Well it’s been 50 weeks in the making, but the day has finally arrived to reveal my favorite ten songs of the year. I’ve posted some of the songs I’ve really enjoyed so far, but these are the ten that have stuck with me the most. Some of these I’ve heard upward of 50 or 60 times already, and can’t wait to continue hearing them in 2023 and beyond. The top ten features some differing styles, but nothing too far outside of my wheelhouse. So if you’ve been following along over the years, a couple of these artists might seem familiar.
10. “Liar, Liar” by Al Olender
I was introduced to Al Olender’s music when one of my favorites, James Felice, was talking about her opening for The Felice Brothers for some shows earlier this year. I had no idea who they were, so I did some digging around. Great songwriter, sincere performer, and talented musician. I went back and forth between this one and “Minnesota Waltz,” and it ultimately came down to the writing.
9. “Snowy” by Art Moore
One of the new bands I discovered this year, and one I am not at all surprised I liked immediately. The band features Sam Durkes, who also plays with Ezra Furman, making Sam the first musician to find themselves landing two songs in my top ten. This track has such a great vibe to it and just throws you into this out-of-body state that you wish you could live in forever.
8. “Wet Dream” by Wet Leg
The Wet Leg hype was not lost on me, as they quickly became one of 2022’s most buzzed-about bands. “Chaise Lounge” was a great introduction for the duo, but once the album came out, it didn’t even register in the top three cuts. “Angelica” and “Supermarket” round out my favorites from their self-titled debut. Mr. Harry Styles was covering “Wet Dream” on the BBC over the summer, so they’ve definitely broken through the global zeitgeist. Also, I have to love any musicians who can work a Buffalo ’66 reference into a song.
7. “nightqueen” by Hurray For The Riff Raff featuring Ocean Vuong
I’ve been writing about Alynda Segarra since before this website existed, and it has been amazing to see her growth as a writer and performer over the years. From the folky yodels of the first couple albums through the transition to a more pop-forward sound, and now the Springsteen-esque rock of Life On Earth, it’s always been compelling and genuine. The latest Hurray For The Riff Raff album is one of my picks for best of the year, and I knew the second I heard “nightqueen” that it would be somewhere near the top as well. And while the song is great on its own, hearing author/poet Ocean Vuong speak, specifically when they say “As a species, humans have been dying for millenia,” just adds a whole different perspective to everything.
6. “Use Me” by Valerie June
This song features one of the great vocal performances of 2022. Valerie June has been around for a while, landed on my top albums of 2021, but hasn’t quite broken through like she deserves. “Use Me” would be a top 20 song if it were an acoustic tune stripped bare of anything but her guitar and voice, but she builds a whole lot over the course of four minutes and adds these beautiful horns and synths and turns it into a real masterpiece.
5. “Problem With It” by Plains
So you’ve got Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee involved and I’m already on board. Throw in Jess Williamson and you’ve got yourself a duo destined for greatness. “Problem With It” is the first single from their new band, Plains, and it is everything you would expect from two brilliant songwriters who touch on country, folk, and rock to create their sound.
4. “Crazy” by Spiritualized
J Spaceman just keeps making these rock and roll symphonies that go so far above and beyond the expected. His latest piece of work, Everything Was Beautiful, is another example of his genius and one of the finest listening experiences I’ve had this year. “Crazy” along with “Always Together With You” may have been the best first and second singles from an album in 2022, but “Crazy” just ever-so-narrowly won out for me.
3. “Late Night Talking” by Harry Styles
Look, one of Harry’s bangers was gonna be on the list. Surely everyone saw that coming. As much as the radio loves to play every song off Harry’s House, this one I could hear over and over and not grow tired of it. Every once in a while someone has a year where they’re just inescapable, and this was Harry’s.
2. “The Only Heartbreaker” by Mitski
The rollout of Mitski’s Laurel Hell was fantastic, with a handful of songs released that were all great in their own way, but also very cohesive. I love the sound of the record, and this song captures all the influences that helped her find it.
#1 “Dressed In Black” by Ezra Furman
The best songwriter of her generation, Ezra Furman continues to grow and try out different styles. On “Dressed In Black,” Furman delivers a song perfect for the Enchantment Under The Sea dance, with a sweet, romantic feel. Listen closer and you’ll find characters ready to fight for their love and the chance to live the life they want.
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