January 6, 2022 — Everyone loves to use the New Year as a reason to look forward and be hopeful. We’re a little different. We like to use it as an opportunity to reflect on the 365 days we just survived through. And those days would have been quite a bit longer if not for the upbeat, energetic, electrifying, and oft-eerie sounds of synth.
New retrowave favorites, grim darkwave gems, and so much more helped fuel 2021 and provided us with sounds that helped us usher in the New Year. Before we wildly speculate about what 2022 has in store and find excitement in the future of synth, let’s revisit the finest tracks to come out of 2021. If they’re not on your Spotify yet, now’s the time to load them up as part of your soundtrack for the New Year. Of course, the best of the best is available on the Yestermade™ Spotify playlists, click here to listen now.
The Midnight — ‘Vampires’
‘Vampires’ is maybe the biggest shock of 2021, particularly because its name is far from indicative of the track’s tone. While listeners may expect something dark and dreary, ‘Vampires’ is everything but, with The Midnight showcasing its range with a song that’s chill, slow-paced, and well-orchestrated. This isn’t the original version of the track, however, as The Midnight released a synth-heavy version on its Endless Summers EP.
Off the project’s The Rearview Mirror EP, the revamped ‘Vampires’ is a standout hit of 2021 that has us excited about what 2022 may have in store.
Scandroid — ‘Nighttime (Polyark Remix)’
A track that starts as strong as the Polyark remix of ‘Nighttime’ is sure to leave an impression. Heavy with inspirations from the 80s, ‘Nighttime’ is the kind of track that embeds itself in your brain, plays over and over, and somehow never gets old. Polyark’s touch absolutely fueled the powerful synth feel, giving the song energy that certainly contrasted the often-morose feeling of 2021.
LeBrock — ‘Heartstrings’
You can’t go throughout the year without a love anthem to belt out, and no matter your musical tastes, LeBrock’s ‘Heartstrings’ filled that void pretty early on in the year. Oozing with 80s greatness, ‘Heartstrings’ is an intoxicating track that’s impossible not to get stuck between your ears. Guitar chords are emphasized throughout the track to help give it that ‘feel good’ sound.
ABBA — ‘I Still Have Faith in You’
Any year that has ABBA stepping back on stage is a year worth remembering, and the track, ‘I Still Have Faith in You’, is classic ABBA. What starts off slow builds into a lovely crescendo that captures the essence that made ABBA such an iconic ensemble throughout the 70s and 80s. Sure, there are better ABBA songs out there, but it feels wrong not highlighting this incredible reemergence that seemed to come out of left field.
Midnight Danger — ‘Terror by Night’
If it’s darkwave you’re into, then Midnight Danger should be at the top of your playlist. Closing out 2021, the horror-themed project released ‘Terror by Night’, featuring Rafael Bittencourt. The track features Midnight Danger’s signature metal sound, fueled by ample guitar, deep synth sounds, and an overall creepy vibe. ‘Terror by Night’ was a suitable close to a year that, to many, was quite the horror.
At 1980 — ‘California Nights’
Sometimes, the best synth tracks are so steeped in nostalgia that you forget they’re not ripped right from the 80s. ‘California Nights’ is a prime example of this, as At 1980 captures the very sounds of its namesake generation with a song that could easily be mistaken as a fitting and timely classic. The retrowave track blends snare and synth perfectly for a sound that’s perfect for cruising California’s bustling Sunset Blvd. It’s not every day a song so perfectly encapsulates its name, but At 1980 hit the nail on the head with ‘California Nights’.
Vancelot Prime — ‘Knight Rider Theme’ (feat. Strontium Cop & Perfect Nothing)
If you’re going to recreate an iconic track of the 80s, you absolutely want the right names behind it. This ‘Knight Rider Theme” remix was crafted by an incredible trio of talent, including Vancelot Prime, Strontium Cop, and Perfect Nothing. The signature sound of the unforgettable track is at the forefront, empowered by a harder guitar sound and more synth elements. You can almost make out what each artist contributed to the track as it captures the distinct sounds of all three.
Mega Drive — ‘Fatal Drive’
If you’re looking for a track that is just pure and simple synth, ‘Fatal Divide’ should absolutely be on your playlist. Mega Drive pulls no punches in creating this heavily synthesized track, which starts strong and never lets up. There are touches of darkwave integrated throughout as Mega Drive takes its listeners on an audio journey through an electrified landscape from the song’s quick start to its tapered end.
Maxthor — ‘Wasted Years’
When covering a well-known song from a popular band, great care must be taken to pay tribute to the original. Maxthor definitely had their work cut out for them when they chose to cover Iron Maiden’s ‘Wasted Years’, but the finished product is a surprisingly faithful synthesized update. It may not have that hard-hitting sound that Iron Maiden was known for, but the fresh take is respectful of the source material. Maxthor’s take on ‘Wasted Years’ somehow turns a heavy metal track into an enjoyable synthesized hit of the 80s.
Dance with the Dead – ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ Cover
The A Nightmare on Elm Street theme song leaves plenty of opportunities for clever artists to sneak in and put their spin on the track. Of course, Dance with the Dead was inevitably going to move in with its own rendition, and the finished track enhances the original with a synth guitar that puts it in line with soundtracks from campy horror classics like Return of the Living Dead. Dance with the Dead’s take on ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ gives the track more energy and is, quite possibly, the best version of the theme song to date.