2022 was a monumental year for the music industry – with live performances and tours back in full force for the first time since the pandemic, adored artists making long-awaited comebacks, rising stars emerging onto the scene and TikTok continuing to influence musicians’ success, we’ve seen it all.
Music acts as a unifying force in uncertain times, helping us through heartbreak and cheering us on when we succeed. This year, these 22 songs and artists made an impact on us as the soundtrack to our best and worst times.
Here are The Hatchet’s top 22 songs we played on repeat in 2022:
“About You” – The 1975
Pop rock band The 1975 served up a soft, nostalgia-inducing track for fans off their newest album “Being Funny in a Foreign Language” this year. The piece – which the band described as a musical continuation of their 2013 hit, “Robbers” – features gorgeous vocals from Carly Holt, the wife of lead guitarist Adam Hann, and evokes a sound reminiscent of early 2010s indie pop.
“Colorado” – Reneé Rapp
Television actress and Broadway star Reneé Rapp dropped her first EP last month titled “Everything to Everyone,” ranging from heart-wrenching ballads to upbeat pop tracks. With impeccable lyricism, an addictive chorus and stunning vocals, “Colorado” stands out from the pack. The song touches upon moments of self-doubt and self-discovery through lines like “Who am I kidding, I’m addicted to the chip on my shoulder.”
“MESS U MADE” – MICHELLE
Indie-pop band MICHELLE masterfully adds elements of soul and R&B to this melodic piece, featuring full, passionate vocals from the group’s four singers. The song looks at the breaking point in a relationship through memories and lyrics like “I’m done feeling worthless,” while numerous angelic belts shine through during the chorus.
“Ojitos Lindos” – Bad Bunny and Bomba Estéreo
This pick off of Bad Bunny’s album of the summer, “Un Verano Sin Ti” offers a somewhat mellow yet rhythmic sound with light trumpet that leaves room for the artists’ voices to shine. Colombian pop band Bomba Estéreo pairs exceptionally with Bad Bunny’s soothing voice. Singer Li Saumet’s light, falsetto vocals in this piece are undoubtedly the highlight of the album.
“You’re On Your Own, Kid” – Taylor Swift
“You’re On Your Own, Kid” has earned its place among Taylor Swift’s infamous, emotional “Track Fives.” A standout track on Taylor’s 10th studio album “Midnights,” the wistful yet uplifting ballad is especially poignant for anyone going through a major life change: “Everything you lose is a step you take / So make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it / You’ve got no reason to be afraid.”
“Burning Up Slow” – Cautious Clay
GW alumnus and R&B artist Cautious Clay tells an all-too-relatable tale of continuing a relationship with a partner even though you know it’s sure to gradually turn sour. The painful lyrics contrast with an upbeat, almost cheery instrumental, and Cautious Clay’s soothing vocals layer exquisitely to create a short but addictive sound that will make you queue this song on repeat.
“Strawberry Wine” – Noah Kahan
Folk-infused pop artist Noah Kahan’s “Stick Season” was a fall anthem, evoking feelings of resentment towards the changing of the seasons and times. The more summery “Strawberry Wine” comes on the same album and features a mix of lyrics reminiscing about youthful nights spent drinking strawberry wine and a love that has passed. The last two minutes of the wistful song consist of a calm blend of instrumental guitar and soft whistling.
“wait in the truck” – HARDY feat. Lainey Wilson
Continuing the country genre’s rich history of murder ballads the likes of The Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl,” HARDY and Lainey Wilson tell the story of a man who picks up a bruised hitchhiker and kills the hitchhiker’s abuser. The duo build off each other’s vocals as the song explores ruthless vigilantism.
“The Run (Urban Legends)” – Michael Abels
As part of the haunting score for Jordan Peele’s thriller film “NOPE,” this track underpins the most exciting movie scene of 2022, the movie’s climactic chase with a UFO. Drawing from the horn-heavy anthems of classic Western film scores, Michael Abels builds a crescendo that can raise anyone’s heartbeat, regardless of whether they’re watching the bone-chilling flick.
“Difficult” – Gracie Abrams
Gracie Abrams may be new to the music scene, but her distinctly personal lyrics place her among acclaimed songwriters like Phoebe Bridgers and Lizzy McAlpine. The introspective single “Difficult” delves into themes of growing up and self-loathing – “I’ve been drinking / And staying up too late reliving bad decisions / I really think sometimes there’s something that I’m missing.”
“Count Me Out” – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar’s long-awaited fifth studio album “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” features plenty of highlights, but “Count Me Out” is in a league of its own. Kendrick’s mastery of lyricism and line delivery reminds listeners why he’s the greatest rapper alive. The song challenges Kendrick’s critics to count him out while recollecting the adversity he overcame before ending with gratitude about the outcome of his life’s journey.
“Don’t Rain on My Parade” – New Broadway Cast of “Funny Girl”
For fans of the hit musical comedy series “Glee,” the newly released Broadway cast recording of “Funny Girl” featuring Lea Michele is reminiscent of perhaps the most famous of her hundreds of solos on the series. Her record-breaking revival of the 1964 musical has dominated the theater world in 2022, and with the new cast recording, fans around the world can hear her powerhouse vocals return to Broadway.
“F2F” – SZA
SZA is known for her sad girl anthems above all else. So listeners were shocked to find the angsty, early 2000s-inspired pop rock track “F2F” sandwiched in the middle of her latest 23-track album “SOS.” A SZA song is always sure to produce a good cry, but now fans can scream along to her invigorating lyrics with the bitterness necessary for any breakup album.
“Want Want” – Maggie Rogers
“Want Want” is Maggie Rogers’ energetic celebration of sex and pleasure. In the second single from her sophomore album “Surrender,” roaring instrumentals and powerful vocals give way to an outpouring of lust for a bandmate. With electrifying, passionate outbursts like “might die if you can’t live just to taste it,” the track urges listeners to not shy away from physical desires and to embrace sensuality.
“Belize” – Danger Mouse and Black Thought feat. MF DOOM
“Belize” is a classic rap track featuring a posthumous verse from the late rapper MF DOOM, who died in 2020. The song accentuates DOOM’s dizzying lyrical style, a fitting way to honor him after his death.
“Holy Tonight” – Goth Babe
Indie artist Goth Babe composed the album “Iceland” for the short film “Creation Theory,” which explores the concept of creation through the lenses of surfing, snowboarding and music. The album’s second track “Holy Tonight” is a repetitive, beat-heavy song that expresses relatable sentiments of longing with the catchy chorus “I wanna find what I’m looking for.”
“CUFF IT” – Beyoncé
After a six-year break from releasing solo studio albums, Beyoncé delivered an instant classic upon her return to the music scene. Although the ballroom-inspired, 16-track “RENAISSANCE” is the definition of a true “no skips” album as its own collective experience, “CUFF IT” is an absolute standout with a catchy hook and impeccable production.
“Bad Habit” – Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy’s record-breaking track “Bad Habit” took social media by storm in June, trending across platforms for its catchy beat and relatable lyrics about regret in romantic relationships. The song almost resembles two tracks put together, slowing down around the two-minute mark from the upbeat chorus of “I wish I knew you wanted me” to the more mellow “You’ll miss me, don’t beg me, babe.”
“American Teenager” – Ethel Cain
In “American Teenager,” Ethel Cain reflects on her deeply religious Baptist upbringing and the dangers of putting your faith in the ephemeral experiences of American life. Cain’s debut album “Preacher’s Daughter” dwells on the dangers of patriotism – “The neighbor’s brother came home in a box / But he wanted to go so maybe it was his fault / Another red heart taken by the American dream.”
“Buddy’s Rendezvous” – Lana Del Rey and Father John Misty
In her cover of this jazzy ballad, Lana Del Rey recounts the story of a man recently released from prison who gives his daughter some life advice. The first 20 seconds of the song are enough to make it a 2022 favorite with a soulful, melancholic saxophone and piano opening. Sung from the father’s perspective, the male character reflects on his mistakes with the other “losers and old-timers” over a soft, orchestral sound.
“Kody Blu 31” – JID
JID’s “Kody Blu 31” is a letter to the family of one of his late childhood friends, encouraging them to push through hardship with inspirational lines like “When the world feels enormous on your back and on your arms.” Between JID’s solemn and melancholic verses about pushing through trauma and haunting vocals from Ari Lennox to close out the song, “Kody Blu 31” was the best hip-hop song of 2022.
“Beg For You” – Charli XCX Feat. Rina Sawayama
Charli XCX and Rina Sawayama collaborated to put a reminiscent, Eurodance spin on the 2008 dance hit “Cry For You” by September. The song was the third single from Charli’s album CRASH, her high-voltage finish to a five-album record deal signed at 16. The catchy chorus, electronic production and addictive lyrics about yearning for romance give the track a gentle yet invigorating sound perfect for any party playlist.