From winners of The Voice and American Idol, to Country music newcomers and Pop upstarts, the first six months of 2021 have brought us some noteworthy new music. With half of the year behind us, we have ranked the top songs of 2021 (so far) by readership.
Jake Hoot is having a moment right now. With his debut EP, Love Out of Time, The Voice Season 17 champion is leaving an indelible mark, demonstrating he has the talent and grit for the long haul. His collaboration with Kelly Clarkson called “I Would’ve Loved You” is a prime example.
Their voices spill out, perfectly balancing one another, with all the pain and sorrow and rage they can muster. “With all that I am / with my heart wide open / for the rest of my life I promise you / I’m gonna hate you as long and as much as I would’ve loved you,” they sing. It’s the kind of flip-the-script moment, as a relationship burns like wildfire, that makes it a truly special number.
Listen to “I Would’ve Loved You” below.
Morgan Wade is the future of country music. She is a force to be reckoned with. Look no closer than her debut LP, Reckless, a deliciously appetizer buffet of modern country very much rooted in traditional thinking. Her song “Last Cigarette,” situating one last hookup with an ex as a hard-to-break addiction, is among her best.
“I want you one last time / Another hit to ease my mind,” she sings. Serenity, it seems, can only be found in a farewell embrace. And hey, we’ve all been there.
Listen to “Last Cigarette” below.
One of the brightest rising stars in the country format and 2019 American Idol champion Laine Hardy has done it again with new single, “Memorize You.” The upbeat track features elements of Hardy’s bayou brand of country music and his undeniable vocal ability. Written by Michael Tyler, Eric Arjes and Steven Dale Jones, and produced by Michael Knox, “Memorize You” is the new love song of the summer.
Listen to “Memorize You” below.
It’s no secret that traditional country music has made a major comeback in the past few years. After the domination of bro-country in the 2,000’s, artists like Cody Johnson, Parker McCollum, and Jon Pardi have managed to acquire mainstream country radio hits. Rising singer/songwriter Hayden Haddock is poised as the next breakthrough artist from the red dirt scene. Haddock’s single, “Honky Tonk On” is the perfect track for a Friday night at a two-stepping roadhouse. Co-penned by Haddock and his producer/manager Trent Willmon, “Honky Tonk On” is currently blazing up the Texas charts. This track is an undeniable party anthem for any country music enthusiast.
Listen to “Honky Tonk On” below.
American Idol champ Laine Hardy is paying homage to his home state of Louisiana on “Other LA.” Laine’s country/rock sound mixed with bayou production vibes, make this a standout track. The singer-songwriter’s loyal fanbase has stuck with him since his Season 17 American Idol win, and keep the rising country star producing authentic music.
Listen to “Other LA” below.
The reigning champion of American Idol, Chayce Beckham has released his debut single “23.” An impressive introduction, Beckham’s gritty and soulful voice soars over the outlaw country-produced track. A vocal mix of Eric Church and Chris Stapleton, Beckham has dominated the iTunes Charts since the May 14th release of “23” and continues to top artists like Luke Combs and Blake Shelton. With the amount of momentum this young artist already has, it won’t be long until Beckham follows in the footsteps of fellow American Idol alum Gabby Barrett.
Listen to “23” below.
Holiday Sidewinder tricks you into thinking you’re getting an acoustic heart-scorcher. Instead, “Into the Universe” is like sending David Bowie through the twisted Flaming Lips, emerging as a psych-pop acid trip. “Drifting slowly,” her voice echoes like starlight through the endless cosmos.
Piano lassos you, and her voice drags your feet into the dust storm. “Out of this weary world / In my mind / Into the universe,” she sings, almost calling to you from the otherside of the universe itself. It’s both ethereal and cold; a dichotomy that suits her well.
Listen to “Into the Universe” below.
Never judge a book by its cover. Alt-pop trio We Three combine top-notch songwriting, production and vocal prowess on new single, “Secrets” as they reveal their innermost insecurities. The sibling’s voices seamlessly weave together through effortless harmonies that only a family could possess. The new track is unique, yet highly mainstream. With millions of streams and video views already under their belt, the trio are certainly poised for a bright future.
Listen to “Secrets” below.
Out of Richmond, Virginia, Justin Black fronts a band called Saw Black, and his voice nearly always rips your heart out (or gives you a good chuckle). A new song called “Hardly Anyway” firmly saddles in the former category, a lo-fi weeper that stings the heart.
“Are you still living in the valley / Haven’t heard about you in years / I been driving ‘round here / With nowhere to go / Sometimes I wonder how you are,” he sings. His plaintive musings are nover undercooked or overwrought; somehow, he perfectly navigates overwhelming loneliness and emotional urgency with ease.
Listen to “Hardly Anyway” below.
Country newcomer Kylie Morgan is turning a new leaf on new track, “Shoulda.” The country-rock infused acoustic song is much more gritty than her debut single, “Break Things” and the cleverly crafted lyrics and melody make it a worthy radio hit. Morgan’s unique and refreshing sound is unlike any other in the genre and a welcome one. It is no wonder that Vevo named this promising and talented artist a 2021 Artist to Watch.
Listen to “Shoulda” below.
Listen to all of these tracks and more on our Spotify playlist.