2021 has been a year for the books in music and film. As the world begins to open up again, many are back at concerts and in movie theaters. To celebrate the end of an artistically successful year, here are some of the top albums and movies.

(L-R) The top five albums of 2021: “SOUR,” “Donda,” “Planet Her,” “MONTERO” and “Happier Than Ever.”

Back in full swing, the music industry is filled with blooming artists who released incredible tunes this year. These are just a few of the many amazing albums released in 2021.

1. “SOUR” — Olivia Rodrigo

Breaking records across the world, Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album claims the top spot. “SOUR” was released in May by Geffen Records. Her debut single “Driver’s License” went viral upon its release in early 2021. “SOUR” is the most consumed album by a female artist in the history of the US. Previously a Disney actress, Rodrigo became a pop star at eighteen. Her album consists of eleven pop songs about heartbreak and adolescence. From more upbeat and rebellious songs like “Brutal” to heartache tracks like “Traitor,” Rodrigo’s debut album has it all. According to Pitchfork, “The Fluidity of her approach creates a sense of play that balances out the record’s more sullen moments.”

 2. “Donda” — Kanye West

Rapper Kanye West topped the charts for the tenth time with his studio album “Donda.” Before its release, Kanye held three listening parties, two of which took place in Atlanta. After some delays, the album was released in August by GOOD Music and Def Jam Recordings. Featuring artists like The Weeknd and Jay-Z, the album takes on hip-hop, rap, pop and gospel. This album has 32 songs and darker themes than West’s previous albums, including religion and death. According to Rolling Stone, “Donda” is “more considered and musically coherent than anything West has made in the past half-decade.” It had the most first-day streams of all 2021 albums, and its hit single “Hurricane” charted at number six.

3. “Planet Her” — Doja Cat

Peaking at number two on the charts, “Planet Her” is Doja Cat’s third and most successful album. It was released by Kemosabe and RCA Records in June, after its lead single “Kiss Me More” featuring SZA was released in April. The album also features artists like Young Thug and Ariana Grande. Based on a fictional planet, Doja calls the album her “most visually captivating” yet. With thirteen hip-hop, rap and R&B songs, the album captures the essence of Doja’s musical skill. After “Kiss Me More,” three other singles were released from the album, which hit radio stations everywhere. Doja will perform at Atlanta’s Jingle Ball on Dec. 16.

4. “MONTERO” — Lil Nas X

Fans anticipated Lil Nas X’s debut album “MONTERO” since its announcement in 2018, and Columbia Records finally released it in September. The album’s lead single “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)” topped the charts, along with “INDUSTRY BABY,” featuring Jack Harlow. With artists such as Miley Cyrus and Elton John, the album consists of fifteen pop-rap songs. This contrasts from his country hit “Old Town Road” released in 2018, around the time he came out as gay. According to The Harvard Crimson, “After spending recent years dealing with homophobic attacks, Lil Nas X finally takes back all the power society has stripped from him, a mission that is evident in the album’s meaningful lyrics, inventive sonic composition, and overall aesthetic.”

5. “Happier Than Ever” — Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish’s second studio album “Happier Than Ever” took off after its release by Darkroom and Interscope Records in July. Produced by her brother and collaborator Finneas, the album’s sixteen tracks make up a downtempo pop record. The album discusses Eilish’s rise to fame and its drawbacks, as she is only nineteen. “Therefore I Am” had the greatest success on the charts out of the six singles, and the album as a whole topped the charts. Eilish also released “Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles,” in Sept., a documentary to promote the album, and she is set to tour it in 2022. Rolling Stone said that “Happier Than Ever” “​​feels downright heroic, the work of an artist refusing to stay still.”

(L-R) The top five movies of 2021: “Dune,” “In the Heights,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Eternals” and “Red Notice.”

After an industry dry spell due to COVID-19, new films are thriving. These are some of 2021’s best movies.

1. “Dune”

Directed and written by Denis Villeneuve, “Dune: Part One” depicts the first of a two part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel. The PG-13 science fiction film premiered in Venice in September and was released in theaters in October, grossing over $353 million. Starring Timothée Chalamet and more, the movie was filmed in 2019. “Dune” takes place in the future, following Paul Atreides (Chalamet) as his noble family goes to war for Arrakis, the most dangerous planet in the universe. The New York Times said, “Villeneuve’s adaptation is an equally sweeping and intimate take on Frank Herbert’s future-shock epic.” The audience gave it 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.

2. “In the Heights”

A musical drama film based on the stage musical by Lin Manuel Miranda, “In the Heights” was directed by Jon M. Chu and released in June. Starring Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, and more, the movie follows the story of people in Washington Heights, a mainly Dominican neighborhood in New York City, who dreamed of better lives. The PG-13 film received critical acclaim, with a 94% rating for both audiences and critics on Rotten Tomatoes. A Rolling Stone headline read, “‘In the Heights’ Sets Out to Do the Impossible — And Largely Succeeds.” However, it bombed the box office, partly because of its success on HBO Max instead.

3. “The Suicide Squad”

Based on the DC comics, the superhero film “The Suicide Squad” is the tenth film in the DC Extended Universe. The movie, rated R, was written and directed by James Gunn, who drew inspiration from war films, along with the comics. Starring Margot Robbie, John Cena, and many more, the story follows the Suicide Squad, the world’s most dangerous supervillains, that are sent by the government to destroy a giant starfish alien on the island of Corto Maltese. This story is separate from 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” and many preferred this stand-alone sequel released in August. Forbes said, ​​”It’s a foul-mouthed, ultraviolent and yet strangely wholesome comic book movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, packing in tons of great fight scenes and plenty of laughs.”

4. “Eternals”

Based on the Marvel comics, the superhero film “Eternals” is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The PG-13 film was directed by Chloé Zhao and released in November. With a large ensemble cast including Gemma Chan and Richard Madden, the film follows the Eternals, an immortal race of superhumans. After living secretly on Earth for thousands of years, they reunite to fight the Deviants. Grossing over $300 million worldwide, the film has had great audience success. However, many critics judged it for its running time and lack of character development. According to Roger Ebert, Zhao, the newly minted Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Director for “Nomadland,” does offer a great deal of her signature style, though.”

5. “Red Notice”

“Red Notice,” an action comedy film, was written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. It was released in theaters and Netflix in November. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, many critics praised the talented cast. However, they were much harsher on the content execution. Still, the PG-13 film is an audience favorite with 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. The plot follows FBI agent John Hartley (Johnson), who teams up with famous art thief Nolan Booth (Reynolds) to investigate Cleopatra’s stolen bejeweled egg. According to the Chicago Reader, “Red Notice” is “heavy on action-packed set pieces and light on sensible plot.”

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