Even the shock wave of 2020 could not prepare us for the meltdown of 2021.
As we continue grappling with an irrepressible pandemic, music is both a refuge and source of comfort.
Although things are far from glorious on that front, one noticed a conscious effort among musicians to sound unique and exciting.
Best is subjective, but these are Sukanya Verma's favourite Hindi film songs from 2021.
Rait Zara Si, Atrangi Re
Music: A R Rahman
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil
Singer: Arijit Singh, Shashaa Tirupati
Aanand L Rai and Imtiaz Ali's polarising universe takes a life of its own under A R Rahman's soulful tunes.
It's a separate space altogether that is untouched by criticism and transports the listener far, far away in a story of his own making that film-makers can only try and catch up to.
Though it arrived only at the end of this year, Atrangi Re's soundtrack swept me off my feet and feels like it has been on the playlist all along.
Every single song is magnificent in its own way, but Rait Zara Si's ethereal humming, sublime metaphors and dollops of Rahman dust produce a field of goosebumps.
Raataan Lambiyan, Shershaah
Music: Tanishk Bagchi
Lyrics: Tanishk Bagchi
Singer: Jubin Nautiyal, Asees Kaur
Brimming with irresistible warmth and melody, the infectious lovey-dovey fervour and playful rhythm of Tanishk Bagchi's charming Punjabi flavoured creation is, hands down, the Hindi song that I listened to most all year.
Tittar Bittar, Meenakshi Sundareshwar
Music: Justin Prabhakaran
Lyrics: Raj Shekhar
Singer: Romy, Goldie Sohel, Prince Bhatra, Mohana Bhogaraju, Hemambika, Swati Sharma, Chitralekha Sen, Yajat Garg
Raj Shekhar's quirky lines and Justin Prabhakaran's effervescent tune and a hoard of animated singers shift mood and tempo in such a delightful way on screen and speaker, there's no way you can escape its swaying effect.
Bandar Baant, Sherni
Music: Bandish Projekt
Lyrics: Hussain Haidry
Singer: Aishwarya Joshi, Roshan Khan
Hussain Haidry's ingenious reworking of the age-old bandar baant theory finds a perfect fit in Bandish Project's folksy energy, one that pleasantly disrupts Sherni's meditative momentum, to mock at the absurd degree of political opportunism.
Rihayee De, Mimi
Music: A R Rahman
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
Singer: A R Rahman
Rahman's Enya-esque impulses are soothingly realised in the unabashed emotions of Rihayee De. A terrific track anyway, elevated to another level because Rahman is singing it.
Kalle Kalle, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui
Lyrics: Priya Saraiya
Singer: Priya Saraiya
Even if you don't understand Punjabi, you'll definitely feel the pinch of Priya Saraiya's disappointed words in the rousing Sachin-Jigar melody.
Lehra Do, '83
Lyrics: Kausar Munir
Singer: Arijit Singh
I love all the versions of Lehra Do's crowd pleasing zeal. Especially the one used at the end credits, resulting in lump-in-the-throat nostalgia.
Pritam doesn't hold back the 'can do' spirit of Kausar Munir's underdog anthem and Arijit Singh's spectacular rendition of the same.
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Singer: Arijit Singh
So enamoured, so intimate.
The ever reliable combo of S-E-L paints the scene in romance against Javed Akhtar's free flowing affection and the infallible Arijit Singh's velvety expressions.
Phire Fakira, Pagglait
Music: Arijit Singh
Lyrics: Neelesh Mishra
Singer: Raja Kumari, Amrita Singh, Arijit Singh
Arijit Singh's reverence for Rahman manifests itself most strikingly in this funky, eclectic number from his debut as music director. Its existentialist lyrics by Neelesh Mishra are equally impressive.
Kinni Soni, Feels Like Ishq
Music: Sameer Kaushal, Ayushmann Khurrana
Lyrics: Ayushmann Khurrana, Sameer Kaushal, Gurpreet S Saini
Singer: Ayushmann Khurrana, Jonita Gandhi
The casually jamming vibe and disarming flirtations of Ayushmann Khurrana and Jonita Gandhi's Punjabi meets Western Pop exchange hit all the winsome notes.
Tu Toh Gaya Re, Bob Biswas
Lyrics: Vishal Dadlani
Singer: Bianca Gomes
Quite enjoyed Bianca Gomes enlivening the crime sequences of Bob Biswas's dark adventures with her sparkling voice spelling doom for the titular hero in Vishal-Shekhar's twist on country music.
Singer: Sachet Tandon
The slowly building passion of Sachet-Parampara's composition, a robust riff of electric guitar, has an infectious quality to it. The more you hear it, the more you want to.