It's that time of the year when The World staff shares a Spotify playlist with our newsroom's favorite songs and albums of 2021 — yes, we know our listeners love the music they hear on the show.
So, for a minute or two, forget political crises, breakthroughs in space exploration and crypto: Here is Dance with The World, 2021 edition: A playlist.
The World’s Anna Kusmer, who reports on the environment for the show, recommends “Yéla Mama,” by Eat my Butterfly, AKA Dilo, an artist from Reunion Island. You may have heard Dilo on The World on Earth Day. Her song brings together her love for the beauty of Reunion Island and her concern for nature. “Also, it’s a bop!” Anna said.
And if you’re up for summer vibes with friends and dancing, check another recommendation from Anna: “Crazy Tings,” by Nigerian artist Tems. “Her new album, ‘If Orange was a Place,’ is so dreamy and fun. It reminds me of spending time with friends in the summer and forgetting about all the troubles in the world. It makes me want to dance,” Anna said.
“This was also the year that I returned to vinyl, so my selection number five, an older release that I just got on vinyl this year, ‘Gal Costa,’ by Brazilian pop singer Gal Costa makes me feel better every time I play it."
Host Marco Werman’s music selections this year were songs that helped him stay positive and worked on his head like medicine, he said. “This was also the year that I returned to vinyl, so my selection number five, an older release that I just got on vinyl this year, ‘Gal Costa,’ by Brazilian pop singer Gal Costa makes me feel better every time I play it,” Marco said.
Marco also recommended songs and albums from artists he has interviewed on the show, like “Tango,” from Brazilian Rodrigo Amarante’s 2021 album “Drama”; “It’s a good day to fight the system,” by Shungudzo, who tackles the racist experiences she had growing up in Zimbabwe and the US in her music; “Don't Need You,” from Ghanaian Australian singer Genesis Owusu, in her debut album “Smiling with no teeth”; And the entire album “4:00 a.m.,” by Paris-based band Delgrès.
And if you are looking for music that’s mesmerizing and peaceful, The World’s director and producer April Peavey highly recommends the album “Suba,” which she says is “one of the most beautiful albums to come out in 2021.” “Suba” is the second collaboration between Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and Senegal’s master kora player Seckou Keita.
April’s album recommendations really take us for a spin around the globe. From the new album “Sonidos De Karmatica Resonancia,” by the Latin Grammy Award-winning Mexican rock band Zoé to Ivorian Dobet Gnahoré’s “Couleur,” which celebrates women’s rights and positivity during these trying times.
“This is the sound of modern Africa from the perspective of a talented and independent woman.”
“This is the sound of modern Africa from the perspective of a talented and independent woman,” April said.
And take some music tips from our digital team. One line of Rokia Koné’s song “N’yanyan” resonated with digital editor Sara Hassan: “Things may be bad now, but it's only a moment in time,” the song goes. “It’s not just about this moment, but any time life throws us a curveball. And how we have to remember that any difficulty is just one part the whole journey,” Sara said.
Digital editor Amanda Lichtenstein recommends “Hustle,” by Nigerian artist, Teni the Entertainer, from her brilliant 2021 album, “Wondaland.” “Teni’s raspy, smooth voice soothes the soul-wary among us, singing about the trials and tribulations of the daily grind,” Amanda said. “Sometimes, it feels like success is a trap,” Teni sings. “Sometimes I will have to say no.” But at the end of the day, “it’s all love.” “A tender jam for days when the stress gets to be too much,” Amanda said.
Some of The World’s foreign correspondents also jumped in to help build the 2021 playlist. Shanghai-based correspondent Rebecca Kanthor recommended Chinese Funk/RnB/Soul musician, Zhao Jiexi, who incorporates traditional Chinese instruments into his music. “The track ‘Be Yourself’ was inspired by Jiexi’s feelings as an Asian living in the US during increased hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans,” Rebecca said.
“Very calm, perfect for walking on a drizzly day or sitting in a cozy cafe with some tea.”
Durrie Bouscaren, our Istanbul-based correspondent, recommended “Dualite,” by Ekin Beril, a song she loves that came out in 2020. “Very calm, perfect for walking on a drizzly day or sitting in a cozy cafe with some tea,” Durrie said.
Boston-based correspondent Bianca Hillier wants you to check out “Serotonin,” by Girl in Red, a young, queer Norwegian pop artist whose debut album, “If I could make it go quiet,” came out this year. “The song is about struggling with mental health, and it was written during the early days of the pandemic. It's a great ‘what is happening in the world?’ type of song,” Bianca said.
“It’s so hard to make sense of days like these. Which is why I think Low’s ‘Days Like These,’ released in June of 2021, off their album ‘HEY WHAT,’ is a fitting anthem for our times,” said reporter Elana Gordon, who covers public health for the show. The Minnesota band’s reverent vocals, cathartic distortions and lines like “Everybody just chased by dreams / That's why we're living in days like these again…” makes space to mourn, to rage, to be grateful for what we have. … A requiem of loss, of life, of the year 2021. Play it loud,” Elana said.
Music connoisseur Mike Wilkins, The World’s engineer, recommends “Rainbow Islands (NG+),” from Manchester-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Apta. Mike does not know why the album’s cut, "Putty's Party," is his go-to tune. Well, check it out and let Mike know how you like it.
Radio editor Sylvia Maria Gross loves the song “Graca Divina,” by Brazilian tropicália legend and former minister of culture, Gilberto Gil. This song came out in 1995, as part of an album that focused on the intersection of science and art. “It’s a song I always turn to when I’m thinking about trust in science and medicine, and how, as informed as you might be, it’s always a leap of faith,” Sylvia said. The song was running through her head this year as each of her family members, including her children, were vaccinated. “The efficacy of divine grace, one foot in the pharmacy, the other in love,” the song plays.
As you can see, music runs through the veins of The World staff. Check out the playlist and let us know which songs you recommend adding.
Send us your suggestions to email@example.com or wherever you follow us on social media.