2021 Repeat: The Essentials

The ten songs released in 2021 that are dearest to my heart.

2021 Repeat: The Essentials
🕒 This newsletter is 1296 words, a 10-minute read.

It’s time to wrap up. 2021 has been an exhausting ride—even more than 2020. At the start of the year, I was really annoyed after months of working from home, isolated and trying to be a responsible citizen.

Curating this newsletter every week not only gave me security but also brought along musical companions that were always there. They picked me up; they mourned with me; they asked tough questions or stood by with advice. These songs made me dance and laugh and cry, sparked joy and optimism. They speak what I felt deep inside, unable to verbalise.

I’m deeply grateful to the artists who created my new friends.

Today, with these essential tracks, the 2021 Repeat series concludes. It’s been a pleasure to re-listen the Weekly5 selections over and over. Of course, it’s now also time to give you all of the songs of 2021 Repeat in one handy playlist. Click here to follow on:

And, last but not least, I dedicate my deepest gratitude to you, dear subscriber.

Thank you for sticking around, reading this newsletter and listening to the songs I thought you might enjoy as well. If you have found a handful of tracks or artists thanks to Weekly5, I’m more than happy.

I’m already looking forward to 2022—and all the great music that will undoubtedly come our way. The Weekly5 officially return in mid-January.

But for now, I wish you happy holidays and a pleasant start to the new year.

All the best,

Adna.

White Lies – As I Try Not To Fall Apart

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Episode 29

As I Try Not To Fall Apart—a song title that seems like the perfect claim for 2021. This year’s first single by British trio White Lies needed a couple of listens to blossom. After that, I couldn’t help myself anymore: I was forever spellbound.

You take me in your grateful arms
And I try not to fall, oh I try not to fall apart

At first glance, As I Try Not To Fall Apart seems to be a complex track. But underneath the galloping arrangement lies an urging melody, filled with self-doubt, uncertainty but also hope and gratefulness. The song by the three Londoners reliably catapults me into a state of deep longing.

Adna – Darkness Born in Youth

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Episode 24

It’s a rare occasion when I cry the first time I hear a song. Darkness Born in Youth by Adna is such a song. It is an almost unbearably painful and bittersweet piece of art.

And I know we’re all bad in someone’s story
But I wish you weren’t bad in mine

Darkness Born in Youth only relies on an acoustic guitar and Adna’s grief-stricken voice. Gentle music is a deadly weapon. The song’s vulnerability is driving a knife right into the chest, cracks it open and exposing the heart to the harshness of life.

I struggle to describe the emotions stirred up by this song; so infallible is Adna’s ability to empathise and capture the essence of aching lovesickness, leaden sorrow, and deafening regrets. Darkness Born in Youth isn’t just the saddest song of 2021 but one of the most melancholic pieces ever created.

Kaktus Einarsson – 45rpm

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Killed Darlings I

The fact that I didn’t choose Kaktus Einarsson’s 45rpm for a regular episode is my biggest regret this year. Instead, the song landed in the first ‘Killed Darlings’ curation, although it definitely deserves everyone’s full attention.

Icelandic artist Einarsson has composed a stunningly beautiful song, a dreamy kaleidoscope of sound, revealing new shapes and colours around every corner. 45rpm sounds obscure and mysterious yet feels so personal and intimate.

It’s a song that invites you to lay back, close your eyes and let go. And you will keep falling into this fantastic world of 45rpm.

Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Episode 18

Afrique Victime, the new record by Tuareg shredder Mdou Moctar, is a unique escapade of Western rock and African soundscapes. The song Tala Tannam even made it to Barack Obama’s favourites of 2021. To European ears like mine, it feels weirdly familiar and foreign at the same time.

Moctar’s Afrique Victime bridges hemispheres and cultures. Reflecting on love, religion, women’s rights, inequality and colonial exploitation, the song is a monument of raising awareness that bursts of confidence.

However, I’m also aware that I can never fully grasp the meaning and emotional power implemented in Moctar’s work. Therefore, Afrique Victime remains a 7-minute long mystery of virtuous guitar climax.

James – Beautiful Beaches

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Episode 15

The ambivalence of epic proportions; that’s what James delivered with Beautiful Beaches. I never encountered a song that sounds so hopeful, so optimistic, so enthusiastic while the lyric’s background—fleeing from wildfires—is so sinister.

Take our chances
Take our chances
Burning down the houses
We’re surrounded

If you don’t know the story behind the lyrics, Beautiful Beaches simply remains one of the catchiest indie rock hymns of 2021. James delivered something utterly driven and longing that I get overwhelmed with wanderlust. It’s an especially dangerous song to listen to while driving because a) the risk of speeding is imminent, and b) you might just go on and on until you arrive at the beautiful beaches.

BARON.E – COMME RÊVE

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Episode 33

Another song that took time to conquer my heart: COMME RÊVE by Swiss electro-pop duo BARON.E. They take a unique approach to the genre, incorporating many acoustic sounds—and COMME RÊVE, part of their latest EP CRÉATURE, isn’t an exception.

Je veux sourire sans trêve
Ciel va s'ouvrir comme rêve

COMME RÊVE fascinates me with its contrast of melancholic ambience and a captivating flow. It’s a frictionless blend of synthesisers and analogue parts like the piano that effortlessly erupt out of the band—the song’s yearning hooks right into your body and soul.

Meimuna – Aux Gens du Vide

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Episode 25

Singer-songwriter jewellery doesn’t get any better than Aux Gens du Vide. The former m4music Demotape Clinic winner Cyrielle Formaz, aka Meimuna, demonstrates the vigorous craft of tender music.

Aux Gens du Vide is a shimmering gem to fragility, uncannily recreated in sound. Meimuna’s soothing, warm voice nestles between the delicate arrangement. Like a shy animal, an acoustic guitar accompanies her singing. It’s a comforting sound, rustling like a chimney on a cold winter’s night.

Embracing vulnerability with no fear or shame, Meimuna reminds me through Aux Gens du Vide to find strength in my weaknesses. It’s unspeakably beautiful.

Casper Caan – Last Chance (Hot Chip Remix)

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Episode 15

I despise whatever song is crowned as summer hit. So I usually find my own hymn for the season. And in 2021, it was Hot Chip’s remix of Casper Caan’s Last Chance. Even in its original state, the song is the perfect soundtrack for free-wheeling times with its electronica foundation and a surprising indie-rock feel.

But London’s legends Hot Chip ironed out the scratches and wrinkles and bolstered Last Chance with a pumping bassline. And yet, the track remains playful and out of the ordinary realms of mainstream electro-pop—primarily because of Caan’s storytelling.

I don’t really understand why but this remix of Last Chance always injects a heavy dose of dopamine into my system. Maybe the explanation isn’t that important. It’s Important to savour the moment.

Linn Koch-Emmery – Linn RIP

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Episode 2

Linn RIP is a fantastic bedroom-vibe indie anthem about self-doubt. However, Linn Koch-Emmery, the Swedish artist behind this mellow and somewhat depressing track, steers away from her usually pretty banging sound.

I see myself in the window
And I don’t like what I see
I hear myself at a party
And it sounds so bleak

However, Koch-Emmery compensates the calmer nature, the lack of noise with her other talent: an intriguing melody. So Linn RIP still shines bright as a borderline pop ballad. Yet, strangely, self-loathing can sound so wonderful.

Ivorrie – Plane

🎧 SpotifyApple Music 🔁 Repeat Episode 7

The fact that Plane by Swiss rapper Ivorrie landed on this list may irritate many that know me well, and it’s definitely a surprise to me also. I practically never listen to rap music, but Plane is an extraordinary exception.

The young artist captures the lockdown feeling perfect, this urge to flee out of a single room into the wide world. Plane is a laid-back track, thoughtful and sad even, wrapped in a heavy and cracking beat that feels like the shackles of routine. But the track’s true brilliance is the incorruptible coolness in Ivorrie’s flow.

This conveyed mood is without any doubt the reason why Ivorrie’s Plane became one of my most heard songs of the year.