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Nialler9’s Top 100 songs of 2021: 100-51

Nialler9’s Top 100 songs of 2021: 100-51


See all best of 2021 coverage.

2021 Best of | Best albums | Best songs | Irish albums | Irish songs | Podcast episodes | Guest selections

Part one of our best songs of 2021 posts. The 50 to 1 list, with the Spotify playlist, will be out tomorrow, and next week, there’ll be best Irish songs and best albums.


Audrey Nuna

Cool Kids

New Jersey artist Audrey Nuna came to my attention with the 2020 banger ‘Damn Right’, and earlier this year, she dropped her debut mixtape A Liquid Breakfast and the snakey industrial beat of ‘Cool Kids’ is among the most edifying.


Nathan Micay

Industry (Red Light-Out of Sight Italo mix)

I can’t wait for season two of Industry. Investment banking! Who knew! This is like a warped take on New Order’s ‘Temptation’, and that is great. There’s a green Breaks mix too. It was a tossed coin as to which one was included.


Polo & Pan, Channel Tres


France meets the US. Atmospheric dance is Channel Tres’ M.O. and on ‘Tunnel’ he pairs up with French dance duo for his moody vocals over their tension-filled electronic rhythms.


Ishmael Ensemble

Soma Centre

A psychedelic groove from the Bristol band’s second album Visions of Light.


Earl Sweatshirt


Earl goes off on a trippy refracted beat from Detroit producer Black Noi$e.



City Lights

Berlin house producer Cynthie dropped this bicep-pumping orchestral dance track. Gerd Janson amps up the atmosphere on the remix too. Bandcamp.


Arooj Aftab


The Pakistan-born, New York musician Arooj Aftab’s album Vulture Prince is one of the year’s finest and this is a brittle and beautiful folk traditional song.

Vulture Prince takes inspiration in Arabic poetry known as ghazals, which often express love in the face of grief or pain.

Aftab’s younger brother had passed away prior to the album, prompting the reach for ancient texts, and the album wraps those sentiments up in free-forming folk and jazz textures with harp, viola, cello, double bass, synth and minimal percussion lending the album an expansive air and a deep spiritual resonance beyond the tactile act of plucking strings.


Cardi B


Cardi’s only solo single this year was an UP-lifting earworm.



Love and Hate In A Different Time

Jacob Lusk’s delicate gospel and blues falsetto is at the centre of the Gabriels LA trio’s retro soul music.


John Francis Flynn

Lovely Joan

The Dublin folk singer’s debut album was our second favourite Irish LP of the year.


Rochelle Jordan

Got Em

The Toronto-based London-born artist Rochelle Jordan brings the R&B club vibes on her on a song of affirmation.

“I wrote it in 2017, a time where I had an intense epiphany about life. I started to become much more spiritually aware than I have ever been before. All the repetition in this song is my way of being able to meditate on these words of encouragement and confidence, affirm and push through. Talking my shit in the first verse, to speaking and encouraging whoever is listening in the second, I just wanted this song to seep into the veins of whoever needs to be lifted.”


Anz, George Reilly

You Could Be

This tune slaps in a Night Slugs meets pop in 2012 way. It’s from Anz’ 2021 EP All Hours on Ninja Tune.


DJ Seinfeld

U Already Know

‘U Already Know’ was one of my club tracks of the summer of no gigs. 🙁



Burnt Orange

Emma Kirby is a London- based DL/producer, boss of the label femme culture and artist Elkka whose ‘Burnt Orange’ tune fits right into the warm electronic stylings of Technicolour,  the second Ninja Tune imprint.



Two Face

‘Two Face’ opens up with a looping piano part that sounds like a Kate Bush track but the Brooklyn musician Taja Cheek aka L’Rain unfurls it into a jazzier more psychedelic arrangement.


Skiifall, Knucks

Tin Tun Up Part II

Montreal and London connect on a track that buries itself deep with jazzy, R&B and rap touchstones.


Sven Wunder


‘Impasto’ is an evocative and sumptuous instrumental from the Swedish composer.


Jessie Ware


Jessie Ware kept back a banger for the deluxe version of last year’s What’s Your Pleasure?. album. ‘Please’ is a throwback soft soulful gospel-leaning disco track you could imagine George Michael singing. Production is by Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford.


Shire T

Blue Kiss

Chris Davids, One half of Maribou State,. released an album as Shire T in August called Tomorrow’s People. ‘Blue Kiss’ is a big acid break banger from it.



Make It Stay (feat. Dena)

German DJ/producer Lauer is a man who makes bouncy electronic bangers and enlisting Dena was a great shout here.

I’m feeling like the sun on my face now
Like on a hot summer day now
Love don’t always have to go away
Can we make, can we make it stay?

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