The most popular music of 2021 –– so far

With even more on the horizon, 2021 is shaping up to be a great year for the world of music.


Jared Mitovich

“drivers license,” the debut single by American pop artist Olivia Rodrigo, grew incredibly popular on social media platforms such as TikTok.

With every new year comes new music. Only three months into 2021, there are already many exciting music releases. Here are some of the tracks that have been keeping Pascack Hills going in these first few months of the new year –– with more releases on the way.

“drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo

This debut single, by American pop artist Olivia Rodrigo, grew incredibly popular on social media platforms such as TikTok. Rodrigo, an 18-year-old Disney star, has been praised for her emotional delivery of lyrics and her own story of heartbreak behind those lyrics. The song also acts as the lead single for Rodrigo’s upcoming debut EP.

Hills junior Riley Solomon gave her praise for the song, saying, “I love the vulnerability of the song and how catchy it is.” 

“drivers license” has broken multiple records, including Spotify’s record for the most single-day streams of a non-holiday song, and Rodrigo became the youngest artist with a number one single in the United States. The song currently remains at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift

An updated take on a Taylor Swift classic, “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” includes polished vocals from Swift as well as an improved instrumental track. Her master recordings were sold to businessman Scooter Braun. This was done after he had purchased her former recording label, Big Machine Records. Swift announced that she would be re-recording her first six studio albums. “Love Story”, from Swift’s second studio album, Fearless, was the first re-recorded track she released.

Leila Dhawan, a sophomore at Hills, had this to say about the track: “Listening to ‘Love Story’ re-recorded is a flashback to thirteen years ago [when the song first released]. It is nostalgic and reminds me of simpler times…It’s inspiring to hear Taylor make her art her own again.”

“Calling My Phone” by Lil Tjay (feat. 6lack)

“Calling My Phone” is the first single of the year for American singers and rappers, Lil Tjay and 6lack. The song had been teased by Tjay on social media since December of 2020 and was announced for release on Feb. 2 as a sort of “Valentine’s Day gift” (a fitting description considering the song’s lyrics about struggling over the end of a relationship).

The song debuted at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, still remaining at that spot currently. Critics have noted how the track’s slow, moody instrumental complements the melancholy vocals of Tjay and 6lack, properly reflecting the emotions one would be feeling upon losing a relationship. Interestingly, the song features a sample of the song “How I Been” from a fellow rapper, Youngboy Never Broke Again.

Unbothered by Lil Skies

Unbothered is the second studio album by American rapper, Lil Skies, following his album Shelby, released in 2019. Unbothered has features from other major rap artists such as Wiz Khalifa and Lil Durk. The album was first announced by Lil Skies on December 16, 2020, in an Instagram post. The album’s lead single, “Havin’ My Way”, featuring Lil Durk, was released On March 4, 2020.

In an interview with Complex, Lil Skies had this to say regarding his album: “I just hope people take away from my album—just from me in general—is to just chase your dreams, and don’t let nobody tell you what to do. I’m learning that still myself. I got a lot of people around me in my life tellin’ me what I should do, what I shouldn’t do… Do what you love, man. Life is too short.”

“Lifestyle” by Jason Derulo (feat. Adam Levine)

American pop music icons Jason Derulo and Adam Levine came together on their newest track, “Lifestyle”. The song was teased on Derulo’s Twitter, which is fitting since he has grown even more popular for his social media presence on platforms like TikTok. In that post, Derulo referred to the song as the start of a “new era”, possibly teasing a new album; Derulo’s first since 2015.

Hills senior Samantha Mansueto had a very interesting take regarding Derulo and his recent music. She said, “…who doesn’t love Mr. Derulo? That man can get you dancin’ with his old bops and his new bops; it doesn’t matter, it’s Jason Derulo.” Mansueto’s statement seems to be true, as the song is very popular, standing at the number 76 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

Other upcoming releases

The big music releases don’t stop in February. 2021 has much more coming soon. Selena Gomez’s album Revelacion is planned to release on March 12, while Lana Del Rey’s album  Chemtrails over the Country Club is releasing on March 19. Rising pop/rap artist, 24kGoldn, has his first studio album El Dorado scheduled to release on March 26.

Certified Lover Boy, by Drake, and Utopia, by Travis Scott, are also rumored to be releasing this year. Recent photos posted by Drake show him working in a studio, and Travis Scott recently had an interview with i-D Magazine about his new album. However, both albums’ release dates have yet to be announced.

With even more on the horizon, 2021 is shaping up to be a great year for the world of music. For now, however, why not check out some of these standout tracks from this year so far?