Skip to content

Stuck in My Head: Black Orchid Empire – Singularity

Black Orchid Empire Singularity album art

This song is incredible no matter how many times I listen to it. It’s been a huge source of sonic inspiration for my own guitar noodling. I love how the massive guitar riff that kicks off the song comes back immediately after the chorus; it keeps the energy high, especially with those consistently head-bangable drums propelling the track.

My Top Songs of 2021 (According to Spotify)

I had fun writing about my favorite songs of 2020, so I wanted to do the same thing for this year.

Same rules as last time:

  • The ranking is determined by my personal Spotify Wrapped 2021 playlist
  • I will only count songs released in 2021
  • Only one song allowed per artist

One problem – as soon as I started going through my Wrapped playlist to check the release date of each song, I released how much I spent this year replaying songs from the last five or six years. Out of my 100 most-played tracks of the year, only six actually meet my rules.

But what are those six tracks?

6. Bring Me The Horizon, Jeris Johnson – Can You Feel My Heart – Remix

I’m not normally a big fan of the poppier phases that Bring Me the Horizon has gone through, but this remix successfully layered the admittedly catchy melody of “Can You Feel My Heart” over hard-hitting pseudo-trap beats. Turns out that’s all I needed to keep this one on repeat.

5. Shadow of Intent – Laid to Rest

Lamb of God’s Ashes of the Wake was a sufficiently brütal album for its day, but Shadow of Intent’s cover of “Laid to Rest” proves that everything sounds better as deathcore.

4. Lorna Shore – To the Hellfire

Lorna Shore’s symphonic, blackened deathcore track “To the Hellfire” became an instant classic of the genre upon release. It’s also now one of the go-to choices for YouTube “reaction” videos, for fairly obvious reasons as soon as the full band kicks in. Will Ramos’s vocals are simply on another level, as are the concatenated tempo changes at the end.

3. Drake – What’s Next

What’s Next for the 6ix God? Hopefully more bangers like this. I thought CLB was mid as hell (and its album art was somehow even worse than Donda), but “What’s Next” fortunately gets straight into the energy with a great synth chord progression over booming kicks. The music video, which prominently features Toronto locales, is honestly my favorite way to listen to this track.

2. Kodak Black – Righteous Reapers (feat. Sykobob, WizDaWizard & Wam SpinThaBin)

This track was addictive from the start. The instrumental is sublime and every contributor rides the flow perfectly. Also, the line “I got murder on my mind but I ain’t Melly” gets me every time.

1. Brand of Sacrifice – Vengeance (feat. Jamie Graham)

Everyone’s favorite Berserk-themed deathcore band put together one of the catchiest choruses this year. Well, at least to me. Your mileage may vary, but to me this is the perfect kind of track to have on loop at, like, 15% volume while at work.

Stuck in My Head: BIA – WHOLE LOTTA MONEY

BIA FOR CERTAIN

I didn’t expect this track to stay with me for so long, but since it’s been over a week since I’ve been humming lyrics about putting on my jewelry simply to visit the bodega, I decided it’s time to write about BIA’s “WHOLE LOTTA MONEY.”

The two-note sub bass line takes care of the hard-hitting, minimalist melody while BIA calmly flexes on all of us. My favorite parts include the 808 cowbell and the way BIA’s voice seems to fade into true nonchalance as she ends each refrain with “Bitch I’m getting money, give a fuck about a hater.” Words to live by.

Stuck in My Head: Necrophagist – Diminished to B

Necrophagist - Epitaph album art

I’ve yet to find another tech death band I enjoy as much as Necrophagist, which makes it all the more disheartening that they haven’t released a new album since 2004 and likely never will. (I was thrilled for a moment when I saw the website Metal Sucks report that an unearthed third Necrophagist album was coming out later this year, until I saw the date of the article – April 1st – and the title of the supposed final track of this album – “Endurance of the Gullible Masses.”)

Both of Necrophagist’s albums are masterpieces from start to finish, but lately it’s been “Diminished to B” that’s been stuck on a loop in my head – specifically the first thirty seconds or so. I love the halftime switch up that happens not even ten seconds into the song. I don’t think there’s any way one can ease themselves into extreme metal music like this, so this track is as good a place as any to dive right in if you’re curious. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be growling “SURROUNDED BY DARKNESS AND…. COOOOOLD” along with these crazy Germans in no time.

My Top Songs of 2020 (According to Spotify)

Justin Bieber wearing a pink hoodie

As I was deciding on my favorite songs of the year, the thought occurred to me, “Who would know my favorite songs better than Spotify?” So, after pulling up the “Your Top Songs 2020” playlist generated for me by Spotify according to, I think, simply the number of times I played each song, I have extracted my “official” top 10 songs of 2020. This means that I am only counting songs released in 2020. (If you take a look at the playlist, you’ll notice that many of my most played songs came out in previous years.) One more rule: only one song allowed per artist.

11. Billie Eilish – No Time To Die

Top 40 pop music can do a lot worse than Billie Eilish. I think she has a fantastic voice. The breakdown at the end of “Bad Guy” is really, really cool. But I haven’t listened to her much outside of that. This song was clearly an exception. There’s a perfect amount of the 007 twang to cap off an incredible vocal performance.

10. Bleed From Within – Night Crossing

A pattern that’s going to emerge quickly as we go through this list is that I’ve gotten deeply into metal music. Bleed From Within is a good entry point into the genre for fans of hard rock. I guess what I mean by that is the vocals are discernible and it’s melodic. “Night Crossing” has great riffs and strong energy throughout.

9. Rina Sawayama – XS

I am not the first person to observe this, but Rina Sawayama’s “XS” reminds me of the turn-of-the-millenium pop as seen in Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys. The production really makes the track… pop… more than anything.

8. Suicide Silence – Love Me to Death

For me, it’s the scream. That “love me to DEEEAAAATTTTHHH!!!!” is so impressive. I think these vocals are as jawdropping as Billie Eilish’s, but I suppose you could say for a different reason.

7. Tokyo Incidents – 選ばれざる国民

Guys, you have no idea how happy I was to see Tokyo Incidents reunite out of nowhere. I’m sure they thought they would come back just in time to ride the clout of a likely Olympics performance, but COVID had other plans. The keyboard stabs in this song in-between the clapping beat are the energetic oddball fusion rock that we needed in 2020.

6. Machine Girl – Fully in It

Absolutely one of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite albums of the year. Relentless from start to finish. And that finish! It just builds and builds and builds and then fizzes out gracefully. I love it.

5. Bring Me the Horizon – Dear Diary,

This is only number 5? I guess this is what happens when I let the algorithms do the thinking for me. If it were up to me, “Dear Diary” would be my number 1 favorite song of the year. It came out so late in the year; that must be why it is only number 5 on this list. It’s Bring Me the Horizon sounding as heavy as ever, but with punk energy and strangely relatable lyrics about a man going insane because he’s quarantining from a virus (in this case a zombie virus). The bass riff at the breakdown is incredible, and when the full band kicks in… bro.

4. Protest the Hero – The Canary

I had mixed feelings about Protest the Hero’s latest album, Palimpsest, released this year. The vocals have always been either the best or worst parts of any Protest the Hero song. When Rody Walker finds the right mix of scream and non-cringe lyrics, he’s incredible. “The Canary” was definitely a standout track on the album. That being said, I did kind of hate it when I first heard it. Even now, I think the vocals try to do too much… too many words and melodies crammed into not enough space. But there is no denying that the opening guitar riff is addictive.

3. Satyr – Picayune

The standout track from my favorite album of the year. And it’s a debut album, no less. I adore the mix of melodic and harsh vocals over nonstop djent rhythms. So heavy and melodically addictive.

2. Caligula’s Horse – Slow Violence

A heavy chugger. Great riffs throughout with vocal melodies that reach euphoric heights. Like Bleed From Within, I think Caligula’s Horse is a perfect entryway for fans of rock to get a taste of heavier music.

1. Justin Bieber – Yummy

Okay, this one caught me off guard. But Spotify has spoken. J Bieb’s lyrically barren single “Yummy” is apparently my most played track released in 2020. Maybe it’s the filtery, chill chords and hype trap beat or Justin’s soothing vocals, but this track definitely do got that yummy yum. I make no apologies. I never skip this song when it comes up on shuffle. Shallow as it may be, the production is fire and the melody is just plain fun to sing along to.


Here is the full playlist. As you’ll see, my most listened to songs of the year were not necessarily represented well by the above list.