The music releases of this month have received lots of attention from the public, so here are some of my top tracks from February 2021.

Move out of the way for queen Ariana Grande and her deluxe edition of “Positions,” because this girl has got a lot to say. Grande released four new songs this month to finish up her chart-topping 2020 album. Just like her past tunes, each song has captivating beats which complement her dynamic vocals. The interlude is a perfect addition to this collection, truly tying together the original tracks and the additional releases. All of these songs are testimonials to Grande’s typical style, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Her harmonies are seamless, and she even tools around with some rap-like bars in “worst behavior.” 

I would choose the last track, “main thing,” as my favorite. In any other circumstance, I would probably think that this song is super mainstream, but Grande has a way of enhancing her beats like no other. She even adds an unexpected baritone harmony that mixes well with the synth. 

Singer-songwriter Hayley Williams has always been one of my favorite artists. Originally acclaimed for her vocals with the rock band Paramore, Williams recently branched out to produce a solo album entitled “FLOWERS for VASES / descansos.” This 14-track collection is intimate and incredibly moving. I have been a fan of Williams since 2009, and it is inspiring to see her growth as a musician. When compared to her typical sound, these songs are extremely stripped down and far more lyrical. 

Williams still maintains her unrivaled vocals amid quiet layering. There are subtle instrument embellishments that make the whole album riveting, and her knowledge of chord progressions is definitely apparent. My favorite from Williams’ release would have to be “Inordinary.” I love the build up from an acoustic beginning to a synthesized climax, ending full circle with the same guitar strumming as before. Plus, these lyrics strike straight to the heart.  

Indie-pop band Sun June released the tranquil album “Somewhere” on Feb. 5, and it has kept me sane throughout the month. The vocals of lead singer Laura Colwell are so soothing, and she transitions beautifully from chest to head voice. This combined with the subtle guitar tone makes every song resonate to the fullest. Candidly, there aren’t many musical layers within this album. The instrumentation is rather simple, and the scattered harmonies are fairly unambiguous. 

That being said, I think those uncomplicated elements are what makes this album so intoxicating. There are embedded stories within the lyrics, and I imagine that these narratives are what the band intended to emphasize. The band leans towards impression rather than being musically impressive with this release. My favorite track would have to be “Everywhere.” This song is so gripping, and the isolated vocals add so much depth.

The first time I ever heard of Christian Leave was in 2015, when he became popular for his comedic Vine content. Fast forward six years later and he is a signed artist with Warner Records, releasing some of the most riveting and relatable songs of the time. His EP “Heavy Hitting Hurts My Head” encompasses his emotional journey throughout the past year, tackling topics of mental health and isolation. Leave is unapologetically forward with his vocals and always portrays raw emotions through his technique. He uses a perfect balance of tone and rasp to flaunt his alternative-rock aura. I adore every track on this EP, especially because they all share the same sound, yet still sit apart from one another with distinct variations. Leave’s style perfectly modernizes the punk phase that so many Gen Z kids went through in their past. “Filth” would have to be my favorite song. The lyrics are definitely somber, but the musicality really ties it all together. 

Check out some more of my favorite January releases over at The Good Five Cent Cigar Spotify account, Our Five Cents along with the podcast of the same name.

Songs for playlist:

Ariana Grande – “worst behavior”

Ariana Grande – “main thing”

Hayley Williams – “Inordinary”

Hayley Williams – “First Thing To Go”

Hayley Williams – “Wait On”

Sun June – “Everywhere”

Sun June – “Finding out”

Sun June – “Real thing”

Christian Leave – “Filth”

Christian Leave – “Bedache”

Taylor Swift – “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)”

HAIM – “Gasoline (feat. Taylor Swift)”

HAIM – “Man from the Magazine”

HAIM – “Another Try”

Glass Animals – “Heat Waves”

The Weather Station – “Robber”

The Weather Station – “Subdivisions”

Florida Georgia Line – “Life Rolls On”

Florida Georgia Line – “Always Gonna Love You”

YUNGBLUD – “it’s quiet in beverly hills (rerecorded)”

Justin Bieber – “Holy – Acoustic – Chance the Rapper”