10 of the Best American Albums of 2021

Published on: January 22, 2022 (Updated on: April 22, 2024)

This is a review of 10 of the best American albums of 2021. As the American music industry continues its domination of the world of music, we see a couple of outstanding projects being released by our favourite musicians.

10 of the Best American Albums of 2021
10 of the Best American Albums of 2021

While the COVID-19 pandemic continued its rampage all over the world, 2021 was an exceptional year for music makers and listeners.  Albums like Olivia Rodrigo's Sour provided a gateway for most of us to escape into another realm. 

The article puts international music under the Microscope for the year 2021. The list will be curated based on Album sales, Billboard numbers, award recognitions and nominations.

Below are 10 of the Best American Albums of 2021:

1. Sour

Sour is a young singer and actress Olivia Rodrigo's debut album and by all connotations, one of the best albums released in 2021. The 18-year-old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalists put out a body of work far above her age. Her songwriting abilities are spectacular and her lyrics are soul-piercing. Drivers License, the promotional single for the album was released in January and immediately went viral. Sour topped charts and broke multiple streaming records. It also topped Billboard charts for 8 weeks and has gone 4 times platinum according to the RIIA.

The 11 track album was officially released in May to both commercial success and critical acclaim. It received 5 Grammy awards nominations and topped charts in various countries including America and The United Kingdom. The Album has gone 2 times platinum in America, this is indeed a remarkable feat for an 18-year-old newcomer.

2. Justice

Justice is Pop singer and songwriter Justin Bieber's sixth studio album. The 16 track album is not only a commercial success but also received immense praise from music critics and Journalists. The album which is a blend of different pop ballads and experimentations with Afrobeats is one of the most successful albums of 2021.

Justin Bieber delivers an impeccable album with guest features from Burna Boy, Chance the rapper, Khalid and multiple writing credits from Jon Bellion. It topped the US Hot 200 Billboard charts and also went to number 1 in many countries except the United Kingdom where it peaked at Number 2. The album also went platinum in the United States of America. Justin Bieber received 8 Grammy awards nominations for Justice.

3. Heaux Tales

American R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan returns with Heaux Tales after releasing her last project in 2015. The project is a combination of soulful pop ballads that speak about how women of this generation freely express their sexuality. The 14 track album has a couple of interludes embedded in the album.The interludes do a great job of adding character to the project. It peaked at N0.4 on the US Billboard 200 charts and has gotten over 40 million streams. Heaux Tales was nominated for Best R&B Album at the Grammys, it also picked up 3 more Grammy nominations.

4. Montero

Lil Nas X puts out his debut album amidst a storm of controversies. The openly gay rapper who took the entertainment industry by storm with his viral hit song "Old Town Road" in 2018 has proven to not be a one-hit-wonder. The star-studded rap album perfectly blends hip hop, pop and rock fusions in its production. It received praise from critics who praised the rappers boldness in confronting an otherwise homophobic industry. The album peaked at No.2 on the US Billboard 200 charts and received five nominations at the Grammy awards including an Album of the Year Nomination.

5. Donda

Kanye West's much-anticipated album was released amidst claims by the rapper that the album was released by the Record company without his approval. Nevertheless, the album still made a great impact on the hip-hop community. I regard it as Kanye's best album since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The album release was preceded by two sold-out album listening concerts at the Mercedes Benz centre.

The 27 track gospel themed album features a number of celebrities including long time collaborator Jay-Z. It peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 charts and UK albums chart. The album received 4 nominations at the Grammy awards, including nominations for Album of the year and best rap album. It has been certified Gold by the RIAA in America.

6. Back of My Mind

Multiple Grammy award winner H.E.R debuts her third studio album Back Of My Mind to a lot of critical acclaim from music journalists. The R&B album comes with guest verses from Chris Brown, Lil Baby, YG and others. H.E.R delivers once again with her impeccable songwriting abilities and vocals.

The album peaked at both Number 6 and 4 on US Billboard top R&B albums and US Billboard 200 charts. The gifted singer-songwriter picked up four nominations at the Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best R&B album categories. Back of My Mind has been certified gold in America by the RIAA.

7. Happier Than Ever

Billie Eilish returns with her sophomore album Happier Than Ever. The gifted singer-songwriter had previously dominated charts and the Grammy awards with her debut album in 2019. The 20-year-old singer-songwriter who already has 5 Grammy awards from her first album hopes to prove that lightning sometimes strikes twice in the same spot with her new project. It's is a fusion of various genres and speaks about her struggles as a woman in a male-dominated industry. Happier Than Ever picked up a total of 7 Grammy nominations and peaked at No.1 in the US Billboard charts and in the United Kingdom.

8. Old Church Basement

Old Church Basement is a Gospel music album jointly created and released by Maverick city music and Elevation worship. Personally, this is one of my favourite albums of 2021. The live album contains hit songs like Wait On You, Jireh, Build Your Church and Million Little Miracles. Upon its release, it peaked at Number 1 on both US Christian Albums and US Top Gospel Albums chart. The album won the highest honours at the GMA Dove Awards, which is like the Grammys of Gospel music. It won the Worship Album of the year award and also received 3 Grammy nominations.

9. Certified Lover Boy

Certified Lover Boy is Drake's 6th studio album. The album is without a doubt a very commercially successful album even though you may criticise the project's lyrical depth. Drake continues his records of Billboard domination, selling over 600 thousand copies in his first-week release. The album which features a host of guest artists like Jay-Z, Lil Baby, Travis Scott and many more debuted at No.1 on the US Billboard 200 chart.

It also claimed the top spot in US Top R&b/Hip-hop charts and the UK album charts and received a nomination for Best Rap Album at the Grammys. While Certified Lover Boy is a good album, it is not in any way Drake's best work.

10. Planet Her (Deluxe)

American rapper and singer Doja Cat released her 3rd studio album in May. The album which is traditionally a Hip-hop project takes a lot of inspiration from other musical genres. It fuses Pop, Dancehall, Funk and Afrobeats into its creation. The album was well-received by critics, it also did well commercially. It peaked at No.2 on the US Billboard 200 chart and at No.1 on both US Top R&B and US Top R&B/Hip-hop charts. The star-studded album picked up 6 Grammy Nominations including an Album of the Year Nomination.

You might also be interested in the top 10 Hollywood movies of 2021.