2022 has been an unpredictable year full of surprises, like Kate Bush’s iconic 1985 single suddenly topping the charts.
Nothing sums up 2022 better than some of its best wildcard-sounding songs that defied all odds and genre conventions.
The last year has been filled with energetic hip-hop, indie gems and experimental forays into the electronic world.
R&B singers wowed us with introspective tunes while big pop stars give a nod to yesteryear. From Glorilla, Flo Milli and Ice Spice in rap to Alvvays, Alex G and Amber Mark in R&B, plus Harry Styles, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift squeezing a little nostalgia – it’s gone.
So here are some of this year’s best songs. (Note: “Running Up That Hill” is omitted since it was released in 1985.)
Track These Songs:
“Tonight” by Phoenix ft. Ezra Koenig
With 25+ years of experience under their belt, Phoenix still manages to stay perpetually cool. Their latest collaboration with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig on the track “Tonight” is a prime example – lead singer Thomas Mars takes listeners through an entire relationship journey in one captivating night as he eagerly urges for good times ahead.
“happy accident” by Tomberlin
Tomberlin’s “happy accident” takes listeners on a sonic exploration of New York City with Cass McCombs’ winding guitar loop leading the way. The track details an unraveling relationship and Tomberlin’s questioning lyrics, steeped in weariness, drift through it like aimless footsteps on city streets.
This is a stirring tribute to discovering your home for what it is – beautiful and unpredictable.
“Pájaros en Verano” by Ela Minus / DJ Python
It can be hard to focus on the positives when our world seems hopeless, but Ela Minus invites us to come back down to earth and appreciate what truly matters.
Her track “Pájaros en Verano” celebrates simple joys like clouds in the sky, crickets singing their nighttime chorus, or just being able to sleep peacefully through it all.
A reminder that we can still find beauty if we only take a moment to look up from our worries and see past life’s struggles.
“May Brigade” by Horse Lords
From memorable melodies to captivating rhythms, Horse Lords’ past 12 years have been devoted to the mission of creating a musical utopia. With their unique spin on experimental rock, they craft compelling songs that inspire freedom and joy within listeners.
“Lydia Wears a Cross” by Julia Jacklin
With a mix of power and soul, “Lydia Wears a Cross” transports listeners to Julia Jacklin’s stirring exploration of religion from the perspective of an inquisitive adolescent girl.
She evokes vivid imagery that speaks to what it feels like to attend church without fully grasping its teachings – yet still coming away with moments filled with awe and vitality.
“Punish” by 4s4ki
4s4ki’s multi-genre electronic track “Punish” takes the listener on a nihilistic journey of self-reflection. Digicore, Japanese hip hop, and 4aki’s distorted yet clear vocals coalesce into an eclectic soundscape that highlights his unique style of hyper pop between fast paced beats and soulful melodies.
“Bull Believer” by Wednesday
Get ready to be taken on a tumultuous journey with Wednesday’s “Bull Believer.” Vocalist Karly Hartzman guides us through the highs and lows of Spanish bullfighting, as well as her experience at a party.
Weaving between abrasive riffs and solaceful balladry is powered by harsh guitars that back up her visceral screams – all culminating in an epic two-act grunge odyssey.
“Pods” by Two Shell
Two Shell’s music is a blend of UK bass and hyper pop, designed to make listeners smile – no trolling involved. A quick listen will prove just how creative their sound is.
“Pods” starts with an electrifying tremolo that accelerates like a spaceship at warp speed before taking you into the heart-pounding 15-second breakdown – it feels more like playing your favorite video game than anything else.
“bezhigo” by Joe Rainey
Joe Rainey’s debut album Niineta is a stirring tribute to the power of community and those who have passed on.
With collaboration from producer Andrew Broder, this track speaks for Ojibwe people – drawing inspiration from decades’ worth of pow-wow recordings as it celebrates togetherness and honoring ancestors.
“Diet Coke” by Pusha T
Pusha T has consistently pushed the boundaries of rap for two decades since his iconic “Grindin.”
His latest track, “Diet Coke,” is an homage to a classic beat produced by 88-Keys and features Push’s trademark nonchalant flow over vintage samples. He shows us again that drug culture in music transcends time with lyrics as timeless as the trade itself.
“Edge of the Edge” by Panda Bear / Sonic Boom
Taking inspiration from some of the greatest hits of decades past, Panda Bear and Sonic Boom have created an innovative new collaboration, Reset to capture a uniquely nostalgic soundscape.
Looping vintage opening moments, they’ve built entire compositions around timeless classics for a captivating listening experience.
“What I Want” by MUNA
From Jonathan Richman to MUNA, capturing love and joy on the dance floor has been some of pop music’s most satisfying offerings.
“What I Want” is an infectious ode to self-love, with Katie Gavin singing about wanting a girl that wants her back – no doubt inspiring waves of happiness in listeners.
“Strange Neighbourhood” by Burial
Burial’s “Strange Neighbourhood” and his production on Antidawn is a unique blend of eerie ambience.
As if you were walking in an abandoned graveyard hidden away, it features ghostly vocals that rise as embers and organ swells to create a melancholic atmosphere with all the creaks, stutters and glitches reminding listeners – like whispers from beyond- of its somber mood.
“As It Was” by Harry Styles
“As It Was” is an upbeat, shimmering track known to get indie kids dancing for 20 years! A must-have addition to any DIY dance night.
“Welcome to Hell” by Black Midi
Black Midi’s “Welcome to Hell” is a chaotic and relentless musical experience. Its eclectic mix of fast-paced innovation plays like an intense yet comical infusion of sounds that leave you feeling as if you have just been thrust onto the Normandy beaches.