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Best Tracks of 2021 according to Julien Lehuen

The vision that was planted in my brain still remains within the sound of silence — Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, a long time before 2021

With closed concert venues and a painful lack of club nights, I've tried the sound of silence. I don't like it. It's been another tough year for live performance, but I haven't stopped buying records and listening to as much music as I could, all of the time.

My whole life, when people have asked what kind of music I like I've answered "everything and anything". People often feel like I'm bailing out of their question, that it's not really an answer... but it really is my answer!

Listening to Henri Dès' Les Bêtises à l'École 20 years later still puts a smile in my face, and Rebekah's Murder in Birmingham makes me dance everytime I hear it. Staying open-minded when listening to music allows you to discover so many new things you might otherwise have missed.

Here is an eclectic selection of 10 songs I love, from 2021. I hope it inspires you to find music you like. It isn't the sound of silence, it's the sound of eclecticism. I chose to sort them alphabetically, inspired by my supermarket's electronic scale for veggies. I am comparing apples with oranges after all!

Adele - Easy on me

Adele has a voice that makes my heart beat stronger. Seriously, I feel it in my chest. Literally. Easy on me makes no exception. This year, watching An Audience with Adele filled me with pure joy. It made me fall in love with Adele's singing again. And with Emma Thompson. Emma Thompson is great, you guys.

AIROD - Voxxx

When it comes to techno, I have very simple taste: I like when it goes hard, fast with unstoppable drums and the kick plays four-to-the-floor. AIROD's latest Tribal Science album ticks all these boxes! The Lenske release of his previous Acid Effect is one of my favourite records: it sounds beautiful and it looks awesome as transparent wax in a transparent sleeve...

Barbara Pravi - Voilà

This was the French entry for Eurovision 2021 in Rotterdam. It has been a while since I have felt this proud of France in Eurovision! Last time was probably Sebastien Tellier's Divine. Barbara Pravi has been compared to Édith Piaf, and she absolutely deserves the compliment. The song is beautiful, it gives me goosebumps and a grin at the same time. She was recently on Fanzine where she sang a few acoustic covers. Lovely!

Brian Tyler - The Race

I inherited a love for movies soundtrack from my dad, and Brian Tyler is definitely "up there"! Battle Finale and Can You Dig It from Iron Man 3 are very usual candidates for getting played on repeat while I bike through Amsterdam. In 2021, Brian Tyler scored the latest movie in the Fast and Furious franchise, and I especially like The Race. It mixes big movie epic vibes with something that feels simpler and more organic than your typical Hans Zimmer production.

Les Yeux d'la Tête - Laisse Moi Chanter

With French "bal musette", Les Yeux d'la Tête makes happiness in song form. Their music always manages to make me happier, whether I'm sad or already happy. The older Liberté Chérie had been a big favorite of mine for a few years, that celebrates freedom. In 2021, they released Bonne Nouvelle (literally: Good News), a whole album filled with good vibes. Laisse Moi Chanter is a lovely track from that album, that continues to celebrate freedom. Freedom to sing and scream as loud as we want!

Lil Nas X - MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)

Lil Nas X has sprinkled a fabulous amount of proud queer vibes on my year, and his performance on Saturday Night Live was my absolute favourite musical guest of the season! A special shout goes to his adorable reaction when his pants break at 2:15 in the video. The official video is awesome too, but it doesn't have a broken pants moment.

Philou Louzolo & Kususa ft. Mariseya - Melanin

Philou Louzolo is a DJ and producer from Rotterdam. I've discovered him at a few festivals in the country in previous years, and he has come out with a new single just on time for this blog article. Melanin is a collaboration with artists from South Africa and Ghana, where the warm afro vibes combine perfectly with a classic tech-house base. These superb combinations of sound feel to me like the musical equivalent of a gourmet meal with wine pairings.

Pitstop Boys - Super Max! Yo Hé, Yo Hó!

I have generally been obsessed with Formula 1 this year: the official musical theme by Brian Tyler, the competition, the driving, the Zandvoort event... so much fun all year round! Pitstop Boys had released Super Max in 2016, which disqualifies it from this list. Lucky me, they have recently released the Yo Hé, Yo Hó version, now that Max Verstappen has won the driver championship.

Sacha Hoedemaker - Rise

Talking about eclecticism... Sacha is the musical director at BOOM Chicago, and I can't ever get enough of his scoring shows there. I've been super inspired by how productive he's been despite the pandemic, even when theaters were closed. His piano pieces have all been incredibly calming and inspiring in their own ways. Rise is my favorite on his 2021 album Felt, I'm not sure why. He's also participated in Dr.Peacock's Symphony of Freedom; with happy hardcore music on a freaking sailing boat!

Stromae - Santé

To this day, Stromae's is the best concert that I have seen live. I saw his Racine Carrée tour when it was in Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome years ago. You're in luck because Stromae uploaded the whole concert recorded in Montréal, on his YouTube channel! Stromae became famous with his hit Alors On Danse, has released more awesome tunes such as Papaoutai or Tous Les Mêmes, and had been silent for a while. With Santé, Stromae's magic poesy and awesome rhythms are back in force!


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