2021: A Polarizing Year in Music

The past year has been a crazy year in music. There was the emergence of new stars like Olivia Rodrigo and the return of previously established artists like Adele. This year came with many controversies as well. There were feuds between rappers Kanye West and Drake. Arguments between artists and their record labels caused Taylor Swift to re-record her music. Yet, through it all, as the world continued to struggle from COVID-19, music was the release that allowed people to forget about their hardships.
Dangerous: The Double Album – Morgan Wallen
Morgan Wallen is no stranger to controversy. About a month after he released his sophomore album on Jan. 8, 2021, he was caught on camera using a racial slur near his Tennessee home. His music was stripped from many streaming services after the incident, but his album sales actually spiked during this time period. In the two days after the camera footage was released, his album sales went from 5,100 to 35,200. Eventually, after an apology video, his music was reinstated on many streaming services and his album finished as the best selling country album of 2021. The album also spent the most time as number one on the Billboard 200 Album Chart, where it retained the spot for 10 consecutive weeks. Recommended songs on this album include track 2 “Wasted on You”, track 10 “Wonderin’ Bout the Wind”, and track 15 “More Than My Hometown”.
Sour – Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo became an internet sensation overnight when she released her debut single, “drivers license”, on Jan. 8. The song gained 17 million streams in a 24 hour period, the most streams of a non-holiday song in a single day. The song gave her a strong following who eagerly anticipated the release of her first album. The album, “Sour,” was released 4 months later on May 21. Recommended songs on this album include track 3 “drivers license”, track 5 “deja vu”, and track 6 “Good 4 U”.

Donda – Kanye West and Certified Lover Boy – Drake

Two of the most polarizing albums of the year came out just five days apart from one another. Kanye’s album “Donda” was released on Aug. 29 followed by Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” on Sept. 3. Many fans don’t believe that this is an ordinary coincidence as during the time Drake and Kanye had a very public feud between them. The feud has been dating back for several years but was inflamed again when Drake dissed Kanye on a verse in Trippie Redd’s song “Betrayal”. Kanye responded to this by posting a profanic message that he sent to Drake in a group chat. People believe that Drake released his album shortly after Kanye’s album release to get back at him by stealing his spotlight. The two have since settled their beef, joining each other on stage in a concert advocating for the freedom of Larry Hoover.
Recommended songs on “Donda” include track 7 “Jonah”, track 13 “Moon”, and track 24 “Jail, Pt.2”.
Recommended songs on “Certified Lover Boy” include track 8 “TSU”, track 12 “No Friends in the Industry”, and track 18 “You Only Live Twice”.
Red (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift

This year Taylor Swift decided to re-record all of her old albums and release them again. Her old music was owned by Scooter Braun, a record executive at the record label that Swift previously was on. The re-recorded version of Swift’s album “Red” became the second highest selling album of 2021. The album included a 10 minute music video version of her song “All Too Well”, which showed the short relationship between a teenage Swift and her 32 year old boyfriend at the time, Jake Gyllenhaal. The video portrayed Gyllenhaal in a negative light and caused a lot of Taylor’s fans to swarm Gyllenhaal’s Instagram comments with support of Swift. Recommended songs on this album include track 4 “I Knew You Were Trouble”, track 26 “I Bet You Think About Me”, and track 30 “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”.
30 – Adele

Almost six years after her previous studio album was released, Adele returned to release her fourth album, “30”. Adele was forced to stop making music after her last album as her vocal chords had been damaged from performing so many times. When she announced her return, fans were ecstatic and eagerly awaited her new album. The wait proved to be worth it as Adele’s 30 became the best selling album of 2021, doubling the album with the second-most sales. Recommended songs on this album include track 2 “Easy On Me”, track 5 “Oh My God”, and track 11 “To Be Loved”.
When the world needed it the most, music once again delivered. With people still being forced to stay inside because of new variants, music was important to keep spirits up. 2021 brought amazing albums that will be listened to all over the world for years and years to come. It’s exciting to wait and see what is in store for the world of music in the new year.