Look, I’m hard pressed to offer comforting or overly optimistic thoughts for 2022. What I can say, however, is that we made it. Bloodied and bruised, or full of smiles (if this is you - how?!), we’ve gotten to the end of 2021. And for me, that’s been possible only with music. 2021 was a banner year for women in rap. The ladies came to eat… even the one from Queens who has been left off of this playlist as I’m pretty sure she’s still doing her own research.
It’s been next to impossible for me to whittle my list down to 25 or so. So, I’m not. What you’ll see below are my top songs of the year, some with a little suggestion or two added under the song for related listening.
Snow tha Product - Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 39: One of the most technically skilled rappers alive. The flawless English-Spanish switches. The cockiness. And she’s bisexual. Truly one of the best songs I have heard in years. CANNOT. RECOMMEND. HIGHLY. ENOUGH.
Snow tha Product - Que Oso
Drumma Boy feat. Snow tha Product & Ludacris - I Said What I Said
Mandy Moore - Tryin’ My Best, Los Angeles: As an unabashed “Walk Me Home” stan, I am thrilled to live through the Mandy Moore renaissance.
Saweetie - Fast (Motion): It was an icy year for Saweetie, culminating in a couple of well-earned Grammy noms. It was a pretty bitch summer and we actually got to spend a good part of it with other people.
Saweetie - Seesaw
Saweetie feat. Doja Cat - Best Friend
Saweetie - Sweat Check
City Girls - Twerkulator: On a trip home for vaccinations in April, our friend Ira played the unreleased Soundcloud version of this on repeat. There was elation in our home when the sample was approved and we could hear Yung Miami remind us that bitch, she’s from the city any time we wanted.
Jazmine Sullivan - Pick Up Your Feelings: Hard to say much about Jazmine other than the fact that she is one of the most talented, nimble vocalists alive. If you’ve been to my house, you’ve watched her sing “Home” from the Wiz at 9 years old. And she’s finally getting the love she deserves.
Jazmine Sullivan (feat. H.E.R) - Girl Like Me
Cardi B - Up: Balenciaga Bardi is back. This song was the perfect soundtrack to a year of almost flawless couture red carpet looks from Belcalis.
Migos feat. Cardi B - Type Shit: My account think I’m gay, all I do is buy shit.
Sef - Mattenklopper: I somehow figured out that this very handsome Dutch-Moroccan rapper went to my gym, so I listened to his latest album … and loved it. He made his way into my Spotify Top 5 (a man!) and was the first Dutch-language concert I ever attended. This song feels like the best of early to mid 2000s Jay Z beats.
Monaleo - Beating Down Your Block: Look, don’t cross Monaleo.
Renni Rucci - Talk: Loved this song before it had the (mis?)fortune of becoming a TikTok sound. Still love it.
Rebecca Black - Personal: If you thought Rebecca Black began and ended with “Friday,” you were sorely wrong. This is top-tier lesbian pop right here, folks.
Trixie Mattel feat. Orville Peck - Jackson: My husband and a world-famous drag queen remade a Johnny and June Carter Cash hit (without slightly racist lyrics). Maybe 2021 wasn’t as bad as we thought.
Little Mix feat. Saweetie - Confetti: So Little Mix dropped the dead weight (YouTube Jesy Nelson at Jingle Bell Ball … that’s some out-of-key blackfishing) and added Saweetie. Bonus points for a music video featuring Bimini, Tayce and Awhora.
Vincint feat. Alex Newell & Princess Precious - Higher
Bexx - Hard to Love: I saw her on a “feel good” video where she heard her song on BBC radio for the first time. Listened to the song and… wow… I want her to be famous.
Bexx - Biggest Mistake
Iggy Azalea feat. Tyga - Sip It: Iggy and Tyga on a song seems to always work.
Megan Thee Stallion - Thot Shit: Meg is Thee shit, per the recording academy. Also, she made me take a trip to Popeye’s after another meal for some Hottie sauce.
Saucy Santana - Material Girl: If you’re not walking around your house randomly screaming “MATERIAL GWORLLL” what are you doing?
Jessie J - I Want Love: Raise your hand if you expected Jessie J to release a banger this year. (My hand is not raised).
Migos feat. Drake - Having Our Way: Aubrey released one of the year’s best-selling albums, but my favorite Drake moment came on this Migos album cut. Specifically, where he refers to Takeoff as “the third Migo.”
Drake feat. Tr*vis Sc*tt - Fair Trade
Drake - No Friends in the Industry
Yebba - October Sky: Yebba’s My Mind live still ranks as one of my favorite vocal performances ever. Years later, we finally got the stunning debut album we’ve been praying for.
Yebba - Boomerang
MUNA feat. Phoebe Bridgers - Silk Chiffon: This was the year I truly came to love Phoebe Bridgers, and this song was like a little gift of summery joy once I was truly, madly, deeply in love.
Chlöe - Have Mercy: The song. The video. The choreo. It was all just what we needed. And with her sister starring as The Little Mermaid soon, it seems we won’t stop stanning this family any time soon.
Normani feat. Cardi B - Wild Side: We were begging this woman for a follow up to “Motivation.” The wait was worth it. The song is gorgeous and the video is a visual masterpiece.
Latto - Big Energy: With a new name and money for a Mariah sample, Latto came ready to play with the big boys.
BIA feat. G Herbo - BESITO: Had to leave off her duet with N*ck*, but that’s ok because this album was packed with hits.
BIA feat. Lil Jon - BIA BIA
Priyanka feat. Lemon - Come Through: I hope I never stop getting hype when this Lemon verse comes on. Best lyricism by a Ru girl ever?
Quavo feat. Yung Miami - Strub the Ground: Quavo is giving mediocrity, but Yung Miami carries this track that makes me feel like it’s 1995.
Jam & Lewis feat. Mariah Carey - Somewhat Loved: Was just living for this new Mariah joint.
Kim Petras - Future Starts Now: Kim is insane and has released a few dubious tracks as of late, but this one had me moving all year.
Caroline Polachek - Bunny Is a Rider: I have a feeling this is one we will be listening to for a very long time. Instant classic.
Charli XCX feat. Christine and the Queens & Caroline Polachek - New Shapes
Ellise - Bubblegum Brain: A bubbling-under-the-surface pop girl who delivered some top-tier pop tracks this year with a mystifying lack of support from her label.
C. Tangana - Demasiadas Mujeres: C. Tanaga’s 2021 album was wide-reaching and fun. This one, unsurprisingly, pulled me in on first listen with what sounded like a halftime marching band.
Ximena Sariñana - A No Llorar: Fun Spanish pop. Had her on repeat all year, landing her in my Spotify Top 5.
Ximena Sariñana - Si Tú Te Vas
Bad Gyal feat. El Guincho - Pussy: Can she sing? I don’t know. Does it matter? No, no it does not.
Mariah Angeliq, Bad Gyal, Maria Becerra - BOBO
Sturgill Simpson feat. Willie Nelson - Juanita: There was almost no way this duo could do wrong. And they didn’t.
Lauren Alaina - Good Ole Boy: My winner of American Idol season 10 released a solid pop country album this year. The shade in the first verse is… beautiful.
Tainy feat. Julieta Venegas & Bad Bunny - Lo Siento BB:/: I almost passed out when I saw that my favorite Spanish language artist (Julieta) was on a track with the love of my life.
Mary Bragg - The Lonely Persistence of Time: A Spotify recommendation for the ages. Vocals taken from the Alison Krauss Bible.
Baby Tate feat. Flo Milli - I Am: I think I’m going to use the chorus on this one as my daily affirmations.
Adele - Oh My God: The vocal improvement had my jaw on the floor.
Brandi Carlile - This Time Tomorrow: Another stellar Brandi album? Groundbreaking. She doesn’t miss.
Brandi Carlile feat. Lucius - You and Me On the Rock
Lil Nas X feat. Megan Thee Stallion - DOLLA SIGN SLIME: It was Nas’s year, and for good reason. As much as I loved the hits, this one was my highlight.
Lady Gaga feat. Rina Sawayama - Free Woman Remix: Even without an album, Rina still gave us what we needed this year. And Gaga gave us more meme-able moments then we knew what to do with.
Rina Sawayama - Enter Sandman
Nathy Peluso - Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 36: I am in desperate need of a Nathy/Snow song.