December 30th, 2021

Dear Readers, it's been quite the year for Telugu cinema. From a weird Sankranthi to the hype of Vakeel Saab finally releasing, to another lockdown for 3 months, to SR Kalyanamandapam becoming a hit, Tuck Jagadish going to OTT and causing controversy, to Love Story releasing barely becoming a success and the mixed reactions that followed, to Akhanda becoming a blockbuster and Pushpa and Shyam Singha Roy along with Arjuna Phalguna to end the year it's been quite the ride. About 500 Telugu songs (Just an estimate) release every year but there are only a certain few that can make an impact. Here's a recap of 2021's Best Telugu Songs.

Nallareni Kalladhaanaa: Armaan Maalik proves his versaility in singing this Telangana folk song which I understand 0 about and it's 100% enjoyment. Lyrics by Bhaskar Yadav Dasari and Music by Osho Venkat 

Yemunavve Pilla: Sid Sriram's first attempt at a folk melody was a smashing success with this song. Lyrics and music by PR. 

Jala Jala Patham Nuvvu: If you can excuse (which you shouldn't) the situation of the song of two folks making love on a boat in the middle of the ocean, this soothing melody is sung by Jaspreet Jazz and Shreya Ghosal. Lyrics by Srimani and music by DSP.  

Nee Chitram Choosi: Anurag Kulkarni's heart touching rendition powers the pre climax song of Sekhar Kammula's Love Story. Lyrics by Mittapalli Surender and music by Pawan CH. 

Kola Kalle Illa: Sid Sriram makes this song from Vaarudu Kavalenu another earworm with his delightful singing. Lyrics by Rambabu Gosala and music by Vishal Chandrashekar. 

Kolo Kolanna Kolo: The opening number from Nani's Tuck Jagadish doesn't really hit it's stride until halfway into the song but nonetheless it's a delightful melody. Lyrics by Sirivennela Sitharama Sastry and music by Thaman S. 

Zindagi: First time singer Haniya Nafisa knocks it out of the park with her Telugu rendition of Ye Zindagi from Most Eligible Bachelor. Gopi Sundar's soulful singing also gives a much needed boost to the song in the later half. Lyrics by Ramajogayya Sastry and music by Gopi Sundar. 

Leharaayi: Sid Sriram, Pooja Hegde, and a scintillatingly soothing melody. What more do you need? Lyrics by Srimani and music by Gopi Sundar. 

Laahe Laahe: The first song from the most awaited combo of Chiranjeevi and Mani Sharma after 15 years, Ramajogayya Sastry's lyrics speak of Shiva's greatness in a poetic and elegant manner sung wonderfully by Sahithi Chaganti and Haarika Narayan. Music by the king Mani Sharma. 

Dosti: The first song from SS Rajamouli's RRR, Sirivennela Sitharama Sastry's lyrics about friendship are presented in a goosebumps inducing beat drop by MM Keeravani sung by Vedala Hemachandra. Ram Charan and Jr. NTR's appearance at the end is unlimited goosebumps guaranteed.

Idhi Chala Baghundi Le: Sid Sriram once again powers this insanely catchy and beautifully composed song from Sehari. Lyrics by Kittu Vissapragada and music by Prashanth R Vihari.

Needhi Naadhantu: This underrated song from Tuck Jagadish is powered by Srikrishna's intense vocals and Nutana Mohan's soothing rendition which plays during Jagadish's rise to an MRO in the film. Lyrics by Kalyan Chakravarthy and music by Thaman S. 

Entire Raja Raja Chora Album: Vivek Sagar once again cements himself as Telugu Cinema's most promising music composer with unique composition and interesting use of instruments in his songs. My picks are Maaya Maaya, Raju Raju Vache, and Nijam Idhe Kaadha. 

Antha Istham: It's always a joy to hear the legendary KS Chitra in any song and it's nice to see her back after a long gap with a soulful rendition of a wife admiring her husband from Pawan Kalyan and Rana Daggubati's Bheemla Naayak. Lyrics by Ramajogayya Sastry and music by Thaman S. 

Rise of Shyam: Vishal Dadlani, Anurag Kulkarni, and rapper Cizzy power the electrifying title song from Nani's period drama Shyam Singha Roy. Lyrics by Krishna Kanth and music by Mickey J Meyer. 

Mansulone Nilichipoke: Singer Chinmayi always delivers when it comes to melodies. This peaceful song from Varade Kaavelnu is no different. Lyrics by Sirivennela Sitharama Sastry and music by Vishal Chandrashekar. 

Okey Oka Lokam Nuvve: Another Sid Sriram banger, this song from Sashi is probably the only reason why people even know about the movie. Lyrics by Chandrabose and music by Arun Chiluveru. 

Sathyamave Jayathe: Shankar Mahadevan made a long awaited return to Telugu music in this patriotic and inspiring cracker of a song that speaks about Vakeel Saab's greatness. Prudhvi Chandra also assists with his rap in the latter part of the song. Lyrics by Ramajogayya Sastry and Music by Thaman S. 

Naagumomu Thaarale: Sid Sriram's vocals and Manoj Paramahamsa's extravagant visuals make this song both an audio and visual treat. Lyrics by Krishna Kanth and music by Justin Prabhakaran. 

Devathalantha: Anurag Kulkarni's absolutely kills it in this very catchy melody from Allari Naresh's Naandhi. Lyrics by Kittu Vissapragada and music by Sricharan Pakala. 

So So Ga: As you can see by know there are really only 3 singers left in Tollywood (Armaan Maalik, Anurag Kulkarni and Sid Sriram) and Sid Sriram sings this one. Once again it's catchy and feels like a sad song but in the end it's still catchy. Lyrics by Krishakanth and music by Anup Rubens. 

Pranavalaya: The very last song ever written by the legendary Sirivennela Sithrama Sastry, this song sung by Anurag Kulkarni is wonderfully supported by the incredible dance of Sai Pallavi and the composition by Mickey J Meyer. 

Komaram Bheemudo: In what's sure to be the intro song of Jr. NTR in RRR, Kaala Bharaiva proves his mettle as an incredible singer once again in his father MM Keeravani's composition. The lyrics from Suddala Ashok Teja give many elevations and speak of Bheem's valour and potential. A well composed emotional and hero elevation number, it's officially the last notable song released in 2021 and makes our list for Best Songs of 2021. 


Top 10 Countdown

10) Chitti from Jathirathnalu - Ram Miriyala's rise to fame came with this song and the insanely catchy and only recognizable song from Jathirathanalu was a roaring hit along with Naveen Polishetty's funny dance moves. Lyrics by Ramajogoayya Sastry and Music by Radhan. 

9) Bheemla Naayak Title Song: To bring a folk singer and Kinnera artist in Mogulayya for an instrument that's basically extinct is a masterstroke from Thaman and his musical department. While the song itself seems like it's too slow, it grows on you and Prudvi Chandra, Srikrishna and specifically Ram Miriyala's vocals give you goosebumps about the elevations and greatness of Bheemla Naayak from Ramajagoyya Sastry's pen. Lyrics by Ramajogayya Sastry and music by Thaman S. 

8) Sirivennela: Life comes full circle doesn't it. For the man who was given the screen name for becoming famous with the movie Sirivennela, his very last song that he ever wrote was also titled Sirivennela. Sirivennela Sithrama Sastry garu, we will miss you so much s and thank you for all the countless classic songs over the years. You will always be in our hearts through your lyrics and poetic writing style. Sung wonderfully by Anurag Kulkarni, the song is vintage Sirivennela Sastry speaking about love in a way only he can so poetically describe. Music by Mickey J Meyer. 

7)  Kanti Papa: Armaan Maalik and Thaman S combined for another banger of a song this time in Pawan Kalyan's Vakeel Saab. The tune is superb and the female singers interlude is easily the most best and most peaceful part of the song  resulting in a fantastically composed and soothing melody. Ramajagoyya Sastry's lyrics add all of the value needed and perhaps you can sing this song to the "Kanti Papa" in your life as well. 

6) Ee Rathalae: UV Creations is easily the worst production house in all of Tollywood and they almost bit the dust and drew the ire of all of Telugu fandom when they failed to release the first single from Radhe Shyam on time. However luck was in their favor as Justin Prabhakaran delivered an absolutely scintillating first song sung by Yuvan Shankar Raja and Harini Ivvaturi. However it's Harini Ivvaturi's amazing vocals that will stay in your head and give you goosebumps every time as she completely steals the show with her singing. Lyrics by Krishna Kanth and music by Justin Prabhakaran. 

5) Neelambari: If you're a die hard Mani Sharma fan like me, then this song is just a full on nostalgia trip. This song will remind you of vintage Mani Sharma classics back in the early 2000's and they don't call him the Melody Brahma for no reason. Beautifully composed with wonderful intstrumentation, it's sung by Anurag Kulkarni and Ramya Behara. An insanely catchy song, it proves that form is temporary, and class is permament. Lyrics by the ever reliable Anantha Sriram and music by Mani Sharma. 

4) Srivalli: Whenever Sid Sriram sings in a big Telugu movie, it's bound to be a delight and the result is the same for Allu Arjun's Pushpa. The song feels too short but it's a vintage DSP melody. Chandrabose's quirkly and playful lyrics are wonderfully sung by Sid Sriram and Allu Arjun's shoulder step is hysterical and so smooth in a way that only the Stylish Star can pull off and look cool while doing it. When all things said and done, it's an absolute banger and easily the only song that will be remembered in an overall disappointing album. 

3) Bullet Bandi - This independent take on a famous folk song from Mohana Bhogaraju was an absolute sensation and at first I thought they had remixed the god awful item song from Teja's Sita which bears the same name. However after listening to it, this song is too catchy and will get stuck in your head in an instant. Doens't matter whoever you are, I can guarantee that the only words in your minds after listenining to it will be nee bullet bandi yekkostha baa dooku dooku dooku dooku mani. 

2) Evo Evo Kalale: Audio wise the song was good, but on screen it was NEXT LEVEL. Powered by Sai Pallavi's incredible screen presence and unreal dance moves, Evo Evo Kalale is an absolute visual feast from start to finish shot gorgeously by shot by Shekar Kammula's long time collaborator Vijay C Kumar and even better on screen to listen to. Written by the ever talented Bhaskarbhatla Ravi Kumar and sung by  Jonita Gandhi and Nakul Abhyankar, Naga Chaitanya also makes his presence felt in this composition that has techno music undertones and is very catchy. 

 AND NUMBER 1 IS............................................................................

1) Saranga Dariya: Was there ever any doubt? From the first day I heard this song I knew it was going to be the song of the year, if not one of them. Shekar Kammula - Suddala Ashok Teja- Sai Pallavi is a very dangerous combination because whenever they come together, a classic is born. In Fidaa, it was Vachinde and in Love Story, it's Saranga Dariya. A song where I think most people are clueless what the lyrics mean, Suddala Ashok Teja crafts another chartbuster taken from a popular folk song and is taken to the next level with Mangli's vocals and Pawan CH's composition. Aided by Shekar Master's choreography and of course Sai Pallavi's thunderous screen presence and grace, Saranga Dariya IS the defining Telugu song of 2021. One note though: on screen the song is trash and very disappointing in terms of the placement, situation, and the way it was filmed. Hence I linked the lyrical video song instead.