KCRW's Best of 2021

KCRW's Best of 2021

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos,” the late Stephen Sondheim said. After what has arguably been the most chaotic two years in recent American — and, really, global — collective consciousness, the composer’s words have only rung increasingly true. If things still feel bleak, the pushback of creation in the face of uncertainty is only just taking hold. From ineffable gospel to astral punk, iconoclast jazz to bedroom pop, secret histories to culinary revelations, these are the sounds, words, and tastes that kept us moving, thinking, and inspired in 2021.

Best Of: Music

From iconoclast jazz to astral punk, minimal psychedelia to raw soul, knockout debuts to long-anticipated returns, these are the albums that defined the triumphs, defiance, and surreality of 2021.

The songs that helped us get up in the morning, fall asleep (or stay awake) at night, or that we simply played on repeat, because you never need a reason.

Hungry for more? Dig into 2021’s personal favorites from KCRW Music’s genre experts, airwave curators, and, of course, you — the listener.

Virtuosic vocals, masterful production, and gripping lyrics make this LA trio a must-know takeover in 2022.

Best Of: Culture

As in past years , this is a list of favorite books of the year. Critics who use the term "best books" are not thinking.

From magical cookbooks to culinary ethnographies to secret histories, these are the books that inspired Good Food in 2021.

Past Years

KCRW’s Best of 2020 Music showcases the best songs, best albums, and best artists picked by our DJs. And our Best New Artist represents a local, LA musician you oughta know.

KCRW's annual Best Of recognizes the music and performances that caught our DJs' attention in 2018. These artists continually innovate and inspire, while pushing culture forward. Explore the best music from the past year.

KCRW's Best of 2017 Music Awards – The annual Best Of 2017 list recognizes the best artists to cross our airwaves and push music culture forward during the past year. Nominees are selected by KCRW's panel of independent DJs for originality, buzz and total number of mentions.