After his presidency, Barack Obama continued to be an inspiration to many. From his autobiography A promised land to projects with Netflix as well as a partnership with Spotify and a podcast series with Bruce Springstein titled Renegades: Born in the United States, the so-called “first president meme” has never been too far from the public eye since leaving office.
At the end of 2021, Obama released his personalized list of the best songs of the year, a tradition he’s been carrying on on Spotify since 2017. But, of the 27 he chose, which songs and artists made it into the top ten positions? ?
“Pepas” – Farruko
Whether it’s his list of the best songs or the best Obama movies of 2021, fans are bound to find some surprises there. However, the inclusion of Farruko’s hit “Pepas” comes as no surprise. From the album The 167, “Pepas” is a track that combines dance, Mexican rhythms and electronic music to create a beat that anyone can dance to, even if they don’t understand the lyrics.
The song reached No. 1 on the US Dance/Electronic Songs chart, so it seems it’s not just the former US president who enjoys this energetic track. The 30-year-old singer and songwriter from Puerto Rico has been in the industry for 15 years, so if fans love the sound of this track, he has a vast discography to dive into.
“Woman” – Little Simz & Cleo Sol
“Woman” may be one of the few collaborative songs to make Obama’s top ten, but it’s definitely the one that stands out. British-Nigerian rapper Little Simz and British singer Cleo Sol have managed to combine their styles to create a track that is fresh even on the hundredth listen, while infusing it with an important message of femininity.
Little Simz’s fourth album, Sometimes I could be introverted, on which this song was featured, was one of the best albums of 2021 and became his highest charting record to date, reaching number four upon release. Hopefully these British talents will collaborate again to create even more infectious anthems.
“Chains of Gold” – Genesis Owusu
Although many may not know Genesis Owusu, he is on his way to becoming a big star after his debut album, Toothless smile, struck a chord with many music fans in 2021. The Ghanaian-Australian has won several music awards in Australia for his work.
“Gold Chains” is one of the standout songs on the album, so it’s no surprise that it made it into Obama’s top ten songs of the year. The song is a great mix of genres, with soulful vocals, electronic beats and the appearance of electric guitar that will surely attract new fans.
“Broken Horses” – Brandi Carlile
Sitting midway, this alternative country song is full of energy from start to finish. Brandi Carlile and her accompanying band deliver an emotional and dynamic performance.
“Broken Horses” is from Carlile’s seventh album, which topped the US/folk album chart of 2021. One of the other tracks, “Right On Time,” might have gotten more Grammy recognition, but it seems that “Broken Horses” left a bigger impression on the former president.
“Formwela 10” – Esperanza Spalding
In Esperanza Spalding’s latest album, Songwriters Apothecary Lab, 12 tracks were recorded over several months in collaboration with other musicians as well as researchers to create tracks that would give the listener a different effect. “Formwela 10” was recorded in New York to answer the question “what do we need a song for most?”
The jazz artist, recognizable by his beautiful voice as well as his bass playing, received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album thanks to this intriguing collection of experimental tracks. Since “Formwela 10” was among Obama’s favorites, perhaps he was even able to answer the question for him.
“Witchoo” – Durand Jones and the Directions
Soul and R&B band Durand Jones and The Indications was formed by vocalist Durand Jones, guitarist Blake Rhein and drummer Aaron Frazer in 2012. Since then, the band has successfully produced three studio albums and was even nominated twice. at the Liberia Awards.
Among their new songs from last year, “Witchoo” perfectly demonstrates the group’s fun and upbeat style. This funky track is enough to get anyone in the dance mood, and the soulful vocals and jazzy instrumentation make it a staple.
“Magnolia Blues” – Adia Victoria
For those unfamiliar with the genre, Gothic Country combines the styles of blues, alternative country, and gospel that address dark or depressing themes. When done right, the genre can be truly enchanting.
Nashville-born singer and songwriter Adia Victoria could be described as one of those very goth country artists. “Magnolia Blues” was the lead single from her latest album, A Southern Gothic, and his smooth voice and acoustic guitar and other instruments only enhance the poignant lyrics.
“Tala Tannam” – Mdou Moctar
Embracing his Toureg heritage, Mdou Moctar’s songs feature the guitar music known as Desert Blues with a modernized twist and he sings primarily in the Tamasheq language.
With Obama’s interest in different countries and continents over the course of his career, it is no surprise to see Mdou Moctar among the talented musicians from around the world on his top songs list. Although he has a unique sound that many listeners may never have heard before, his influence is felt across the world as Africa Victim – the album from which this song is taken – has been cited in the top ten albums of 2021 lists by several major publications.
“I Don’t Live Here Anymore” – The War on Drugs (with Lucius)
The fifth album from The War On Drugs, I don’t live here anymore featured ten songs in total, one of which shares the same name. Throughout creating this collection of new tracks, the band struggled to record them due to the pandemic and its global impact.
But despite the obstacles, they finally released the album last year and it was received by critics and fans alike. The rock band collaborated with indie-pop band Lucius to create an emotional, synthetic track that everyone can enjoy on Spotify as well as other alternative music apps.
“The Only Heartbreaker” – Mitski
Sitting at number one on Barack Obama’s list is Mitski’s “The Only Heartbreaker.” After a three-year hiatus, the Japanese-American singer-songwriter has returned to record her sixth album, Laurel Hell, and wrote most of the songs during the pandemic.
Although the album was not released until February 2022, the second single premiered in November 2021 to great acclaim with fans as well as the former president. The infusion of electronica and 80s-inspired pop is effective and makes “The Only Heartbreaker” one of the most infectious and enjoyable songs of 2021.
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