In a year full of unpredictability, there was one thing that was for certain: music still thrived. Over the last 12 months, we resorted to listening to the hottest releases from our faves to get us through trying times. From triumphant music returns to first timers stepping out, this year was full of albums that truly served us everything. We at The Honey POP have put our heads together to try and narrow our list down and we’re sharing with you in no particular order our top 50 albums of 2021.
Sour – Olivia Rodrigo
In a streamlined journey of post-breakup sadness, internet-fueled insecurity, and a healthy dose of teen angst, Olivia Rodrigo lets her deepest feelings and fears out into the world with Sour. The lyrics on the album are some of the most thrilling and emotional we’ve heard all year, between lines like “one heart broke, four hands bloody” and “address the letters to the holes in my butterfly wings.” Olivia manages to make even the hardest parts of teenage life easily relatable and catchy beyond our wildest dreams. With just one album, she’s become a household name that clearly won’t fade away anytime soon and Sour is proving to be one of the best debut albums in pop music history.
Between Us – Little Mix
Little Mix celebrated their massive milestone of ten years together this year and to celebrate, they dropped their first-ever greatest hits album. Between Us reflects on their incredible discography of six albums and is jam-packed with hit singles and fan favorites from all six albums that truly are the essence of Little Mix. In addition to these well-known bangers, the girls recorded five new stunning songs, marking the dawn of a new era as a three-piece and while it may just seem to the average reader that these were just five random songs, it feels as though they were chosen for a reason; they showcase where the girls are in their life today. ‘Between Us’ cherishing their sisterhood and friendship, ‘Cut You Off’ coming to terms with removing people who are holding them back in life, ‘No’ proving their growth and ability to speak up for themselves, ‘Trash’ knowing their worth in a toxic relationship, and ‘Love Sweet Love’ praising self-love and sexuality. We are in love with the album, being able to reminisce over their iconic history and get excited for what the girls do next.
Red (Taylor’s Version) – Taylor Swift
Very few artists could cause as much noise with a rerelease, but of course Miss Taylor Swift would be the one to do exactly that. In order of owning 100% of her work, she’s been re-recording her albums and, as she’s said in an interview, if it says “Taylor’s Version” next to it, it means she owns it. Fearless was the first re-recording to bless our ears and if you thought that made some noise, Red had an even bigger commotion surrounding it. That may or may not have been due to the 10-minute version of ‘All Too Well’ we finally got to hear and all the vault songs we had the pleasure of hearing for the first time like ‘I Bet You Think About Me.’ Taylor did an awesome job once again of bringing new versions of her songs that are still reminiscent of the original releases and at the same time have a fresh feeling to them that only 2021 Taylor could put into the work. In conclusion, we know all these lyrics ‘All Too Well’ but knowing Taylor owns her work this time makes them hit ten times harder. Not that we’re complaining.
Justice – Justin Bieber
2021 was truly Justin Bieber‘s year with the release of his sixth studio album, Justice, which garnered eight GRAMMY nominations. As the Prince of Pop, Justice did not disappoint. In fact, the range and artistry on this album made it the most mature, sonically cohesive album Justin’s released to date. Beginning with the piano tune ‘2 Much,’ Justice opens with sweet sincerity and soft vocals backed by ethereal harmonies. The topics and lyricism of this album are elevated as well, including mental health, grief, growing up, and the uniquely strange journey from childhood to world-famous. On ‘Peaches’ with Daniel Caesar and Giveon, he continues exploring R&B, rounding out Justice’s musical versatility. At the end of the complete edition featuring a whopping 25 songs, including some chart-topping hits, one thing is clear – Justin Bieber is unstoppable. Through trials and tribulations, he’s emerged on the other side as an artist that continues to define a generation.
One Of A Kind – Monsta X
This year Monsta X was in ‘BEASTMODE’, dropping two full albums—in languages other than their native Korean no less!—and two mini albums. But one makes Monbebe especially proud and that is One Of A Kind. This mini album featured the first ever title track by rapper, producer, lyricist, and Handsome Dimple King Joohoney. ‘GAMBLER‘ hits the gas as Monsta X takes us all the way to 100mph with this perfectly crafted James Bond inspired track. ‘GAMBLER’ was even nominated for an MTV VMA award! Six more songs bless our ears on this mini album, exploring genres like Bossa Nova, Jazz, and EDM. Monbebe was treated to two sophisticated and sweet songs written by sultry vocalist Hyungwon—’Secrets’ & ‘BEBE’—and one EDM styled track—’Rotate’—created by impeccable rapper and maknae I.M. And we haven’t even discussed the dazzling vocals of their choreography-slaying leader Shownu, ray of golden sunshine Minhyuk and King of K-POP himself Yoo Kihyun! Hearing Monsta X pour their hearts and souls into this mini album was the best part of our year. One Of A Kind is a perfect, well-rounded representation of the pure talent Monsta X brings to the table with every comeback.
Solar Power – Lorde
We needed sunshine and light energy more than ever this year, and Lorde gave us just that with her shimmery third album, Solar Power. In just under an hour, she addresses topics like fame, her relationship with herself, and the impending threat of climate change with a grace and elegance that only Lorde could offer. Even while going in such a different direction from her previous dark pop efforts, Pure Heroine and Melodrama, she maintains her signature voice and the detail-attentive lyrics that her fans first fell in love with. She’s moving towards a lighter state of being and calls on the title track, “are you coming, my baby?” We’ll go anywhere Lorde goes and can’t wait to see what comes in her future.
Dancing With The Devil… The Art Of Starting Over – Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato came back with a breath of fresh air in the first half of 2021 with Dancing With The Devil… The Art of Starting Over. After their public health struggles, this album and the YouTube documentary that accompanied it opened up the world of Demi even more than before. With the first three songs signifying the Before, including the highly emotional ‘ICU (Madison’s Lullabye),’ the juxtaposition of ‘The Art of Starting Over’ is triumphant and joyful. Cycling through songs about addiction, heartbreak, breaking free of toxicity, and sexuality, this album marked a distinct highlight in Demi’s career. Plus, there are several iconic collabs worked in, including the sultry, powerful ‘Met Him Last Night’ with Ariana Grande as the two show off their vocal agility. While Demi’s always been known for their raw honesty, somehow this album feels the most honest to date. By the time we reach ‘Good Place,’ the tender, hopeful ballad closer, our hearts are just as wide-open as Demi’s.
Music of the Spheres – Coldplay
Coldplay has shot for the stars with their newly released studio album Music of the Spheres. Do you have your space suit ready? For in this galactic-themed set, we are led on a voyage through planets and back to Earth. But worry not, this will be a joyful journey that requires no further preparation. Only faith in the pop magic that Coldplay so aptly releases to the world. And we can certainly feel the presence of some ‘Higher Power’ in the composition of this out-of-the-world album. Because you can see Coldplay’s DNA intertwined with the melodies and lyrics released in their ninth LP. Mixing up some new synthetic sounds with many of their signature inspiring choruses, Music of the Spheres has much in store for us. So we hope ‘My Universe‘ is pushed further into uncharted territories, as we are gifted heavenly collaborations. All things considered, Coldplay continues to explore new sounds as they keep their soul intact. So, you’d better hop on this musical round-trip through the Cosmos!
When Facing The Things We Turn Away From – Luke Hemmings
Luke Hemmings surprised his fans with an incredible solo project, When Facing The Things We Turn Away From this year, announcing it out of nowhere and giving them a heart attack in the process, but it was well worth it. The album was released on August 13 after three promo singles, ‘Starting Line,’ ‘Motion,’ and ‘Place In Me,’ were released ahead of time. We saw Luke’s most vulnerable side on the album, with deep words supported by great music. It amazed everyone that he decided to share this aspect of him, especially when he was away from his band members, on an unknown journey. But, of course, this act of great bravery did not go unnoticed. The 5SOS Fam was thrilled to hear about his solo project, and they supported him wholeheartedly. Although the album came out to life “accidentally,” according to Luke, it couldn’t feel more right. By creating such a heartfelt record, Luke Hemmings showed how much experience he earned in his 10 years in the music industry.
If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power – Halsey
Halsey is an artist who knows how to fully execute a concept, and they proved this more than ever with If I Can’t Have Love I Want Power. The album covers themes of religion, sexuality, motherhood, mortality, and more, and the accompanying movie had some of the best visual storytelling, and acting, that pop music has seen in years. Halsey can tackle any genre, and when we heard she was working with Nine Inch Nails on this project, we knew we were in for a treat – her vocals perfectly suit this industrial, pop-punk edge. Stand out tracks include ‘The Lighthouse,’ and ‘Girl Is A Gun.’ Plus the run through of ‘Bells In Santa Fe,’ ‘Easier Than Lying,’ and ‘Lilith’ is literally genius tracklisting. Arguably, this is the strongest artistic statement we’ve ever heard from Halsey, and the entire album is rife with the honest lyricism and seductive theatricality we all know and love them for.
NOEASY – Stray Kids
It had been almost a year since the last Stray Kids comeback and we knew this release would be massive, and yet little did we know. Their second full-length studio album NOEASY was powerful, witty, diverse, unique and impactful. Not only ‘Thunderous’ was the definition of music excellence, but every b-side was pure genius. Stray Kids took influence from so many different genres and created a unique, cohesive and impressive body of work that screamed their name in every single way possible. NOEASY had everything anyone could ask for and in the most unique and never-seen-before way possible. Stray Kids are indeed the genre themselves.
Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish
Second albums are the hardest to make, and after having such a massive success like WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? the pressure to keep the momentum going is intense. For Billie Eilish though, it was a piece of cake. Happier Than Ever portrayed a maturing young singer, detailed on the opener ‘Getting Older.’ The album continued exploring artistic growth with new sounds and expanded on Billie’s vocal and lyrical abilities while still producing hits like ‘My Future,’ ‘Therefore I Am,’ and the powerful, explosive title track ‘Happier Than Ever.’ Flop era who?
An Evening With Silk Sonic – Silk Sonic
Every music lover gasped when we first heard that Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak had united to form Silk Sonic. The duo debuted with absolute earworm and one of the biggest songs of the year ‘Leave The Door Open’ back in March and we haven’t been able to get enough of them since. An Evening With Silk Sonic is as sleek and smooth as their name implies, and with just nine songs, is an incredibly concise album – they packed so much into those 31 minutes. The R&B, funk, pop, and soul album sounds like absolutely nothing else on the radio right now, and we love to see these two change the game like this – we’re fully expecting to see a lot of other artists experimenting with these influences in 2022. Highlights include the funky ‘Fly As Me,’ the hilarious ‘Smokin Out The Window,’ and masterpiece ‘777.’
Blue Letter – WONHO
Wonho took full control with his third mini album Blue Letter, writing, composing, and producing each of the seven tracks. And his production prowess shines throughout. The ethereal opening instrumental track ‘Intro: Seasons and Patterns’ captivates and sets the tone for the rest of the mini album. His title track ‘Blue’ is an upbeat song that encourages listeners to seize happy moments and dive fully into them, yet it also acknowledges the “blue” feelings that arise in life as well. Wonho further showcases his versatile talents with the song ‘Stranger,’ a melancholy track where he declares that he is “tired of being lonely.” The simplistic and gentle guitar is the perfect accent to his soft vocals. If we had to pick a favorite track from Blue Letter, ‘Stranger’ would be a top contender! The English version of ‘Blue’ wraps up this no-skip mini album. After listening, we can’t help but feel that Blue Letter is a genuine heartfelt letter to Wenees. Blue Letter is just the album ‘WENEED’ to end the year right. Wonho is beautifully uninhibited in sharing his thoughts and emotions and we can’t wait to see what new musical magic he has in store!
Teatro d’ira: Vol. 1 – Måneskin
Italian rockers Måneskin took the world by storm this year after winning 2021’s Eurovision Song Contest with their song, ‘ZITTI E BUONI.’ The song is the opening track on their breakthrough album Teatro d’ira: Vol. 1, which sees the band bringing back 70’s rock with a modern twist, and the glam rock style. The album features the global hit ‘I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE,’ (which you may have heard trending on TikTok earlier this year, alongside 2017’s ‘Beggin’). Packed with catchy rock tracks in both Italian and English, standout vocals, and killer instrumentals, this album was bound to be an international success. We can’t wait to see what Måneskin has in store next!
30 – Adele
One of the biggest music moments of 2021 was when Adele made her triumphant return with her fourth studio album 30. It marks the icon’s first release since 2015 and is undoubtedly her most personal record to date. Telling the tale of heartbreak, 30 explores the themes of the infliction of that pain on your family, rebuilding yourself following the gut-wrenching loss, and moving on with your life, and being able to give love another chance. Anyone who has had the misfortune of experiencing this kind of pain will find comfort and reliability within Adele’s latest album but must be warned to prepare for the waterworks and deep emotions the record encounters. Adele has shown us just what we’ve been missing with her absence and has us craving more every time.
Formula of Love: O + T = <3 – TWICE
After what somehow feels like a lifetime, despite only being a year, we finally got the 3rd full album from Queens of K-POP TWICE! Formula of Love: O+T=<3 is stacked with the quintessential pop we’ve come to expect from the girls. Highlight tracks are ‘CRUEL,’ written by member Dahyun and all-English 80s track ‘MOONLIGHT.’ In fact, the whole album is full of 80s nostalgia, pulling inspiration from genres including house, disco, and synthpop. Formula of Love: O+T=<3 received huge amounts of critical acclaim, rightly so, and is the highest-rated K-POP album of all time on Metacritic. We could never give this album enough praise, it’s concise, diverse, intelligent, and most importantly in times like these, fun! Even if you’re not ONCE, you soon will be, because good luck escaping ‘The Feels’ or ‘ICON’ if you’re on fan-edit TikTok.
Nobody is Listening – ZAYN
2021 started with the surprise release of ZAYN‘s 3rd solo album, Nobody Is Listening. Released on the 15th of January, preceded by singles ‘Better’ and ‘Vibez’, ZAYN gave us something different from his first two albums and once again showed us a new side of his never-ending talents. Nobody Is Listening is the first project where ZAYN had total creative freedom, describing it as his “most personal project to date,” to a degree where he even made the artwork himself. The album includes collaborations with Syd on ‘When Love’s Around’ and Devlin on ‘Windowsill’, and the track ‘Calamity’ as his first rap song, later in the year followed by rap projects ‘Yellow Metal’ and ‘Yellow Tape.’ Since the release, we’ve had the album on repeat and can’t wait to see what 2022 will bring for ZAYN!
Still Over It – Summer Walker
Summer Walker has cemented herself as one of the leading ladies of modern R&B, and Still Over It definitely reminded us of that fact this year! While it’s full of heartbreak, it also conveys hope, resilience, and clarity with bops like ‘Ex For A Reason’ with JT from City Girls, the Aaliyah-esque ‘Throw It Away,’ and cathartic jams ‘4th Baby Mama’ and ‘Session 33.’ While this project served as a continuation of sorts from Summer’s first album Over It, it showed growth and versatility as an artist, showing us Summer is at the top of her game, and we are here for it. Start stanning now, folks, she can only continue to go up from here.
The Chaos Chapter: Fight or Escape – Tomorrow X Together
This year Tomorrow X Together kick started a new era The Chaos Chapter which saw the quintet try out a more grown up concept compared to previous releases. Their sound became a lot more rock and pop punk fuelled with more instrument-based melodies, proving that TXT are no one trick pony, dabbling in a variety of genres. Going into their third year as a group, the boys showed how they have already grown up and evolved so much since their cute boy crush debut and have progressed as artists. The lyricism has also become a lot more mature and sings about topics that Gen Z can relate to all too well, with ‘LO$ER=L♡VER’ serving as an anthem for young people hurtling through their adolescence and young adults dwelling over the youth they may never have had, and ‘0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)’ featuring Seori sings about the emotional struggles of love and loving someone. We truly saw TXT get a glow up this year and we can hardly wait to see where their journey takes them next.
Planet Her – Doja Cat
In the past two years, Doja Cat‘s career has absolutely skyrocketed, and Planet Her is the culmination of that success! As Doja’s third full-length, Planet Her presents an artist who’s taking on music with all the force and magic of a shooting star, only one that’s here to stay. The album features insanely huge hits like ‘Kiss Me More’ with SZA, ‘Need to Know,’ ‘Ain’t Sh*t,’ and more. Plus, there are all-star collabs with artists like Ariana Grande and The Weeknd. Doja Cat has cemented herself as a household name and powerful trendsetter in R&B and Hip-Hop, as she bounces between rapping and singing. Planet Her truly reinforced the fact that Doja Cat is a one-of-a-kind artist and true live performer when the songs are brought to life onstage. We can’t wait to see where she goes next!
Montero – Lil Nas X
It’s bold for an up-and-coming artist to name both an explosive single and their debut album after themselves, but for Lil Nas X, that confidence is just part of who he’s becoming. MONTERO is a flourishing exploration of who he is and where he’s becoming, celebrating his sexuality while honing in on the moments where he feels the most self-doubt and vulnerability. With all-star features like Elton John and Megan Thee Stallion, the album proves Lil Nas X has plenty more up his sleeve, setting the stage for many more years in the spotlight.
Scaled and Icy – Twenty One Pilots
The duo didn’t disappoint us with Scaled And Icy, one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Unlike their previous albums, Scaled And Icy is a little more bright and positive, which is just what we needed. Tyler Joseph clarified the distinction by stating that they wanted to support his fellow Clique members by releasing such an album in these trying times while the world was still dealing with a global pandemic. So, like their earlier albums, you could say it was a thoughtful one. It’s no wonder that the Scaled And Icy became our comfort shortly after its release. As the first single, the band chose ‘Level of Concern,’ which was an excellent choice for promoting the new sound. However, if you’re familiar with Twenty One Pilots, you’ll know that upbeat doesn’t necessarily imply shallow lyrics. As we groove to the incredible music they’ve created, they make us take a moment to enjoy the excellent lyricism in each song.
Don’t Call Me – SHINee
2021 marked the year of SHINee being back! The five-piece finally made their return in February of this year with their seventh studio album Don’t Call Me and the lead single of the same name. The release felt momentous for their fans since SHINee had been on a military hiatus for two years. The record moved on to break multiple personal records and showcase why they are such a long-standing and well-rounded group. The release was followed up by a repackaged version in April and boy was Atlantis an addition to this already well-done album! Our favorite tracks from Don’t Call Me have to be ‘Code’ and ‘Body Rythym,’ the latter of which we are – as fans – still patiently waiting to see a live performance of!
Ashlyn – Ashe
2021 has been the year of Ashe for us here at The Honey POP! Maybe that’s because we’ve seen her live twice this year, and even met her in London, or maybe it’s because her album Ashlyn was easily one of our albums of the year! The Californian songstress had us all in our feels, from the first track to the last, with an album story full of heartache, and finding strength. In what was a car crash of a year for so many, the journey of Ashlyn was an abyss to swim in. With collabs we could have only dreamed of, with FINNEAS and Niall Horan, Ashlyn was packed full of melodic intricacies that left us finding something new after every listen. With a plethora of music videos that would make Old Hollywood jealous, Ashe transported us with tap-dancing, glass-breaking style, cementing the visual aesthetics this album deserved. Ashlyn is timeless, empowering, heartbreaking, and sublime in every way, just like its creator. We can’t wait to see what is next for our Peng Ting, Ashe. We’ll love her ‘Always.’
Back of my Mind – H.E.R
This year H.E.R released her full proper first album following five EPs and two compilation albums and it really set the bar high for modern day R&B. At just 23 years old, the GRAMMY award winner keeps outdoing herself with every rerelease and Back Of My Mind is no exception. Entwining downtempo R&B with neo-soul and a sprinkle of 80s nostalgia, H.E.R makes sure her voice and message are heard loud and clear throughout the record, touching on topics such as romantic complications, racism, and looking towards the future. We are in awe of this album and cannot wait to see what’s next for H.E.R.
Umbra – Grayscale
We’d been anticipating the release of Umbra, Grayscale’s 3rd album, for ages and we were not disappointed at all. But come on, it’s Grayscale, we expected nothing less than an amazing album. The literal meaning of Umbra has to do with shadows and darkness. It’s a beautiful juxtaposition for an album titled as such to end with a song called ‘Light’ and deal with a wide range of emotions, a sort of journey through that darkness. The band has talked previously about how creating this album was important for them, a cathartic experience in some cases. It also allowed them to experiment with their sound. Umbra has a noticeably different sound from their previous albums Nella Vita and Adornment, but we absolutely adore it. From the horns in ‘Without You’ to the choir in ‘Live Again,’ this album truly is music to our ears. Hearing the product of Grayscale’s genre-bending, emotionally-charged labor of love made the wait worth it and we implore you to check this album out.
Voyage – ABBA
We’ll be honest, if anyone had told us at the beginning of 2021 that we’d finish the year talking about a new ABBA album, we would’ve thought that person had lost their mind. But here we are, listening to Voyage and wondering how the quartet still sound so perfect after so many years of not making music together. All the songs are reminiscent of their classic sound from the 70s but it also sounds so new and exciting! It’s like the music matured along with the band and we love it as much as we love their previous music. You definitely should check their album out if you haven’t already. And if you’ve never been into ABBA, this is a great place to start. All that being said, we’d just like to add that ‘I Still Have Faith in You’ and ‘Keep an Eye on Dan’ are our faves off of Voyage. The future of ABBA albums is quite unclear, so we will be sure to treasure this record.
Bad Love – Key
Key made such an impressive comeback into the scene as a soloist. To say that Bad Love is pop perfection is an understatement. Key had a vision and he made it come true through this album – with the music, the styling, the music video – his input shines through every single aspect of this release. It was new, it was fresh, and anyone that is a lover of pop fell in love with it. He served concepts, vocals and lyrics. Going from upbeat songs such as ‘Helium’ to more deeply personal songs like ‘Eighteen,’ we can without a doubt say that Bad Love was a pop masterpiece and there’s nothing we would change about this perfect release.
Girl in a Box – Emma Blackery
Emma Blackery dropped her sophomore album Girl in a Box this year and showed clear growth and progression as an artist and since her debut album that she dropped in 2018. The album is quite heavy in Pop-Rock reminiscent of the early 2000s, which feels like it is perhaps this sound that fits Blackery like a glove, and it seems as though she has found great comfort in this kind of genre. With each release, Emma clearly defines the line between her YouTube career and music career, proving that she is actually an artist as opposed to a viral content creator who was offered a contract due to popularity. Emma lives and breathes her craft and listening to her discography right through to this latest release, it is evident her hard work is paying off as she continues to outdo herself.
= – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran dropped his first album since becoming a family man and this time he took another direction in his art. Steering away from his well-known folk-pop songs, Ed dives into the sounds of R&B groove and synth based 80s pop, though glimmers of old acoustic Ed can still be found in the record, most notably in the moving fan favorite ‘Visiting Hours.’ Changing the sound you are famous for is a massive risk but it seems as though he nailed it pretty well. Unlike his sound though, Ed still focuses a lot of his songs around love, be it romantic, platonic, family or otherwise, and these songs feel as though they will truly come to life during his stadium tour next year. We’re not sure if this is the last in the mathemtical albums trend for Sheeran, but we’re confident this is setting the tone for where he plans to navigate his career next.
Something For Thee Hotties – Megan Thee Stallion
In October, Megan Thee Stallion gifted her Hotties with a compilation album of freestyles and tracks from her archives, which were recorded between 2019 and 2021. Megan started out posting freestyles on social media and competing in underground cyphers, so whilst this album is a present for her loyal fans, it also serves as proof that Megan won’t ever shy away from her roots, and doesn’t pull her punches even though she’s now one of the biggest artists on the planet, with more eyes on her than ever. It also included massive track, and one of the songs of the year, ‘Thot S***,’ plus the vicious, unrelenting single ‘Megan’s Piano,’ which was a very last-minute addition to the album – a very smart decision. Something For Thee Hotties is Megan at her most playful, unforgiving, and charming, and Hotties couldn’t be more grateful for this gift!
BORDER: CARNIVAL – ENHYPEN
Even though they debuted only a year ago, ENHYPEN is truly one of those groups that defined K-POP this year. It’s fair to say that everyone was convinced of their potential and talent with their debut, but their first comeback simply put them on a whole other level. BORDER: CARNIVAL gave us a more unique, original, mature and established side of them. ENHYPEN pulled off two of the best songs in K-Pop this year with the intricate ‘Drunk-Dazed’ and the more seductive ‘Fever’. Hearing this release, it was hard to realise they were not only rookies but this was also their first-ever comeback. Not only this release had an impact on the entirety of 2021 but it is also one of the abums that set them as one of the most prominent boy groups of the fourth generation of K-Pop.
Revelación – Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez stepped out of her comfort zone when she released Revelación, her first Spanish-language project. And the risk certainly paid off! The record feels like a homecoming of sorts, paying homage to Selena’s Latina roots while still letting her push her boundaries and create one of her most stunning works to date. Her vocals sound better than ever and collaborations with Rauw Alejandro, Myke Towers, and DJ Snake add some spice to the tracklist. Now, the record has given Selena her first-ever GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Pop Album! Selena has proven her talent and ambition time and time again, and Revelación is the beautiful culmination of how her legacy has unfolded.
Advice – Taemin
Just before his enlistment, the idol of idols showed the world once again how he earned that title with his third mini-album Advice! As the trendsetting maknae of iconic K-POP group SHINee, Taemin delivered a solid mini-album of bops to tide us over while he completes his military service, and once again, he outdid himself. The title track’s alluring music video saw Taemin once again breaking gender norms and showing off his incredible dance skills, while soft ballad ‘If I could tell you’ with Taeyeon brought heart to the album’s overall dance-pop and R&B influence. We miss Taemin, but Advice is a great comfort in the meantime!
star-crossed – Kacey Musgraves
We’re not entirely sure how Kacey Musgraves managed to capture our deepest inner emotions with star-crossed but the endeavor landed the album on our list. Navigating through experience of divorce, star-crossed explores healing, emotions, introspection, and at its core seeks to relay the ups and downs of the healing process and aftermath of a relationship. This is perhaps captured best through the song ‘Justified,’ where Kacey sings “healing doesn’t happen in a straight line.” While it’s a simple enough sentiment, one that you’ve probably heard a dozen times, hearing it within the context of this song and album makes it pack more of a punch. ‘Breadwinner’ was another standout track on this album, warning listeners about people who would take advantage of their success and suck them dry emotionally as a result. Then you have a track like ‘Simple Times,’ which is an emotional dive into nostalgia, reminiscing about simpler times when life didn’t feel so complex. It’s a beautiful album that can’t be summed up in a simple paragraph or two and we highly recommend you listen to it if you haven’t.
All Over The Place – KSI
KSI dropped his sophomore album All Over The Place this year and really lived up to the standard he set with his debut. Constructed of a plethora of sounds such as Pop, Drill, Afro Beats, and Garage, KSI shows his capability of working with a variety of genres with great strength. The slick production and enticing collaborators are the icing and cherry on top, and makes for addictive listening, with many tracks often finding their way to new playlists of ours. Gaining fame as a successful YouTube personality, it can often be a challenge to be taken serious as an artist, but KSI has been working hard to make himself known as one of the UK’s current rappers and it seems to be paying off quite well.
Pagsibol – SB19
SB19 have been a rising P-POP group recently and we have truly loved becoming fans of them in 2021. Pagsibol is the follow-up to their 2020 debut album and continues to introduce the quintet to the world while winning new fans over every day. Infused with high-energy Pop bangers, Pagsibol is a mood-booster of a record that focuses on the growth through the experience of each member. The group also had a lot of control for this, from the concept to recording right through to the production, giving us an inside look at just who SB19 really are, and we’re excited to see what’s to come for these boys next.
Flowers For Vases / Descansos – Hayley Williams
It’s clear the world was in need of a sultry and endearing part two of Hayley Williams’s Petals For Armor. And we got it in the form of Flowers For Vases / Descansos. Simplistic in its production and vocals compared to her past work, the album gives fans a look at what a Hayley Williams song looks like in its skeletal stages. With most of the record flourishing in bareboned beautiful acoustic guitar, Hayley sings primarily from the bottom of her register — symbolic of the brittle ache she felt while writing it. She played all the instruments herself on this album, admitting she even improvised the bass riffs on the spot. Calling it her own folklore at one point, Flowers For Vases appealed to crestfallen souls everywhere. It’s done its part in holding us down until a new Paramore record arrives. But nevertheless, this was a grand exposé of gut-crushing songwriting — proving once again that Hayley Williams is the lyricist of our lifetime.
Attacca – SEVENTEEN
In 2021 we saw Rock music being popularized again and what a blessing it was, especially when you look at the gems SEVENTEEN gave us with Attacca. These guys never fail to serve us with incredible and refreshing music, this was no exception at all. ‘Rock With You’ was catchy, fun and simply incredible. Not only that, but every single b-side was so special and unique in its own way showing one more time how unique and diverse SEVENTEEN are as a group. Whether it’s the group or the sub-unit songs, Attaca was not only an incredible mini album but also the perfect way for SEVENTEEN to show everyone they’re not going anywhere.
It’ll All Make Sense In The End – James Arthur
To no surprise of anyone, James Arthur’s It’ll All Make Sense In The End is a magical, heart-felt masterpiece – inside and out. The lyrics are mesmerizing and poetic, the vocals are intoxicating and refined, and the beats/rhythms are dynamic and emotionally-rich, which is a recipe for perfection. Some of our favorite tracks on the album are ‘Take It Or Leave It,’ ‘SOS,’ ‘Always,’ ‘Last Of The Whiskey,’ and ‘Emily’ which all showcase his vulnerable side, but we also love the more upbeat, relatable tracks for some feel-good serotonin like ‘Deja Vu,’ ‘Ride,’ ‘September,’ and ‘Wolves.’ James put his heart and soul into every song, and each represents a small piece of him that he inserted to bring it to life, and that, in turn, made it his most personal and intimate album to date, and our favorite release from JA’s albums ever.
Greatest Hits – Waterparks
Greatest Hits by Waterparks was a necessary inclusion to our list of hit albums for the year. The band you know and love delivered excellence in the form of this album. What are some of our personal favorite tracks? We’re so glad you asked. ‘Snow Globe’ and ‘Violet’ pop into mind, with an infectious sound that will have you vibing along. ‘Lowkey As Hell,’ the first single to be released from the album is a fan favorite as well as one of our favorites. There’s different influences and musical stylings woven throughout this album, making it an awesome listening experience. Long time fans need not worry though, Greatest Hits definitely stills boasts that familiar Waterparks style we’ve come to know and love. The journey each song takes you on, a different sound and story in each one, has us insisting that you check this album out immediately if you haven’t yet.
If I Could Make It Go Quiet – girl in red
Norwreigen singer-songwriter girl in red has turly been making a name for herself in recent years and was even on our ones to watch for 2021 and dropped her debut album back in spring of this year. Exploring topics she knows best such as sexuality and mental health, girl in red is an ambassador for the gen z youth, singing about issues so many can relate to melodic bedroom pop meets Pop Punk, giving a feel of familiarity and reassurance of people experiencing similar to her stories. This year, she has transcended from an undiscovered Indie gem to a rising star who is destined for sold out tours and chart toppers, and we are thrilled to be part of her journey.
Bambi – Baekhyun
There is no denying that we miss EXO‘s Baekhyun from the music scene since his enlistment earlier this year. But before he left us all high and dry the man dropped one of our favorite albums Bambi, which was a complete success and took the idol back to his solo debut era sound. ‘Bambi’ is a massive R&B hit that was just way too sensual not to love. But also the rest of the album had us positively surprised. The entire album felt so bittersweet as it was a goodbye for now from the idol.
Good Things – Dan + Shay
If the past year has taught us anything it’s to appreciate the Good Things and that’s exactly why Dan + Shay’s album lives up to its name. The hit Nashville duo radiate positivity and good vibes with this record, giving us all something we really need right now. Infused with captivating melodies and memorable lyrics, the songs from Good Things are perfect to belt out at concerts once the blessed day arrives that we can see them in person once more. Country pop continues to rise and Dan + Shay prove that it’s here to stay.
Optimist – Finneas
The moment we have been waiting for since we have learned about the secret hero behind Billie Eilish’s music and heard his own tracks: Finneas released his solo album, Optimist, and it was well worth the wait. Optimist is about forced isolation brought on not just by the pandemic, but also by always being in the spotlight or by the challenges we confront in life. As you might have guessed, the album’s title is satirical. Still, Finneas finally found himself a place to show off everything he is capable of ultimately, and he did it admirably with his deep lyrics and delicate singing. The album is truly one of the most important debuts of 2021, and we are very proud of him. Of course, we have no idea how we’ll get over ‘Love Is Pain’ while lying on the floor listening to it on repeat, but hey, we’re not complaining.
ZERO: FEVER Pt. 2 – ATEEZ
It’s an understatement to say that ATEEZ had a massive year, and one of the big proofs of it was ZERO : FEVER pt. 2. Just before going to Kingdom, ATEEZ released one of their most iconic EPs to date. With the explosive ‘I’m The One (Fireworks)’, ATEEZ yet again established themselves as incredible performers, and the b-sides didn’t miss either. Through this more hip-hop driven EP, ATEEZ showed a more mature side and established themselves even more into the industry. There’s no better way to say it than to say ZERO : FEVER Pt. 2 was a moment.
The Band CAMINO – The Band CAMINO
We love a good self titled album around here so let us introduce you to The Band CAMINO by The Band CAMINO. We experience a true roller coaster of emotions every time we listen to this album and we have listened to it a lot. It will definitely make its way to your on repeat playlists we can guarantee that. The upbeat, dance-worthy track ‘I Think I Like You’ is a favorite or ours, perfect for those long freeway drives with the wind in your hair as you scream along. Need to get over someone or experiencing a particularly rough heartbreak? ‘Help Me Get Over You’ and ‘Damage’ are the songs for you. The Band CAMINO also tackled topics like the pitfalls of technology in ‘Look Up’ and struggles within one’s self with tracks like ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ and ‘Sorry Mom.’ They really do it all and every track has its own unique sound that makes for a fantastic listening experience. It’s truly one of our favorite albums from this year and you absolutely need to check it out if you haven’t already.
Spaceman – Nick Jonas
We’re not sure how Nick Jonas continues to wow us with his incredible talent after all these years, but Spaceman has to be the peak. His vocals breathe life into us! As he sings about the challenges brought on by the global pandemic, his voice has never sounded more mature. Nick Jonas, like us, was completely cut off from the rest of the world when he made this record, but he transformed that feeling into inspiration. It’s a concept album that goes from theme to theme, all of which are connected, allowing us to follow his journey through these difficult moments while being mesmerized by his incredible voice. We were swept away by his high voice and relatable lyrics the moment he released ‘Spaceman,’ the song that gave the album its name, to introduce the new era. Not to even mention how he gained our hearts, once more, with ‘This is Heaven,’ written for his wife, Priyanka Chopra.
Tell Me About Tomorrow – jxdn
This year was filled with a lot of surprises. There were hardships and there were blessings. One of those blessings is definitely jxdn releasing Tell Me About Tomorrow. Words can’t come close to how obsessed we here at The Honey POP are with jxdn and his music. He continues to amaze us with his talents, reminding us with every new song just how much we love him. This album has been on repeat the entire year and we wouldn’t change a thing. This year was kind to jxdn and his success and we’ve been cheering him on from the sidelines the whole way. We know that the only direction jxdn is going is up. We’re proud to say that we love Tell Me About Tomorrow and don’t plan on stopping. Every song in the album keeps us on the edge of our seats and we can’t get enough. With this year coming to a close, we can’t wait to hear more from jxdn and to catch him on tour in 2022!
Amazing Things – Don Broco
British band Don Bronco combines the sounds of metal, alternative, and Pop-Punk the create an intensely unique sound. In 2021 the band released their fourth studio album, and quite honestly, it rocked our year. Teasing the albums start with youtube studio sessions, the band succeeded in hyping fans up. Don Bronco’s album Amazing Things provides just that. Amazing. Things. The proof? Well, listen for yourself! Singles ‘Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan’ and ‘Gumshield’ paired with otherworldly music videos were gems for fans and first-time listeners alike. finding a Futuristic sound the band genre bends to create an album full of songs that anyone could groove to and landing it on our albums of 2021!
What was your favorite album in 2021? Who are you hoping drops one in 2022? Let us know down in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!
Writers: Jazmin Williams, Madison Murray, Taylor Alexis Heady, Nina Negron, Agustina Carrión Cresta, Nazlıcan Ay, Anna Marie, Juu Luquín, Yashira C., Selina Kuhn, Jen Southern, Emily Defoor, Aman Shamim, Anna Bastos, Dana Kaldy, Anastasia Knueppel, Dani King
Featured Image Source: Jazmin Williams