebirth, "Aisha Badru"
10. Charlie Hickey, "Ten Feet Tall"

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