2021 was a great year for Australian music with a lot of big names and new indies coming out with some great music. Moreover, this is one of the first times music from a musical made it to the top 50. Plus….a long unreleased song makes the top 50….but it won’t be the last….. Let’s get into it:
45. Lin – Manuel Miranda: 96,000
Even though In the Heights was originally released in 2005, it had its large film debut in 2021. Its lyrics were updated and the story of marginalised immigrants making a life for themselves took on a whole new meaning in the Trump era. The white supremacist rhetoric and anti-immigration sentiment of the Trump presidency made this musical more poignant in 2021 than its original release. 96,000 epitomises the quest for the American dream and how money can bring happiness. This track highlights the struggle of urban American life, but also is about hopes and dreams. Most importantly, there are some fire rhymes in this track.
44. Amy Shark: All the Lies About Me
Amy Shark is an Australian indie artist who has taken Australian music by storm. She has a unique voice and seamlessly blends pop and indie sensibilities. All the Lies About Me dives into the destructive nature of stardom and social media. She sings about how people hide behind online anonymity to spread abusive lies and statements about her without nay consequences. Even though Shark is speaking from the perspective of a famous pop star, her message of the impact of online abuse is universal. This track speaks to the destructive nature of social media and how it incubates hate and abuse.
43. Baker Boy ft. G Flip: My Mind
Baker Boy and Briggs are two Indigenous artists who are quickly making Aussie hip hop a force to be reckoned with. Baker Boy is known for being a proud Aboriginal man from Arnhem Land who often raps in his native language. In this track he teams up with talented Australian indie artist G Flip to create a lush soul and funk track. The song is about relationships, but it is also about code switching and how Baker Boy finds himself in two worlds…the Indigenous tradition he connects with and the non – Indigenous world of Australia. His ability to move between Australian slang and his Indigenous language highlights how he sees himself in the world and how his pride in his culture will always shine through.
42. G Flip: Boys and Girls
Speaking of G Flip, they also came out with a track this year. Boys and Girls is all about the fluid nature of gender and exploring the connections between gender and identity. This is especially true for Flip who came out as non – binary this year and spoke about how their gender fluidity impacted this track. True to Flip’s previous work, Boys and Girls has a definite indie pop aesthetic with her unique vocal, airy guitar and electro pop beats. This is an uplifting track that will give countless non – binary young people a feeling of being seen in mainstream music, which is always a good thing. Plus it has the lyric “Fuck everyone who / makes you feel bad about you,” which is amazing.
41. The Beach Boys: Big Sur
2021 has not only been the year of iconic acts making a recording comeback, but it is also the year of unreleased tracks. There will be a few unreleased tracks on the top 50 that leaves me wondering how they possibly could have been left off of the band’s original records. Big Sur is a track is embodies what I love about The Beach Boys, but never saw the light of day until now. It is a lush psychedelic laid back surfer track about the beauty of Big Sur in California. The beach Boys have always been connected to California and this track celebrates the beautiful nature found in the West Coast. I can see myself listening to this track with the top down on a nice spring day. I love this track and I’m glad it found its way to make it into the wild.
The first ten tracks of the top 50 of 2021 are in the books and the music is lookin’ great. The next group will feature a K-Pop band who released a record in late 2020 that missed last year’s cutoff, new women in hip hop and some reggae. Be sure to tune in as the top 50 of 2021 keeps rollin’.