Beyoncé saved our soul. Bad Bunny and Rosalía schooled us on Spanish. And Harry Styles made us believe that it was “just us” and him.
From house to mambo, here are the top 10 tracks that pumped up the power of music in 2022.
1. Beyoncé, “Break My Soul”
There were arguably even better songs on album of the year “Renaissance” (see “Cuff It” below), but “Break My Soul” — surprisingly, Beyoncé’s first No. 1 solo hit since 2008’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”— found the über-diva capturing the moment better than any other artist in 2022. Dropped just as pent-up party people around the world were ready to release their post-pandemic wiggle, it was a cathartic throwback to the spirit-reaffirming house music of the ’90s as clubgoers emerged from the worst of the AIDS epidemic. The positively euphoric effect even had folks wanting to follow Bey’s lead and quit their jobs.
2. Kendrick Lamar, “Mother I Sober”
At this point, any Lamar album is an event. And after the certified classics of 2012’s “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City,” 2015’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” and 2017’s “Damn,” 2022’s “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” was no exception. The LP’s epic, near-seven-minute highlight (featuring Portishead singer Beth Gibbons) is a hauntingly moody meditation on black family trauma — and breaking a “generational curse.”
3. Harry Styles, “As It Was”
His third solo album may have been called “Harry’s House,” but it was really Harry’s world in 2022. Not only did he headline a ridiculous 15 sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden and star in two films (“Don’t Worry Darling” and “My Policeman”), but he had the most ubiquitous song of 2022 in “As It Was,” which spent 15 weeks at No. 1. A shimmying slice of ’80s pogo pop that had us breaking out our best Molly Ringwald moves, it was as irresistible as it was inescapable.
4. Beyoncé, “Cuff It”
“Have you ever had fun like this?” Beyoncé asks on this “Renaissance” roller boogie. And the answer would be a definite no. Bey herself sounds like she’s having a blast — and the sheer joy in her voice and the buoyant beats is insanely infectious. So much so that, even without a video — come on Bey, we’re waiting! — it became an instant line-dance classic.
5. Bad Bunny, “Tití Me Preguntó”
The title of this Spanish-language smash translates to “Auntie asked me” in English, but this shape-shifting jam — from the Puerto Rican sensation’s No. 1 album “Un Verano Sin Ti” — left no questions about hopping aboard the Bad Bunny bandwagon in 2022.
6. Steve Lacy, “Bad Habit”
The guitarist from alt-R&B band the Internet made a major solo statement with this No. 1 hit that conjured up psych-soul shades of Prince, André 3000 and Frank Ocean. Going No. 1 on the pop, rock and R&B charts, it was the kind of “Bad Habit” that absolutely nobody could quit.
7. Drake, “Tie That Binds”
“Honestly, Nevermind” — the surprise album that Drake dropped in June — was a bold change-up that found him bopping from hip-hop to house on trancey tracks such as this intoxicating twirl. Setting his creamy croon against some Santana-esque guitar, “Tie That Binds” had you hooked from the rooftop to the after-hours club.
8. The Weeknd, “Out of Time”
Out of nowhere, we suddenly took The Weeknd for granted in 2022. After the blinding success of 2015’s “Beauty Behind the Madness,” 2016’s “Starboy” and 2020’s “After Hours,” his shoulda-been-blockbuster “Dawn FM” album was a relative flop by his standards. It’s pretty inexplicable that “Out of Time” wasn’t a real hit: Evoking the melancholy beauty of “Human Nature” — a “Thriller” hit by his most obvious influence, Michael Jackson — it’s shimmering soul-pop perfection.
9. SZA, “I Hate U”
Five years after her hit debut “Ctrl” instantly made her R&B’s It girl, SZA finally returned with “SOS.” And she proved that her sophomore set was worth the wait with hypno-soul tracks such as this hit single, which finds the singer walking the thin line between love and hate as she faces the trippy truth about being “lost in the lie of us.”
10. Rosalía, “Despechá”
The Latin takeover in 2022 extended from Bad Bunny to this Grammy-winning Spanish star, who singlehandedly started a new mambo movement with this fast and furious workout that turns her broken heart into fiery feet. As if this “Motomami +” track needed to get any hotter, Cardi B just jumped on a remix.