TikTok’s Music Critics Reflect on 2021


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TikTok serves as a music discovery tool for a significant portion of its user base. Music videos and comedic sketches can now be accompanied by snippets of brand-new songs. Previously unheard songs find a new audience in new contexts. If you’re a curious and patient listener, this is a great source of information and entertainment.

However, TikTok’s informal group of music critics, historians, and enthusiasts is also a source of music discovery on the app. There is often a disconnect between the music they recommend and the rest of the app’s content. This ranges from 1990s indie rock to contemporary video game music to old jazz to contemporary underground hip-hop and beyond. This is a group of passionate, self-motivated individuals who are following their own muse.

From Charlotte Day Wilson to Elujae and more, the best albums and songs of 2021 are being discussed on this week’s Popcast with four of TikTok’s most singular music aficionados. We also talk about the challenges of developing individual taste in the age of algorithms, and how finding physical media can bring unexpected joy.