Top 10 Songfacts of 2021

by Ed Pearce

A sleeper hit from Glass Animals, a poignant tune from Casting Crowns, and a few tracks that got some serious exposure on TikTok populate the Songfacts Top 10 most-viewed entries of 2021.

As the world took some tentative steps to normality in 2021, many artists removed their masks and returned to recording studios. Among the A-listers to release new albums were Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Kanye West, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Adele and (sort of) Taylor Swift. However, none of them made it into our list of the most-viewed songs on Songfacts released in the past year (Swiftie was close but no cigar). Rather, the 10 songs below are ones that intrigued you enough to check out the stories behind them. Who's Riton and what's that familiar song he's sampling? Why is a country star singing about a southern rock band? How do you get faked out by heat waves? Strictly speaking, not all of them were from this year. Songs were eligible if they were released or peaked on the Billboard or UK charts in 2021.

Bubbling under:
"Love Story (Taylor's Version)" by Taylor Swift

"Pierre" by Ryn Weaver

"Your New Boyfriend" by Wilbur Soot

"Astronaut In The Ocean" by Masked Wolf

"Meet Me At Our Spot" by The Anxiety
10) Sam Fender – "Seventeen Going Under"

Many of you will not have come across this cut by Sam Fender. A sleeper hit in his native UK, the artist known as the "Geordie Springsteen" released "Seventeen Going Under" as the lead single from his second album in July. It reached the Top 10 for the first time in November, which was when thousands of you came to our site to find out the song's meaning.

It finds Fender looking back at the struggles he had aged 17, living in a poverty-stricken household. Around 50% of those checking out the track on Songfacts came from the UK.

"Seventeen Going Under" Songfacts entry

9) Aurora – "Runaway"

"Runaway" was by no means an, er, "runaway" hit when Aurora released it in 2015. Six years later, the song went viral on TikTok, resulting in worldwide chart success and an enormous increase in interest on Songfacts. The ethereal Norwegian singer-songwriter penned the song when she was 11 or 12; it's about yearning to get back home again after wandering off for a while.

"Runaway" Songfacts entry
8) Olivia Rodrigo – "Deja Vu"

Whether you found her irresistible or just inescapable, Olivia Rodrigo was the breakthrough artist of 2021. The American singer-songwriter and actress crowned her big 12 months being named Time magazine's Entertainer of the Year.

"Deja Vu" is the Rodrigo song that attracted the most attention on our site, with most of the visits coming in the late spring after she released it as a single. You wanted to find out whether "Deja Vu" concerns the same love triangle thingamabob between her, Joshua Bassett and Sabrina Carpenter that her megaballad "Drivers License" is allegedly about. We discussed the similarities between the two songs and suggested it may well be the case.

"Deja Vu" Songfacts entry

7) Casting Crowns – "Scars In Heaven"

Many who lost loved ones to this horrid COVID pandemic took comfort from this song. It finds Casting Crowns frontman Mark Hall reminding us we have the hope that those who passed on are in a much better place now.

Though "Scars In Heaven" wasn't a big hit (it never made it into the Hot 100), it attracted a lot of attention from listeners who wanted to find out more about the background to the meaningful words. Hall started writing the song when he observed the toll on his mom as she cared for her dying parents.

"Scars In Heaven" Songfacts entry
6) Kali Uchis – "Telepatía"

2021 saw plenty of unexpected hits triggered by viral moments. "Telepatia" was a prime example.

Originally just a romantic bilingual track on Kali Uchis' Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios) album, it took off when a TikTok lip-sync challenge involving users attempting to sing the song's first verse trended. When Uchis released "Telepatia" as a single, it became her first entry on the Hot 100 as a lead artist and entered many other charts worldwide. Many visited Songfacts for the song's lyrics during its viral peak in late February and early March 2021, and it maintained steady interest throughout the year.

"Telepatía" Songfacts entry

5) Eric Church – "Lynyrd Skynyrd Jones"

Country music singer Eric Church's love for rock often shines through his music. This poignant ballad from his Heart & Soul triple album fascinated listeners, in particular with its title.

Who is this Lynyrd Skynyrd Jones dude, and what is his connection with the southern rock band? The song tells the tale of a bi-racial guy from Alabama whose parents met at a Lynyrd Skynyrd show.

This, fact fans, is the second Eric Church cut named after a rock act to appear in our annual Top 10 survey. His Chief track "Springsteen" was #8 in our 2012 listing.

"Lynyrd Skynyrd Jones" Songfacts entry

4) Glass Animals – "Heat Waves"

The sleeper hit of the year, Glass Animals first released "Heat Waves" as the fourth single from their Dreamland album on June 29, 2020. It entered the UK singles chart four months later and the Billboard Hot 100 in January 2021, slowly climbing both tallies before finally reaching the respective Top 10s in the fall.

So, what's going on with these heat waves and why are they faking out singer Dave Bayley? He is singing about a failed romantic relationship from the past. Bayley thinks about his ex around her birthday each year because he misses having her in his life and blames himself for making her unhappy. He compares his melancholic thoughts to the mirage effect that happens when heat waves rise off heated road surfaces: illusory and without substance.

"Heat Waves" Songfacts entry
3) The Kid Laroi – "Without You"

The Kid Laroi, or Charlton Howard as his mother knows him, originally achieved some local success with the singles "Diva," "Addison Rae," and "Fade Away." The songs "Go!" and "So Done" gave the Kamilaroi singer-rapper some international recognition, but it was "Without You" that elevated him to worldwide stardom.

This acoustic emo-rap ballad finds the Aussie teenager focusing on his heartbreak after his girlfriend walked out on him. You wanted to know the background to his lyrics. Rather than being inspired by one particular relationship, it's about two or three that he messed up.

"Without You" Songfacts entry

2) Riton – "Friday"

Many of you might be wondering, what is going on here? Who is Riton, and how did this song get to #2 on the Songfacts Top 10 of 2021!?

You'll have good reason to be surprised if you are American. This club anthem by the English producer Riton was a hit throughout Europe, but it did not trouble the Hot 100. Many came to Songfacts looking to find out what song it samples ("Push the Feeling On" by Nightcrawlers) and get the lyrics.

"Friday" Songfacts entry

1) Walker Hayes – "Fancy Like"

When Walker Hayes started creating dance videos for his songs with his daughter Lila, he didn't expect one of them to become a yeehaw viral smash. After the country singer uploaded the clip they'd cooked up for "Fancy Like," it quickly started trending on TikTok. The visual's success on social media propelled the twang-filled tribute to blue-collar cuisine into the top reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 and even led to a promo partnership with Applebee's.

Hayes' unexpected hit brought us some much-needed light relief in a year of uncertainty, and it's of little surprise many of you came to our site to find out more; enough to make (cue triumphant trumpet sound) "Fancy Like" the Top Viewed Song of 2021 on Songfacts.

"Fancy Like" Songfacts entry

December 28, 2021
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