I think that we’re going to look back at 2022 as a pivotal year in music history. In 2020 the world was shut down and we had releases that we’re already scheduled, but couldn’t be toured or enjoyed to their full extent. In 2021, so much of the new music that dropped was addressing how apocalyptic the past year had felt and again, touring schedules were still odd with all the uncertainty. 2022 seems to be the first year where the music industry was BACK.
Mega-stars like Kendrick Lamar, Calvin Harris, Beyonce, Harry Styles, and Drake all dropped projects. Lesser known artists like Steve Lacy, Denzel Curry and Toro y Moi all dropped the best albums of their careers. We saw house music blow up from the post-pandemic love of dancing and rising stars in the EDM world like Fred Again. People were ready to passionately fall in love with music again, including me which is why I went to ELEVEN concerts this year to see a lot of the people on this list perform. It was a great year to find new songs from your favorite artists but also dive into new genres. My list is probably the most diverse sounding it’s been in years and I could not be happier about it. So without further ado, here are my favorite songs of 2022.
Honorable Mentions (Alphabetically)
“Amsterdam” – Keyboard Dog
“As It Was” – Harry Styles
“Big Energy” – Latto
“Deep Down” – Alok, Ella Eyre & Kenny Dope (feat. Never Dull)
“Die Hard” – Kendrick Lamar, Blxst & Amanda Reifer
“Gaslight” – INJI
“The Loop” – Toro y Moi
“Massive” – Drake
“Potion” – Calvin Harris
“Red Moon” – Big Thief
“Sunshine” – Steve Lacy (feat. Foushee)r
“Troubles” – Denzel Curry (feat. T-Pain)
“Unfolding (Momentum 73) [Ron Trent Remix]” – BADBADNOTGOOD (feat. Laraaji)
“United in Grief” – Kendrick Lamar
“Wet Dream” – Wet Leg
“White Trash Millionaire” – Mom Jeans.
“90 Proof” – Smino & J. Cole
My Top 15 Songs of 2022
I came across this song late in 2022 when the band appeared on a podcast I like and I immediately fell in love with this song. It’s got a very hopeful cinematic feel to it like it came straight off of the soundtrack to a coming-of-age A24 movie and that is RIGHT up my alley.
14. “Late Night Talking” – Harry Styles
Harry solidified himself as 2022’s King of Pop this year with Harry’s House and to me, this song is a perfect pop single to take over the airwaves. This song is funky, describes a relatable aspect of falling in love, and it’s got a catchy-as-hell hook to tie it all together. Should’ve been bigger than “As It Was” and “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” but I’ve come to terms with it.
HELL YEAH. Wet Leg rocks. They have the same like raw energy that made me fall in love with Vampire Weekend back in the day. They sing their songs with a ton of tongue-in-cheekness and it works so well with the punky vibes of a song like this where the tension just builds up to a huge release that is utterly satisfying.
12. “Big Pussy” – BROCKHAMPTON
BROCKHAMPTON made their return this year with TM and just before with Kevin Abstract (as BROCKHAMPTON)’s The Family and I hate to say it but I enjoyed Kevin’s solo effort more! I think I just really like his voice and production style, and he seemed to be having fun with that album. This song encapsulates everything I love about Abstract’s style. Clean beat switches, experimentation with the vocals, hard bars and not afraid to stray away from the “comfortable” sound of 2022 hip-hop. So good.
This was my go-to when I was going on runs this year and I just find it such an endearing song. These guys are goofy but you can tell they have a ton of passion for pop-punk music and this isn’t just a pivot to hop on it’s recent resurgence *cough cough* MGK and WILLOW *cough cough* because they’ve been doing it well since 2016. They know how to make a tasty guitar lick and some lyrics that connect with the existential teenager in all of us.
My Top 10 Songs of 2022
10. “That’s Where I Am” – Maggie Rogers
Just another similarity between me and Obama, we both have this song in our favorites of the year list.
The first single off of Maggie Roger’s sophomore album Surrender could not have got me more pumped. The production on this song is insane, and truly no one can craft a sweet bridge like Maggie. It’s different from anything on Heard It In a Past Life but still has the great vocals you know from her and the same lyrics that made us fall in love with her on the first album. She’s so great at illustrating complicated relationships. I think this song both in sound and on-paper captures that feeling of timing not being right with someone but still hoping that in the end it’ll work out because you just have this feeling. She said she wrote it to be the song played at the end of a romantic comedy and I am praying her dream comes to fruition soon because this would go HARD as the guy stops the girl from getting on the plane and a camera zooms out as they share a passionate kiss. Roll credits.
9. “Millenium” – Toro y Moi (feat. The Mattson 2)
I absolutely loved Toro y Moi’s album MAHAL this year and this song is the best advertisement for the full project. There’s funky bass, some great psychedelic guitar riffs, some wonky synths and dreamy vocals to tie it all together. It’s just so smooth and makes you want to cruise down a beach road in the summer time (which is a fantasy I lived out multiple times this summer). Toro y Moi is known for changing around their sound quite a bit from album to album but I think Chaz found a sound that genuinely suits him on this project and this track was my favorite example of it.
8. The Loneliest Time – Carly Rae Jepsen (feat. Rufus Wainwright)
What happened was, we reached the moon. But lost in space I think we got their all too soon. But you know what? I’m coming back for you baby. I’M COMIN BACK FOR YOU!
…maybe the best pop music moment of the year.
As a fan of disco music, this is as good as it gets in 2022. Carly and Rufus sound like the reincarnation of Elton John and Kiki Dee on “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. Incredible piano, a bass-line you can’t help but groove to, and a hook guaranteed to get stuck in your head. The string arrangement on this is also BEAUTIFUL and an element not used properly on a lot of modern disco songs but they absolutely nailed it. This song just brought me a ton of joy this year and always put a smile on my face, if you only know the one part from Tik Tok please do yourself a favor and listen to this whole track!
7. “I’m In Love With You” – The 1975
YEAH I GOT IT. I FOUND IT. I JUST GOTTA KEEP IT. DON’T F**K IT, YOU MUPPET!
NEED I SAY MORE? NOPE!
6. “Obsessed” – Calvin Harris (feat. Charlie Puth & Shenseea)
Everyone said Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 was a let-down and yet, this song is on it??? Sorry it doesn’t have Frank and the Migos but good LORD the production on this is what everyone wanted! And I’m really not a big fan of Charlie Puth but whatever he’s doing with his voice on this works so damn perfectly and Shenseea (who I don’t even know) drops a HEATER of a verse full of memorable lines. This has that funk piano Calvin Harris always nails, it’s got a catchy hook about a relatable feeling, and it brings that bass and groove that makes you want to dance. I’ll get more into this album and why I think this song is wildly slept on in the albums discussion but THIS IS ABSOLUTE FIRE.
This is hands down the best rap song of the year in my opinion and it’s a travesty it wasn’t nominated for a single award at the Grammys. Denzel carved out a really specific sound for himself on his album Melt My Eyez, See Your Future and this song shows it off well. The beat has an old-school feel of a sample, the hard drums of a modern trap song, and then it switches so that Curry can show off his smooth flow and then also his more gnarly sped-up flow.
I think a lot of us struggled in 2020 and 2021 and it almost felt like it wasn’t worth fighting for yourself. Covid, politics, social media, the economy and everything else made us want to throw our hands up and say “nothing matters so why even try”… but Denzel on this song acknowledges “been through a lot of sh*t in the past year, then I said f**k it imma handle my business”. When I was listening to this for the first time in March I think I was at a point where I needed to hear something like this. Do I succumb to brutal existentialism 2020 and beyond has brought to me or do I actually start trying to take care of myself mentally, physically and emotionally and “keep walking”? I know it sounds kinda dumb coming from a rap song with the lyric “I’m tearing up like I’m on Dr. Phil” but it really lit a fire under me and got me out of a funk I think I was stuck in for a while…and it’s just a banger c’mon.
It’s been a huge year for Steve Lacy, mainly due to this song blowing up on Tik Tok, and I could not be happier. I think a lot of artists will write a song with an angle hoping it blows up on Tik Tok, especially someone who’s been around for a few years like Lacy without a real big mainstream hit. But Steve Lacy didn’t do that at all. This song is 100% true to the sound he’s been crafting for years and because it was so good it just happened to catch fire and become a #1 hit. Of course it came with it’s downfalls like rich kids getting tickets to his concert and not knowing more than the chorus of this one song, but it also got him a bunch of a new fans, fame and I’m sure a ton of cash so I’m happy for the guy.
The simplicity of the guitar, the basic drums, and the repetitive chorus all just work perfectly to capture the idea of the song, the frustration and regret of missing a connection with someone. It’s something most people have experienced, it’s honest, and it has that same “GarageBand” feel of most of Lacy’s music. Then comes this incredible beat switch where the man just COOKS. The last minute and a half of this song just goes dummy hard and let’s you swim around it’s vibe. Lines like “you can’t surprise a gemini” and “go stupid, go crazy” are delivered perfectly in a way only Steve Lacy could nail. This song is infectious and because it’s so unique it doesn’t get old. I’ve had this in heavy rotation since it released because it really is just so damn good.
Also if you’re a radio DJ and you cut this song off before the last minute gets started, F YOU!!!
3. “Picture In My Mind” – Sam Gellairty & Pinkpantheress
I was mesmerized by dance music this year in a way I haven’t been by a genre of music in a long, long time. Sam Gellairty (who made “Assumptions”, one of my favorite songs of last year) only added to my love of this genre with this absolute slapper of a track. In collaboration with Pinkpantheress, one of the newer artists I’m most excited about right now, he drops a perfect disco/house/dance tune that’s guaranteed to get your head bobbin’.
The beat to this song is literally like someone analyzed my brain and used an artificial intelligence to create a dance track specifically for me. The piano, the clapping, the thumping percussion, and the lyrics are all exactly what I want when I’m losing it on the D Floor. Pinkpantheress is just talking about the difference between the relationship you have in your mind vs. reality and why something that works on paper may not work in real life. It’s just enough depth to elevate the dance song from “oh this is fun” to “damn this is magic”. I listened to this more than any other song this year and if you haven’t listened once, do yourself a favor and give it a spin.
2. “Spud Infinity” – Big Thief
This is my comfort song of the 2020’s so far. The bluegrass strings, the lofi drums, and the existential lyrics sung by the straining voice Adrianne Lenker all come together to concoct a chicken noodle soup for those dealing with existential dread. This song doesn’t say “we’re so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t that suck?”, but rather, “we’re all tiny pieces of a big universe, so take it easy on yourself and do the best you can”. I think that’s something a lot of us had to hear these past few years.
I mean I could post all the lyrics and let them speak for themselves but here’s just a few of my favorite lines:
From way up there it looks so small
From way down here it looks so small
One peculiar organism aren’t we all together
Ash to ask and dust to dusk
a dime a dozen aren’t we just?
But a dozen dimes will buy a crust of garlic bread
There’s so much charm to a song that’s trying to address something as big as “our place in the universe” and yet there’s metaphors about garlic bread and it’s backed by the down-to-earth instruments of bluegrass and folk. Big Thief’s new album really felt like sitting by a warm fire with friends after a long day and this song is what warmed me up the most.
Yes. Just, yes.
This is the sound that made me fall in love with the 1975 when I first checked them out and they just absolutely put their whole heart and soul into this track and it gives you that big feeling that they’re describing in this song. That eye-opening feeling of happiness and love that’s almost scary when you find someone you care about on a deep level.
The paradoxical lines of “going blind just to see you” and “go far just to have you near” is the kind of songwriting that makes Matty Healy the absolute weirdo genius he is. The saxophone RULES and when they let him rip a few solos it is fire. The 80’s pop-ballad nostalgia drips off of the piano, guitar and even Matty’s vocals when they’ve got that reverb going that just makes him feel larger than life. You can tell the band just loved the core elements of this song so much that they knew they could rip it for 5 minutes and it would still be completely engaging the entire time. When they do the little call-and-response in the last verse with the “showed me what love is (showed me what love is)” it just HITS because they added another amazing layer on top of an already solid song. It’s those kind of artistic choices that make The 1975 stand out amongst the rest. I think a critique of Matty Healy’s is that he’s a bit pretentious and arrogant but the guy really CARES about his music and performance and in an age where it’s very easy for a pop band with a young fan base to just phone it in they were meticulous about releasing a project with masterpieces like this one.