Legit Bosses – The 154 Best Songs of 2022

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaw sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

Boom

There were only 121 of these bastards last year!! Extraordinarily poor planning on my part. There’s a lot of work to do, so I am not going to spend a lot of time on this intro. I will just say though… This list was named after a Sasha Banks catchphrase in WWE, and now she’s left that company… can I just have it?? Is it 100% mine now??

Anyway: Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone else: 2022’s 154 best songs.

(Spotify playlist)

(YouTube playlist)

#154 Mikey Rukus: All About Tha (Boom!) (Adam Cole Theme)

Yeah… So I kind of used Adam Cole’s (at that point) recent AEW theme to communicate my excitement over the 2021 Legit Bosses list, and promised that – even though it was technically (read: absolutely and unarguably) released in 2021, I would include it on this year’s list. Because it’s an absolute alltimer!

But, I dunno, ma dudes. Halfway through the year he suffered a horrific concussion and there are serious doubts whether he’ll be able to return to the ring again. So it’s difficult for me to enjoy this song as much as I once did. Get well soon, Cole, whether or not you ever return to wrestling.

(But can you imagine the pop that this song would garner if it ever marked his return…?)

[EDIT: I actually manifested his recovery!! What power these words have… So, do I put it higher now? No. I’m too lazy]

#153 Andrew Bird feat. Phoebe Bridgers: I Felt a Funeral in My Brain

“Oh, a song by the always fantastic Andrew Bird, and also featuring the undeniable talents of Phoebe Bridgers. I wonder if that will be good?”

Jesus Christ, mate, you really need to sort out your critical thinking skills.

#152 Blanck Mass: Montana (Main Theme)

Oh shit! The film ‘Ted K‘ – which the reliably perfect Black Mass did the theme for – is actually about the Unabomber?? I realise that I never once checked, I just vibed to the soundtrack. Is it a good film? I might watch it. Leave a comment if it’s a good film, there are no other ways for me to check general critical consensus online

#151 Andy Burns: Road Runner

Oh you just got Burned! We do love the mysterious Andy Burns around these parts. Fun fact: this songs tarts exactly the same way as Let’s Eat Grandma’s Happy New Year, released a month later? Am I accusing the women of ripping off Mr Burns? Who Bit Mr Burns (part 1)? Well, legally, I can’t just throw those kind of accusations around, I can only present the facts and let you view the crime yourself.

Happy New Year doesn’t make the list though, so… justice served? Andy can at least put it on his CV.

#150 Jonny Fallout: The Pain and the Love

Top fifty! I’m already halfway through this fucker!

Hmm? What’s that?

Top one hundred and fifty?! This is such bullshit! I can’t believe I’m being forced to do this (by myself)!

Anyway, this lovely little synthwave gem was maybe introduced to me by Z Tapes, I can never remember this shit. It’s an absolute banger though.

#149 Drowse: Wait and Bleed

Drowse are amazing. There’s a lot of great stuff going on there, and their ambitions to bend rock music itself in order to best articulate mental anguish is admirable. The only thing is… the quality of the songs isn’t always there, so the project often exists as an incredible sonic achievement without presenting songcraft and melodies that you can really hook into your veins.

And where do you go if you want some songcraft and melodic cues? Slipknot, of course! Drowse’s take on the 1999 original does the perfect cover trick of transferring the original’s best qualities while making it sound like nothing but a complete original. It’s also more than twice as long. Because Drowse.

#148 Phoebe Green: Make It Easy

Make it E-zay, ahm sick of com-PEA-ting for your affection…

Ah, balls, so Phoebe Green and Phoebe Bridgers are different people?? Then why do they have the same first name?? I only found out that Nick Cave and Nick Carter were two different people in 2019, I honestly don’t have enough emotional energy to comprehend another truth bomb.

#147 Wednesday: Perfect

Oh, hmm, what’s that? Another cover of a 90s alternative rock song I remember from my teenage years? Yes, left arm please, the veins are always slightly more prominent.

The lovely Wednesday released a cover album in 2022 (along with… some… other stuff) called ‘Moving the Leaves Instead of Piling ’em Up‘ that I didn’t include on the Necessary Evil countdown because I couldn’t be arsed writing that album title out multiple times I didn’t connect so much with a lot of the songs that were obviously significant to the band members. Their take on Perfect though is absolutely (wait for it! Wait for it!! Wait for it!!!) flawless.

OK! A small opportunity to squeeze in my Big Smashing Pumpkin Take! When am I ever going to get another opportunity?? I don’t plan on writing much about the National Wrestling Alliance going forward. I would never personally consider The Smashing Pumpkins as one of the greatest acts ever. But I will say that – if you stop the clock at the absolute artistic suicide that was 1998’s ‘Adore‘ – then they were absolutely one of the greatest singles bands of the 90s. 1979? Tonight Tonight?? Bullet With Butterfly Wings??? Motherfucking Cherub Rock???? My take is, despite all their angsty baldman goth aesthetics, The Smashing Pumpkins are actually the closest thing America had to Supergrass – a brilliantly fun 90s rock outfit with killer singles.

Wait…

Perfect is on ‘Adore’??? Nooooooooooooo!? My mind is actually blown, some proper Mandela shit. This is one of those things that I can blow so many people’s minds with, I just need to find the right niche of people!!

Yeah, fuck that big take of mine, not sure it works anymore.

#146 Precal Dropouts: For Ginger & Fiona

Ba-wara-wara-waaaaaang! Filipino shoegaze excellence that was the highlight of ‘Selling Sunflowers’, a Z Tapes’ compilation released in order to raise money for Clovek v Ohrozeni./People In Need, a Slovakian humanitarian charity that provides support to neighbouring Ukraine and other places in need of help.

#145 Liam Gallagher: C’mon You Know

I always keep a (beady) eye on Liam Gallagher. I find his older brother to be a boorish retro fetishist, the kind of person who would be really snobbish in defense of really shit music taste. “Oh my God! I can’t believe your favourite album in ‘Let It Ride’ by Shed 7!! You’re such a casual! If you were a real connoisseur of music, you’d know that 1996’s ‘A Maximum High‘ was actually the band’s crowning artistic achievement. Check out Rick Witter’s solo stuff though, that’s when his genius is really untethered. No, it’s not easy to find…”.

Liam though, he doesn’t even listen to albums, he skips through to the singles that he happened to catch on Capital FM. If you ask him to name his favourite band, he’d say The Beatles. If you asked him for his second favourite, he would sit in silence for a long time, before mumbling “John Lennon, probably”. He loves The Beatles with all his heart. He owns both ‘Revolver’ and ‘1967-1970‘. To this day, he doesn’t realise that ‘1967-70’ is two discs. So, yeah, he’s also an idiot, but he’s either so blissfully unaware of human capabilities that it’s hard to hold it against him, or – more likely – he just really doesn’t care. He still has one of rock music’s greatest voices and – just like it’s been for almost thirty years now – he uses that voice to sing dreadful dirges.

The title track from his last album though? Yeah, I’ll have a bit of that. A bit. This much. And no more.

#144 Shamir: Lose to Win

Oh, hey! This was actually an exclusive that was released for BandCamp Friday and has now been deleted! Looks like you’ll just have to take my word for it because I’m a lucky lucky boy in possession of a precious thing! What a situation!

In all seriousness though, if you pay me £20 I’ll ring you on WhatsApp and play it down the phone. If you want me to give you a handjob as well it costs £15.

#143 Mark Lanegan: Brompton Oratory

Lads, it’s Lanegan. Singing a Nick Cave song.

Rest in gravelly peace, you magnificent bastard.

#142 Jordana: Is It Worth It Now?

OK, sit tight, I’m about to dabble is some pretty special wordplay on this entry:

I… didn’t really like Jordana’s 2022 LP. It was a disappointing and unambitious semi-flop. I started to think (OK, here comes the wordplay) is it worth it now?! The ‘it’ being my fandom in that particular piece of wit. I guess.

But early signs of her follow up EP – released in November and eligible for NE23 because I said so – are extremely good. Is this how it’s gonna be, Jordy? One major album release full of overproduced forgetfulness, then one EP full of all the bangers that sound like they were fun to record? I mean, I’m cool with that – we still get the bangers – just want to know where we stand.

#141 Lorde: Mata Kohari/Stoned At the Nail Salon

So yeah, Lorde released a five song EP which included tracks from her ‘Solar Power‘ album sung in te reo Māori – the indigenous language of Aotearoa New Zealand – and translated (plus rewritten and recontextualised) by Māori artists. All proceeds from the project go to the Forest & Bird and Te Hua Kawariki charities. What? So I’m not celebrating that? Good for fucking her.

And, excitingly, maybe the first song to feature on this countdown in two different languages!? Yeah, nice bit of trivia, except the original song didn’t make the list last year. I like your thinking though.

It’s also proof of the superiority of Māori culture and should lead to the true people of that land – and indeed any land around the world – immediately rising up to violently overthrow the white settlers.

Ooh! Dreamgirl are next! I love that song!

#140 Dreamgirl: Poolside

This is actually so sweet and gorgeous it’s offensive

#139 070 Shake: Lose My Cool ft NLE Choppa

I’m so androgynous
I keep confusing them
Think I’m a polygamous
I want like two of them
Wake up in the morning
See the life I wanna live
I can’t get distracted
Tryna live my life with them
I know I’m a prodigy
They say they proud of me
And honestly I gotta be
‘Cause there’s a God in me

Hmm, 070 Shake you say? Nice being introduced to her, can’t imagine we’ll be hearing from her again.

I do appreciate how Wikipedia describes this December 2021 release as the first single from her second album. It’s not even on the album. Is this like when band’s like Joy Division used to release tracks like Love Will Tear Us Apart to trail albums they didn’t even appear on like ‘Closer’?? I’m tellin’ ya, ma dudes, that woman is in good company.

#138 Bad Static: Reanimation

I’ve been calling you from the gra-a-a-a-aaaave!

God this is just fucking incredible. Spirited, gutsy, funny, passionate, valid, scathing, [adjective], amazing. First introduced to me on a Z Tapes compilation, this is one of the most perfect expressions of what pop punk could and should sound like. So infectious that it’s actually problematic in a post-COVID society.

#137 Anaïs Mitchell: Watershed

An achingly beautiful album closer. Hey, the album opener, Brooklyn Bridge, is amazing as well! The stuff in between? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh

#136 Waxahatchee: Trampoline Love Song

Cece, yes, it’s true, I got a gigantic crush on you
And you know, girl, you’re such a dream
Will you jump on that trampoline?
Come jump with me

that’s it

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand that’s the whole song. Rarely has thirty three seconds been better spent since the day I was conceived. Wax sets a Legit Bosses record (that I always assumed Tierra Whack would possess eternally) that’s going to be very hard to beat.

#135 Methyl Ethel: One and Beat

Can’t you see it’s impossible without you?
Made to breathe in, exhale chemistry
Face to face I’m the winner
Come spend it all with me

Wait… it’s just called One and Beat? Not One and THE Beat??

Shit, ma dudes, fucking Mandela Effect again, innit?

#134 Andrew Bird: Make a Picture

Birdo! Ma Boi Andrew flipping the Bird as only he can. The Birdmeister General also becomes the first artist to appear twice, so maybe give him a prize for that? Shit, give him something for this fabulous song!

#133 Prince: Vagina

OK, wow, a lot to unpack from this song released in nineteen eighteen cocking two.

Firstly, yes, of course Prince has a song called ‘vagina’. If this is somewhat surprising to you then I can only imagine you’ve never heard of Prince. Lucky you! You have so much fun to look forward to! I know of a certain journey you might want to be a part of.

So ‘Vagina’ is actually someone’s name, and I don’t know why you would ever think differently. It’s the name of someone who’s ‘half boy, half girl’, which Prince was sure to put all future vile transphobic and anti-LGBT rhetoric to bed early by simply stating how Vagina’s gender queerness was simply “The best of both world’s”. Prince also states how He met Vagina at a gay bar. Firstly, Prince, you say you met “her” at a gay bar, but don’t you think Vagina is more likely to use ‘they/them’ pronouns? Did you even ask what her pronouns were?? Fucking bigot, man. I’m joking, of course: pronouns weren’t invented until 2014. It’s a cheeky setup, as it might not strike you properly that Prince was in a gay bar already when He met Vagina. And this was in 1982, when gay bars were generally full of actual homosexuals rather than hen parties and liberal arts students ‘Just showing their support’. And the song ends with Prince asking for the second time (after Vagina and him bonk with the TVs on. “A political romance”?? Prince, you have no idea how political it will bizarrely become in the future!) how Vagina got their name. As in, “Well, it’s certainly not for that reason…”.

Seriously, how many major stars would have the 大胆子 to record a song with a similar lyric forty years later??

Sigh, yeah, I know – it would actually be more brave in the current climate, because anything vaguely trans has become the most evil thing since Marxist Isis. It’s horrid, don’t give people like JK Rowlings money, remember that the end goal is the execution of every person who doesn’t pretend to conform to the gender assigned at birth. These people with any sort of power are actually genuinely evil. Here are some trans friendly charities. Or just kill yourself. Because, yeah, that’s what people like Matt Walsh actually want, but fuck this world, right?

#132 Anaïs Mitchell: Brooklyn Bridge

Ah shit, I already mentioned this song at #137, didn’t I? Forgot this was on the countdown as well. Listen, they’re both great, OK? Nobody’s getting hurt here, chill out. Mitchell also joins El Birderino on two entries so far.

#131 Camp Cope: Blue

I felt that the latest album ‘Running With the Hurricane‘ (remember that name, kids! #spoiler) was too often far too country and Liz Phair soaked for my personal taste, but the gorgeous Blue is by far the best example of that particular artistic goal.

#130 Shamir: Cisgender

Listen, you raggedy bitches, Shamir isn’t ‘cisgender’ or ‘binary’ or ‘trans’, he doesn’t want to be a woman or a man. You want him to pass? Pass as what? One of your two (because there is still only two) archetypes of how you should act and aim to be perceived?? Fuck. That. Noise. Why do you care? Why are we all encouraged to care at such an insane level? Why do people care so much that they’re willing to harass human beings to death with the wider aim of mass extinction? We have this perception of their being two types of people, and if you don’t conform to our beliefs that you don’t really care about, then… fuck it, we’d really just rather you suffered through pain and agony and then died. This is fine.

Again, here are some charities. Don’t write to your MP/congessperson. They don’t care about you unless you’re making substantial profits. Organise. Strategise. Walk on that nation. Walk on that racist power structure and say to the whole damn government “Stick ’em up, motherfucker this is a hold up. We come for what’s ours”. Then yadda yadda yadda, mass executions etc, we’ll sort all that stuff out later

#129 Prince: Purple Music

Let’s fucking gooooooo!

A legendary ten minute jam that Prince would record alongside the ‘1999‘ sessions, and definitely echoes the sort of musical expansion and experimentation the record deals in. Purple Music is a far more loose and improvised, jazzy feel to the much more structured magic of the album. Literally until writing this very entry, I had always assumed it was a recording of an extraordinarily productive jam session with Prince and the extraordinarily talented group of musicians that were making up his backing band at this point. It’s an astonishingly exciting glimpse at what recording with Prince at the height of His genius was like.

But… No… Prince plays every single instrument Himself. I kinda forgot about that thing He does. Seriously, this has blown my mind. How does this song even work as a solo project?? He was jamming with recordings of himself?? Listen, logistically, how long would it take the second most talented musician in the world (Gary Barlow?) to even put a track like this together? Prince did it while recording a double album widely regarded as one of the best ever and then never actually even releases it. I’m sorry, I just seriously can’t get my head around this…

Prince didn’t even play the song live for the next 28 years, not debuting it until including it in a melody at a 2010 show. Like, have you not forgotten how it goes by that point?

Baffling…

#128 Shamir: Caught Up

Hat trick for Shamir!!!

#127 Soccer Mommy: Unholy Affliction

Well this is… musically interesting… and… slightly different to Soccer Mommy’s usual sound… would be nice if… she did this… more often…

*cough*

Moving On.

#126 Love Regenerater, Riva Starr: Lonely (feat. Sananda Maitreya)

Sananda Meitreya! The artist formally known as Terrence Trent D’Arby! Seriously, one day I’m going to write about how important and influential an artist Sananda was to me when I was a young teenager, but for now let’s just appreciate this lovely house track better than 90% of ‘Renaissance‘.

#125 Tanya Tagaq: Colonizer

Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer

Oh, you’re guilty (oh, you’re guilty)
Colonizer
Oh, you’re guilty
Oh, you’re guilty
Colonizer

Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer
Colonizer

You colonizer
You colonizer
You colonizer
Oh, you’re guilty

You colonizer
You colonizer
You colonizer
You colonizer
You colonizer
You colonizer
You colonizer
You colonizer
You colonizer
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Oh, you’re guilty
Oh, you’re guilty
Oh, you’re guilty

You’re well aware and heavily into Tanya Tagaq’a ‘deal’ by now, yeah?

#124 Let’s Eat Grandma: Give Me A Reason

Yeah, that’s the single’s cover, don’t @ me.

Hey, Let’s Eat Grandma! Wonder if we’ll get any more songs from the artists behind the year’s third best album?? Give Me a Reason wasn’t included on the original album, for some baffling reason, but was released months later as part of a deluxe reissue. It’s good. Check it out. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out, what-wha-wha-wha-what it’s all about.

Moving on.

#123 Ibeyi: Juice of Mandarin

Another brilliant 2022 song that wasn’t actually included on the brilliant 2022 album that the artist released.

By the way, watch that Colors Show performance I’ve linked to if you ever doubt that the world still contains joy, beauty and love.

#122 Efficax: Smiling and Sad

Hey, not on YouTube or Spotify! Efficax is so cool.

Listen, here’s the current line up of Necessary Evil’s 2023 posts: there’s this, there’s the 2022 statistics, there’s a review of Psalm One’s book, there’s an anniversary special in May, there’s the Gold Star Artist list and somewhere in there I’m also going to interview Efficax about her new album, as I thin she’s going to have some fascinating things to say. I’ll get there at some point, I promise!

Also, just realised I’ve been spelling ‘Efficax’ as ‘Effifax’ this whole time, so going back and editing the entire fucking post I wrote was a bit of a ballache, not gonna ngl.

#121 Psalm One: Interview Me

Speak of the devil! Yeah, that review of ‘Her Word is Bond’ in a month or so. I’ve got so much to do, man! Will I actually interview (!!) her?!?! No, she’s way past that ‘Jordana Threshold‘ of artists that are too successful to talk to blogs of this size, and I don’t wanna get hurt again, man…

#120 Bloc Party: Day Drinker

They find me face down in the bins taking out the trash
Still, I won’t be told, copacetic, everything is fine
I was carrying too much weight, so I break, habit escalates
Sometimes I enter rooms and forget why

Massive, massive, massive love and respect to Bloc Party. ‘Alpha Games’ was another brilliant album following 2016’s ‘Hymns’, and just had to be cut from the list because I had so many albums to talk about!!

But yeah, they’re still great. And I can kinda relate to this song.

#119 Denzel Curry: John Wayne (feat. Buzzy Lee)

The world is darker than thе integration of a Brooklyn Dodger

Referencing Jackie Robinson first stepping out for the team in 1947 and becoming the first black man to play Major League Baseball. Is that a good reference? Is it a suitably deep cut or really obvious. I’m English, I’ve no idea. Is it like Stormzy just referencing Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick? I need to know how impressed I should be!!

#118 Trentemøller: No More Kissing in the Rain

I always sing “No more… pissing in the rain!!” because I’m a fucking child.

#117 David Holmes: It’s Over, If We Run Out of Love [feat. Raven Violet]

Ba, ba-ba- ba-baaaaaaang!

#116 Momma: Rockstar

The barback is our singer
The last one quit the band
A real heavy drinker
He karaokes Rocket Man

I know, based on that description this band sounds just awful, but this rocks hard enough to expel maybe 5% of the plague that Nickleback condemned Earth to with that song. No, I’ve never heard the term ‘barback’ before either. Like, I know what it means, but who talks like that??

#115 Riverby: The Moon

And you bring up all the people you know
Forget to mention
They don’t like you anymore

Now, ‘riverby’, that’s a word you can hang your coat one’

The truly special thing about Riverby is that they have the 大胆子 to ferociously scream songs about violently slicing up anyone propping up society’s suffocating patriarchy, but them they can seamlessly slide into wonderfully crafted and affecting pop genius like The Moon.

#114 The Koreatown Oddity: Indifferent

Am I indifferent or desensitized
No, grass is greener
It all gets fertilized

A joyous, kaleidoscopic, multilayered, textured, captivating, utterly depressing song. Koreatown analyses the belief that great art must come from suffering, and wonders how valid he can hope to be when modern life has dulled his senses so much that he now feels nothing. And he ain’t jealous, because he doesn’t believe anyone has it better. It’s not that he doesn’t understand, it’s that he just doesn’t want to understand.

Has an artist ever made music this fun yet this despondent?

#113 Zeal and Ardor: Golden Liar

Ah shit, who am I kidding? I’ve definitely ranked this song too low out of embarrassment. Z&A are one of the coolest and most sonically interesting metal bands of recent times. Golden Liar is not that. It is not cool.

It is Big

Rock

Balls

I don’t care if this song was obviously written to headline Wembley Stadium sometime in 1987. I fucking love this shit.

When the (immaculately produced) drums kick in about two and a half minutes in? Rigga-did, da-dig, da-dig, igga-did, da-dig, da-digFor eigh-teen yars, ah been waitin’ HE_YAR…!

This shit’s my fentanyl, man. It’ll kill me one day, but I don’t care.

#112 Lava La Rue: High Fidelity (ft. Biig Piig)

Don’t you hold back now, baby
Tryna pull up in your driveway
Missin’ your presence lately
But I gotta have it my way
Don’t you hold back now, baby
Hit it louder ’til they complain
I let the auras take me
I ain’t care ’bout what they might say

“Oh, what, you think I’m *blech* ‘lo-fi rap‘?? Have some of this, and put some respect on that tongue!!”

Running out of ways to say how much I love Lava La Rue.

#111 Nell & the Flaming Lips: Red Right Hand

OK, so this one’s a bit of a curio, admittedly…

Nell Smith was born in Dirty Leeds, and became an extremely noticeable presence at Flaming Lips shows after moving to Canada with her family. Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne couldn’t help but notice the 12 year old so often at the front of concerts singing along to every word. Oh, and dressed as a parrot. The band struck up a relationship with Nell (along with, it’s important to note, her family). They made arrangements for Nell to fly down to Oklahoma to record with the band, but something something COVID. Instead, Coyne suggested that Nell record vocal covers of Nick Cave songs which the band would then add recordings to. Coyne said that he chose Nick Cave not just because that motherfucker has one of the richest back catalogs in music (don’t @ me), but because had never heard of him before so would have no preconceived notions of how to perform the songs.

And the album is definitely an interesting and worthwhile project (released in late 2021 when Nell was still only 14), with possibly Nick Cave’s most famous song (linked to either Peaky Blinders or Scream depending on how old you are) being the greatest achievement. Nell manages to add extra layers and a new take on a tune I’d have previously imagined was so entrenched that I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to hear anyone’s interpretation of it.

Yeah, I know, this is all very weird, but the music’s good and we’ve got a lot to cover so let’s just move on…

#110 Talia Goddess: Everybody Loves a Winner

You’re “shitting like feces”?? Do you mean you are comparing your defecation to an actual excrement? Like an excrement excrementing? Jump in any time, these are good topics.

Less than two minutes. All you need.

#109 Japanese Breakfast: Be Sweet (feat. So!YoON!)

내게 반성해봐, 그렇잖아
내게 반성해봐, 그게 낮잖아!

A-hahaha! Remember at #141 when I teased the possibility of a song featuring on two separate Legit Bosses lists in two different languages?? Well Japanese Breakfast’s Be Sweet made it all the way up to #7 on last year’s list in boring old English, now here it is again in the language of Michelle Zauner’s parents. It’s called intelligent writing, look it up. Maybe in the future I’ll just include foreign language songs that aren’t just translations of English language songs that I already love? Hold your horses, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here.

#108 Hallelujah the Hills: Get Me In a Room

It would be wrong for me to sing the blues
All of my bad dies proportionately kind
So if I must lose, lemme lose, spectacularly
Wrap up my wounds and just turn out the lights

I… I’m not sure… But I think Hallelujah the Hills became one of my favourite bands in 2022 with their rerelease of a decade old album…??

That guitar part after the first chorus?? Do-nana-noo… Do-nana-noo… Do-nananananananananana

Fuck, ma dudes, I am here for all of this.

#107 Spiritualized: The Mainline Song

#106 katie dey: no love for songs

Wish for healing
Faith in nothing at all
No love for songs

Heavy feeling
Heavy breathing on call
No love for songs
Pray for staying strong

katie dey continues to ‘Do Things To Me

#105 Tanya Tagaq: Teeth Agape

Touch her children? Well then, unfortunately, her teeth welcome your windpipe

#104 Mogwai: Boltfor

Don’t worry, to enjoy the glorious Boltfor, you don’t need to have listened to Boltone, Boltwo or Bolthree.

No, honestly, that joke’s really funny when said out loud.

#103 Charli XCX: Yuck

Yuck, now you got me blushin’
Cheeks so red when the blood starts rushing
Yuck, that boy’s so mushy
Sending me flowers, I’m just tryna get lucky
Yuck, lookin’ at me all sucky
Yuck, quit acting like a puppy
Fuck, going all lovey-dovey on me

It’s Charli, baby!

#102 mynameisblueskye: Martin Luther Christ

Middlefingers in a praying hand
What have they done to you
They made taxidermy
Out of your body, out of your heart,
Out of your speeches, your beliefs
Threw your voice away
Made you a ventriloquist dummy for evil tyrants
And the sociopaths who loved them dearly

A brilliant and brave dissection of the bastardisation of one of the most noteworthy and revolutionary Marxist leaders of the 20th century, which mynameisblueskye discussed further in our interview a few months back.

#101 BLACKPINK: Shut Down

Bit of a swerve in tone, admittedly. BLACKPINK’s take on how the legacy of MLK has been co-opted by the right and simply been used as some sort of proof of white supremacy to shout down all black protests are not explicit in the lyrics, but seeing as South Korea has long been a puppet state of the imperialistic arm of the US government it’s likely they would all have to officially agree with the status quo.

Catch me when you hear my Lamborghini go, vroom-vroom-vroom-vroom…

#100 Jeshi: Protein v2 (feat. Obongjayar & WESTSIDE BOOGIE)

Top 100! This is where lesser talents than I would start. Because they’re all fucking cowards

#99 Lava La Rue: Cry Baby

She ain’t fuck with nobody if the energy fake
She only want real connections and intellectual dates
I told her if I’m not your preference, then baby that’s just okay
Don’t use your past life for reference ’cause in this life I’ma stay
And now we get by in the Westside
Wake up, say “Günaydın,” looking at my next next wife
Another day, rise and grind, grafting for my best life
Life with you in the picture, travel far left and right
Eat that coochie like it’s cereal, presence so ethereal
I could buy all the Prada but you ain’t care bout the material
Sometimes I be annoying and we argue bout the trivial
But you ain’t close to toxic, finding you felt like a miracle (Uh)

Again, get on board with Lava La Rue now so you can more easily boast to your friends how you were into her ‘before she became so huge’

#98 Rico Nasty: Black Punk

Black punk in your areai!

#97 Let’s Eat Grandma: Insect Loop

That guitar line? You are now pregnant.

#96 Mitski: Working for the Knife

Ner-nooo-nerrrr! Only the real Mitskiheads will get that noise.

#95 Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul: Reappropriate

Reappropriate your sexuality
Accept and celebrate your sensuality
The broken child in you, you set her free
Reclaim your womanhood by saying what you need
Reappropriate your sexuality
You’ve got the right to femininity
It’s yours to give, it’s yours to keep
Embrace your womanhood by saying what you need

Yeah, these artists just hit a little different, don’t they?

#94 Generationals: Trying to Reach You (feat. Sarah Jaffe)

Holy fucking shitballs, what even is this? Who are these people?? I know nothing about either the perfect pop genius of the Generationals nor the sweet bubblegum vocals of Sarah Jaffe. I happened to hear this song on a Polyvinyl Records compilation (which also contained the #116 entrant) and… fuck me! This is gorgeous. More please.

#93 Prince Daddy and the Hyena: Jesus Fucking Christ

Jesus Christ ain’t shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit… OK, so The Daddy’s latest album didn’t completely see them evolve past their origins as purveyors of dumb fratboy punk bangers, but when the tunes/riffs are this good, you kind of forget your ethics.

#92 Lykke Li: Carousel

Trigger warning: very dangerous levels of pure beauty evident here. But if you’re a Lykke Li fan you’ll be aware of these safeguarding issues.

#91 Young Jesus: Ocean (feat. Tomberlin)

Listen, Young Jesus are pretty much consistently this good. Please get on board with this, it can’t just be me.

#90 Alvvays: After the Earthquake

The pulse of the brake light
Is the colour of burning embers
If you wake up, will you remember
The awful things I said at the edge of the bed?
Thrashing like a great white (I feel the northern tide)
As they rolled you up on a stretcher (crashing on the pines)
And the faint words of Jessica Fletcher (I feel the northern tide)
Were drowned out by the sound of (crashing on the pines)

I guess it’s a testament to the overall quality of the pop songs on Alvvays’ latest album that every end of year review I’ve seen seems to highlight a completely different song as the standout, a different piece of pop perfection that resonated with them most. It’s also a shame to see so many people being incorrect, as this achingly gorgeous portrait of a collapsing relationship is obviously the best. Yes, that’s Jessica Fletcher as in the main character of ‘Murder, She Wrote’, problem?

#89 Superorganism: Oh Come On

I’ll admit, I kind of forgot/denied how much I loved Superorganism. Orono Noguchi, man, she owns everything she even glimpses at

#88 Lady Gaga: Hold My Hand

Did you watch that new fucking Top Gun film?? Jesus, man, that shit should be illegal! Absolutely shameless emotional manipulation, supposed ‘art’ shouldn’t just be one long propaganda exercise.

In other news, I am now training to become a fighter pilot.

#87 Charli XCX: Lightning

It’s Charli, baby!

#86 Prince: Feel U Up

Another astonishingly good studio cast off from the incredibly fertile ‘1999’ sessions, perhaps not included on the finished album because of it’s slight thematic similarity to the previous album’s Jack U Off (because it certainly can’t have been discarded because of its quality). It actually had a longer lifespan than most of Prince’s binned pieces of genius, being considered for 1986’s mythical but canned ‘Camille’ album (make it happen, Prince vault!), the version that eventually appeared as the b-side to 1989’s Partyman. Can you study like an archaeology of Prince’s songs at university? I feel like that’s what I want to do.

#85 The Answers In Between: Hotel Room

You’re swept away when they burst

You caused the flood, you get submerged

This is why you’re called too much

Why you have to turn around you let them down

Holy shit, I need to keep my eye on these fuckers. An absolutely emotionally devastating slice of pop beauty. Astonishingly crafted, incredible musical sensibilities. The Answers in Between currently have 200 followers on Twitter, this song has been viewed 9 [NINE] times on YouTube, which might all be me. They deserve to be a big deal, and will hopefully be one sometime soon. Help them on their way.

#84: yeule: Cattails

You expect me to write something here? Get fucked, yeule’s cover of 2019’s 57th best song is just too beautiful for words.

#83 FKA Twigs: Oh My Love

Twigs, everybody knows that I want your love, why you playing baby boy, what’s up?

But seriously though, on a level, you’re beautiful.

#82 070 Shake: Cocoon

I guess they shoulda known, known, known, known, known
Flowers gonna bloom, bloom, bloom, bloom, bloom
Smoke is gonna rise, rise, rise, rise, rise
Bitch, I’m out the cocoon, —coon, —coon, —coon

The first appearance from 2022’s best album, and a great introduction to the musical expansion and sonic experimentation that Shake had introduced on her second LP. Check how the song’s musical backing blooms after she sings “It’s making me so emotional” and try telling me this isn’t the greatest music being made in 2022.

#81 The Smile: Free In the Knowledge

Yeah, it’s just a Radiohead song, innit? But one of those really good Radiohead songs that Radiohead themselves are often unwilling to do.

#80 Yaya Bey: Keisha

Was it a mistake not including Bey’s amazing album on the NE2022 countdown? Why I no like nice things?? Yeah, the pussy so, so good, and I still don’t love her???

#79 The Smile: Pana-vision

Shit, this one sounds even more like Radiohead!

#78 Destroyer: June

Fuck, this might be the most ‘Destroyer’ song Destroyer have ever done. If you fancy a slow suicide by alcohol poisoning, try playing the Destroyer Drinking Game to this song. The lyrics are incredible, of course (“A snow angel’s a fucking idiot somebody made/A fucking idiot someone made in the snow”), but what really makes this song incredible is how the music explodes into a jazz funk odyssey towards the end and goes off like a, goes off like a, goes off like a, goes off like a, goes off like a hydrogen bomb.

#77 Superorganism: Teenager (feat. Chai, Pi Ja Ma)

Got no time for class, today we learn about the past
And thе present and the futurе fading so damn fast
So what? Just gimme a break and wish me happy birthday
Happy birthday to your old school rock and roll ways
I’ll hook you up to my magical machine, get in line and come on in
Everybody shrinking oh oh

I dunno, ma dudes, maybe it’s the way Orono Noguchi delivers the lines, but this shit is magical.

#76 Ravyn Lenae: Mercury (feat. Fousheé)

Listen, I’ve had hundreds of women say that they “fucking hate” me, but it’s honestly never sounded this beautiful.

#75 Andrew Bird: Atomized

Here’s what I say to them


“What…

…is your point?”


Here’s what I say to them


“Things…

…fall apart…”

Perhaps the greatest song that El Birderino has ever done, and the fact that it barely makes the top 75 of 2022 gives you some idea of the certified bangers that were unleashed last year

#74 Sharon van Etten: Headspace

Perhaps ‘We’ve Been Going about This All Wrong‘s most direct and vulnerable moment, while also managing to be it’s sexiest and most malicious. Basically, there are a lot of adjectives happening in this layered and semi-industrial exploration of the possible antagonism of sexuality in adult relationships. “Don’t turn your back on me”? Well, given the context, that could be read in at least a couple of ways, couldn’t it?

#73 Manic Street Preachers: Groundhog Days (Remastered)

Is this what you do with eternity?
I killed myself so many times
I don’t even exist any more
So I surrender to impulse
But still so numb
So make some time
So make some time
Wake up feeling like a Messiah
Totally fucked, five minutes later
My body a temple falling to pieces
Chocolate or Coke
My needs are artificial
Unintentional, forsaken for what?
All in search of our personal gods

OK, OK, OK, I know: it has been mentioned to me that previous Legit Bosses lists end up being a little… spammed by whatever certified masterpieces were included on whatever Manics reissue came out that year. You know there is neither a new Manics album nor any rerelease planned for 2023? Do I even bother doing this stupid blog that nobody reads? Might get Nicky’s second solo album, I guess…

Anyway, I’ve decided to place restrictions on my Manics obsession from now on: since I spent literal months and maybe 40’000 words explaining in depth what the greatest Manics songs ever were in September 2021, in future only songs that weren’t named on that list can also get included on the Legit Bosses, preventing any double dipping. I’m sure you’ll agree that greatest song list renders any future discussion completely inconsequential. Also, I can’t take another parliamentary inquiry into my business practices: the liberal media is going to have to find another way to take me down!!

Groundhog Days might be a perfect example of how this new system works: sure, I liked it previously, but it was never seriously considered amongst the band’s best. However, the reframing of the song on the ‘KYE’ rerelease really outlined its quality as it was promoted to the emotional core of one of the discs. Oh, and did you notice that Just a Kid (#54) was also a b-side on this Ocean Spray single?? What an amazing couple of b-sides to such a mid single!

#72 Charli XCX: Move Me

It’s Charli, baby! For the third time in fact. The Charli hat trick. That… Chatrick…

There really is ‘something about the way’ the music backing drops out as Charli sings of how someone Someone will “Hold my body tight even on my lowest nights” that actually gives me chills.

#71 Perfume Genius: Pop Song

Fuck, ma dudes, the audio mix on this song!? You have to listen to this on the best headphones you can get your hands on, a complete head massage through music.

Pam, pe-pam, pe-pam-paddle-pam…

#70 Riverby: Baseless

Do you remember my hands around your throat?

Yeah, for extremely gross reasons, this enraged audio S.C.U.M Manifesto ended up becoming the theme tune of this year’s list, didn’t it?

#69 (dude): Nova Twins: K.M.B

Or, alternatively:

Some boys beg
It’s no use
I’m the boss
Kiss my boots
I’ll ride my high horse
What a view
Boys like you will always lose
Always lose

Get my fucking crowbar
Take you to the graveyard
Bitch you think you’re so hard
I say when it’s over
Love you psycho
I’m loaded like a riffle
Casanova
Look over your shoulder
Get my fucking crowbar
Take you to the graveyard

Novatwins decided to just cut out any middleman and K.M.B (Kill My Boyfriend). Hey, you two ever thought about talking to Riverby? You could all plan some amazing things together.

#68 Taylor Swift: Karma

Jesus fucking Christ, this song is so annoying! “Karma is a cat”, is it, Taylor? “Sitting in my lap ’cause it loves me”, yeah?

The thing that makes it most annoying though is that it’s an absolute motherfucking BOP!! The way Swift enunciates and delivers “God damn acro-bat!” gets me every time!

#67 Arlo Parks: Sophie

I talk to girls that sing about asphyxiation until their beer goes flat
I talk to girls that bring their switchblades to the function and dye their buzzcuts black

Shut your mouth and take your vitamins
Bite your nails and sell your Ritalin
I feel like the world is on my back

Ah say God damn!! Admit it, nothing on Arlo’s debut album proper in 2021 went this hard, lyrically.

#666 Lingua Ignota: Katie Cruel

Speaking of going hard.

I’m slowly coming around to the realisation that Lingua Ignota may be one of the most significant artists of her generation. Being regularly produced by Seth Manchester is always a good start. With Katie Cruel she absolutely inhabits an old standard and injects it with so much force and venom that the past 450 years of artists covering the song immediately become obsolete. OK, maybe not Nick Cave’s…

#65 070 Shake: Vibrations

Our heart never breaks in two, never breaks in two, our heart never breaks in two…

I’M FEELING THE VIBRATIONS…!

Just… joyous.

I do have one major complaint about this song though: how dare it last just three minutes and forty seconds?? It doesn’t even start properly until eighty seconds in! Why doesn’t this high last at least ten minutes?!?!

I want to feel more vibrations…

#64 Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul: Mantra

Don’t think you have time to have coffee? Forced to get up before your alarm every day? Scared of not wearing make up? Natural hair or a wig? What will other people think??

Let go of these mental interpretations. You exist, with or without them.

#63 Jeshi: Violence (feat. Obongjayar, Fredwave)

My mind’s got scars
Shit I just can’t get past
Blind findin’ my way in the dark
Weighin’ the dark, at sea with sharks
Street throw up my heart
Goin’ nowhere
Nowhere good on my own
See bullets flyin’ through cold air (Pow, pow)
Ring out like my ringtone
Close my eyes I see colours flash
On the kitchen plate with a ton of ash

#62 Marissa Nadler: Bessie, Did You Make It?

Yeah, so me really investigating the story behind the opening song of ‘The Path of the Clouds‘ made me really appreciate it. If I put the same effort into all of that album’s songs, would I properly recognise the genius of the project and thus rate the album much higher? Is that what proper critics do?

Ah well, no way of knowing.

#61 Soccer Mommy: Shotgun (Magdalena Bay remix)

OK, so Magdalena Bay remix one of the standouts from the latest Soccer Mommy album, turn it into a Magdalena Bay song, and make me think “Geez, this is amazing, I wish Soccer Mommy was just Magdalena Bay“. True story.

#60 Wednesday: Bull Believer

Wednesday? Than you for this. Thank you.

There was a real sense in 2022 that one of my favourite things – ridiculously long rock epics with less than Top Gun production values – were back in a big way. Sure, nobody’s quite reaching the stage of Car Seat Headrest’s 13+ minute Beach Life in Death from 2018, but we’re getting there. Bull Believer is an eight and a half minute layered and complex epic, by a long way the heaviest and most abrasive song they’ve ever done, artfully comparing the dissociation from trauma involved in lethal bullfighting to the (literal) screaming anxiety of a relationship that’s slowly killing you. An absolute triumph.

“Finish him…”

#59 Santigold: Ushers of the New World

God, I adore Santigold. She just gets it, doesn’t she??

#58 Beyoncé: Alien Superstar

I have typed my fingers into bloody stubs with reactions to Bey’s latest album, sanded off the skin on my fingertips until I’ve been left with exposed bones shaking across a blood soaked keyboard as I continually write the word –

…but Alien Superstar is a bit of a bop.

#57 Taylor Swift: Maroon

Jesus, Swift, stop making such fabulous music, it makes snarky criticism really difficult. Also, the Jack Antonoff production that I moaned about in my review? Yeah, it works really well here. It’s an absolute ‘mare.

This song is so fucking good!!

#56 Mark Lanegan: The River Rise

Always his signature song to me personally, and the perhaps the track that best showcases the raw emotion that could be captured in a voice you’d automatically assume was more suited to growling about death and decadence. The way his voice carries the crystal remorse of “Well, i could faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall..” as the music around him steps up to another plain of beauty? Yeah, it’ll make you see God

…As if I was young
With a lifetime to think of you

#55 070 Shake: Stay

Ma dudes, I’m sorry, but this song just gets me. The way Shake’s distinctive voice wraps around and elongates the song’s title in the chorus… I don’t know how embarrassed I should be saying that I get a lump in my throat…

I criticised Shake’s previous song at #65 for being too short, but I think if this song was much longer than its two minutes forty seconds it would simply leave me in a mess.

#54 Ibeyi: Sister 2 Sister

I’ve already simped at length for this song in my review of the album, but I can’t stress what an absolutely perfect and emotionally stirring pop song it is. Is this gonna make me cry as well??

Sister, I had to tell you
Sister, hold me close, swear you won’t let go
Bounded by our love
I had to tell you
Sister, you’re too close, sister, let me go
Us despite it all, ay?

#53 Destroyer: Tintoretto, It’s for You

What’s that, Dan? A fourteenth century Italian painter? And how is it exactly for him? And what exactly is it that you’re offering? Ah, you just thought it was a cool sounding name, didn’t you? Well… It is. And this is an absolute banger

#52 Rina Sawayama: This Hell

Flame red, caught the moment, posing for the paparazzi
Fuck what they did to Britney, to Lady Di’, and Whitney
Don’t know why we’re here, but might as well get down and dirty
That Satan’s looking thirsty, not even he can hurt me

Rina once again tries really hard to write an LGBT anthem (“Turns out, I’m going to hell if I keep on being myself/God hates us? Alright then, buckle up, at dawn we’re riding”) which, as per Sawayama usual, is more than a little cringe. But it’s an absolutely killer song, with lines like “The devil’s wearing Prada and loves a little drama” at least displaying a sense of humour (even though it sounds like Rina gets her gay stereotypes from prime time ITV). Yes, I have issues with it and how disingenuous and unnatural it sounds, and wish that we could get more of the actual Rina Sawayama, rather than what sounds like a focus group checked artifice of LGBTQI-friendly tropes.

But… Like I say: Great song.

#51 Taylor Swift: Bejeweled

Taylor again! The thing is, yeah, that she very frequently does really good songs.

Got my invitation to eternal damnation
Get in line, pass the wine, bitch, we’re going straight to Hell
Got my invitation to eternal damnation
Get in line, pass the wine, bitch, we’re going straight to Hell

#50 Methyl Ethel: Proof (feat. Stella Donnelly)

Oh, you got numbers, do you? Clear things up for me? Well I’ve got a number for you jerks: FIFTY!! We’re actually in the top 50! This might actually get finished before February!

Also, Methyl Ethel and Stella Donnelly?? This is like if Prince and Michael Jackson actually got together in the 1980s! Only, y’know, with far less horrific child abuse.

#49 The Hotelier: Our Lives Would Make a Sad, Boring Movie

OK, real talk: The Hotelier might be my favourite band. And, less subjectively, actually the greatest rock band on Earth. The fact that their perfect three albums might be all we ever get from them fills me with immense sadness but also makes me grateful that this art was ever allowed to be experienced by us undeserving mortals.

If there’s one thing in your life that you’ll never forget
It’s that we’re dead in our future but we’re not dead yet!

#48 Pusha T: Dreaming of the Past (feat. Ye)

OK, so the former Kanye West isn’t completely removed from the 2022 countdowns. And Dreaming of the Past is a depressingly nostalgic glimpse of the talent that Ye once had as a producer – the sample is at once obvious yet utilised inventively, the beat and melody is immaculate, it’s a perfect pop rap juggernaut that at one point Ye could make better than anyone else. Seriously, this would have been the sound of the summer back in 2008.

I got plenty!

It’s so many, yeah!

#47 Lava La Rue: Vest & Boxers

They say it’ll be short-lived
But I don’t play to any of their rules
Versatile, baby, take and give
But I can be the Rue to your Jules

Like ooh, does she like me? Could be my wifey
Dancing ’round her living room ’til I crease up my Nikes
Girl, I know you want me? Bedroom smells so lovely
In my vest and boxers, baby, let me be your hubby

Euphoria reference! Earns extra points for that. But only if they’re referring to the first season. I assume they are, considering they don’t mention that prick Elliot. I have lots of Euphoria Discourse if anyone’s interested.

I’m blown away that this amazing song finished so low, which speaks to how many incredible pieces of music we got in 2022. La Rue’s third entry this year, and easily the greatest song they released in 2022. A breezy, infectious and funny celebration of queer affection.

#46 Shamir: Gay Agenda

Shamir, on the other hand, finds little to celebrate in the suffocating archetypes of whatever identity and/or sexuality society decides to label you as. I don’t get it? Rina said it was all Prada and drama? That sounds like fun, what’s the problem?

Pray as much as you can, there’s no hope for me
I will see you in hell, I will be bringing the heat

#45 Nilüfer Yanya: shameless

What an absolutely astonishing piece of music.

What, you want me to wax lyrical about all of these fuckers? The song’s right there, just go and listen to it.

#44 Marina and the Diamonds: Bubble Gum Bitch

Oh, dear diary, I met a boy
He made my doll heart light up with joy
Oh, dear diary, we fell apart
Welcome to the life of Electra Heart

I’m Miss Sugar Pink, liquor, liquor lips
Hit me with your sweet love, steal me with a kiss
I’m Miss Sugar Pink, liquor, liquor lips
I’m gonna be your bubblegum bitch
I’m gonna be your bubblegum bitch

Yes, yes, yes, hook it straight into my bubblegum veins.

Bit of an issue with ‘Elektra Heart‘, in that the two greatest songs Primadonna (#92) and – oh God, especially, I am obsessed with this song – Teen Idle (#110) were already included on my 2019 countdown because… I dunno, I think I was doing a ‘bit’. So, with the knowledge that the album’s best two tracks aren’t allowed to feature because of a rule I sometimes enforce: here’s Bubblegum Bitch! At least we know now that the song’s title inspired an astonishingly misogynistic review by Clash Music’s George Boorman, so let’s say it’s also here to make a statement of support.

And, Rina, take note: this is the gayest shit imaginable.

#43 Prince Daddy & the Hyena: El Dorado

Forget I said anything
Let me know how the weather ends up this weekend
Three times ’round this block’s a mile
This block ain’t had this shine in awhile
Beauty, what a thing, what a fickle little thing
A whole life’s worth of history
Came to today to rain on me
I just want to get this one thing clear
It sucks for me to say, as it sucks for you to hear
But I’m so stuck
Would you help me get unstuck?

Yeah, I’m pretty sure Prince Daddy are the real deal

#42 Young Fathers: Geronimo

Ma dudes, Young fucking fathers are fucking back.

One of the most artistically significant and consistently interesting musical acts of the past decade. They are already a Gold Star Artist, having had all three of their albums feature on Necessary Evil and – just an early warning – I would love the narrative if they won the whole thing next year.

(shit, they’re gonna have to beat ‘Purple effing Rain’ though…

#41 Mike West: Mothman

The one overlap between my (scientifically proven) list and Kitty Aurora’s (subjectively valid) list of shout outs of underground music that an otherwise elitist intellectual such as myself might have missed. Kitty’s love for great music (and great art) may surpass mine, but their taste skews more to punk and garage rock, so our tastes don’t actually overlap that much.

Until… Kitty took me to a gig by Mike West. An offensively talented Scouser, whose sense of humour and stage presence would make seeing him live worthwhile even if his songs were utter dog shit. But, lordy loo, his songs are not dog shit. The strength of his voice, the musical talent of himself and the people he collaborates with, the crisp production, the motherfucking quality of the music – West doesn’t make music that sounds like an underground musician trying to somehow collect enough money for his art to justify not getting a job at Asda, these songs sound like country/blues standards that have arrived fresh from Nashville’s most expensive production company. Mothman is an amazing introduction, but get thee to his Bandcamp and try and give him enough money to produce that proper album that the world needs. That part in this song about three minutes in when the song seems to with Mike’s emotional call of “Like the saying goes: Man plans/God laaaaaaaaaaaaughs…”, then comes back in again for one last run around? Seriously? That makes me ejaculate.

Mike likes to repeat the review of his music that he once got that he was not country enough, not blues enough, not folk enough and too heavy. This might all be true, and I don’t know exactly what’s happening here, I just know that it’s fucking special.

#40 Prince Daddy & the Hyena: Shoelaces

Boof! Yeah, a Prince Daddy hat trick takes us into the top motherfucking forty! This is looking more feasible now!

And what an entrance: Good dreams, scare much more lately. This song’s electric, it’s exciting, it’s infectious and… OK, yes, it’s definitely emo, but can I please save that talk for my therapist?

#39 Saba: One Way or Every Nigga With a Budget

Need a million after taxes, I might spend the shit on fashion
All this flexin’ made me stronger, feel like Tony in a mansion
My babymama lookin’ she could’ve won a pageant
I’m not vegan, we been eatin’, kick my feet up and get fatter
Sit all day and I play Madden and my mattress California
My address California, when I can’t find my controller
I’m like “Fuck it”, buy another, it ain’t nothin’, I got money
We all splurgin’ on this dumb shit, ’cause we careless and we youngins
Every nigga with a budget takin’ care at least ten buddies
What you need, you know I cover

I… always find it hard to relate to songs like this. I would like to think that were I ever to make money (my Soundcloud mixtape dropping this Spring), I would feel more of a connection to the people closest to me and would want to try and raise everybody’s stock with my own if I was just lucky enough to have the resources. Of course, I’m a Communist, and I see no evidence of Saba escaping America’s neoliberal propaganda system. I guess I also think that subjects like this are a bit basic considering the expansive and thoughtful places he took himself on ‘Care for Me‘.

But, shit, never mind the weight, feel the quality: One Way (erm, the full title is a tad too much?) is an astonishingly good song, with incredible (and completely organic) backing and Saba really highlighting his talents as an emcee that were often hidden behind the more weighty issues of his previous songs.

#38 Nilüfer Yanya: L/R

Just so you know, sometimes I feel like you’re so violent, autopilot. Yeah? Just wanted you to know

#37 Mikey Rukus: Cash In (The Trustbusters Theme)

Wow, erm, so this song finished pretty high, didn’t it…?

I don’t care! Fuck the lot of you! The Trustbusters were awesome for the nine or ten days that AEW did anything with them! And this theme is a Jane’s Addiction influenced absolute banger!

#36 Marina and the Diamonds: Lies

You’re never gonna love me, so what’s the use?
What’s the point in playin’ a game you’re gonna lose?
What’s the point in sayin’ you love me like a friend?
What’s the point in sayin’ it’s never gonna end?

You’re too proud to say that you made a mistake
You’re a coward till the end
I don’t wanna admit that we’re not gonna fit
No, I’m not the type that you like
Why don’t we just pretend?

Shit! I forgot about this song! An absolute gem of a power ballad that I’d forgotten was on ‘Elektra Heart’, then I forgot about it again when I just said Bubblegum Bitch was the best song (leftover) on the album!

A hidden gem for me, and fuck me, it packs a punch. What. An amazing. Album.

You only ever touch me in the dark
Only if we’re drinkin’ can you see my spark
And only in the evening could you give yourself to me
Cause the night is your woman, and she’ll set you free

#35 Denzel Curry: X-Wing

Denzel Curry, man, that dude fucks, don’t he?

#34 yeule: Electric

Oh, ooh, ooah, oh
Oh, ooh, aah
Oh, ooh, ooah, oh
Oh, ooh, oooh

Ah, ah, aaah, ah
Ah, ah, aaah, ah
Ah, ah, aaah, ah
Touch of you, electric

You know what? This song’s exhilarating heft doesn’t really translate to the page, does it?

Electric is a tour de force. An emotional juggernaut that is perhaps yeule’s crowning example of composing otherworldly beauty out of such existential dread. When that wordless chorus properly kicks in, your very soul will turn to jelly. Just thought I’d let you know.

I just know this lovely dream is ending slowly
Boiling through my blood and telling me to let you in
Slowly in the frame of my own mind
I can hear the voices telling me to die

#33 Denzel Curry: The Last

I been smokin’ chronic, on my Panasonic watchin’ people dyin’
Got me bein’ honest with my savior
Keep that sinnin’ away from me, yeah
Shit is hard to stomach, I can’t even vomit
Pour up gin and tonic just to calm my conscience
Wonderin’ on every second, I wanna leave, yeah
Forced to be mellow, see my common fellow
Told him, “Keep your distance”, can’t even say, “Hello”
It struck me harder than a bow and arrow
Time is gettin’ worse for people in the ghetto
Too many homeless
People layin’ down, too many roses
Losin’ loved ones that be the closest
People run up with guns fully loaded
They might blow it (oh)

Any day can be our last day
So much trouble on the streets
That we need to buy a AK
Brung a mask for the whole day
We ain’t tryna get sick
So we walk around with no face
The USA is a cold place
Cold world, cold world
We don’t even got a North Face
Any day can be our last day
Drinkin’, I been drinkin’, I need AA

Denzel Curry, man, that dude fucks, don’t he?

#32 Sharon van Etten: Home to Me

Astonishing. I’ve long felt that Van Etten is perhaps the only other living artist who can combine psychological analysis with suitably epic songwriting talent similar to Nick Cave. I wouldn’t want to call her ‘The New Nick Cave’, because that Pommy cunt doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere soon. But then there are also moments – on this heartbreaking plea to Sharon’s young son not to resent her in the future for how much she dedicates to her art -where you wonder if anyone in the world is making music quite like Van Etten.

That devastating key change on the “I need my jooooooooooob…” line? Yeah, that’s all you’ll ever need.

#31 yeule: Bites On My Neck

Bites on my neck
I’m still bleeding through
All the bruises you left on me, you knew
Bites on my neck
I’m still bleeding through
All the bruises you left on me, you knew

You know that I could have
Loved you with my bare hands

You know that I could have
Killed you with my bare hands

Bites on my neck from your mouth
Wide open, holding my head down
Took two months to feel this numb
All while you healed my sick heart

Didn’t know what, didn’t know what I want
Let you bite into what I was to you
Even though I could have
Killed you with my bare hands

This song is…

kinda hot…?

Listen! Stop! Don’t call the police! Doesn’t this sound like a completely consensual and… pretty fucking horny… explosion of passions? I might be reading this all wrong, and perhaps it says way more about me, but I’ve laid awake many a long night imagining yeule loving me with her bare hands.

#30 Arcade Fire: The Lightning I, II

Sigh…

Yeah, I know

This song though (specifically when it’s both parts combined, which I believe is only available on YouTube (I had to buy the freaking video on iTunes to get the proper full song!), is pretty spectacular. Even if it pilfers liberally from Love Will Tear Us Apart. Let’s just move on.

#29 070 Shake: History

Remember back when I was keeping track of how many entries artists had? Pretty sure this is around the twelfth Shakes entry.

And History is the track I would point to as the five minute proof of concept of Shake’s otherworldly talents, and the unique musical magic she creates. the song takes you to so many places, and switches its melody, signatures and mood more times in its four minutes and fifty one seconds that so many acts won’t even considering taking their music in over the coarse of their career. It’s an absolute creative monolith, and I couldn’t understand anyone hearing the musical handbrake turn the song takes around the line “I bought, stole it/I loved it, lost it, that’s what I get, yeah-yeah” – the emotional rush of which rivals that sweaty realisation that the E you popped three hours ago is properly entering your bloodstream – and then not becoming a lifelong Shake obsessive. Like, it can’t just be me?!

I’m getting lost, I’m getting lost
I’m getting lost in translation
She casting spells on me when she talks
I’m locked away down in her thoughts

#28 Rachika Nayar: Tetramorph

Remember ‘Polymorph’? Series three episode three of Red Dwarf? That was pretty awesome, wan’t it.

Ma dudes, that aired in nineteen eighty nine. I am so old

#27 Hallelujah the Hills: God Is So Lonely Tonight

You’d like to spend time with your loved ones
There’s big problems that you really oughta to solve
But he needs your prayers more than you need yours answered
You know that God is so lonely tonight

And you know he ain’t trying to make it all about him
But he’s invoked every second of every hour so I guess it kinda is?

If it feels like the relationship’s one sided
If you’re wondering “What in it for you?”
Those thoughts are clearly sent to you by the devil!
You know that God is so lonely tonight

It’s a shame, and it’s selfish, when you take so much time for yourself
Cuz he needs you, just you, only you more than anyone else

I’m sorry, up yours woke moralists, but this is just fucking perfect. It sees The Hills really settling into themselves, pitching their thing just perfectly and presenting a real proof of concept that they offer a certain sort of perfect indie rock unlike that offered quite by anyone else. Completely working out the pitch so they don’t sound arch and detached like Magnetic Fields at their worst, but emotionally affecting and sincere while also being legitimately witty, like Magnetic Fields at their best. Though Stepin Merritt could never allow himself to sound quite this gloriously anthemic. I’m pretty sure this is actually the greatest example of their art that Hallelujah the Hills have ever produced.

Ah, no. They’re second best ever. Stay tuned

(moved house twice since I took that picture)

#26 Let’s Eat Grandma: Two Ribbons

OK, I can’t remember all the songs to come on this list (I’m kind of revealing them to myself one at a time. Even though I actually made this list it’s a lovely surprise each time I reveal an entrant to myself because my memory is abysmal) but I can’t imagine there are many to come more beautiful, more heartbreaking, and packing more of a legitimate emotional punch than LEG’s third album’s closer. Mainly because I can’t imagine many other songs ever released packing this sort of heat. The desperate pleas to maintain a once seemingly unbreakable friendship that is having to attempt to overcome massive life events (“Like two ribbons, still woven, although we are fraying/Yeah, we both held on so tight that we’re bruising up”) is probably more relatable than 99% of the songs on this list. Of every song every recorded. 99.99999%.

That drop on “I can only be your best friend…” literally brings a lump to my throat whenever I hear it. Fuck man, I got to stop listening to this, I’m an emotional wreck…

#25 BLACKPINK: Pink Venom

Aaaaah, beauty in art takes so many different forms doesn’t it? Two Ribbons sees Jenny Hollingworth commit complete open heart surgery in front of the listener, arranging the shattered ribs of her emotional honesty into shapes of utter beauty while everyone involved is sprayed with blood. Pink Venom? Probably devised by an AI to algorithmically predict what collections of bells, whistles and whoa whoa whoas would appeal to the largest potential audience. It absolutely bangs, but it was scientifically devised to, but it scientifically bangs, but it was…

Which way produces the best music? Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing.

Oh! Look! This is #25 while Let’s Eat Grandma only scraped #26! Guess AI wins again, can’t argue about statistics 🤷

#24 Manic Street Preachers: Let Robeson Sing (Remastered)

Not including this in my 100 greatest Manics songs was just fanatic mismanagement on my part. I talked at length at what an astonishing pop song this is in my review of the album (or possibly when it made the list. I honestly can’t remember), so I won’t add too much fluff on one of the most perfectly Manics Manics songs that the Manics ever released. On multiple occasions over the succeeding couple of decades, the band have tried seemingly endlessly – and on at least three separate albums – to recapture that magic they had with the ‘Everything Must Go’ (and ‘This Is My Truth…‘ to a lesser extent) of being making perfect, universal, anthemic and socially conscious pop rock. And failing. Sometimes embarrassingly so.

Yet on ‘Know Your Enemy’, when it was the fuck aroundiest of times, when it was the find outiest of times, when the band were throwing each and every species of shite at the wall in a hotheaded attempt at commercial suicide, they somehow stumbled upon this.

#23 Prince: Automatic (Remaster)

I absolutely adore ‘Controversy‘, and think it’s far more of a link between the dank and filthy grime of ‘Dirty Mind’ and the true commercial world shattering of ‘Purple Rain’ than people give it credit for. But then sometimes you listen to the near ten minute slab of industrial house fuck that is Automatic and you think… Yeah, fuck that album, no wonder people don’t rate it among His best, this is what the follow-up to ‘Dirty Mind’ should have sounded like! Listening to this truly unrestrained and untethered fit of creativity, and it’s almost like Prince knew that He wasn’t going to be the world’s coolest cult artist for too long, and He wouldn’t get away with epic horniness like this when He was the world’s biggest pop star.

OK, He thought, I’ll tone it down a bit. And He did. To an extent. This is more of a story for next year.

#22 Taylor Swift: Antihero

It’s Taylor, hi. She’s the problem, it’s Taylor.

This song is absolutely incredible. Just… amazing. I’m so sick of talking about Taylor Swift and I am really sick of her crafting pieces of absolute perfections like this. Now, we need to move on, I can hear the sounds of #discourse about to develop us.

#21 Charli XCX

Wheels up on the curb side, put it in speed drive!

It’s Charli, baby!

#20 Sudan Archives: Selfish Soul

Okay, one time if I grow it long
Am I good enough, am I good enough?
About time I embrace myself and soul
Time I feed my selfish soul

It’s been so long since I had a sew in
With a frontal and some color
If I cut it all off, will it even grow?
It’ll grow back real long
Gotta prove them all wrong

Where Brittney Parks decides that yes, actually, I do have to go this hard. A fiercely proud celebration of confidence in your own identity and an angry disregard to general beauty standards. If Brittney wore her hair straight would we like her more? Like those girls on front covers? No, fuck that, it’s actually scientifically impossible for us to love Sudan Archives more than we do right now.

#19 Anna von Hausswolf: The Truth, The Glow, The Fall (Live at Montreaux)

If you were at the 2018 Montreux Jazz Festival and were blessed enough to witness this in person, then I need to talk to you. What was this like to experience in person? If the pure dark magical power and Gothic virtuosity does this to my body and soul, tingles beneath my very skin and makes me feel this alive when just listening to a recording, then how hard did it insist you change your entire life when you witnessed it in the flesh??

Ah, who am I kidding, nobody who experienced this face-melting cacophony of biblical spectacle lived to tell the tale. It literally blew all their faces off when Anna growled the line “Down in the rrrrrrrrriv-aaaaaaaaaaah, down to the bodies below“. It happens.

#18 Prince Daddy & the Hyena: Black Mold

Ma dudes, this is the absolute fucking shit. Nearly eight minutes of emotional laceration baked with crunching guitars, an epic that opens with a real voicemail from a friend of Kory Gregory that the Prince Daddy frontman believed at the time was an obvious suicide note (but later just turned out to be his friend getting blackout drunk), then takes us on a justifiably long journey through addiction, suicidal ideations, and…

They’re Green Day fans?? That’s gross, forget everything nice I said about them.

#17 Wilma Vritra: Tunnel Vision

It’s this much you don’t know
I get caught in your throws
I might melt in your glow
Swept with tide to your room
Intеr-transit you bloom
Pulled right in to your moon
Pulled right into my doom

I’m not sure there’s a better sounding piece of musical production than what Wilma Archer manages to construct on the absolutely spellbinding Tunnel Vision. Yeah, obviously Radiohead inspired. But good Radiohead. And it wins points for not actually being Radiohead.

Why? Say it with me now:

#16 The Hotelier: Vacancy

You’re so old now
Your bearings are shot
You’re a caved in roof
You’re falling apart
Your nights are spent lying on the couch
Hoping to forget…

You can’t fix this
Because it’s burning down
You can’t fix me
Because I’m so burnt out

Listen, listen, stop everything you’re doing. Drop your phone, turn that television off, power off the Spinning Jenny, tell your friends to shut the fuck up

OK, do we have total silence?

Good: all together now:

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh, we are the saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame…

(take a beat)

…and let the madness back in.

Oh-uh-woah: We. Are. The. Same.

Just an extraordinarily constructed rock song that needn’t even break three minutes, that unrivaled collaboration of pristine rock tropes and lyrics that just throw a Molotov cocktail into all the feels that the Hotelier absolutely perfected. It still breaks my heart that we’re likely using past tense now.

#15 ANGELENAH: Drama

I’m reading Psalm One’s autobiography at the moment, and the exciting character of Angel Davenport has just made her first appearance, as the RapperChicks are formed (the band that would eventually become Big $ilky). A supremely confident rapper, with unashamed certainty in her own sexual appeal, though also “Angel seemed like a handful and I didn’t want to fuck with that. But I could not ignore Angel’s voice. I couldn’t ignore her ability to change the energy in a room by just entering or quiet a whole club with just a few seconds on the mic. Angel was the obligatory rap crush. I wasn’t gonna get caught up in all of that” (yeah, let’s see how how that goes). It’s difficult to reconcile the precociously talented but trouble making young emcee described less than a decade ago with the colossal classic soul unleashed on Drama.

Not sure what the issue is, I’m crushing pretty hard on all of them

This, I’m sorry, is some instant classic shit. I had to just double check that ANGELENAH wasn’t actually breathing new soul into some underappreciated 1950s classic, but this new standard is 100% Davenport’s own. An absolute force of nature.

#14 Georgie Maq: Joe Rogan

“If regular men are rubbish
Then Georgia squeezes the juice out of the rubbish
And then dates that”

Much as I liked the last Camp Cope album (and, I dunno, maybe I really liked one song in particular…) it was all a tad too hyper sincere and it felt like the band were taking themselves extremely serious at every turn. Which is good! Shit is serious! But it did lead to me missing some of the snide commentary and low value men baiting humour of their earlier work. Thankfully, Camp Cope singer Georgie Maq ensured that lacerating clapping back was also catered for with a perfect pop takedown of, like, the most basic dudes imaginable (“You’re still only talking to other white men/Yeah, he really knows what’s up/As soon as I’m talking about my opinions/He tells me it turns him off”).

One notable interaction I had with this superficially humorous song, so obviously delivered with a crooked smile and a rolling eye, was when I could never work out what she sings after “There’s nothing more dangerous/Than a man who…” Seems to be set in his ways? Has himself to blame. I had to look it up.

“There’s nothing more dangerous/Than a man who thinks consent is lame

Yeah, that’s not funny at all, is it? And it’s subversive horror like this, and to deliver it hidden in the Trojan horse of infectious pop punk, that really marks Maq out as a generational lyrical talent.

You could ask to touch me
And maybe I’ll let you
But if you don’t, if you don’t
You’ll be alone forever
You need to do better

#13 Sharon van Etten: Mistakes

I dance like Elaine
But my baby takes me to the floor
Says, “More, more”
Eyes close to stairs
My baby takes, my body shares
Lights flare

Yeah, Sharon, the Gen Xers and the elder Millennials really wanna thank you for that reference. The kids today just won’t get it. They can keep all their Naruto Runs and their Happy Slapping.

Look, we all appreciate Etten for her cerebral takes on modern relationships, or her refusal to simply rest on her own laurels sonically, but I worry that we often forget that she so often crafts killer singles.

#12 Hallelujah the Hills: Nightingale Lightning

Hello! Hello! Hello!

Yeah, nice try Mr Walsh, but I didn’t get to 191 followers by falling for tricks like that. When your on the blog hustle you have to be on your game twenty four seven.

Oh, but yeah, this is absolutely the greatest ever Hallelujah the Hills song. The way the vocals, backing music and guitar plucking all revolve together so beautifully in each other’s orbits, complimenting each other so beautifully that it’s impossible to even imagining them all ever existing again as separate concepts. No, I’ve not put it at number one, but it would not in any sense be an unworthy position for about as perfect a rock song as it’s possible to imagine.

#11 Prince: Let’s Pretend We’re Married (Remaster)

Look here, ma dudes, Prince isn’t saying this just to be nasty, He sincerely wants to fuck the taste out of your mouth.

#10 Tierra Whack: Body of Water

I’ve never been to jail
Tell a nigga that I’m in here like gel
I just want the paper, can I read the mail?
Tell them it’s a fee without the male
Do tell, do tell
Yeah, you dig it like a ditch
If I paid you some attention you would probably be rich
Sucks to be you, ol’ gold digging bitch
Shit, I’m running this shit like Drake with the 6
Let’s go let’s get it, I’m committed
It’s survival of the fittest and I’ll only take a minute
Life is short, I compare it to a midget
Shovel in the trunk of the ’06 Civic
I’m with it, I’m with it, there’s no way out
You’re stuck in the mud, snow, rain, drought
Like tits no bra, you should go hang out
Body like a shotgun, just don’t bang out (woo, woo)

Yeah, you’d need a water after all that

I might have mentioned many, many times and at length what a legitimate conceptual genius Ms Whack is, how her ideas and ambition regarding what to do with and where to take her music marks her out as one of the most expansive artistic visionaries working in pop music in the current day. What I feel I fail to truly emphasise is what an astonishingly talented emcee she is.

Body of Water is – to quote late third/early fourth century musical theorist Aristides Quintilianus – an absolute motherfucking riot (no cap). It’s an amazing song to start off with, let’s get that out the way, a jittery but intensely melodic party rap showstopper that utilises little more than dirty synths and a factory setting drum machine to create an absolute bop that ends up putting the rest of ‘Pop?’, ‘Rap?’ and ‘R&B?’ (along with, if we can be serious for just a moment, 99% of her competitors in any of those genres) to shame. But the vocal performance by Tierra just blows the entire three minutes up to King Kong levels of skyscraper interference. What’s your favourite bit of vocal dexterity?? The ‘Do tell, do tell/You dig it like a ditch’ enunciation? The way her consonants snap over ‘Let’s go, let’s get it, I’m committed’? The way she manages to casually yawn ‘Jungle fever, a firm believer/Lacking on rest but I’m still a dreamer/We can show out like Martin, Gina/Offer a ring and I’ll say yes eager’ in less time than it takes you to take a breath? Or is it that part entering the final third when she delivers the repeated line “Black or white/You are my type/Like a keyboard, baby/You earned your stripes, yeah!’ in such a delirious falsetto that you realise you no longer care if Andre 3000 ever releases music again?

Don’t try to fight it, I know you like it, yeah

#9 The Weeknd: Gasoline

And I love it when you watch me sleep
You spin me ’round so I can breathe
It’s only safe for you and me
I know you won’t let me OD
And if I finally die in peace
Just wrap my body in these sheets
And pour out the gasoline
It don’t mean much to me

Like, this is it, right? This is the absolute highlight of ‘Dawn FM‘? As perfect as Tesfaye has ever sounded while successfully blending the psychosexual substance odes of his early career with his latter career as the world’s biggest pop artist? Why aren’t more people talking about this?

#8 Spoon: Wild

And the warld, still so waaaaahld, calls to me-he!

Yeah, I don’t have any big words or university English degree dissertation on this song, it’s just one of the greatest examples you’re likely to hear of a perfect guitar rock song. Remember the cheat code I identified being best exemplified (sorry, I promised no big words) by 2016’s Find Me by Kings of Leon? Yeah, Wild has obviously cribbed from that study guide, as it follows pretty much all of the recommended tropes. And it makes top ten! Hey, rock bands, this ain’t difficult.

#7 Let’s Eat Grandma: Levitation

Are you here?
Or somewhere else?
Shooting stars in your direction
As I’m losing grip on my reflection
And I call you near
From somewhere else
Everything feels so amazing
When our bodies float like levitation

Yeah, content warning: Let’s Eat Grandma are going to just obliterate your heartstrings. Sorry/not sorry.

However, on Levitation deems not to violently shatter your ribs as it pulls out your very heart and then drop kicks it over next door’s roof in quite the same way as the motherfucking devastating Two Ribbons (#27). While that song encases its sadness/beauty within a thematically appropriate piece of dramatic balladry, Levitation confusingly transports its emotional surgery within an absolute bop.

Maybe the most perfect pop song that the duo has ever conceived. Maybe the most perfect pop song that damn near anyone has conceived. The way Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth’s voices snake around each other on the chorus as they each plea to the other to rebuild the friendship that they once had is one of the most perfect things than humankind has as of yet managed to create.

#6 Rico Nasty: Blow Me

Fancy, classy, rich, nasty
Bought a BM, then I crashed it
Spazzin’, thrashin’, maxin’, cards
Pretty bitch breakin’ your heart
I’ma just handle my business
Bitch, get off my diznick
Want to, but you can’t hit this
Stand out so you can’t miss this
FOMO, you don’t wanna miss this

I’m the one he gonna want for Christmas
Wishlist, gift this
Pussy on a hitlist, yummy
Eat it like it’s brеakfast
Every nigga got me on they chеcklist
Mouth crazy reckless, gave him an erection
Bad bitches know if I present this

Cars always tinted
Why is your wig always lifted?
I don’t know
You a broke a nigga, then I can’t go
Nails so long, nigga, I can’t roll
Yeah, you wanna fuck, but I call him “Bro”

Yeah, I know. There’s nothing to this song. And that ‘nothing’ is mostly just Shimmy Shimmy Ya by Ol’ Dirty Bastard. But in the same way the video is ‘nothing’ in the way it’s simply Rico walking on a treadmill over a white background, it’s still absolutely mesmerising.

Listen, it’s called ‘star power’, I don’t expect you to understand. Like, specifically, I don’t expect you to understand.

Talk shit sick? Yeah, you’re going to have to show me.

#5 Manic Street Preachers: Freedom of Speech Won’t Feed My Children (Remastered)

I struggled with this song for about twenty years. It didn’t even make my 100 best Manics songs list. Then I joined the Communist Party and increased my knowledge of the global superstructure. One of the most important tenets of the Communist Party is educating yourself on theories and history. Even stuff that isn’t supportive of Communist values, because you’re supposed to have the tools to explain why some positions are incorrect. Ask yourself, what other belief system encourages you to learn everything that you possibly can? Anyway, now I recognise how Freedom of Speech… is one of the bravest and most coherent attack on the wider liberal mindset that a major artist has ever released. Shall we unpack?? Let’s unpack:

Liberty, sweet liberty
Charitable respectability
Then pacifism killed us all
For all the tourists on the Berlin wall

We’re now taught by the US led imperial structure that ‘liberty’ is the most important thing, that what’s actually true freedom is allowing anybody to do whatever the hell they want, whenever they want. We now don’t consider freedom as being freedom from having to sell your body in order to survive as a human being, freedom to walk the Earth and cross between lands that don’t belong to another human, freedom to exist in a space without having to pay back all the money you’ve already sold your body for just to have a roof over your head. No, ‘freedom’ in this neoliberal dystopia is essentially being allowed to say the N word if you’re a white person. Now, we just pay to visit the Berlin Wall and celebrate the day that capitalism won.

So we protest about human rights
Worship obesity as our birthright
But freedom of speech won’t feed my children
Just brings heart disease and bootleg clothing

And this is what we’ve ended up fighting for! The ‘obesity’ that we celebrate isn’t meant in a completely literal sense: we all want the obesity of hoarded resources, endless consumer goods, bootleg clothing mimicking big brands that are all made by impoverished third world children to appease the West’s greed, and enough globalised fast food to ensure death through heart disease. Oh say, can you seeeeeeee…?

We love to kiss the Dalai Lama’s ass
Because he is such a holy man
Free to eat and buy anything
Free to fuck from Paris to Beijing

Fuck the Dalai Lama. He isn’t fighting for true human rights, he isn’t interested in improving people’s conditions, he definitely has no interest in helping the common man. He is yearning for a time when himself and monks like him ruled over the commoners like royalty, and is rejecting the CPC’s belief that human beings aren’t more important than each other because of some bullshit religious hierarchy. That’s what you’re supporting. But, yeah at the same time, the Dalai Lama probably doesn’t give a shit, he gets to live the high life on other people’s expense (often taxpayers), so it’s likely the only thing he truly believes in is “Fuck you, got mine”. Like we’re all encouraged to.

Little boys with dangerous toys
All bow down to the Beastie Boys

Yeah, fuck the Beastie Boys. RIP to that one who died though, sorry to hear about that.

Royalty, hereditery, unelected and becalmed
Just like Stalin, just like Stalin
Human and useless

We now simp for hereditary power. Even if we realise it’s not cool to obsess over the royal family anymore, we instead choose to lionise Prince Harry, because he possesses all of that hereditary goodness that we crave, but he knew what a failing brand the royal family was. He’s one of us! But also, importantly, absolutely better than us! His autobiography proved he’s a uneducated simpleton who loves war crimes, but we still stan! The Stalin line… I’m still getting round to that… The official Communist Party of Great Britain stance is that Stalin did more bad than good, but I’m not well read enough on that yet.

Bomb the Chinese Embassy
The west is free, oh the west is free
Laugh at the hammer and sickle
It is antique, oh it is antique

The West is still engaging in propaganda designed to ‘bomb the Chinese embassy’. And the beliefs enshrined in the hammer and sickle are not antique, in fact it is socialism that is designed to supersede capitalism, which in itself is the archaic system well overdue an overhaul. Or perhaps people are referring to the primitive communism that human beings’ earliest ancestors practiced, probing that a sharing society that benefits all its members is actually human nature…?

And see the love in Richard Gere’s eyes

Yeah, fuck Richard Gere. RIP to that gerbil that died though, sorry to hear about that.

JS Pemberton saved our lives

Confederate soldier. Invented Coca Cola. Do you want heavy analysis on every line, or are you starting to get it now?

But freedom of speech won’t feed my children
Just brings heart disease and bootleg clothing
Just brings heart disease and bootleg clothing
Just brings heart disease and bootleg clothing
Just brings heart disease and bootleg clothing

#4 The Anxiety: Meet Me At Our Spot (Live)

Firstly, specifically the live performance. The studio version is still brilliant, of course, but something absolutely magical happened when Willow Smith and Tyler Cole recorded a live performance. Also1, I have literally only just realised that it’s actually the live (and studio perfect) version of the song that I’ve been listening to for the previous 12 months. Also2, the studio version was released way back in 2020, whereas this live recording wasn’t technically released until October 2021, so it’s not that far outside the eligibility window that starts in December 2021. And special thanks to Todd in the Shadows, who first brought this magic to my attention with his best of 2021 list.

Todd actually says everything that needs to be said about this outstanding song reflecting the real woes of a quarter life crisis co-created by a legitimate artistic auteur still best know for releasing Whip My Hair twelve years ago when she was ten years old. I’ll just say – and so respectfully avoiding any puns about slapping Chris Rock – that this is easily the best song that anyone in that family has ever had a hand in. And I love Jaden Smith!

#3 Hatchie: Quicksand

If I had everything I wanted would I want more?
Would I keep fightin’ if there’s nothin’ left to fight for?
Sometimes I feel like I’m just sinkin’ into quicksand, quicksand
I used to think that this was somethin’ I could die for
I hate admittin’ to myself that I was never sure
Sometimes I feel like I’m just sinkin’ into quicksand, quicksand

Dammit, no, that doesn’t really explain it… Let me have a go:

The delivery of those lines, ma dudes (both by me and, to a lesser extent, Hatchie) just makes my ovaries quiver. Hatchie, please impregnate me with your gloriously melodic inflections.

OK, so it’s not the only reason: I may act otherwise, but I am a fan of pop music, and just review other supposed ‘genres’ through the prism of what makes great pop songs. And Quicksand is probably the greatest pure pop song of the year. It’s the chorus, yes, but it’s also the construction, the way the music shifts under the “That’s when the pilot takes control” line, the way your whole existence explodes into new meaning every time that chorus hits. I’ve known for a long time that this top three are the greatest pieces of short form musical art of 2022, and I’ve just been moving them around in my head for the past few months. On another listen just now – a last chance to alter the list – it’s clear that Hatchie’s majesty is slightly below the other two (whichever one I’ll go for in first I know I’ll regret forever), but I don’t know why this wasn’t the biggest pop success of 2022.

#2 070 Shake: Skin and Bones

And we spoke in past tense
Reminisce ’bout back when our spirits used to dance with each other
We been smoking gas, yeah
This is so romantic, I never wanna press fast forward
You treat me like I’m more than a pair of skin and bones
And that really made a difference in my story
Life will take its toll
But whichever way we go
Know I’m right here by your side, shawty

Fuck, I can’t believe this is only number two. Still, I guess that after she already broke my system by being the first artist to win the album of the year twice, her also being the first artist to get artist and song of the year (in any capacity, not just on the same freaking year!) might have been too much for me to handle.

Skin and Bones is a multilayered, artistically subtle, sonically adventurous yet still emotionally vulnerable masterpiece. It’s the best thing that Shake has ever done. It’s the best thing pretty much any of you creeps has ever done. It doesn’t seem to have any real verses or choruses, no highs nor lows, it’s just a near stream of conscious – stream of artistry – unpacking of how the person the song’s directed to validates Shake’s existence, has impacted her life, has “really made a difference in my story”, ans swearing commitment to someone that important to them. Man, woman, neither, lover, friend, therapist – it’s so wonderfully ambiguous that I have linked it to so many people in my life, and it can bring a lump to my throat for so many reasons. The gorgeous mic drop of “I know nothing/I know I don’t” carries the same weight for me as Richey Edwards’ “I know I believe in nothing but it is my nothing” did nearly thirty years ago.

Fuck, this was such a close call, but I guess Skin and Bones more weightless construction and cosmic untetheredness counted against it when measured against the absolute juggernaut of songcraft at number one.

Also, “Treat me like I’m more than a pair of skin and bones”?? Nah, doesn’t quite scan grammatically, does it?

#1 Camp Cope: Running With the Hurricane

Well, I can’t get out of this hole I’ve found
I’ve seen the light and it’s not going out
She talks me up, I bring myself down
Comparing the best parts of you to the worst in myself

I get so bored thinking ’bout anyone else

If this is the bottom I can show you around
There’s no other way to go
There’s no other way to go

Look out boys, I’m on fire and I’m not going out
I’ve been moving with the bodies that move to a different sound
And that fire started burning and that hurricane was turning once I moved

I’m sorry, we can all gaggle about sonic expansion and wider context and time signatures, but sometimes you just need to sit down and appreciate motherfucking craft.

Running With the Hurricane is one of the most perfectly constructed, pristinely produced, immaculately performed, and emotionally affecting rock songs that you’re ever likely to hear. But it’s hardly a paint by numbers pastiche – Camp Cope manage to build and then cool off the tension and euphoria with six successive verses of differing intensity before…

oh my…

Oh, I’m taking my place, running with the hurricane
Breaking these chains, running with the hurricane
Started painting my face, running with the hurricane
I push through the pain, running with the hurricane
I’m taking my place, taking my place

The chorus finally hits right at the song’s closing stage. And when I say ‘hit’, I mean it punches right through both of your ears and leaves your brain a bloody mess. It contains Georgia Maq’s graetest vocal performance, that maintains her more angry and malicious bite while also helping push the song into real, emotionally affecting beauty.

It’s an epic. Rock. Anthem. It makes no bones about that, nor is it ashamed. It’s entirely confident in what it is and the immense power that it still possesses. It’s the greatest song of 2022 simply because it shows the band making the greatest music imaginable with no restraints whatsoever, while celebrating these freedoms even “If this is the bottom”.

Look out boys, they’re on fire. And they’re not going out

I can’t believe I finally finished this!! See you next year after I’ve spent 12 months debating whether to rename it after a Mercedes Monè catchphrase.

One thought on “Legit Bosses – The 154 Best Songs of 2022

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