Over the next few weeks, heading into the holiday, I will be posting my favorite songs of the year in blocks of 10. We’ll finish up the Friday before Christmas, so you can consider each of these lists my gift to you (ooh a playlist! so personal!!). This third post is getting closer to the cream of the crop. I’ve gone over it a few times and I think this feels right, so I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
20. “I Was Neon” by Julia Jacklin
There’s been some debate online recently as to which Pre Pleasure song is the best. I’ve seen a lot of votes for album opener “Lydia Wears A Cross,” and a bunch for my choice “I Was Neon.” Both great, as is the rest of the record, but this song hits a sweet spot of early Liz Phair and the driving guitar work of Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born.
19. “The Heart Part 5” by Kendrick Lamar
I don’t think there’s any doubt that Kendrick Lamar is at the top of the current rap hierarchy. Since his emergence on Section 80, he’s displayed his ability to make music that can be fun to listen to and also provide the audience with deep ideas and feelings.
18. “Still Life” by Carson McHone
“Still Life” was one of the first songs I added to my ever-expanding list way back in February. I’ve probably heard it a hundred times, and I continue to enjoy it and look forward to hearing it again. A recurring theme in some of my favorites this year is a buildup to a big ending, and “Still Life” finishes with a flurry of fuzzy guitar that picks up as she finishes the last lyric of the song “I’m a still life, but I’m still alive.”
17. “happy accident” by Tomberlin
At first I had a different song by Tomberlin on the list, and about a month ago I switched it out for this one. The album, idkwntht, is pretty quiet, but “happy accident” has a couple moments where the vocals get a bit more full-throated. The emotions are always on full display with Tomberlin, and this song is a beautiful example of her songwriting talent.
16. “Many Mirrors” by Alvvays
You’ve probably seen Blue Rev popping up on a lot of year-end lists already. It’s a great album, and you could probably pick any song off of it and put it on here. I really like “Many Mirrors” for the guitar work and the overall clean production. I sometimes forget that Alvvays is a Canadian band and not Glaswegian, because they always remind me of Camera Obscura for some reason.
15. “C’mon Baby, Cry” by Orville Peck
This is the first time I’ve liked anything by Orville Peck. That big, deep Roy Orbison thing really works for him on this song. The writing is great, and the delivery absolutely sells it.
“I can tell you’re a sad boy just like me
Baby, don’t deny what your poor heart needs
Been so long since he called your name
On the run from a losing game
Just bat your eyes, baby, let me feel the pain”
14. “You & Me” by veiles
The second Danish artist to make the list this year! I wrote about veiles at the beginning of the year, then didn’t listen to her for a long while. When I came back to it, I had to put this song fairly high in my ranking for 2022. It’s a delightful piece of pop music that never gets old.
13. “Secret” by Raveena feat. Vince Staples
This is one I immediately got into. That opening beat feels like something Timbaland would’ve made for Aaliyah back in the day, and that alone may have got it onto the list. Adding a great feature from Vince Staples to go along with Raveena’s already very good verses took it up a notch and almost landed in the top 10.
12. “Pictures of You” by Drugdealer feat. Kate Bollinger
I heard this Drugdealer album right before I headed out to California, and it was the perfect music to get me into a Cali state of mind. The songs on Hiding In Plain Sight are straight out of the soft rock 70’s, and “Pictures of You” is the best of them. Kate Bollinger’s vocals are soft and sweet and perfect for the accompanying guitar that provides a constant rolling wave for the listener.
11. “If You Wanna Go” by Bret McKenzie
Some may mock this pick. Some may say that McKenzie isn’t a real songwriter because most of his career was spent writing joke songs with his bandmate Jemaine in Flight Of The Conchords. Well, guess what, Bret McKenzie is an Oscar-winning songwriter and doesn’t need to rely on silliness to pen a great tune. On “If You Wanna Go” he taps into his inner George Harrison and delivers one of the finest examples of song craft you’ll find in 2022.