Happy year six of this weird thing I do and happy end to 2022, y’all! As we say goodbye to another year packed with Russian invasions, the rights of American women being stripped away just in time for the Republican party to embarrass itself (again) without the help of its former Cheeto-in-Chief, dying queens and a promising step forward in our battle against cancer, we must also take time to reflect on the great music of the year. Just like it has been every year since I started this thing, this will be a three-part series where I follow in the footsteps of my favorite music blogs and present my favorite music of the year. As per usual, it will be broken down into three parts: 5 Favorite New Releases of 2022, 5 Favorite NOT New Releases That I Rocked Hard in 2022 and 5 Songs I Made My Ears Bleed With — Both New and Old — in 2022. I’m including a handful of honorable mentions where applicable and, of course, all three sets are presented in no particular order unless otherwise noted.
Part 3 of 3
TOP 5 TRACKS, NEW AND OLD, 2022
Ernest (Feat. Morgan Wallen) – Flower Shops
Album: Flower Shops (The Album) – Released: 2021
I’ll admit that this wasn’t enough to make me dive into the music of Ernest (yet) but 2022 started with a bang for me by hearing this song. In fact, I think after I heard it the first time, I said “this is going to be one of my favorite songs of the year,” and I was right. Anything Morgan Wallen touches turns to gold in my opinion and this song is no exception. Flower Shops was co-written by Ben Burgess (who also co-wrote Wallen’s hits Whiskey Glasses, Neon Eyes and More Surprised Than Me as well as many other country and pop songs) and Mark Holman (whose eclectic song-writing resume includes work for Florida Georgia Line and Black Veil Brides) and the result was what I think is the strongest country duet since the outlaw days of the genre. I think Country music is “back” with this new lineup of young guys doing it the way they are. I can’t wait to see what they bring to 2023!
Lil Durk (Feat. Morgan Wallen) – Broadway Girls
Album: 7220 – Released: 2021
I like to think I have a pretty open mind when it comes to music, though there are several exceptions. One of those exceptions is Lil Durk’s brand of hip-hop. And while the Hip-Hop and Country mashup over a Trap beat found on Broadway Girls would have been a tough sell for me at one point, Wallen’s songs Warning and Wasted on You warmed me up to the idea and showed me that it can and does work. I have to admit that Durk’s part on the song is pretty stupid but Wallen’s verse and the song’s hook make this one of the strongest singles of the last year. Along with Lil Durk and Morgan Wallen, this song was co-written by a laundry list of fellow Hip-Hop artists and Nashville songwriters, not least of which is the same Ernest that Wallen collaborated with on the aforementioned Flower Shops. Apparently this jam went viral on TikTok and went all the way to number 1 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, peaking at 14 on the overall Hot 100. If you can successfully pull off a song that will appeal to both Country and Hip-Hop fans like this, you’ve discovered a true recipe for quality songwriting that transcends genres.
Code Orange – Out for Blood
Album: Out for Blood – Released: 2021
WE ARE CODE ORANGE AND WE ARE OUT. FOR. BLOOOOOOOOOOOD! screamed Eric Balderose, lead singer of Code Orange. Katie and I were at Thompson Boling Arena to see KoRn and was lucky enough to catch the open act’s set. I thought it was a pretty bold way to start a concert — exclaiming that your band is out for blood and if you were to make such a statement, your band had better back it up. And back it up they did! We were blown away by Code Orange’s set that night and their newest single Out For Blood immediately became one of my favorite songs — I even went so far as to buy a long-sleeved tee with the phrase emblazoned on the front. The song was produced by Rob Cavallo of Green Day and My Chemical Romance fame but what he was able to produce with this song is far heavier than anything those pop-punk bands have ever even considered. And if the heavy riffs aren’t enough, the heavy vocals are enough to give me a jolt of unstoppable energy — You were, motherfucker I am! gets me every single time. On a more personal note, Katie and I have begun using the song’s intro CHECK-CHECK as our version of Marco Polo if we ever lose each other in public. Of course we would.
Scene Queen (Feat. Set It Off) – Barbie & Ken
Album: BIMBOCORE VOL. 2 – Released: 2022
This is an example of YouTube doing me a solid. For DAYS as I watched other music videos on the platform, Scene Queen’s Barbie & Ken was being suggested to me as something I might like. After some wearing down, I finally clicked and MAN … I was kicked in the teeth by an artist that combines so many unlikely elements that it’s nearly impossible to comprehend. It’s violent like Horror-Core, heavy like Metal-Core and both cutesy and pink like Paris Hilton? Are you kidding? Fortunately there is no joke here — it’s all real and it’s every bit as sexy, revolting and thrashy as you would imagine. Scene Queen is joined by the guys in Tampa quasi-Punk/Alt/Hip-Hop band Set It Off to provide comically violent commentary on femininity by flipping the narrative of America’s most prized, gender-role-affirming plaything. This hilariously over-the-top Metalcore song piqued my interest enough to make me check out everything else Scene Queen has released … and I may or may not have dropped a BIMBOCORE t-shirt on my Yule wishlist.
New Found Glory – Dream Born Again
Album: Dream Born Again – Released: 2022
Another song that YouTube drew my attention to, New Found Glory was already on my radar this year as I pounded away on classic tunes like My Friends Over You, Something I Call Personality, Head-On Collision and Understatement on bass guitar over the last few months. And even though there’s no refuting the fact that these guys are the sweethearts of the classic Pop-Punk era, there’s one thing I know to be true above all else: if I see the guys with acoustic guitars, I know it’s going to be a heartfelt banger and Dream Born Again delivers. Musically it’s top-notch sugary-sweet pop-punk but lyrically singer Jordan Pundik shines as per usual. You’re all wrapped up in one — swear I’ll never give you reasons to run; You are the dream I thought was lost, but the dream I thought was lost came true with us. The verses are so relatable and practically written for me — a life once driven by making the world think you’re edgy and tough but then when the right person comes into your life, BAM, you’re helping pick out florals for the wedding and agreeing to have your front door painted pink. And at the end of the day, no matter how dark, moody and edgy the narrator maybe once tried to seem, this domesticated hearts-in-eyes life is what he really wanted the whole time. Me too, narrator; Me, too.
The Interrupters – Raised by Wolves
Album: Into the Wild – Released: 2022
My rule is usually to do a clean 5-5-5 and if there’s a sixth or seventh entry, I just have to make some cuts … but this one has to be in the top as well. The Interrupters already put out one of 2022’s best albums — definitely the best Ska album — and it’s songs like this that make it shine. Raised by Wolves has a very specific meaning to singer Amy Interrupter but I think anyone who had to grow up with an absent parent can relate. If you grew up with both parents present in a healthy household, there’s no way you can understand just what a toll it takes on a kid’s psyche. This Ska/Punk tune bravely shouts that even though life is extremely difficult for kids who had to grow up in broken homes, that brokenness oftentimes forces us to become stronger versions of ourselves. We would dig for scraps out in the cold; After you left to go and try to find your pot of gold; My teeth got sharper, my skin got tough; So I forgive you for your giving up. It’s always incredible when you know that another person truly, genuinely feels the same grief-turned-gratitude as you, especially when you feel like you’ve carried it alone for so long. Big props to the Interrupters for writing this song but especially big ups to Amy Interrupter for baring her soul in such a vulnerable way.
- Buy Dirt by Jordan Davis from the album Buy Dirt (2021)
- Edging by Blink 182 from the album Edging (2022)
- Fat Mike’s on Drugs (Again) by Less Than Jake from the album Fat Mike’s On Drugs (Again) (2022)
- Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?) by Soul Glo from the album Diaspora Problems (2022)