It has all come down to this. An entire year of listening to tracks, making a list, moving around the top ten…and waiting for the new Taylor Swift record to come out before finishing the top 50. Let’s see what made the top 5 of 2022…there are some you probably guessed already, but there may be a surprise or two.
5. Koffee: x 10
I have been a huge Koffee fan since her first single Burning in 2018. Her mix of reggae and hip hop gives her unbelievable crossover potential, while her excellent vocals and talent means that she will be around for years to come. Not many reggae artists have crossed over into mainstream…maybe Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Shaggy and possibly Protoje, but Koffee is on the cusp of crossing over. This track samples Bob Marley and at once links her to her reggae roots, while also freshening up her sound with some pop flourish. Koffee sings about how thankful she is for the life she leads, how her mother taught her to be a good person and how she takes everyday as a blessing to do good in the world. The track itself is genuine and honest with an incredibly uplifting message of hope and grace. This might not be my number one song for 2022, but it is by far the one I listened to the most.
4. Rihanna: Lift Me Up
Ok, you probably guessed that this track would be in the top 5 somewhere. This single marks Rihanna’s first studio work in close to 6 years and it drops as part of the most anticipated movies of 2022. The track itself is a spiritual tour de force with and epic chorus, uplifting lyrics and showcases Rihanna’s vocal range. You are brought into the track immediately with those two notes she holds for roughly 30 seconds. I have been wanting Rihanna to come out with a record for the last three to four years and this single is an excellent sign of things to come. On the same soundtrack she also released the more upbeat / traditional R&B structured track Born Again, which I think will be closer to what her new record will sound like…speaking of a new record…be sure to check out the top 5 in 2023 for another Rihanna song. I’ll save a space right now.
3. Kendrick Lamar ft. Beth Gibbons: Mother I Sober
If you told me that Kendrick Lamar was going to do a track with Beth Gibbons from Portishead, I would have checked what you are drinking. But, here we are. Kendrick had a lot to live up to with To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN. and the Black Panther record. His latest record, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers is probably the most introspective and personal of his records as each track oozes psychological pain and trauma. Mother I Sober is about intergenerational trauma, sexual abuse, violence towards women, psychological pain and breaking the cycle of blame and addiction. It is a heavy track, but ultimately Kendrick explains how he was able to make peace and rise above intergenerational pain. This has not only given him freedom, but has also freed his mother and other family before him. The record has its ups and downs, but it definitely shows why Kendrick is such a strong voice within hip hop and within the culture.
2. Taylor Swift: Anti-Hero
I have gone back and forth between number two and number one with this track. When Midnights was announced it came out of no where and the hype was through the roof. All of us Swifties were expecting 1989 (Taylor’s Version) to come out in 2022, but to hear that a new studio record was on the way…the hype train hit 11. Midnights sees Swift combine the pop sensibilities of 1989 and the songwriting / themes of folklore / evermore into a catchy record with lyrical depth. Anti-Hero is a perfect example of these two styles. It has a catchy hook, but takes on themes of self-loathing, gender stereotypes, and how to love yourself within an endless onslaught of media expectations of what the perfect body / woman looks like. I adore this song and its smart and grounded writing. An amazing song…but it still couldn’t get to number one.
1. Beyoncé: PURE / HONEY
Beyoncé comes in at number one with probably the most vulgar song to be in the top five, but it showcases everything I love about Beyoncé. First, she brings this sexy disinterested vibe as she sings about “bad bitches to the left / money bitches to the right” and how “it should cost a billion to look this good.” This is the sexy Beyoncé that she has been channeling in her latest hip hop tracks and it matches well with the house vibe on tis record. She then breaks into some classic R&B from the Destiny’s Child days with an amazing bridge. Essentially, this is about three songs blended into one and the combination is intoxicating and has a house / club vibe that can’t be beat. I went back and forth with all the songs in the top five, but this is definitely the song of 2022 for me.