The Best Pop Albums Of 2021
We saw plenty of great music in 2020, from Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica” and Ariana Grande’s “Positions” to unforgettable releases from Miley Cyrus, Haim, Halsey, and more — and that’s without mentioning the two albums Taylor Swift blessed us with! It’s fair to say that the albums of 2020 really helped us get through an often tricky and testing year. However, while 2021 has had plenty to live up to, it’s not disappointed us so far. Already, there’s been some killer music this year, and there’s still more to come before we welcome in 2022.
When choosing the best pop albums of 2021, it’s not easy to narrow it down, but there are definitely some albums that stand out the most. Just keep reading to find out which releases made the list. There are some that we’ve already been able to listen to, and others that aren’t yet out, but one thing’s for sure: This is music at its very best.
Taylor Swift: 'Fearless (Taylor's Version)'
Of course, we were first introduced to “Fearless” back in 2008, as it made Taylor Swift a country-pop crossover phenomenon. However, she expressed an intent to re-record her first six albums after a record label dispute (via Billboard), and “Fearless” was the first, being re-released this year as “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” following on from her 2020 releases, the Grammy-winning “Folklore,” and “Evermore.” While fans will be familiar with the tracks on the album, and as such it might not be a brand new album in the truest sense of term, it’s fascinating to see Swift’s growth as an artist, and her increasing control of creative direction.
Giving contemporary pop classics like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” a new lease on life, and storming to the top of the charts across the world, this is a must-listen. Here’s hoping the other re-recorded albums will be this good!
Lana Del Rey: 'Chemtrails over the Country Club'
She’s actually just announced another 2021 album — and fans have mixed views on its cover art (via Insider) — but first, let’s take a look at Lana Del Rey’s seventh album: “Chemtrails over the Country Club.” Released in March, it garnered critical acclaim, being called “her most introspective album to date” by Rolling Stone.
The singer has long straddled the line between cult hero and bona-fide superstar, and she continues to do so here, making an album that both devoted fans and more casual listeners are very much enjoying (via Metacritic). With stripped-back folk and Americana influences (via Pitchfork), it’s the sort of pop album that’s perfect for a lazy Sunday morning drinking coffee, and is worth listening to!
Olivia Rodrigo: 'Sour'
If you haven’t heard “Drivers License” by now, you must have been living under a rock. Seriously. It’s been perhaps the biggest song of the first half of 2021, propelling 18-year-old Olivia Rodrigo from “Disney kid” status to international superstardom. “Deja Vu” followed at the beginning of April, also charting well (via Billboard) and getting praised by critics (via ANI News), and now her debut album, “Sour,” is set for release in May.
Rodrigo has mentioned that the album is influenced by artists as varied as Taylor Swift, Alanis Morissette, and Kacey Musgraves, and that she aims to combine pop music with both folk and alternative rock (via Nylon). Of course, she’s still something of an unknown quantity — we only have two songs from the teen to go on (minus her Disney career, that is) — but that makes it all the more exciting.
Billie Eilish: 'Happier Than Ever'
Another album that’s coming up is Billie Eilish’s sophomore record, “Happier Than Ever.” The LA native smashed records and changed the pop music game with 2019’s “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” becoming one of the biggest names in the world, despite not yet being in her twenties, and she’s back with her eagerly-awaited follow-up.
In between the two albums, Eilish has whetted our appetite with last year’s official James Bond theme “No Time To Die” (via BBC News), and three singles from “Happier Than Ever.” It’s thought that she’ll keep with her experimental pop style, but nobody knows for sure. What we do know, however, is that we’re waiting until the end of July to listen, so there’s plenty of time to speculate.
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