The Beard Blog Top Albums of 2021

Back again for 2021 are my picks for the best music albums released this past year. It seems we got a lot more music this year than a normal year since literally everyone was quarantined during most of 2020. I have a theory that many music artists forced themselves to make music with all that down time which resulted in large quantities of music, but not the best quality.

My picks for the best 5 albums of 2021, ranked not by best to worst, but by release date. These albums were selected for their overall enjoyability. It is becoming more rare that albums are enjoyable from beginning to end.

Dangerous: The Double Album by Morgan Wallen (January 8, 2021)

This feels like it was released more than a year ago, but with the pandemic and Morgan’s racist slur controversy it feels a lot longer than it has been. Putting the video of drunk Morgan aside, this album is great. I attribute this album to my re-interest in modern country music. I think the genre is being redefined again and moving back towards its roots instead of trying to be pop. Because this album came out so early in 2021, I’ve logged the most hours listening to this than any of the others on this list.

Sob Rock by John Mayer (July 16, 2021)

The long-awaiting eighth studio album by John Mayer is a throwback to 80’s yacht rock and it’s intentional. While his last couple of albums were good Sob Rock feels like the most complete package since Continuum. My favorite song as of writing this on Sob Rock is Wild Blue, an upbeat mellow track with two great guitar solos. This album, like others on this list, was made to be listened to on vinyl. I wonder if that trend will continue in 2022 and beyond?

Heartland by Nelly (August 27, 2021)

Nelly finally released a country album! Sort of… After the commercial success of Over & Over featuring Tim McGraw Nelly fans have been clamoring for more country-ish songs from Nelly. The 2009 remix of Cruise with Florida Georgia Line increased that appetite even more. This album features some great guests including the aforementioned Florida Georgia Line, but my favorite is the track with Darius Rucker named ‘Ms. Drive Me Crazy’. I hope Nelly continues down this road as he may have found his niche in his second career in music, must like Hootie and the Blowfish’s Darius Rucker.

= by Ed Sheeran (October 29, 2021)

The first solo album from Ed since 2017 and we get another math symbol and he says he has one more coming (minus?). This may mark the first departure from pop music Ed has given us and that’s not a bad thing. As he matures he’s finding his artistry and that’s not always being at the top of the charts. This is a solid complete album, while not his best, is still one of the shining spots in year 2 of the pandemic.

An Evening with Silk Sonic by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, and Silk Sonic (November 12, 2021)

I’ve been waiting and waiting for new music from Bruno Mars for years and we finally got it! Much like his last album 24K Magic, his latest album has some sort of a theme and a guest, Anderson .Paak. The duo does a good job of being cheesy enough to fit their vibe without becoming an Andy Samberg/Justin Timberlake SNL tune. Smokin’ Out the Window is by far my favorite song on this album with its funky sound, catchy chorus, and funny concept.


Honorable Mentions:

Sucker by Katastro (July 16, 2021)

A small independent album from a band I was mostly unaware of that came out over the summer and provided perfect summer driving music. If you’re a fan on the alternative/reggae genre, give this album a listen. It’s great from start to finish.

30 by Adele (November 2021)

How could I make this list and not include Adele? While this album is good, on my first three times through, I haven’t had enough time with for it to make my top list. The later tracks on the album hit hard emotionally and sometimes aren’t great for a casual listen.

Check out my lists from 2020 and 2019!

The Top 100 Songs: 1990s

When you think about the best decade of music, you might immediately think the 60s or 70s. Some may argue it was the 80s or 90s. I was pretty sure the best decade of music was the 2000s, but now I’m convinced it was the 1990s.

This started as a top 10 list of 90s music, which was really hard because of all the different sounds during this era. Expanding the list to a top 100 was poised to be my most ambitious list yet. Turns out, my love for music and making lists made this a simple task. In the end, I decided to rank them using an online ranking generator allowing me to compare songs 2 by 2. I input my list of 110 songs into the ranking generator and did over 400 comparisons. The end results were very surprising.

The rules for this list, made up be me:
– No repeats for main attributed artist (e.g. Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson – Scream counts as an entry for both of them)
– No covers, original recordings only (e.g. Whitney Houston – I’m Every Woman originally recorded by Chaka Khan in 1978, not eligible)
– Must have been released as a single or on an album after December 31, 1989 and before January 1, 2000
– No complications, best of, or greatest hits releases apply

For your and my listening pleasure, I’ve created this list as both an Apple Music and Spotify playlist (see below)

 


The top 100 list is below in order based on my opinion, and because I’m me, there are 10 honorable mentions afterwards!

Did your favorite 90s song make the list?

Artist

Title

Year

Rank

Lauryn Hill

Doo Wop (That Thing)

1998

1

Bone Thugs -n- Harmony

Tha Crossroads

1995

2

Usher

You Make Me Wanna...

1997

3

Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson

Scream

1995

4

Whitney Houston

I Have Nothing

1992

5

2Pac


Changes

1998

6

Luniz

I Got 5 On It

1995

7

Boyz II Men

End of the Road

1991


8

Big Pun

Still Not a Playa (feat. Joe)

1998

9

Sublime

What I Got

1996

10

Mariah Carey

Fantasy

1997

11

Hanson

MMMBop

1997

12

TLC

Waterfalls

1994

13

Aaliyah

Are You That Somebody? *

1998

14

Alanis Morisette

You Oughta Know

1998

15

Hootie & The Blowfish

Hold My Hand

1994

16

Warren G & Nate Dogg

Regulate

1994

17

Dr. Dre

The Next Episode (feat. Snopp Dogg)

1999

18

Snopp Dogg

Who Am I (What's My Name)?

1993

19

Kci & JoJo

All My Life

1997

20

Blackstreet

No Diggity (feat. Dr. Dre & Queen Pen)

1996

21

No Doubt

Spiderwebs

1995

22

Alice in Chains

Rooster

1992

23

T.Q.

Westside

1998

24

Ice Cube

It Was a Good Day

1992

25

Outkast

Rosa Parks

1998

26

Blues Traveler

Run-Around

1994

27

The Notorious B.I.G.

Mo Money and Mo Problems (feat. Mase & Puff Daddy)

1997

28

Matchbox 20

3 am

1996

29

Ginuwine

Pony

1996

30

311

Down

1995

31

Ma$e

Feels So Good

1997

32

Rage Against the Machine

Bulls On Parade

1996

33

Do or Die

Po Pimp

1996

34

Soundgarden

Black Hole Sun

1994

35

Destiny's Child

Bug a Boo

1999

36

*NSYNC

Tearin' Up My Heart

1997

37

Jay-Z

Big Pimpin' (feat. UGK)

1999

38

Salt-N-Pepa

Shoop

1993

39

The Presidents of the United States of America

Peaches

1995

40

Beastie Boys

Intergalactic

1998

41

Eminem

My Name Is

1999

42

Green Day

Basket Case

1994

43

Ini Kamoze

Here Comes The Hotstepper

1994

44

Barenaked Ladies

One Week

1998

45

Juvenile

Ha

1998

46

Bush

Comedown

1994

47

Everlast

What It's Like

1994

48

Puff Daddy

I'll Be Missing You (feat. Faith Evans & 112)

1997

49

The Smashing Pumpkins

1979

1995

50

Third Eye Blind

Jumper

1997

51

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Under the Bridge

1991

52

The Cranberries

Zombie

1994

53

Spice Girls

Wannabe

1996

54

The Goo Goo Dolls

Iris

1998

55

Next

Too Close

1997

56

Keith Sweat

Nobody (feat. Athena Cage)

1996

57

Montell Jordan

This Is How We Do It

1995

58

DMX

Party Up (Up In Here)

1999

59

Metallica

Enter Sandman

1991

60

Backstreet Boys

I Want It That Way

1999

61

Wu-Tang Clan

C.R.E.A.M.

1993

62

Sugar Ray

Fly (feat. Super Cat)

1997

63

Lenny Kravitz

Fly Away

1998

64

Master P

Make 'Em Say Ugh

1997

65

Aerosmith

Crazy

1993

66

Mark Morrison

Return of the Mack

1996

67

Brandy

Sittin' Up In My Room

1995

68

The Chemical Brothers

Block Rockin' Beats

1997

69

"Weird Al" Yankovic

Amish Paradise

1996

70

Color Me Badd

I Wann Sex You Up

1991

71

Radiohead

Creep

1996

72

Kid Rock

Cowboy

1998

73

Will Smith

Gettin' Jiggy Wit It

1997

74

Ol' Dirty Bastard

Got Your Money (feat. Kelis)

1999

75

En Vogue

Free Your Mind

1992

76

Marcy Playground

Sex & Candy

1997

77

Naughty By Nature

O.P.P

1991

78

Crazy Town

Buttefly

1999

79

Jamiroquai

Virtual Insanity

1996

80

The (Dixie) Chicks

Wide Open Spaces

1998

81

Robyn

Show Me Love

1995

82

Ace of Base

The Sign

1993

83

Oasis

Wonderwall

1995

84

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

The Impression That I Get

1997

85

The Tony Rich Project

Nobody Knows

1995

86

SWV

Weak

1992

87

Sisqo

Thong Song

1999

88

702

Where My Girls At?

1999

89

Beck

Loser

1993

90

LeAnn Rimes

How Do I Live

1997

91

Mary J. Blige

Real Love

1992

92

The Prodigy

Firestarter

1996

93

Kris Kross

Jump

1992

94

Crystal Waters

100% Pure Love

1994

95

Babyface

Every Time I Close My Eyes

1996

96

Nine Inch Nails

Closer

1994

97

Snow

Informer

1994

98

Garbage

Only Happy When It Rains

1995

99

New Edition

Hit Me Off

1996

100

Honorable Mentions:
101. Shaggy – Bombastic (1995)
102. Meredith Brooks – Bitch (1997)
103. Jewel – Who Will Save Your Soul (1995)
104. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
105. LFO – Girl On TV (1999)
106. Lil’ Troy – Wanna Be a Baller (1999)
107. Vitamin C – Smile (1999)
108. The Offspring – Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) (1998)
109. 98º – The Hardest Thing (1998)
110. New Kids On the Block – Step By Step (1990)

*Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody? is not available on any digital platforms.

In Memoriam: Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Tupac Shakur, Big Pun, Bradley Nowell, Lisa Left-Eye Lopes, Aaliyah, Nate Dogg, Layne Staley, Christopher Wallace, Chris Cornell, Adam Yauch, Dolores O’Riordan, Earl Simmons, Russel Jones, Keith Flint, Chris Kelly, and Kurt Cobain.

Credits: Wikipedia, Apple Music, Pub Meeple

The Best of 2020: iOS Apps

“There’s an app for that!”

Continuing my list of the best things from 2020, mostly what helped us get through the pandemic, the most obvious thing you use a lot is your phone. There are a lot of great apps I use everyday but the three I’m about to list are essential apps for entertaining me, staying connected, and getting me what I need. What are some of your favorite apps of the past year?

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The Best of 2020: TV Series

Unlike movies of the past year, TV shows or series, have become our primary form of entertainment. Personally, I’ve been favoring a series over a movie because they seem to be better written and produced these days. There was a lot, past and present, content to watch while we were all stuck at home this past year. TV helped us pass the time of being quarantined, but also helped us connect with others by sharing common interests in content. I enjoyed a lot of TV shows this year, but I whittled my list down to just three. These three are new shows for 2020. There were a lot of great shows (The Mandalorian, The Boys, Big Mouth, The Crown, and Ozark) that gave us new seasons to enjoy. Today I’m focusing on shows that debuted in 2020.

In no particular order, here are my picks for best new TV show of 2020:

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness – March 20 | Netflix

An international phenomenon and the only thing a lot of us talked about during the earlier outbreak of COVID-19. Joe Exotic, the Tiger King won us all over with his crazy story and footage at his entertainment park. If you haven’t seen this by now, stop what you’re doing and give it a watch. You’ll thank me later. Hopefully someday we’ll get more from this crew, but for the rest of history, Joe Exotic will be what helped us get through our first ever pandemic shut down.

Ted Lasso – August 14 | Apple TV+

A comedy about an English soccer team coached by an American doesn’t really sound like something most people would be interested in. Before I started watching Ted Lasso it was not something I would have watched based on the synopsis, or cover if you will. After the first episode I was hooked. It’s a kind hearted, well written story about overcoming the various hurdles in your life for a bigger purpose. When you watch Ted Lasso you’ll find yourself laughing, crying, and on the edge of your seat, all in the same episode. Don’t worry about the premise, give it a shot and if you’re like me, you’ll be counting down the hours until you can watch more of Ted.

The Queen’s Gambit – October 23 | Netflix

A series about a chess prodigy… is this going to be another Ted Lasso where we don’t want to judge a book by its cover? Well, in short, yes. The Queen’s Gambit follows a young girl through the child welfare system where she discovers her natural ability to play chess. I can’t explain really what draws me to this show, but I think it’s primarily the story telling and the acting. The lead actress shines through her ups and downs as we see what it’s like to be a chess cehampion in the mid-20th century. The Queen’s gambit is another show that you should ignore what you think it might be about and just watch it. Again, trust me.

Honorable mention:

Dave – March 4 | Hulu


Check out more of my ‘Best of 2020’ —> Here

The Best of 2020: Songs

Much like my albums of the year, I’m listing my songs of the year. These songs are standouts and heavily rotated tracks in my library. Only one of the songs happens tp appear on my albums of 2020 list. Nevertheless, it was tough to only pick three, but by limiting that small amount I pull some truly great songs that I’ll be listening to for years to come.

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The Best of 2020: Music Albums

The past several years, I’ve done ‘The Best Albums’ of 2018 and 2019 because music is a very large part of my life, more so listening than playing. Because it’s 2020, I’ve switched it up and limited my picks to just three and this joins an expanded list of ‘Best of’ for this year.

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The Best of 2020: Video Games

This past year was a horrible year in more ways than one. I’ve decided to only talk about the best things that came out of 2020. Over the next several days until the end of the year, I will be posting about my favorite and best things that I experienced in 2020.

Starting with video games, much like other categories I’ll go over, being at home gave me a lot more time to appreciate these things.

The video games I have listed as my best for 2020 came from Xbox. There are some other games that should probably be on this list, but because I only have an Xbox at this time, I was unable to experience them.

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