Huser’s 2021 Music Reviews

Grammy awards symbol.

Grammy awards symbol.

Brett Huser, Reporter

After a very lackluster year of music in 2020, which was heavily altered and limited due to COVID-19, 2021 was a great year for music, as an abundance of new music was released throughout the year. Many artists decided to postpone their releases and many artists were creating and working on new projects while in lockdown.

As the Grammy’s are coming up, I will provide my personal list of winners.


  • Record of The Year


  • ABBA – I Still Have Faith In You
  • John Batiste – Freedom
  • Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – I Get A Kick Out of You
  • Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Cesar & Giveon – Peaches
  • Doja Cat Featuring SZA – Kiss Me More
  • Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  • Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me By Your Name)
  • Olivia Rodrigo – drivers license
  • Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars) – Leave The Door Open

My pick: Olivia Rodrigo – drivers license

Sour by Oliva Rodrigo.


When people look back on 2021 music, one of the first songs that will likely come to mind is “Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo. The 18 year-old Disney actress released her debut single at the beginning of the year and it was instantly a runaway hit. The song reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 in a matter of weeks, and it shattered many first-week records both on Spotify and Amazon Music. The hit single came after an alleged breakup, as Olivia expressed her feelings with some deep, emotional lyrics. The song is called ‘Drivers License’ because supposedly her boyfriend had taught her how to drive. Very early in her music career, Rodrigo seems to be the most popular up and coming artist in all of music, and has drawn many comparisons to big name artists such as Taylor Swift.

  • Album of The Year


  • We Are – Jon Batiste
  • Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Love for Sale
  • Justin Bieber – Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe)
  • Doja Cat – Planet Her (Deluxe)
  • Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  • H.E.R. – Back of My Mind
  • Lil Nas X – Montero
  • Olivia Rodrigo – Sour
  • Taylor Swift – Evermore
  • Kanye West – Donda

My pick: Lil Nas X – Montero

Montero (album) - Wikipedia

Since his hit single, ‘Old Town Road’ from 2019, Lil Nas X has been a mainstay in pop culture.‘Montero’ is a bold, confident, statement-making album. The first song of the album is also called Montero, which is his birth name. This song has a melodic guitar melody, with a catchy beat. However, the song consists of some hard-hitting lyrics which Lil Nas X seems to be directing toward his critics. There has been a lot of additional attention circling his name, as he recently came out as gay, and also created his own shoes which seemed to intentionally have a satanic style. ‘Montero’, ‘Industry Baby’, and ‘That’s What I Want’ are the three most popular songs on the album, and a total of 11 songs on the album appeared on Billboard’s Hot 100 at some point. The album features a wide variety of features, including stars from the past like Elton John, to today’s stars such as Doja Cat and Jack Harlow.

Daniel Ghanbarzadeh, an avid fan of pop music and culture, shared his thoughts on Lil Nas X and his newest album.

“The first time I heard ‘Old Town Road’ back in December 2018 on a Bleacher Report post about the Colts making the playoffs, I knew Lil Nas X had talent. I watched how over the following months he used social media and memes to boost his music and Old Town Road eventually topped the charts in Spring 2019,” he said. “With Montero, Nas X displays his versatility where he goes from singing in Montero to a hit rap song in Industry Baby. Lil Nas X is only racking up more award nominations and fame. This is slowly becoming his world, and we’re just living in it. “

  • Song of The Year


  • Ed Sheeran – Bad Habits
  • Alicia Keys & Brandi Carlile – A Beautiful Noise
  • Olivia Rodrigo – Drivers License
  • H.E.R. – Fight for You
  • Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  • Doja Cat Featuring SZA – Kiss Me More
  • Silk Sonic – Leave the Door Open
  • Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Cesar & Giveon – Peaches
  • Brandi Carlile – Right on Time

My pick: Justin Bieber Featuring Daniel Cesar & Giveon – Peaches Huser’s 2021 Music Reviews

Justin Bieber created his 7th career number one hit with ‘Peaches’. ‘Peaches’ gained over 30 millions streams within the first 2 weeks, as well as 56 million views on the Youtube music video. Peaches is a calming, summery R&B/Hip-hop track. The song mentions many different parts of the United States, specifically Georgia, hence the name of the song. Bieber also mentions the Northern Lights in Alaska, and the state of California, in which he gained most of his popularity throughout his music career. Bieber is singing about his love for a girl, and how he wants to travel to these places with her. The song also features some smooth vocals from Daniel Cesar and Giveon.

  • New Artist of The Year


  • Arooj Aftab
  • Jimmie Allen
  • Baby Keem
  • Finneas
  • Glass Animals
  • Japanese Breakfast
  • The Kid Laroi
  • Arlo Parks
  • Olivia Rodrigo
  • Saweetie

My Pick: Olivia Rodrigo

Rodrigo has had a record-breaking year, as she became the first artist to ever start a career with her first three singles in the top 10 on the Hot 100 chart. These songs are ‘Deja Vu’, ‘Good 4 u’, and ‘drivers license’ which held the top spot for over 8 weeks. She ended up breaking Taylor Swift’s record of having the most songs in the top 10 at one time by a woman on Billboard’s streaming songs chart. At just 18 years old, Rodrgio has carved herself a pop music career which is very authentic and engaging. Her relatability and originality has struck a chord with millions of fans worldwide. Expect to see Olivia Rodrigo as a centerpiece name in the music industry for years to come. 


  • Best Pop Solo Performance
  • Justin Bieber – Anyone
  • Brandi Carlile – Right on Time
  • Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  • Ariana Grande – Positions
  • Olivia Rodrigo – Drivers License

My pick: Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever

Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish.

Having won 7 awards in the last 2 years, I expect Billie Eilish’s Grammy success to continue with her 2021 album, ‘Happier Than Ever’. This is a follow-up album from Billie’s hit album from 2019, ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’. In her 2021 album, Billie expresses her feelings and reflects on the experience of rapidly becoming a public figure, unexpected life changes, and dealing with ambitious expectations. A lot of the songs are very meaningful and heart-felt. Eilish’s vocals and commanding presence make a great combo in all of her songs.

  •  Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
  • Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – I Get a Kick Out of You
  • Justin Bieber & Benny Blanco – Lonely
  • BTS – Butter
  • Coldplay – Higher Power
  • Doja Cat Featuring SZA – Kiss Me More

My pick: BTS – Butter

Call Me If You Get Lost by Tyler, the Creator.

The South Korean, K-Pop boy band, ‘BTS’, also known as the Bangtan Boys released their hit single, ‘Butter” in May 2021. This was their first english-language track following their most well-known single, ‘Dynamite’ which was released a year ago. BTS stuck to their identity of making happy, uplifting songs that cover many topics that other artists tend to shy away from such as self-acceptance, mental health, and anti bullying/hate. ‘Butter’ is a very energetic, upbeat, feel-good type of song, which was one of the top hits of the Summer in the pop genre.

  • Best Pop Vocal Album
  • Justin Bieber – Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe)
  • Doja Cat – Planet Her (Deluxe)
  • Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
  • Ariana Grande – Positions
  • Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

My Pick: Doja Cat – Planet Her (Deluxe)

Planet Her by Doja Cat.

Doja Cat has risen to fame within the last few years. She dropped her debut hit album, ‘Hot Pink’ back in 2019. Her most recent album, ‘Planet Her’ was released this June and has been by far her most popular project. The album landed the top spot on the Billboard R&B Albums Chart and was the fastest album by a female rapper to reach 1 billion Spotify streams. The album is headlined by songs, ‘Woman’, ‘Need to Know’, and ‘You Right’ which features The Weekend. Doja Cat displays her unique yet versatile style on Planet Her, as well as her ability to sing, rap, and produce.


  • Best Rap Performance
  • Baby Keem Featuring Kendrick Lamar – Family Ties
  • Cardi B – Up
  • J. Cole Featuring 21 Savage & Morray – ​​My Life
  • Drake, Featuring Future & Young Thug – Way Too Sexy
  • Megan Thee Stallion – Thot Sh*t

My pick: Baby Keem Featuring Kendrick Lamar – Family Ties

Baby Keem burst into the rap scene this year, releasing the hit single, “Family Ties”, featuring rap legend, Kendrick Lamar. It was revealed that Baby Keem and Kendrick are actually cousins. The two went on to  collab once again on Baby Keem’s newly released album from September, ‘Melodic Blue’. Family Ties is a very unique song split into two parts. It starts out with Baby Keem, rapping over a very triumphant beat with a chorus of celebratory horns and drums. Once the beat veers off and changes, Kendrick begins his verse. Kendrick’s verse was very fast-paced and lyrical. The song ended with the two switching off bar for bar. This single was an instant hit, and Baby Keem really made a name for himself with this release, as he ended up being nominated for New Artist of the Year.

Rap enthusiast Ronin Tanihara went into depth about Baby Keem’s unique rapping style.

“Baby Keem has a very unique sound and flow. I would compare him to someone like Playboi Carti, who often utilizes different tones of his unique voice. Keem traditionally raps on a melodic beat with a hard-hitting 808 which is exactly what he does on Family Ties,” he explained. “The song displays many strong points such as the beat and the story behind the lyrics. However because of this unique style, it may not appeal to mainstream listeners who look for a more smooth-sounding style.”

  • Best Melodic Rap Performance
  • J. Cole Featuring Lil Baby – Pride Is the Devil
  • Doja Cat – Need to Know
  • Lil Nas X Featuring Jack Harlow – Industry Baby
  • Tyler, the Creator Featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Ty Dolla $ign – WusYaName
  • Kanye West Featuring the Weeknd & Lil Baby – Hurricane

My pick: Tyler, the Creator Featuring YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Ty Dolla $ign – WusYaName

Call Me If You Get Lost by Tyler, the Creator.

‘WusYaName’ was the hit song on Tyler The Creator’s album, ‘Call Me If You Get Lost’, which was released this Summer. It is a smooth jazz/rap song which contains a very sunny and soulful beat, making it a great “summer”-like song. This is a love song, as Tyler tells the story of meeting a girl, and falling in love at first sight, as he goes on to say what he will do to care for the girl. The song features YoungBoy Never Broke Again, and Ty Dolla $ign. This was an unexpected, but very effective trio of artists, as Tyler had never worked with either of the artists before, and each artist has a very different style. 

  • Best Rap Song
  • DMX Featuring Jay-Z & Nas – Bath Salts
  • Saweetie Featuring Doja Cat – Best Friend
  • Baby Keem Featuring Kendrick Lamar – Family Ties
  • Kanye West Featuring Jay-Z – Jail
  • J. Cole Featuring 21 Savage & Morray – ​​My Life

My pick: J. Cole Featuring 21 Savage & Morray – ​​My Life

“My Life” was the third track on J Cole’s long awaited 2021 album, ‘The Off-Season’. This was the first album J. Cole has released since he dropped ‘KOD’ back in 2018. Of all the great songs on ‘The Off-Season’, ‘My Life’ seemed to be the most masterful and emotional song on the album. J Cole starts out the song mentioning that he is “climbing the rich staircase of life”, and that he once started at the bottom but is now approaching the top. Throughout the song, J Cole raps about how he and his family came out of poverty, and that he had to face many hardships and tragedies growing up in a dangerous neighborhood. J Cole has had an inspiring journey, and he continues to express his feelings about his life and his past through all of his lyrical works.

  • Best Rap Album
  • J. Cole – The Off-Season
  • Drake – Certified Lover Boy
  • Nas – King’s Disease II
  • Tyler, the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost
  • Kanye West – Donda

My pick: Tyler, the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost

Tyler, the Creator returned to his roots and released a classic, masterful album in ‘Call Me If You Get Lost’. The album is produced by Tyler himself and is narrated/hosted by DJ Drama. The album features appearances from many big names such as Lil Wayne, Brent Faiyaz, NBA Youngboy, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Uzi, 42 Dugg, Pharrell Williams, and more. Tyler utilized his versatile range and capabilities of displaying many different genres in the album, including Rap, Indie, R&B, and Alternative hip-hop. Tyler raps about a wide range of topics, most of which have happened throughout the past few years of the pandemic, including loss of loved ones, racial injustice, heartbreak, and romantic yearning. This was yet another classic album from Tyler, which I believe is deserving of a Grammy.