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December 7, 2022

BEST SONGS OF 2022

Hi everyone! Can you believe it's been a year? It's been a year. You deserve a hug, a rest, a fruitcake. Here's some plain green tea, here's a priceless emerald, here are my 100 favourite songs of 2022: songs I love more than new kings, cold soup, or downloading my private data from an obsolescing social media network.

This was a good year for music. There was something encouraging about the weather: a sense that somehow despite all the economic forces stacked against them, musicians were up to stuff. Scenes were happening. New sounds were blowing in.

Said the Gramophone is an old blog and we publish rarely. For the past year or two, the place has been regularly, uh, hacked. Literally, hacked. I'd like to protect the ole' site by upgrading its (pretty big) archives from Movable Type to Wordpress; this requires some advanced stylesheet and javascript jiggery-pokery, and it's beyond my abilities. I don't really have any money to spend, but if you're a generous & experienced CSS wizard/WordPress mechanic, and think you might be able to oversee this, please get in touch. (I've already received some wonderful support from Anthony--thank you!)

What you'll find below is my 18th annual list of the best songs in a given 12-month period. See previously: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. I follow just one arbitrary rule: that no primary artist may appear twice.

The best way to browse the proceeding is to click the little arrow beside each song and then to listen as you read. The things you like you can then download by right- or ctrl-clicking with your mouse.

You can also download the complete 100 songs in three parts:

I have also created a Spotify playlist for these tunes (#30 is unavailable). Remember: pay for the music you enjoy, which is to say: buy albums on bandcamp, on vinyl, purchase merch at shows. Now more than ever, giving money to Spotify or Apple is insufficient.

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This list is my work—me, Sean, and not any of Said the Gramophone's other past contributors. Don't blame them for my teetering taste.

If this is your first time at Said the Gramophone, please don't hesitate to page through the archives. Papercuts await! You can also follow me on Twitter or read my books: I'm the author of two novels—Us Conductors, from 2014, which reimagines the story of the theremin, and The Wagers, a novel about luck. My third book, Do You Remember Being Born? will be published in Fall 2023 with Astra House ūüáļūüáł and Random House Canada ūüá®ūüá¶; it's the story of a poet who goes to California to write a poem with an AI. Learn more about these—or get the ebook/audiobook/French/Italian/Czech translations—via my author website.

Among the artists below, 36 are American (the lowest ever), 19 are Canadian, 18 are British, and there are seven Nigerian artists (the most ever), two each from Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and Japan, and one from each of Norway, Jamaica, Brazil, Ireland, France, Colombia, South Africa, Spain, the Congo, Denmark, Mexico, and Guatemala. 51 of the frontpeople/bandleaders are men, 48 are women, at least one identifies as non-binary, and there are 0 mixed duos. This is the way it worked out; it certainly ain't perfect. Here are some charts of this and past lists' demographics.

My favourite songs of the year do not necessarily speak to my favourite albums of the year. Songs and LPs are really different; this year especially, a lot of my favourite music can't rightly be recommended in the form of single 2-8 minute "tracks."

My favourite albums of 2022 were:

I promise: all of these are tremendous, worthy of investing time.


And now, without any further rigamarole, a dirigible of proudly mixed metaphors:

Said the Gramophone's Best Songs of 2022 - graphic generated by Midjourney (gulp!)
(original artwork by Midjourney - gulp)


  1. Harry Styles - "As It Was" [buy]
    2022 was one of those years with a song. Not a song that encapsulates a feeling or represents a moment, but one that simply registers - a "that one pop-song" to have heard and possibly fallen for, like "Call It Maybe," "Paper Planes" or "Gangsta's Paradise" (rip). When I ask people what they've loved this year, "As It Was" is inevitably the one they say at the end - "and that Harry Styles song, of course" - and it's astonished me that so many of the year's Best Songs lists underrate it. Because - of course. Light-years better than anything else on Harry's House, light-years better than almost anything else on the radio - and among the longest-running #1 singles in Billboard history. "As It Was" was written by Styles and two other pop pros, but there are other artists' fingerprints all over it: the synth-pop influences of A-ha and the Weeknd, the bee-stung melancholy of Clairo and Rostam.

    "As It Was" is a skimmer, not a millstone. It starts and stays airborne, bearing the listener with a magnetic, silvery force. There's no real catharsis, no real release - just the pleasure of a sorrow only lightly held, on the verge of being discarded. Keys glimmer and bells toll; drums dog-trot on, with a medallion swinging 'round their necks. Late in the song, Styles does his best John Lennon megaphone rant; you have the sense of a man who relishes the chance to represent his musical country, to stand up and do whatever's necessary for the tune.

  2. Caroline - "Dark Blue" [buy]
    I missed "Dark Blue" when it was first fired up into the sky, a lonely roman candle, almost three years ago. But credit the algorithm, Facebook's dark and malevolent magic, that offered Caroline up to me when they came to town this fall. In a matter of days, this sprawling English band had become my favourite discovery in years: a group of droning, noisy, wistful seekers that inhabit the spaces between Songs:Ohia, Mogwai and Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Their self-titled debut album became one of my most-played records of the year, its grooves nearly worn through, and I can't remember the last time I was more determined to attend a gig than the night they played La Sala Rossa. Throughout it all, "Dark Blue," Caroline's opening track, remained its rarest treasure: a song of longing that feels like it exists just on the verge of achieving; a song of veering fiddles, of weaving electric guitars, of bass-drum thump, that sounds like a wish not quite fulfilled.
  3. Big Thief - "Change" [buy]
    Big Thief's "Little Things" was my #1 tune of 2021; "Change" is the next best thing on Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You, a record which transformed the way I feel about this band, which catapulted them high into a gallery of folk-rock clairvoyants. It's the album's opening song, a tune as soft as a first touch - but it'll reach right into you, a hand through skin and sinew, lending a shimmer to the place your heart beats.
  4. Chronixx - "Never Give Up" [buy]
    Produced by Inflo, because everything great seems to be produced by Inflo, and galvanized by its delicious guitar and bass; but illuminated by Chronixx, the singer at its centre, whose reggae has that rare, beacon quality: it needs only flash at you, catch your eye the once, to make you change your course.
  5. Shabason & Krgovich - "In the Middle of the Day" [buy]
    Joseph Shabason's a friend of mine now, but Nicholas Krgovich is not - he's a singer I've followed for more than 20 years, since his days in P:ano and No Kids. So I hope he won't mind when I describe some of the lyrics on At Scaramouche as "lightly silly." Not, like, Monty Python silly - but Aki Kaurismäki silly, or Don Delillo silly, or Phife Dawg silly. It's an approach learned from hip-hop, I'm certain, even if Krgovich is applying it to a music more closely linked to dewy-eyed bedroom singers and the lo-fi indie rock of the Pacific NW. "In the Middle of the Day" is like a damp, sensuous revision of "Fools Gold." Krgovich croons carefully over breakbeats, keyboards and a surprisingly wakeful electric bass. Shabason provides synth flutes, scratched trumpets, and a squelch like sentient lichen. "Tempted to 'Rock Around The Clock,'" goes the slow-motion second verse, "and ignore what I can. / Lil' discomfort / a mild upset / swirl of dead leaves collect." Truly, there may never have been a pop song to so vividly bring to life the comfort and sag of a sprawling afternoon.
  6. Rosalía - "SAOKO" [buy]
    One of my dearest modern artists returns with a song which thrusts and stomps and constantly thwarts expectations. Yes, there's sway and gnash, the jut of a cocksure chin, but Rosalía is fearless with her song-structure and even "SAOKO"'s interjections: I still can't get over the jazz piano break that comes 90 seconds into the track.
  7. more* - "I Believe In You" [website]
    "I Believe In You" has the lope and longing of a classic 70s singer-songwriter tune, Jackson Browne or even Harry Nilsson, with a little filigree of fake-choir + and baroqueish fingerpicking. He's singing about making a choice - him or the other guy, you gotta pick - and honestly it's hard to imagine anyone picking somebody else, not with a song like this, the kind that lights candles with its gaze.
  8. Bibi Club - "Femme-Lady" [buy]
    Montreal's Bibi Club is a collaboration between the real-life couple of Adèle Trottier-Rivard and Nicolas Basque, who plays with Plants & Animals. Their debut, Le soleil et la mer, is a tribute to going out and also to staying in - a record that registers the rapture waiting even in your own living-room, dancing with the people you love. "Femme-Lady" is a nickname for a beloved family heirloom, a pineapple-shaped chandelier, and the song that bears this title shimmers with a similar sense of dearness and play. Inspired by Stereolab, Neu and Alice Coltrane, with the mingled voices of Trottier-Rivard's mother + sister and the filigreed curls of Basque's guitar. (Full disclosure: Earlier this year, I was paid by Bibi Club's label to write some marketing materials.)
  9. Rahill - "Haenim" [buy]
    "Haenim," by New York-based Rahill, is a cover of a 1973 single by the South Korean artist Kim Jung Mi. Rahill translated the original lyrics into Farsi, and she sings handsomely, in an undecorated voice - but the masterstroke is the way she reinforces the second, downward-rolling half of the main instrumental melody, with piano as well as guitar. This small change gives "Haenim" an even stronger sense of nostalgia and inevitability, a comforting solidity that makes it a perfect tonic for the end of a hard day, or the closing credits of an imaginary Wes Anderson film.
  10. Thus Owls - "I Forget What I Remembered" [buy]
    Imagine a naturalist standing in the grass at nightfall, a staff in one hand, a net in the other, watching the fireflies come out. Imagine a detective on the trail of a thief, six months into their investigation, at the moment the trail of footprints disappears. Imagine a musician lying on the floor, staring at a revolving ceiling fan. Erika Angell sings a set of interlocking questions, grasps at a set of interlocking answers: "How true can anything become / and how do we know the difference?" Saxophones lift and get lost; Simon Angell springs traps with his guitar; Sam Joly plays his drums as if eVeRyThIng's jUsT fIne, don't worry, we're almost there. (NB: Thus Owls are dear friends - and I wrote their bio.)
  11. Carla Morrison - "Diamantes" [buy]
    From Mexico. Measured and addictive, with a chorus that rises from troposphere into mesosphere, high enough to feel a meteor brush by.
  12. Hikaru Utada - "Somewhere Near Marseilles" [buy]
    A hard left turn for the long-time j-pop star, which follows last year's disclosure that they're non-binary. "Somewhere Near Marseilles" is spasming, technicolour acid house, with a sound that bends and dilates over its 12 minutes. Produced by none less than Floating Points (see last year's album with Pharoah Sanders), and it speaks to the producer's enduring breadth, and his ear for collaboration. Utada has conceived of something here that lives in a supple, yearning space between Beth Orton and Daft Punk.
  13. Paul Dally - "Back of a Cab" [more]
    Despite its singer's Merle Haggard-like tenor and the song's background twang, "Back of a Cab" is most closely aligned to an obsolete Manhattan anti-folk. Dally's drum machine patters; a cheap acoustic rings out; he repeats his sloppy, catchy supplications. It's like an ode to an unscratched itch and also the scratching of that itch, straightforward and nourishing.
  14. Florist - "Sci-fi Silence" [buy]
    A song that moves on moonbeams.
  15. Tove Lo - "No One Dies From Love" [buy]
    Tove Lo's become my favourite purveyor of trashy Scandi-pop: "trashy" because she always feels like that guest at the party who's trying a bit too hard, shouting out swear-words or stripping off her shirt. In that sense, "No One Dies From Love" shows surprising restraint: it's just Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson singing that her break-up's going to kill her. "No one dies from love / Guess I'll be the first," she explains. "Will you remember us / or are the memories too stained with blood now?" Classy!
  16. Fortunato Durutti Marinetti - "All Roads" [buy]
    I love this low, slow album by Fortunato Durutti Marinetti, aka Daniel Colussi - a record that evokes, for me, Songs from a Room, Pink City and Chris Cohen's Overgrown Path. Colussi snatches from "Street Hassle" and "Astral Weeks" for the spirit of "Memory's Fool" - a sound that feels like onwards & upwards + also onwards & downwards, a reminder that moving into the future isn't only abandoning the past but discovering that it stays with you, stuck like a burr or perhaps like the sweat on your back, regret and tooth decay, the faint impression of a kiss. Singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen; I'd give Fortunato Durutti Marinetti a dollar, I'd give him ten.
  17. Sleepy Hallow ft. 347aidan - "Die Young" [buy]
    "Die Young"'s strange magic comes down to the involvement of 19-year-old 347aidan, aka Aidan Fuller, from Cambridge, Ontario. Maybe he lives in New York now, maybe he and Sleepy Hallow laid down tracks in a Flatbush studio, maybe 347aidan's drooping and generic, maybe he's already lost any of what set him apart. But on "Die Young" he still had it - a strange magic i said, strident and yet also somehow fumbling, world-weary and childlike, a looped sample that feels like a kid calling sadly down the hall, "I don't want to die young!" So don't, Aidan. Go to school, take care of yourself, be good.
  18. Dry Cleaning - "Anna Calls from the Arctic" [buy]
    Dry Cleaning make a case against invention. They use an old recipe: post-punk zig-zag, guitar labyrinth, a singer singing nonsense overtop. But they're refined it, reinvented it. Florence Shaw doesn't quite sound like anyone else. Her bandmates don't either. "Anna" gives a whiff of Baxter Dury or Life Without Buildings or Robert Wyatt, but what's a whiff? As the song goes on the weather comes in. Nothing feels settled or complacent. There's no invention, but the reinvention's rich: the words, the music, they glitter. It is excellent; this is sufficient. I mean, just listen:

    Nothing works
    everything's expensive
    and opaque
    and privatised.
    My shoe organising thing arrived
    thank god
    I don't want to go on about it
    but we're back in business.
  19. The 1975 - "Wintering" [buy]
    I do adore "Part of the Band," but the chorus (of all things!) is a weakness, and so my pick from Being Funny in a Foreign Language is this, a kind of Christmas carol - a manic end-of-movie everything-is-happening tribute to going home, and going mad, and how you can never really go home, not really, but you love your family, you love being alive, you love the snowflakes wheeling wildly on the grass. The 1975 and Rosalía are the only major contemporary artists I can imagine ever paying to go see in an arena, not just because they make good music but because of their appreciation for theatre, spectacle, and the braiding of meaning and affect.
  20. Men I Trust - "Billie Toppy" [buy]
    I like this twist for Montreal's Men I Trust - a turn toward what's noir and spidery, mysterious, like the car-case at the heart of a Murakami novel. And then the chorus: glittering like the interior of someone's Paula Abdul-themed jewelry box.
  21. The Golden Dregs - "American Airlines" [pre-order]
    In a pantheon of weird modern songwriters, the Golden Dregs' Benjamin Woods could pose on a pillar next to Aldous Harding, Cate Le Bon and Benjamin Clementine. He sings "American Airlines" like a Disney-animated St. Bernard - in a sloughy, genteel baritone that makes delicious contrast against his band's tasteful soul. There's a world contained within this song, one with different gravity and governments.
  22. Brad Barr - "Two Hundred and Sixteen" [buy]
    Solo guitar from one half of the Barr Brothers (i was hired to write his bio for this album) - a track that has stayed with me, a kind of haunting, the kind of music that feels as if you've always known it, like the lines on your hand.
  23. The Nunnery - "Floating Garden" [buy]
    "Your Woman," "Hide and Seek", "Fiya" - the long tradition of a one-person band making a mini bedroom masterpiece. "Floating Garden" sounds like spun gold and sturdy carpentry, Sarah Elstran's hand-hewn love dancing on the head of a pin.
  24. Destroyer - "June" [buy]
    This tune only truly reaches lift-off in its second half, with a (brilliant) knock-knee'd guitar solo and an extended spoken-word breakdown. Bejar steadily goes off the rails - or really just climbs onto narrower, faster, weirder rails, a monorail heading across the bay and into a tunnel, where shadows skew and loom, where animatronics stutter-stop, and pitch drifts, and a cow-bell comes roaring out of the dark. "Flippin' the pages of Chatelaine..." "Absent friends," he later asks - "Where'd you go?"
  25. Rozi Plain - "Prove Your Good" [buy]
    "Now the favourites are changing," Rozi Plain intones, on a song that balances its ominousness and its gift. You've been carrying something for a long, long time and you may finally put it down. Art-pop from England that flinches and settles in equal measure, unsettled and kind.
  26. Congotronics International - "Super Duper Rescue Allstars" [buy]
    Members of Konono No.1, Kasai Allstars, Wildbirds & Peacedrums (and many others) come together here to absolutely crash through Deerhoof's "Super Duper Rescue Allstars" - with help from Deerhoof themselves. It's noisy and messy and jubilant, like a paper dragon run through a shredder and fired up as confetti.
  27. Sault - "Life We Rent But Love Is Rent Free" [buy]
    Once, in a park in Kraków, I saw a small rock combo performing on a stage. All the performers were priests, actual priests - young ones - performing to a crowd of nuns. Toes were tapped, feedback was loosed, God was praised. Sault are from England, not Poland; they're one of the most gifted R&B acts int he world. (After releasing my favourite song of 2020 and another album in 2021, they released six LPs in 2022.) But I'm reminded of Kraków's holy racket listening to this dusty, lo-fi praise music; I'm even reminded of the grey light.
  28. Zion & Lennox X Danny Ocean - "Brisa" [video]
    Said the Gramophone regulars will have registered my affection for steelpans, however fake they may be. And "Brisa"'s panning certainly doesn't feel real: it feels studio-engineered, optimized, a Puerto Rican virus unleashed upon the world's parties. But every time the drums pause + the steelpans count down I'm ready for another drop, my fists are bunched and I'm grinning.
  29. Alvvays - "Tom Verlaine" [buy]
    Whether it's Molly Rankin's private heartache or an answer to Tom Verlaine's own tune, "Tom Verlaine" has a vividness that changes the afternoon + ripples the air. Rankin's voice is like the bluest end of the spectrum, a place where harmonies start to come apart.
  30. Bandmanrill - "Don't Make Me Crash" [video]
    "Don't Make Me Crash"'s unlicensed sample has swept it from the upstanding corners of the internet, but the world needs "Don't Make Me Crash" - it needs its lush assailing hunch, its sturdiness, its Honey I Shrunk The Kids approach to Miguel, with the singer transformed into a ululating mini-Grimes.
  31. SCUDFM - "One Thing" [buy]
    Jarvis Cocker and Sleaford Mods on the French Riviera, reclining in chaises longues, telling it how it is. Also: flute.
  32. Carly Rae Jepsen - "Western Wind" [buy]
    You're nearly there, just two more steps, the whole valley's going golden. Unhurried, peaceful, with a drumbeat tugging toward a future.
  33. Wizkid ft. Skillibeng & Shenseea - "Slip N Slide" [buy]
    When you pick up a nice new floaty and toss it into the pool, steadying yourself in the sunshine before you attempt to jump on top.
  34. L7nnon and Os Hawaianos ft. DJ Bel da Cdd & DJ Biel do Furduncinho - "Desenrola Bate Joga de Ladin" [video]
    I love this lurching, queasy tranche of Brazilian funk carioca, a track that sounds like a CD that's stuck and skipping. If at first it sounds broken, give it a moment to reset and start again: like the limp of an evil mastermind, the squint of a beauty. 129 million views and counting.
  35. Alex G - "Runner" [buy]
    A kind of bromance anthem, but sewn through with goodness and warmth and a sort of musical nobility. Despite Alex G's yowl, despite his promise of having done "a couple bad things," the band's all upstanding, ceremonious, like a gazebo.
  36. Florence + the Machine - "Free" [buy]
    A whirl-around-the-room kind of marvel, Florence Welch's luscious singing nailed in place by the tidy tick-tock beat.
  37. Karol G - "Provenza"" [video]
    Karol is unrelated, first of all, to Alex. A successor to Shakira, she is probably my favourite of the current slate of Latin American pop-stars, and "Provenza" was a worldwide hit - I discovered it browsing YouTube's global music chart (544m views!). Still, it's an unconventional hit, most easily comparable to Drake's "Passionfruit" (a mere 135m views): melancholy, understated, content to await your attention. But I have spent some hours listening to it on loop, listening and moving to its weather.
  38. Mabe Fratti - "Esta Vez" [buy]
    Fratti is a cellist living in Mexico City. Her forward-facing (mostly) acoustic music has a little of Duval Timothy to it, a little of Arthur Russell's oaken folk, but the structure of a song like "Este Vez" follows its own refreshing grammar. It's a song filled with entrances and only few exits: the accumulation of new forces, like winds swirling through a vestibule.
  39. Cate Le Bon - "Moderation" [buy]
    A birthday cake with tasty little pearls of antifreeze.
  40. Future ft. Tems and Drake - "Wait For U" [buy]
    Speaking of Aubrey, here he is with Future and the Nigerian singer Tems, gliding through shadows and flipping coins. I don't care about lyrics in a song like this - it's all vibes, wistful vibes, a hip-hop of receding protagonists.
  41. Flock of Dimes - "Pure Love" [buy]
    Lilt and squiggle with just the right amount of thump: Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner creates a New Wave tune with style, verve and real force. "All my loving," she sings - part-lover, part inter-dimensional siren - as if the Beatles' '63 single was left to grow in the heart of a star.
  42. Another Michael - "Water Pressure" [buy]
    Look at these likeable youths, listen to their likeable harmonies, a folk-rock of friendships and spearmint and sundown's orange light. "What am I gonna do? / Good water pressure could come through," sing Philly's Another Michael, as if a public utility is a moral good, as if you could fix the world by burning some CDs for your pals, slipping them into a padded envelope. Maybe so.
  43. Zinoleesky & Tiwa Savage - "Jaiye Foreign" [video]
    I don't rightly understand the meaning of the words "Jaiye Foreign," nor how a Black Nigerian man took up the nickname Zinoleesky. It doesn't necessarily matter: "Jaiye Foreign"'s weird ripple lets it skip all around a room, delighting the ear. The richness of contemporary afrobeats: a sound that feels like it could contain everything, like it's big enough to interpret the whole world.
  44. Old Fire ft. Bill Callahan - "Corpus" [buy]
    It starts out a little shaky, but by the mid-way point on "Corpus," I'm sitting contentedly in Bill Callahan's thrall. Old Fire cast a spell of guitars, strings and drones - they slow down the light until I can see each individual photon; until I can hear wavelets moving across the bay. Like a Serge Gainsbourg tune at half speed, and more beguiling than anything (for me) on Callahan's own 2022 release.
  45. Nil√ľfer Yanya - "anotherlife" [buy]
    The unreality of a break-up, captured in Nil√ľfer Yanya's lyrics but also the crystalline inventions of "anotherlife"'s sounds. The London singer sounds like she has one foot in today and another in tomorrow, she's forward-looking and also brooding, ready to move on just as soon as the stars change.
  46. Evan J Cartwright - "and you've got nobuddy" [buy]
    A little Calvin Johnson, a little Lester Young - lo-fi folk that dips and pivots like a skater in the bowl. A cherubic troubadour, backpack full of Dickinson.
  47. Beirut - "Two Blue Eyes (BER-ABQ Version)" [buy]
    This is the Berlin-Albuquerque version of "Two Blue Eyes," but it's not clear to me Beirut's ever released another version. In it, Zach Condon asks a question that many people have asked before: "Did I fall in love with you, or did I fall in love with California?" The implication, imho, is that it was probably California. That's OK, forgiveable. California's very nice. And, in general, this music's dulcet rhythm seems to lend agreement. It'll be all right, it seems to say. Everything will be fine.
  48. Saba - "One Way or Every Ni**a With a Budget" [buy]
    Saba raps and sings about being a little rich: not a blues but a blue-gold-greys, a mixture of pride and resolve and a crumb of trouble. Already he's developed a taste for sweetness, luxury, string sections. "One Way..." sounds good, like it was purchased at an expensive store; put it on your mantel.
  49. Asake ft. Olamide - "Omo Ope" [buy]
    Nigeria's answer to Bad Bunny, Asake is a man who knows how to stand and regale you, how to show off a watch. He and Olamide could start an ice-cream shop and just stand outside, talking about the ice-cream, never serving a single scoop. I can imagine the line.
  50. Jenny Hval - "American Coffee" [buy]
    Hval's astral soprano leads us from shimmering memory into a vivid, groovy present - a woman at the cinema with a painful UTI; a vision of alternate lives, paths not taken. It's electric and alive, the sort of art that stuns you with its imagination: a musician can do anything, make any sound, tell any story, do it however they want, imagine!
  51. Caitlin Rose ft. Courtney Marie Andrews - "Nobody's Sweetheart" [buy]
    A country-rock duet in dusty rose and black pepper. Rose and Andrews' voices meet at a kind of mirrored edge, the same knifey interval that gives the McGarrigle Sisters their savagery.
  52. Widowspeak - "Everything Is Simple" [buy]
    I'm not sure who Molly Hamilton is singing to or against - herself? an idol? an enemy? Singers tend to hide the truth, she breathes. What do you expect, it serves them well / to edit anything that's fit to tell. It's a song that feels like hypnosis: dark chords, a pendulum swing, the sense of falling into (or out of) a dream.
  53. Cass McCombs - "Karaoke" [buy]
    Cass McCombs makes his question thrillingly literal: are you, a karaoke singer, karaoke-ing me? Are you for real? The gift is the pleasure of it all, the tempo and arrangement - a reminder of all the times you've enjoyed a lie too much to call it out.
  54. Pheelz ft. BNXN - "Finesse" [video]
    More Nigerian R&B, occupied with the usual stuff: desire, decency, the decision whether or not to "Netflix and chill." This no fugazi, Pheelz sings, in the Sicilian sense, and although I don't quite believe him I'm delighted to hear him plead his case.
  55. Nick Hakim - "Happen" [buy]
    A song so drowsy it begins to come apart, its coupled molecules drifting out toward the Kuiper Belt.
  56. Drake - "Sticky" [buy]
    Never mind what Drake's going on about - just turn up the volume and pour yourself through the night, down the tunnel like a fast car, all the light unnatural.
  57. Mon Doux Saigneur -"Art vivant" [buy]
    Ringing, triumphant power-pop from Montreal's radiant & bloody Mon Doux Saigneur. A love song for a person you've not seen in forever - a promise that it would be a good time if you went out tonight. Listen to those guitar runs, the crash of the lovestruck cymbal.
  58. Georgia Harmer - "Headrush" [buy]
    There's a certain kind of rock'n'roll that doesn't feel as if it should need a dry space, electricity. You should be able to play it at the bend of a river, in the middle of a field, somewhere moss is growing and birds can land.
  59. Beyoncé - "Break My Soul" [buy]
    My ambivalence to house and disco makes Renaissance a bit of a tough sell, but whenever "Break My Soul" comes on, the whole room starts to bounce. More than anything, I admire Beyoncé's singing: she makes the choice to be present, alive, where a lesser star might content herself with a riderless horse.
  60. Sylvan Esso - "Didn't Care" [buy]
    Sylvan Esso's Amelia Meath writes a messy, deconstructed song about falling in love with someone she doesn't even like that much, whom she never dreamed about - even if now, well, she's "in awe." I love the tune, the wriggle of it, the hope (and the bass!), but tbh, Amelia, I'm not sure this is going to work out.
  61. Jnr Choi ft. Gunna - "To The Moon (remix)" [video]
    There's not much to this song besides Sam Tompkins' hook, but mood, mood, mood - moonlight piercing the night like a dagger, icy cold.
  62. Flume ft. Caroline Polachek - "Sirens" [video]
    The deadly kind of sirens, I figure, not the wet, French kind. Or maybe the kind that howls on the top of an ambulance - listen to Polachek's voice, oddly sweet underneath all that digital writhing. Mozart might have liked this kind of electronic music, at least after a mild concussion; imagine him in his Viennese bed, a wet cloth over his brow, waiting for the throbbing to subside.
  63. Cash Cobain & Tata - "Back It Up" [video]
    Reminds me of "Racks on Racks" with its ceaseless chatter - but Cash Cobain's much more friendly than Lil Pump, he seems like he'd buy you a drink, invite you to an escape room; like maybe he'd be good at pinball, at filleting fish, and at the end of the day he'd put on a good song. Yes, Cash and Tata would like some ladies to press their butts to their mid-sections, but the former at least understands he must issue an invitation, and maybe close with a handshake.
  64. Dougie Poole - "High School Gym" [buy]
    Dougie Poole's got a dream, a sour and golden one. It unfolds over four minutes of patient, vaguely psychedelic country, and the music perfectly captures the feeling fo the words: the glow of remembrance, the candlelight of it, even when the memory's not so nice. Sometimes remembering's about savouring, reliving; other times it's about revising: pretending you can roll the dice again.
  65. Dunnie - "More (ko ko ko)" [buy]
    There's a little of Brazilian "cucurrucuc√ļ" in this orange-slice of Nigerian pop - Dunnie pours a little sugar, pours a little more, until "More" can't bear any more, it's sweet enough to hurt your teeth. A serene honeytrap.
  66. Yoko Ono and ANOHNI - "I Love You Earth (Thomas Bartlett remix)" [buy]
    This too might have been too sweet, but Thomas Bartlett (fka Doveman) transfigures the collaboration between Yoko Ono and ANOHNI (fka Antony), rearranging its crescendo into a distorted, occasionally mournful arc. I love the juxtaposition of ANOHNI's polyphonic cybernetics against Ono's fragile, aging humanity. Bartlett's piano is just right, dark as a smoke-soaked night sky.
  67. Frankie Cosmos - "Empty Head" [buy]
    A song about spilling-over, the too-much inside, and also about stillness, silence, and maybe a love-song too, a song about the see-saw life, the way it is and isn't and therefore always is.
  68. Charli XCX - "Lightning" [buy]
    You can use the first minute of this song to lay out and sweep a checkerboard dance-floor, polish it to shining, so that when the song shifts gears - elevating in a series of assonant syllables, light/ning/light/nin' etc. - you're all set, ready to throw shapes and do the splits; I don't want anyone to get hurt.
  69. Li'l Andy - "In a Gingham Dress (analog tape Version)" [buy]
    For 2022, Montreal's Li'l Andy created an omnibus of an album: a 2XLP+novel imagining the story of a fictional country singer, Hezekiah Procter, who tramped through interwar North America with a band of like-minded fools. Andy recorded two versions of each song: one on ca. 1937 wire recorder, the other on a half-inch tape machine. This rendition of "In a Gingham Dress" comes from the second collection - and I love the glee of it, the rambunctious joy, as Andy + a fiddle + a banjo + an unfettered sousaphone clamour about a pretty girl and their Saturday-night plans. It's the kind of song you want to crowd into a cabin with, let it claw all over you like a cat.
  70. Aldous Harding - "Leathery Whip" [buy]
    Part-vixen, part-gremlin, New Zealand's Aldous Harding creates a music that's as tempting as it is discomfiting, unsettling the listener who dares to lay his head on her shoulder. I can't quite tell you what "Leathery Whip" is about, but it's hideous and mischievous and also a little exciting, like an imp who is occupying a section of your night-table. Harding plays with her voice, from sneering falsetto to sly cowboy drawl, with additional help from producer John Parish - whose tremoring harmony is wonderful, horrible (and perfect).
  71. Julia Michaels - "Sorry To Me Too" [video]
    I like the unblinking skip-skip-skip of this, Michaels' blubby ballad set to an arrangement that won't wait around, that's in a stupid hurry, as if sorrow can be rushed past if you only run fast enough.
  72. JID ft. 21 Savage & Baby Tate - "Surround Sound" [video]
    JID's flow just pure entertainment, a rat-a-tat of rhyme that twists and kinks around a "Ms. Booty" sample; then 21 Savage with his own dark-mirrored bid. The track resets at the half-way mark, offering a second solution to the same puzzle, extra instructions I'm not sure we need.
  73. Dehd - "Window" [buy]
    Like Phil Spector or the Jesus & Mary Chain, the kids in Dehd recognize the virtues of a kick-drum. "Window" is all electric guitar and hoarse throats and BOOM BOOM BOOM, a shining tumult meant to wash the glass clear.
  74. Sha EK ft. PGF Nuk - "We Droppin'" [video]
    The hardest song I loved in 2022, just ferocious, with a wobbling rhythm that feels like falling down Cooper's Hill.
  75. 070 Shake - "Cocoon" [buy]
    Blackly rippling, with an oxycontin shiver, "Cocoon" is all tension and release, tension and release, as if a single EDM drop could be distributed into a complete stockade: an array of heart-plunging epiphanies, none of them really earned.
  76. Casey MQ ft. Petal Supply - "Telephone Light" [buy]
    Glistening, glorious hyperpop, made mighty not by its pitchshifts but by the verve of its original singing: the streeetch of the vocals, vowel-sounds bending, like fairies naming their pets.
  77. CMAT - "Lonely" [buy]
    Glorious, savvy, Irish country music, mildly evocative of (Englishwoman) Katy J Pearson's marvelous "Willie of Winsbury" from last year. CMAT is aka Dublin's Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, with a voice as coppery as her hair. Small details - plucked banjo, lap steel, her own backing "ah-ah-ahs" - make the whole plaintive thing feel jeweled, a mournfulness like a bijou in your drawer.
  78. Lewis Capaldi - "Forget Me" [buy]
    I could not, despite my efforts, convince my partner about this song. Maybe that's to her credit. But I love the brash candour of Capaldi here: the relentless way he sings his affections, calls for love, like Phil Collins after a chocolate-strawberry energy drink.
  79. The Beths - "Expert in a Dying Field" [buy]
    "Expert..." makes an interesting triad with Tove Lo's #15 and Nil√ľfer Yanya's #45: three women's break-up songs, each one a different configuration of sadness, rage and resignation, each one illuminating a different corner of the ever-after. The Beths' spiky pop-punk is undercut by Elizabeth Stokes' mild sing-song, her level-headed analysis, but there's something pointed to that tension, too: the irony's aimed at someone, like a poisoned dart.
  80. Spoon - "My Babe" [buy]
    There's a ghost in the piano. As Britt Daniel sings to his darling, heat rising, eventually the thing's gonne have to be replaced. And only electric guitar will do.
  81. Fontaines DC - "Jackie Down the Line" [buy]
    There used to be a bar in downtown Montreal, around the corner from the HMV, where old dudes bought pig's-knuckle sandwiches and sat staring out the window, sipping from giant brown bottles of beer. I spent New Year's Eve there once, had an incredible time.
  82. Two Shell - "home" [buy]
    A little slip of gauze, stuck in a ventilation shaft.
  83. Rema - "Oroma Baby" [buy]
    Nigerian R&B with style and smarts. Give a prize to the little whirr in the periphery of this song, like a vibrating phone and a whooping crane; makes you want to buy a new appliance, get a bird, slide in next to Rema and see how he makes it work.
  84. Gilli - "Baian√°" [website]
    The Danish rapper Gilli samples Barbatuques' riotous "Baianá" to impressive effect, tossing easygoing rhyme over jew's harp and gang vocals. A song at the intersection of Anderson.Paak and Le Mystère des voix bulgares, with a silly and contagious essence.
  85. Pup - "Robot Writes A Love Song" [buy]
    Pup pay tribute to Grandaddy, telling their own reedy story of a kind-hearted robot. It being Pup, the volume eventually arrives: a dazzling and extended chorus, worthy of a pogo-ing Toronto crowd.
  86. Fresh Pepper - "Congee Around Me" [buy]
    While Joseph Shabason perfumes the air, the Deadly Snakes' Andre Ethier and Bernice's Robin Dann sway and stir (rice porridge). Literally the greatest jam ever written about one of my favourite breakfasts. (Worth listening just for their "Mushrooooooms!")
  87. Beth Orton - "Friday Night" [buy]
    A song about staying in with a good book on Friday night. And of missing someone terribly, like a wound. And of love. Beth Orton was a foundational voice for me, one of those artists who widened the world of my imaginary. Hearing her here, like this, the years audible in her voice, the wisdom and acquired grace, makes me feel deeply content - and also sad, not for her but for me, at all the roads untravelled, the parallel futures that never came to be. Because you must choose one.
  88. Kendrick Lamar - "United in Grief" [buy]
    I will not pretend to be the biggest Kendrick Lamar fan: my brain's too crummy to lyrics, and the elastic of his rhymes don't always twang into my ears. But I love here the energy generated whenever "United in Grief" moves from open piano chords to compressed drums, like a companion that keeps changing shape, he can be whatever you need, fox or raven or magic sword.
  89. Kate Bollinger - "Running" [buy]
    Despite its title, despite its lines about hurrying, striving, trying, "Running" is delivered in slow motion: a blossoming at petal speed, subtle and restive, with some of the loveliest guitar-playing in the year 2022.
  90. Haim - "Lost Track" [video]
    A miniature, an ornament, throwing light around the room.
  91. Tyla - "To Last" [video]
    R&B in a play of textures: verses so soft they could almost come apart, punctuated by lacquer-hard instrumentals, wordless almost, after every chorus. It makes the whole experience tactile, more touched than heard.
  92. Julia Jacklin - "Just To Be A Part" [buy]
    Julia Jacklin's cover of the Bill Fay song takes a once-mighty devotion and slowly, purposefully dismantles it. A lover mourning the barest remainder: nothing left than the wish to have been a part of the other person's life. (Thank you, V.C. McCabe)
  93. Kwesta ft. Kabza De Small, Masterpiece YVK & Papta Mancane - "Mrholo Wayizolo" [official]
    The South African rapper Kwesta first caught my ear with "'Ngud," one of my favourite tracks from 2016. He has this deep voice - so cavernous it feels like it would have stalactites. On "Mrholo Wayizolo," he teams with Kabza De Small, who is among the leading producers of amapiano, and their sounds make for a fascinating mix. "Mrholo Wayizolo" is an ear-massage operating at multiple frequencies - close-up and distant, subterranean and squeaky. It's so effective that it feels nearly purifying, like a week at a Cape Town spa.
  94. Lydia Képinski - "Vacances-travail" [buy]
    There's a kind of road-trip that takes place at a turning-point in a relationship, a crease, and the plainest details acquire a nearly psychedelic force - like eating a too-hot pepper, the way the candles on the table gain a halo. Over subterranean bass, jolly simulated marimba, Képinski sings the dry sweetness of a journey like this: when everything might be changing, or nothing is, and a rest-stop's automatic doors gasp open.
  95. Braxe + Falcon ft. Panda Bear - "Step By Step" [buy]
    There's a tactic for giving instructions to a ca. 2022 artificial intelligence: you ask it to take things "step by step". This helps the system to think logically, or at least to seem like it does. This song, featuring Animal Collective's Panda Bear, has nothing to do with this one weird A.I. trick - but at the same time it does, maybe, in that Braxe + Falcon's celestial disco uses plain lyrics and stately drums to short-circuit the frontal lobe of my brain, giving me an immediate sense of comfort and even control.
  96. Hotkid - "Star" [buy]
    Steady Nigerian pop, with a phalanx of unusual, oddly sympathetic support-sounds: wooden xylophone, African choir, wheezy synth, and a faint, vaguely Nashville fiddle. I like how matter-of-fact Hotkid sounds, as if he's explaining how he's going to plaster my wall.
  97. The Weeknd - "How Do I Make You Love Me?" [buy]
    I love what The Weeknd did with Dawn FM - creating a pop album that's odd and idiosyncratic, its vision deeply understood, never pandering. I suspect it will outlive most of his other work - not for its (ever-dodgy) lyrics, or its singles, but for its clarity. It has such a clear sound: TRON synths; sequenced drums; phased, plaintive hooks. "How Do I Make You Love Me?" might be here for its drum programming alone: a pattern of beats that jumps into my bones, moves through my body like the jolt of fresh calories.
  98. Ana√Įs Mitchell - "On Your Way (Felix Song)" [buy]
    A heart-breaking tribute to Mitchell's friend Felix McTeigue, a songwriter who died in 2020. She sings it breathlessly, as if she's building up the head of steam to carry these words past the border, into the afterlife, but her meaning's constantly skipping back and forward from bittersweet memory to metaphysical hope. "You get one take" is an old, worn metaphor: but Mitchell earns it here, gives it grace. (Thank you Peter and Charlotte.)
  99. GOAT - "Under No Nation (Radio Edit)" [buy]
    When the woman lays the necklace around your neck, she tells you not to ever, under any circumstances, eat the blossoms. And yet, of course, you do. You slide a beautiful flower into your mouth. Somewhere nearby, a queen bee watches you from the mouth of the hive.
  100. Lil Yachty - "Poland" [video]
    The year's most bewildering rap single - a tribute to pierogies? eastern europe? a long-shot World Cup contender? (No.) Whatever the point of it, I love the plain sway of Yachty's vocoded hook - a reminder of the virtues of simply writing a curious string of words and giving them a catchy tune.

And that's 100 songs, if my counting's correct. Thank you for reading and listening. Sorry for any broken links, please pay for the music you love. (Invest in what's important or we're done for.)

Leave a comment if you like? Tell a friend?

And see you in 12 months!

Posted by Sean at 7:09 AM | Comments (28)