The Most effective Progressive Pop Songs of 2021

Stella McDaniel

Listen: Maandy, “Hivi Na Hivo”


Magdalena Bay: Mercurial Earth

The internet-obsessed rollout for Magdalena Bay’s debut album showcased Y2K-style web-sites, meta new music films, and hallucinatory TikToks—playful gateways into just one of the most distinctive pop documents of the 12 months. The L.A.-centered duo of Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin make audio splashed with markers of the past: vaporwave, G-funk, and Max Martin-sized pop are all touchstones for Mercurial Globe. There are wobbly sugar rushes and glitched-out ballads, but the album reaches its apex on “Chaeri,” a melancholic ode to a crumbling friendship where Magdalena Bay provide pathos and electro-pop perfection all at when. –Eric Torres

Listen/Obtain: Tough Trade | Amazon | Apple Music | Bandcamp | Spotify | Tidal

Saddest Factory / Dead Oceans

MUNA: “Silk Chiffon” [ft. Phoebe Bridgers]

​​Who’d have guessed that, in the 12 months of our Lord 2021, Phoebe Bridgers would put the text “life’s so fun” to tape—unironically? Even indie rock’s phantom queen bought swept up in the giddiness of “Silk Chiffon,” the to start with one unveiled by alt-pop group MUNA on Bridgers’ possess label. MUNA’s music generally center queer appreciate this one, explained by the band as a little something “for young ones to have their to start with homosexual kiss to,” is a swirl of tummy butterflies and PG sensuality. But individuals demure lyrics are backed by dazzling acoustic chords, fizzy electronics, and a chorus that pops like confetti, creating “Silk Chiffon” beautifully bombastic—a convincing counterpoint in a 12 months of tasteful, understated A-record pop. –Olivia Horn

Listen: MUNA, “Silk Chiffon” [ft. Phoebe Bridgers]


PinkPantheress: “Just for Me”

The aughts revival bought severe this yr. With confessional lyrics together with crushed-out 2-step and garage beats, 20-yr-outdated PinkPantheress soundtracked the confessional aspect of TikTok in 480p resolution, contacting again to the halcyon times of LiveJournal. “Just for me” lingers in the cutely obsessive, a diary entry that indulges the variety of vulnerability afforded by the far more introverted corners of the world wide web. –Stefanie Fernández

Hear: PinkPantheress, “Just for Me”


quinn: “and most importantly, have fun”

In excess of the previous two several years, quinn emerged as a person of the faces of digicore by her brash, boisterous on-line pop and rap, but in 2021, disillusioned with newfound fame, she commenced to reinvent herself. On her one-off single “and most importantly, have enjoyable,” she navigates this transition with an evil grin. The intro—“You don’t even know me, you really do not even know me”—feels scornful, but alongside verses describing a wild, drug-fueled bender, it becomes an invitation to be a part of her in the eye of the storm. Jagged bits of lifestyle fly all around: G-funk and drum’n’bass, a Kesha lyric, snippets from CDC director Rochelle Walensky and A Tribe Referred to as Quest. Like quinn’s on line presence, the track creates an illusion of familiarity though preserving the listener at arm’s length. –Mano Sundaresan

Hear: quinn, “and most importantly, have fun”

Matsor Initiatives

Rostam: “4Runner”

Rostam’s twelve-string tribute to the open up road would make anybody swoon, but this really like tune could keep exclusive significance for queer folks. “Don’t wanna be rather like a girl,” he sings. “I imagine I’m pretty a great deal your boy.” For any individual who’s ever felt like a foreigner in their very own skin, staying witnessed in the appropriate way by the right person—handsome relatively than beautiful, say—can truly feel like a homecoming. In “4Runner,” Rostam and his enjoy make a new residence for them selves on the freeway, leaving the familiar driving and driving forward into a future that at the time seemed unattainable. –Peyton Thomas

Pay attention: Rostam, “4Runner”


Smerz: “Believer”

Smerz, the digital challenge of Norwegian songwriters Henriette Motzfeldt and Catharina Stoltenberg, released its debut total-duration, Believer, early this calendar year. The album’s chilly, creeping title observe is among the the duo’s best function: The music teeters on jagged synths and rattling polyrhythms, even though strings surge from guiding at gale drive. Stoltenberg’s voice is smaller and a little bit processed, a mechanical purr that someway feels the two vulnerable and detached. Her clipped dispatches on really like are pragmatic and icy, but beguiling enough to lure you via just about every disorienting curve. –Madison Bloom

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