The best songs of 2022
14 December 2022, 15:30 | Updated: 14 December 2022, 17:13
Featuring Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Rina Sawayama and Dove Cameron, here are the best songs of 2022
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Dear reader, it's time to rank the best songs of 2022.
We were not left wanting more this year. In fact, 2022 overdelivered. Legends returned to take back their crowns (Beyoncé, Taylor Swift), bright young things arrived and now stand on the precipice of a major breakthrough (Ethel Cain, FLO) and, yes, TikTok did what it does best: sending unexpected delights to the top of the charts (Steve Lacy, Dove Cameron).
Everyone did what they needed to do, except Addison Rae, who should have given us an official release for '2 die 4'. Am I joking? No. Do I wish I was joking? Perhaps, but a bop is a bop. The Addison Rae pop supremacy is nearly upon us.
But you didn't come here for half-baked predictions. So, who made our best songs list? Scroll down to find out, and then why not check out our Best Albums of 2022 list too.
20) Paramore - 'This Is Why'
I wish I could relate to this song but unfortunately I have a dog who demands to be walked at least three times a day, so not leaving the house isn’t really an option for me. Personal grievances aside, Paramore’s big comeback song being an inside kids anthem? 2013 Tumblr is crying right now. As far as comebacks go, this was the one we were waiting for, and as ever, Paramore didn't disappoint. - Woodrow Whyte
19) FLO - 'Cardboard Box'
FLO have arrived with so much talent and potential that it’s impossible not to fall in love with them instantly. Like many brilliant girl group singles, 'Cardboard Box' admonishes a no-good boyfriend with impeccable harmonies (seriously, they’re Destiny’s Child worthy) and instantly iconic lyrics ("Never liked your momma, so I guess she's blocked" is hilarious). With a BRIT award already under their belt, FLO look set to follow in the steps of Little Mix and become the UK’s next great girl group. - Sam Prance
18) Becky G & Karol G - 'MAMIII'
What happens when two of Latin music’s most exciting stars collaborate? Magic. Karol G and Becky G are no strangers to making hits but hearing them team up on 'Mamiii' to call out a toxic ex, who may or may not be Karol G’s former boyfriend Anuel AA, is exhilarating. The production is irresistible and each line is more brutal than the next. "Andas comiéndote a otra, pero estás pensando en mí" ("You’re eating out another girl but thinking of me") is award worthy. A duet for the ages that only gets better with time. - SP
17) Shygirl - 'Firefly'
While Shygirl has some excellent songs about her signature ~salacious~ topics (see ‘BDE’ and ’Slime’), it’s her softer side on ‘Firefly’ that has captured our hearts in 2022. The song finds Shy yearning for validation and reciprocation from her lover, questioning their intentions and lies. While the track expertly evokes wistful, airy production reminiscent of 90s RnB classics, it’s Shygirl’s futuristic and glitchy touches that makes the whole song feel enchanted, and solidifies it as a highlight from her debut album Nymph (stream now for clear skin!) - Emily Beard
16) Megan Thee Stallion - 'Her'
Let’s be real, Megan Thee Stallion was dealt a LOT of (undeserved) rubbish and negativity in 2022. But instead of caving to those who were praying on her downfall, she rose up like only Megan Thee Stallion could, biting back with the infectious ‘Her’: an ode to self worth, not paying any mind to the haters and putting yourself on the pedestal you belong on. The fact that the song came with a simply flawless video, with killer production and choreography to match, was only the cherry on top. 'Her' proves that Megan will STAY winning, and the rest can *Megan voice* "kiss both cheeks, ciao bella"! - EB
15) Dove Cameron - 'Boyfriend'
It’s unclear why it took this long for a Dove Cameron single to properly take off but there’s something fitting about 'Boyfriend' being the song that did it. Pining over someone in a straight relationship is pretty common to the LGBTQ+ experience but Dove captures it in a way that few people ever have in song form. Instead of lamenting her circumstance, Dove encourages the object of her affection to consider leaving her boyfriend and explore queerness. Her delivery is so alluring that it feels impossible to deny her request. - SP
14) Steve Lacy - 'Bad Habit'
You can’t surprise a Gemini! But the runaway success of ‘Bad Habit’ caught everybody else off guard, and probably Steve Lacy too. An ode to missed romantic opportunities, ‘Bad Habit’ had everyone thinking about the one that got away during the hot summer months. The FYP never sounded so horny. - WW
13) SZA - 'F2F'
SZA’s triumphant return arrived just a bit too late for our Albums of the Year list, but she’s bang on time for this one. ‘F2F’ has only been out here for 6 days and it’s been on repeat ever since. SZA in her pop punk era? OBSESSED! That early ‘00s teen movie soundtrack vibe? ELITE! A writing credit from Lizzo? SHOOK! The people have spoken: SZA x Paramore collab WHEN? – Katie Louise Smith
12) Sabrina Carpenter - 'because i liked a boy'
Sabrina Carpenter has a knack for taking very specific experiences and turning them into relatable anthems (Alexa play 'Sue Me'). On 'because I liked a boy', Sabrina takes being villainized on an international level and turns it into an anthem for anyone who’s ever been slut-shamed. Who else could sum up such a complex experience as brilliantly as, "Tell me who I am, guess I don’t have a choice/All because I liked a boy"? Many people would have left the spotlight after what Sabrina went through in 2021 but she took it as an opportunity to create her best art. Seeing fans scream every word of 'because I liked a boy' on tour, it’s safe to say that Sabrina has had the last laugh. - SP
11) Tiesto & Charli XCX - 'Hot In It'
Let’s be real, Charli is the queen of genre versatility. She proved it to us once again this year when she collabed with DJ powerhouse Tiësto to give us the dancefloor filler ‘Hot In It’, a song equal parts a bratty self confident mantra, and a kiss off anthem to anyone’s who’s ever done you dirty. The fact that the video was seemingly a yassified homage to the mattress commercial episode of Glee (if you know you know) only proves yet again that Charli is always two steps ahead, and now she’s out of her album contract we can’t wait to see what she does next. - EB
10) The 1975 - 'I'm In Love With You'
In the same tradition of ‘The Sound’ and ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’, this is The 1975’s Big Pop SONG from the accompanying album. The trick should be getting old by now but far from it. If The 1975 could keep writing a big pop anthem for every album until my death that would be just great actually. - WW
9) Charli XCX - 'Sorry If I Hurt You'
Originally intended as the title track for Crash, ‘Sorry If I Hurt You’ only appears on the deluxe version of the album, a curious move for what is the project's strongest track. The lyrics allude to a reckoning, a post-mortem happening post-breakup. It’s euphoric, heavenly-even, with those luscious string-synths bedding the whole number, but there’s no denying the raw emotions involved here. This is Charli XCX at her most vulnerable and personal. 'Sorry If I Hurt You' is a triumph. - WW
8) The Weeknd - 'Sacrifice'
This song makes me want zoom around Vice City at 3am as I try to escape the feds with three wanted stars in a Cheetah I just stole from a mansion on Starfish Island. Abel has done it again. A worthy follow-up to 2021’s ‘Take My Breath’. An undeniable banger. Perfect. No notes. – KLS
7) Lizzo - 'About Damn Time'
In a minute, I’ma need a sentimental man or woman to help me learn the dance moves for this one, because it's been months and I still cannot get it right. The pressure was on Lizzo to follow the success of Cuz I Love You with another smash and girl did she deliver. Give Lizzo the PhD for infectious bangers right now because Melissa Viviane Jefferson has the formula on lock. Fun, sassy, and powerful, 'About Damn Time' is everything we want and expect from a Lizzo song. - WW
6) Beyoncé - 'CUFF IT'
Beyoncé captures joy in song form in a way that few artists do. It’s impossible to listen to songs like 'End of Time', 'Grown Woman' and 'All Night' without smiling and 'CUFF IT' may just be her most joyful song yet. From the way she purrs "Can I sit on top of you?" to the sing-along rush of "Anywhere, anytime/I don’t mind, I don’t mind", every single second of 'CUFF IT' is overflowing with pure happiness. Nile Rodgers and Sheila E.’s instrumentation is the stuff that pop dreams are made of and Beyoncé’s delivery of "I’m backin’ the truck up" is arguably the best musical moment of 2022. Beyoncé sings "Have you ever had fun like this?" and the answer is emphatically no. - SP
5) Taylor Swift - 'You're On Your Own, Kid'
When Taylor Swift said "screaming, crying", she was in fact talking about me hearing this song for the first time. ‘YOYOK’ sneaks up on you as it builds, and by the time you get to that bridge (easily the best on Midnights, and quite literally one of her best ever), you realise exactly why this one made it into the Track 5 Hall of Fame. Congratulations Taylor, for releasing yet another masterfully written anthem that has, once again, changed the trajectory of my life and destroyed me emotionally in the process. My personal assistant will be in contact with the bill for my therapy session shortly x – KLS
4) Ethel Cain - 'American Teenager'
Ethel Cain has the ability to build an entire world in a song and 'American Teenager' feels like a film in song form. Produced by Ethel herself, it sounds like it should play in the credits of a John Hughes movie but it also could be a John Hughes movie in its own right. Ethel sings about the bleak truth behind the concept of the American dream and how few teenagers can actually achieve what they’re told they’re capable of. However, there’s something freeing in the way Ethel faces reality. The switch from "It’s just not my year/But I’m all good out here" to "I’m doing what I want and damn I’m doing it well/For me, for me" is genius. Never has disillusionment sounded so uplifting. - SP
3) Harry Styles - 'As It Was'
Harry wasn't short on hits. He was already a superstar by any metric but somehow, 'As It Was' took his career to new heights. I mean, 15 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100? The audacity! Harry's songwriting goes from strength to strength, and writing an earworm like 'As It Was' proves that Hazza has completed his 10,000 hours and mastered the art of writing very good pop songs. - WW
2) Beyoncé - 'BREAK MY SOUL'
Whenever I hear this song, I am reminded of watching a DJ over the summer who proudly introduced the song as ‘Save My Soul’ with his full chest. I laughed but honestly he was right: Beyoncé did save my soul and perhaps the whole damn year. ‘Break My Soul’ sparked several epiphanies, like the need to release the wiggle every once in a while, that Beyoncé had a job(!) which she then quit(!!), and no matter how many times artists sample ‘Show Me Love’ I’m still gonna lap it up every time. Getting to the top is easy, staying there is more difficult but Beyoncé makes it sound effortless. - WW
1) Rina Sawayama - 'This Hell'
For Rina to take her big pop moment and make it a statement about the importance of community in the face of hatred and bigotry was a very Rina thing to do. But this is no 'Chosen Family'. As touching and meaningful as that song is, 'This Hell' is Rina's maximalist pop statement. It's FUN. It's CAMP. And you will dance to this because HOW COULD YOU NOT?
From that opening Shania Twain reference ('Let's go, gworls'), Rina's lead single from Hold The Girl is packed with pop culture references. Name-checking the greats can be a risky move if the song doesn't do them justice but 'This Hell' holds its own. A country-western theme might be corny or dull in a lesser artist's hands but in Rina's it's exciting and smart. 'This Hell' oozes the confidence of an artist reaching her peak.
In a PopBuzz interview earlier this year, Rina spoke about her ambitions as a songwriter. "As a songwriter, I want to challenge myself," she said. "Can I write a big song...can I write a pop song which connects with people that has meaning?" 'This Hell' proves that the answer to that question is a resounding, emphatic yes. This hell is truly better with you, Rina Sawayama. - WW
🏆 Lil Nas X - 'MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)' (2021)
🏆 Cardi B - 'WAP' feat. Megan Thee Stallion (2020)
🏆 Normani - 'Motivation' (2019)
🏆 Panic! At The Disco - 'High Hopes' (2018)
🏆 Paramore - 'Fake Happy' (2017)