A song a day 2021

I logged a song a day for all of 2021, and this is everything I learnt about myself

Most importantly, it birthed the most chaotic playlist in music history

I’m not sure if you use the app 1SE (One Second Every Day), but honestly, you should. I dabbled in it in 2020 for the first time. The app basically lets you record a one second clip of your day, every day, for the year and then compiles it into one long video for you to watch it all back. I never expected to end up chronicling a pandemic, and that video has become one of my most special things to come out of the last year. For 2021, I decided to make a playlist that would combine my love of music with my love of reflecting back on the year. A song a day, every day, with a Twitter thread diary entry logging why I chose it. With the year coming to a close and my playlist nearing completion, here’s a look back over everything I soundtracked this year for my 2021 song a day, and what I learned about myself along the way.

Started keen!

I started the year off with the only song that matters on New Year’s Day, and it’s the Taylor Swift song of the same name. I have this ritual that I do with myself where before I go out on New Year’s Eve I’ll listen to New Year’s Eve by Mø, and then on New Year’s Day when I wake up the first thing I do is listen to New Year’s Day by Taylor Swift. I honestly don’t know a better way to start every year off.

I decided to set a reminder in my phone for 8pm every night to remind me to do my song of the day, both playlist and thread update. I really wanted to commit to this and didn’t want to miss anything out. Some days I did find myself running late on doing it, but tried not to beat myself up about that fact and realised that the only person who was truly bothered about that was me.

Chaos reigns, but that’s 2021 baby!

It took me a few weeks for it to soak in how chaotic this playlist was going to become. I know everyone says it and it’s a bit of an eye roll, but I really do listen to a huge variety of music and the term “genre whiplash” has never been more needed than to describe your listening experience when listening to my 2021: A Song A Day playlist. We are truly going all over the show. In the space of five tracks you’ll jump from AJ Tracey to Grimes, Pet Shop Boys to Miley Cyrus and Rebecca Black to the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Nothing is safe or scared here.

To give me some minor guide lines, I decided that on Fridays I would always choose the best new song out that day. New Music Friday dominates my life, so it felt like a natural choice. It was a decision that some weeks felt impossible to choose just one greatest song, and then on others it became the reason that this playlist is haunted by the likes of Bang Bang by Rita Ora. Shudders.

I love how this playlist really chronicled what artists I was in an era of at the time, because I decided that I didn’t care how many songs by the same artist ended up in the playlist and that it should be a true reflection of what I was listening to. If it ended up with 10 Britney Spears songs in a row, then so be it. It was really important to me that the playlist was as accurate to my year as possible.

The playlist ended up soundtracking the most turbulent year of my life

This year, I broke up with my boyfriend, left the city I’d lived in for seven years to move to London, became a journalist full time and weathered the pandemic like the rest of the world. It’s been crazy, and the playlist matches up with that. It’s nice to look back and reflect on the songs that got me through the harder parts of the year, the songs that acted as a comfort blanket and the songs that came out during these big life changes that I’ll remember as major cultural moments of 2021 in years to come.

The artists that featured the most are…

By some way, Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey dominated my song of the day project. Taylor has 20 entries and Lana has 16 – and those two queens being the heavy hitters of my year comes as zero shock. Taylor only dropped Evermore in December 2020, and I spent most of the early months of 2021 still riding that high for her then to drop Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and then Red (Taylor’s Version) in November. All of her discography had a chokehold on me this year so I’m glad the playlist reflects as such.

Lana wise, she dropped two brand new albums in the space of seven months, Chemtrails Over The Country Club and Blue Banisters, and I hammered both of them to death. Truly some of her best work, she’s in her prime and my 2021 song of the day celebrates such excellence proudly!

Was it all worth it?

You know what? It was. Although some days I found myself clutching at straws to find a song to choose, now we’re close to the end of the year and it’s all complete I’ve really found it nice to reflect on the year with my 2021 a song a day playlist. Logging it all via my thread on Twitter has been nice – a diary I guess. I’ve been having a great time reading through it all whilst listening along, and I think what the best thing about the entire project has been is how much more of my year I remember than if I didn’t do it.

Doing my song of the day playlist alongside my one second of the day video has just helped me remember and keep a token of the smaller parts of my year that I might have forgotten about otherwise. The good and the bad. The nice little trips to the cinema with a pal that slipped your mind or the bad mental health days you’d rather forget. That being said, I won’t be doing the project again next year. 365 songs is a big amount, and I think there’d be so many repeats from year to year in the playlist that it wouldn’t be engaging for me or for anyone interested enough to read and listen. I’m proud of the playlist (it’s got 250+ followers on Spotify), I’m proud of the thread and I’m proud of a year that’s changed my life.

Listen to my 2021: A Song A Day playlist here

Recommended stories by this writer:

• Presenting the 40 best songs of 2021 – the soundtrack to a chaotic year

• Nine songs you forgot that are going to be lurking in your Spotify Wrapped 2021

• Your Spotify Wrapped may be tragic but these 25 memes about it sure aren’t