2022 was the year of music! We all had songs that drew us in, entering our rotation and populating our playlists. For the end of the year, arts editors Henry, Jack, Ryan and Odessa list their top songs of 2022. As Odessa notes, “I literally write a K-pop column, what more were you expecting from me?”
Henry Chandonnet’s top songs of 2022:
10. “Cyclone” by Maude Latour
Many try to create their own version of ‘main character music’ but few succeed. Maude Latour’s “Cyclone” seems to hit the nail on the head, combining some new-age production techniques with an infectious, chugging beat. This is the song to blast while you stick your head out the top of a limo.
9. “Ooh! Sumthin’ New” by Charlie Burg
What even is a song? Though that question may sound like self-indulgent intellectual nonsense, Charlie Burg forces his listeners to think about the common form. Too often, our songs are verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus; Burg flips this on its head, leaving his listeners guessing.
8. “PURE/HONEY” by Beyoncé
The definitive club hit of the year. There’s artistry there, combining two individual pieces effortlessly in a style akin to Lorde’s “Hard Feelings/Loveless” (2017). But more than anything, it’s a stupidly danceable song.
7. “Lightning” by Charli XCX
“Lightning” was the peak of pop production this year. Those crashing lightning sounds, those vocalizer riffs, they’re simply perfect and effortless. Plus, the verse-to-chorus transition is ingenious and cathartic.
6. “Infinite Jest” by Annie DiRusso
Bring back some old-fashioned guitar rock! Something about hearing Annie DiRusso slowly strum out chords from her amped electric guitar builds anticipation like nothing else. You feel it coming, her utter release. When it does come, and the guitars come crashing down, it’s an auditory explosion.
5. “Fleez” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Classic artist revival eras can feel a bit boring. I’m all for hoisting up the hits of yesteryear, but you have to do something to entice new audiences. We don’t need another nostalgia-filled half-hearted return. 2022 was the rebirth of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and we should all be so lucky.
4. “Helmet” by Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy is bringing the groove back to 2022. His depressive, low-toned songs are calling, sure. But it’s when Lacy ups the tempo (while keeping that poignant lyricism) that magic is made.
3. “Shatter” by Maggie Rogers
Maggie Rogers needs to yell and scream at the top of her lungs immediately. Something about her screaming out painful, angry lyrics with writhing guitars just hits the spot. Plus, it has the best bridge of the year.
2. “Free” by Florence + The Machine
Nobody is writing pithy, off-the-cuff lyrics like Florence + The Machine. From the opening “Sometimes I wonder if I should be medicated / If I would feel better just slightly sedated,” listeners know they’re in for a ride. A personal favorite lyric that deserves some plaques or tattoos: “Is this how it’s always been? / To exist in the face of suffering and death, and somehow still keep singing?”
1. “CUFF IT” by Beyoncé
Two Beyoncé songs on the Top 10 list… sue me. It’s undeniable that “RENAISSANCE” was far and away the best album of the year, and it introduced some of the most fun, disco-rave songs to our cultural discography. Along with its banging TikTok dance, “CUFF IT” will have you ready for your night out in no time.
Jack Clohisy’s top songs of 2022:
10. “Masturbation song” by ROLE MODEL
Viral artist ROLE MODEL released his debut studio album “Rx” this year, and one track stood out among the rest. A seemingly lewd title, the track couldn’t be anything farther from that. This deeply intimate track focuses on longing and desire.
9. “Lightning” by Charli XCX
One of the more energetic tracks from “CRASH,” “Lightning” outdoes the other tracks on the record and emerges as a fan favorite for good reason.
8. “Nobody Gets Me” by SZA
SZA pivots toward genre meshing in her late 2022 release “SOS,” and one of the highlights from this record is her ballad-centered track “Nobody Gets Me.” Personal and stripped-down, the track quickly earned itself a spot on this list.
7. “Complex (demo)” by Katie Gregson-MacLeod
A breakout track by the Scottish artist, “Complex (demo)” quickly gained attention through Gregson-MacLeod’s video performance on TikTok. The hype was justified as she was able to accurately compose a track that centered on the isolation that can emerge in relationships.
6. “Drunk text me” by Lexi Jayde
An early release of 2022, emerging artist Lexi Jayde released a track that highlighted the raw emotion of a love lost and missed. The track lasted the test of time and remains one of the best releases this year.
5. “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has always been a lyrical mastermind, but this was further emphasized by her bonus track on her latest release. Believed to be about her past relationship with John Mayer, Swift pens an intimate and deeply personal track reflecting on a former love.
4. “CUFF IT” by Beyoncé
On an album stuffed with dance tracks that all could’ve easily made this list, “CUFF IT” stands out amongst the rest. Beyoncé has always been able to craft an earworm hit, and “CUFF IT” is an evident example of a return to form from the veteran artist.
3. “TV” by Billie Eilish
Similar to Swift, Billie Eilish is always able to craft a cutting track. Having few new releases in 2022, Eilish dropped “TV” this summer with little promotion, but the track doesn’t need to be in the mainstream to emphasize its lyrical and production excellence.
2. “Memory Lane” by Haley Joelle
Haley Joelle released one of the most beautiful tracks about the loss of a loved one with her 2022 single “Memory Lane.” She encapsulates what it means to navigate the emotions after death perfectly in the song.
1. “Glimpse of Us” by Joji
Joji’s “Glimpse of Us” operates in a league of its own. The imagery and thematic significance of this track is unmatched by any other in 2022. Reflecting on a relationship mourned and yearned for by Joji, “Glimpse of Us” is devastatingly cutting.
Ryan Fairfield’s top songs of 2022:
10. “Nonsense” by Sabrina Carpenter
Carpenter knows “Nonsense” is chaotic and really does not make sense, but that is what makes it good. One of the last lyrics of the song says, “Woke up this morning, thought I’d write a pop hit,” and she was right. With a catchy chorus and great beat, it’s a perfect, nonsensical pop hit.
9. “Different” by Joshua Bassett
Bassett reminisces on a past relationship in “Different,” a lyrically beautiful song teeming with regret and pain. Though the song continues along the theme of heartbreak that Bassett has become known for, this song feels more vulnerable and authentic.
8. “Hate Me If It Helps” by Alexander 23
Co-written with Olivia Rodrigo, “Hate Me If It Helps” is yet another heartbreak pop hit. The Rodrigo and Alexander collaboration captures the best of both artists. With incredible production and relatable lyrics, the song is a must listen.
7. “Difficult” by Gracie Abrams
Abrams’ most recent song might battle out “21” and “I Miss You, I’m Sorry” as her best song to date. Heartbreak-pop is Abrams’ forte and this song is no different. She may view herself as ‘difficult,’ but this song is certainly not difficult to listen to.
6. “Boy x” by Tate McRae
Written with Alexander 23, Tate McRae’s “Boy x” is the star of her latest album. Her vocals are soothing yet full of heartbreak and pain. The choice of saying “Boy x” is intentional, meant to be similar to how the variable “x” is used in math and meant to allow listeners to substitute whoever they think of when they play the song — a clear example of McRae’s attention to her lyricism.
5. “Stripclub music” by ROLE MODEL
Ironically, ROLE MODEL has never been to a strip club but wrote this song due to his fascination with the dynamics of a strip club — a place where the women are the center of attention and all the men are, as said in the song, “sitting below.” Lyrics like “And old folks from home say she’s a sinner / But, if God saw her dance then He’d forgive her” make the song memorable while also providing a unique perspective on strip clubs as a whole.
4. “This Love (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift
Released for the first season of “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” (2022–) Swift returned to “1989” with the re-recording of “This Love.” Swift sounds more mature on the track and her angelic vocals shine, especially throughout the bridge.
3. “Family Line” by Conan Gray
Gray has always been honest with his fans about his difficult childhood, but in “Family Line,” he completely opens up and delivers some of the most heartbreaking lyrics of the year. Singing “I was a kid, but I wasn’t clueless” and “I can’t forget, I can’t forgive you,” the listener can feel every ounce of pain that Gray pours into this song.
2. “Ghost in the Machine” by SZA featuring Phoebe Bridgers
The duo of Phoebe Bridgers and SZA is not one many expected with SZA’s highly anticipated sophomore album “SOS.” With “Silk Chiffon,” “Nothing New,” and “The Night We Met,” Bridgers has proven to be the queen of features, and “Ghost in the Machine” is yet another example. SZA and Bridgers’ vocals sound heavenly on the track and the lyricism is impeccable.
1. “You’re On Your Own Kid” by Taylor Swift
Swift is known for her bridges and, without a doubt, “You’re On Your Own Kid” is the best bridge on her latest hit album, “Midnights.” Her poetic lyricism shines throughout the entirety of the song, but with the lines “Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned / Everything you lose is a step you take,” the bridge truly is a masterpiece.
Odessa Gaines’ top songs of 2022:
- “Opening Sequence” by TOMORROW X TOGETHER
A gritty and dirty produced opening to the album, “Opening Sequence” sets the tone for this group’s entire comeback. Heartbreak and messy feelings overflow throughout these few minutes in a way that both hurts and soothes the soul.
- “Nerdy” by PURPLE KISS
A refreshing track in the fourth-gen playlist, “Nerdy” is a unique and honest to god, nerdy-sounding track. Not quite fitting into any other typical K-Pop genres, this is the group for those who want to dip their toes into the pool not full of girly pop or noise music.
- “Attention” by NewJeans
“Attention,” with a chorus that will be stuck in your head all day long, is simply one of the best girl group tracks of the year. Crazy, considering NewJeans is made up completely of minors and yet they kind of outsold with this one.
- “Queen of Hearts” by TWICE
The K-Pop girlies TWICE have never had a disappointing comeback — it’s simply not in their blood. This track, “Queen of Hearts,” is both a genuine love-letter to the fans that have always been behind the group and also just a uniquely creative piece from a musical standpoint with a mix of rock and girly pop that comes together pleasantly well.
- “Mirror Mirror” by P1Harmony
A track that balances the use of vocals and instrumentals well, this track easily puts P1Harmony in the running for great fourth generation groups. Every time a member sings “mirror, mirror” you will be tempted to ascend to another plane of existence.
- “Lonely” by RM
A song about feeling as if you are doing no more than floating through life, some of the hardest lyrics in RM’s journal hits here — a song everyone can relate to in the darkest moments of the night. A must-add to your lonely girl playlists.
- “TOMBOY” by (G)I-DLE
(G)I-DLE is constantly showing that they are an underappreciated and undervalued girl group. “Tomboy” is the track for the K-pop girlies that like a little rock and hip-hop spice added to their playlists.
- “Run BTS” by BTS
An energetic beat, sly rap and smooth delivery, “Run BTS” is easily one of the best Korean releases this year. A (rightfully) confident and flexing BTS delivers in all departments — rap, dance, vocals and music production — and reminds us all why they are on top.
- “That That (feat. Suga of BTS)” by PSY
The legend, PSY, has returned after five long years. “That That,” in collaboration with Suga, is one of the strongest tracks on this new album with a fun beat, a stylistic (and rather difficult) dance and an overall vibe of having a good time in darker moments.
- “Nxde” by (G)I-DLE
Literally one of the best title tracks from the year, I just had to get these girls on here twice. “Nxde” has a catchy tune, a unique style and a dance that’s so addicting that you’ll find yourself doing it everywhere. Stream “Nxde,” besties.