Music evokes emotion and memories, and each new song we hear has the potential to end up being a crucial signpost in our lives. This year has brought with it a multitude of emotions that, like our favorite music from 2022, follows no theme. Genres continue to be less important and harder to define, thanks to artists who defy boundaries. And, as always, our favorite songs from the past 365 days span all kinds of moods, but all have moved us. Whether discovering a new sound or reveling in the return of a favorite musician, we continue to be thrilled by music.
mui zyu: Ghost With a Peach Skin
London-based Hong Kong British artist mui zyu (aka Eva Liu) released the delightful “Ghost With a Peach Skin” from her upcoming debut album, Rotten Bun For An Eggless Century. The dream-pop-leaning track, led by a blown-out drum machine and gloopy synths, is at once laidback and danceable. Explaining the track, which is about shedding an old life in order to have a kind of rebirth, she says, “even though a peach is a delicate fruit that bruises easily, in Chinese culture it represents longevity and immortality.”
SEVDALIZA: WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM زن زندگی آزادی
Named for a commonly used slogan in the Kurdish independence movement, “WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM” by Iranian-Dutch artist SEVDALIZA is a sparse, moving piece that expresses her support for oppressed women all over the world—specifically in Iran. The Tehran-born, Rotterdam-based singer-songwriter says in a statement, “I stand proud as an Iranian woman and I am supporting the fight of my sisters who shed their blood, hair, hearts and brains to give us all the hope, that one day, we will be free. At a young age I became aware of the systematic means of forcing women into obedience through violence and intimidation. To persuade women that their minds, bodies, and freedom do not belong to them. Our humanity demands we stand up against the oppression of women. Now. And forever. We must continue to speak up and fight institutions that condone oppression, violence and murder. We must face the people that deny the dignity and respect for all of us women. We are so tired of being told how to be, what to be.”
Destroyer feat. Sandro Perri: Somnambulist Blues
A minimal, experimental composition from Toronto-based musician and producer Sandro Perri with spoken-word from pioneering indie-rock act Destroyer (aka Dan Bejar), “Somnambulist Blues” is a mesmeric, multi-dimensional and transportive track of precise, powerful components. “I come back to Sandro’s music as something to sing to at the crossroads moments of my life in music,” Bejar shares in a statement. “There is something about the landscape Sandro lays out—it’s a world in which things become imminently singable. A lotta room to roam, and all of it good.” The single debuts as part of record label Mexican Summer’s Looking Glass digital series.
Ethel Cain: Everytime (Britney Spears Cover)
Replacing the tinkling keys of Britney Spears’ haunting 2003 ballad “Everytime” with a guitar, Ethel Cain reimagines the sad bop as a slowed-down, even more somber lament. The song (written by Spears and her back-up singer Annet Artani) is an ethereal, shapeshifting creation that’s carried by Cain’s melancholy voice and almost eerie backing vocals. The singer-songwriter says in a statement, “I’ve always loved this song and immediately knew I could take Britney’s melodies and make something super-dreamy with it… I think Britney wrote a very lovely song and it was an honor to put my spin on it.”
Sky Ferreira: Don’t Forget
Alt-pop darling Sky Ferreira has returned with “Don’t Forget,” her highly anticipated first new track in three years. (2019’s “Downhill Lullaby” was also her first original new single since her 2013 debut, Night Time, My Time.) A glorious teaser for her upcoming second album, Masochism, the song incorporates everything Ferreira fans could hope for: it’s a dark, synth-laden tune about revenge. As she told Vulture in an interview, “It wasn’t supposed to be apocalyptic, but in some ways it is. I did see fire, and I also saw a place between heaven and hell, that sort of vibe. But not in a biblical sense. I felt very stifled for a long time, and I still do.”
Q: Stereo Driver
Singer, songwriter and producer Q (aka Q Steven Marsden) returns with “Stereo Driver,” his first single since his debut breakout album, The Shave Experiment. Opening with compressed drums, synths and Q’s smooth vocals professing love, the track sounds like it came straight from the ’80s—if it weren’t for hints of contemporary R&B and funky bass. All these elements make the song a transcendent, rich, timeless jam. Accompanying the track is a kaleidoscopic, shifting music video—replete with Q playing the keytar—which fittingly mesmerizes.
Yazmin Lacey: Pieces
Across a slow-burning tempo and horns from James Mollison, Ritchie Seivwright and Sheila Maurice-Gray, British singer Yazmin Lacey’s smooth and smoky vocals seduce in her new single “Pieces.” Intimate and soulful, the track is “an open goodbye letter,” the artist says. “‘Pieces’ is bathed in a kind of blissful melancholy, a 50/50 fusion of love and loss.”
Vieux Farka Touré and Khruangbin: Tongo Barra
To honor the late Ali Farka Touré, the internationally celebrated Malian singer and virtuoso guitarist, Ali’s son Vieux Farka Touré partnered with pioneering music trio Khruangbin on a collaborative EP appropriately entitled Ali (out 23 September). An homage to desert blues—the genre his father invented—the album features eight tracks, including the riveting “Tongo Barra,” a refreshing, referential jam.
Louis Cole: Let It Happen
Part meditation, part power ballad, Louis Cole’s “Let It Happen” is the LA-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s first new solo music since his 2020 live album. The slow-burning track about relinquishing control begins with quiet clicks and Cole’s soft falsetto, before leading to glittery synths, uplifting key changes and soaring strings. According to Cole, it’s “a timeless modern power ballad classic that taps into a special feeling in between joy and pain.”
Lizzo: I Love You Bitch
Released today, Lizzo’s highly anticipated fourth studio album, Special, features an array of playful, powerful and oftentimes profound songs. For “I Love You Bitch,” one of many highlights on the dynamic 12-track LP, the singer-songwriter and flautist spins together a soulful anthem that isn’t afraid to be flat-out fun.
Hero image courtesy of Q Steven Marsden