Year In Review: Top 10 Nashville Pop Releases Of 2021

The past few years have been full of ups and downs, (to say the least) but one thing is for certain – new music will never stop. 

Despite the hurdles and hardships, emerging artists are back and better than ever, pumping out high quality projects deeply influenced from the state of the world around them. This year alone has allowed myself to branch out and listen to more music than I probably ever have, and I’ve realized Nashville continues to boom with talented pop singer-songwriters. 

That being said, here are my Top 10 Nashville Pop Releases in 2021.

10. “Easier Said Than Done” – Dreamer Boy

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Dreamer Boy is the musical project of vibrant songwriter Zachary Arthur Taylor. “Easier Said Than Done” is featured on Disc 2 of their album, “Let’s Hold Hands (feat. Melanie Faye).” The nostalgic tune begins with an enticing electric guitar melody that grows throughout the song, and Taylor’s chill vocals soon swoop in, making the song feel whole. This mellow track is seemingly perfect for a long car ride that leaves you feeling zen, but motivated to take on what’s next. 

9. “Rooftops at Sunset” – Daniel Nunnelee

“Rooftops at Sunset” has an interesting alternative folk feel that showcases artist Daniel Nunnelee’s passionate vocals. Born and raised in West Tennessee, I couldn’t help but relate to his music making me feel a little closer to home. Incorporating his unique instrumental abilities, Nunnalee gives listeners an earful of distinct sounds that you wouldn’t normally hear on the radio. The track feels aged and steady, yet seasoned with awakening moments making it stand with prominence. His voice remains a force throughout the track, exhibiting gentle sides telling his love story, but commanding at certain moments. This one is perfect for a road trip reminiscing on life’s up and down moments. 

8. “Then Some” – Nikita Karmen (feat. Walker Hayes)

“Then Some” takes a turn on our Top 10 playlist, shifting gears on styles, and focusing on female empowerment.

Singer-songwriter Nikita Karmen’s groovy tune displays her story of not only getting over a past lover, but becoming a better version of herself afterwards. She also features country artist Walker Hayes on this track, known for his recent number one hit “Fancy Like” on Billboard’s Hot Country. Featuring catchy stringed melodies and lyrics like, “I’ll get over you and then some / I won’t even think about thinking about you / Won’t even be double takin’ my rear view,” it’s a place we all strive to be when things don’t go our way. Later on in the song, Hayes gives his side, and Karmen closes it out with a strong chorus. This collaboration gives audiences everything they want to hear from an enchanting tune, well built lyrics, and a strong closure to her story that every girl needs to hear. 

7. “Guard Down” – Katie Pederson

International award-winning songwriter Katie Pederson is up next for her release of “Guard Down.”

The pop-piano songstress writes anthems that just hit my soul in a different way, which deserved a spot in my book. This single calls out all of the faults, heartbreak, and suppressed feelings of a past relationship. With a strong piano melody, Pederson does a prominent job at keeping the upbeat pop melody by incorporating altered instruments and showing a whirlwind of her vocal range. With her vulnerable lyric-writing shining front and center, it’s impossible not to feel something from her music. Weaving through stories through music and writing, her upcoming release, “Limitless,” will be one to lookout for. 

6. “FMO” – Anna Eisch

Next up on our theme of heartbreak anthems is “FMO” by Anna Eisch. The singer-songwriter and producer displays raw vocals, enticing sounds, and honest lyrics that keep you wanting more. Representing hard fights you have between your head and heart, she takes these intentions by putting it in her track, which shines in the music and vocals. Having a sound similar to heavyweights like Lana Del Ray and Billie Eilish, she has a remarkable tone that’s hard to find. Not ever dancing around lyrics, there’s an admirable quality in this artist, which is a standout for me. 

5. “Done” – Liv Nicholson

Next up is one by our very own former Music Mecca contributor, Liv Nicholson. Moving to Nashville from The Big Apple, she pursued her love for singing and writing pop music. Pairing her honest lyrics and powerful vocals to explosive pop production, she’s one you can’t overlook. This single breaks the standard of your typical love story by choosing yourself over society’s standards, which is something we’ve all had to think about given the recent years. Starting off with only vocals, it grabs your attention and takes you through an exhilarating pop journey until the end. This one is an easy feel-good pick me up song that you need to hear. 

4. “She’s Mine” – Lauren Weintraub

Switching lanes to more of a country-pop style is Lauren Weintraub’s, “She’s Mine.” It’s the kind of go-to song after a breakup where you find yourself questioning why they’re with someone else. It’s sometimes really easy to compare yourself to the next girl and that’s exactly how Weintraub pulls off this single. With lyrics like, “Did she make you forget you ever missed me / In the dark does she keep your hands busy / Guess we all got reasons we can’t sleep at night and she’s mine,” she turns your exact feelings into a refreshing girl-power anthem. 

3. “Cora” – Matthew Thomas Hope

Bringing it back down to simpler yet intriguing melodies, Matthew Thomas Hope tells a beautiful story in the song, “Cora.” Born and raised in the small town of Macon, Georgia, he uses his musical heritage to his advantage paying attention to small details throughout the song making it so special. Layering multiple instruments and vocals as the song progresses soothes listeners’ ears from start to finish. With steady percussion, technical steel guitar, and warm resonating melodies, this sweet ballad embodies the beauty of love. 

2. “Pipe Dreamzzz” – Candace in Wonderland

Candace in Wonderland is the project of cosmic pop songstress Candace Brown. Her single, “Pipe Dreamzzz,” brings an interesting and distinct feel among the rest of the list. Taking her music to a soulful and atmospheric level, she creates a charm that entices listeners into her originality. She has a knack for knowing exactly what gets you to tap your feet and dance along with her in this R&B/soul track. With full percussion and intriguing synthesizers, her voice ties it all together making it one of my favorite Nashville pop tracks of 2021. 

1. “All That I WantedLivy Jeanne

A standout pop artist for me at the moment is Livy Jeanne, who just happened to land #1 for our 2021 Nashville Pop Track of the Year. Shifting more from country to experience the different elements of electronic pop, she gives it all in her recent single, “All That I Wanted.” With numerous volatile sounds, she’s a natural pro in the pop realm, and makes you stop in your tracks with her newest single. The song goes back and forth with upbeat sounds, to slower steady vocals, giving off a more chill pop-vibe. Her musical choices all intertwine together flawlessly, leaving you adding it to your Spotify queue almost every time- well at least for me.

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