The Greatest Songs of 2022

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The finest songs of 2022 sounded nice throughout mediums, whether or not soundtracking a TikTok video, blasting out of a automobile window, or emitting out of a tiny speaker subsequent to a campfire. These songs come up from among the greatest rising stars from reggaeton, hip-hop, nation and indie rock; they inform vivid tales, shut cultural gaps, and this yr, made us dance and cry.

10. “Jack,” Hardy

Nation music has a wealthy historical past of consuming songs, from breezy celebrations (Toby Keith’s “Crimson Solo Cup”) to despondent confessionals (Merle Haggard’s “Distress and Gin”). “Jack,” a brand new single from the fast-rising nation star Hardy, sits someplace within the center, and supplies a number of compelling twists on the well-explored subgenre.

First, it’s written from the angle of the bottle itself, because it tries to win over a brand new convert. Second, its metallic influences lend it a bracing forcefulness akin to slamming an empty shot glass onto a wood bar. Third, it engages in not one of the blind devotion, self-pity, or moralizing that plagues many consuming songs, as a substitute telling an easy and true story about each the heroic and demonic points wrought forth by liquid braveness. Hardy isn’t afraid to seek out the grey inside tough subjects—see his homicide ballad “Wait Within the Automotive”—and “Jack” is a primary instance of his creating craftsmanship.—Andrew R. Chow

9. “Sort of Woman,” MUNA

Although the indie pop group MUNA scored loads of buzz this yr for his or her Phoebe Bridgers collaboration, the queer love anthem “Silk Chiffon,” it’s their plaintive rumination on self-love, “Sort of Woman,” that’s the glittering crown jewel of their self-titled third studio album. Contemporary off a brand new cope with Bridgers’ Saddest Manufacturing unit Data after an unceremonious break with RCA, the trio’s hope for the longer term shines vibrant on the music, an acoustic monitor rippling with emotion that evokes a heartfelt nation ballad.

Teeming with tender vulnerability and radical kindness, the music is an earnest ode to the ability of affection, each given and acquired over the course of a lifetime, the place change is just not solely inevitable however mandatory. Amidst rising pains, the music is a missive to be light with everybody, particularly ourselves: “Yeah, I like telling tales/ However I don’t have to put in writing them in ink/ I may nonetheless change the tip/ not less than I’m the type of lady who thinks I can.”—Cady Lang

Learn extra: The Greatest Songs of 2022 So Far

8. “Unholy,” Sam Smith ft. Kim Petras

Sam Smith and Kim Petras each scored their first no. 1 hits on the Billboard Scorching 100 with “Unholy,” a lusty, sinuous music concerning the forbidden fruit of a married man’s illicit affair. Smith and Petras’ history-making feat on the prime of the charts (they’re the primary overtly nonbinary and trans artists to nab the height spot) has additionally translated to TikTok, the place the certifiably provocative refrain (“Mummy don’t know daddy’s getting scorching/ On the physique store, doing one thing unholy/ He fortunate, fortunate”) has turn out to be a viral soundbite. The music’s business success is totally well-deserved—anchored by a haunting Arabic scale development and a throbbing bass, the synth-heavy monitor is somewhat darkish, somewhat campy, and 100% an excellent time, whether or not you’re sweating it out on a dance ground or giving it an informal pay attention.—C.L.

7. “Finesse,” Pheelz ft. BNXN

There’s a cause “Finesse” grew to become a TikTok sensation in February: its refrain is among the catchiest of the yr, an unfiltered ray of sunshine. Pheelz, a sought-after Nigerian producer who has labored with Afrobeats superstars like Olamide and Tiwa Savage, trades effortlessly cool verses with the rising singer BNXN. And the music isn’t performed out but: count on to listen to it lots through the World Cup, because the music made the FIFA 23 soundtrack and name-drops the footballers Joseph Yobo, Daniel Owefin Amokachi, and Mo Salah.—A.R.C.

6. “ChevyS10,” Sudan Archives

The principle hook of Sudan Archive’s “ChevyS10” doesn’t drop till three minutes and forty-five seconds into the music. As much as that time, a complete lot has occurred: a journey from the Bronx to the ‘burbs; some pointed class commentary; autotuned harmonic fireworks; somewhat tri-state drag racing. However not till the hook hits does the music actually kick into excessive gear, and turn out to be an avant-garde dance-pop treatise for the ages. As Sudan Archives—actual identify Brittney Denise Parks—chants the deceptively easy chorus (“cruising in a Chevy S-10”), the musical partitions begin to transfer round her: there’s a springy bass line, then a vicious kick drum made just for the sweatiest of nightclubs, then a cranking violin. It’s a dwelling, respiration, movement state; a passage of candy, unhinged launch.—A.R.C.

5. “Dangerous Behavior,” Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy’s quiet ascent to the highest of the charts with “Dangerous Behavior” this yr evoked the identical emotions that the music did: pure, euphoric pleasure. The monitor, a single from his second studio album, the aptly named Gemini Rights, is a soulful, mellow melange of wistful longing, playful flirtation, and straight-up vibes. Whereas the lyrics sound like cheeky ad-libs, tailored for TikTok soundbites, Lacy’s songwriting packs a deeply emotional impression, musing on each craving (“I want I knew, I want I knew you needed me”) and boyish need (“Can I chunk your tongue like my dangerous behavior?/ Would you thoughts if I made a go at it?”). Although the music is lo-fi straightforward listening at its finest, don’t be shocked if it will get at your emotions with every pay attention.—C.L.

4. “FNF,” Glorilla

On the streets, the plain music of the summer time was “F.N.F (Let’s Go)”—and for good cause. The monitor, a breakout single from Memphis rapper Glorilla and producer Hitkidd, is a boisterous and thrilling crunk anthem for single women in all places and a glowing addition to the Southern rap canon. Over a menacing beat, Glorilla, a former church lady (she was born Gloria Hallelujah Woods) turned gangsta rap darling, provides a bombastic and unabashed celebration of the newly single life, her husky voice reaching a barking timbre when she talks about her newfound liberation.

Whereas it’s little doubt a breakup music, “FNF” can be an ode to feminine friendship; certainly, the music’s most exhilarating moments come when Glorilla provides a shoutout to her women throughout a spelling lesson within the music’s now-TikTok viral hook: “I’m F-R-E-E, f-ck n-gga free/ That imply I ain’t gotta fear ’bout no f-ck n-gga dishonest/ And I’m S-I-N-G-L-E once more/ Exterior hanging out the window with my ratchet-ass mates.”—C.L.

Learn extra: The 10 Greatest Podcasts of 2022

3. “A part of the Band,” the 1975

“A part of the Band,” the beautiful, lush lead single from the 1975’s Being Humorous in a Overseas Language, marks the band’s return to music following 2020’s Notes on a Conditional Type. Frontman Matty Healy sings this self-aware, stream-of-consciousness monitor with the assistance of some background vocals from producer Jack Antonoff. The music includes a sweeping string part and Healy’s charming vocals, which propel the listener ahead even when the lyrics don’t at all times make sense. Even Healy admitted he barely is aware of what it means: “As a story, I don’t know what the music is about,” he advised Apple Music. “It was simply this perception that I may speak, and that was OK, and it made sense, and I didn’t need to qualify it that a lot.” No matter it means, it sounds nice.—Moises Mendez II

2. “Delincuente,” Tokischa

Whereas the thundering beat and the raunchy lyrics are sufficient to get your coronary heart racing, the actual star of “Delincuente” is the unabashed and absolutely assured confidence of Tokischa, the Dominican dembow artist who’s been making waves as a queer, sex-positive provocateur disrupting her style, one hit at a time, respectability politics be damned. The monitor, which additionally prominently options Anuel AA and Ñengo Movement, is full of racy and at occasions ludicrous double entendres which create an intoxicating romp, pushed in flip by a bouncing and infectious rhythm. However it’s Tokischa’s irrepressible, irresistible power and highly effective, rock-influenced vocals that make the music a standout, the liberated anthem of an artist who solutions to nobody however herself and her pleasure.—C.L.

1. “Titi Me Pregunto,” Dangerous Bunny

For the 4 years I’ve been writing TIME’s year-end music roundups, my colleagues and I’ve enforced a self-imposed rule to by no means function the identical artist in each the music and album classes. To take action felt narrow-minded and redundant, and we felt it vital to unfold the love round with the few slots we have now.

However we needed to break custom for Dangerous Bunny, who lands on the highest of each our albums and songs lists. Un Verano Sin Ti is an unimpeachable assortment prime to backside, and “Titi Me Pregunto” is its crown jewel: a speaker-rattling, tightly-coiled whoop-ass can of boisterous exuberance. Dangerous Bunny wields his malleable, magnificent voice in all of its types, by means of dextrous rapidfire verses and sludgy singalongs; he makes even his gasps for breath sound attractive. The music’s aesthetics alone pushed it towards full cultural domination. It hit the highest 10 in 13 international locations, and after I went to see a live performance by the DJ Sofia Kourtesis, all she needed to do, as a substitute of play her personal songs, was sing “Titi Me Pregunto.”

However like all nice songs, “Titi Me Pregunto” is rather more than its sheer sonic brilliance. Whereas the primary two verses present Dangerous Bunny taking part in the carefree, chauvinist playboy, he ultimately confesses that it’s all a protect for his emotional fragility. “I’d prefer to fall in love however I can’t… I don’t even belief myself,” he sings despondently. “I don’t need to be like that anymore.” Simply one other day within the workplace for the most important pop star on the planet—A.R.C.

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Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com and Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com.



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