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Songs of 2021
Image: Time Out

13 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

Edited by
Huw Oliver
Written by
Time Out editors
Time Out contributors

Whether or not we felt comfortable enough to hit the club, 2021 was the year we got our groove back. Hell, many of us had given it a go at home. We’d played that Dua Lipa album to death. We’d tried, desperately, to make ‘lockdown discos’ a thing. Last year, some of the bigger legends among us even attended virtual NYE parties. It was good fun, until it got boring – fast.

Though much of the world has slipped in and out of lockdown this year, there were moments when most of us were able to get back on the dancefloor. The pre-night hype, the thump-thump-thump, the endless spilled drinks: by God, it felt good. And even if we weren’t quite up to a night on the town, as 2021 went on, there were certainly many more reasons to regain that spring in our step. The vaccine rollout sped up. We saw our loved ones again. And we danced – in bars, on street corners, and yes, at home. So wherever we wound up, however we got there, here are 13 songs that got Time Out writers dancing again this year.

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Songs that got us (awkwardly) dancing again in 2021

‘So U Know’ by Overmono
Image: Courtesy of the artist

1. ‘So U Know’ by Overmono

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.
Chiara Wilkinson
Features Editor, UK
‘Blinding Lights’ by the Weeknd
Image: Courtesy of the artist

2. ‘Blinding Lights’ by the Weeknd

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.
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
‘Chaise Longue’ by Wet Leg
Image: Courtesy of the artist

3. ‘Chaise Longue’ by Wet Leg

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.
Sarah Cohen
Deputy Chief Sub Editor, Time Out London
‘Everybody Dance’ by CHIC
Image: Courtesy of the artist

4. ‘Everybody Dance’ by CHIC

Like many people, me and my now husband (spoiler alert) had to postpone our 2020 wedding. The run-up to our postponed 2021 date was pretty stressful, with restrictions constantly changing. When the day finally came, it was gloriously sunny, which was a relief because we’d planned to do the whole thing outside. After our first dance, we’d asked our DJ to play ‘Everybody Dance’ by CHIC as the second song. Dancing outside to it with all our closest family and friends, I had this sudden moment of realisation: I haven’t done this in so long. It was an amazing moment, and totally worth getting grass stains on my white dress.
Isabelle Aron
Features Editor, Time Out London
‘You Belong With Me’ by Taylor Swift
Image: Courtesy of the artist

5. ‘You Belong With Me’ by Taylor Swift

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.
Jessica Phillips
Social Media Editor
Image: Courtesy of the artist


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.
Georgia Evans
Deputy Commercial Editor, Time Out
‘Montero (Call Me by Your Name)’ by Lil Nas X
Image: Courtesy of the artist

7. ‘Montero (Call Me by Your Name)’ by Lil Nas X

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.
Adam Feldman
Theater and Dance Editor, Time Out USA
‘7 Things’ by Miley Cyrus
Image: Courtesy of the artist

8. ‘7 Things’ by Miley Cyrus

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.
Emma Krupp
Editor, Time Out Chicago
‘Both of Us’ by Jayda G
Image: Courtesy of the artist

9. ‘Both of Us’ by Jayda G

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. 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. 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.
Huw Oliver
UK Editor
‘Water Me’ by Lizzo
Image: Courtesy of the artist

10. ‘Water Me’ by Lizzo

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.
Alannah Le Cross
Arts and Culture Editor, Time Out Sydney
‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’ by Caroline Polachek
Image: Courtesy of the artist

11. ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’ by Caroline Polachek

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.
Sophie Dickinson
Freelance contributor
‘Break the Ice’ by Britney Spears
Image: Courtesy of the artist

12. ‘Break the Ice’ by Britney Spears

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.
Adena Maier
Lifestyle Editor, Time Out Melbourne
‘Good Ones’ by Charli XCX
Image: Courtesy of the artist

13. ‘Good Ones’ by Charli XCX

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.
Keith Flanagan
Contributing writer
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