You can view our list of The Best Albums of 2022 here.
Must like our albums list, our favorite songs of 2022 ran the gamut of upcoming artists coming into their own and well-established acts finding new ways to create something fresh and exceptional. Sure, it’s great when the bands and artists we love continue to perfect the formulas of what make us fall in love with them in the first place, but it’s kind of nice to be thrown for a loop every now and then (we’re looking at you, Paramore).
In a matter of weeks, a new calendar year will bring new sounds to begin populating our most rotated songs for 2023. But in the meantime, let’s celebrate the songs that made 2022 so special. Take a look below and share the tracks that defined your year in the replies!
15. Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows – “Gravity (My Ever Ghost)”
The reappearance of D.R.U.G.S would be enough to warrant celebration, but the fact that their first album in over a decade went so hard and produced some of the best songs not just in their career, but Craig Owens’ in general is astonishing. “Gravity (My Ever Ghost)” is a song about letting go of a toxic relationship and accepting that what was thought of as a saving grace is actually a demonic force. In lesser hands, this could be a cheesy, generic song. For Owens, it becomes a soaring anthem of release. Among the best vocal performances of Owens’ career, “Gravity” features crashing guitars and grinding breakdowns that give life to the heartbreak and betrayal of the lyrics (“I let you live in my head for too long / Fuck it / Gravity was meant for me, to help carry the weight through / Gravity, I have to let you go”). – Kyle Schultz
14. Spiritbox – “Rotoscope”
In the midst of a long victory lap in honor of last year’s heralded debut, Eternal Blue, Spiritbox somehow found time to record a new EP, which dropped suddenly this summer and was highlighted by the astonishing “Rotoscope”. As varied and diverse of a project as Eternal Blue is, “Rotoscope” resides in a whole different genre. An industrial rock track that channels bands like Garbage instead of any of their metalcore contemporaries, the song is an exciting revelation for a band that seems intent to go in any direction they so choose. “I can’t take back the skeletons that haunt me frame by frame / I can rapture the imprints sent to bore into my brain / And I know that I feel the end is imminent”, sings Courtney LaPlante at the track’s open. Her vocals here sound just as confident and powerful as they do on any number of the Spiritbox’s heavier tracks. The band has range. – Kiel Hauck
13. Wallows – “At the End of the Day”
Once I reviewed this album, I didn’t return to it as much as I thought I would. It got lost in some other releases and my yearly spiral back into emo music. This song though, the final single from Tell Me That It’s Over, stuck with me, making it into my top songs for the year. It’s electric, bright, and cheerful, impossible to ignore, and definitely the best from the album upon reflection. Lyrically it is classic Wallows, wondering in their self-deprecating way if they’ll be the reason something falls apart. It reminds me why I fell in love with Wallows in the first place. I love their ability to add a fresh take to indie pop, an otherwise timeless genre where things can get lost and jumbled. – Nadia Alves
12. Taylor Swift – “You’re On Your Own, Kid”
No stranger to songs about empowerment or heartbreak, “You’re On Your Own, Kid” manages to combine both. At once an ode to a small town romance gone awry, this Taylor Swift track quickly evolves into a warcry for leaving where you’re from, adventuring outside of your comfort zone, and creating your own path. Simultaneously channeling anthemic choruses and a storybook-like structure against minimalistic acoustic guitar and an ever-growing percussion section, “You’re On Your Own, Kid” is destined to shake the windows of cars leaving home for the first time as Swift sings, “So make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it / You’ve got no reason to be afraid / You’re on your own, kid / Yeah, you can face this”. – Kyle Schultz
11. Pale Waves – “Jealousy”
On Unwanted, English rockers Pale Waves lean hard into a pop punk aesthetic that suits them quite well considering the sonic shape shifting that has marked their first three albums. On “Jealousy”, the band re-writes the book on how to pen the perfect melody and chorus. Over the top of an instantly infectious and crunchy guitar riff, vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie unleashes her jealous desires without pulling punches: “Don’t mention any other name that doesn’t sound like mine”. Once the track hits its chorus, things go stratospheric, as Baron-Gracie belts out, “Gotta have you, gotta have you to myself / Why would I want anybody else? / In my defense / Jealousy is my best friend”. It’s pop punk perfection. – Kiel Hauck
10. Mitski – “The Only Heartbreaker”
I haven’t stopped talking about this song for a year now, since its release last November. The way it moves seamlessly from synth pop to the crunchy guitars back down to her whispering pleas for forgiveness are not only peak Mitski creativity with flawless execution, but a fresh take on the “it’s not you it’s me” trope. This was another album where I could’ve chosen any track, but this one was the one that I waited for when I had my first listens through. It is a perfect segue in the middle of the album, bringing things back up before toning them down for the rest of the tracklist. One last hurrah before we cry our eyes out – oh, you haven’t cried your way through the first half? Me neither. – Nadia Alves
9. L.S. Dunes – “Permanent Rebellion”
Surprise supergroup L.S. Dunes slammed onto the scene with a debut single that stunned on first listen, managing to successfully blend the styles of each participating band while still forging a crashing wave of sound unlike anything else in the genre. Anthony Green’s vocals shift from hauntingly beautiful to throat-shredding screams at a moment’s notice amidst rampant guitars that sound like every member is loving every moment of the track. “Permanent Rebellion” lives up to its reputation, exploring the frustration of wanting to always be correct and unwilling to bend to others’ will (“I don’t wanna take the long way home / But I don’t wanna find another way / Don’t need to know what your opinion is”) while still acknowledging that problems with thinking this way. – Kyle Schultz
8. Pusha T – “Let the Smokers Shine the Coupes”
Exactly 20 years after Pusha T and his brother No Malice combined forces with The Neptunes to completely flip the rap game upside down, Push and Pharell once again join forces for one of the most mind-bogglingly excellent rap records of the year. The depth of sound on the beat for “Let the Smokers Shine the Coupes” is almost unbelievable, but this rich layering on top of chest-rattling bass lines is what has made Pharell a legend. Not to be outdone, King Push makes clear his reputation and status as a lyrical king with surgical precision. In bars that sum up his persona to a T, Push raps, “If kilograms is the proof / I done sold the golden goose / I got ‘em, baby, I’m Jim Perdue / Cocaine’s Dr. Seuss”. – Kiel Hauck
7. Future Teens – “Team Sports”
I feel like I picked a lot of strong albums this year, because I keep saying that any song from the albums belong here. Or maybe I just feel strongly about the ones I picked. Self Help proved to be the most important album to me this year, and I’ve held it close to my heart. This was a mid-year release, and I feel like I often latch onto these mid year albums and songs that I find in the summer that carry me through the rest of the year, but this song from the album felt different to me. I got the emotional wind knocked out of me when I first heard this song, a track about wishing your friends could just be friends and not extensions of therapists. I think I’ve been guilty too often of using my friends in this way, or as Amy Hoffman puts it, “ We’re all just looking / For a safe place to spiral / Why not make a team sport / Out of survival”. A feature from Dan Campbell solidifies this track as not only one of the most moving, but most memorable moments for me this year. – Nadia Alves
6. The Wonder Years – “The Paris of Nowhere”
The Wonder Years have always been their best with very specific lyricism that somehow relates to all of us. A love song about returning to where you’re from and reminiscing about better times, “The Paris of Nowhere” describes the golden hue that glows around our memories, even if the current sight isn’t quite as charming.
What makes “The Paris of Nowhere” stand out is the hope behind it. Where there appears to be the despair of seeing a place that we cherish start to fall apart (“We’re planting gardens in potholes / When no one comes to fill them in / I’ll love you when nobody else will / All shoulder chips and paper skin”), The Wonder Years find a reason to charge forward and create new passions amidst chugging guitars (“Two feet of snow on the ground and it’s still coming down / So I’m gonna dig you out, I’m gonna dig you out / It must get lonely without Colleen and Cheryl around / I’m gonna dig you out, I’m gonna dig you out”). – Kyle Schultz
5. Stand Atlantic – “hair out”
After the manic energy and music of “Hair Out” reside, vocalist Bonnie Fraser can be heard in the background saying, “I can already hear people hating this song.” It’s a running theme throughout F.E.A.R., that Fraser and company can’t fulfill or meet the expectations of those around them – and the realization that they have no interest in doing so anyway. Take Fraser’s pre-chorus of, “Expectations give me vertigo / Wasting away to the pressure, oh”, before fuming in the chorus, “You got me tearing all my hair out, hair out / I got this fever pitch it’s dead now, dead now / ‘Fake shit, figure it out,’ ha / Make me, see you around”. The plight of the artist in this context is nothing new, but Stand Atlantic have found new and exciting ways to perfect communicating the frustration and weight that come when expectations soar. – Kiel Hauck
4. The 1975 – “Oh Caroline”
We could argue for any of the songs from Being Funny In a Foreign Language to be in this spot. I’ve thought about what I would say in pieces on every track, in fact, but eventually came back to “Oh Caroline”. It is timeless, The 1975 at their core. Despite all of their switch-ups and experiments, they can’t seem to stay away from jazzy, melodic pop like this. The lyrics are cheeky and saccharine – from “Getting suicidal / it’s honestly not for me” to “I’ve tried to find another name a thousand times / The only one that rhymes”, we see Matty’s writing at its finest here. This is a quintessential 1975 track that fits effortlessly into any setlist or discussion about this band. This album truly is, as their current world tour is calling it, The 1975 at their very best. – Nadia Alves
3. Dashboard Confessional – “Burning Heart”
The first track off of All The Truth That I Can Tell utterly broke me, as I coincidentally heard it for the first time just hours after learning that a close friend I hadn’t spoken to for several years had passed away. All the feelings of guilt at what we hadn’t said or shared swirled around me in a whirlpool that wished we had just had one more conversation.
“Burning Heart” carries the weight of conversations left unsaid, of relationships left broken and the regret that haunts us. Chris Carrabba sings, “I feel heavy / Now that things are said and done, I just feel heavy / Cause I’ve been carrying around all of this with me,” with a tight throat against a backdrop of a monotone, acoustic guitar that somehow feels like the nervous beating of a heart. Each line and lyric cracks just a bit more, carving into the root of despair we feel when “things” are finally done, for better or worse.
Dashboard Confessional shines brightest by touching the core of emotion, whether romantic or tragic. “Burning Heart” finds the depths of despair in a pit so dark that Carrabba seems on the verge of tears with the turn of every verse. “Yeah, I’ve been living with this now for quite a long time / And the problem isn’t yours, it’s really all mine / And what I really wanna tell you is that sometimes / Not every single time, but probably most times / I wish all that fault was yours, but it was all mine”. – Kyle Schultz
2. MUNA – “What I Want”
In the lead-up to one of the most explosive choruses in recent pop music history, Muna’s Katie Gavin sings, “I’ve spent way too many years not knowing / What I wanted, how to get it, how to live it and now / I’m gonna make up for it all at once / Cause that’s just what I want”. “What I Want” is a song about claiming one’s autonomy after years of repressing yourself. It’s personal for Gavin and her bandmates, and surely so for so many other non-binary individuals that have been made to feel as though their hopes, dreams, and desires are wrong.
All of this emotional weight is what drives “What I Want” into another stratosphere from almost any other pop song of its ilk. Gavin’s glorious declarations of “I want to dance in the middle of a gay bar” and “I want that girl right over to to wanna date me” on the aforementioned chorus feel so satisfying and serene. That the song capitalizes on the synthpop excellence the band has been honing in the years leading up to this moment make it that much more fulfilling.
The song’s thesis, along with this entire moment that MUNA is owning, is quite simple, yet profoundly impactful for so many: “There’s nothing wrong with what I want”. – Kiel Hauck
1. Paramore – “This is Why”
“This Is Why” is an infectious, in-your-face, all-around jam. It’s the perfect successor to 2017’s After Laughter, and I think releasing the title track was a smart move, too. Paramore said, “Let’s let the kids know exactly what they’re getting into.” It not only ties together the band’s previous efforts, but also the solo efforts of Zac and Hayley, as well. All around it excited us all for what was to come, which is exactly what a lead single is for. Every other album and single that was released this year took to the back burner immediately upon this release, and I have suspicions that the same will happen in February when the album officially drops.
If you remember our most anticipated from earlier this year, you know I obviously put Paramore in. I actually read back my piece, and I said that my prediction was new Paramore album in 2023, and I was right – Next year we will finally get the most anticipated album of all anticipated albums, This Is Why. I think I would’ve been happy with whatever the new album sounded like, since we’ve been positively starved of Para-content, but “This Is Why” and the next single, “The News”, give me hope that not only was I correct on the release timeline, but the fact that this may be the best Paramore album yet. – Nadia Alves
Underoath – “We’re All Gonna Die”
Carly Rae Jepsen – “Talking to Myself”
Denzel Curry – “Walkin”
Architects – “A New Moral Low Ground”
Megan Thee Stallion – “Plan B”
Posted by Kiel Hauck