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2022: The Year in Music; Presenting The Smiles Song Countdown

The year 2022 is rapidly coming to an end (and will be past tense when this blog is ready for public consumption!), and that means I better get my butt in gear, and blog about my Top 40 favorite songs of the year that is almost (or will be!) completely in the rearview mirror now. Plus, there is a contest on the line, and I am under contractual obligation to ensure my contestants receive the official winning information on time!

So, without further ado, I look back to the songs that resonated with me in one way or another, kept me company, kept me singing along, or simply provided some much-needed relaxation in these often challenging times in 2022. As in previous years, there are some well established musicians and groups represented, as well as some new artists that I hope will continue to produce music for many years to come.

#40. Rushing Water Sting Sting continues to record and release new music, and continues to sound fabulous, as on this release that came out in late 2021. And, this song is even more apropos as I write this blog, while on vacation in Morro Bay, where the rushing water is falling from the sky as part of a current atmospheric river event. This is Sting’s first appearance on my year-end countdown, since the year 2018, when he was at #25 for the entire year with Shaggy, with a fun little ditty called Don’t Make Me Wait. Also of note, this is the only artist on my countdown this year who I also had the pleasure of seeing live in concert this past year! What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but in the case of Sting, his music definitely accompanied me home after seeing him at Caesar’s Palace.

#39. You Got The Best Of Me Journey Don’t stop believin’! Journey continued to rock my charts just like they’ve done the last few years, including 2021, when they had the 26th biggest hit of the year with The Way We Used To Be. The way they used to be, and the way they are now, are both good in my humble opinion. Some people believe that former lead vocalist Steve Perry IS Journey, and no one else can take the reins vocally, but current lead vocalist Arnel Pineda definitely gives Steve a good run for his money! And, there’s another chance for rocking out with Journey a little bit later on this countdown, so stay tuned!

#38. I Am Woman Emmy Meli Gender equality was frequently in the news in 2022, especially after the overturn of Roe v Wade in June by the US Supreme Court. Many expressed their feelings through protests, marches, and their votes. But, music is another very effective way of expressing oneself, and this song by newcomer Emmy Meli might have been one that resonated with many, even if it wasn’t the remake of a song with the same title previously recorded by the late Helen Reddy around the time of the original Roe ruling. The times may change, or perhaps they don’t change as much as we think they do? In any case, the musicians often tell our stories best through their music.

#37. Hold Me Closer Elton John and Britney Spears In all honesty, this song was a bit of a disappointment. It’s nice to have Britney back on the charts again after multiple years away, last appearing at #29 on my charts for the year 2004 with Toxic, but her vocals almost feel like an afterthought. The production quality really drowns out her vocals almost entirely, and doesn’t allow the duet to really showcase either of their voices. Some might argue that Britney’s voice has always been “auto tuned,” but it still would’ve been nice to hear her a bit more in this song. The one positive for me regarding this song mashup is that it features lyrics from one of my favorite tunes of Sir Elton’s from 1992, The One. I wish Elton would release another song like that!

#36. When You're Gone Shawn Mendes Shawn had us slow dancing to Senorita in 2019, a #23 year-end song with Camila Cabello, but he was back solo this time around with this straight ahead pop rocker. Shawn continues to produce and record enjoyable pop music.

#35. Easy On Me Adele Depending on when a song gets released, it can have the benefit of being on two year-end countdowns. The drawback is that its full chart potential is not realized on either one of those year-end countdowns, such as is the case with this wonderful tune by Adele. This was the #5 song of the year 2021, but it continued to have enough staying power into 2022, allowing it to rank at #35 for 2022. It’s interesting how big of a hit this was on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but it doesn’t seem to get much radio airplay anymore, unlike many of Adele’s previous singles. In any case, I think this song is well-produced, enjoyable, and allows Adele’s vocals to shine through, without being as “powerful” as some of her earlier tunes.

#34. World's Smallest Violin AJR I’ve got a splinter in my foot. There was lots of traffic when I was traveling yesterday. My iPhone is dying on me. Okay, get our your little violins and play them for me! We all feel sorry for ourselves occasionally, and this song by AJR is a perfect one to play in those moments. And, much like their song, Bang, #18 for the year 2021, this one also features their unique sound and production quality. I like the fact that they seem to have fun creating their songs and videos. And when you’re having fun, you don’t need a violin to play…at least not a small one!

#33. Sidelines Bruce Hornsby and Ezra Koenig featuring Blake Mills If you long for the music of yesteryear’s Bruce Hornsby, you may be disappointed with his more recent offerings. However, I love the experimentation in which Bruce continues to engage, taking his music in new and diverse directions with different instruments and sounds, while also collaborating with new and younger musicians. And, Bruce still has that vocal quality that comes through on each of his tunes, making them his own. Although he might not be traveling The Valley Road these days, his music continues to paint pictures of the world around us, while remaining socially relevant. This is Bruce’s first year end appearance on my chart since 2020, when he had two songs on my year-end countdown, including the #17 song of the year, My Resolve.

#32. We Don't Talk About Bruno Encanto Cast This song title is definitely “fake news,” as everybody was talking about Bruno, especially in the first quarter of 2022! Encanto was a very successful Disney animated film; even more than that, this tune, from the Encanto soundtrack, became one of the biggest #1 hits ever from a Disney animated film. While this song didn’t do as well on my weekly charts, peaking at #4, it still encouraged me to sing along, even if I have no idea who Bruno actually is, having not seen the movie! No spoilers, please, as I might check it out in 2023!

#31. Don't Give Up On Us Journey In my world, Journey is so much more than just an ‘80s band, they are a 30s band, as this is the second of their two hits in the 30s on my year-end chart! This song, like so much of their output, demands that you sing along, preferably with a lighter in hand, or an iPhone that works! In all seriousness, it’s too bad that more of these “vintage” groups don’t get more exposure and promotion for their newer material. But, I also know that’s why you come back to my year-countdown ever year, as you know I’ll be highlighting the best music, regardless of genre, musician age, or status of male pattern baldness! Well, some of you come back here each year to see if you can win one of those “oft-coveted” coffee shop gift cards! I appreciate my readers, regardless of their reasons for indulging in this blog.

#30. Heat Waves Glass Animals The biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit of 2022 ends up at #30 for the year on my 2022 year-end countdown, peaking at #4 in early spring. It’s a unique-sounding song, unlike a lot of what was playing on the radio in 2022, which likely also helped maintain its longevity on the Billboard charts for more than a year. This song is also appropriate for those of us who endured some extreme heat waves in California in the summer of 2022, including one heat wave in late summer, where all-time maximum high temperatures at or above 115°F were recorded in many areas.

#29. Nightshift Bruce Springsteen Remakes are always tricky. If a song wasn’t previously well-known, and well-received, it’s possible that a remake can finally give this song the attention and accolades it deserves. But, if there is already a definitive version of the song, as in the case of Nightshift, originally covered by the Commodores in 1984, this can be a bit problematic. On paper, Bruce Springsteen covering this classic tune, may appear to fall into that latter category. But, for whatever reason, this remake is actually “different” enough from the original, meaning that the inevitable comparisons are not as likely to happen. In other words, this version is neither better than, or not as good as the Commodores version. Bruce makes the song his own, and that’s the best any musician can do.

#28. Late Night Talking Harry Styles From the aforementioned nightshift, we move on to late night talking. For what it’s worth, it seems like all the best talking occurs late at night! Harry Styles has the right idea, penning a song about the subject. I always love late night talking, especially on those warm, sultry summer nights. Maybe we need a mashup between Richard Marx and Harry Styles? Late Endless Summer Nights Talking. Remember, you heard it here first!

#27. Want Want Maggie Rogers I’m looking forward to seeing this artist in concert in 2023! Her name is Maggie Rogers; her previous year-end hit was in 2020 with the #13 Love You For A Long Time. Her song from 2020 consisted more of a folk rock sound, her two hits this year featured more of a ‘90s alternative rock aesthetic. This song also has the dubious distinction of being the lowest- ranked #1 hit on my year-end countdown. That doesn’t mean it’s not an awesome song, but it only spent a total of 13 weeks on the countdown, considerably shorter than other #1 songs of the past year.

#26. I Ain't Worried OneRepublic 15 years ago, in 2007, Peter, Bjorn, and John whistled their way to #5 for the entire year with Young Folks. In 2022, OneRepublic used that same whistling effect for a tune from the new Top Gun movie soundtrack, and ended up at #26 for the year. Nothing too worrisome about that! And it’s also the first time OneRepublic has been counted in my year-end countdown, since 2013, when they were at #14 for the year with Counting Stars.

#25. Leave Before You Love Me Marshmello X Jonas Brothers I’m blogging in a coffee shop in Morro Bay now, and indulging in a hot chocolate with marshmallows. It’s raining, and I could use some extra marshmallows, and I’m in luck with the song at #25 that includes both the Jonas Brothers AND Marshmello! If you think this song sounds “vaguely familiar,” you are correct! It interpolates the classic Barry Manilow tune, Can’t Smile Without You. Marshmello and the Jonas Brothers song spent a week at #1 on my weekly charts in the spring of 2022. This is also one of the guilty pleasures of the year on my countdown! I feel like I shouldn’t like it as much as I do, but it’s well-crafted, very singable, and fun!

#24. The Loneliest Girl In The World PG Roxette Per Gessle, one half of the duo known as Roxette, had the #12 song on my year-end countdown of 2009 with his solo hit, Silly Really. In 2011, Roxette had the #21 song of the year with Only When I Dream. Unfortunately, Marie Fredriksson, Roxette’s female vocalist, lost her battle with cancer in late 2019. Since that time, Per Gessle has been able to bring back Roxette, in a way, by rebranding the group as PG Roxette, and enlisting various female background vocalists to complete that “Roxette sound.” Obviously, the sound is not ever going to be the same as it was with Marie, but this single by PG Roxette is pretty enjoyable, with its elements of pop and rock that harken back to their classic 1980s and 1990s sound. This song spent one week at #1 on my weekly charts over the summer of 2022.

#23. I’ll Never Not Love You Michael Buble It was really nice to have Michael Bublé back on the charts in 2022! We can always use more songs of romance and love, especially as we get closer to the season of Valentines. This song spent a week at #1 on my weekly charts in the spring of 2022, and is Michael’s first appearance on my year-end charts since he had the #2 song of 2010 with Haven’t Met You Yet. Welcome back, Michael!

#22. First You Jump Simple Minds It’s really starting to feel like an ‘80s band reunion of sorts around here; first it was Journey, then Roxette, and now it’s Simple Minds! This is another group that continues to produce music today, but most people probably haven’t heard anything from them since the early 1990s. Their “breakfast club” days might be behind them, but this song sounds fresh and new, but yet has that classic and timeless quality that describes Simple Minds. Give this song a listen, and you’ll see what I mean! Simple Minds spent a week at #1 in the fall of 2022 on my weekly charts with this tune.

#21. Simple Man Timothy B. Schmit This is one of those “oh wow” songs in my year-end countdown, that commands attention in a “gentle” way, with its beautiful harmonies, wise lyrics that only us “older folks” will truly understand, and the instantly-recognizable vocals belonging to a former member of the Eagles and Poco. The first time I heard this song, I was mesmerized. And, with repeated listening, the lyrics began to sink in more, making the song even more powerful and resonant! Although it’s titled Simple Man, I think it can apply to anyone, as the layers of the song unravel themselves further with each repeated listen. This tune spent two weeks at #1 in the spring of 2022 on my weekly charts.

#20. Snow On The Beach Taylor Swift Featuring Lana Del Rey Repeat offenders never sounded so good! Taylor Swift has placed songs in my year and Top 40 for the past 11 years now, while Lana Del Rey is on her fourth consecutive year streak. Some people have critiqued this song as not showcasing Lana Del Rey‘s vocals enough, but I think the pairing of Taylor and Lana on the song works just fine as it is. Of course, I really like Lana Del Rey, and I’m looking forward to her next album coming out in 2023. But in the meantime, this Taylor Swift collaboration is one that resonated with me, both lyrically and production wise; it’s got a very dreamlike atmospheric element to it. This song spent six weeks at #2 in the autumn of 2022, behind another Taylor Swift song which will be revealed later in this countdown!

#19. Unholy Sam Smith and Kim Petras Sam Smith was last seen dancing with a stranger at #17 in 2019 with Normani; this year Sam was back in action, getting unholy with Kim Petras. Really love the energy, intensity, and lyrical development on the song! There is a lot of drama and storytelling happening here, and it pulls you in one note and lyric at a time. Sam’s vocals are spot on as usual, but it’s definitely a different type of song, both production and content wise, from their previous offerings. This song spent one week at #1 on my weekly charts in the fall of 2022.

#18. Numb Little Bug Em Beihold 2022 was full of musical surprises, and this song definitely falls into that category! The topics of depression, and addressing that depression with medication, are not general fodder for pop songs, but newcomer Em Beihold proved otherwise with this very intriguing, quirky, and honest look at the world of pharmaceuticals and mental well-being. This song really chronicles her feelings, emotions, and ambivalence surrounding antidepressants. For anyone who has been depressed, or knows someone who has been depressed, this song will likely resonate strongly. And here’s hoping it also helps to remove some of the stigma associated with mental illness and encourages more active conversations on the subject. This song spent two weeks at #1 on my weekly charts in early spring 2022.

#17. About Damn Time Lizzo Truth be told, Lizzo was last on my year and countdown in 2019 with the #13 song, Truth Hurts. That song was catchy, fun, and funny, too, and Lizzo continued to make catchy songs in 2022 that resonated with a lot of people, including myself. This year, in 2022, she placed two songs in my top 20, including this song that spent four weeks at #2 in the summer of 2022. I dare you to listen along, without dancing or singing to it! I don’t think it’s possible. You can tell that Lizzo has fun singing and creating her videos, and that positivity shines through her music and being.

#16. Until I Found You Stephen Sanchez and Em Beihold If you long for the music of yesteryear, really long for the music of way back in time, give this tune a listen! It’s definitely reminiscent of a much earlier place and time, even predating yours truly! There are several different versions of this song, including a solo version with just Stephen, but the pairing of Stephen with Em really “completes” the song, while kicking the romance up into high gear. Again, Valentine’s Day is coming, so this might be a great song to practice singing or slow dancing to with the one you love! This song also has the dubious distinction of being the highest ranked non-#1 song on my year-end countdown. The song spent three weeks at #2 in the autumn of 2022. But, ending up at the sweet #16 spot for the year is nothing to be ashamed of!

#15. Forget Me Lewis Capaldi How could we forget Lewis Capaldi? He was someone we loved back in 2019 with his breakthrough hit that ranked at #6 for 2019. Much like his debut hit, his current song features suffering, sadness, and those things that many of us work hard to avoid, but it also makes the song very relatable. Lewis’ voice lends itself nicely to these songs of despair, and here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another three years for his next offering. We need a soundtrack for the sad times, too! This song spent four weeks at #1 in the fall of 2022.

#14. Carolina Taylor Swift In this song, you can practically hear, smell, and taste all that’s being described. It’s a very gentle song, with lyrics and a production quality that are both peaceful, and a little unsettling, at the same time. It’s this dichotomy that makes the song work on multiple levels. One can travel to the same place, multiple times, and experience a totally different destination with each visit. Carolina is one of those places. This song spent three weeks at #1 on my weekly charts in the summer of 2022, including my birthday weekend. It was the best birthday treat: a far-off destination, with no jet lag, and no suffering from high fuel prices!

#13. Love It When You Hate Me Avril Lavigne featuring blackbear Avril hasn’t missed a beat since her mid-90s breakthrough hit, Complicated. Her songs are always are a lot of fun, even in those cases where that “fun” is in the dysfunction! Unlike some songs where the narrator almost seems “embarrassed” about a bad situation, Avril turns the situation on its head, creating songs that celebrate all aspects of life, both “good” and “not so good,” and inviting each of us to the resulting party! Bet you can’t listen to this song without dancing and singing along! Although this song only spent a solitary week at #1 on my weekly charts in the winter of 2022, it had enough staying power to rank at lucky #13 for the entire year of 2022.

#12. Black Summer Red Hot Chili Peppers Has it really been six long years since RHCP last made an appearance on my year-end countdown? Why, yes it has, with their last appearance at #7 for the year of 2016 with Go Robot. This year’s song, like their previous offerings, is catchy, very singable, and features their trademark sound. This particular song has an almost “sea shanty feel” to it, with some listeners questioning why there are parts of the song that sound like the singing is being done with a “made-up pirate voice.” Other listeners argue that the vocal quality is just a result of his accent. Whatever your thoughts on the matter, I think you’ll enjoy this tune, and also be happy to have RHCP rocking the charts again! This song spent two weeks at #1 in the spring of 2022 on my weekly charts.

#11. Justified Kacey Musgraves Many listeners have been praising the artistry and talents of Kacey Musgraves for several years now, and this is the year I finally jumped on the Kacey train! I like her musical style, somewhat understated, yet powerful, at the same time. Anyone who has loved, and lost, will likely resonate with this tune that spent two weeks at #1 in spring 2022 on my weekly charts. Feelings are tough sometimes, and how we feel is always “justified,” but what we do with said feelings may not always be.

#10. Wild Blue John Mayer Drum roll, please, as we enter the Top 10 of my favorite songs of the year 2022! In order to best appreciate this song, it should be enjoyed while driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, with the windows open, and taking in the cool and refreshing ocean breezes. If you aren’t able to do that due to life’s logistics, or the fact that it’s raining and cold, just listening to the song in your home can help conjure up those welcome images of being on the coast. This song is laid-back, mellow, and provided much comfort during some of the more challenging days of 2022. And, this song has a unique distinction for this artist, as John Mayer replaced himself at #1 on my weekly charts with this tune after his previous hit dropped out of that top spot. This is the first and only time that an artist has replaced himself at #1 on my weekly charts! More discussion on John’s other hit will be forthcoming. This song only spent one week at #1 on my weekly charts, but spent another 5 weeks at #2 and 14 weeks total on my charts in the late winter and early spring of 2022.

#9. 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready) Lizzo The Pointer Sisters are back on the countdown! Well, technically, they aren’t, but they are certainly being channeled in this ‘80s flashback jam from Lizzo! This tune is fun, positively infectious, and fresh and retro at the same time. Lizzo definitely has a fresh sound to everything she creates, but one can also appreciate the influences from past R&B artists that are reflected in her music. If you are feeling down, turn this tune up! Lizzo spent one week at #1 and a total of 15 weeks on my weekly charts in the fall of 2022 with this tune.

#8. Last Train Home John Mayer When discussing Adele’s song earlier, it was noted that having a chart hit at the end of the calendar year creates an interesting situation, since the song ends up charting in two years, but never realizing its full chart potential in either of the two years. That same thing happened to John Mayer with this tune. Although it spent five weeks at #1 in 2022, it spent an additional two weeks at #1 in late 2021, with a total of 18 weeks on my weekly charts across the two years. But, don’t feel too badly for John, as he does have two songs in my Top 10 in 2022, with both of them being fabulous listens.

#7. That's Where I Am Maggie Rogers To borrow from the phrase of her earlier hit on my countdown, I “want want” to see Maggie in concert, and will be doing so in March! Really like the production quality and ‘90s vibe on this tune. Maggie seems to have the ability to seamlessly move from one type of music to another, whether it’s alt-rock, folk, something in between, or something totally different. Her vocal quality is unique, and allows her to make each song her own. This tune spent five weeks at #1, three additional weeks at #2, and a total of 11 weeks on my weekly charts in the spring of 2022.

#6. My Love Florence + The Machine It’s been a long 10 years since Florence + The Machine were last on my year-end countdown, at #8 for 2012 with Shake It Out. But, I guess you could say the wait was worth it, as they have released another shimmery dance number that features their trademark high energy and those wonderful high notes from Florence Welch! Bonus points for this song include getting a full workout in, both vocally and aerobically, too! You just can’t sit still or not sing along with this one. This tune spent two non-consecutive weeks at #1, and a long 18 weeks total on my weekly charts in the spring of 2022.

#5. Anti-Hero Taylor Swift Taylor may have been feeling a bit like an antihero in this song, but her musical efforts continue to be rather “heroic,” both on my charts, and on the Billboard Hot 100 as well! This song had the longest #1 reign on my countdown this year, spending eight weeks at #1, through the last week of the chart year, on Sunday 12/25/22. It's the longest running #1 song on my chart since Gym Class Heroes spent nine weeks at #1 with Cupid's Chokehold in 2007. Looking at Anti-Hero another way, it’s only been at #1 so far on my weekly countdowns! Since this song came out late in the calendar year, it hasn’t had a chance to accumulate many weeks on my charts, so it’s “only” able to rank at #5 for all of 2022. Long story short, this tune may also be a contender on next year’s countdown. But, I won’t say more for fear of giving an unfair advantage to contestants entering my next countdown contest in December 2023! Whether you like Taylor Swift’s music or not is a matter of personal taste, but I really find this to be one of her best songs, at least thus far.

#4. Boy The Killers This is the third year in a row that The Killers have been the top music group on my countdown! They continue to release fantastic music that resonates with a lot of listeners, including yours truly. Their latest song does some sampling from the 1980s hit by Erasure, Respect. The Killers always provide an over-the-top experience with their music and videos, but it always seems to work. Lead vocalist Brandon Flowers has strong vocal chops and good stage persona, allowing him and the band to keep the outrageousness in check, so that The Killers aren’t a parody of themselves, but the lyrics and the story are the stars of each Killers production. The Killers spent three weeks at #1 with this tune, and a total of 18 weeks on my chart in the fall of 2022.

#3. Hold My Hand Lady Gaga Lady Gaga continues to flirt with the #1 position on many of my year-end countdowns, getting the closest back in 2019, when she was at #2 for the entire year with Always Remember Us This Way. This year, she stepped down one notch, and is at #3 for the entire year of 2022 with this love theme from the new Top Gun movie. This song under performed on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #49, but did better on adult contemporary radio. Lady Gaga‘s vocals sound as powerful as ever on this track, while the message of this song is well-received and appreciated, especially by anyone going through a tough time. The song spent two non-consecutive weeks at #1, with 16 total weeks on my weekly charts in the summer of 2022.

#2. Long Way 'Round Jewel Here’s a real bast from the past! The last time that Jewel was on my countdown, she was “standing still” in 2001, with the #11 song of the year. Since that time, Jewel has produced several albums of country music but she was off of my radar until this year, when I discovered this tune. Combine soul, a little country and folk, and Jewel’s instantly identifiable vocals for a sure-fire can’t miss hit! The song sounds great upon first listen, and only gets better with each consecutive listen. Jewel is still in fine vocal form, and it’s great to see her continuing to grow artistically and creatively. This gem by Jewel spent 17 total weeks on my weekly charts, including three weeks at #1, and an additional six weeks at #2, in the spring of 2022.

#1. As It Was Harry Styles As mentioned, previously, it’s not just the number of weeks at #1 that helps propel a song to a higher ranking on my year-end countdown, but the total number of weeks on the charts also helps considerably. In the case of the #1 song of 2022, it only spent a lone week at number one, but it was far and away the song that had the most staying power on my weekly charts, tallying up an incredible 31 weeks, or more than half a year on my chart! This song actually had two chart lives on my charts within the year 2022, charting in the spring, dropping off the charts for 5 weeks, then blasting back on my weekly charts at #1, and staying on my charts for the rest of the calendar year! It’s a gentle and dreamy song, not necessarily the type of song that one would think would resonate with listeners as much as it did, but perhaps that quiet and soft quality featured in this song is what many of us are really looking for? This is also Harry’s biggest hit on my year-end countdown, since his previous best at #17 showing 2017 with Sign of the Times.

And there you have it! Those are my Top 40 favorite tunes of 2022. What do you think? Do you agree with my list? Are there songs I missed that I should listen to for possible inclusion in my 2023 favorites? As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback. Feel free to reach out to

Happy new year and happy music listening!


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