Callie Petch’s Top 50 Songs of 2022: #30 – #11

Twenty more tracks for 2022.

Welcome back to this here listicle of My Top 50 Songs of 2022.  If you missed the first entry in the series, where we ran through #50 to #31, then you can click here to go get caught up.  Otherwise, here are some more songs which may not come close to the biting lyrical wit of “how can I be homophobic?/My bitch is gay,” but are still great all the same.

(Big thanks to Moosey for making this series’ headers!  Follow them on Twitter and buy their books!)


30] Megan Thee Stallion

“Plan B”

Traumazine

“Poppin Plan B’s cos I ain’t plannin’ to be stuck wit ya.”  “I’m the only reason that your goofy ass got bitches.”  “You know her head weak if she ain’t fuckin’ up her makeup.”  “Because dick don’t run me, I run dick.”  “I’ll buy the whole buildin’ and keep them hoes in they places.”  “You’re cheap and I be at work while you sleep/My pussy is the most expensive meal you’ll ever eat.”  “The only accolade you ever made is that I fucked you.”  “Ladies, love yourself, ‘cause this shit could get ugly/That’s why it’s, ‘Fuck n*ggas, get money.’”  “You better get on your knees and eat this pussy right/Before I have another n*gga do it for me.”  “N*gga, you’s a bitch.”  ‘Nuff said.


29] Yeah Yeah Yeahs

“Burning”

Cool It Down

It took me quite a while to finally come around to “Spitting Off the Edge of the World.”  It took me no time at all to love “Burning.”  As much as the lasting appeal of Yeah Yeah Yeahs over the decades has been their willingness to take more than a few left turns in search of a fresh sound, “Burning” is pretty much exactly what I wanted and expected a YYYs return in 2022 to sound like.  It’s Blitz! but with a real ‘queens coming back to school the pretenders keeping their seat warm’ muscle.  Karen O clarion calling chaos from her tower, Nick Zinner making guitars buzz with such melodic viscosity that it induces stinkfaces in all those caught in the vicinity, Brian Chase pounding drum skins like doing so is the only way to put out their never-ending fire.  And that’s before the realisation that “Burning” is a full-blown disco song, teased initially with a Gloria Gaynor-type piano in the verses only to be fully confirmed with those dramatic strings skipping all over the chorus.  I choose to believe this is YYYs trying to resuscitate The Four Seasons’ “Beggin’” after that godawful Måneskin cover attempted to snuff all life from it.


28] SZA

“Blind”

SOS

Phoebe Bridgers made headlines the other week when, during an interview partially about her unlikely collab on SOS, she named SZA as “[her] favourite rapper.”  Pedants undoubtedly fell over themselves in a race to say that SZA is not a rapper.  Except that, err, “Blind” (and several other tracks on SOS) indicates that she can be and, even more importantly, she’s really fucking good at it.  Copping the flow from Kendrick Lamar’s “FEEL.,” Solána just glides over the vulnerably sparse backdrop she and her producers have crafted, doing her signature flip between instantly-memorable flexes (“Put the hood on, now they callin’ me Cassius/Raunchy like Bob Saget”) and even-more-instantly-memorable anxiety dumps (“My pussy precedes me”).  And those striiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiings, tho!  Striiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiings!  “Blind” is 2:30 dead and yet I could loop this song for hours.


27] Paramore

“This is Why”

This is Why

Prior to the official album announcement, Hayley Williams talked a big game about how the next Paramore record had Bloc Party’s seminal Silent Alarm as the central reference point.  Anyone who knows Callie Petch knows that this is not something you invoke lightly, especially as they get older and begin relating even harder to the social alienation and melodic urgency of that record.  Friends, Hayley Williams was talking a big game because she, Taylor York and Zac Farro could back it all the fuck up.  “This is Why” may not be a like-for-like Silent Alarm tribute – that’d instead be second single “The News” and PLEASE WHY IS IT NOT MID-FEBRUARY ALREADY – but Bloc Party DNA is all over this thing.  That initial wind-up prior to the verse setting in place, Williams shifting into social commentary mode (succinctly picking at social media bubbles and DEBATE ME culture), and the way that chorus absolutely EXPLODES are all Bloc Party without losing Paramore’s central identity.  It’s also, as my brother and Paramore mega-fan (even more than I) noted, Farro’s Half-Noise crossed with After Laughter and, God, I love this band!


26] Dream Wife

“Leech”

Leech – Single

Pop Quiz, hotshot: what’s the best two seconds in music this year?  There are a lot of contenders, so I can understand if it takes you a while to come up with one answer.  Got one?  You’re wrong.  Don’t even need to hear it; whatever it was, it was wrong.  The correct answer is “the first time that Rakel Mjöll utterly screeches ‘THE LEEEEEEEECH IS OUUUUUT FOR BLOOOOOOOOOD!’”  If you’re gonna put together a build as methodical and charged as the one which “Leech” uses for its verses, especially if those vocals are delivered in dry spoken-word with a loose relationship to melody, and a pre-chorus that adds snares on the 2, the payoff had better be the equivalent of a mass carpet bomb.  Dream Wife understand the assignment.  “Leech” is really fucking good in the verses, and then the chorus hits and those screams turn it into the best thing in the goddamned world right now.  Just have some fucking empathy.  (And before anyone asks: yes, the lateness in the year of its release and my hearing it are why it’s not higher, and I will regret not going closer to the Top 10 by New Year’s.)


25] Jamie xx

“LET’S DO IT AGAIN”

LET’S DO IT AGAIN – Single

The long, long, long wait for Jamie’s second solo album continues unabated.  But I can’t stay mad at the dude when he emerges from hibernation every couple of years or so with bangers as euphoric and undeniable as “LET’S DO IT AGAIN.”  He’s just so good at managing builds and releases, chopping that Bobby Barnes sample, in classic house fashion, right down to the bone and looping it to such a degree where the anticipation for a drop just takes full control over one’s body.  And the wait for that drop is one Jamie milks for all it’s worth on the full-length seven-minute version, spending over five of those repeatedly teasing potential releases that, when it finally comes, speed-pan vocal chops and glittering synth chords in tow, the rush is so great that he doesn’t even need to punch up the drums in the mix properly.  Just letting all the teased release elements ride uninterrupted for a full minute does the job.  I bet this slayed at festivals all Summer.


24] Black Country, New Road

“The Place Where He Inserted the Blade”

Ants from Up There

At the risk of inciting the wrath of music’s 2016 Rick and Morty fanbase equivalent, I still do not get Black Country, New Road and find a solid half of Ants from Up There to be self-indulgent pretentious guff.  Yet even I find “The Place Where He Inserted the Blade” to be a borderline masterpiece of a tune.  Not since Frances Ha has crippling co-dependency sounded this beautiful and triumphant, departed vocalist Isaac Wood’s near-breakdown vocal delivery completely selling his protagonist’s crippling lack of self-worth with maybe the most direct and affecting lyrics he’s ever penned.  The rest of the band, for their part, wind in all of their performative eccentricities by backing his emotional vomit with a straightforward chamber pop ballad wall of sound that, by the end, turns into a “Hey Jude”-esque series of “bah-daaaaah!” vamps.  By playing the song straight, just crafting a classic rock ballad, BC,NR are able to finally reach that moment of utter transcendence I keep being told their music is able to invoke in listeners.  As backhanded as all the compliments in this entry may sound, “Blade” is truly phenomenal and has bought them at least two more albums worth of goodwill attempts from me on its own.


23] Beach Bunny

“Karaoke”

Emotional Creature

Speaking of “da-da”s which give me the real comforting kind of emotional shivers, sometimes the simplest songs can be the ones that stick the most with somebody.  “Karaoke” is the kind of no-frills indie pop track which soundtracked my adolescence here in the UK, when you couldn’t go six steps without getting a Cajun Dance Party or Morning Runner stuck on the bottom of your shoe.  Two verses, a straight 4/4 beat, guitar-led, and a refrain that’s just a bunch of “da-da”s.  Nowt fancy but still something that took up comforting residence in my head for the entire second-half of the year when I felt a bit down.  Maybe it’s those soft dynamics, or Lili Trufillio’s relatable anxious lyrics detailing a crush that overtakes one’s entire being, or the moment when the drums change to a slightly skippier snare roll as the band jams out to the end, or maybe it was just the warmth of those “da-da”s, but this was quietly one of the most moving songs I heard all year.


22] Mitski

“Should’ve Been Me”

Laurel Hell

The problem with Laurel Hell, the reason why I could not get into the total package no matter how hard and how often I tried, was undoubtedly the fact that it didn’t have more ABBA homages.  Standout “Should’ve Been Me” has that same kind of classic Swedish pop bounce as prime ABBA, complete with intersecting pianos and harpsichords; longing lyrics of a failing relationship delivered with full actorly conviction; and enough nagging hooks to justify invoking the comparison in the first place.  Seriously, the sheer number of hooks on this thing!  That opening piano roll!  The “do-do” synth blasts at the end of each roll!  The pre-chorus melody!  The way Mitski draws out that “meee-eeee-eee” in the chorus!  The post-chorus; yet further evidence that a good post-chorus is a prerequisite for all Great Songs!  Even that little guitar break during the bridge!


21] Pharrell Williams

“Cash In Cash Out (Feat. 21 Savage & Tyler, The Creator)”

Cash In Cash Out – Single

Not that he ever stopped – hell, this year alone he provided the hardest beats for Pusha T’s excellent It’s Almost Dry – but it can sometimes be taken a little for granted that, once upon a time, Pharrell Williams was, alongside Neptunes partner Chad Hugo, one of the most fearless and aggressive beatmakers going.  There’s an entire generation of music-heads who probably associate him with “Get Lucky” or “Happy” more than “Grindin’” or “Milkshake.”  “Cash In Cash Out” is Pharrell firmly correcting that record with the nastiest beat of the year, the kind actively designed to wreck car stereo systems through sheer bass-heavy force.  A beat like this demands rappers who can either slink over it with serene cool and menace or ones who will treat it like Hulk treats Loki at the end of The Avengers.  Step forward 21 Savage, on both hook duty (where that slinky delivery absolutely saves it from being TikTok bait) and firing off more than a few great lines (“N*gga took the stand, he lied/Held court in the streets and they gave his ass life”); and Tyler, the Creator, who just wrecks the place so thoroughly it’s like he runs a demolition crew that loses money the longer he takes to complete a job.  Best video of the year, too.


20] Röyksopp

“This Time, This Place… (Feat. Beki Mari)”

Profound Mysteries

I fully cop to not having explored much of Röyksopp’s discography outside of Melody A.M. and their collabs with Robyn, so maybe it wasn’t actually that surprising to reach the midpoint of the first (and best) of their Profound Mysteries trilogy and be greeted by an honest-to-God trance number.  And I mean a proper turn-of-the-century trance number, the kind whose minor key emotionality and vulnerability moves the listener both physically and metaphorically, whose build is spine-tingling and whose release is a pure dopamine splurge of epic proportions.  Everything about this one works.  The extended intro, transferring out of the album’s previous song like we’re cresting over a hill to see “This Time” come into view.  Those dramatic burbling synths which rise and fall in intensity, sometimes even sounding like a ticking clock.  Beki Mari’s two-syllable impressionistic lyrics.  The switch-up on the outro.  This is the song which singlehandedly sold the album as a whole for me.  (On a similar note: shout-out to Romy’s own trance throwback “Strong” which released too late in too crowded of a season to break through like it deserved.)


19] Gang of Youths

“you in everything”

angel in realtime.

2022 was a real great year for overtures and closures on albums.  There’s a reason for that, though.  Particularly with more conceptual albums, a strong opener which pulls you completely into the record’s world can often be the one that sticks with you strongest in later months.  It’s the song that means you immediately let the rest of the album run if this is a revisit, and the song that instantly locks your ears to full attention for the next 70 minutes if it’s your first listen.  I can tell you the precise moment that angel in realtime. had a chokehold on my attention that first go.  It’s when David Le’aupepe kicks off the fourth verse confessing “How do I face the world? Or raise a fuckin’ kid? Or see beauty in the Earth and all its majesty replete/When I’ve spent the better part of my twenties/Doing self-indulgent bullshit on repeat?”  Combined with the skyscraping instrumentation that out-Arcade Fires Arcade Fire – before that band got cancelled and, yes, said cancellation is why they’re not on here – I found myself unexpectedly moved to near-tears.


18] Danger Mouse & Black Thought

“Strangers (Feat. A$AP Rocky & Run the Jewels)”

Cheat Codes

The mixing on Cheat Codes is fine.  It sounds like a recorded-over cassette tape worn down to its last, the kind traded on grimy NYC streets in the 90s by underground rappers looking for their big break, and that muddiness adds so much atmosphere to songs like “Strangers.”  A beat that’s all grimy bass with kicks that blow out the mix and rappers who are forced to fight from within the maelstrom and tape noise to be heard.  The kind of beat where a performer’s swagger needs to be ultra-potent for them to sound like they belong even before you start picking apart their bars.  In other words, prime hunting grounds for Black Thought (your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper) and Run the Jewels (making one of their rare excursions outside of El-P productions to make it clear that yep they sound brilliant on basically anything).  Just diamond-level shit-talk on this from those three.  Rocky’s verse is much more haphazard lyrically, but he swaggers all over this track with total confidence nonetheless and just about gets out in the black overall.


17] Florence + The Machine

“My Love”

Dance Fever

OK, I’m just now finding out as part of additional research for this entry that “My Love” didn’t even crack the UK Top 40?!  The fuck, UK?!  Florence Welch finally gives you the long-overdue return to club-adjacent dance that led to her two much-deserved #1s back in 2012, with a track that’s arguably better than those, and you decide to get all ‘new phone who dis?’ on her?!  I thought you all were frothing at the mouth for a return to clubs and dancing?  And here are Florence and Dave Bayley of Glass Animals giving you precisely that, one that’s explicitly about dancing out the uncertainty and heartbreak of pandemic-enforced shutdown in cathartic disco joy, but suddenly it’s not good enough for you?!  You’re telling me you heard that magical post-chorus and not a single percentile of your soul ascended to a better plane of existence?!  You all sicken me!  I hate it here.


16] Momma

“Callin’ Me”

Household Name

For the vast majority of the year – hell, right up to a week before I finally locked this list in – the Momma representation was gonna be lead single “Speeding 72.”  That song’s central guitar riff can lay claim to secretly being 2022’s most potent hook.  Except the thing is that Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten are on record idolising mid-90s alt-rock albums like Weezer (The Blue Album) where even the deep cuts are capable of being chart-bothering sucker-punches, and Household Name has just such a number buried in its second-half.  “Callin’ Me” is, quite simply, an uber-well-constructed indie rock song.  Hooky riff, quiet-loud musical progression, deceptively complex drum patterns, a hell of a chorus, and haaaaarrrmoniiieeeeeeeessss – something which, as Part One readers will know, is the second-fastest way to get on this list.  Much as I love “Speeding 72,” that love is weighted mainly in favour of the central riff.  With “Callin’ Me,” that love is evenly spread across the entire track.  Now play it live for once, you cowards!


15] Fred again…

“Jungle”

USB – EP

Subtlety and nuance can be sorely overrated.  There are times which call for songs that just pound you in the fucking face over and over and over again as you smile in mad-eyed glee and demand for more, adamantly refusing to use your safeword.  (It’s ‘apricot,’ btw.)  Sure, “Jungle” is heavily reliant on its Elley Duhé vocal loop and Daft Punk “Revolution 909” drum sample – the gigantic brass balls on this kid to look at a classic Daft Punk track and go ‘I can use that better’ without immediately embarrassing himself for his hubris.  Sure, this is late-00s Prodigy levels of battering the listener senseless with a caveman-stupid beat of industrial force.  Sure, it’s all ENERGY and zero substance.  Your point being?  “Ain’t no love in the jungle” all fucking night long!


14] Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

“Bounce Off the Bottom”

Endless Rooms

Perhaps as a result of my successful indoctrination to the War on Drugs cult in early-2019, I’ve found in recent years that I rather enjoy it when indie acts just jam their hearts out over a song’s climax.  Plenty of evidence for this development can be found in this year’s countdown alone, but maybe the first signs of my shift came from all my favourite Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, a band who normally write corset-tight, tracks being the ones where they ride a groove out for an extended period of time.  “Mainland” off Hope Downs, “Cars in Space” off Sideways to New Italy, and now “Bounce Off the Bottom” from Endless Rooms.  The New Zealand band’s usual deceptively complex guitar and vocal interplay is on full display throughout “Bottom”’s first half, albeit now with a more elastic relationship to traditional verse-chorus structure.  But it’s when they change the key and relax into that outro jam where the song really takes flight.  I’ve had many lazy afternoons in 2022 that were exclusively soundtracked, either out loud or in my head, to that jam.  Could practically live in it.


13] Ethel Cain

“Thoroughfare”

Preacher’s Daughter

On the first listen through Preacher’s Daughter, “Thoroughfare” is a desperately-needed burst of light in what has up-to-then been a real grim time.  The first instance all story where the character of Ethel Cain gets to experience some kind of joy, a man who doesn’t want to use or abuse her, and make choices for herself after a life in controlling cults and shitty relationships.  Accordingly, Ethel Cain the musician pairs this moment of hope, where anything for the first time feels possible, with a sprawling dream-pop country road trip soundscape that audibly conjures golden hour sunsets and a gradual realisation of all-consuming new love to the sound of a firework guitar solo.  It feels almost too good to be true… not even half-a-song later, that heartbreakingly turns out to be the case.  Every revisit flares up more and more red flags, adds a bitter dramatic irony… and yet, for nine beautiful minutes, I still can’t help but hope that this time things will be different.  Which is the point; when you look at someone through rose-coloured glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.


12] Petrol Girls

“Baby, I Had an Abortion”

Baby

Not sure if you’re aware, but it’s a real fucking bad time for women’s reproductive rights at the moment.  One punk song glorifying – or, more accurately, attempting to destigmatise by so casually and unapologetically referring to – abortion is not going to change anything, if we’re being honest with ourselves.  But it’s supremely goddamn cathartic to scream along to as the shit gets worse and worse nonetheless.  The pre-Bricks Are Heavy L7 crunch of the instrumentation only adds to the transgressive fun of “Baby, I Had an Abortion” and vocalist Ren Aldridge’s audible sarcastic glee over lines like “I’m a goddamn should-be-mother/Got a womb so that’s my purpose” is the definition of punk-as-fuck.  I don’t list songs based on greater societal resonance, this is here entirely because it’s a fucking ripper that I love, but this is one of the defining songs of 2022 and should’ve been talked about way more.


11] Spoon

“Wild”

Lucifer on the Sofa

When you’ve been releasing bops and bangers and rippers for a quarter-century without ever really falling off, you gain that most deadly of albatrosses around your neck: the ‘consistent’ tag.  Spoon have been consistently great for yonks but that also means they can so easily be taken for granted.  Yeah, of course “Wild” is another effortlessly fantastic slice of rock, strutting along with sheer cool on the best bass of 2022, gradually building up its instrumental elements like someone is manually walking across the stage turning on each performer’s spotlight, and invoking drifter yee-haws without actually going full country.  ‘They’re Spoon!  That’s just what they do!  Britt Daniel wakes up in a morning and pisses out five classics when he uses the toilet!’  But even still, “Wild” is a modern classic you shouldn’t take for granted and any Best Songs of 2022 list without its appearance is getting a major side-eye from me.


Tomorrow, the year closes out with the Top 10.

Callie Petch has got their layered hair and their flared jeans.

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