Audio influencers include the programmers, bookers and editorial leaders of top music destinations like iHeartRadio’s 800-plus radio stations, DSPs like Amazon Music and such late-nite television shows as “”The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” each of whom was asked which song defined defined the sound of 2021. Their picks below:

“Dua Lipa’s ‘Levitating’ is one of those songs that transcends formats because it’s right down the middle and fun. And 2021 was a year that people needed a little fun back in their lives.”
— Tom Poleman, chief programming officer and president of national programming for iHeartRadio

“Baby Keem’s ‘Issues’ puts you in the mind frame of thinking about people you’ve lost or aren’t close with anymore. It shows a different side of him and I’m excited for what he’s going to do in 2022.”
— Tim Hinshaw, head of Hip-Hop & R&B at Amazon Music

“Wizkid’s ‘Essence’ (featuring Tems) broke so many barriers. It’s an African artist, feature and producer, and it penetrated the culture here in a way that no African song really has before. It’s historic.”
— Tuma Basa, director of Black music & culture, YouTube

“A huge commercial success, as well as a pop culture juggernaut, Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’ was able to break through the crowded music space to launch Olivia as a certified star.”
— Jeremiah J. Silva, “Late Night With Seth Meyers” music & talent executive

“2021 proved that Lil Nas X is a modern-day icon, not only in the world of pop culture but also the LGBTQ community. With ‘Montero (Call Me by Your Name)’ and his debut album that followed, we are watching someone who is here to stay.”
— Elvis Duran, “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show” on iHeartRadio

“’‘Drivers License’ by Olivia Rodrigo came in the middle of a drab mid-pandemic January and hit everyone like a sunbeam through the clouds. We had something to obsess over again! Simply put, it’s an excellent pop song that beautifully displays Rodrigo’s writing chops and vocals.”
— Julie Gurovitsch, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” music producer

“We’ve been waiting years for Adele’s next hit, and she delivered with ‘Easy On on Me.’ The song is everything we need right now. It united us — everyone, everywhere is listening!”
— Brittany Bosner, NBC News/“The Today Show” music booking producer

“Leave it to Drake to flip the classic ‘I’m Too Sexy’ into a modern day hit with ‘Way 2 Sexy.’ Then the video took everything to another level.”
— Josh “J1” Raiford, senior director of hip-hop/program director, SiriusXM Pandora Now 

BTS’ ‘Butter’ came just in time to provide the soundtrack to a world that was desperate to decompress and just dance. Try as some might to dismiss them as ‘just another boy band,’ BTS have literally shaken the world.”
— Nik Carter, “Feedback” co-host, SiriusXM Volume

“Olivia Rodrigo delivered the ultimate one-two punch with ‘Déjà and ‘Good 4 U,’ which millions of all ages connected with emotionally. Olivia pulled heartstrings across the globe with these two super hits.”
— Alex Tear, VP of pop music & programming, SiriusXM