1.
Beyoncé — Break My Soul
1.

Beyoncé burst back onto the music scene and immediately hit the dance floor. The lead single from her long-awaited seventh album Renaissance, “Break My Soul” tosses away her daily woes. Renaissance, in totality, maintains high energy through pulsating rhythms and odes to Black pioneers of dance music. An introduction to Queen Bey’s nightclub reinvention, “Break My Soul” quakes with a sample of Big Freedia’s 2014 bounce cut “Explode” before teleporting into a euphoric homage to ‘90s house. Even R&B-house legend Robin S. was honored with the song containing elements of her 1993 hit “Show Me Love.” “Break My Soul” grooves as a kiss-off to dead-end gigs and stress, inspiring a legion of fans to literally quit their jobs during The Great Resignation. In the church of Beyoncé, “Break My Soul” transitions into a climatic gospel praise towards the song’s end. The song simultaneously broke the internet and radio, with Beyoncé finding her “new salvation” in the form of 2022’s self-love anthem. – Jaelani Turner-Williams

2.
Taylor Swift — Anti-Hero
2.

Leave it to Taylor Swift to write the millennial anthem. That might sound like a dig, but it’s not. “Anti-hero” is the #relatablecontent of pop songs. It’s BuzzFeed. Swift speaks in internet slang — “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby and I’m a monster on the hill,” “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me” — one breath away from saying “dumpster fire” and literally one letter away from uttering “it me.” Is she self-aware, poking fun at herself and the culture she thrives in? Maybe. Does it make for a good pop song? Absolutely. Swift takes on the cadence of a ‘90s indie-pop singer-songwriter, overtop staticky synths and driving boom-clap drum loop. She has the benefit of being a member of her main demographic, so her upbeat self-loathing doesn’t read as hack. Instead, it’s a heartfelt confession about getting in your own way and aging in a world built for sexy babies. – Julia Gray

3.
Steve Lacy — Bad Habit
3.

Every time I listen to “Bad Habit” is more exciting than the last. You see, it’s not just a ridiculously catchy pop song, it’s also an incredibly layered one. On every new spin, there’s another wrinkle to discover, whether it’s a vocal loop you didn’t realize was there before, a synth that jumps out of nowhere, or Lacy’s incredible range. The song somehow even managed to end Harry Styles’ historic run atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “As It Was,” and it’s a testament to the many, many flowers that Lacy is set to receive in his budding career. – Adrian Spinelli

4.
Beyoncé — Cuff It
4.

It’s a shame that Beyoncé’s already been around the Day-Glo roller rink, because if ever a song screamed neon, hot pants, and blacklights, it’s “Cuff It.” This track doesn’t just exude the confidence of “Get Me Bodied” and “Freakum Dress” but sparkles with a grown-up sureness that even those classics lack. It’s a rare moment of breezy anarchy in the staggering intricacy of Renaissance, incautiously optimistic about the night ahead. In a dark and difficult year, one that saw queer and trans people bleed to death on dance floors, that optimism is no small thing. – Peyton Thomas

5.
Ethel Cain — American Teenager
5.

Cain’s single, “American Teenager,” shines a light on the hedonistic underbelly of her perception of the patriotic dream. With the music video filmed on a high school football field, she details the passing of a neighbor’s brother and getting drunk at church to grieve — all while parading around in a cheerleading uniform. “It’s just not my year, but I’m all good out here,” Cain maintains in the chorus, keeping the positivity that matches the upbeat pop instrumental. – Lexi Lane

6.
Lizzo — About Damn Time
6.

This year, it was “About Damn Time” Lizzo delivered another viral hit and she certainly did not disappoint. Lizzo returned with glitz and glamor on her feel-good track “About Damn Time,” which previewed her much-anticipated sophomore album Special. In true Lizzo fashion, the song is upbeat, infectious, and has some of the most quotable lyrics of the year. I mean, who can resist singing along to the line, “It’s bad bitch o’clock, yeah, it’s thick-thirty.” – Carolyn Droke

7.
Harry Styles — As It Was
7.

Harry Styles penned “As It Was,” a three-time-Grammy-nominated chart-topper, about his personal evolution through the pandemic. It also undeniably transcended him into generational rock star status. There is no going back; we’re living in Harry’s world. The Harry’s House lead single dances between shimmering synth-pop melody and stripped-down introspection. “Answer the phone,” he softly sings. “Harry, you’re no good alone.” Styles has hardly been alone since launching his Love On Tour, including an unprecedented 15-date Madison Square Garden residency, with “As It Was” as a unifying staple on the empowering setlist. – Megan Armstrong

8.
Beyoncé — Alien Superstar
8.

When Beyoncé talks her sh*t — think “Bow Down / I Been On” or “Upgrade U” — the world stands still. Renaissance’s “Alien Superstar” is no exception. The track commands attention over all 16 tracks of Bey’s seventh studio album, serving as both a moment to flex for the veteran pop star and a rallying dance floor anthem. Outside of its confidence, Bey toys with texture creating a variety show on the 3-minute track. She pays homage to the Black ballroom, gives us a sermon from National Black Theatre founder Barbara Ann Teer and sprinkles a catchy adlib, “UNIQUE,” on top of it all. Kudos to Knowles for pushing past typical futuristic themes for her otherworldy-titled track and referencing the past for her new sound. If you’re looking for the spunk of Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl” interwoven with Beyoncé’s floaty vocals, look no further than “Alien Superstar.” – Ellice Ellis

9.
Alex G — Runner
9.

Alex G’s songs feel like rough sketches that are nonetheless totally complete. On “Runner,” he hints at camaraderie in brokenness, at admiring someone who’s less than admirable. This outline, set to a wistful piano and acoustic guitar backing and delivered with a wide-eyed innocence, becomes something truly lovely. “I have done a couple bad things,” Alex repeats. When he breaks into a screech before he can get to the end of the last repetition, it sounds less like a cry of guilt and more like one of euphoria. – Mia Hughes

10.
Beyoncé — Virgo’s Groove
10.

Named in honor of her star sign and co-produced by rising R&B force Leven Kali, Renaissance’s ninth track “Virgo’s Groove” is a jubilant reverie of intoxicating funk, airy synths, and “come hither” lyrics urging you to make your way to the dance floor…or the bedroom. Clocking in at just over six minutes but never faltering in listenability, the song also halts longtime naysayers of Beyoncé’s singing prowess — her show-stopping vocal gymnastics serves as the pièce de résistance on an already fantastic voyage of sophisticated sonic stylings. In an album full of highlights, the now-Grammy nominated track still manages to stand out. – J’na Jefferson

11.
Alex G — Miracles
11.

Optimism is in short supply these days, but Alex G is earnest enough to have named his ninth album God Save the Animals. Simply put, it’s a record about faith, and on the penultimate track, “Miracles” Alex allows himself to freely grapple with the belief that everything will be alright. But, when he tells us that he is praying for us and the children and the sinners, I immediately feel safer. “They’re miracles and crosses,” he reminds us of love and the other good things that happen in life: it’s a prayer for the new year, a benediction for the world. – Zoë Jones

12.
GloRilla and Hitkidd — F.N.F (Let’s Go)
12.

Let’s Go! GloRilla and Hitkidd’s “F.N.F.” is an anthem for women to let go – whether it’s from shedding their fears and insecurities from their past relationships to devoting their time to their girl squad and, more importantly, themselves. More than anything, the song is an ode to self-love. With its bumping base and Big Glo’s raunchy lyrics, the track is both rachet and righteous — something for the streets to dance to and the perfect mantra to get through any breakup. – Alexis Oatman

13.
Bartees Strange — Heavy Heart
13.

The opener on Bartees Strange’s Farm To Table is utterly undaunted. The track begins gently with morose electric guitar, but Bartees’ greatest skill is rapidly switching tone. The clash of genres — “Heavy Heart” cycles through frenetic rock, emo, and a cinematic horn section in under five minutes — mimics the song’s internal struggle: to celebrate successes in a time of adversity without feeling guilty about it. “Heavy Heart” chases the optimism we’ve all sought amid the darkness of the past few years. Funny enough, it’s the song’s softer sections — which you might expect to be saddest — that are the most hopeful. – Caitlin Wolper

14.
Phoenix featuring Ezra Koenig — Tonight
14.

“Tonight” offers scientific proof that it’s possible to feel nostalgic for something that’s happening right this minute. While Phoenix spent their last couple of albums resisting the pull to recreate the sound of 2009’s unstoppable pop machine Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, this song gives in completely — and adds a cherry on top via a familiar voice, Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. It’s everything you want in a Phoenix single, from the hip-shaking bassline to the almost-too-simple chorus: “Roll with me,” it encourages. “Let’s roll.” You just had to ask the way you used to ask, Phoenix, and we’re there. – Josh Modell

15.
Paramore — This Is Why
15.

In the five years since Paramore released their glossy After Laughter album, America has experienced everything from an insurrection to a resurgence of the spunky pop-punk anthems the band spent the bulk of their earlier records perfecting — all in the midst of a global pandemic. It makes sense that frontwoman Hayley Williams asserts, “This is why / I don’t leave the house / you say the coast is clear, but you won’t catch me out.” Williams’s straightforward songwriting juxtaposed against the track’s Talking Heads-esque drum and guitar lines (courtesy of Taylor York and Zac Farro) make for a track that embodies the justifiable melodrama of the past year. While much of the pop music scene has been pulling from Paramore’s past to create new hits, the band is more interested in the art of innovation with this sublime lead single from their forthcoming sixth studio album. – Kyle Denis

16.
Kendrick Lamar — Mother I Sober (ft. Beth Gibbons)
16.

The final track on Mr. Morale And The Big Steppers (his final album with Top Dawg Entertainment), “Mother I Sober” serves as visionary emcee Kendrick Lamar’s vulnerable send-off before moving on to new ground. The nearly seven-minute therapy session finds him unpacking trauma with equal parts discomfort and hope. Using a subdued vocal tone, Kendrick confronts his personal, familial, and sexual demons, and offers encouragement for the Black community and hip-hop at-large to recognize their own shortcomings and begin healing wounds. Between his whispers, Beth Gibbons of Portishead offers compassionate affirmations, while Lamar’s partner Whitney Alford and next-of-kin close the track thanking him for his efforts in breaking generational strongholds. – J’na Jefferson

17.
Burna Boy — Last Last
17.

For the second year in a row, afrobeats found its place in the song of the summer conversation. What was Wizkid and Tems’ “Essence” in 2021, became Burna Boy’sLast Last” in 2022. Supported by a sample of Toni Braxton’s “He Wasn’t Man Enough,” Burna Boy detailed the struggles he endured following the end of a relationship. Still, the sad nature of the song meant little to many as they gleefully sang the song through the year’s hottest months. Even Burna’s pleas for “igbo and shayo” (“weed and alcohol” in Yoruba) to cop with heartbreak played more to fans’ desire for the aforementioned party favors as a boost to their outings. Nonetheless, you can’t blame many for not understanding Yoruba. In the end, “Last Last” did what music, in general, is supposed to: unite those from far and wide. – Wongo Okon

18.
Angel Olsen — Big Time (Song)
18.

On the title track from Angel Olsen’s stellar 2022 album the singer-songwriter taps into the waltzy daydreams of ’70s folk-rockers and old-school crooners. Over stargazing pedal steel wanderings and the steady beat of snare clicks, Olsen sings of lazy bliss — those days you forget that cell phones exist and civilization is slowly cannibalizing itself. “We’re always busy, baby, not this time/ Lay in the tall grass, talking with your eyes,” she sings, and during the chorus, she cleverly reveals that the loss she experiences is the shedding of worries. “Big Time” is about more than an idyllic day, it’s a country-rock ode to falling in love and living in that joy. – Will Schube

19.
Bad Bunny — Tití Me Preguntó
19.

Reggaetón giant Bad Bunny is the most streamed artist across the globe. Given the Puerto Rican hitmaker’s penchant for drawing from a wide gamut of genres and styles, it should be no surprise; his appeal is far-reaching. On his latest record, the sprawling Un Verano Sin Ti, Benito flirts with merengue, hip-hop, and even house. “Tití Mi Preguntó,” one of the album’s many standout tracks, merges dembow and rap in a seamless fashion. Armed with an accelerated beat to match Benito’s hurried yet effortless cadences, Bad Bunny’s universal star power is on full display. – Grant Sharples

20.
The Weeknd — Out of Time
20.

During my initial listen, “Out Of Time” was easily a standout track on Dawn FM. The notable sound of Japanese city pop is immediately recognizable in the background as Abel’s vocals glide over a sample of Tomoko Aran’s 1983 song “Midnight Pretenders.” There’s almost a sense of mesmerizing nostalgia evoked while listening to this song that makes you feel frozen in time, which is ironic considering the song’s title. As if the original wasn’t enough, Kaytranada gifted us a funk-filled remix to the song and performed it during his opening act for the After Hours til Dawn Tour. – Noella Williams

Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.