Every Song Phoebe Bridgers Played On In 2021, Ranked
Phoebe Bridgers did not release an album in 2021. Nonetheless, she was everywhere. Over the course of the last 12 months, everyone, even Taylor Swift, seemed to want a Bridgers verse, harmony, or cover song. And Bridgers delivered.
That’s probably the most impressive aspect to the LA singer-songwriter’s non-album work this year. Bridgers covered a wide range of artists (new acts, popular mainstays, and legends). She tried out numerous genres (rock, folk, pop, comedy, metal). She sang backup on the Lorde record. She reunited — twice! — with her boygenius bandmates on their respective albums. She covered Metallica, Tom Waits, John Prine, and Bo Burnham.
And there’s more: She toured America, played Austin City Limits (the festival and the TV show), was up for four Grammys, and made her SNL debut (inadvertently igniting a debate around guitar smashing). She visited James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and Ziwe. She ate Jackson Browne’s heart in a music video. She sang with Philip Glass and Matty Healy. She wrote an essay for the 10th anniversary of Bon Iver’s sophomore album.
If 2021 was a Dr. Seuss book, Bridgers would be the thneed that everyone needs. With that said, here’s a ranked list of every song Phoebe Bridgers played on over the past 12 months.
15. Lorde – “The Path,” “Solar Power,” “Stoned At The Nail Salon,” “Fallen Fruit,” “Leader Of A New Regime,” “Mood Ring”
I think, collectively, we were all hoping for a little more from Lorde’s third album, which features backing vocals from Bridgers on not one, not two, but six tracks. (That’s more than half the album!) It’s too bad, then, that Lorde’s overall attempt at embracing wellness culture on Solar Power felt underwhelming to most critics, so much so that Bridgers’ presence gets boiled down to a resume bullet point at best.
14. Luminous Kid – “Mountain Crystals” (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
Luminous Kid — aka Sweden’s Olof Grind — invited Bridgers to do a spoken-word section on this jangling, horn-filled number. It’s short, sweet, and thoroughly delightful, even if the song as a whole sounds like someone xeroxed Beruit a few times.
13. The Killers – “Runaway Horses” (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
Bridgers has covered the Killers on a number of occasions, including in 2019 with Better Oblivion Community Center bandmate Conor Oberst (“Human”) and in 2018 with boygenius (“Read My Mind”). So it fits that she’d appear on the Killers’ 2021 album Pressure Machine, where she joins Brandon Flowers to spin a Western yarn about a “small town girl” who “loves Radiohead” and is “crazy about The Bends” but “puts her dreams on ice” to get married. Bridgers’ mournful voice adds unexpected depth to an otherwise so-so song with major “Free Fallin'” vibes.
12. Phoebe Bridgers – “Seize The Day” (Paul McCartney Cover)
Being asked to reimagine a McCartney song is a huge honor, and Bridgers’ “Seize The Day” cover, appearing on the Beatle’s McCartney III Imagined, doesn’t disappoint. Under Bridgers’ ownership, “Seize The Day” loses its jaunty, trademark McCartney happy-go-lucky stamp, but the resulting folk ballad is memorable nonetheless.
11. Phoebe Bridgers – “Kyoto” (Feat. Jackson Browne)
Bridgers’ self-described “sadder” version of Punisher lead single “Kyoto” lives up to its description; on the Spotify Singles track, featuring all-time great Jackson Browne, Bridgers takes a jaunty track and strips it down to just acoustic guitar and keys. Browne’s voice provides only a soft backdrop — you might not even know it’s him were it not expressly advertised.
10. Phoebe Bridgers – “Summer’s End” (Feat. Maria Taylor) (John Prine Cover)
Technically, Bridgers started peddling her whispery cover of John Prine’s “Summer’s End” last year when the beloved country-folk performer passed. In 2021, though, she formally released it as a Spotify Single, with Azure Ray’s Maria Taylor also on vocals. Together, Taylor and Bridgers offer a loving tribute to Prine with their moving softly harmonized reimagining. The repeated phrase “come on home” becomes a lullaby, demonstrating Bridgers’ agility at making a cover song her own.
9. Julien Baker – “Favor” (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers & Lucy Dacus)
Though not a boygenius song, the lush, mid-tempo “Favor” does feature Julien Baker’s boygenius bandmates, with Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, who provide beautifully harmonized backup vocals. It’s a generous example of how Bridgers is equally capable of leading a song or stepping back to provide support. Isn’t that what good friends are for?
8. Lucy Dacus – “Going Going Gone,” “Please Stay” (Feat. Julien Baker & Phoebe Bridgers)
While promoting Home Video, Lucy Dacus spoke about how her boygenius bandmates inspired her to get more personal in her own songwriting. So it’s fitting that the three bandmates should reunite to record the Richmond singer’s third album, specifically on the tracks “Going Going Gone” and “Please Stay.” In the closing moments of “Going Going Gone,” they burst into laughter, a genuine moment of easy, lasting friendship.
7. Charlie Hickey – “Ten Feet Tall” (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
Ideally, becoming successful should mean leading by example and lighting the way for the younger generation. After seeing Charlie Hickey cover one of her songs at just 13 years old, Bridgers has acted as something of a mentor to the young, Pasadena-based performer, and even hopped on a couple of his tracks, including last year’s “No Good At Lying.” On the heartfelt “Ten Feet Tall,” Bridgers gives Hickey ample space to shine, providing a boost with backing harmonies on the chorus.
6. Phoebe Bridgers – “That Funny Feeling” (Bo Burnham Cover)
Based on Bridgers’ sleepy reimagining, it’s easy to forget that “That Funny Feeling” originally came from Bo Burnham’s Inside comedy special. (Or was it comedy? That’s hard to say.) Still, Bridgers covering Burnham shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: Though they specialize in different mediums, both artists tend to utilize music and comedy to express darker feelings around crippling anxiety and depression. Here, Bridgers does Burnham proud, gently recycling his contradictory lyrics about the world being at our fingertips and the ocean being at our door(s). (Ugh.)
5. Phoebe Bridgers – “Day After Tomorrow” (Tom Waits Cover)
Covering the closing track from Tom Waits’ 2004 album Real Gone, Bridgers delicately rearranges “Day After Tomorrow” alongside Tony Berg and Ethan Gruska and makes it part of her ongoing holiday song canon. Instrumentally, there isn’t a huge difference, but Bridgers’ sorrowful voice is ideal to soundtrack what is essentially an anti-war song — you feel the protagonist’s aching homesickness on a visceral level.
4. Noah Gundersen – “Atlantis” (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
Seattle indie singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen’s “Atlantis” is not so much a song as it is a full experience. Like the water surroundings its fabled subject, “Atlantis” washes over you — first in small waves, then growing in scale with thudding drum machines and ruminative guitar and piano. Gundersen’s crisp voice aligns so well with Bridgers as the two swap couplets and verses before coming together in perfect harmony on the chorus.
3. Phoebe Bridgers – “Nothing Else Matters” (Metallica Cover)
“What I’ve always loved about Metallica is that they don’t shy away from a great hook,” Bridgers told Apple Music while promoting her contribution to the all-covers Metallica Blacklist. This has to be Bridgers’ most adventurous rework, morphing one of metal’s classic power ballads into something baroque and bone-chilling.
2. MUNA – “Silk Chiffon” (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
To celebrate being signed to Bridgers’ label, Saddest Factory, electropop outfit MUNA welcomed the singer on what is probably her poppiest feature of 2021. It’s also a proud celebration of queer make-outs, with the truly delightful music video satirizing gay conversion therapy à la But I’m a Cheerleader.
1. Taylor Swift – “Nothing New” (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers ascended via very different channels within the music industry: Swift through pop-via-country, Bridgers through indie rock. But their Venn diagrams fundamentally overlap as mega-talented singer-songwriters with penchants for diaristic songwriting. On “Nothing New,” released on Red (Taylor’s Version), the two performers outline their anxieties around growing older in the industry, asking, “Lord, what will become of me/ Once I’ve lost my novelty?” and “Will you still want me when I’m nothing new?” Once you get to the top, then comes the fear of heights.