Sound of our Revolution | December 2021: Best of 2021

Contributed by Jonny Collins

Well, here we are. The end of quite possibly one of the toughest years of my life, and judging by the general vibe on social media, the sentiment is largely shared. 2020 was an unprecedented disaster with glimmers of hope at the end of the tunnel. 2021 took that hope, shat on it, threw it in your face, then got you arrested for stealing its shit and wearing it indecently on your face.

I think we’re passed the point of looking forward to the future, but we can certainly say good riddance to the past, and send it off with a look at one of the few good things to come out of this year: The music.

No matter what kind of music you’re into – Pop, Hip-Hop, Rock, Metal, Punk, etc. – there has been some fucking phenomenal output this year both from veteran heavy hitters and newcomers taking the world by storm.

So let’s take this time to reminisce on the greatest anarchic punk, raw hip-hop, empowering pop, and all around superb Blizzard Comedy approved music from 2021.

(And some from 2020 – because I didn’t realize they were too old until I’d already crafted the playlist, and I didn’t want to start from scratch, so they’re staying.)

Track 1: Smile
Artist: Shea Diamond
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: R&B
Release Date: 28/06/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“I live my life for a price
To survive through the night every night
Ooh, change my groove, different moves
Want the moon, I’ma do what I do even if you don’t like it”

It felt right to kick off this playlist with a song whose title makes you do just that.

Smile is an upbeat Jazzy R&B anthem from one of the most iconic musicians you may not yet have heard of. Just a quick look at her Wikipedia and you’ll see that Shea Diamond has had one hell of a life. Imprisoned for 10 years for robbing a convenience store at gunpoint to pay for her gender affirmation surgery, only then to go on to write possibly the best Trans-Femme anthem of all time “I am Her”.

This song may rub some people up the wrong way with the line “If I can Smile, baby you can too. If I can smile, you’ve got no excuse” – but after reading even a paragraph of her history and experiences in and out of the men’s correctional facility over a decade, and her punishments of humiliation, isolation, and aggressive misgendering; honestly, if anyone has a write to sing this lyric, she does.

There will be people out there who may be going through worse things, and misery shouldn’t be competitive, you can be having a better time than others and still struggle, but I think it’s important to hear this line in the context of the song as something uplifting and inspiring, and not belittling. If you don’t have a smile on your face during this song, then I really do hope you’re getting the help and support you need, as you are loved and valuable. ❤

Track 2: MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)
Artist: Lil Nas-X
Album: Montero
Genre Hip-Hop
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins
Streaming & Downloads:

“Oh, call me by your name (mmm, mmm, mmm)
Tell me you love me in private
Call me by your name (mmm, mmm, mmm)
I do not care if you lying”

Oh come on, you knew at least one track from this album was going to be on this list. For a while I was actually going to go with Industry Baby as a big fuck you to the record industry that Lil Nas X played like a fucking legend this year, but in the end I opted for Montero for two reasons:

  1. Jack Harlow’s verse ruins Industry Baby.
  2. As pointed out by many music critics, Montero is not only a fucking banger of a song, it’s possibly the first Number 1 hit, not just with gay undertones, but explicitly depicting homosexual lust. In 2021. Even for the more progressive record labels out there this is a fucking achievement. Not to mention the iconic music video (side note, Lil Nas X might be one of the greatest visual artists of all time – his outfits, his moves, the direction of his videos, absolutely perfect) where he slides down a stripper pole to hell, only to give a lap dance to the devil, before breaking his neck and stealing his crown. This not so subtle reference to American Christian Right’s homophobic rhetoric about gay people going to hell pissed off all the right people for all the wrong reasons. Truthfully, the imagery is secondary to simply existing as a young, openly gay black man to them. Even Old Town Road had backlash from the Country charts for reasons that I’m sure had nothing to do with the fact that a Gen Z black man had made managed to make country music culturally relevant in popular music again after over a decade of boring white men trying and failing to do the same.

I could go on and on for the reasons that Lil Nas X is a queer icon and how I’m both pleased and jealous that future generations get to grow up with him in the world, but I’m clearly preaching to the converted here. This whole album is incredible, and even despite some of the more underwhelming collaborations on the album, this is a strong contender for album of the year, no doubt about it.

Track 3: 3 O’clock Things
Artist: AJR
Album: OK Orchestra
Genre: Indie
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins
Streaming & Downloads:

“Stay out of politics, stay on the fence
Stay out of all of it to keep half your fans
Isn’t this obvious? Am I insane?
There might be two sides to everything that you say
It’s all a bit cloudy but there’s one thing I know
That if you’re fucking racist then don’t come to my show”

AJR represent everything that 16-year-old me would have hated about pop-rock. From the stripped back musicianship, to the bland appearances, to some of the more cringe-inducing lyrics. There is no reason on earth I should like this band.

But despite all odds, I fucking adore them. A true testament to how much my attitude to music has improved since my late teens.

AJR Aren’t exactly anything extraordinary, but what they are is fucking good musicians, who are very clearly making the content they want to make and having fun with it, with unapologetic political messaging to boot.

This song is about a lot of things, not all of them political, but the political verses are the best – lamenting about how, in order to be successful, record execs and fans alike will tell them to just stay out of politics and stick to playing music. They then proceed to incorporate the least subtle lyric in the history of non-subtle lyrics of “If you’re fucking racist then don’t come to my show.” Before a really funky horn outro.

AJR might not be cool to your average Metalhead or Punk – but despite an arguably watered down and accessible approach to music – they certainly have more Punk sensibilities in their lyrics than many of the best Punk bands of the 70s and 80s in its peak. The sooner you realize that Punk isn’t a musical style, and an ideology and approach to art, the sooner you become an adult.

Track 4: Girl Clout
Artist: Fresh
Album: The Summer I Got Good At Guitar
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 09/03/2021
Nominated by: Thom Bee

“I didn’t pour my heart out
For you to fancy me
We didn’t drive for hours
To idolise your greed”

Girl Clout was nominated for our Intersectional Feminist playlist a couple of months back. I don’t know if Riot Grrl is seeing a resurgence this year, or if it was always here and I was just out of touch, but there is a LOT of great feminist punk right now.

Girl Clout is all about a certain brand of “Male Feminist” Punk act who try and use all girl or female fronted bands to try to give them credibility in Feminist circles, whilst also being creepy and playing with power dynamics to hit on (usually younger and less experienced) girls in the scene. Trying to get “Girl Clout” as it were.

Nice short and catchy track putting boy punks in their place. Love it.

Track 5: Boys Will Be Girls
Artist: Bones UK
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: Industrial
Release Date: 11/11/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“Why do you wanna talk about gender for?
Everybody here is on a different floor
Boys will be girls, girls will be boys effortlessly
Come as you are, come as you want, completely”

Wanna shoutout to BCBA regular Ela Bambust for drawing my attention to these folks with their song “Creature” for I think the “Pride is a Protest” playlist in June. Bones UK are a great Industrial Rock outfit, but rather than taking the Marilyn Manson route of using androgyny to shock whilst being incredibly misogynistic and abusive to everyone, they instead release this gender non-conforming anthem.

I don’t even need to deep dive these lyrics, it’s very clear – and the music video of them on a motorcycle being generally sexy and gender ambiguous is bound to appeal to the thirsty homosexuals we have watching our shows, so definitely check it out.

Track 6: I Heard You Want Your Country Back
Artist: Bob Vylan
Album: We Live Here (Deluxe)
Genre: Punk/Grime
Release Date: 12/02/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

“I heard you want your country back
Well shit, me too
You stole it right outta my hands
And pulled the rug right under my feet”

Okay, this might be a cheat entry – as technically this album is from 2020 – however the Deluxe Edition was released earlier this year, so go fuck yourselves I’m including this terrific bonus track from “We Live Here”

It’s not my favourite song off the album, but it’s not far off. Bob Vylan combine everything I love about UK Grime and “Oi!” Punk. It feels disingenuous to call them a Nu Metal, Rap Metal or Trap Metal band, as the blend of British Anarcho-Punk and London hip-hop is so smooth and beautifully pulled off, that all the negative connotations of the aforementioned genres are highly unworthy of this band.

This track tackles with the Brexiteers’ rhetoric of getting their country back, with a simple intro that just repeats the lines “I heard you want your country back? Shut the fuck up. I heard you want your country back? Nu-uh, you can’t have that” with a rising bassline and dirty beat – leading to a verse about wanting his country back from the gammon that have been demolishing it for at least the last decade by continuing to vote for corrupt Tory politicians who are slowly stripping away everything good about the country to enrich their friends.

A short track, but one that packs so much punch you’ll find yourself winded just by listening to it. Try to remain conscious for the rest of the playlist though, it’s pretty great.

Track 7: You Can Only Try Your Best
Artist: Knife Club
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 18/02/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

There’s only so much I can write for each of these songs. Knife Club are experts at encapsulating very simple concepts in few words, so I’ll do the same.

You can only try your best, and that’s enough. Work hard, fight the good fight, but don’t over exert yourself. You’re too important to burn yourself out for anything or anyone.

If we are fighting together, which we are, we’ll have more than enough of us to cover for if and when you need a break or are unable to carry on, on the frontlines. We got this.

Track 8: Why Must A Building Burn?
Artist: Maximo Park
Album: Nature Always Wins
Genre: Indie
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Nominated by: Jake Donaldson

“Why must a building burn
Before a lesson is learned?”

In case it wasn’t obvious, this track is about the 2017 manslaughter at Grenfell Tower. (I refuse to say Tragedy, because Tragedy implies it was an unpreventable accident, not gross negligence in a disgusting capitalist attempt to increase arbitrary profit margins at the expense of working class rights and safety.)

Jake Donaldson is a frequent contributor to these playlists, and it’s always Maximo Park. I’ll be honest they’re not typically the kind of music I’m super into – but despite musically lacking punch – that does not apply lyrically. And sometimes that blend works. The music has that kind of indie/space rock/trance vibe that makes you feel like you’re floating through the music, much more akin to feel good or maybe introspective themes rather than socio-political.

What makes this track work specifically, is that yes, it is an angry reaction to the factors that caused this crime, but it’s a reflection on the human cost of exploitative capitalism. Cut corners to maximize profits and lower expenditures without a care for the human consequences. This song makes an effort to humanize the slaughter; which gives it an eerie melancholy feel with the ambient indie backing.

It’s the epitome of “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed”. There comes a point where anger reaches a point that you just don’t have the energy anymore, you flip out into depressed apathy, and that’s where this song sits.

What makes it especially bad is that we still haven’t really learned or done anything. We’re still several years away from projected dates to remove and replace the cladding in similar towers all over the country. We will literally have to have at least one other general election before this work will be done. Which judging by recent trends, means we will have worked through about 7 more Tory Leadership contests, and at least 3 new copy/paste Labour leaders. Sigh.

Track 9: I am not a woman, I’m a god
Artist: Halsey
Album: If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Genre: Electropop
Release Date: 27/08/2021
Nominated By: Ray-Ray McPrice

“I am not a woman, I’m a god
I am not a martyr, I’m a problem
I am not a legend, I’m a fraud
So keep your heart ’cause I already got one”

I adore this track, I am not a woman I’m a god has such an earworm of a beat, “I am not a martyr, I’m a problem” is a superb line, and Halsey’s slightly breathy voice lends itself well to the sentiment.

Rather than me going on about it however, we have some words from the songs nominator Ray-Ray McPrice:

So, I’m a big fan of Halsey to begin with. Their music is thoughtful and darkly poetic, with an incredibly unique voice in both song writing and vocals. (Pretty much my entire Spotify Unwrapped revolved around Halsey, so… yeah, I might be biased. Apparently I was in their 0.1% of listeners??)

Heard on its own, ‘I am not a woman, I’m a god’ is such an impactful song – you could almost read it as a non-binary empowerment anthem, and yet it has this real undercurrent of menacing chaos. As a part of its parent album (‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’), that undercurrent is devastatingly strong; the album (and it’s accompanying film) is about the often bleak reality of being an AFAB person in a world where control over your own narrative is a rarity.

I imagine many other non-binary people can find affinity in a story where your body is simultaneously a weapon and a curse, and where even your strongest, “scream my truth from the rooftop” moments are tinged with self-doubt (if not complete erasure). It’s a song that balances a powerful emotional experience and its own place in a wider story – as well as just being incredibly fun to listen to.

Track 10: Make Good Art
Artist: Chris Catalyst Feat. Neil Gaiman
Album: Kaleidoscopes
Genre: Rock
Release Date: 22/01/2021
Nominated By: Sean Byrne


“You have the ability to make art
The one thing that you have, that nobody else has, is YOU
Your voice
Your mind
Your story
Your vision”

Bit of a soppy one, this. Taken from the works of Neil Gaiman, and featuring his voice, Make Good Art is a mantra he inspires. This is almost as good as that one speech from the end of Ratatouille. High praise from me.

Track 11: Morbid Obsessions
Artist: We Are The Union
Album: Ordinary Life
Genre: Ska
Release Date: 24/04/2021
Nominated By: Kirstie Summers

“Let go of these morbid obsessions
Every thought feels like a confession
She said, she said, she said
If I get one life, gonna do what I want”

This entire album was a blessing to come out of this year. I can’t remember who initially got me into this band, as both my partner and Kirstie got into them around the same time – but Kirstie nominated them for our Trans playlist, so here’s what she has to say on it:

The music video for We Are The Union’s Morbid Obsession might be best example I can imagine of monsters-as-queer-representation actually done well. The theme of the song works so well with the zombie iconography, creating a really profound question, “why be dead when I could just be myself?”

This is all played out under an upbeat, bright ska tune that has way more depth than you might think if you only caught it in passing. Not just this song but the entire Ordinary Life album engages with some of today’s harshest issues in a way that is deeply personal to the band and makes them enormously accessible, even if you’re privileged enough to never experience them personally.

Between having the support of her band and community in performing with genuine authenticity and vulnerability, Reade Walcott shines on this album.

Track 12: Fish And Chips
Artist: Lady Parts
Album: We Are Lady Parts (Music From The Original Series)
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 21/05/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

“Broken by the empire, raised by MTV
Misfit of the motherland, still fish and chips for tea”

Seriously, if you haven’t seen Channel 4’s criminally under-appreciated new sitcom “We are Lady Parts” get on it. If you’re a fan of Spinal Tap, Flight of the Conchords, or anything in-between, this will be great for you. A modern take on the rock sitcom – a loving pastiche of both Riot Grrl punk and Islam, in a way that shows a deep love and appreciation for both.

I struggled to pick one song to really showcase how great the show is, and sadly there’s only 6 – two of which are covers. In the end I went for Fish and Chips, one of the more understated tracks as it doesn’t really tie into the plot, but it is a great showcase for the values of the show and the experience of British-Muslim Millennials.

Check out the full album and series though. It’s well worth your time, and the kind of show I wish I was capable of producing.

Track 13: Pest
Artist: Goat Girl
Album: On All Fours
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 29/01/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

“Pest from the west
Drums on his chest
And sucks from the tee-tee
You’re one of those pests
The pest from the west”

This playful song’s lyrics are a parody of when we decided to call a certain snowstorm “The Beast from the East” – which Goat Girl rightly point out is a weirdly racist way to describe a natural phenomenon. Thus Pests from the West was born – and is a very apt way to describe the way the West has behaved historically.

Track 14: Frantic
Artist: Andy B & The World
Album: The First One
Genre: Ska
Release Date: 17/01/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“Angry men in angry times
mollycoddled boys in pressed
white shirts and ties
they are vocal they are loud
but they’re not saying anything
worth writing about”

It was so hard picking just one track from one of the most ambitious Ska crossover projects I have ever heard of. Andy B & The World isn’t just a band, it’s a producer’s worldwide journey, collaborating with Ska, Punk & Reggae musicians from all different parts of the world, to create an album that doesn’t really have a consistent through-line – but is a celebration of all things Ska, and the sensibilities therein.

Despite having many eligible tracks that could be considered one of the best of the year, I ended up going for Frantic. It’s not necessarily better than Protesting, Change the World or Black and Blue – but it is the one that I find in my head rent free – as I keep expecting the rhyme to be “Angry men in angry ties” and no matter how many times I hear that line, my brain keeps auto-filling it.

This song is about toxic masculinity, incels and MRA rhetoric and how damaging it can be if we don’t defend against it. Not much more to say really – also it’s got a catchy as fuck brass hook, what’s not to love?

Track 15: Raise My Glass
Artist: Wonk Unit
Album: Uncle Daddy
Genre: Indie
Release Date: 01/01/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“Every year that passes I raise a glass to another one without you”

Not typically a Blizzard track in terms of lyrical content – not really being about bigger picture social-politics – but this is an absolute banger about celebrating another New Year’s Eve away from your abusive and toxic ex, which I think may resonate with a number of you.

I know a lot of couples who broke up over lockdown for various reasons, some of them were a surprise and kind of sad, but a lot of them were a lucky escape for people who deserved so much better. This song touches on the slight melancholy of former relationships, while also being an unambiguous celebration of life being better now.

This is hardly ground-breaking territory for rock music to tread, but I don’t think many songs handle it as elegantly and as simply as this one does. If you’ve ever ended a difficult long term relationship knowing it was the right thing but still breaking your own heart in the process – this song will hit hard and be incredibly comforting.

Track 16: Kill The Rich
Artist: Vindicator
Album: Communal Decay
Genre: Thrash Metal
Release Date: 01/10/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

Do I need to explain this title?

Track 17: Rotten Dichotomy
Artist: The Best of the Worst
Album: Better Medicine
Genre: Ska core
Release Date: 19/02/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“Conditioned to believe the duality is real
It’s time to let the bigots be taken down by the misfits
We will not agree to secede, this is our fucking time
As your generation crumbles, ours will begin to rise”

Turns out this song is actually a 2020 track, whoops. I was first aware of it from the Better Medicine album however, which wasn’t released until Feb this year, so I’m counting it.

Hardcore Ska celebrating non-binary genders and serving as a generational anthem. This song is a strong contender for the heaviest track on the playlist, and yet it still has some of the funkiest horn sections I’ve ever heard. What a blend.

Track 18: Pill Popper
Artist: Limp Bizkit
Album: Still Sucks
Genre: Rap Metal
Release Date: 31/10/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“It’s no secret that our governments have fostered a culture of corruption
In which special interest and big donors advance their interests
At the expense of everyday people
The pharmaceutical industry does not create cures
They create customers”

Honestly, apart from that sample at the beginning, this song has no reason being on this list – but there was 0 chance I was going to create this playlist without a track from the latest Limp Bizkit album.

I think I’ve gone too deep into the irony. The album isn’t even good, it’s fairly average at best from a band who haven’t been good for nearly 2 decades. Yet I can’t stop loving them for some reason.

I was born in 1995, meaning I’m right on the cusp of Gen Z – but my inexplicable love for Limp Bizkit firmly cements the millennial in me. No self respecting Gen Z would even listen to this album, let alone pick a track for a year end playlist. What is wrong with me?

Track 19: Nowhere Generation
Artist: Rise Against
Album: Nowhere Generation
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 18/03/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“We are the nowhere generation
We are the kids that no one wants
We are a credible threat to the rules you set
A cause to be alarmed
We are not the names that we’ve been given
We speak a language you don’t know
We are the nowhere generation”

Rise Against are all Gen X’ers in their 40s. So it’s arguably a bit rich that they kick off their new album claiming to be “The Nowhere generations…the kids that no one wants”. Even by the loosest definition of “Kids”, you’re about a decade out of it.

That being said, they have done what they do best and fully capture that teenage/20s rebellious attitude in a world that’s increasingly against them and indeed the entirety of the human race.

This track oozes Gen Z energy – and I’m not sure whether it’s meant to, or whether it’s meant to be a retroactive song about their own generation, or even their generation of fans who are mostly Millennials. The fact is this song is vague enough to be applicable to all of them, and it’ll only get more relevant with each new generation.

Kudos Rise Against. I’m 26 and I find myself struggling to keep myself relevant to the current generation of kids, yet well into your 40s you’re still releasing generational anthems twice removed from your own. That takes talent.

Track 20: GlitchGang
Artist: Dropout Kings
Album: GlitchGang
Genre: Trap Metal
Release Date: 06/04/2021
Nominated by: Kat Thomas

“Fuck the discussion there’s no need to beg
And we don’t want the bread now it’s off with your head”

Okay this is another kind of cheat entry as it was technically released in 2020. BUT the EP and single were re-released in April of this year, and this song slaps harder than any rap metal I’ve heard since the first time I heard Hacktivist in the early 2010s. Yes, even better than Limp Bizkit.

Technically speaking this track shouldn’t be eligible for this list, but I’ve been listening to it non-stop since I first heard it, and it still feels fresh as fuck, so it may as well be a 2021 song for all intents and purposes.

They have that Hacktivist vibe of djenty inspired riffs with genuinely tight bars, excellent flow, and guttural vocals that put a lot of modern death metal to shame. Their closest approximation is probably someone like Fever 333, although where Fever feel like a Punk band with trap elements, Dropout Kings are 100% peak Trap Metal, which I genuinely think is the most interesting subgenre music to have emerged in quite some time, and I look forward to hearing more of it, and the lasting legacy it leaves in alternative music.

But don’t just take my word for it – nominator and good friend Kat Thomas has kindly provided their own words on what makes this song great:

I first heard this song in the summer of 2020, which I think was very good time for this song to have come out historically. The Black Lives Matter movement was at a peak following the murder of George Floyd, and many BIPOC were simply not hiding their frustrations anymore. So a band fronted by a Black man really did rise to the occasion to bring out the frustration!

There are many songs which are so perfect for the world we live in, or for showing how the frustration of never being listened to really does sit deep within you – and this song does it in the first breath the lead vocalist takes: “Fuck the discussion there’s no need to beg, and we don’t want the bread now it’s off with your head”.

So I feel like it’s a good song to listen to when you’re mad at the world and want a song to gear you up!

Track 21: See You In Hell
Artist: Common Sense Kid
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 14/05/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“They claim the past is better
Wear a flag like a sweater
But it doesn’t make sense to me
So I shout out in frustration
At the idiots in this nation
To just get in the fucking sea”

See You In Hell, was, If I recall correctly, actually nominated on Twitter by the artist himself for our Anti-Brexit playlist in August time. Rather than more smug pontification from myself, I reached out to the Common Sense Kid himself to give us an insight into the writing behind this song:

The song is a reflection about how I feel this government looks down on people and lack any form of empathy for human life outside of this island, anyone who is struggling and how this gross nationalist mentality that they are putting forward is seeping in to the pours of society. It’s also about Jacob Reese-Mogg as he really is a stuck up prick.

Track 22: Beautiful James
Artist: Placebo
Album: Surrounded By Spies
Genre: Britpop
Release Date: 16/09/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“Take me by the hand
As we cross through battlefields
Nobody understands
‘cause there’s nobody at the wheel”

Yep. This is Placebo.

I had no idea they had a new single out until I was researching for this list. Didn’t even use the single in the end, this was the B-Side.

Placebo have had genderbending and homoerotic themes since the very beginning, but this is as far as I know the first song of theirs that explicitly names a same sex romantic subject – and it’s a good one. If you like Placebo, you’ll like this. Not much else to say really.

Track 23: God Save This Queen
Artist: Bimini
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: Dance
Release Date: 03/06/2021
Nominated By: Kirstie Summers

“Here’s to the queers, whether lost or found
To the big city from the sea side town
Winning at life by being me, Bimini
Gender free
Breaking boundaries
I’m living my dream
God save this queen”

This track is another banger nominated by Kirstie – here’s what she has to say on it:

I don’t hate every song that has been produced by a RuPaul’s Drag Race competitor, but even the passable ones are generally underwhelming. Bimini Bon Boulash has changed the landscape with God Save This Queen.

Both a queer and working class anthem, it’s the kind of catchy track that you can play in the club and educates without coming across as patronising. It’s playful and fun and mashes up the two sides of Bimini’s personality beautiful, juxtaposing iconic English punk aesthetics with their glamorous, feminine side, and centring both directly in the landscape of a council estate.

This track is unapologetically Bimini and speaks to a demographic of queer, working class kids who often don’t see people like them on TV. And it’s a bop.

Track 24: The Saccharine Drip
Artist: The Dowling Poole
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: Power Pop
Release Date: 06/08/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“Owing to the credit crunch
we had to privatise democracy
and chunks were wholesale bought by SERCO
who will sell it to the worthy,
Prove you’re worthy”

If you’re as embarrassingly into 70s Power Pop and nonsensical Psychedelic rock as I am, then you’re in for a treat.

The Dowling Poole pull off an iconic throwback to early prog sensibilities, having songs that go from making 0 sense to being very direct commentaries on politics. Saccharine Drip uses a lot of surrealist imagery, but that doesn’t stop its scathing commentary of Tory corruption, and in particular the sale of the NHS under the noses of the public whom they sworn to protect it.

This is the arbitrary dad rock song of the playlist – you can stop cringing now, everything else is much less cringe.

Track 25: Drop Dead
Artist: Grandson Feat. Kesha & Travis Barker
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: EDM
Release Date: 29/10/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

“Even if we go up in flames
I’ma treat it all the same
Know they won’t forget the name
For a lifetime”

This track might have also debuted in 2020. I’ve found conflicting info on it. The music video with Kesha and Travis Barker was released in October this year though, and I cba to make any last minute changes now, so it counts. So I think I ended up reading way too much into this song, when I think it’s largely just about drugs. But fuck it here we go.

Whatever the intended meaning, Drop Dead plays on a lot of imagery around drug usage, intertwined with dystopian language about losing fights and the bad guys winning. While you could read this song in a similar vein to Rehab by Amy Winehouse, a cry for help battling addiction, I actually think the drug references are used to position them as the working classes against the establishment.

Pot specifically is associated with the poor, with the “Upper Classes” typically using much worse substances both ethically and in terms of their effects. “I’m a Pothead, I’m a sinner” sounds more like reclamation of words that are used to shut down and dismiss the working classes when it comes to political discourse.

“I’d rather drop dead than be a quitter” Means simply that they’d rather die than give up the fight. “Don’t give up that easy, it’s turning round”: keep at the fight – it’s a slow process, but the tides are turning.

This was my reading of it anyway. On a re-listen I’m pretty sure it is the simpler reading of being about drug addictions and a kind of tongue in cheek glorification of it whilst describing the harrowing consequences in a triumphant and upbeat way. But there’s enough subtext in this that it’s definitely not a huge stretch that drugs are being used as a metaphor for class disparity and oppression.

Also it’s Kesha and Travis Barker, I wasn’t not going to include this track, even if the Blizzard Comedy tm reading is a load of nonsense.

Track 26: Oh!
Artist: The Linda Lindas!
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 21/07/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“Why do I say something
Say anything at all (oh!)
It seems that when I try
I always take the fall (oh!)
But when I don’t speak up
There’s nothing but regret (oh!)
I can’t stop thinking of
What could’ve happened next”

The Linda Lindas are quite possibly the most exciting Punk Band we’ve had in decades. A throwback to the peak of Riot Grrl at the best possible time, polished playing in that real authentic punk way, lyrics that only socially conscious young girls could make work, and an artistic vision that overshadows many of the O.G. Punk bands who invented the genre.

“Oh!” is their most recent song (at time of writing) and is a simple and catchy as hell little ditty about trying to speak up and help but things going wrong and the internalized guilt that leads to.

This song has such a satisfying beat, punctuated with the titular “Oh!” and tied together with a perfect chorus hook that will make you wish you wrote it. Young activists will definitely find substance in this song – and even the more apolitical people can’t say no to that hook. These girls are going to go on to do even more great things, and I for one can’t wait to hear more.

Track 27: Highly Emotional People – Le Sac Remix
Artist: MARINA Feat Le Sac
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: Electropop
Release Date: 04/11/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

“‘cause we’re just highly emotional people
And you don’t need to hide
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell me how you feel
I never see you cry”

Funny story: I was looking at some of my favourite songs from playlists past to try and find 2021 releases – found Purge the Poison by Marina – and was like “Oh I like this one, has she done anything this year?” Found this track ‘Highly Emotional People’ and was like ‘eh, not as good, but still pretty cool, this will do’ before realizing that Purge the Poison was also a 2021 track, and I could have just chosen that. Whoops.

Regardless, this isn’t a bad song at all. I went with the Le Sac remix only because it’s the first one I heard, I still don’t know how it compares. But lyrically it’s a lovely message about being okay to cry and express emotions, specifically regarding men who are often socialised to internalize and suck up their emotions from a young age.

This hits me hard as an AMAB person who was very emotionally open until my early teens, due in large part to horrendous levels of bullying at the beginning of secondary school, exacerbated by further bullying for crying, and a sense of frustration from some of the teachers due to said crying. I learnt that crying made bad things happen, so from then on I just stopped, I didn’t show any sad emotions for many years after that, and to this day I still struggle to cry – which as you’ll know can be an issue when you really need to. Often I need a good cry to get over particularly hard moments in life and begin the healing process. Without that release it’s internalised and continues to stew.

Expressing emotions doesn’t always fix anything, and there’s definitely a healthy balance where you’re expressing emotions without using them to manipulate anyone – but not being able to for years is, I think, a major factor in my depression.

I could be wrong. Maybe I would’ve had it anyway. But it certainly has made it harder to deal with, and I’m still recovering and learning how to be emotionally vulnerable around people, even those I trust a lot.

So yeah, this song hits pretty close to home for me. Not my favourite of hers – but definitely a profound one.

Track 28: We Got It All
Artist: Ah-Mer-Ah-Su
Album: Hopefully Limitless
Genre: Electropop
Release Date: 16/07/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

We Got It All is pure joy. Ah-Mer-Ah-Su has become a favourite artist of mine since I discovered her for my Trans playlist. Unlike the bittersweet tracks on her debut, this album has a much more overtly optimistic tone to it. Still trancey and mesmeric, and easy to get lost to with a cool visualizer or just closing your eyes and letting your brain fill in the gaps.

The music video adds to the joy with two trans women at different stages of their transition just having a great time together on the beach in bikinis. It is not often I get to see trans women who haven’t had bottom surgery in such empowering sexual clothing and owning it, and this warmed my heart to no end.

I can’t find the lyrics to this song, but the title and the hook “We Got It All” is a perfect match to the video. No one else, just these two trans women, a nice beach, and each other’s company. Utter bliss.

Track 29: BIG SHOT
Artist: Toby Fox
Album: Deltarune Chapter 2 (Original Game Soundtrack)
Genre: Video Game
Release Date: 17/09/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

Toby Fox released a new game. This is a track from said game. ‘Nuff said.

Track 30: It’s Raining Them
Artist: Mila Jam
Album: Non-Album Single
Genre: R&B
Release Date: 20/08/2021
Nominated By: Chris Bear

“‘cause tonight for the first time
Just about half-past ten
For the first time in history
It’s gonna start raining them”

My partner drew my attention to this gender neutral re-imagining of the Weather Girls’ classic “It’s Raining Men”, which is actually the second modern take I’ve heard on this song this year. Todrick Hall’s “Rainin’ Fellas” is also a banger.

I opted for this one for what it represents, however. Lyrically nothing has changed but gendered language (although they left ‘guy’ in for some reason?). Musically, it’s recognisable as the original, but a bit more understated and floaty – much like Ah-Mer-Ah-Su’s work.

It’s just such a joy to listen to, I had a big grin on my face the whole time. It’s Raining Men is already objectively one of the best songs of all time, and this version has just improved on it. Thank you, Mila Jam, for this – especially as I can imagine the kind of pushback you got on this upon release.

Track 31: Demonised
Artist: Crazy Arm
Album: Dark Hands, Thunderbolts
Genre: Folk Punk
Release Date: 29/01/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

“It’s hard not to die when you’re demonised
I blew hot, I blew cold, I felt bought and sold
Something trapped inside can not be denied
It’s ok to be wrong from now on”

I don’t actually have a great deal to say about this track lyrically, although the line “It’s hard not to die when you’re demonised” is pretty pertinent to the trans experience NGL.

Crazy Arm are a great anti fascist southern influenced punk outfit – and while this song seems to be going for more personal themes, it’s still a great tune and very worthy of its inclusion here.

Track 32: There are Dozens Of Us!
Artist: Animal Byproducts
Album: Attempts at Understanding
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 22/01/2021
Nominated By: Bee Bentall

“Do I undermine your solid gender roles?
Or are we all just assortments of holes?”

I don’t actually know a lot about this band, this was nominated by a relatively new audience member of ours, who has immediately engaged with our playlists to our pleasure!

This track doesn’t appear to be on YouTube, which is a shame, as it’s a solid non-binary anthem. 2021 seems to have a lot of them, good job, maybe it’s not all terrible.

Track 33: Queer
Artist: Sniff
Album: S/T
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 13/09/2021
Nominated By: Bee Bentall

Again, I think this title is fairly self-explanatory.

Track 34: Between the Lines
Artist: Nervus
Album: Sunday, Someday
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 03/03/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

“The Borders cut a line
that reaches through us
there is no ‘either side’
the myth consumes us
but we live and breathe between the lines”

I don’t actually remember where this song came from. They’re not a band I know well, but I can’t find any record of anyone else nominating them, so it must have been me. Either way, great fucking song, check ‘em out.

Track 35: NEGATIVE BLOOD       
Artist: Dollar Signs
Album: Hearts of Gold
Genre: Ska
Release Date: 12/03/2021
Nominated by: Thom Bee

“Trying to be more positive
But I got b-negative
Pumping through my blood
I’m b-negative in my blood”

Yet another 2020 track, I am not good at this. Once again, the single was released in 2020, but the album in 2021. Stop nit-picking @me.

Track 36: Class Struggle
Artist: Dog Park Dissidents
Album: ACAB For Cutie
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 03/01/2021
Nominated by: Pat Clinton


“We’re only free to be you and me to the degree
Capital and the state consent
We only live our lives and we can only thrive
Within the boundaries they have set”

This song became an instant favourite of mine when nominated back in May of this year for the Trans playlist.

Dog Park Dissidents angrily and concisely expose the whole problem with liberal gay rights. Apart from the obvious that we’ve been given the bare minimum to appease cis white gay men to try and get us all to shut up about the rest of the queer community who are in a different section of that umbrella; this song also brings to attention that even working class gay men don’t really have any meaningful progress in society. Being as oppressed as the country already oppresses its poorest individuals is barely cause for celebration.

This song is essential listening for anyone who doesn’t understand intersectionality. Just because sucking dick is no longer illegal, doesn’t mean LGBTQIA+ people aren’t still at the mercy of the whims of a corrupt police force and a system designed to keep the marginalized at the bottom while the elite profit.

We only get as many rights as they drip feed us after carefully calculating it won’t hurt their profits. They have created an arbitrary system of ownership and declared themselves a winner, and while on paper anyone can ascend the ladder and join them, that can’t actually happen in any significant way as it was rigged from the start.

Basically, capitalism bad.

Track 37: Unstoppable
Artist: Ad Infinitum
Album: Chapter II – Legacy
Genre: Symphonic/Power Metal
Release Date: 26/08/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“Hear me
Nothing can stop the fire in the heart
Of the broken one”

Lyrically this song is just full of Power Metal clichés, but the narrative fighting a hard battle and coming through against all the odds is trans as fuck and I won’t hear otherwise.

Also this band are fucking great, and it’s rare that I get to put Symphonic/Power Metal on these playlists, so let me have this one.

Track 38: TERF Obliteration
Artist: Hush
Album: Body
Genre: Death Metal
Release Date: 31/03/2021
Nominated by: Mike Fishcake

This song was recommended by XS Malarkey Darling (one of many) Mike Fishcake, and he had this to say about the track, which I endorse whole heartedly:

I’ve been in the position before where I’ve been flicking through random metal playlists, finding something I like the sound of and then discovering that the artist is an actual complete piece of Nazi shit. And wondering why people aren’t calling out the troublesome behaviour only to find some mealy-mouthed bollocks about “separating the art from the artist”.

So it makes me stand up and take notice when an artist like Hush not only nails their colours to the mast, but runs into the middle of the crowd furiously waving them about with absolutely no fucks given, knowing that they’re likely to receive abuse for bringing up the topics of sexism, racism and homophobia, into a scene where these subjects aren’t common. No ambiguity, no subtlety, just pure intensity.

Track 39: Fire To The Cops
Artist: Pig City
Album: ACxDC / Pig City – Split
Genre: Crust Punk
Release Date: 10/09/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

Again, title? Need I say more.

Track 40: Leaders Of The Blind
Artist: Green Lung
Album: Black Harvest
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date: 02/07/2021
Nominated by: Cam Emmott

“And isn’t it strange
How we all live in the dark
In shadows waiting
For someone to light a spark”

I can’t say I’m too familiar with this band, but I guess I’m still a metalhead at heart, and on the rare occasion I find a good metal band who aren’t libertarians, sex pests, or actual Nazis, it’s good to include them on a playlist.

Track 41: Ten Mysterious Photos That Can’t Be Explained
Artist: Billy Bragg
Album: The Million Things That Never Happened
Genre: Folk
Release Date: 29/10/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“The conspiracy hacks, the cyberchondriacs
Gripped by their fevered imagination
They’ve switched the filters off, too much is not enough
You know that you can overdose on information?”

When there’s a playlist where I don’t at least consider a Billy Brag song for it, I will eat my own buttocks. Ten Mysterious Photos is one of his more recent offerings (obviously, hence why it’s on this list) and among many things it tackles how quickly misinformation and propaganda can spread on the web and how easy it is to get sucked into the rabbit hole.

Normally hearing a 60-year-old moan about how computers are bad actually would be tiresome, but Billy Bragg is above that, and exposes the actual issues with the world wide web, not just how things were better when you told the time by throwing stones and tortoises, or whatever people used to do in the 60s, idk.

Track 42: Nudge It
Artist: Sleaford Mods feat. Amy Taylor
Album: Spare Ribs
Genre: Post-Punk
Release Date: 11/01/2021
Nominated by: Jonny Collins

“Just stuck on silly ideas ’cause it’s all you can cook
You fucking class tourist, you mixed your social groups up
It’s like you all stick together, a stronger edition
The non-creatives un-impact, she got no invention”

This probably isn’t my place to talk about this song, as it appears to be about co-opting a working class image as part of an artificial brand to improve street cred and capitalizing off the back of an oppressed people.

As a painfully middle class person, it’s not my place to comment on that, but Sleaford Mods are pretty much always spot on with their messaging, even when embedded in cryptic metaphor and imagery – not to mention a dirty fucking Post-Punk bassline, intense harmonizing with Amy Taylor, and truly authentic verses from them both. I hope by attempting to sing this song’s praises I’m not falling into the exact trap that its criticizing, but either way, more people should listen to Sleaford Mods, they’re great.

Track 43: Fuck These Fuckin’ Fascists
Artist: The Muslims
Album: Fuck These Fuckin Fascists
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 08/07/2021
Nominated By: Kirstie Summers


“Why try to hide
If you’re really full of white, white ass pride
Show your colours, all your tans and khaki white
Trust we know”

The last Kirstie song on this playlist is utterly perfect. See what she has to say about it:

A band made up of queer people of colour, The Muslims are peak punk in 2021. They oppose the white, cishet status quo with an infectious sound that absolutely bangs in every track their release. Fuck These Fucking Fascists gets right to the point, shoving all the bullshit hot takes to one side and going right for the jugular. There is no room for nuance or argument. What else really needs to be said? Fuck these fucking fascists.

Artist: Jeff Rosenstock feat. Laura Stevenson
Album: 2020 Dump
Genre: Punk
Release Date: 20/08/2021
Nominated By: Jonny Collins

“It has been a terrible year
But it’s not gonna stop moving forward
Even if it feels like nothing’s ever gonna change
The sun’s gonna rise in the morning
And you have to live anyway”

(Yep, another one that was originally released in 2020 – I’ll do better next time, promise.)

I seem to have an affinity with sad songs that have uplifting undertones (and vice versa). This song is fairly self explanatory. Many of us have had terrible years this year, but for better or for worse things are still moving forward. While it’s very easy to dwell on fears that nothing’s going to change or things are only going to get worse, the sun will rise tomorrow, and we’ll still be here, so while we are, we might as well fight.

Possibly a bit more low energy than the usual songs I include on these lists, but this one really struck a chord with me, so thank you for indulging me.

Track 45: Storm to Weather
Artist: Grace Petrie
Album: Connectivity
Genre: Folk
Release Date: 06/08/2021
Nominated by: Kit Thurman

“There’s a storm here to weather, the thunder’s coming near
Louder than ever and we don’t know where to steer
And though we can’t be together, no matter what my dear
I will love you forever and we will dance again next year”

This whole album was nominated by a good friend of ours Kit Thurman. Although as soon as I found out Grace Petrie had a new album out, there was no chance I wouldn’t have included a song from it!

This is a beautiful and hopeful song to end the playlist song, and Kit has provided us with a few words on why they chose it, as a lovely note to finish on:

Grace Petrie is an incredible artist and a queer icon. Her latest album is pure joy and Storm to Weather is a blessing to all of us coping with the isolation of the pandemic.

Phew, there you have it. 45 of the greatest songs 2021 had to offer. If you’ve made it to the end of this over 9000 word essay then I appreciate you, but also please get other hobbies. If reading this was even 1/10th as much effort as it was to write, it wasn’t worth it, get into Nazi punching or sodomy or something.

Genuinely though, thank you for reading. If you are reading I assume that means you are a dedicated follower of ours, so we are really thankful for all your support over the 2 most difficult years, of our just over 2 year lifespan.

2022 isn’t looking to be much better, but we’re still going to be here, fighting the good fight, and making lots of dick jokes along the way.

Tune in for our streams on the 20th & 27th December on for a nice round up of the news this year, and we’ll hopefully see you back at our live shows very soon!

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