The 50 best songs of 2022

Here’s what the last 12 months sounded like in absolute bangers

“Bloody hell, it’s nearly Christmas? Well that year just flew by didn’t it?” Hell no. We’d usually be aghast at the fleeting nature at the passage of time at this point in the calendar – especially in the past few quiet years – but 2022 was anything but short. Even festival season already feels like an age ago; but hey, at least we had one. RIP to the COVID buzzkill years, may we never see their like again.

You were out there in the fields with your arms around your mates, in the venues with the pints flying through the air, and in the clubs with your feet suspiciously stuck to the floor. Sure there’s a lot of ongoing shithousery afoot, but when you look back to 2022 you’ll remember getting back to doing what you love and the tunes that helped you do it. Just like you, so many songs were larger than life and raring to get out and be heard. Here’s a definitive list of the 50 best songs that truly made our year. Enjoy….

Andrew Trendell, News Editor

Words by: Alex Flood, Ali Shutler, Andy Brown, Andrew Trendell, Ben Jolley, Derrick Tan, El Hunt, Ella Kemp, Erica Campbell, Gemma Samways, Hannah Mylrea, Hollie Geraghty, Jake Tucker, Jenessa Williams, Karen Gwee, Kyann-Sian Williams, Max Pilley, Nick Levine, Rhian Daly, Sam Moore, Sophie Williams, Thomas Smith and Will Richards

Jamie xx – ‘Let's Do It Again’

50. Jamie xx – ‘Let’s Do It Again’

Marking his first new solo release in two years, Jamie xx’s April return coincided with the very start of the first proper post-lockdown summer. Recalling the transcendent highs of his 2015 album ‘In Colour’ and built around an uplifting vocal sample from Bobby Barnes’ soul belter ‘Super High On Your Love’, the dopamine-filled ‘Let’s Do It Again’ became an ecstatic singalong 2022 festival anthem. Welcome back to partying. BJ

Best bit: The clever way that Jamie winds the track back down to a near-silence four-and-half-minutes in, only for each sonic element to be layered up again: building up the claps, drums, twinkling keys and soaring synths before one final euphoric release. You love to see it.

Tomorrow X Together – ‘Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go'

49. Tomorrow X Together – ‘Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go’

This bright, bouncy bop – performed by Tomorrow X Together’s synth-pop unit Soobin, Beomgyu and Taehyun – uplifted spirits with its straightforward, feel-good melodies. The trio exuded positivity and optimism for the future following an emotional break-up, with Beomgyu’s “today’s hashtag:Break up’ / Then paste ‘glow up’ next to it” line proving a stroke of genius. DT

Best bit: Soobin’s breathy post-chorus mantra “I won’t cry again” feels like a reassuring invisible hug.

The Killers – ‘Boy’

48. The Killers – ‘Boy’

Brandon Flowers told NME in the summer that this gem provided “the impetus” for The Killers’ 2021 folky triumph ‘Pressure Machine’, but was left off the album due to its new wave shimmer. For a leftover, it bangs: ‘Boy’ is The Killers at their sweet, synthy and streetwise best, strutting from the gutter to the dancefloor. AT

Best bit: That little nod to Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect’. Cheeky cheeky!

Angel Olsen – ‘All The Good Times’

47. Angel Olsen – ‘All The Good Times’

Olsen’s sixth album ‘Big Time’ was written amid a turbulent, tragic time: during its production, the US musician came out to and then lost both her parents in quick succession. Laced with grief and hope for new love, the record’s opening track was as epic and emotional as they come. TS

Best bit: The song’s finale, where Olsen’s gentle strum is joined by a swelling horn section that ratchets up the emotion.

TSHA – ‘Giving Up’

46. TSHA – ‘Giving Up’

A highlight of the Ninja Tune-signee’s debut album ‘Capricorn Sun’, ‘Giving Up’ was TSHA at her very peak. A fizzing drum’n’bass beat paved the way for Mafro’s warped vocal line to run wild and free. A song equally suitable for the club, home listening and summer BBQs, it proved TSHA’s ability as a producer with wide-ranging appeal. WR

Best bit: When that delightful, joyous synth line comes in at the one-minute mark.

Foals – ‘2am'

45. Foals – ‘2am’

‘Back to basics’ songs can often be seen as a negative regression for artists, but on ‘2am’ and their seventh album ‘Life Is Yours’, Foals simply returned to what they do best. Written in the depths of a lockdown winter, this ecstatic indie hit pined for human connection and getting sloshed with friends again. This summer, its wish came beautifully true. WR

Best bit: Frontman Yannis Philippakis’ vocals belting out as his most enthused in years.

LE SSERAFIM – ‘Impurities'

44. LE SSERAFIM – ‘Impurities’

LE SSERAFIM got their band name from an anagram of the phrase “I’m fearless” – so it’s not surprising that they understand that confidence can be drawn from all manner of places. On this cool, ethereal electro R&B song, co-written by member Huh Yunjin, they calmly declared that one’s flaws are actually glorious testaments to life. You’ll be similarly convinced by the track’s sassy hook: “Impurities, show you my impurities.DT

Best bit: The hypnotic falsetto harmonies – one from Chaewon and Kazuha, another from Yunjin and Sakura – in the pre-chorus.

Sunmi – Heart Burn'

43. Sunmi – Heart Burn’

Sunmi’s best songs are undeniably the co-productions she’s made with frequent collaborator FRANTS (‘Narcissism’, ‘Tail’). But the ex-Wonder Girl’s dreamy ‘Heart Burn’ – reminiscent of ’70s Fleetwood Mac – ventured out of that comfort zone to rank among her best releases yet. Its flirty lyrics (“I am getting hot, oh, my!”), delivered in her raspy vocal style, matched the growing blaze of a midsummer romance. DT

Best bit: Those heavy-handed guitar strums after the bridge that lead us to the track’s fiery climax.

Liam Gallagher – ‘Everything’s Electric’

42. Liam Gallagher – ‘Everything’s Electric’

Underneath the red sun, everything’s electric,Liam Gallagher sings on the bold centrepiece of his excellent third solo album, ‘C’mon You Know’. The track certainly lived up to that big declaration, sizzling with classic arms-aloft anthemics and a chorus that was simultaneously simple and life-affirmingly massive. If there were any lingering doubts left about LG’s solo prowess, this song blasted them all away once and for all. RD

Best bit: The helicopter-whirring opening riff that signals that the king of British rock’n’roll is back – and he means serious business.

Beabadoobee – ‘The Perfect Pair’

41. Beabadoobee – ‘The Perfect Pair’

So much of Beabadoobee’s career has been built on the idea of ripping up the pop rulebook and simply doing what the hell she wants – sugar-sweet vocals would sit alongside screeching guitars to speak to a younger generation that feels stifled. But ‘The Perfect Pair’ changed everything again: a holiday-inflected croon and sighing strings made the backbone of one of Bea’s most restrained tracks yet; a break-up song that accepted defeat and just swayed in abandon. Beautiful. EK

Best bit: The cinematic outro where strings take over and Bea just lets the melody do its thing.

Yungblud – ‘The Funeral’

40. Yungblud – ‘The Funeral’

Donny punk tearaway Yungblud struggled with the worldwide attention that followed his second album ‘Weird!’. But rather than bow to other people’s expectations, he fought back with his defiant self-titled follow-up; its swaggering emo opener ‘The Funeral’ his confident mission statement. Flickering between self-hatred and self-love, this flamboyant rager twisted uncertainty into a jubilant celebration, backed by the sort of guitars that would make The Smiths’ Johnny Marr jealous. AS

Best bit: The Gen-Z motivational speech: “But do you hate yourself? Well, that’s alright.
Do you love yourself? Well, that’s alright.

Fontaines D.C. – ‘I Love You’

39. Fontaines D.C. – ‘I Love You’

In a twist no-one saw coming, the most exhilarating love song of 2022 was inspired by a country rather than a person. Billed as Fontaines D.C.’s “first overtly political song”, this swirling post-punk epic saw frontman Grian Chatten interrogate his status as an Irishman based in England, laying bare a perpetual tug-of-war between guilt and pride. Impassioned and deeply affecting, Chatten’s performance here grew steadily in intensity throughout. GS

Best bit: The knockout-punch of the final chorus, which climaxes with Chatten howling: “I had to be the fucking man.

GloRilla and Cardi B – ‘Tomorrow 2’

38. GloRilla and Cardi B – ‘Tomorrow 2’

GloRilla’s immense talent was clear to see on her July single ‘Tomorrow’ – so much so that the Memphis artist quickly earned a fan in rap superstar Cardi B, who hopped on the September remix ‘Tomorrow 2’. The latter was a belter: the duo demonstrated their respective lyrical prowess over sparse, piano-led accompaniment. Best of all, it provided an early glimpse at rap’s next massive star more than keeping up with one of the reigning champs. HM

Best bit: GloRilla’s stellar put-down: “Can’t say your name up in my songs, might not fuck with you tomorrow.” Can’t say she didn’t warn you!

Måneskin – ‘The Loneliest’

37. Måneskin – ‘The Loneliest’

After winning Eurovision 2021 with the hammering ‘Zitti e Buoni’, the new saviours of rock’n’roll kept the party going with such stadium-sized anthems as ‘Mammamia’ and ‘Supermodel’. Then came ‘The Loneliest’, a brooding ballad that saw the Italian four-piece trade fiery excess for heartbreaking emotion. Despite the restraint that was plastered across Måneskin’s first English language slow jam, ‘The Loneliest’ still bristled with excitement as the rockstars let another side of them shine. AS

Best bit: That guitar solo: let them Italians wail.

Gorillaz – ‘New Gold’

36. Gorillaz – ‘New Gold’

In the midst of this year’s scorcher of a summer, Gorillaz appeared like a mirage to deliver another legendary collaboration. ‘New Gold’ served up a deliciously psychedelic hook from Tame Impala, while The Pharcyde’s Bootie Brown – who Gorillaz fans recognised from his explosive verse on ‘Dirty Harry’ – spun a bouncy tale of a vain society in freefall. 2022’s best weather may be long behind us, but ‘New Gold’ was a warm ray of sunshine to remember it by. AB

Best bit: Bootie Brown’s second verse, which is packed with throwbacks to ‘Demon Days’.

Fred again.. – ‘Danielle (smile on my face)’

35. Fred again.. – ‘Danielle (smile on my face)’

Built around a sample of 070 Shake’s 2019 single ‘Nice To Have’ – a tune that Fred Gibson said he “literally listened to every day last year… everywhere, all the time” – ‘Danielle (smile on my face)’ is a classic Fred again.. creation. Emotive lyrics (“Fuck what they say, I’m safe in your arms / And if I die in your arms, there’ll be a smile on my face”), wobbly, bass-driven synths and bombastic beats united as one to form one of 2022’s most tear-jerking bangers. SM

Best bit: When the synths and beats crackle back into life, sparking one last rave in the track’s ecstatic final minute.

Wunderhorse – ‘Leader of The Pack’

34. Wunderhorse – ‘Leader of The Pack’

2022’s best rock song? Wunderhorse, AKA Cornwall-based Pistol actor Jacob Slater, put up a very good fight with the brooding, snarling ‘Leader Of The Pack’. Chugging guitars, crashing drums and gang chorus vocals turned every listen into a rock’n’roll hoedown, with Slater having written the song “as a means of getting even”. Mission accomplished, surely. SM

Best bit: That crunching opening riff: beat that, 2023.

Tove Lo – ‘No One Dies From Love’

33. Tove Lo – ‘No One Dies From Love’

Tove Lo’s fifth album ‘Dirt Femme’ was packed full of effervescent earworms, but none more so than its jubilant opener ‘No One Dies From Love’. Written when she “was having the fear of ‘What if this love that I have ends?’”, the Swede spun that relatable vulnerability over squelchy synths, driving beats and ‘80s drums. The result? Very real emotions coupled with a sugar-rush instrumental. HM

Best bit: The euphoric, layered vocals that open the first chorus, where Tove belts out: “No one dies from love / Guess I’ll be the first.

FLO – ‘Cardboard Box’

32. FLO – ‘Cardboard Box’

If there was ever any doubt about the current state of UK R&B, then the country’s next best girl band quickly put those suspicions to bed in 2022 with their glistening debut single. A flawlessly synchronised and perfectly-poised track about cutting off a toxic relationship, the London trio’s harmonies and satin-smooth melodies served as a glossy throwback to the golden age of early-00s female empowerment (see: Destiny’s Child and Sugababes). A flow like this is no fluke. HG

Best bit: The sassy bridge that makes you want to waggle a finger and pack up your own cardboard box: “I’ma put your jeans next to the dreams that you sold me.

Piri and Tommy – ‘On & On’

31. Piri and Tommy – ‘On & On’

The drum’n’bass-loving Manchester duo are now making scene-leading pop-meets-dance music to soundtrack the kind of wild nights out they used to enjoy as clubbers. “Big night, lost my weed but the beat goes on,” Piri serenely sang while impressively keeping pace with the unrelenting Tommy-produced drums that helped ‘On & On’ truly zip along. SM

Best bit: Piri’s “on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on” will be stuck in your head forever. Sorry!

IVE – ‘Love Dive’

30. IVE – ‘Love Dive’

Looking back on K-pop in 2022, it’s been the year of rookie girl groups punching far above their weight. Case in point: IVE and their sophisticated seduction anthem ‘Love Dive’. This slice of alluring electro-pop reels you back in again and again, whether it’s to savour the confident, flirtatious lyrics and gorgeous backing melodies, or to pick up on all the sonic flourishes studding the production like diamonds in the rough. KG

Best bit: Wonyoung’s line “Narcissistic, my god, I love it” – knowingly cheeky and delicious every time.

The 1975 – ‘Part Of The Band’

29. The 1975 – ‘Part Of The Band’

Distortion, ambient noise, stream of conscious neurosis, and Matty Healy spilling out the melodic interrogations, “Am I ironically woke? The butt of my joke? Or am I just some post-coke, average, skinny bloke?” this track had it all. ‘Part Of The Band’’s strong suit was that it’s quieter and more subtle than many of their tracks, but it’s still quintessentially The 1975. With dry, wry millennial humour and apt observations standing, the result will always reward a careful listener. EC

Best bit: The cheeky line, “I like my men like I like my coffee / Full of soy milk and so sweet, it won’t offend anybody“. Same.

Bring Me The Horizon – ‘Strangers’

28. Bring Me The Horizon – ‘Strangers’

From the moment Bring Me dropped ‘Strangers’ during a DJ set at their curated Malta Weekender festival, it became a modern day emo anthem. From the melodramatic opening lines (“Maybe I’ll just be fucked up forever”) through to the snarling angst and a gooey spirit of community that rages throughout. Get together, get low and feel the high. AS

Best bit: That ‘90s nostalgia dragged into 2022

Oliver Sim – ‘Hideous’

27. Oliver Sim – ‘Hideous’

I’m ugly…” sang Oliver Sim on the opening moments of ‘Hideous’, his immediately recognisable deep vocal finding a new home outside of The xx for the first time. An intensely beautiful song that tears the sting out of shame, its subject matter is deeply personal, and rooted in the singer’s HIV-positive status. Here, Sim found freedom in “radical honesty” and power in baring every part of himself – even the aspects that he said feel hideous and hidden. EH

Best bit: The transcendent moment that Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beats bursts as an ethereal guardian angel.

New Jeans – ‘Hype Boy’

26. New Jeans – ‘Hype Boy’

In a time where lots of pop groups feel like they’re chasing the same sounds, styles and attitudes, K-pop rookies NewJeans’ debut provided a refreshing change of pace. ‘Hype Boy’, their second release, was the jewel in their crown – its flashes of ‘90s R&B melded with modern pop production an immediately addictive combination, and a chorus so cool and catchy you had no choice but to join the rising four-piece in longing for their “hype boy”. RD

Best bit: Any time the girls sing “take him to the sky-y-y-y-y-y”, an instant skyrocketing high.

Omar Apollo – ‘Evergreen’

25. Omar Apollo – ‘Evergreen’

In October, pop music’s best-kept secret finally broke into the mainstream: Omar Apollo scored his first-ever chart hit with ‘Evergreen’, a ballad of crisp, measured guitar and purposefully subtle drum patterns. This quietly scathing breakup tune built up to a lover walking away and refusing to allow their turned back to become the relationship’s final scene – a change in perspective that became its own kind of revelation. SW

Best bit: Clearly, Apollo wanted an ex to feel the sheer magnitude of his pain. “You didn’t deserve me at all”, he belts out on the bridge, his delivery reaching a near-scream. You tell ‘em, king!

Arctic Monkeys – ‘Body Paint’

24. Arctic Monkeys – ‘Body Paint’

Let’s be honest, every song on Arctic Monkeys’ triumphant seventh record ‘The Car’ might have made this list – but that wouldn’t be fair, would it? We’ll take Alex Turner’s velvet-smooth croon and the accompanying killer chorus on this track anyday. “My teeth are beating and my knees are weak,” he sings in falsetto as ‘Body Paint’ builds to its utterly euphoric ELO-esque orchestral pop breakdown. Same, Alex. Same. AF

Best bit: The anthemic outro, featuring squealing guitars and the repeated refrain: “There’s still a trace of body paint / On your legs and on your arms and on your face.

My Chemical Romance – ‘The Foundations of Decay’

23. My Chemical Romance – ‘The Foundations of Decay’

With ‘The Foundations of Decay’, My Chemical Romance’s fiery comeback exceeded every current or ageing emo kid’s wildest dreams. The six-minute triumph starts off as a simmering ballad to atrophy, with a subdued Gerard Way singing a of a man “tired with age” and ravaged by time – yet when the track finally explodes in rousing choruses, thundering guitar riffs and a gut-punch breakdown, it proves the legendary band was anything but. AB

Best bit: The first explosive chorus – a shot of pure catharsis for fans who waited nine years for that moment.

Florence and The Machine – ‘King

22. Florence and The Machine – ‘King’

There’s power in how Florence Welch stood tall and fearless in the face of the patriarchy on ‘King’. She has always strung lyrics together like armour, but this remarkable track felt designed to protect herself from the expectation that she should compromise her career in order to raise children. She narrated her experience, and reclaimed it – a revolt against the very idea of doing what you’re told. SW

Best bit: When Welch breaks into an almighty roar; you can picture her throwing out her arms and letting her hair flutter out in the wind alongside a phenomenal, gale-force vocal.

WILLOW – ‘Hover Like A Goddess’

21. WILLOW – ‘Hover Like A Goddess’

Fresh from helping kickstart a pop-punk revival with 2021’s ‘lately i feel EVERYTHING’, the lead single to follow-up record ‘COPINGMECHANISM’ saw Willow trading angst for romance. Driven by an excitable energy, this urgent garage-punk banger celebrated the fact that “every woman deserves to be worshipped”. ‘Hover Like A Goddess’ may channel Bloc Party and The Strokes, but it saw Willow cut party-starting rock’n’roll with her own unique vision. AS

Best bit: Willow embracing the art of a good “oh-ohhh, oh-ohhh”.

Beyoncé – ‘Break My Soul’

20. Beyoncé – ‘Break My Soul’

The first glimpse we got of Beyoncé’s seventh album ‘Renaissance’, ‘Break My Soul’ was a tantalising taster of slick production, massive hooks and beats made straight for the dancefloor. With dual samples of Big Freedia’s ‘Explode’ and Robin S.‘s ’90s classic ‘Show Me Love’, and packed with lyrics that preach self-confidence and joy, ‘Break My Soul’ landed as a modern house classic. HM

Best bit: The sample of Big Freedia’s ‘Explode’, that instructs you to “release ya job… release the stress“. Who are we to disagree?

Rosalía – ‘Chicken Teriyaki’

19. Rosalía – ‘Chicken Teriyaki’

The purity, simplicity, silliness and badassery of this cut from the stellar ‘Motomami’ is a testament to Rosalia’s knack for a hook and a good time. We don’t know what the Spanish pop sensation is singing about and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Throw your phrase book away and let this chugging beast of Latin spirit and reggaeton rhythms consume you. AT

Best bit: Telling your friends that you’re now fluent in Spanish and fiesta

Griff & Sigrid – 'Head On Fire'

18. Griff & Sigrid – ‘Head On Fire’

Teased via a series of cryptic videos posted on social media, this chart-ready team-up between two of music’s most exciting young talents was as rock-solid as their friendship. When they performed the tune at the BandLab NME Awards 2022 in March, it made for a standout moment – and a triumphant victory lap round one of the country’s greatest gig venues. More, please! AF

Best bit: A short pause for breath before launching into that joyful chorus. Set your watch for a good time.

Taylor Swift – ‘Anti Hero’

17. Taylor Swift – ‘Anti-Hero’

The lead single from Swift’s 10th album ‘Midnights’, ‘Anti-Hero’ proved a self-deprecating anthem. Delivering tongue-in-cheek lines over Jack Antonoff’s production (the chorus opener “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me” has spawned scores of memes), the songwriter extraordinaire has done what she does best: turn painfully relatable experiences into a stone-cold banger. HM

Best bit: Love it or hate it, it’s got to be the line that got everyone talking: “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby/And I’m a monster on the hill“…same?

Phoenix – ‘Tonight’

16. Phoenix – ‘Tonight’

As much as the band’s seventh album ‘Alpha Zulu’ pushed the indie-pop masters’ sound forward, its standout moment happened to be a dabble in nostalgia. The deliciously catchy bassline and chorus would have nestled in nicely on their 2009 breakthrough album ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’, as frontman Thomas Mars and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig wistfully duet. TS

Best bit: The band told NME they’ve always felt a synchronicity with Vampire Weekend, and consider them transatlantic cousins. The song’s middle-eight, where Koenig and Mars trade lines, finds the pair in perfect harmony.

Doechii – ‘Persuasive’

15. Doechii – ‘Persuasive’

The latest signing to the star-making Top Dawg Entertainment, Doechii has opted for a meticulous, patient roll-out where so many other artists rush to ride their early momentum. She already feels like a fully-formed artist bursting with complex visual ideas and diverse musical directions. To be fair, every track feels standout – but the house-tinged ‘Persuasive’ just about nabs the top spot. No wonder SZA jumped aboard for the equally addictive remix. EH

Best bit: When soulful brass gradually creeps into the ether two-thirds of the way through, steadily building up the biggest drop. That, and the abundant air-horns.

Kendrick Lamar – ‘N95’

14. Kendrick Lamar – ‘N95’

A highlight of ‘Mr Morale & The Big Steppers’, here’s Kendrick Lamar delivering an anti-pop gem with a message to “take off” the fakery and stop looking for external validation. In a lesson to other rappers, Lamar spits for morals rather than boasting over distorted, growling 808s and trap synths. With a dextrous flow and words you can’t ignore, this is why Kendrick is king. KSW

Best bit: In the refrain, the explosive “Bitch…” before the whining response “…you’re outta pocket” makes for a perfect wake-up call.

Wet Leg – ‘Angelica’

13. Wet Leg – ‘Angelica’

Indie’s silliest and most fun new gang took us into the highs and lows, dangers and consequences of getting pickled at a house party in one of the standout tracks of their phenomenal debut album. With spiralling riffs, ray-gun sound effects, and a multi-layered central mantra of “good times all the time”, ‘Angelica’ cemented Wet Leg’s place as our new favourite relatable party pals. RD

Best bit: The delectably eye-rolled lines “I don’t wanna follow you on the ‘gram / I don’t wanna listen to your band.

Maggie Rogers – ‘That's Where I Am’

12. Maggie Rogers – ‘That’s Where I Am’

Coloured with optimism, this track was fuelled by the sense of autonomy that defined Maggie Rogers’ comeback this year. With new production credits and a Harvard Divinity School degree to her name, Rogers created a wild symphony of rebirth on ‘That’s Where I Am’, as she sang of a blossoming love atop ripples of distortion and gleaming keys. It was the sound of Rogers feeling something shift inside of her, and wondering where this new, beautiful thing even came from. SW

Best bit: The giddy relish of the way Rogers delivers the bridge – “You’re the only one I’ve ever wanted / All I ever really wanted was you” – channelling a feeling far beyond her own understanding.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Wolf’

11. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Wolf’

“Hunger, connection, and wildness” were the words YYY’s Karen O used to describe ‘Wolf’ – a climbing, synth-laden track that keeps its lyrics sparse, embodying the primal nature of not only punk but the track itself. “I’m lost and I’m lonely / I hunger for you only / Don’t leave me now, don’t break the spell,” warned O in a sinister tone, right before the instrumental drop and powerful chorus. It’s a bold glance at the primitive side of human nature from a band able to hold the weight of a song this big. EC

Best bit: O gently singing, “In heaven lost my taste for hello / taste for hell”, before a full orchestra kicks in with urgent strings. Powerful stuff.

Megan Thee Stallion – ‘Plan B’

10. Megan Thee Stallion – ‘Plan B’

While serving ‘90s New York style hip-hop raunchiness, Meg reminded the world of her immaculate lyricism with this declaration of self-love. Teaching women to “love yourself ‘cause this shit can get ugly / That’s why it’s ‘Fuck n****s, get money,’” this is confidence manifest. Just like Lil Kim and Foxy Brown, she stepped into her sex appeal without relying on it to prove naysayers wrong. One-dimensional? Get a grip. This is everything. ‘Plan B’ is Megan Thee Stallion delivering a layered and positive lesson for life. KSW

Best bit: All the candid, empowering quips in a masterclass from Meg.

Charli XCX – ‘Beg For You’

9. Charli XCX – ‘Beg For You’

A collab between two of the UK pop’s finest, ‘Beg For You’ was always going to be something special. However, chuck in a killer sample – lifted from September’s 2005 hit ‘Cry For You’ – and you’ve got magic on your hands. Rina’s vocals and harmonies feel so essential, you pine for more of her on Charli’s fifth album ‘Crash’, but that’s what you get from top maestros on top of their game. ‘Beg For You’ may have dropped in January, but it was a clear and bold proclamation from Charli and Rina that 2022 would be their year. JT

Best bit: The September sample truly makes the song, but everything comes together for the first chorus.

Jockstrap – ‘Concrete Over Water’

8. Jockstrap – ‘Concrete Over Water’

‘Concrete Over Water’ presented the Jockstrap musical blueprint in miniature: the poise of Georgia Ellery’s pristine, ravishing vocals, torn asunder by the anarchic hand of producer Taylor Skye. The song sings of the impossible beauty of a bridge-top romantic rendezvous, but Skye scorches the scene with a mutant synth army of math-rock screeches and warped atmospherics. Were Ellery and Skye competing for supremacy? Nah, in this fight we all win. MP

Best bit: Ellery sings “I wanna be there” before the elegiac beauty of the opening caves to hyper-processed mania

Steve Lacy – ‘Bad Habits’

7. Steve Lacy – ‘Bad Habit’

Steve Lacy’s first US Number One single felt long overdue. ‘Bad Habit’, taken from the 24-year-old LA artist’s second solo album ‘Gemini Rights’, was the song that propelled the Internet and Kendrick Lamar collaborator to the big time; no doubt aided on its journey to the very top by its massive popularity on TikTok. Showcasing Lacy’s impressive vocal range, his nifty way around a guitar and his tattoo-worthy lyrics (“You can’t surprise a Gemini”), the single has unsurprisingly become Lacy’s biggest hit to date. After all, some bad habits are just too good to kick. SM

Best bit:It’s biscuits, it’s gravy, babe” – the most delicious lyric of the year?

Rina Sawayama – ‘This Hell’

6. Rina Sawayama – ‘This Hell’

Sawayama is one of the smartest pop stars we have, and ‘This Hell’ is her wittiest and most undeniable tune yet. Who else would think to eviscerate the anti-queer rhetoric spouted by extreme religious groups with a spangly country banger inspired by Shania Twain? Rina, that’s who! And with a belter that’s tongue-in-cheek and subversive, but also outrageously good fun. NL

Best bit:Get in line, pass the wine, bitch / We’re going straight to hell!

Arctic Monkeys – ‘There'd Better Be A Mirrorball’

5. Arctic Monkeys – ‘There’d Better Be A Mirrorball’

After the space-age dabblings on 2018’s ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’, Arctic Monkeys returned to Earth on the heavenly and lush launch single from seventh album ‘The Car’. Known for being cheeky in his early work to escapist in his latter days, Alex Turner came across as truly earnest, open, romantic and human for the first time on this slow-dance waltzing beauty. “Don’t get emotional, that ain’t like you,” croons the frontman, inviting us in. It’s the Monkeys, Jim, but not as you know them. AT

Best bit:So do you wanna walk me to the caaaa-aaaar?” You drive on ahead, Alex – we’ll float there.

Eliza Rose & Interplanetary Criminal – ‘B.O.T.A. (Baddest Of Them All)’

4. Eliza Rose & Interplanetary Criminal – ‘B.O.T.A. (Baddest Of Them All)’

The summer’s ultimate rave anthem. First released in early June with modest ambitions, it soon became a hit as welcome blaring out of stadium PAs and spicing up ITV2 montages as it did in the festival fields and clubs. By early September, the ‘90s-indebted hit had climbed to Number One in the UK Singles Charts, capping off a spectacular rise. TS

Best bit: The opening melody, a delightfully simple and catchy hook that floats all the way to the song’s conclusion.

Harry Styles – ‘As It Was’

3. Harry Styles – ‘As It Was’

It’s hard not to tumble into the vast emotional depths of ‘As It Was’ and look beyond everything else that made this song such a triumph. Change is a constant beneath the track’s heart-raising BPM and twinkling melodies: here, Harry Styles’ empathetic songwriting saw him fight for stability amid breakups and personal upheavals, finding strength in a renewed relationship with himself. It’s a quietly beautiful thing, then, that it became his biggest hit to date, proving that opening yourself up to the world doesn’t always have to be a risk. SW

Best bit: So much of the feeling is in the instrumental: some peppy guitar lines, and the crescendo of tubular bells, less of a breakdown than the sound of a heart skipping a beat.

Paramore – ‘This Is Why’

2. Paramore – ‘This Is Why’

After five years, Paramore slid back in with a groove so heavy, swaggering and sleazy, any talk of hiatus was immediately forgotten (not that they’d care, as Hayley Williams croons sweetly at the start, “if you have an opinion / maybe you should shove it”). Her voice is equally exhausted and exhilarated, leaning into its full power as guitarist Taylor York and drummer Zac Farro somehow manage to play tight and loose simultaneously. With its slow crawling synth and cymbals eventually erupting into a full funk fest, ‘This Is Why’ gave us just what we wanted: an innovative pop-punk moment from a band already responsible for so many. EC

Best bit: Williams repeating “One step beyond your door / Might as well have been a free fall” meditatively before crashing back in with an echoing “And I’m floating like a cannonball”. Chills.

Beyoncé – ‘Cuff It’

1. Beyoncé – ‘Cuff It’

Beyoncé is of course no stranger to creating enduring anthems. From ‘90s R&B belters with Destiny’s Child (‘Independent Woman’, ‘Say My Name’ to ‘00s earworms (‘Crazy In Love’, ‘Irreplaceable’), powerhouse ballads (‘Halo’), to the poignant and political (‘Formation’), the superstar is responsible for smashes eternally etched into the public pshyche than most artists could even dare to dream of. And in 2022, ‘Cuff It’ joined these ranks.

Taken from Beyoncé’s brilliant seventh album ‘Renaissance’, this funk-laden earworm is a triumph. With a Grammy nomination (for Best R&B Song) and a viral TikTok dance, it should be a government mandated requirement for this celebration of letting loose, falling in love and “gettin’ fucked up” to be played at least once on all future nights out. Keir Starmer, shove this in your manifesto.

With a bridge bigger than the Golden Gate, slinky strings, NSFW saucy lyrics, and the disco flare that a Nile Rodgers assist always brings, ‘Cuff It’ is total ecstasy and an unexpected gift to the pop canon of all time, let alone 2022. HM

Best bit: The first time we get that joyous post-chorus and Beyoncé sings: “Bet you you’ll see far / Bet you you’ll see stars.” Floor-filling euphoria.

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