Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s Best Albums of 2021

2021 proved to be a standout year in music, with established and up-and-coming artists achieving new career highs. As the year comes to a close, Showbiz Cheat Sheet is taking a look back at the great releases of 2021. Here are the best albums of 2021, handpicked by Showbiz’s music writers.

A joined photo of Jazmine Sullivan, Halsey, and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters
(L-R) Jazmine Sullivan, Halsey, and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters | Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for BET, Rosalind O’Connor/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images, Theo Wargo/Getty Images for American Museum of Natural History

‘Heaux Tales,’ Jazmine Sullivan

“The subject matter is relatable, the soul within Jazmine Sullivan’s voice and music is unmatched, and she’s clearly confident in where she is. There are also several notable collaborations on the album with Ari Lennox and H.E.R. The album is her most personable and most critically acclaimed. She was recently awarded Album of the Year at the Soul Train Awards and hopefully gets the Grammy nod she deserves. Sullivan is also embarking on a U.S. tour to promote the album.” – Brenda Alexander

‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club,’ Lana Del Rey

“Lana Del Rey’s 2019 opus Norman F****** Rockwell was an elegant eulogy for the Baby Boomer generation and a tough act to follow, but she surpassed it with Chemtrails Over the Country Club. The title track perfectly captures the impossible glamour and aching unease that defines Del Rey’s mythos. With the track ‘White Dress,’ Del Rey wonders for a brief moment if her life was better before she was famous, finally giving Gen Z its quietly sad answer to The Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever.'” – Matt Trzcinski

‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power,’ Halsey

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is the album Halsey always seemed destined to make. A culmination of the singer-songwriter’s career so far, Halsey explores themes of love, motherhood, self-sabotage, and overcoming trauma. With the unsettling ‘1121,’ Halsey sums up the message of the LP, singing: ‘But I won’t die for love, but ever since I met you / You could have my heart, and I would break it for you.’ Producers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails and a companion IMAX film of the same name elevate If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power to a cinematic experience.” – Eryn Murphy

‘FOREVER,’ Flight Facilities

“Australian electronic duo Flight Facilities burst onto the scene over a decade ago with their groovy debut single ‘Crave You.’ In 2021, they released their sophomore album FOREVER, the duo’s first full-length project in seven years. But despite all that time passing, Flight Facilities are right at home in today’s musical landscape with FOREVER, as nu-disco sounds become increasingly common in popular music and the world starts to dance again. To help bring their production to life, they recruited artists from Down Under and beyond for dancefloor-ready tunes like ‘Move,’ ‘Heavy,’ and the standout title track.” – Chris Malone

‘Star-Crossed,’ Kacey Musgraves

“Best-known for the Grammy Award-winning release Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves’ latest album (and corresponding Paramount Plus original film) offers a fresh perspective on a post-breakup narrative. Star-Crossed pinpoints specific moments in Musgraves’ relationship while remaining universal to listeners. With Star-Crossed at the crossroad of heartache and nostalgia, Musgraves reaffirms her reputation as the lyricist of a generation, ushering in a new era for country-pop music.” – Julia Dzurillay

RELATED: Kacey Musgraves’ Album ‘Star-Crossed’ Won’t Be Eligible for a Best Country Album Grammy Award

‘Medicine at Midnight,’ Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters‘ newest album, Medicine at Midnight, has a perfect blend of old and new sounds. The band jumps into the album with ‘Making A Fire,’ which has their signature roaring guitars and crisp drum sequences. Their song ‘Shame, Shame,’ is a slower grittier number, which they slid into a montage of their biggest hits during their performance at the VMAs this year. ‘Waiting On A War’ has the Foo Fighters’ distinct sound. However, the titular track sounds fresh and unlike anything they’ve ever done. Ultimately, the album should please new and old fans alike.” – Hannah Wigandt

‘The Chaos Chapter: FIGHT OR ESCAPE,’ Tomorrow X Together

The Chaos Chapter: FIGHT OR ESCAPE is a repackage album of Tomorrow X Together’s second studio album The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE. As the final installment of the Korean quintet’s The Chaos Chapter era, the album captures the contradictory and unique emotions that are part of growing up, particularly with its lead single, ‘LO$ER=LO♡ER.’ The repackage album dives deeper into the experimental nature of its predecessor, creating emotional yet cohesive chaos. With the album, Soobin, Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Taehyun, and Huening Kai flex their ever-expanding songwriting and production skills, solidifying TXT as burgeoning K-pop giants.” – Eryn Murphy

Honorable Mentions:

  • Most Anticipated Album of 2021: 30, Adele
  • Best Album Rollout of 2021: Red (Taylor’s Version), Taylor Swift
  • Most Distinctive Album of 2021: Planet Her, Doja Cat
  • Game-Changing Album of 2021: Montero, Lil Nas X
  • Most Impactful Album of 2021: Sour, Olivia Rodrigo

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