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Best Songs Of 2022: 10 Hits That Define The Year So Far
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List & Guides

Best Songs Of 2022: 10 Hits That Define The Year So Far

From upbeat retro-pop to dance-inspired indie-rock, the best songs of 2022 so far prove the year is shaping up to be one to remember.

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As the world finally begins to open up again following a flurry of COVID-19 lockdowns, it’s heartening to see how 2022 is inviting musicians of all genres to unmask and share joyous and celebratory music for us all to enjoy. From the cathartic rock’n’roll return of Liam Gallagher to the much-acclaimed comeback of electro-pop innovator The Weeknd, in just four months we’ve been treated to a veritable feast of diverse sounds that have done wonders in inoculating us against the misery of the past few years. Helping us bask in the love of new music, here is our list of the best songs of 2022 so far…

Listen to our Chart playlist here, and check out our best songs of 2022, below.

10: Charlie Puth: Light Switch

New Jersey-born viral sensation Charlie Puth has built a hugely strong TikTok following across the past year, teasing his fans with behind-the-scenes glimpses into his songwriting process. After getting 20 million views in less than 24 hours upon sharing a short snippet of Light Switch, the much-anticipated song was released in full in January, accompanied by a quirky music video in which a bearded Puth is put through his paces by a spandex-clad personal trainer. A sparky little fuse bomb that ignites 80s pop nostalgia and is illuminated by Puth’s R&B-tinged falsetto, Light Switch became an instant hit that peaked at No.27 in the US. With its music video reaching almost 50 million YouTube views in just two months, the single wasted no time at all in asserting itself as one of the best songs of 2022. “I’m so excited, I’m very proud of this,” Puth said. “I know it’s been a very, very long time since I put out music, and it’s all come to this.”

9: Dave: Starlight

Built around a sample from a cover of Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To the Moon, by eclectic Indonesian duo The Macarons Project, London rapper Dave scored the second UK No.1 of his career with Starlight. With the most first-week sales and streams of 2022 so far, it cements Dave’s standing as one of the pre-eminent UK rappers of the decade, with the wordsmith reflecting on his hard-won jet-setting lifestyle (“Countin’ cash with the phone to my ear/I feel like Meek on the private jet”). As a standalone single that follows his much-acclaimed sophomore album, We’re All Alone In This Together, Starlight offers a tantalising prelude to what could well be Dave’s next project. Let’s hope he intends to drop a new album before the year is out – just as soon as he touches down on the runway!

8: Charli XCX: Beg For You (featuring Rina Sawayama)

Reviving a UK garage sound and borrowing the vocal melody from the heavily-memed house hit Cry For You, by September, Charli XCX’s duet with Rina Sawayama, Beg For You, was a mouth-watering dollop of 2000s nostalgia that peaked at No.24 in the UK. “It made me feel extremely nostalgic but also euphoric, and there’s that garage kind of vibe,” Charlie XCX said. “The sample is something that I feel my fans really connect with, that kind of Eurodance-pop thing.” As the most successful hit to emerge from her fifth album, Crash – which itself has provided us with one of the best album covers of 2022 – Beg For You proves why Charli XCX is one of Britain’s most inspirational pop stars of the past ten years, and it fully deserves its place among the best songs of 2022 so far.

7: Griff And Sigrid: Head On Fire

After exploring deep space with one of the best songs of 2021 (Black Hole) and winning the Rising Star Award at that year’s BRITs, Griff teamed up with Norwegian pop star Sigrid to further fan the flames with Head On Fire. Released in January, it’s a fiery collaboration that simmers with lovestruck infatuation. “It’s about that moment when you can’t get someone out of your head,” Sigrid said of the song. “It’s a fun one, melodically.” Peaking at No.44 in the UK but deserving to chart far higher, Head On Fire instantly asserted itself among the best songs of 2022. By striking a match on Griff’s innate grasp of melody and throwing it in the direction of Sigrid’s petroleum-laced pop prowess, it shows exactly what happens when the two most exciting young women in pop collide. Unsurprisingly, the results are truly flammable.

6: Rex Orange County: Keep It Up

Hotly tipped by US rap star Tyler, The Creator, British singer-songwriter Rex Orange County’s Keep It Up dreamily combines indie-flavoured pop with lushly-arranged songcraft akin to 70s-era Elton John and Randy Newman. Tackling themes of depression but coming across like it belongs on a Disney soundtrack, the song has been played regularly by BBC Radio 1, and was named by DJ Clara Amfo as the station’s Hottest Record of January. With a music video shot with a retro camcorder on the canals of Amsterdam, the song was produced by Dutch producer Benny Sings and acted as the lead single for Rex Orange County’s fourth record, Who Cares? – itself an early contender among the best albums of 2022. At only 23 years old, the singer seems to have merely revealed the tip of his talents, but if he can – ahem – keep it up, there’s no doubting he could well emerge as one of the best pop songwriters the UK has to offer.

5: Gang Of Youths: in the wake of your leave

Australian alt-rockers Gang Of Youths seem to be blooming into mid-adolescence, particularly since the angel of 8th ave. became a US hit in 2021. In January of this year, in the wake of your leave – the third single to be released from their third album, angel in realtime. – took a refreshingly intelligent leap into Arcade Fire-esque indie rock. “I wanted a sunny, bright and melodic indie pop track with an angular, repetitive hook,” said lead singer David Le’aupepe. “I wanted to reflect on how I became dependant on grief for solace and inspiration.” Inspired by the death of Le’aupepe’s father, in the wake of your leave reached No.33 on the US Adult Alternative Airplay chart and taps into the same spiritual vein of uplifting stadium rock as U2, with a touch of Bruce Springsteen thrown in for good measure. Enlisting the backing of The Auckland Gospel Choir, the song is an emotionally rousing gem and almost certainly won’t be the last we hear from Gang Of Youths as they spread their wings on the festival circuit.

4: George Ezra: Anyone For You (Tiger Lily)

The indie-pop brain behind gargantuan hits such as Paradise and Shotgun, George Ezra seems to have perfected his knack for sunny optimism with Anyone For You (Tiger Lily), which is easily one of the best songs of 2022 so far. As the lead single from his third album, Gold Rush Kid, the song peaked at No.12 in the UK and continues Ezra’s mission to inject a sprightly breed of folk-pop charm into the UK singles chart. “Anyone For You is a patchwork of lyric ideas found in old notebooks and chance moments shared between musicians in the studio,” Ezra has said. “It’s joyous and infectious, and I can’t help but smile every time I sing it.” Warm-hearted and giddy-headed, it’s yet to be seen whether the song paves the way for further summer anthems from Ezra, but, quite frankly, his track record speaks for itself.

3: Liam Gallagher: Everything’s Electric

With Everything’s Electric, the lead single from Liam Gallagher’s third solo album, C’mon You Know, the former Oasis frontman cranked up the voltage with one of the best songs of 2022 so far. With a BRIT Awards performance and this No.18 hit already under his belt this year, Gallagher looks set to continue his blistering solo career with no-holds-barred rock’n’roll. Everything’s Electric’s producer, Greg Kurstin, even went to the trouble of getting ex-Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl to play drums on the song, making it a heady trip for any fan of 90s alternative rock. “He’s an amazing singer and he’s a fucking rock star,” Grohl said of Gallagher. “He is one of the few last remaining rock stars.” Needless to say, Gallagher agreed: “He’s correct,” he proclaimed on Twitter, “the rest of them are useless.”

2: The Weeknd: Sacrifice

Quite literally ushering in a new era with his fifth album, Dawn FM, Canadian R&B/pop innovator The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) further honed his visionary brand of electro-pop with Sacrifice. Built on stabs of funk guitar and 80s-style synths, this particular song was co-produced with house trio Swedish House Mafia, who perfectly conjure the swirling sonic ambience of nightclub disorientation. Reaching No.10 in the UK, Sacrifice was accompanied by a music video in which Tesfaye is subjected to a trippy initiation ritual on a dancefloor, implying that club-goers risk losing a part of their soul. By doubling down on his fusion of retro pop with experimental synthwave inspired by French EDM artists such as Kavinsky, The Weeknd can rest assured that he has turned in one of the best songs of 2022.

1: Foals: 2am

Released as the second single from Life Is Yours, 2am fully lives up to indie-rockers Foals’ promise that their seventh album will dive deeper into dance-pop. Easily topping our list of the best songs of 2022 so far, its marvellous hybrid of funk-inspired grooves and angular guitar riffs sailed into BBC Radio 1’s A List. “Musically 2am is one of the poppiest songs we’ve ever written. It’s about repetitive cycles of destructive behaviour, which I think lots of people can relate to,” said Foals singer Yannis Philippakis. “There’s something cathartic about putting that to this joyous, upbeat song that’s got a sense of release.” As one of the best British indie-rock bands of the past 15 years, it’s quite possible that tracks such as 2am, and their previous single, Wake Me Up, could bring Foals to the attention of a new, younger generation of fans. Perhaps it’s finally time for the group’s colourful blend of indie and dance to have its moment in the sun once again. We can but hope…

You’ve heard the best songs of the year, now find out our best albums of 2022.

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