My 2022 Playlist Features Songs and Artists with Real Staying Power

15 Dec

Like so many other publications, the New York Times recently published a roundup of the “best songs” of the year. Reading through it, I was instantly struck by how many of the songs and artists I had never heard of before. Sure, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and the 1975 all made appearances — I knew all of them, of course, even if I’d only ever heard the 1975’s song — but most of the others I was learning about for the very first time.

Similarly, I only knew three of the songs on Paste’s list of the 50 best songs of 2022.

It’s not that I don’t listen to a lot of music. According to Spotify Wrapped, I listened to 8,314 minutes of it this year — more than 54% of other listeners in the United States, apparently. And that’s not including all the music I listened to on the radio, or that I’d purchased or downloaded, or that I heard live, or that I streamed via YouTube or other services. When I wasn’t listening to podcasts like Smartless, that is.

And it’s not that I don’t listen to popular artists. Heck, my top artist this year (again, according to Spotify) was Harry Styles.

The thing is, music, more than most any other entertainment, is personal. So, how we classify the “best” or “top” songs, albums, or artists varies. My favorites are likely not your favorites. And I’m more than okay with that.

Which is why, every year at this time, I don’t even bother to compile a year-end best-of list. Nor do I put much stock into Spotify’s roundup of what my most listened-to tracks were — though, admittedly, the algorithm doesn’t lie; I did listen to a lot of Harry Styles this year.

Rather, I prefer to review my annual “time capsule” playlist and let that define my year in music. Conveniently, the playlist also provides a soundtrack of memories for how the year played out (pun intended).

My 2022 Time Capsule Playlist, like my other time-capsule playlists in years past, is a generally chronological, aural document of the songs, moments, and events I want to remember about the past 12 months. It’s made up of tracks that spent some length of time on my ever-changing “NOW” playlist of songs I’m into at that moment. So, you might say the time-capsule playlist represents what songs and artists had real staying power.

As expected, there’s plenty of Harry Styles on this year’s playlist — five songs, to be exact. (Yes, his album Harry’s House is that good.) There are also five tracks each from Maren Morris and the Lone Bellow. (Plus one by Lone Bellow frontman Zach — I mean, Zachary — Williams.) Other artists who make multiple appearances include Eric Hutchinson (three tracks), Bruce Springsteen (three tracks), One Republic (two tracks), Anderson East (two tracks), the Killers (two tracks), the 1975 (two tracks), and Chris Stapleton (two tracks).

“Happier Than Ever” is a song I included twice, because I like the original version by Billie Eilish (which I finally became a fan of after she performed it at the Grammy Awards) and the cover version by Kelly Clarkson.

The playlist includes songs by artists I saw live in concert this year: the aforementioned Anderson East, Zach Williams, Chris Stapleton, and the Lone Bellow, plus Early James, Paul McCartney, Adam Sandler, and BAILEN. (For the record, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Raspberry Beret” are on the playlist because Anderson East covered them both during his show.)

It also includes selections from the cast albums of shows I saw, both on Broadway and in Boston: A Beautiful NoiseInto the WoodsSing Street (finally), and Almost Famous (which was co-written by my high-school classmate, Tom Kitt). [Update 12/27: In a last-minute decision, I also saw Some Like It Hot the day after Christmas. Unfortunately, no cast recordings exist yet, other than on YouTube.]

You’ll find a lot of tracks on my playlist that are from movies and TV shows I watched, or that I heard on a TV show or in a movie and became a fan of. For example, songs from Fraggle RockThe BatmanThe DropoutAbbott ElementaryWeCrashedTop Gun: MaverickStranger ThingsGood Luck to You, Leo GrandeElvis; Only Murders in the BuildingMarcel the Shell with Shoes On; season two of The White Lotus; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; and Women Talking.

The theme from The Natural is here because my sister and I used it for a slideshow compilation we made for our father’s 76th birthday

Among the musicians we lost this year were Taylor Hawkins and Christine McVie, so I included songs by their bands, Foo Fighters and Fleetwood Mac, respectively.

There are songs I just liked for whatever reason, and there’s no context for their inclusion other than that. A good example is P!nk’s “Never Gonna Not Dance Again” because, well, after the last three years, I thought the song’s message of carpe’ing the diem spoke volumes in a really fun way.

And I feel like I heard Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” everywhere this year — at bat mitzvahs, after the Lone Bellow concert, in the trailer for the bio-pic about Whitney, and more — so I had to include that song.

The playlist ends, appropriately enough, with some new Christmas songs — one each from the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and the movie Spirited.

Finally, no recap of my music year would be complete without at least a quick mention that, while in Cleveland in October, I spent some quality time at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Really enjoyed that visit — my third overall, but my first as a true tourist and music fan.

Suffice it to say, my year in music may not be filled with what some would call the “best” music of the year. But it’s the music I enjoyed listening to. When I listen to this playlist weeks, months, or years from now, it will help me remember what was (literally) going through my head in 2022.

What songs and artists are on your “time capsule” playlist for 2022?

One Response to “My 2022 Playlist Features Songs and Artists with Real Staying Power”


  1. 2022 Was a Rollercoaster of a Year, But It Was a Better One Overall | Martin's Musings - December 30, 2022

    […] back to Chicago finally, and to Cleveland. I saw a handful of shows, more movies, a bunch of concerts, and a lot of friends. I celebrated at three bat mitzvahs, one wedding, and a middle-school […]

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