We’re kicking off our 2022 Midyear Report with our favorite songs of the year so far.
What the hell happened to time? Remember when a week felt like a week? Since everything went belly up a few years ago, seven days seem to feel more like 30. Which might go some way to account for the onslaught of music we’ve received over the first half of 2022.
This feels like the first time since it happened that things are running at full-steam again — or more than full, really. The industry’s collective finger was on pause for essentially two years, and now we’re fast-forwarding to make up for it. It’s a lot to take in — then again, so is everything these days. We’re faced with such a constantly shifting rush of emotions, swings of positivity and negativity, that it only makes sense for music to mirror the surge.
Over the last six months, we’ve witnessed the return of legends, follow-ups to viral hits, and rookie breakthroughs at a seemingly unprecedented clip. But if there’s one space where “too much of a good thing” doesn’t necessarily apply, it’s music. That’s especially true when we’re locked in an experience whirlwind; we need something to pull us back towards the ground, to tether us in the chaos and remind us simple joys still exist.
Perhaps nitpicking through such a smorgasbord of sound to find the “best” songs of the year so far is a bit of a fool’s errand. For one, there have just been so many good songs. For another, whatever got you through these last six months are the best songs, regardless of what the experts say. Maybe it’s better to say these are the 50 songs that the experts at Consequence have connected with the most so far in 2022. We know you connected with some of them, too.
— Ben Kaye
50. Avril Lavigne – “Love It When You Hate Me”
A more modern entry in Avril Lavigne’s pop punk comeback, “Love It When You Hate Me” could easily have been bogged down by the emo rap contributions of blackbear, but a beat switch allows him to slide right in without overstaying his welcome. Elsewhere, Lavigne delivers a chorus that’s as hooky as ever, venturing into the familiar territory of ignoring the warning signs. And of course, Travis Barker’s thunderous drums continue to be the cheat code two decades into his career. — Eddie Fu
49. Joy Oladokun – “Keeping the Light On”
Joy Oladokun has promised the follow-up to her breakout in defense of my own happiness debut will be “about the human will to keep trying in the midst of all the tragedy that we’ve seen and perpetrated.” Consider “Keeping the Light On” a thesis statement to that goal, a bright counter to modern misery that’s as heartening as it is catchy. — B. Kaye
48. Momma – “Speeding 72”
Pavement reference? Check. Fuzzed-out guitars? Check. A chorus that gets lodged in your subconscious? Check, check, check. This rocker from co-bandleaders Etta Friedman and Allegra Weingarten is a song about driving a car tailor-made for playing while driving a car, preferably with the volume turned all the way up. — Spencer Dukoff
47. Father John Misty – “Q4”
The master of indie satire strikes gold on “Q4,” his Chloë and the Next 20th Century track that bites back at the corporatization of art. The tale is centered around a struggling memoirist, but coming from Father John Misty, you can’t help but find the irony doubling back on itself. In that way, it reveals an earnestness in Josh Tillman’s songwriting that actually only furthers the innate irony, a feedback loop that ends up thoughtfully revealing. — B. Kaye
46. Oso Oso – “Computer Exploder”
If it came out that a radioactive songwriting spider bit Jade Lilitri of Oso Oso, no one would be shocked. Lilitri can write some of the catchiest music in indie rock, only to withhold it for the perfect moment. Case in point, “Computer Exploder,” the first track off sore thumb. What starts as a mid-paced opener seamlessly morphs into a festival-ready anthem with a chorus begging you to sing along even upon first listen. — Jonah Krueger
45. The Weeknd – “Sacrifice”
Since his major label debut in 2015, The Weeknd has constantly been in pursuit of dissecting and reframing the hedonistic bad boy persona that earned him his keep, and “Sacrifice” is yet another phenomenal entry from Abel Tesfaye. Throughout the thumping, Swedish House Mafia-assisted track, Tesfaye examines the tension between who he used to be and who he wants to be, sacrificing his time and his habitual quest for dopamine for the commitment necessary to maintain a relationship. — Paolo Ragusa
44. Wet Leg – “Angelica”
It is now totally okay to want to leave a bad party, or not even want to be at a party at all, thanks to recent Artist of the Month Wet Leg and and their debut album highlight “Angelica.” As the penultimate verse goes, “I don’t know what I’m even doing here/ I was told that there would be free beer.” If there’s not even free beer, what is the point? — Cady Siregar
43. Bad Bunny – “Moscow Mule”
The leading track from Bad Bunny’s hit album Un Verano Sin Ti (“A Summer Without You”) perfectly captures the essence of the loneliness that can come with being an international superstar. Searching for a deeper connection, the singer finds himself somberly going through the motions of sex — while reflecting on the fact that his sexual partner hasn’t saved his phone number. The contrast between pain and ecstasy is strong, with deep grooves and rhythms detaching us from the anguish. — André Heizer
42. Widowspeak – “Everything is Simple”
“Everything is simple… ’til it’s not.” Widowspeak channel a meditative melancholy with this The Jacket cut, a steady drum groove and sparse guitars accompanying Molly Hamilton’s dreamy vocals. It’s an observational and apt ode that ponders fresh new beginnings and experiences — like falling in love, or starting a new job — that seem fun and exciting at the very start before the reality and weight of everything else starts to set in. — C.S.
41. Maren Morris – “Circles Around This Town”
The lead single from Maren Morris’ third major label album is essentially a love letter to her entire career, spinning the tale of her arrival in Tennessee as a fresh-faced hopeful eager to break into the country music scene. Of course, the road to Nashville superstardom is far rockier — and more cyclical — than it may seem. Ultimately, the song serves as a testament to Morris’ tenacity, about how far she’s come, and how far she still has yet to go. — Glenn Rowley
40. EARTHGANG – “All Eyes on Me”
On the cathartic “All Eyes on Me,” EARTHGANG celebrate survival, which comes with an added burden in the Black community. Masterfully acknowledging the strength it takes to start each day in the face of poverty, addiction, and systemic racism, the duo sum up the current situation in eight simple words: “You survived last year, get your hands up.” More than a catchy line, it bears repeating in the dark days that unfortunately aren’t behind us just yet. — E.F.
39. Dove Cameron – “Boyfriend”
If there was ever any doubt left that Dove Cameron has made the well-worn leap from Disney Channel starlet to twenty-something pop star, all reservations were soundly put to bed with the release of her breakout single, “Boyfriend.” But instead of copying a page from the playbook that’s already been written (like, say, Miley Cyrus’ “I Can’t Be Tamed” or Britney Spears’ “Overprotected”), the former Descendants actress flips the script by showing that sometimes a lady can be the best kind of gentleman a girl could want. — G.R.
38. Maggie Rogers – “That’s Where I Am”
Maggie Rogers finally seemed to hear our cries and is returning this summer with a new album. It’s simply been far too long since her 2019 masterpiece, Heard It in a Past Life, and she’s finally offered a first taste at her new era with “That’s Where I Am.” Her vocals have remained crystal clear; her storytelling is still visceral, natural, and evocative. We’re counting down the days ’till July 29th, when Surrender is set to arrive. — Mary Siroky
37. Megan Thee Stallion – “Plan B”
Houston’s favorite Hot Girl has come such a long way since her days of viral freestyles on social media — just take a quick look at her six Grammys. With “Plan B,” though, Megan Thee Stallion reminded us all how her journey began in the first place. This track has so many of the hallmarks listeners love about her: bars for days, a throwback beat, and all the attitude us peasants can only aspire to. — M. Siroky
36. Horsegirl – “Anti-glory”
Hummed verses, guitar squall, abstruse lyrics — Chicago trio Horsegirl do ‘90s indie rock right. With a head-bobbing riff and that stop-start “Dance! With me!” command, “Anti-glory” packs these well-worn building blocks into a 21st century song that sounds fresh, and guarantees you’ll oblige their request. — Carys Anderson
35. Beach House – “Superstar”
The highlight of Beach House’s Once Twice Melody is an effortlessly hypnotizing potion of catchy licks, droning vocals, and driving rhythm. As Victoria Legrand reminisces about a bittersweet past, airy synths are underlaid with a stiff and fuzzy guitar progression, making one feel like they’re sitting in the backseat on a blurry car ride down memory lane. — A.H.
34. Phoebe Bridgers – “Sidelines”
On her only original release of 2022 thus far, Phoebe Bridgers is fearless. Sort of. “Sidelines” is a love song about finding that person who makes you want to risk it all. Over soaring strings, Bridgers recounts all things that don’t scare her — dying in a fire, drowning in the ocean after a plane crash, getting older — before returning to the chorus: “Watching the world from the sidelines/Had nothing to prove/’Till you came into my life/Gave me something to lose.” — S.D.
33. Orville Peck – “Daytona Sand”
Straight out the gate, Orville Peck’s sophomore album starts at a gallop with opener “Daytona Sand,” a spellbinding, sun-drenched tale about the one who got away. “So rack ‘em up, big blonde/ I think I could’ve been your man,” the masked cowboy sings to his long-haired, slow-eyed lover — though by song’s end he admits, “I’ve been around long enough to know you can’t trust a man.” Still, they’ll always have that Daytona sand… — G.R.
32. Lizzo – “About Damn Time”
Since breaking out in 2019, Lizzo has become a festival headliner and TikTok influencer — sometimes combining both at the same time. With “About Damn Time,” she pronounces the new music drought is over with a disco-influenced bop showing off her flute expertise. A celebratory track set to rule the season, it offers the optimism and body positivity Lizzo has come to represent. With her next album, SPECIAL, on the way, we’re ready to dance through the summer. — E.F.
31. Zach Bryan – “Something in the Orange (Z&E’s Version)”
“Something in the Orange” shows off Zach Bryan’s lyrical storytelling and effortless gift for melody. A relationship is told through a single color: The hope of a morning sun is contrasted with the uncertain orange glow of interior bulbs, and when the narrator finds that same hue in headlights driving away, he’s pushed to the brink of despair. — Wren Graves
30. Ethel Cain – “American Teenager”
“American Teenager,” a glowing track off of Ethel Cain’s massively-acclaimed third record Preacher’s Daughter, reveals the expectations and horrors inherently intertwined within the American Dream. Cain explores intricate themes of religion and identity while delivering an explosive and intimate anthem that redefines the Americana music genre as dream pop. — Kelly Park
29. Charli XCX feat. Rina Sawayama – “Beg for You”
Charli XCX’s “Beg for You” proves how the right person can make life’s mundanities feel like a thrill. “Can I take you to the airport/ Make out under the bathroom lights?” she sings with an unfettered desperation on the Crash cut. It’s refreshing to see Charli, usually a champion of independence and girls’ nights out, admit she isn’t above clinginess and double-texts. Maybe it’s just the perfectly-utilized September interpolation, but “Beg for You” makes lustful obsession feel ultra-cool. — Abby Jones
28. Hatchie – “Lights On”
Hatchie’s “Lights On” strikes that perfect balance between nostalgic and unapologetically current. Though the Australian singer-songwriter has an affinity for hazy, ’90s influenced dream pop, “Lights On” is full of drive and urgency, emanating a pop star energy and digging its heels into a contemporary sheen that never takes away from Hatchie’s wholly original vision. “I’ve never felt so good with the lights on,” she sings. She’s never sounded so good, either. — P.R.
27. The Smile – “Pana-vision”
The Smile might be a non-Radiohead Radiohead band, but “Pana-vision” is definitely the most purely Jonny Greenwood-sounding track on the group’s debut. It’s still very much a Radiohead-esque song, with Thom Yorke’s vocal delivery achingly soft atop a quiet piano-driven composition: “I am dancing for pennies/ I am staring straight ahead.” Its lack of guitar only adds to its haunting nature, and perhaps the track that shows off Greenwood’s knack for composing film scores the best. — C.S.
26. Kehlani – “up at night feat. justin bieber”
The truth of the matter is that Kehlani’s voice never misses. She can also be counted on for a vibrant, vibe-y track, and this team-up with Justin Bieber is just that. Both artists have dabbled in stories of heartbreak, bliss, loss, and confusion; “up at night” falls somewhere square in the middle. It’s a fun bop about being in a healthy relationship (a concept!) that makes it easy to pass the time. — M. Siroky
25. Sharon Van Etten – “Porta”
The dreaded year of 2020 was a low point for most everyone, and Sharon Van Etten readily admits she shared in the dark times. “Porta” is her begging from this hole of despair for someone to hear her, as if the simple act of listening is itself the rope ladder out. Sonically, it’s built for dancing alone, but the message reminds us not to be afraid to ask for help. For many, the darkness hasn’t let up, so the advice remains sound. — B. Kaye
24. Sigrid – “It Gets Dark”
Sigrid kicks off her sophomore album How to Let Go from high above the clouds, blasting off into space on bombastic opener “It Gets Dark.” The cold, dark reaches of the galaxy are the perfect setting for some serious introspection; the Norwegian pop sensation spends time drifting among the stars over expansive production as she vows, “Yeah, my feet came off the ground/ Gravity won’t hold me down/ No, not this time.” — G.R.
23. Spoon – “Wild”
In a behind-the-song video, Spoon’s Alex Fischel perfectly described “Wild” as “anti-jaded.” If ever we could use a reminder that the “world, still so wild” can call us to adventure, it’s certainly in these dark times. Bolstering the concept that good still exists is an uplifting composition that throws back to Spoon of the mid-aughts — only with a chord progression co-written by Jack Antonoff, if you can believe it. — B. Kaye
22. Benny the Butcher & J. Cole – “Johnny P’s Caddy”
For those paying attention, a collab between Benny the Butcher and J. Cole was inevitable following the mythical Revenge of the Dreamers III sessions. “Johnny P’s Caddy” was well worth the wait, with an eerie Alchemist beat challenging each artist to bring their A-game. Benny breaks down how he carried over the lessons he learned from grinding in the streets to becoming one of the best MCs alive, while Cole calls out rappers who need to hide behind fake personalities just to compete. — E.F.
21. MUNA – “Anything But Me”
Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson trade rollerblades for a regular-sized horse on this buoyant, synth-laden anthem about leaving a broken relationship and finding strength after striking out on your own. The track continues the momentum created last year by “Silk Chiffon,” making MUNA’s upcoming first full-length album on Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory label one of the most anticipated projects of 2022. — S.D.