I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m always amazed at the direction my playlist of the best songs of the year turns out, since sometimes there’s no way of telling either what will catch my attention or even what some artists will have up their sleeve in any given year. But among many things, music is a powerful tool for the ways in which it comes to shape and inform the world around us—even if our own experiences could not be further away from the people who wrote and performed the song. It still manages to give us the language and the vigor to process the events in our own lives, and that’s what counts. There’s no telling what might resonate with one person to the next, and that’s one of the things I love most about music and making playlists.
Encompassing everything from Fefe Dobson’s long-awaited return to Taylor Swift ultimately realizing she might in fact be the problem, these are my picks for the 50 best songs of 2022.
“Circles Around This Town” – Maren Morris
Remember when Maren Morris referred to Jason Aldean’s wife as “Insurrection Barbie”? Anyway, this song is nice.
“Love It When You Hate Me” – Avril Lavigne feat. blackbear
Avril’s return to pop punk left a lot to be desired… but talk about an earworm. She knows her hooks.
“Quicksand” – Hatchie
“I used to think that this was something I could die for / I hate admitting to myself that I was never sure.” Jeez just tag me next time.
“Redrum” – Sorana & David Guetta
I only stumbled onto this song around Halloween, so good on them for releasing a song with spooky heartbreak vibes in January. Also, more David Guetta collaborations with up-and-coming pop girls in 2023, please.
“Numb Little Bug” – Em Beihold
We love a radio-friendly bop about antidepressants!
“The Kick” – Foxes
Has anyone seen my kick? I sucked all of the neurotransmitters out of this song and now I’m missing it again.
“Trouble” – Troye Sivan & Jay Som
Three Months was the absolutely most underrated movie of 2022, right? Right.
“House on Fire” – Mimi Webb
*Lucille Bluth voice* Good for her.
“Single in September” – Zolita
Some of us are single year-round, Zolita. You’re not special.
“Fast Times” – Sabrina Carpenter
Life still feels pretty slow as of late, but I appreciate the sentiment.
“Fckn In Love” – Fefe Dobson
All hail the return of the Canadian Queen of Pop Rock! I even got to interview her!
“Doppelgänger” – Joshua Bassett
I’d like to curl up and live inside this man’s high notes forever and ever, thank you.
“Bam Bam” – Camila Cabello feat. Ed Sheeran
That’s just life, bay-bee.
“Evergone” – Christina Perri
Everybody SHUT UP! Christina Perri just dropped the lead single from her first new album in 8 years and I’m acclimating to her new grief anthem!
“Lights On” – Hatchie
I won’t apologize to the people who might’ve seen me head-dancing to this song on public transit. (Head-dancing: the act of dancing while listening to a song through headphones with only one’s head.)
“It’s Only Love, Nobody Dies” – Sofia Carson
If only Sofia Carson had dropped this incredibly gay bop around the same time Purple Hearts was immensely popular on Netflix, I bet most of you wouldn’t still be sleeping on her.
“When You’re Gone” – Shawn Mendes
I’m just here for the immaculate falsetto notes heard at approximately 2:18. His vocals are underrated, honestly.
“Versions of Me” – Anitta
Finally, a song about those of us who are both gay and annoying. Choose your version wisely!
“Heartfirst” – Kelsea Ballerini
Goddammit, this lady knows how to make a picture-perfect country pop song.
“About Damn Time” – Lizzo
Remember that ever so brief moment in time where this song was actually enjoyable before it was commodified by TikTok and heterosexual Top 40 radio? Yeah, me neither.
“Long Way ‘Round” – Jewel
Preach it, ma’am!
“Bad Life” – Sigrid & Bring Me the Horizon
It wouldn’t be a perfect playlist without a perfect mental health anthem.
“Maybe You’re the Problem” – Ava Max
*wondering how my bedroom keeps getting cluttered with unread books and my bank account is empty* Maybe I’m the problem.
“Cate’s Brother” – Maisie Peters
Does Cate have another brother, Maisie? I just wanna talk.
“This Hell” – Rina Sawayama
Gayest and most unabashed pop song of the year. No notes.
“Late Night Talking” – Harry Styles
Oh, I thought it was a song about night owls. Still catchy though. Carry on.
“I Like to Hide in the Bathroom at Parties” – Winnetka Bowling League & The Knocks
I didn’t give consent to have my life written about like this, but it’s so accurate that I’ve chosen to accept it.
“Sensitive” – Alex Porat
Love the representation for the feelings-keep-us-up-at-night crowd. We’re understated.
“Blow Out My Candle” – Betty Who
Betty knew what she was doing releasing this in time for Pride month, and it’s so good I’m going to let her have it.
“What I Want” – MUNA
Wait, maybe this is the gayest pop song of the year on which I have no notes. Maybe there’s two of them.
“Catch Me In the Air” – Rina Sawayama
I truly loved the coming-of-age lyrics and narrative on Rina’s latest album, and this was a masterpiece long before the album even arrived.
“Substance” – Demi Lovato
No Demi, you’re not the only one looking for substance, so if you do happen to find some, LMK.
“Free Yourself” – Jessie Ware
Can Jessie just continue to record only disco music? I’m sure no one (read: gays) would complain.
“Becky’s So Hot” – FLETCHER
I knew FLETCHER was going to become a voice to watch in pop, but I’m still recovering from this one on my 371st listen.
“Not Just a Girl” – Shania Twain
Summer road trip anthem confirmed.
“Blonde” – Maisie Peters
Please do put his name in all the songs.
“Smoke Slow” – Joshua Bassett
Did no one check in to make sure he wasn’t smoking anything too dangerous? Also have I mentioned this man’s voice is angelic?
“29” – Demi Lovato
Hard rock Demi does not mince words.
“Hold Me Closer” – Elton John & Britney Spears
Only fans of Britney’s legendary improvisational vocal riffs can truly appreciate this and that’s just that on that.
“I’m Good (Blue)” – David Guetta & Bebe Rexha
Like I said, bring back David Guetta collaborations with pop girls like it’s 2010 again.
“Million Dollar Baby” – Ava Max
I see you all starting to come around to Madame Max now, and as you should.
“Talking to Yourself” – Carly Rae Jepsen
Yes Carly, I am usually thinking of you and I am talking to myself. I’m a homosexual, what did you expect?
“Waking Up Dreaming” – Shania Twain
Intrigued to see exactly which direction Shania is taking us next…
“Lifeline” – Joshua Bassett
Seriously, I’m obsessed with this man.
“Breathe” – Grace Davies
Where were you when Grace Davies invented breathing?
“Recharge My Heart” – Fefe Dobson
Where were you when Fefe created the musical equivalent of jumper cables for the soul?
“Anti-Hero” – Taylor Swift
Did Taylor Swift really include a 30 Rock reference in this song or has TikTok just officially corrupted all of our minds? Probably the latter. We’re the problem.
“I’m a Mess” – Avril Lavigne & YUNGBLD
More of this sound from Avril in the next era, please.
“Never Be the One” – Olivia O’Brien
Underrated queen of dropping three songs at a time that are all great while depriving us of a new full-length album.
“Carry It Well” – Sam Fischer
Carrying these playlists from year to year along with my various mental illnesses does get heavy, Sam, but we did it!
Listen to these songs on my Best of 2022 playlist! Which were your favorite songs from this year?
You might also like:
• The 50 Best Songs of 2021
• The 50 Best Songs of 2020
• The 50 Best Songs of 2019