“New Gold”, the wonderful collaboration between virtual band Gorillaz, Australian alternative psychedelic music project Tame Impala, and American rapper Bootie Brown, maintains it’s grip on the #1 spot for a third week, while “Ghosts Again” by Depeche Mode moves into the #2 spot. Jumping five spots each are “Kid” by The Revivalists, to #3, and “Eat Your Young” by Hozier, to #5. The raucous “Paid Off”, by British alt-rock band Oli Barton & the Movement, enters the top 10 at #10. They just released their biting new single “Left Alive in America?” on May 5th, and will be releasing their album Pipe Dreams on the 19th.
Making their debut this week are “Rescued” by the Foo Fighters, their first new release since the untimely death of drummer Taylor Hawkins, at #29, and “Hello”, by the always delightful L.A. band GROUPLOVE, at #30.
NEW GOLD – Gorillaz, Tame Impala & Bootie Brown (1)
“New Gold”, the marvelous collaboration between virtual band Gorillaz, Australian alternative psychedelic music project Tame Impala, and American rapper Bootie Brown, remains at #1 for a second week. Holding at #2 for a second week is the beautiful “Tropic Morning News” by The National, which previously spent two weeks at #1. Depeche Mode‘s “Ghosts Again” holds at #3 for a second week, and “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus moves up a notch to #4. Moving up three spots each are “Soften” by Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Southey, to #5, and “Bluebell Wood” by British singer-songwriter Frank Joshua to #6. Entering the top 10 are “Kid” by The Revivalists, climbing three spots to #8, and “Eat Your Young” by Hozier, which jumps six spots to #10.
Two songs make their debut this week: the gorgeous “Those Eyes” by Toronto band New West, entering at #29. The song, which reminds me a bit of Coldplay’s beloved earlier songs like “Yellow” and “Fix You”, was actually released in May 2019 as their very first single, and later included on their debut EP Call Me When You Hear This Song. Like Beach Weather’s “Sex, Drugs, Etc.”, the song apparently went viral on Tik Tok, and has recently been climbing the Alternative charts. Entering at #30 is “Why”, a stunning song by British psychedelic indie rock band Future Theory, an immensely-talented act I’ve written about many times on this blog. This is their third song to appear on my Top 30, with their 2021 single “One and the Same” reaching #3.
NEW GOLD – Gorillaz, Tame Impala & Bootie Brown (1)
TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (2)
GHOSTS AGAIN – Depeche Mode (3)
FLOWERS – Miley Cyrus (5)
SOFTEN – Alex Southey (8)
BLUEBELL WOOD – Frank Joshua (9)
TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (4)
KID – The Revivalists (11)
THE WALK HOME – Young the Giant (10)
EAT YOUR YOUNG – Hozier (16)
PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (6)
LOVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – Fall Out Boy (7)
PAID OFF – Oli Barton & the Movement (14)
WOLF – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (15)
I WANT YOU DEAD – Two Feet & Allie Cabal (12)
THE PERFECT PAIR – beabadoobee (17)
NOT STRONG ENOUGH – boygenius (18)
GO DOWN RIVER – The Heavy Heavy (20)
DUMMY – Portugal. The Man (21)
ESSENCE – Refeci & Shimmer Johnson (22)
BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (13) 20th week on chart
ANGELICA – Wet Leg (24)
1982 – Morgendust (25)
RESCUE ME – Dirty Heads (26)
LEAVING – Au Gres (27)
TROUBLE WITH THIS BED – Beach Weather (19) 22nd week on chart
I love when artists from different genres and backgrounds come together to create music, especially when the pooling of their collective talents and imagination results in glorious sonic alchemy. One of the finest examples of this in recent memory is “New Gold”, a brilliant collaboration between virtual band Gorillaz (fronted by British singer-songwriter and producer Damon Albarn), Australian alternative psychedelic music project Tame Impala, and American rapper Bootie Brown (aka Romye Robinson). The deep, pulsating beat and lush, intricate synths by Albarn, producer extraordinaire Greg Kurstin, and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker create a magical backdrop for Albarn’s and Parker’s dreamy vocals and Brown’s flawlessly rapped verses, all of which not only complement each other beautifully, but also create a palpable sense of excitement and energy. The song is a gorgeous feast for the senses, and ascends to the #1 spot on my latest Weekly Top 30.
Co-written by them all, the song’s lyrics speak to the ephemeral and often unfulfilling things too many people indulge in, expressed in the chorus “New gold, foolish gold, everything will disappear.” They rely on self-delusions or any number of palliatives, rather than face their problems in a realistic way, whether it be the ultimately self destructive overuse of cosmetic surgery that often ages poorly, abuse of party drugs that destroy the user’s mind, or endless social media drama, wasting time on online content lacking any real value or engaging in online arguments that only serve to make us feel more isolated than ever.
In other chart developments, Young the Giant‘s poignant and lovely “The Walk Home” enters the top 10, and two songs make their debut: “The Way” by American alt-rock band Manchester Orchestra, at #29, and “In My Head” by Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park) and Arizona-based singer-songwriter Kailee Morgue, at #30.
NEW GOLD – Gorillaz, Tame Impala & Bootie Brown (3)
TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (1)
GHOSTS AGAIN – Depeche Mode (4)
TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (2)
FLOWERS – Miley Cyrus (6)
PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (5)
LOVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – Fall Out Boy (7)
SOFTEN – Alex Southey (9)
BLUEBELL WOOD – Frank Joshua (10)
THE WALK HOME – Young the Giant (12)
KID – The Revivalists (14)
I WANT YOU DEAD – Two Feet & Allie Cabal (13)
BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (8)
PAID OFF – Oli Barton & the Movement (15)
WOLF – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (16)
EAT YOUR YOUNG – Hozier (23)
THE PERFECT PAIR – beabadoobee (19)
NOT STRONG ENOUGH – boygenius (20)
TROUBLE WITH THIS BED – Beach Weather (11) 21st week on chart
The beautiful “Tropic Morning News” by The National holds at #1 for a second week, with Sea Power‘s majestic “Transmitter” also remaining at #2. “New Gold” by the dream collaboration of Gorillaz, Tame Impala and Bootie Brown slides into 3rd place (Gorillaz & Brown performed the song at the Coachella Music Festival this past Friday night), while Depeche Mode‘s “Ghosts Again” assumes the #4 spot. British singer-songwriter Frank Joshua enters the top 10 with his sublime love song “Bluebell Wood”.
Three songs make their debut this week: Entering at #23 is the amazing “Eat Your Young” by Irish singer-songwriter Hozier. He states the song was inspired by Gluttony, one the 9 Circles of Hell contained in the first part of Dante Alighieri’s epic poem Divine Comedy, and describes a feast being prepared and served together with the chaos that comes with it. “Rescue Me” by Southern California reggae-ska rock band Dirty Heads enters at #29, and “leaving” by Michigan singer-songwriter Au Gres enters at #30.
TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (1)
TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (2)
NEW GOLD – Gorillaz, Tame Impala & Bootie Brown (6)
My gosh, what a stellar week for music! Great songs by The National, Sea Power, The Zangwills, Death Cab for Cutie, Fall Out Boy, Gorillaz, Tame Impala & Bootie Brown, and Depeche Mode, and that’s just the top 7! The National’s captivating “Tropic Morning News” ascends to the top of my chart this week. The song is the lead single from their ninth studio album First Two Pages Of Frankenstein, due for release on April 28. For those unaware, The National consists of Matt Berninger (vocals), twin brothers Aaron Dessner (guitar, piano, keyboards) and Bryce Dessner (guitar, piano, keyboards), and brothers Scott Devendorf (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums). I love their sophisticated songwriting and rich, complex sound, especially Matt Berninger’s beautiful baritone vocals.
According to an article by Leah Degrazia for the website Genius, the album came together while Berninger was emerging from a period of crippling writer’s block (something I can strongly relate to). “Even though we’d always been anxious whenever we were working on a record, this was the first time it ever felt like maybe things really had come to an end,” Berninger said. The song’s lyrics, written by Berninger and his wife, Carin Besser, speak of how constantly inundating yourself with negative news can pull you into a dark hole of isolation and sadness, making it hard to reach out and form deep human connection.
In other chart developments, the gorgeous “Soften” by exceptionally-talented Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Southey enters the top 10. Entering this week’s chart are “Angelica” by the delightful English duo Wet Leg, at #29, and “1982” by Dutch alternative rock band Morgendust, whose wonderful self-titled album I recently reviewed, at #30.
TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (2)
TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (3)
BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (1)
PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (6)
LOVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – Fall Out Boy (4)
NEW GOLD – Gorillaz featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown (7)
British indie pop-rock band The Zangwills remain at #1 for a second week with their achingly beautiful song “Backpatters and Shooters”. “Tropic Morning News” by American alternative art rock band The National slides into the #2 spot, and “Transmitter” by British alt-rock band Sea Power holds at #3. Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” enters the top 10.
Four songs make their debut this week: “Not Strong Enough”, from the new album the record by American indie rock supergroup boygenius, comprised of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, entering at #27; “Go Down River” by Brighton, UK duo The Heavy Heavy, consisting of Will Turner and Georgie Fuller, at #28; “Essence” by Danish DJ and electronic house music producer Refeci and Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Shimmer Johnson, at #29, and “Dummy”, the latest single by Portland, Oregon-based alt-rock band Portugal. The Man, bringing up the rear at #30.
BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (1)
TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (4)
TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (3)
LOVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – Fall Out Boy (2)
TROUBLE WITH THIS BED – Beach Weather (5)
PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (8)
NEW GOLD – Gorillaz featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown (9)
GHOSTS AGAIN – Depeche Mode (10)
PAGES – White Reaper (6)
FLOWERS – Miley Cyrus (14)
SOFTEN – Alex Southey (13)
YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO – Darksoft (12)
JUST BEFORE THE MORNING – Local Natives (7)
SUREFIRE – Wilderado (11)
BLUEBELL WOOD – Frank Joshua (19)
THE WALK HOME – Young the Giant (18)
I WANT YOU DEAD – Two Feet & Allie Cabal (20)
EYEZ – The Arcs (16)
WEIGHTLESS – Arlo Parks (17)
MODERNISE – Slow Readers Club (21)
KID – The Revivalists (23)
PAID OFF – Oli Barton & the Movement (27)
WOLF – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (28)
NIGHT BUS – Caitlin Lavagna (15) 20th week on chart
British four-piece The Zangwills are an immensely-talented indie band who make exceptional melodic pop-rock with a maturity of songwriting and musicianship as fine as many top big-name bands around today. Based in Cheshire, they consist of Jake Vickers (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ed Dowling (bass), Sam Davies (lead guitar) and Adam Spence (drums). They’ve been actively making music since 2017, when they were all still in their teens, and have released a total of 13 singles and two EPs. Listening to their back catalog, I can emphatically state that every one of their songs is outstanding.
I didn’t learn about them until summer 2021, when I was blown away by their magnificent single “Never Looked Back”. I loved it so much that it went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30, and ended up at #24 on my Top 100 Songs of 2021 list. Now, after a long 15-week climb, they once again reach the top of my chart with their latest single “Backpatters and Shooters”. It’s a gorgeous track, with a haunting piano-driven melody, cinematic orchestration and achingly beautiful guitar work that make it one of their most impactful songs yet. Then there are Jake’s powerfully emotive vocals, which convey an incredible vulnerability as he croons the lyrics addressing the pursuit of love and how it far outweighs the importance of anything else: “You know that I’d be the first to plant roses in your face, and frame beauty with beauty. And though I’m dying of thirst, I’m still running in your race with the men who pat my back, and the men who would shoot me. And when I look up, if I squint I see love. But it’s never that much, and no it’s never enough.”
In other chart developments, “Transmitter” by Sea Power and “Tropic Morning News” by The National move up to #3 and #4, respectively. Entering the top 10 are “New Gold” by Gorillaz featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown, at #9, and “Ghosts Again” by Depeche Mode, at #10. The biggest upward mover this week is “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus, leaping eight spots to #14. The two debut songs this week are by artists making their first appearance on my chart: “Wolf” by New York indie/art rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, at #28, and “the perfect pair” by sweet-voiced Filipino-British singer-songwriter beabadoobee (born Beatrice Kristi Ilejay Laus), at #30. The song’s been out a while, and finally clicked with me.
BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (2)
LOVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – Fall Out Boy (1)
TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (5)
TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (6)
TROUBLE WITH THIS BED – Beach Weather (3)
PAGES – White Reaper (4)
JUST BEFORE THE MORNING – Local Natives (7)
PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (10)
NEW GOLD – Gorillaz featuring Tame Impala and Bootie Brown (12)
GHOSTS AGAIN – Depeche Mode (13)
SUREFIRE – Wilderado (11)
YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO – Darksoft (9)
SOFTEN – Alex Southey (18)
FLOWERS – Miley Cyrus (22)
NIGHT BUS – Caitlin Lavagna (8) 19th week on chart
Fall Out Boy remain at #1 for a second week with their monumental “Love From the Other Side”, while British band The Zangwills inch up to #2 with their cinematic “Backpatters and Shooters”. Entering the top 10 are “Tropic Morning News” by The National, jumping six spots to #6, “You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do” by Darksoft, moving up two spots to #9, and “Pepper” by Death Cab for Cutie, which climbs three spots to #10.
Three great songs make their debut this week: “I Want You Dead”, a duet by blog and chart favorite Two Feet, along with his fiance Allie Cabal, entering at #26, “Kid” by New Orleans alternative/roots rock band The Revivalists, at #29, and “Paid Off” by another favorite of mine, London-based alternative pop-rock band Oli Barton & the Movement, at #30.
LOVE FROM THE OTHER SIDE – Fall Out Boy (1)
BACKPATTERS AND SHOOTERS – The Zangwills (3)
TROUBLE WITH THIS BED – Beach Weather (2)
PAGES – White Reaper (5)
TRANSMITTER – Sea Power (6)
TROPIC MORNING NEWS – The National (12)
JUST BEFORE THE MORNING – Local Natives (9)
NIGHT BUS – Caitlin Lavagna (4)
YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO – Darksoft (11)
PEPPER – Death Cab for Cutie (13)
SUREFIRE – Wilderado (14)
NEW GOLD – Gorillaz, Tame Impala & Bootie Brown (16)
GHOSTS AGAIN – Depeche Mode (17)
WILD AS THE WIND – HULLAH (7)
MAYFLY – Callum Pitt (8)
THE LONELIEST – Måneskin (10)
SLEEPWALKING – All Time Low (15)
SOFTEN – Alex Southey (19)
EVERGREEN – Mt. Joy (18)
EYEZ – The Arcs (22)
WEIGHTLESS – Arlo Parks (23)
FLOWERS – Miley Cyrus (27)
MODERNISE – Slow Readers Club (28)
THE WALK HOME – Young the Giant (29)
BLUEBELL WOOD – Frank Joshua (30)
I WANT YOU DEAD – Two Feet & Allie Cabal (N)
SHADOWS IN THE DARK – The Star Crumbles (20) 21st week on chart
Though I grew up in the 1960s – arguably one of the best periods for popular (i.e. rock, pop, folk, R&B and soul) music – I’ve continued to find lots of music to my liking every year since then, and 2022 is no different. In fact, 2022 was a tremendous year for new music, and it infuriates me when people dismiss all new music as ‘crap’, ignorantly proclaiming that nothing worth listening to has been released since the 70s, 80s, or some other arbitrary date. Obviously, music tastes are very subjective, and while I cannot imagine how others cannot share my love for a particular song (I was both dismayed and incredulous when a long-time friend told me she didn’t like Sam Fender’s magnificent “Seventeen Going Under”), I also realize that not one person will agree with all my song choices or rankings.
As a music blogger, I’m exposed to a tremendous amount of new music. In addition to all the artists and bands I already follow, I receive a continuous stream of submissions from artists, PR reps and labels for possible reviews, so I listen to a lot of albums, EPs and singles from a great many artists and bands over the course of a year. Nevertheless, I realize I’ve still heard only a fraction of all the music released in 2022 (I get enough proof of this just by reading other bloggers’ year-end best-of lists, where in some cases I literally haven’t heard a single one of their song or album picks.) Consequently, my list includes only songs I know, and I’m certain there are likely many great ones that should be on this list, except that I’ve never heard them. That said, among the thousands of songs I did hear in 2022, there were many outstanding ones, and it frustrates me to have to cull my favorites down to only 100, omitting quite a few that I really like. It’s also a challenge ranking them, because a song at #40 isn’t necessarily any better than a song at #70. Perhaps I shouldn’t rank them at all, except for the fact that I love making lists!
As with every year, in 2022 we had to say goodbye to several legendary and beloved musicians. Some of the more notable ones included Ronnie Spector, Meat Loaf, Bobby Rydell, Mark Lanegan, Naomi Judd, Mickey Gilley, Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode, Olivia Newton-John, Judith Durham, Ramsey Lewis, Pharoah Sanders, Coolio, Jerry Lee Lewis, Loretta Lynn, Irene Cara, Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, Terry Hall of British ska band The Specials, and perhaps most tragically, Foo Fighters long-time drummer Taylor Hawkins, and young artists Aaron Carter and Migos band member Takeoff.
A final caveat I feel I must mention every year: Many bloggers and critics include songs released during the year in question on their year-end lists, whereas Billboard and many other charts generally include songs in the year they were ‘hits’ on said charts, which is what I prefer. Many of the songs on this list were released in 2022, however, a number of them were released in 2021, but didn’t ‘peak’ until 2022. And Beach Weather’s “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” was originally released in 2016, but after going viral on Tik Tok, the song began getting airplay and eventually appeared on the Billboard Alternative Charts. Also, because there are always a few songs that overlap from one year to the next, like Billboard, I include those songs on lists for both years if they spent enough time on the charts in each year. I always wrestle with how to rank them, as well as whether to list them in only one year or two. I suppose that at the end of the day it’s all silliness, but this is the way I choose to do it. The songs in this Top 100 that also appeared on my Top 100 Songs of 2021 list are indicated with an asterisk *.
As always, I’ve created a Spotify playlist for this list, which is included at the end of the post. Hopefully you’ll find some of your own personal favorites on it. Let me know what songs were your favorites of 2022.
1. AS IT WAS – Harry Styles
Though I was not a fan of One Direction, there’s no denying the talents of its individual members. Most have gone on to enjoy success as solo artists to one degree or another, though none more so than Harry Styles, who I think is the most talented of them all. I’ve really liked a lot of his music, particularly his beautiful 2017 anthem “Sign of the Times”, but my favorite is “As It Was”, which is my top song of 2022. The lead single from Harry’s third album Harry’s House, the song was a monster hit, spending 15 non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and also topping the charts in 35 countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and the UK.
Despite it’s upbeat melody and exuberant chorus, the song is actually quite poignant. According to an article in the webzine Stylecaster, though Styles hasn’t confirmed the song’s meaning, many believe it’s about his relationship with fame and how his life isn’t “the same as it was” since becoming a music star, expressed by the lyrics “In this world, it’s just us. You know it’s not the same as it was.” The song also alludes to his loneliness and concern from others as he isolates himself from the world, opening with a child’s voice (an actual phone recording of his goddaughter Ruby Winston) saying: “Come on, Harry, we wanna say goodnight to you,” and in the second verse Styles acknowledges “Answer the phone. ‘Harry, you’re no good alone. Why are you sitting at home on the floor? What kind of pills are you on?‘” I think it’s a perfect pop song that I never grew tired of hearing.
2. MY LOVE – Florence + the Machine
I love the music of Florence + the Machine. Fronted by English singer-songwriter Florence Welch, who I think has one of the greatest voices of any female vocalist today, their sound is a glorious blend of indie rock, baroque pop, folk, art rock and soul. Their single “My Love”, from their fifth studio album DanceFever, is a gorgeous, sweeping anthem that covers me with chills every time I hear it. It spent three weeks at #1 on my weekly top 30, and six weeks atop the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart, but shockingly, never even made the Hot 100. The song was co-written by Glass Animals vocalist Dave Bayley, with whom she collaborated on Dance Fever along with Jack Antonoff.
3. SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather
It’s not often I fall in love with a song the moment I hear it (it usually takes a couple of listens for most songs to grow on me, even from artists and bands I love), but I fell head over heels for the gorgeous “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” by American band Beach Weather the instant it hit my ears. I was immediately struck by the song’s enthralling melody, Nick’s captivating vocals and the guys’ stunning harmonies, which made the song one of my favorites of the year. I’ve had it on repeat ever since, and my year-end Spotify Wrapped report revealed that it was my third most-streamed song of 2022 (“As It Was” was #1).
Interestingly, the song was originally recorded in 2016, and was featured on their debut EP Chit Chat. After releasing a second EP What a Drag, the band went on hiatus as the three members – Nick Santino, Reeve Powers, and Sean Silverman – relocated to different cities and began working on their own solo projects. They reunited late last year, and began recording their forthcoming debut album Pineapple Sunrise, featuring their single “Unlovable”, which dropped August 11, their first release in five years. In the meantime, “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” went viral on TikTok, and started getting airplay on AltNation and many alternative radio stations. The song eventually went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30 and the Billboard Alternative Airplay charts. “Floating on my low-key vibe” indeed!
4. BOY – The Killers
The Killers have long been one of my favorite bands, on the strength of their melodic brand of alternative rock and frontman Brandon Flowers’ beautiful tenor singing voice. I love many of their songs, including “Mr. Brightside”, “Somebody Told Me”, “When You Were Young”, “Read My Mind”, “Human”, “The Man” and “Caution”, so it was no surprise that I would also love their beautiful uplifting anthem “boy”. The song was originally intended for inclusion on their seventh album – which was to be titled TK7 but eventually renamed Pressure Machine – a concept album about life in Flowers’ hometown of Nephi, Utah, with songs told from the perspective of various townspeople that touches on everything from prescription drug abuse and poverty to crime, homophobia, and depression. However, the anthemic sound of “boy” differed from the other tracks on Pressure Machine, which had more of a folk-rock feel, so The Killers decided to not include it on that album. They instead released it as a single a year after the album’s release, in August 2022. Though it did not chart on the stupid Billboard Hot 100, it did reach #1 on several Alternative charts. It spent three weeks at #1 on my Weekly Top 30.
About the song, Flowers said: “This was the first song written after we had to cancel the ‘Imploding The Mirage’ tour due to the pandemic. I had recently moved back to Utah and started to make trips to Nephi, where I grew up. I found that the place I had wanted to get away from so desperately at 16 was now a place that I couldn’t stop returning to. I have a son approaching the age I was at that time in my life. With ‘boy’, I want to reach out and tell myself – and my sons – to not overthink it. And to look for the ‘white arrows’ in their lives. For me now, white arrows are my wife, children, my songs and the stage.”
5. UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez
One of the biggest breakout artists of 2022 has been Nashville-based singer-songwriter Stephen Sanchez, who became a sensation when his gorgeous throwback love ballad “Until I Found You” went viral on TikTok. With it’s wonderful retro 50s doo wop vibe, highlighted by Sanchez’ beautiful jangly guitar and vibrant vocals, I couldn’t get enough of it! Originally recorded when he was only 18, the song was released on September 1, 2021, but didn’t chart until early summer 2022. It was a huge hit in Southeast Asia for some reason, reaching #1 in Malaysia, #2 in Indonesia, and #3 in the Philippines, as well as on the Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart. It spent two weeks at #1 on my Weekly Top 30. The song is included on his seven-track debut EP Easy On My Eyes, which dropped August 19th.
For the marvelous official video, which came out in late June, Sanchez channels his inner Elvis, also pairing himself with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike as his love interest with whom he sings the song in a duet (although the layered vocals on the track are all his, from what I can tell). He told Rolling Stone “I was obsessed with the style of the 50s when I was growing up. The glamorous cars, movie theaters, mom & pop shops. I romanticized all of its visually stunning colors and sleekness. I wanted to implement all of that beauty into my dream of being a 1950s singer debuting his ‘hit’ song on the Ed Sullivan Show.”
6. BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy
Southern California-based singer-songwriter Steve Lacy has been making music since his teens, not only as a solo act and guitarist for alternative R&B band The Internet, but also as a producer who’s worked with such acts as Denzel Curry, Kendrick Lamar, Ravyn Lenae, Solange, Mac Miller and Vampire Weekend. But his monster hit “Bad Habit”, from his second album Gemini Rights, finally catapulted the 24-year old to stardom. Not only is it his first song as a solo artist to chart in the U.S., it went all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, also becoming the first song ever to simultaneously top the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop, Hot R&B and Hot Rock & Alternative charts. It also topped my Top 30 chart for two weeks in October.
It’s a sweet song, with lyrics directed to someone he finds attractive, but thinking he wasn’t good enough, never had to courage to make a move: “I bite my tongue, it’s a bad habit. Kinda mad that I didn’t take a stab at it. Thought you were too good for me, my dear. Never gave me time of day, my dear. It’s okay, things happen for reasons that I think are sure, yeah.” But later in the song, he calls her out for toying with his emotions: “You grabbin’ me hard ’cause you know what you found. It’s biscuits, it’s gravy, babe.” It has an irresistible lo-fi funk-pop vibe, and as someone on YouTube put it so perfectly, it’s “one of those songs that feels nostalgic even though it’s new”.
7. ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo
I love a good dance song, and with its funky bass-driven groove and her wonderful, confident vocals, Lizzo’s delightful “About Damn Time” fits the bill quite nicely. From her fourth album Special, the song topped my Weekly Top 30 chart this past August, as well as the Billboard Hot 100, Adult Top 40 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts. I love when she sings “I’m way too fine to be this stressed, yeah.”
8. DECEPTION – Hannah Reem & Noodle Beard
One of the most arresting songs I’ve heard all year is “Deception”, a stunning collaboration between soulful-voiced British singer-songwriter Hannah Reem and producer-composer Noodle Beard. Both based in Portsmouth, Hannah is a popular personality in the local music scene, and producer and composer Noodle Beard makes trip-hop and ambient chilled music. “Deception” is Hannah’s second collaboration with Noodle Beard, and is about infidelity and the emotional complexities of making painful choices. Hannah explained her inspiration for writing the song: “I’ve felt fury and been forced to lose, I’ve been homeless and broke, felt like a joke, and cheated on by those that I choose. But I’ll get through.”
I first learned about it as a result of being a guest moderator for the BBC Music weekly song competition Fresh On The Net. My task was to listen to all 170 songs submitted as entries for a particular week, then choose my five favorites (four of which are included on this Top 100 list: “Deception”, as well as “Chasing Trains” by HULLAH, “La Cienega” by Chief Springs, and “The Hurt Within” by Holy Coves). When I heard “Deception”, I was immediately struck by it’s breathtaking cinematic vibe, and in particular Hannah’s vibrant, captivating vocals that reminded me of Shirley Bassey. In fact, I still think this would make a fantastic theme for a James Bond movie. The song is magnificent, and even after hearing it again and again, it still has the power to cover me with chills every time. It should have been a huge worldwide hit, and I think Hannah’s powerful, sultry vocals would hold their own against many of today’s top-rated female singers. The video Hannah created for the song is somewhat disturbing, showing her being emotionally and physically dominated in an almost threatening manner by her romantic partner.
9. WILD CHILD – The Black Keys
I’ve been a long-time fan of The Black Keys, who’ve had numerous songs top my Weekly Top 30 over the years. The lead single from their 11th studio album Dropout Boogie, “Wild Child” is a rousing stomper that saw them going back to their blues rock roots, highlighted by Dan Auerbach’s gnarly guitars and Patrick Carney’s muscular drumbeats. Though the simple lyrics are directed to a woman the singer wants to love – “I just wanna hold you at the end of every day. Girl, I wanna please you, oh, I’m needing you to stay. The sun is gonna shine if you would just come out and play. Baby, won’t you show me your wild child ways” – the outrageous video portrays Auerbach and Carney as guys who show up for menial jobs at an out of control high school, then take part in the ensuing mayhem. “Wild Child” was a huge hit on the Billboard alternative rock charts, reaching #1 on the Alternative Airplay and Adult Alternative Airplay charts, also ranking as the top song of 2022 on the latter chart.
10. SEVENTEEN GOING UNDER – Sam Fender *
“Seventeen Going Under”, by the immensely talented English singer-songwriter Sam Fender, was a bit of a sleeper hit. First released in July 2021, the song slowly worked its way up the UK Singles Chart, finally peaking at #3 in January 2022, when it also began getting airplay in the U.S. It eventually appeared on various Alternative song charts (peaking at #10 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart). Though I actually ranked it at #44 on my Top 100 Songs of 2021 list, I loved the song so much I added it to my Weekly Top 30 in May, where it went all the way to #1 in July. Those gorgeous jangly guitars, exuberant trumpet and sax, cracking drumbeats and Fender’s arresting tenor vocals are all magnificent. I think it’s is one of the most perfect songs I’ve heard in a long while, and this past May, it won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.
Written by Fender and released as the lead single from his brilliant and critically acclaimed second album Seventeen Going Under, the album in general, and song in particular, chronicle his life at 17 when his mother was afflicted with fibromyalgia and depressed because she could no longer work after 40 years of service as a nurse. Though she’d never missed a day of work, the Department for Work and Pensions harassed her with letters and treated her unjustly. Fender wanted to help her financially, even considering selling drugs to earn money, but she talked him out of it. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he commented: “That’s when my rose-tinted glasses fell off. 17 is when all the challenges begin: you’re not a baby, but you’re definitely not an adult.” With his striking tenor voice, strong Geordie accent, and heartthrob good looks, it’s hard to believe Fender was bullied for being overweight and unathletic as a child.
Fun fact: Sam Fender also plays Fender guitars.
11. CRUTCH – Band of Horses
Indie/Southern rock band Band of Horses have been around for 18 years (they were originally formed in Seattle in 2004 by singer-songwriter Ben Bridwell, but are now based in Charleston, South Carolina), but I stupidly never paid much attention to them or their music until hearing their heartwarming song “Crutch” last fall. I was so smitten with both the song’s music and poignant lyrics, not to mention its charming offbeat video, that it went all the way to #1 on my Top 30 in late January. The lead single from their sixth studio album Things Are Great, “Crutch” was also their first song to ever top a Billboard chart, spending two weeks at #1 on the Adult Alternative Chart.
About the song, Bridwell told Pitchfork: “I think like a lot of my songs, ‘Crutch’ starts with something from my real life. Obviously ‘Crutch’ means some of the things that I was dependent on. My relationship for one. I think I wanted to say, ‘I’ve got a crush on you,’ and I thought it was funny how relationships also feel like crutches. I feel like everybody has had a time when nothing goes right and you still have to carry on. I think that feeling hits you in this song even if you don’t know what the specifics are.” Another of their wonderful songs from Things Are Great, “Warning Signs”, appears later on this Top 100 list.
12. THE ONLY HEARTBREAKER – Mitski
Japanese-American singer-songwriter and Mitski has been recording and releasing music since 2012, but it was her sixth studio album Laurel Hell that’s been her most successful. The exuberant dance-pop gem “The Only Heartbreaker”, the second single to be released from Laurel Hell, is also her most successful single to date in the U.S., going all the way to #1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart, as well as spending two weeks at #1 on my Weekly Top 30.
The brilliant track was co-written by Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson, marking the first time Mitski has ever teamed up with another songwriter. She told Apple Music that her collaboration with Wilson came about because she’d been struggling with the track for ages: “I was just sitting on it forever. I have so many iterations of it. Nothing felt right. He helped me solve so many of the problems and kind of lead me out of the labyrinth of it. And yeah, I’m really glad that I took that chance with him.” For the recording of the song, she programmed synths and keyboards and her longtime producer Patrick Hyland played guitar and percussion.
13. CHASING TRAINS – HULLAH
One of my best new finds of 2022 has been British singer-songwriter Charley Hullah, who goes by just his last name, stylized as HULLAH. As I noted earlier, I learned about the handsome and talented London-based artist as a result of being a guest moderator for the BBC Music weekly song competition Fresh On The Net, for which he’d entered his single “Chasing Trains”. I loved the beautiful song the moment I heard it, and chose it as one of my top five picks out of the 170 entries. HULLAH’s compelling lyrics, haunting melody, sparkling atmospheric synths and sultry ethereal vocals that remind me at times of the late George Michael are quite marvelous, and I couldn’t get enough of it. According to my year-end Spotify Wrapped report, “Chasing Trains” was my second most-streamed song of the year.
About the song, HULLAH wrote on Instagram: “I began writing this at uni quite a few years back. I was given a mock songwriting brief to write a 60-second track for a car advert that quite literally pictured a car chasing a train alongside a train track from the city to the suburbs. I got such great feedback that I decided to turn it into a full song. I wrote quite literally about a car chasing a train, but it became an expression of my personal experience of chasing certain things in London, as many of us who live in cities do. This song reflects my feelings to the grind and chase of city life.“
14. BROKEN RECORD – NAVE
“Broken Record” is a hauntingly beautiful, cinematic little masterpiece by British artist NAVE, the solo music project of singer-songwriter, composer and producer Nathan Evans. The prolific and hyper-talented musician, who possesses a gorgeous singing voice, is also front man for alternative rock band Native Tongue. He wrote “Broken Record” to address the powerfully addicting allure of social media and its impacts on our emotional and mental health. Nathan states “‘Broken Record’ focuses on the like, follow and share society we have transitioned into over the past decade. Likes release dopamine like a drug and we become addicted to the validation, attention and acknowledgment of our successes or happiness. We hide behind filters and fake smiles to show an inaccurate reality we wish was real.”
The song is stunning, with mournful, contemplative piano keys overlain with arresting percussion, swelling strings and mysterious vocal effects. I love male singing voices in the higher ranges, and Nathan’s is particularly captivating here. Not only is “Broken Record” a gorgeous song, it also resonates very strongly with me, as I too am addicted to the need for validation, attention and acknowledgment of not only my blog, but also my tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts, all of which sometimes causes me disappointment.
15. WHAT, ME WORRY? – Portugal. The Man
I love the music of Portland-based alt-rock band Portugal. The Man (who are originally from Wasilla, Alaska, not Portugal), and their deliciously exuberant single “What, Me Worry?” is one of the highlights of 2022. Co-written by the band, along with Jeff Bhasker and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, both of whom also produced the track, “What, Me Worry” is an antidote for overcoming the gloomy pall of the pandemic and perpetually depressing news cycle by remaining aloof so we can be “happy as a clown.” The song’s title is a nod to long-time Mad Magazine cover boy Alfred E. Newman and his iconic phrase. Highlights of the song for me are the fantastic bass line and band frontman John Gourley’s great vocals.
16. GOOD FRIEND – dwi *
One of the most fascinating artists I’ve come across over the past few years is dwi, the music project of Canadian singer-songwriter Dwight Abell (he’s also bassist for Canadian alternative/power pop band The Zolas). Though he’s a devoted husband and father of two young boys living in the suburbs of Vancouver, he lets his creativity and imagination run totally wild with his zany alter ago, making outstanding music that’s innovative, quirky and fun. In October 2021, he released his brilliant debut album Mild Fantasy Violence, which I happily reviewed.
One of the terrific singles from that album, “Good Friend”, is about discovering after the fact that a friend had been going through some hard times, and wishing you’d known more at the time so you could have helped them through it. I love the song’s infectious hard-driving melody, colorful guitar work and dwi’s expressive vocals lamenting about his shortcomings as a friend: “Had I known you were broken inside. Had I known you were empty inside. If I was a good friend, I’d a known better. If I was a goodfriend, I’d have done better./ I’m done with the drugs, but there’s still some left inside.” It’s a great power pop song that I loved so much, it spent 18 weeks on my Weekly Top 30 from November 2021 until early March 2022, two of them at #1. Another of dwi’s more recent singles “Party4One” also went to #1 on my chart just last month, and appears later on this Top 100.
17. TELL ME THE TRUTH – Two Feet
Brooklyn, New York-based Two Feet (the music moniker of singer-songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire Bill Dess) has been my favorite music artist for the past four years. His single “Fire” was my top song of 2021, and two of his other songs, “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Devil” finished in the top 10 for 2021. I’ve written about him numerous times on this blog, and have seen three of his live shows. Many of his songs are sultry and sensual, but “Tell Me The Truth”, from his fourth album Shape & Form, is one of his darkest and sexiest of all. I love how it transitions from haunting interludes of restrained instrumentals and vocals in the verses, to an explosive, cinematic crescendo in the choruses, in which Two Feet’s vocals are more impassioned and raw than we’ve ever heard before. It’s also longer than most of his previous songs, and his scorching guitar solo in the final chorus is well worth the wait. He’s commented that it’s his favorite of all the songs he’s written and recorded, and I have to say that it’s certainly one of mine. It was his tenth song to top my Weekly Top 30 chart.
The lyrics are sung from the perspective of a man who’s tried everything to win the love of a woman he desires, to no avail. “For too long, I dream of you, All that you do. I watch you float on, float on. For too long, I contemplate, I try to be all that you need. So tell me the truth, my baby, baby. Is it me, is it you?“ The steamy video, directed by Brian Lipko and starring a finely chiseled Two Feet and sexy LA-based model and restauranteur Tina Louise, shows them experiencing the throes of unrequited sexual desire and angst, both together and alone.
18. I SEE THE SUN – Solar Eyes
Another fine band to emerge from the crowded British music scene over the past few years is Birmingham-based psychedelic pop/rock trio Solar Eyes. I love their sound, and have featured them several times on this blog. My favorite of all their terrific songs is “I See the Sun”, a gorgeous, cinematic affair, highlighted by twangy western-style guitars that would make Ennio Morricone proud. The track, which could serve as their theme song, was born from a conversation between band frontman and vocalist Glenn Smyth and mixing engineer Jeff Knowler. After Glenn mentioned to Jeff that he’d written a cool ’60s-sounding Tarantino-esque track on his newly acquired 12 string guitar, Jeff suggested that he watch Tarantino’s film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood before recording the track. Glenn took Jeff’s advice, and created the perfect song, beginning with that jolting opening guitar note to the infectious, galloping drumbeat, the swirling cinematic synths, castanet-like percussive sounds, soaring harmonies and, most of all, those fabulous spaghetti-western guitars. Then there are Glenn’s beautiful, reverb-drenched vocals as he sings of his eternal love for another: “I see the sun. The light shines on you and me. And that’s the way it’s meant to be, for eternity.”
As with their previous videos, the colorful animated video for “I See the Sun” was created by Matt Watkins, a videographer, lighting and visual design producer who’s a frequent collaborator with Gorillaz.
19. UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire
One of the best songs of 2022 is the lovely and poignant “Unconditional I (Lookout Kid” by Canadian art-rock band Arcade Fire. Released in late April, it was the second single from their sixth studio album WE, which was recorded during the Covid lockdown mostly in El Paso, but also New Orleans and Mount Desert Isle, Maine (I always find it fascinating how some artists and bands record their albums in such far-flung locales). About the uplifting song, band frontman Win Butler told Pitchfork “‘Lookout Kid’” is a reminder, a lullaby for the end times, sung to my son, but for everyone…. Trust your heart, trust your mind, trust your body, trust your soul. Shit is going to get worse before it gets better, but it always gets better, and no one’s perfect.” The video, produced by Ben Matheny and Nathan Harrison, and directed by Benh Zeitlin, is delightful.
20. CLOSER – The Frontier
Northern Virginia-based artist The Frontier (the music project of enormously talented, funny and gracious singer-songwriter Jake Mimikos) is no stranger to this blog, and has had several of his songs appear on my year-end best-of lists. Drawing from elements of pop, folk, rock and electronica, his music is incredibly pleasing, relentlessly catchy, and flawlessly crafted. I find that the more I hear his songs, the more I grow to love them. The prolific artist has released an impressive amount of music both as a band and a solo artist under The Frontier moniker since around 2015, and I’ve written about quite a bit of it. Several of his songs have appeared on my Weekly Top 30, with two – “Dark Places” (from 2019) and “Can We Go Back” (from 2021) – going all the way to #1. His marvelous, upbeat love song “Closer” was the third to do so this past August.
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin
CAVIAR – Two Feet
THE HARDEST CUT – Spoon
PARTY4ONE – dwi
HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie
WHITE HORSES – Art Block
SNAP – Rosa Linn
I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE – The War on Drugs featuring Lucius *
SLEEP – Gooseberry
LOVE BRAND NEW – Bob Moses
TWO CAR FAMILY – Apollo Junction
CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat
TIME IN DISGUISE – Kings of Leon
MY BABE – Spoon
STARTS WITH YOU – Shimmer Johnson *
MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten
JUST LIKE ALWAYS – Oli Barton & the Movement
BROKEN HEARTS – Ships Have Sailed
WILD – Spoon
THE FUNERAL – YUNGBLUD
VIBE – Editors
ONE AND THE SAME – Future Theory
CHAPSTICK – COIN
LOVE LOVE LOVE – My Morning Jacket *
I’LL CALL YOU MINE – girl in red
SPIT OF YOU – Sam Fender
HEAD IN THE CLOUDS – Thunder Fox
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO
A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE – Weezer
CREST OF THE WAVE – Foals
TEK IT – Cafuné
BELIEVE – Caamp
BROKEN HORSES – Brandi Carlile
WAKE ME UP – Foals
THESE ARE THE DAYS – Inhaler
WET DREAM – Wet Leg
TONIGHT – Phoenix featuring Ezra Koenig
I LOVE YOU – Fontaines D.C.
BLACK SUMMER – Red Hot Chili Peppers
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco
THE ECHO – A.A. Williams
PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon
REDCHURCH STREET BLUES – Philip Morgan Lewis
2am – Foals
BONES – Imagine Dragons
SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance
BLOODRUSH – The Amazons
WEIRD GOODBYES – The National featuring Bon Iver
AIN’T NO THIEF – Viagra Boys
BREAK MY SOUL – Beyoncé
SIDELINES – Phoebe Bridgers
THE OUTSIDE – twenty øne piløts
SISTERS – pMad
THE TIPPING POINT – Tears For Fears
LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy
LA CIENEGA – Chief Springs
IN THE MIRROR – The Interrupters
OH MY GOD – Adele
GIVE A LITTLE LOVIN’ – Jamie Alimorad
VIRGINIA (WIND IN THE NIGHT) – The Head and the Heart
LEFT BEHIND – a million rich daughters
THE FOUNDATIONS OF DECAY – My Chemical Romance
PART OF THE BAND – The 1975
LIN MANUEL – Onism E
WARNING SIGNS – Band of Horses
ON MY KNEES – RÜFÜS DU SOL
NEW ENGLAND – Kid Kapichi & Bob Vylan
I LIKE YOU (A HAPPIER SONG) – Post Malone with Doja Cat
I’m thrilled to place Lizzo‘s infectious feel-good single “About Damn Time” at #1 on my latest Weekly Top 30. I love a good dance song, and with its funky bass-driven groove, “About Damn Time” fits the bill quite nicely. From her fourth album Special, it’s her first song to top my chart, and her second to top the Billboard Hot 100. Born Melissa Jefferson in Detroit, the 34-year-old singer has already had an interesting life. After moving with her family to Houston when she was 10, Lizzo began studying the flute with renowned music teacher Claudia Momen. She also started rapping in her early teens, and formed a musical group called Cornrow Clique with her friends, at which time she acquired the nickname “Lizzo”. After graduating from high school, she studied classical music with a concentration on flute at the University of Houston, but by 21, was living out of her car for a year while trying to break into the music industry. She released two studio albums, Lizzobangers in 2013 and Big Grrrl Small World in 2015, but neither charted. Lizzo finally achieved breakthrough success in 2019 with her single “Truth Hurts” after it was featured in the Netflix film Someone Great. The song became a viral sleeper hit, reaching #1 two years after its initial release. Lizzo’s life-long struggles with her weight have led her to become a fearless advocate for body positivity and self-love.
In other chart highlights, “Closer” by The Frontier and “The Funeral” by YUNGBLUD, hold at #3 and #4, and “Mistakes” by Sharon Van Etten climbs four spots to #5. Entering the top 10 are “Until I Found You” by Stephen Sanchez, which jumps six spots to #6, “Broken Record” by NAVE, up seven spots to #9, and “SUPERMODEL” by Måneskin, which leaps 10 spots to #10.
I wanted to add at least six new songs to my chart this week, but had room for only these three, each of which could not be more different from one another: “BREAK MY SOUL” by Beyoncé, “What’s the Trick?” by Jack White, and “Please Write Responsibly” by British artist Granfalloon, the music project of talented singer-songwriter Richard Lomax, making his first appearance on my chart.
ABOUT DAMN TIME – Lizzo (2)
UNCONDITIONAL I (LOOKOUT KID) – Arcade Fire (1)
CLOSER – The Frontier (3)
THE FUNERAL – YUNGBLUD (4)
MISTAKES – Sharon Van Etten (9)
UNTIL I FOUND YOU – Stephen Sanchez (12)
SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (7)
IN THE MIRROR – The Interrupters (8)
BROKEN RECORD – NAVE (16)
SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (20)
WARNING SIGNS – Band of Horses (10)
SEVENTEEN GOING UNDER – Sam Fender (5)
A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE – Weezer (6)
FAILURE TO COMPLY – MISSIO (19)
DESPERATELY WANTING – The Star Crumbles (17)
LIN MANUEL – Onism E (18)
BONES – Imagine Dragons (22)
TELL ME THE TRUTH – Two Feet (11)
AS IT WAS – Harry Styles (14)
LEMON TREE – Mt. Joy (24)
TEK IT – Cafuné (25)
GREY – Holy Coves (23)
BELIEVE – Caamp (13)
VIVA LAS VENGEANCE – Panic! At the Disco (28)
THE FOUNDATIONS OF DECAY – My Chemical Romance (15)