Well, Obama had his list out.
And while Twitter is not convinced that he listens to Ethel Cain, you best believe that my top 5 picks are authentic. With that out of the way, here are the top 5 songs that had me on a chokehold in 2022:
5. Fred again.. – Clara (the night is dark)
Fred again.. has been having a good year!
With the release of his third album and a feature on Ruben Östlund’s satirical comedy, his music has garnered a lot of attention. And though his album is filled with vapid mixes, a particular song stood out for me.
‘Clara (the night is dark)’ is a nightclub gem that would make you contemplate on your very existence. It’s a mellow take on an upbeat genre that remains in touch with its electric roots.
A lovely element that I really like is the repetition of various voices, which is used to utter the message of the song: “if you don’t know, don’t worry!” With the brilliant use of organs that lead us to reflect on the temporal effects of euphoria, this nuanced anthem perfectly captures the conflicted feeling of wanting to have fun in your 20s!
4. Ethel Cain – American Teenager
Now this one… this one takes me back to the early aughts.
With lyrics that reference America in the 2000s, ‘American Teenager’ is a heartland classic that builds its soundscape around the topic of angst. Anxious for the future, anxious for the systems in place.
What Ethel Cain managed to do is capture these dreaded feelings of angst by pulling an overarching theme for the production: nothing has fully changed and we’re losing faith in progress. You can hear this statement throughout her use of nostalgic sounds. Only she can make a song so daunting and timeless, like 2022 was 10 years ago.
3. The 1975 – I’m In Love With You
Speaking of 2022, guess who made a comeback!
Well, there was never a “hiatus” per se, but all the tumblr boys were ecstatic for this long-awaited release.
‘I’m In Love With You’ is the culmination of what The 1975 is all about: an endearing medium to express romance. It’s simple yet heartfelt, with an engaging hook that feels incredibly ardent.
But perhaps what’s being overlooked is how they managed to create an austere instrumentation. If my ears are accurate, the structure was composed through a tender mix of guitar chords. Everything about this song is a delight, and it will leave you with a joyous feeling of love!
2. Dayglow – Second Nature
And the joyous feeling continues with my number 2 pick.
For the second best of 2022, ‘Second Nature’ takes the spot and no, the juxtaposition is not intentional. The song just happens to be very good at climbing up the list with its disco influence. In fact, the fusion of such is a stand out feature that I truly admire from this confident release.
During the interlude, Dayglow arranged an ambience that is both raw and intelligent. It’s like a construction of vaporwave that tries to bridge the fundamentals of pop with the funky beat of disco.
Additionally, the excessive use of synth does not feel misplaced. It elevates the bridge and makes it coherent with the sonic composition. Not bad for an indie record that almost occupy my number 1 spot!
1. Flume – Highest Building (feat. Oklou)
As for my number 1 pick, the top prize goes to this EDM breakout hit.
To be fair, I can never wrap my head around the genre of this track. Coincidentally, it is also the thing that makes ‘Highest Building’ so appealing! You have pop, you have dance, you have all these different elements that coexist into a burst of excitement. And that’s the thrill of listening to the song!
From the very beginning, Flume attempts to hook us in with these claps that somehow slow the mood down. It’s intriguing and enticing, with a build up that pays off like a soundtrack to Euphoria’s party from hell. While it should not be reduced to a “Euphoria vibe”, it is important to acknowledge the impact that the rhythm leaves behind. Truly a feat for the Australian producer!