Can you believe we’re halfway through 2021? The time is flying, and the music is flowing! This year has been such a great one for releases, and we’ve already been served many amazing albums. To mark the halfway point of this year’s releases, we spent some time having a long, hard think about which records have made it to our top 20 album ranking. It was a difficult decision, but after listening to bop after bop on repeat, we present to you our top 20 albums of 2021 (so far)…
Nobody is Listening – Zayn
Zayn dropped a pleasant surprise earlier this year in the form of his third album, and honestly, it was a great start to 2021. Infused with love ballads and soft tracks, this album is a lot more stripped back compared to his sophomore album. Nobody is Listening has quite an intimate warming feel to it, and as he reaches the end of his 20s, a new father, and in a serious long-term relationship, it feels as though his music has matured with him. Having practically grown up with Zayn through his music career, we feel a sense of pride to see him go from teen heartthrob to musical dynamo and know we are on this journey for the long run.
Dancing With The Devil… The Art of Starting Over – Demi Lovato
It’s an undeniable fact that this is Demi‘s most personal and open album to date. Following the events of 2018, Demi took their pain, suffering, and their most important journey in life to date and turned it into art. Dancing With The Devil… The Art of Starting Over is raw and brutally honest. It answers the questions the world has had for years and shares insights into Demi’s metamorphosis and lessons they’ve learned. But even though the curtain has been pulled back, first-time listeners shouldn’t be fooled into thinking this is a doom and gloom record, as we receive high points of new beginnings and a conclusion which shares where they stand today in their lives odyssey.
Atlantis – SHINee
After such a long wait, SHINee‘s back! Their first project since 2018 and since Onew, Minho, and Key returned from military service, SHINee blessed us with both their seventh album Don’t Call Me as well as the repackage album Atlantis. When it comes to deluxe and repackaged albums, it can be very easy to create an unsettled balance to the original body of work. Still, our boys managed to make an already amazing album even better with the new tracks with Atlantis. Many groups tend to have a sell-by date, but 13 years on, SHINee prove they age like fine wine, and though we may need to wait a while for their next release following Taemin‘s enlistment, this album proves that SHINee’s journey is far from over, and we’re in this with them for the long run.
Sour – Olivia Rodrigo
We could not have had a top 20 of 2021 so far without Sour – a true collection of insanely well-written and composed tunes. Olivia Rodrigo claimed 2021 as her year in just a week when she dropped her debut single ‘Driver’s License.’ Taking the world on by a storm and quickly making herself a household name, it didn’t take long until everyone was anticipating her debut album. From the beginning of ‘Brutal,’ we were addicted and cannot get enough of Olivia’s impeccable vocals and lyrics. ‘Traitor’ leaving goosebumps with its heart-wrenching message and ‘Good 4 U’ having us empowered and feeling feisty, this album has everything.
The Chaos Chapter: Freeze – Tomorrow X Together
After a quick little interval with Minisode1: Blue Hour last fall, TXT is back on their journey of telling a story with their Chapter series in the form of their second studio album, The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE. The album is a continuation following The Dream Chapter trilogy and follows their journey from boyhood to adulthood. The quintet narrates the highs and lows of the rollercoaster that is adolescence, and as they grow up age-wise and personally, they also mature as artists, taking on a more solemn sound within their music. Their lyricism also shows growth as they switch out their young and dreamy thoughts for more realistic outlooks. We are seeing these young boys become men, and our hearts are bursting with pride!
Scaled and Icy – Twenty One Pilots
Whether you’re a Clikkie or not, Scaled and Icy will have something for you. This highly anticipated release has not disappointed and captivated us from the get-go and has been the perfect fill for the Josh and Tyler-shaped hole in our lives. Imagining these tunes coming to life on a live stage has us so excited to see what Twenty One Pilots have in store for us. Till then, though, find this on THP’s heavy rotation!
Taste of Love – TWICE
If we were to associate TWICE with any season, it would for sure be summer, and that’s precisely the feeling we get from their latest album, Taste of Love. The songs are full of spunky beats and bright vibes, which have us basking in the summer feels as it provides a soundtrack to our season. TWICE’s strength is delivering memorable songs, which are also made for spectacular performances, and of course, they’re consistently delivering. Taste of Love is no exception and evidence that our girls continue to thrive and make themselves known as one of the most impactful girl groups.
Back of My Mind – H.E.R
2021 is proving to be quite the year for Gabriella Wilson. From winning a GRAMMY and an Oscar to performing at the Super Bowl, her debut album dropping has definitely ended the first half of the year on a high for her. Back of My Mind is a sturdy first full-length project with a whopping 21 songs, and with such a selection, there really is something for everyone. From politics to love, there’s an array of topics covered that truly flaunt Gabriella’s songwriting skills and impressive vocal range. She’s quickly becoming the face of contemporary R&B, and this album is proof. It’s H.E.R‘s world, and we’re just living in it.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift
It has been some time that we were being teased about Taylor’s Versions, and when we got fed this new interpretation of Fearless, our hearts became full, uplifted, and touched. We cannot get enough of the latest twists and turns Taylor has breathed into this version, and it’s safe to say that Fearless now has an even bigger space in our hearts than it did before. It’s so easy to feel nostalgic when listening to this revived record, and we’re so excited for the next installment later this year.
Love Synonym #2: Right For Us – Wonho
Wonho delivered the second installment of the Love Synonym series this year, and one thing that’s clear: he loves Wenee. We saw more of an eclectic selection in his first mini-album, but Right For Us has more stability in its sound and vibes. It’s a beautifully penned love letter to his adoring and loyal fans who have been with him through the ups and downs as he branches out and blossoms as a soloist. Wonho stays true to his captivating pop sound, a great familiarity to dip your toes into before any future record that could take more of a plunge in experimental sound. We’re beginning a beautiful new journey with Wonho, and this album is such an excellent start.
Greatest Hits – Waterparks
Don’t be fooled by the album name, all 17 tracks on this album are original bops, but they really are Waterparks Greatest Hits. Despite not being a collection of their older discography. With every track packing a punch, the artist’s direction of this album and its creativity have our minds blown. Every track delivers something fresh and new and has us reaching to hit repeat every time. This album truly solidifies our love for this band, and we couldn’t be more thrilled over the chosen songs.
Better Mistakes– Bebe Rexha
No one evolves and creates as well as our queen Bebe and Better Mistakes is pure evidence of that. Her first full-length release in three years is a truly emotional journey that we feel honored to have taken. This is going to be blasted from every speaker we own for the entire summer, and it’s clear from the opener ‘Sabotage’ onwards why we feel this way. Whether you need a song to cry to or hit the dancefloor with, Bebe always has your back. True pop perfection!
Rebecca Black Was Here – Rebecca Black
Rebecca Black is back, and boy has she made her mark. When we discovered Rebecca had new music on the way, we were so stoked, and Rebecca Black Was Here has provided a truly captivating and wonderful group of tracks that have us hooked. The vibes and mood this album radiates have us living our best lives. Once a viral video star, our girl has all grown up, and we are absolutely thriving.
One Of A Kind – Monsta X
Serving as a follow-up from the 2020 album Fatal Love, One Of A Kind shows that even after six years since their debut, Monsta X shows no signs of slowing down or even hitting their peak. It shows growth and maturity while also showcasing just what these six boys are capable of. Our boys aren’t boys anymore, they’re men and are subsequently growing up with Monbebe, and this release is proof. Their sound, songwriting, style, visuals, and concepts are the strongest they’ve ever been. With such a great mix of composition with elements of EDM, Jazz, and Hip-Hop, One of a Kind is living up to the title and is quite a unique record sitting in their discography.
Internet Killed The Rockstar – Mod Sun
Moving on to more rocky vibes now, and this album delivers anthemic vibes whether you chant along to ‘Karma’ or get in your feelings with the Avril Lavigne duet for ‘Flames’ Internet Killed The Rockstar has everything you need from being uplifted or getting in touch with your feelings. We cannot wait to hear these songs come to life on the upcoming Mod Sun tour later this year when he hits the road with Tyler Posey.
Teatro d’ira: Vol. I – Måneskin
It’s safe to say unless you have been living under a rock that the first half of 2021 has most certainly belonged to Måneskin. And Teatro d’ira Vol. I only solidifies why for this mind-blowingly talented band that this is only the start. We cannot get enough of how powerful the instrumentals paired with the vocal are and love how you discover more and more with each listen. They’ve been taking off on TikTok and topping the viral charts, so we have a feeling that the second half of 2021 Måneskin is only gonna get bigger and bigger.
One Foot In Front Of The Other – Griff
This has been one heck of a year for Griff, from her BRIT win to the release of this album. It’s safe to say we expected awesome things, but by the end of our first listen of One Foot In Front Of The Other, we were shook. Astounded. And most importantly, in love. Griff has the ability to take you on a journey with her music in such a unique way that you’ll only understand if you check this collection out for yourself! Griff is for sure worthy of a place on your playlist, and we know that she’s destined for greatness.
Hot Sauce – NCT Dream
NCT Dream made their 2021 return with Hot Sauce, a cool and confident collection of songs as part of their first-ever full-length album release, and it’s bursting with flavor. Offering a more mature approach from their sweeter previous releases, this record really does bring the sauce. Hot Sauce feels like a graduation of high school and new beginnings as freshmen college students as the youngest unit of NCT reaches the end of their adolescence. It feels like puppy love is out and a more serious approach to emotions is a new concept while still embracing and celebrating their youth. This album is bold, bright, and musically diverse, which pretty much sums up these boys to a tee.
Planet Her – Doja Cat
Doja Cat‘s return makes pop weird and wonderful once again. When your first two albums have done well, there’s some pressure to make sure you continue your track record and even exceed the others, and it’s safe to say Doja did this with Planet Her. True pop goodness with a blend of trap, funk, and bubblegum topped with sprinklings of collabs from the likes of Ariana Grande, Young Thug, and SZA, this hugely anticipated album has truly lived up to the expectations and is undoubtedly one of pop’s biggest releases in 2021.
Stains – DE’WAYNE
We have waited for a DE’WAYNE album for a while now, and boy did he deliver. This album is everything we could have wished for and more. And whether you’re bopping along to ‘Super 8’ ‘Walking To Work’ or ‘National Anthem’ or sitting back and resonating with some of the other emotive album tracks Stains delivers. You would be a fool to sleep on this album. Get this in your playlists like yesterday!
We’re so excited to see what the next six months delivers!
What is your favorite album of 2021 so far? Do any of these break into your top 20? Let us know down in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!
Words: Jazmin Williams & Jodie-Rose Loren
Featured Image Source: Jazmin Williams