In July of 1998, Tatyana Ali released “Daydreamin'” as the lead single from her debut (and only) album, Kiss the Sky. Produced by Darkchild and based on a Steely Dan sample, the song features an uncredited Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz, who had used that very same sample on a song released seven months prior.

Tatyana Ali reportedly got into music after Will Smith convinced her to — the two had co-starred on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, where she had showcased her singing chops on a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” She would go on to land a record deal with Michael Jackson’s MJJ Music, which was distributed by Epic Records.

Within months of the release of “Daydreamin’,” Tatyana Ali enrolled at Harvard University. Her career in entertainment would take a backseat, and she would only promote her music on the weekends. “Daydreamin'” would become her one and only song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 6.

Novak Djokovic — the current No. 1 male tennis player in the world, highest-earning tennis player of all time, and current Australian Open champion — will not be able to defend his title because he has been denied entry into Australia. Because he’s unvaccinated.

It was all good just yesterday, when the Serbian claimed to have been granted an exemption, but apparently, somebody lied to him. Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, has since released a statement on the matter.

‘memba Elizabeth Holmes? She’s the woman who conned the planet into thinking she invented a new way to do blood tests. The founder of the now-defunct Theranos had been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud. She has now been found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud. Each count carries up to 20 years in prison, so Miss Mamas might be looking at a bid in the double digits.

Just a few years ago, Holmes’ net worth was valued at $4.5 billion and she was ranked on the Forbes 400 (for the wealthiest Americans) and Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list.

If you’ve been on the internet this week, you probably came across the headline about Tory Lanez sampling one of the most recognizable songs of all time without clearing it. Luckily, Madonna is being nice about it.

Released in the summer of ’85, “Into the Groove” was written and produced by Madonna and then-boyfriend Stephen Bray. It was initially written for producer and ex-boyfriend Mark Kamins, who wanted the song to be recorded by his protégée, R&B singer Cheyne. Madonna would end up recording the song herself for the movie Desperately Seeking Susan, in which she co-starred. Kamins is said to have been furious about that decision.

An interesting point to be made about “Into the Groove” is how Black it sounds. So many of the songs we call “pop” today — and more specially, early Madonna hits — were once considered “Black music.” This point is supported by the fact that “Into the Groove” was originally intended for an R&B artist and actually charted on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, which was called the Hot Black Singles chart at the time.

Though a demo version of the song is featured in the movie, “Into the Groove” ended up not being included on the Desperately Seeking Susan soundtrack because her record label at the time, Sire Records, barred her music from appearing on multi-artist projects. “Into the Groove” would eventually be included on the international re-issue of Madonna’s sophomore album, Like a Virgin, and became a huge hit all over the world, topping the charts in the UK, Spain, and various other countries. In the US, the song was only available as a B-side for “Angel,” the third single from Like a Virgin; as a result, it has never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 despite being one of Madonna’s signature songs. Again, charts don’t always tell the full story.

Earlier today, Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of conspiracy to entice a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, and sex trafficking of minors.

She was not found guilty of her sixth charge, which was enticing a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, which would’ve gotten her a five-year sentence.

The charges were related to Maxwell recruiting victims for Jeffrey Epstein between 1994 and 2004. She is facing up to 70 years behind bars.

As we count down to 2022, let’s take a look back at the year that was and all the music we heard.

At the very top of the year, Olivia Rodrigo exploded onto the charts with “Drivers License,” and over the next 12 months, we saw chart records broken and/or extended by The Weeknd, BTS and Drake — and of course, Mariah Carey with her annual record-breaker. Lil Nas X proved that the “Old Town Road” era wasn’t a fluke and Adele returned to an audience chomping at the bit to overreact to everything she does.

Narrowing down to a list of 10 songs was tougher than expected, but we now have our winners — in no particular order. The list has just one prerequisite: a 2021 release date. As a result, even though The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” dominated the charts for a third calendar year and made history, and Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” was the biggest hit of 2021, neither song could be considered for this list because they were released in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

(Loophole Alert: Remixes of pre-2021 songs released this year were eligible for the list.)

Beyond the release date stipulation, there were no rules. Songs of all genres and all levels of popularity (including album cuts) were considered — with the obvious limitation being that I clearly haven’t listened to all the songs released this year. It never stopped the folks at Pitchfork and Rolling Stone from making shoddy lists, so lay back and let me cook. Also, as with all other lists, it is reflective of the author’s taste — and this author got good-ass taste. Keep scrolling for the best of 2021.

Doja Cat – “Get into It (Yuh)”
With the release of her third LP, Planet Her,  Doja Cat made it clear that she’s nothing to play with. That album gave summer ’21 a soundtrack with “Kiss Me More” (featuring SZA) and showed that Doja can ride an Afropop beat with “Woman”; but it is her Nicki-Minaj-inspired track, “Get into It (Yuh),” that stands above the rest. In two minutes and eighteen seconds, Doja paid homage to one of her idols while reminding us that few people can rap better than she can. The  song, which was supposed to include a verse from its inspiration, is currently without a music video despite months of viral popularity.

Tems – “Replay”
Nigerian R&B singer Tems had a breakthrough year. Her vocals are the centerpiece of WizKid’s “Essence,” she was featured on Drake’s Certified Lover Boy, and Rihanna seems to be a huge fan, describing her tone as “unmatchable.” How’s that for a co-sign?

The good news didn’t end there. In September, Tems signed with RCA Records, which was announced along with the release of her second EP, If Orange Was a Place. The five-track project is a brief but brilliant showcase of her singing and songwriting chops. Its third track, “Replay,” is a three-minute dragging of all the people who thought Tems wouldn’t make it — and one of the very best songs of 2021. If you’re aren’t already hip, thank me later.

Lil Nas X – “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”
Due to the meme-y viral nature in which Lil Nas X rose to fame, it is probably easy for many people to think the kid isn’t legit, but we know better around these parts. “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” the lead single and title track of the rapper and singer’s first LP, feels like four different genres at the same damn time, which is on-brand for an artist whose first hit was so ambiguous that it confused the people at Billboard. The song combines a strong melody with a catchy hook, and as you can imagine, that is a recipe that rarely fails — even with lyrics and a music video some have described as “controversial.” “Montero” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 64th Grammy Awards.

The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber – “Stay”
What happens when you take “Blinding Lights,” add a little bass, and speed it up a bit? You get “Stay” by The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber. In addition to the “Blinding Lights” similarities, Laroi’s emo vocal style is likely to remind you of Post Malone and Juice WRLD, the latter of which mentored the 18-year-old Australian. With so many familiar elements, it is no surprise that “Stay” is such a huge hit, ruling the Billboard Hot 100 for seven non-consecutive weeks over a three-month period and staying in the top 10 since July.

Ari Lennox – “Pressure”
The idea of R&B being “dead” is largely based on a variety of falsehoods and a commitment to ignoring good R&B songs made by Black artists. With “Pressure,” Ari Lennox gave us one of the best songs of her career so far and a reminder that R&B is very much alive. Unfortunately, the song failed to gain traction because the music landscape of today is particularly unfavorable to artists like Ari Lennox, but make no mistake, “Pressure” is among the year’s best.

SZA – “I Hate U”
SZA is yet to provide a follow-up to her debut LP, Ctrl, but in 2021, she kept us fed with a number of collabos and non-album singles. “I Hate U” was initially posted on SoundCloud in August, and in true SZA style, the song is clear and direct — “If you wondered if I hate you, I do,” she sings. The song quickly became a viral hit, and in December, the singer released the song on streaming platforms, allowing it to become a top 10 hit. If this is what we can expect from her sophomore album, we’re in for a treat.

Myles Yachts – “Walkthrough” (featuring BOS)
If you heard Myles Yachts’ “Walkthrough” (featuring BOS) and assumed it was Yo Gotti, just know you weren’t alone. It’s not clear if Yachts set out to go viral, but “Walkthrough” is just the kind of song to do so , and that it did. In an era where we’re getting fewer and fewer rap songs that are actually danceable, “Walkthrough” is a much-needed breath of fresh air.

The Weeknd & Ariana Grande – “Save Your Tears” (Remix)
The Weeknd’s After Hours campaign wasn’t just extended by the unprecedented success of “Blinding Lights.” In April, eight whole months after “Save Your Tears” was released as the album’s fourth and final single, a second remix of the song was released. This version was a duet with Ariana Grande, and we got to hear how much better many of The Weeknd’s could be if someone with a stronger voice sung them.

WizKid – “Essence” (Remix) [featuring Justin Bieber & Tems]
As mentioned previously, 2021 was the year of Tems, and it all started with “Essence,” the fourth and final single from WizKid’s fourth LP, Made in Lagos. Tems is only “featured” on the track, but she gets way more singing time than WizKid and is very much the reason why people love it so much. Though the song was made a single this year, the album was released in 2020, so the original version is ineligible for this list — its remix, however, is fair game.

In August, Justin Bieber was tapped to add vocals to the track, and while fans of the original weren’t too crazy about it, it helped expose the song to an even larger audience. ” Essence” would go on to peak at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is credited as the first Afrobeats song to crack the top 10 — this all depends on whether you consider Drake’s “One Dance” (featuring WizKid & Kyla) to be Afrobeats.

Tainy & Miguel – “Sunbathe”
The industry continues to sleep on Miguel, but despite that fact, he continues to deliver. “Sunbathe,” a collaboration with Puerto Rican DJ Tainy, is a reggaeton-infused R&B song with the kind of elaborate metaphors for which we know and love Miguel. The song was so ignored that no one has even taken the time to include it in either artist’s discography on Wikipedia, but it has the No Hipsters seal of approval as being one of the year’s best.


Honorable Mentions:
Ariana Grande – “Test Drive”
Coi Leray – “No More Parties”
Kamillion – “Fine Azz”
Rema – “Soundgasm”
Lost Frequencies & Calum Scott – “Where Are You Now”
Cardi B – “Up”
Post Malone & The Weeknd – “One Right Now”
Doja Cat – “Kiss Me More” (featuring SZA)
Busta Rhymes – “Where I Belong” (featuring Mariah Carey)
The Weeknd – “Take My Breath”
Mooski – “Track Star”
Ayra Starr – “Sare”
Silk Sonic – “Skate”

If you’ve been on the internet in the last 24 hours, then you’ve probably come across Britney Spears’ viral post that has (unfortunately) earned her some ridicule. Oh Britney.

Ms. Spears has never been known for her vocals, but one thing we can’t deny is that she has more than a few good songs in her catalog. One of such songs is her holiday tune, “My Only Wish (This Year),” which was released in November 2000 as part of Jive Records’ compilation album, Platinum Christmas.

We can all agree that Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is the last addition to the holiday canon. However, if we were going to make room for one more, I’d vote for “My Only Wish (This Year).” Co-written by Spears, Brian Kierulf and Josh Schwartz, and co-produced by the latter two, the song is quite naked in its attempt to mimic Carey’s classic. Admittedly, it doesn’t quite measure up, but it is a solid track offers all the things I want from a modern holiday ditty.

Unfortunately, “My Only Wish (This Year)” never got a visual treatment (which is a crime), so in the meantime, we’ll have to use our imagination. Happy holidays!