As 2022 comes to an end, we look back at the many, many musical releases from this past year. There have been many releases from this past year ranging across various genres. 

In honor of the end of the year, The Diamondback staff is counting off 22 of our favorite songs from 2022.

Please note this is simply a matter of our own opinion, and these songs are listed in no particular order.

– Evan Hecht, diversions editor


1. “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift continues to rip my heart out with her lyricism while exploring the traumas of her past in “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” a track from Midnights (3 am edition). Swift digs into a regrettable relationship she had at 19 — we’re all looking at you, John Mayer — and drops unforgettable lines such as, “God rest my soul, I miss who I used to be / The tomb won’t close, stained glass windows in my mind,” and the jaw-dropping, “Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first.” This song gives me chills on every listen, and should have been on the original album rather than a bonus track; it is a prime example of the raw emotion and vulnerability Swift is able to deliver through her music.

– Jenna Bloom, Video and Design


I often say a lot of decently OK musical projects led by a woman the gays love is a cultural reset. When I say Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE was a cultural reset, I mean that to the fullest extent. The impact that album had on my life and the world changed lives. It was a beautiful celebration of all things ballroom culture and disco coming together to create tracks that transcended the boundaries of dance sub-genres. To me, “SUMMER RENAISSANCE” is the perfect culmination of what the album is. When I first heard the Donna Summer “I Feel Love” sample, I nearly lost my mind. “SUMMER RENAISSANCE” is the perfect ending to a perfect album.

– Evan Hecht, Diversions

3. “10:36” by beabadoobee

When I heard this song, it immediately became one of my 2022 favorites — and that was solidified even more when I saw Bea sing it live at the 9:30 Club, and the crowd jumped along. “10:36” is gritty, upbeat and easy to dance to. Underneath the electric guitar riffs, Bea reveals one of her biggest flaws: her fear of being alone. When I first heard the song, I thought it was about Bea’s yearning — the first line is, “You don’t need me / As much as I need you.” But in the chorus, she sings about how the person she’s seeing isn’t special to her the way she is to them. While they’re in love with her, to Bea, they’re “just a warm body to hold.” I love “10:36” for the way it encapsulates Bea’s inner self while still keeping the essence of her indie-rock sound.

– Gabrielle Lewis, Diversions

4. “Girl of My Dreams” by FLETCHER

This song is a lifelong journey encompassed in three and a half minutes. It seems like FLETCHER is going to talk about a new relationship, of what she wishes for in a partner. The song also slides in queer representation without making a huge deal out of it. As a bisexual person, the casual mention of falling in love with both men and women hit me hard. But the song isn’t about loving other people; FLETCHER sings about falling in love with herself. The song places a huge emphasis on growth and realizing you have to find peace and joy in yourself. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, and her entire album shows the ups and downs of a journey in self-love. But the title song takes the whole journey and layers it over an instrumental track that makes me want to sing along, no matter where I am.

– Khushboo Rathore, Diversions

5. “Crop Circles” by Odie Leigh

Odie Leigh’s folksy voice in combination with her plucking the guitar scratches an itch right around my pulmonary artery, and I don’t think I have ever played a song as many times as this one. After hearing these heavenly chords on TikTok more than a year ago, I checked Spotify at least five times a week to see when it would be released. Listening to this song on repeat has helped me cope with the overwhelming, excruciating pain of graduating this year. In fact, nothing really encapsulates the feeling of getting older like saying ,“And I, I don’t think I’ve changed / No, and I’m too scared to stay the same.” I cannot emphasize how life-altering this song is. I simply became a new woman after listening to it for the first time — and the next 500 times after that.

– Julia Bischoff, Audio

6. “Paralyzed” by Big Time Rush

I’ve been waiting 10 years for this one; I’m not kidding. First performed on the god-sent Nickelodeon show, “Paralyzed” proved Big Time Rush could rock. While the verses suck you in, the chorus is where this song really shines. It makes me want to tap my foot and bang my head at the same time all while screaming about how seeing the love of your life for the first time literally makes you go, “Yeah, they’re just that good.” The band went on hiatus in 2014, but announced a reunion in 2021 after they realized the COVID-19 pandemic caused us all to revert back to our 12 year-old selves — I’m also looking at you, Directioners. Anyway, Big Time Rush saved lives with this song, and I highly recommend playing it on repeat.

– Megan Barnes, Audio

7.“Heat Lightning” by Mitski

Each year I get a little older — and a little more pretentious in the process. As such, I’ve become a real sucker for well-produced songs, songs that can take over my body and send chills directly down my spine. Mitski’s guitar riffs and synths have always done this for me, so when her return to music was doubtful after her 2018 album Be The Cowboy, I was distraught. However, Mitski’s return with 2022’s Laurel Hell was dazzling. “Heat Lightning” was the greatest testament of this album’s elite production. This song progresses like the weather it describes: swift, jarring and all-encompassing. Whether I’m staring at my ceiling or walking across campus, “Heat Lightning” provides Mitski with an avenue into my deepest introspections, making me miss people, experiences and past lives.

– Anthony Liberatori, Opinion

8. “Words I Used” by The Backseat Lovers

After three years, The Backseat Lovers released their sophomore album Waiting to Spill. The band members, in their early to mid-twenties from Utah, know how to dig into feelings and tell a story. The first verse of “Words I Used” starts with Jonas Swanson, lead guitarist and supporting vocals for the band, solo on vocals, exposing his vulnerability. Swanson and Joshua Harmon, lead vocals, use their emotionally charged voices to paint the picture of a relationship in which one person wants to admit it is doomed with its messy history. Lyrics such as, “I’m sorry but it’s been weighing on me / Oh I can’t lie when I sing,” show listeners the pain of the singers’ own words. I love “Words I Used” because of its lyrical genius along with what I believe The Backseat Lovers do best: Blend highs and lows perfectly into one song. 

– Parker Leipzig, News

9. “Certainty” by Big Thief

This song feels like 9:13 p.m. on a Saturday in July 2012. It’s exactly 72 degrees outside. I’m sitting in a fold-up lawn chair around a fire in my friend’s backyard because our parents are hanging out and drinking wine, and my friend and I just want to be in the basement playing Mario Kart, but we’re forced to talk to them about school and sports and whatnot. I just ate three slices of a Red Baron frozen cheese pizza. The backyard beyond the patio’s feeble light is ablaze with fireflies. Tonight I sit and torch marshmallows, and tomorrow my sweatshirt will smell like a campfire. Whatever it reminds you of, this song is raw, cathartic and full of nostalgia. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing it live, which I can confidently say is the best way to experience it.

– Kyle Russo, Engagement

[Lesbian bar in DC brings queer people together with fun, comedy and performances]

10. “Something in the Orange” by Zach Bryan

On country radio, “Something In The Orange” stands out among the rest. Considering Zach Bryan’s indie roots, this isn’t much of a surprise. What might be more of a surprise is to the extent this song has taken off, including reaching the top 20 on the Billboard Top 100. Bryan was a rising musician to those in smaller circles but in 2022, he exploded in popularity with the release of American Heartbreak, which topped the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. “Something in the Orange” has become his most popular song for good reason. The simple ballad is like a cool glass of water compared to the overproduction of most modern, popular country songs. The lyrics are heartbreaking, and Bryan’s voice is powerful. His success sparks hope that more indie country artists could find mainstream popularity in the future.

– Josh Banner, Sports

11. “Kill Bill” by SZA

Thankfully, we waited just long enough to make this list, so a tune from SZA’s surprise album could make it in time. “Kill Bill” has me in a chokehold. Walking around campus listening to it feels a little too informal, but I think it’s because she’s singing about plotting to murder her ex. SZA is candid on SOS and “Kill Bill” is certainly less so, but it packs an intense punch with its memorable instrumental. After waiting five years for her next album to drop since Ctrl, “Kill Bill” on SOS is a showstopper.

 Ella Sherman, Managing

12. “Invincible” by Omar Apollo

Omar Apollo was not remotely on my radar two months ago. Now, his song “Invincible” is an everyday listen, often replayed throughout the day as it fits into multiple playlists. Retelling the common experience of feeling invisible, Apollo combines his R&B and soul style with a slight pop energy that lets listeners relate to feelings of self-doubt without getting bogged down by the sad nature of these emotions. With catchy lyrics and dance-inducing beats, it’s a stereotypical on-the-go song that livens up a walk to class with a touch of grunge that makes the song appear less mainstream.

 Winter Hawk, Diversions

13. “The Heart Part V” by Kendrick Lamar 

The latest installment in “The Heart” series by Kendrick Lamar features one of rap’s best lyricists performing at his best. From the start of his first verse, Lamar takes off running, “I come from a generation of pain, where murder is minor.” Thematically, Lamar raps about wanting to be the voice of his culture and the frustrations that come with it. His fast-paced cadence and multiple flow switches match the feeling perfectly. The Marvin Gaye sample that’s the base of the instrumental makes the song sound soaring, especially toward the end where all the sections get added back in. I also love the change in the middle where the drums disappear and Lamar transitions into rapping from the perspective of the late Nipsey Hussle. It skyrocketed my hype for Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, but it’s also in a league of its own as a single.

 Nene Narh-Mensah, News

14. “About You” by The 1975

This song has transported me back to sitting on the bus in middle school wearing a Claire’s choker with earbuds in and staring out the window. The fact that Matty Healy says it’s a continuation of “Robbers” is another stab in the heart. With Healy’s low vocals paired with Carly Holt’s verse, the dramatic instrumentals and the repetitive chorus, “About You” is definitely my top song from Being Funny in a Foreign Language and maybe even the band’s entire discography. I also had to stop listening to it for two weeks because I was thinking about my exes too much, which just goes to show what you’re getting yourself into with the song.

 Olivia Wolfson, News

15. “pg baby” by redveil

“pg baby” was a standout on Prince George’s County native redveil’s third album Learn 2 Swim, which he released on his 18th birthday in April. The third track of redveil’s latest record showcases a concise flow and triumphant lyrics from the already tenured teenage rapper, while also referencing his hometown with the line, “Bring it back to Largo, that P.G. baby never settle.” It prominently features a sample chopped up by redveil — who produced the track himself — from the 1976 soul song “Love Me or Leave Me” by Band of Thieves. A sung portion of the song bookends the track and adds a boisterous background that redveil smoothly navigates throughout. He also dropped a remix of “pg baby” with Denzel Curry in October, which is just as great as the original.

 Nicky Wolcott, Sports

[The Diamondback staff rates 10 candy cane flavors ahead of the holidays]

16. “Bad Omens” by 5 Seconds of Summer

“Bad Omens” shows Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer’s growth both lyrically and sonically. As its four members age, their songs mature from wanting to grow up to adapting to fit life and work with others — in another song on the album, “Older,” the band laments about how they “don’t wanna get older.” “Bad Omens” puts listeners through the turmoil of ignoring red flags and signs that a relationship is over because “that’s what you do when you love somebody.” The strings and drums throughout the track particularly contribute to these feelings of desperation and pain. Even though the singer knows there’s no way to salvage the relationship, they’ll still try anyway.

 Christine Zhu, News

17. “Sidelines” by Phoebe Bridgers

I had the privilege of hearing “Sidelines” live just a couple months after Phoebe Bridgers released the single in spring 2022. The production has Bridgers’ classic sound, but it’s also new and fun, with more drums and synth in the background music. The lyrics are where the song really shines, though. The song appeared in the Hulu TV series based off of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, but I can think of a million other shows or movies where “Sidelines” would be the perfect soundtrack. Bridgers takes us on a journey of meeting someone who brings new meaning to life, with poignant lyrics such as, “Now I know what it feels like to wanna go outside” — the perfect anthem to sing along to when you’re celebrating no longer being afraid of things that used to hold you back.

 Shifra Dayak, News

18. “Persuasive” by Doechii

Doechii solidified her footing in the music industry and got proper recognition for her sound with the buttery chorus and maniacal, meticulous rhymes on “Persuasive.” The song is the perfect, stress-free kickback, and broke Doechii out to work with artists such as SZA, Ravyn Lenae, Rico Nasty and Smino this year. Every Doechii verse perfectly balances the urge to levitate and the urge to shake ass, and “Persuasive” gives us Doechii’s best. While Doechii does have a signature sound, it’s clear she doesn’t shy away from experimentation and growth. We’ve seen this throughout her entire discography but this year especially, she’s made incredible strides, and she still has so much more to say.

 Victoria Stavish, Data

19. “Outsidë” by Yeat, ft. Young Thug

“Outsidë” is one of Yeat’s standout tracks on his album 2 Alivë. The song and project sum up Yeat’s almost overnight rise from the underground rap scene to one of the most well-recognized new artists in the rap scene. Yeat continues to forge his own unique sound, this time teaming up with Young Thug, arguably the most influential rap artist of the 2010s. The song strays from Yeat’s more regular, murky delivery to a more relaxed tone, complete with a beat featuring typical bells and unique adlibs you’d expect. Yeat’s style is divisive among rap enjoyers but is unlike anything other artists offer. I remember being introduced to Yeat in fall 2021, and I didn’t understand the hype. “Outsidë” is one of the songs that remind me music isn’t strictly defined to songwriting and themes, but rather by ingenuity and the ability to create a unique experience for listeners.

 Yonathan Shimelis, Sports

20. “Little Freak” by Harry Styles

“Little Freak,” off of Harry Styles’ third album Harry’s House, is all about reminiscing on a beautiful relationship, knowing it won’t come back but not feeling bitter about it. The music is slower but not inherently sad, so I can listen to it on repeat. And the lyrics draw such a vivid picture of the “Little Freak” Styles is talking about. In the final verse, Styles sings, “I disrespected you / Jumped in feet first, then I landed too hard,” as the music slows to focus on the beautiful guitar picking. It’s truly refreshing to see an artist be honest about their own faults and be genuine about their character. Of course, this song ended up in my top five Spotify songs.

 Devon Milley, Managing

21. “South to West” by Gunna

“South to West” is one of the best tracks on my personal favorite album of the year, DS4Ever. The first line of the song states, “Oops, I made a mess” which I can personally relate to, and that his money stretches “from south to the west”, which I unfortunately can’t relate to as much. Gunna has the smoothest flow in the rap game right now, and this song epitomizes that notion. It’s a perfect song to blast in the car or bump your head to when you’re at the gym, and was by far my most played song in 2022.

 Noah Ferguson, Sports

22. “American Teenager” by Ethel Cain

This song was a true summer anthem for me. I spent most of June and July driving through the cornfield-bordered backroads of my hometown, windows down — partly because my car doesn’t have A/C, partly for the vibes — and music blasting. Ethel Cain’s storytelling ability here is unmatched, and her voice is accompanied by full, rich production. There’s a reason it was my second top song of the year. Overall, this song is perfect for romanticizing your melancholic solitude. Cain is truly on an upward trajectory, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

 Kyle Russo, Engagement