Songs that got us (awkwardly) dancing again in 2021

From the kitchen to the nightclub: our writers reflect on the tunes that got them their groove back this year

1/14 ● TimeOut
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Good Ones

by Charli XCX



Keith Flanagan
Contributing writer

I heard this song the week it came out (sometimes Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist checks out).

It’s an upbeat, fast-moving single about self-sabotage (i.e. ruining a perfectly good romance all by yourself) that doesn’t actually make you dwell on it – which is absolutely what I’m in the mood for after being stuck in my own anxious thoughts all year long.

Life seems to be back on track again (finally, maybe), and this song still hits the spot – it’s pure, unapologetic pop.

Break the Ice

by Britney Spears



Adena Maier
Lifestyle Journalist, Time Out Melbourne

Like many of us, I got really hooked on the Britney Spears conservatorship drama this year and used it as an opportunity to revisit her discography.

‘Break the Ice’ quickly became my favourite for its thumping production and swooping synth melodies that make you feel like you’re in the club.

Listening to it during lockdown made mundane activities like cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping feel like a night out on the town, and I can’t wait to request this song from the DJ booth after having one too many drink specials.

So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings

by Caroline Polachek



Sophie Dickinson
Interim Travel Writer, Time Out

Feeling a bit weird about getting squashed up against strangers, I waited a few months before finally going back to the club.

When the date finally came, my friends and I bundled into a cab and had to queue up outside the venue for an hour – we’d forgotten all about timing our entry and instead had to hang about in the cold.

But he first song we heard when we finally hit the dancefloor was ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’.

Elated, care-free, relieved to be out of the rain: we screamed out the lyrics as if they were a manifesto.

So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings

by Caroline Polachek



Sophie Dickinson
Interim Travel Writer, Time Out

Feeling a bit weird about getting squashed up against strangers, I waited a few months before finally going back to the club.

When the date finally came, my friends and I bundled into a cab and had to queue up outside the venue for an hour – we’d forgotten all about timing our entry and instead had to hang about in the cold.

But he first song we heard when we finally hit the dancefloor was ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’.

Elated, care-free, relieved to be out of the rain: we screamed out the lyrics as if they were a manifesto.

Water Me

by Lizzo



Alannah Maher
Lifestyle Journalist, Time Out Sydney

I am certainly not the only person out there who returns to the absolute bops from ‘Cuz I Love You’, Lizzo’s breakthrough 2019 album, when I’m in need of a swing of the hips and a belter to sing along to.

Not to diminish the popularity of ‘Good As Hell’, but especially during Sydney’s lockdowns, when I really needed a good solo boogie to return myself to my body, I’d pop on ‘Water Me’ and groove along to its sentiments of self-nourishment, empowerment and love.

Takes me right back to dancing and crying at Lizzo’s Sydney Opera House show in January 2020, where we shoved money into charity buckets for bushfire relief and Covid was not yet in our lexicon.

Both of Us

by Jayda G



Huw Oliver
International Commissioning Editor, Time Out

In April 2021, like everyone else in the UK, I was fed up. Lockdown was dragging on.

Netflix, it turned out, did have a bottom.

I was buying a beer at the bar when the piano started up. To the bartender’s irritation, I said: sorry, I have to go. I ran into the room and danced and kept going until close.

Life fundamentally sucked, also. But then I went on my first journalistic outing in months.

My assignment was the UK’s first club night in more than a year, and I dutifully had a pretty classy time (new friends, vomit on shoes, long, rainy walk home).

The real highlight, however, was Jayda G doing ‘Both of Us’: a song released mid-pandemic and something I’d dreamed of hearing in a club for months.

7 Things

by Miley Cyrus



Emma Krupp
Assistant Editor, Time Out Chicago

If you told me earlier this year that one of my favorite memories of 2021 would be at Lollapalooza – a festival best known, at this point, for its hordes of drunk teenagers – I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

But when Thursday night headliner Miley Cyrus started playing the first notes of ‘7 Things’, an angsty teenage ode to her relationship with Nick Jonas that I’ve loved since I was 12, it didn’t matter that I was alone, dead sober and masked: I danced just as hard as the drunk teens surrounding me.

Montero (Call Me by Your Name)

by Lil Nas X



Adam Feldman
Theater and Dance Editor, Time Out USA


With its confluence of Middle Eastern and reggaeton vibes, this unabashedly gay, remarkably casual sex song is a naughty little snack by itself.

But its fabulously outré video, in which Nas slides down a pole and lap-dances the Devil, is what made it so compulsively rewatchable on YouTube – and helped take a song about bottoming to the top of the global pop charts.

It’s only two minutes and 17 seconds long, but the whole thing feels like a moment.

BIPP

by SOPHIE



Georgia Evans
Deputy Commercial Editor, Time Out

SOPHIE’s passing was an incredibly sad part of 2021, but I found a lot of comfort in her music during the UK’s third lockdown.

The stove became my stage as I attempted the highest notes of ‘BIPP’ which only auto-tune could really reach.

I yearned to be back at a festival and recalled the last time I saw her perform: she danced like an ethereal goddess under the strobe lights of Primavera Sound’s beach stage. I’ll never forget the beauty of it.

You Belong With Me

by Taylor Swift



Jess Phillips
Social Media Editor, Time Out

First time round listening to ‘You Belong with Me’, I was 14 and had a penchant for slogan tees, Pot Noodles and Nick Jonas.

Thirteen years later, only one of those statements still rings true – and yes, it’s that one.

When Taylor Swift re-released her ‘Fearless’ album earlier this year, it reminded me that my mother should never have let me leave the house with ‘you say hyper like it’s a bad thing’ emblazoned on my chest and why I should be legally restricted from moving body parts to music – unless there’s a total eclipse.

Chaise Longue

Wet Leg



Sarah Cohen
Deputy Chief Sub Editor, Time Out London

When I’m working at home, I listen to the radio all day.

It’s mainly a background hum, but this summer, one song repeatedly leapt out and demanded to be listened to – and danced to.

‘Chaise Longue’, the debut single from deadpan female indie duo Wet Leg, starts minimally, but when the urgent guitar riff kicks in, I find myself involuntarily headbanging at my desk.

The lyrics are very silly – ‘On the chaise longue, all day long, on the chaise longue’ – but the spiky, energetic groove gets me jumping around the living room when I should be head down editing copy.

Blinding Lights

the Weeknd



Ed Cunningham
Contributing writer

Previously too snooty for the Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’, I’ve realised no one is above punchy, immaculately-executed ‘80s revivalism.

This was a harsh truth, served up in a Spotify Wrap(ped): I didn’t realise quite how many times I’d listened to it until it stared back at me in early December.

And it’s no wonder, really.

The showdown synths, pithy basslines and supremely tight songwriting are irresistible.

Even now, you can almost certainly still catch me after a pub trip, strutting down the street, horribly wailing out the chorus and generally doing an obscene disservice to a great tune.

So U Know

Overmono




Chiara Wilkinson
Staff Writer, Time Out London:

I remember playing this on repeat on a Sunday morning to get hyped for the third day of GALA, London’s first big festival back.

My neighbours must have loved me.

With chipmunk-like vocals and shattering breakbeats swooping into atmospheric synths, ‘So U Know’ arrived as an instant dancefloor anthem, perfectly timed for the return to clubland.

After such a static year, this stomper taught me how to two-step again – no easy feat.

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