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MUSIC: Billboard 50 Best Songs Of 2021 So Far.

The 50 Best Songs of 2021 So Far: Staff Picks

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Getty Images/Design by Lyanne Natividad

When we checked in on the best songs of 2020 last June, the charts (and radio in particular) were dominated by The Weeknd’s After Hours and Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia — the two big pop albums that weren’t afraid to go large with their ambitions, even at the lowest, scariest point of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it’s a year later, the world is opening back up, and the charts (and radio in particular) are currently being dominated by… yep, still After Hours and Future Nostalgia.

OK, that’s a little reductive: Plenty of other artists and albums have also done their part to keep the charts interesting in recent months. But it is conspicuous how the past year has seen the pop world really gravitate towards its most reliable stars, more than it has in recent years — leaning on them not just for one smash at a time, but sometimes as many as three or four simultaneously, while they keep finding new ways to breathe life into their most recent blockbuster LPs. They’ve been reassuring presences during this time of turmoil, but they’ve also made us particularly grateful for the newer breakout artists who’ve showed up to push them — including one who scored two of 2021’s biggest hits and became one of the year’s biggest stars, before even putting out her debut album.

0607 Midyear Albums List 2021 billboard 1500 1623080501 compressedREAD MOREThe 50 Best Albums of 2021 So Far: Staff Picks

And as always, it’s not just about the hitmakers, either: While they remain the centrifugal force of the industry, it’s been a similarly fruitful time for new artists still in the process of finding their audience, with results that are thrilling even if they never lead to Top 40 ubiquity and contention for the Super Bowl halftime show. Here are our picks for the 50 best songs we’ve heard from this year so far — including a handful technically released in 2020, but which were released as singles or peaked on the Billboard charts in 2021.

50. Willow feat. Travis Barker, “Transparent Soul” 

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49. Dawn Richard, “Bussifame”

48. Wisin, Jhay Cortez & Los Legendarios, “Fiel”

47. Young Dolph & Key Glock, “Penguins”

46. Taylor Swift, “Mr. Perfectly Fine” (Taylor’s Version) 

45. Trace Lysette, “SMB”
43. Glass Animals, “Heat Waves”
41. Yung Bleu feat. Drake, “You’re Mines Still”
40. Machine Gun Kelly x Blackbear, “My Ex’s Best Friend”
38. Rebecca Black, “Girlfriend”
36. Polo G, “Rapstar”

35. C. Tangana & Andrés Calamaro, “Hong Kong”

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34. serpentwithfeet, “Fellowship”

33. Durand Jones & the Indications, “Witchoo”

32. Drake feat. Lil Baby, “Wants and Needs”

31. WizKid feat. Tems, “Essence”

30. Lil Tjay feat. 6lack, “Calling My Phone”

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29. Lucy Dacus, “Hot & Heavy”

28. BTS, “Butter” 

27. Nicki Minaj, Drake & Lil Wayne, “Seeing Green”

26. Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)” 

25. Young Thug & Gunna, “Ski” 

24. Flight Facilities & Channel Tres, “Lights Up”

23. Ariana Grande feat. Doja Cat & Megan Thee Stallion, “34+35” (Remix)

22. Jessie Ware, “Please” 

21. Doja Cat feat. SZA, “Kiss Me More”

20. Jazmine Sullivan, “Pick Up Your Feelings”

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19. Christian Nodal & Gera MX, “Botella Tras Botella”

18. Pop Smoke, “What You Know Bout Love”

17. Giveon, “Heartbreak Anniversary”

16. Japanese Breakfast, “Be Sweet”

15. Saweetie feat. Doja Cat, “Best Friend”

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14. H.E.R., “Fight For You”

13. Olivia Rodrigo, “Good 4 U”

12. Billie Eilish, “Your Power”

11. Cardi B, “Up” 

10. Girl in Red, “Serotonin” 

9. Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” 

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8. Justin Bieber feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon, “Peaches”

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7. SZA, “Good Days” 

6. Pooh Shiesty feat. Lil Durk, “Back in Blood”

5. Kali Uchis, “Telepatía”

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4. Dua Lipa feat. DaBaby, “Levitating”

3. The Weeknd & Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears” (Remix)

2. Silk Sonic, “Leave the Door Open”

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1. Olivia Rodrigo, “Drivers License”.

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