There used to be a record store on the North Side of Chicago — and we’re talking actual “North Side” in that it was on Ridge Avenue and not far from a neighborhood called West Ridge and in an uber-ethnic area that was next to another uber-ethnic area — that never changed the letters in the sign on its billboard. It was a not a marketing message, not even really a request; it was a mandate.
“PULL OVER AND GET NEW MUSIC.”
So we issue this request, nay mandate, that you should stop everything you’re doing, pull over, and enjoy these…ten songs that made our list in 2022.
First, A Couple Caveats
I can’t hear everything. Lord knows I’ve tried; I can, however, thank the fine folks at SiriusXMU, Q101 (which is FINALLY back), and my dear friend “Canadian Steve” for their consistent presence in my ears.
Also, I’m just a middle-aged guy who grew up on Top 40, got into some random “alternative” stuff in college, and really hasn’t slowed in my search for the next new thing. This list will be more rock/pop/indie/alternative than “OMG Taylor’s Midnights is AMAZING.”
And, Before We Start The List…The ‘2022 Payola Prize’ Goes To…
Anyone else remember the band “fun.”? What struck me as obvious then was how often fun. got played, how incredibly average their “Tonight, We Are Young” song was, and how the radio people fawned all over their every move. It was obvious that there was some sort of “payola” going on.
Spinning through the channels of SiriusXM, it’s obvious to me that we have a new monosyllabic recipient of…well, if it isn’t payola it sure is a sense of over-hyped-ness that reminds this reporter of fun.
Here’s the band “TALK” with a song called “Run Away to Mars.” I said what I said.
Now, the list.
10. Foals, “2am”
Yannis remains dreamy. Not their best song, actually, but the best of theirs that was released in 2022. Fans (or followers or friends) might recall that their “Mountain at My Gates” made my best songs ever list.
Catch them live, will ya?
9. Maneskin, “Supermodel”
A decent amount of fun slammed together with a dose of “what the heck did I just hear?” seems to be the formula for Maneskin, an Italian (?!) band that was formed in 2016 and is up for a GRAMMY for Best New Artist (of course, because it’s the GRAMMYs).
8. Interpol, “Something Changed”
Interpol is back, baby.
One of the seminal acts of the early 2000s, the mysterious Paul Banks and his cohorts — but let’s face it, Interpol takes the lead from its lead singer and its lead singer is a rather befuddling combination of good looks, charm and gravitas — still have it.
7. Lord Huron, “Your Other Life”
This song is chilling, haunting, a little sad, and maybe matches my 2022 mood. Lord Huron is an acquired taste, granted; but it works in an alt-country way. Thumbs up to the song, thumbs down to the general 2022 mood.
BONUS TRACK: Pinar Toprak, “Prime Video Sports Theme”
Sorry not sorry: now number 2 or 3 in the rankings of all-time football theme music. (Though the games have mostly been duds.)
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Burning”
Speaking of alternative darlings and comebacks (see Interpol above), Yeah Yeah Yeahs are back and there was no question a song would crack our Top Ten. The winner is this one, but see the Honorable Mentions below for another great tune.
5. Yot Club, “u dont know me”
This song has to be from 1992, right? I found it on a collection of CD singles with the name of “Stanley, Son of Theodore” or on one of those Warner collections that was colloquially called a “Bugs Bunny CD?”
Nope. 2022. Dang. Fun song with enough of a throwback vibe.
4. Beach Bunny, “Oxygen”
I feel like we might be cheating a little here, as this song was released in late 2021. But — and again, pals over at Q101 gave this heavy airplay this year — if it charted this year and it’s darn awesome, maybe we cut it some slack.
3. Gorillaz f/Thundercat, “Cracker Island”
If you want to feel old, these guys (Gorillaz) have been around since 1998.
Thundercat adds the bass here. Catchy as any Gorillaz song.
2. Bartees Strange, “Heavy Heart”
Thanks to SiriusXMU for this one; Bartees is a favorite of theirs and rightly so. Great mix of rock, soul, and funk and a random nod to one of my favorite towns (“We should go to Toronto more often”). This song got played and replayed on YouTube by me perhaps more than any other 2022 ditty.
SONG OF THE YEAR:
1. Hemlocke Springs, “Girlfriend”
So you’re telling me that the Song of the Year dropped a video 11 days ago?
Here’s the thing: If you hear a song for the first time while you’re driving and you immediately need to pull over and stop the car, then you hustle inside and Google the artist and find the video on YouTube and play it over and over all afternoon…you don’t care if the song just dropped. It’s my Song of the Year.
Hemlocke Springs gives me the impression that she is simultaneously a college student (true: here’s a biographical piece from Rolling Stone) and was listening to pop tracks in 1987 (like, Pebbles, or NuShooz, or Pretty Poison). The lyrics are nuts — in a good way, as the bonus lyric video below tells us; “You say I want to be your girlfriend/It wasn’t really in my plans/When you’re around I got arrhythmia/So in the end I play pretend” — and the synthesizer and her voice and everything about this song tells me this is not the last we’ll hear of Hemlocke Springs.
Honorable Mention Bonus Tracks:
Rosa Linn, “Snap”
Rema & Selena Gomez, “Calm Down”
Smashing Pumpkins, “Beguiled” (good, but not good enough to make the Top Ten)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs f/Perfume Genius, “Spitting Off the Edge of the World”