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Top 25 albums of 2019

…it’s not been a classic year really, has it

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This year may have been pretty decent for singles, but for albums? Not so much!!! There were very, very few excellent pop LPs released over the last year, but there were at least a handful with some decent bops’n’bangers in tow.

Have a look back through my 25 favourites below, and you can read up on my Top 50 Singles of 2019 here, and Top 25 Scripted TV Shows of 2019 here. Films still to follow.


25. Hurts 2B Human – P!nk

It’s odd thinking back to how much I loved P!nk’s 2012 bopfest The Truth About Love, and then kinda just… forgot about 2017’s Beautiful Trauma, and didn’t pay much attention to Hurts 2B Human when it came out earlier this year. So what changed? Not a lot, really; P!nk’s sound has kinda been the same since 2008. But! I’ve since come to appreciate that that’s no bad thing: this album is safe, yes, but in a way… that’s pretty comforting.


24. Beauty Marks – Ciara

Thinkin Bout You is one of my favourite singles of the year, and the rest of this album is pretty great as well. Is it up there with Ciara’s very best? Not quite. But with a guest appearance from Kelly Rowland and under-valued past singles Dose and Level Up, it’s impossible to dislike.


23. Songs For You – Tinashe

I won’t pretend I wasn’t mainlining Flame for months on end, but Tinashe was fucked over quite a bit by major label shenanigans, and her newfound independence is a great fit for her. Songs For You feels like the proper follow-up to Aquarius; all unrestrained creativity and vocals that sound like they’re directly from the heart.


22. Get To Know – Becky Hill

It’s essentially Now! Becky Hill, but Get To Know is a really cracking opportunity to appreciate just how many HITS this under-appreciated artist has quietly notched up over the last few years. The new stuff is brilliant too (I especially love Stranger), proving that – while she’s already achieved so much in the eight(!!!!) years since The Voice – Becky is still only just getting started.


21. GIRL – Maren Morris

I was expecting a bit more of a pivot to Full Pop after the monumental success of The Middle, but GIRL is still a solid record. Song For Everything might be a bit too ~basic for some but I bloody love it, and Flavour is a BIG MOOD.


20. Head Above Water – Avril Lavigne

Fun fact: Avril Lavigne has still never put out a bad album. This latest offering certainly isn’t as “hit”-packed as its predecessors, and there is a liiiiittle bit of a sag in places (Dumb Blonde? Whew!!!), but the best stuff is awesome: the dramatic Tell Me It’s Over is the highlight, while the title track is up there with her best ballads, and Souvenir is lovable enough to fit on 2002’s Let Go.


19. Madame X – Madonna

It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times: Madame X stumbles a bit in places, but when it’s good, it’s fantastic. God Control has rightly become a huge fan favourite, and Medellín is my favourite Madge lead single since Hung Up. And ultimately, as flawed as this may be in places, it’s still so exciting and inspiring to hear someone overflowing with creativity after this long in the game.


18. Sucker Punch – Sigrid

I had higher expectations from this, but Sucker Punch is still so much better than a lot of people gave it credit for. In fact, apart from Don’t Feel Like Crying (which, to be fair, did its job charts-wise), there aren’t any outright bad songs. The title track is among her best ever, and Basic, Mine Right Now and Never Mine are also big treats.


17. Charli – Charli XCX

It’s been a great year for Charli, in fairness: White Mercedes is a stunning semi-ballad, Blame It On Your Love is a stellar Lizzo-ified update on Track 10, and Gone – with Christine and the Queens – could be her best-ever cut. I can’t say I’ve gone back and listened to this album end-to-end again since its release, but I did really like it.


16. Slayyyter – Slayyyter

Have you ever seen the movie Music And Lyrics from the mid-2000s, in which Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore have to write a song for a Britney-style popstar? Not gonna lie, this album reminded me a lot of the sort of ‘semi-parody’ songs that popstar does; or the kind of send-up of the genre you’d hear on The Other Two or from Alexis on Schitt’s Creek. I do like it and it is really good!!!!!!! But since that thought crossed my mind, I haven’t been able to un-think it.


15. Courage – Celine Dion

Just a load of well-made, efficient pop songs; being sung perfectly by one of the greatest vocalists of all time. Nothing more, nothing less.


14. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? – Billie Eilish

I can’t say that I’ve truly ~cOnNeCtEd~ emotionally with the music of Billie Eilish, but fucking hell, what a talent. I’m in awe. She has undoubtedly left a huge footprint on music in 2019 and I’m sure she’s set the pace for a lot of what we’re going to hear in 2020. This is a very well executed debut album.


13. Lexicon – Will Young

It’s no surprise whatsoever that this album is truly beautiful in places. The likes of Dreaming Big and lead single All The Songs are the big favourites for me, and the vocals are stunning as ever. What a treat to still have Will being an excellent popstar after all this time! A king!!


12. Sunshine Kitty – Tove Lo

There’s a LOT to love on Sunshine Kitty, even if it’s not the kind of all-out slam-dunk Tove Lo has given us in the past. Final song Anywhere U Go is the highlight; while lead single Glad He’s Gone, Kylie(!!!) duet Really Don’t Like U and Jax Jones team-up Jacques also hit the spot. Tove has done a lot more for pop music this decade than she’s been given credit for.


11. Doom Days – Bastille

You know what I forgot until recently: when Bastille first came out, I was a massive fan. That Bad Blood album? A triumph!!! Since then, I don’t know if their quality of output slipped or I just got wrapped up in… I dunno, being gay… but I heard Doom Days very recently and loved them all over again. Dan Smith is an underrated force for good.


10. LOVE + FEAR – Marina

There is a lot of EMOTION on this album, which made it a bit hard to get my head around on first listen; but it is another fine showcase of Marina’s songwriting talents. LOVE + FEAR is heavy-going at times but there’s some great work on here; Orange Trees, Handmade Heaven and Clean Bandit bop Baby among the standouts.


09. Cuz I Love You – Lizzo

Even if the strike rate dips a bit in the second half, Cuz I Love You still has enough 10/10 songs on it to make the other pop girls WEEP with jealousy. Cuz I Love You into Like A Girl into Juice into Soulmate into Jerome? Your fave could only DREAM of it! Tempo is awesome too, and of course the addition of ye olde Truth Hurts to the deluxe edition was a smart move for obvious reasons. This has felt like the Year of Lizzo in pop culture, and deservedly so.


08. Fine Line – Harry Styles

Harry found his way around a good melody on his second album, a strong improvement on his promising debut. Recent single Adore You is just divine, while Lights Up rightly turned a lot of heads and Falling is UGH beautiful. I still haven’t decided if Treat People With Kindness is atrocious or fantastic, but if it’s going round your head for days at a time then that’s at least a small win, right?


07. Dedicated – Carly Rae Jepsen

Dismissed and forgotten by many people for just Not Being Emotion, Dedicated does have a lot going for it: Too Much, Want You In My Room, The Sound, Right Words Wrong Time, Party For One, Happy Not Knowing… plenty to keep any self-respecting millennial gay fed and watered! There are duds too, of course (No Drug Like Me says good afternoon!) but in a year almost entirely devoid of perfect albums, you can do a lot worse than this.


06. Norman Fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Rey

Listen, I won’t lie to you, I’ve found it hard to fall as deeply in love with this as The Masses, which I think is just because I have very basic taste and this is a much quieter and less hook-filled affair than I’m used to. But! The quality of songwriting is outstanding, and this is easily my favourite Lana album since Born To Die. This album feels like a real moment.


05. Pang – Caroline Polachek

I hadn’t even heard of Caroline before this year (I know, I know), but Pang has me all-in. So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings is a great bop, the title track is delicious and Door is also a standout. Thank you to whoever introduced this artist to my ears.


04. The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change – Nina Nesbitt

I didn’t realise how much I loved this album until I put this list together, and realised I’d listened to it much more than the most “critically” “lauded” records of the year. It’s a very strong pop collection in that it’s got the perfect blend of catchy, infectious bops, and more introspective, emotive ballads – and it does all that without ever crossing into Boring.


03. Saves The World – MUNA

No such thing as a Difficult Second Album for MUNA: Saves The World is another triumph, perhaps even more emotionally devastating than 2017’s About U. Katie Gavin is an absolutely fantastic lead, and the trio’s songs tackle complicated emotional dilemmas beautifully. Stayaway, for example, isn’t about the dramatic act of ending a relationship but struggling with the empty aftermath of it; and Taken is a frank admission of wanting to steal someone else’s partner in a misguided bid for self-worth. But it’s not entirely made up of depressing ballads: Number One Fan is a fun pep-talk to yourself, while Good News (Ya-Ya Song) is a pure shot of hands-in-the-air catharsis. Brilliant stuff.


02. Lover – Taylor Swift

I was so relieved when Lover turned out to be really good: it’s long, yes, but actually Me! and You Need To Calm Down are the only songs I could properly do without (now that London Boy has become semi-ironically accepted as a gem). Cruel Summer is poised to be one of the best singles of 2020 if given the release it deserves, while the title track is one of Taylor’s finest love songs, Cornelia Street still makes me a bit emotional, Paper Rings is a riot, The Man is super clever, and False God is the kind of vibey territory I’d love her to play with more in the future. As for I Think He Knows and Death By A Thousand Cuts, they are simply two of the best tracks she’s ever made, if you ask me. Of course this doesn’t top 1989 (what will?!?!?!?!), but it comes a lot closer than I expected.


01. thank u, next – Ariana Grande

How do you follow-up a great album if your name is Ariana Grande? By releasing an even better one less than a year later, apparently. thank u, next is the sound of a star at the very height of her superpowers; firing off mature, trap-infused pop with an assured confidence, making it all sound incredibly easy. This is an album that has you dancing one minute and crying the next; the likes of NASA, 7 rings and the title track keeping toes tapping while fake smile and ghostin are full-on emotional assaults. Elsewhere, break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored (Christ these lower-case titles are a pain!!!) is one of the year’s best singles, and those whistle notes on imagine are still jaw-dropping. Where the everloving fuck does she go from here?!

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Top 25 albums of 2022

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I’ve been more of a Singles Guy this year (something something, decline of the album, something something) but there have still been more than enough great LPs to fill a year-end Top 25! And they follow below.

This is my 13th annual album round-up, and the previous No1s were:
2010: Lights – Ellie Goulding
2011: 21 – Adele
2012: Electra Heart – Marina and the Diamonds
2013: Salute – Little Mix
2014: 1989 – Taylor Swift
2015: Breathe In Breathe Out – Hilary Duff [blog]
2016: Lemonade – Beyonce [blog]
2017: About U – Muna [blog]
2018: Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves [blog]
2019: thank u, next – Ariana Grande [blog]
2020: Sawayama – Rina Sawayama [blog]
2021: Magic Still Exists – Agnes [blog]

The Top 50 singles list came yesterday – that’s here. And there’s a playlist of one of my favourite songs from each album here.


25. Humble Quest – Maren Morris

Beautiful, occasionally witty, with a bonus ode to tall guys… Maren was comfortable and confident on this really lovely album. Top hint: play Background Music if you want to see me weep!


24. HOLY FVCK – Demi Lovato

While initially I found lots of this to be a bit of a racket, HOLY FVCK is Demi at her most lively. Deep, honest and bold; but at its best when it’s a bit more playful, as it is on stuff like City Of Angels.


23. Harry’s House – Harry Styles

Not skipless! But Harry’s House is very definitely the sound of someone properly finding their stride as a singer-songwriter; and while Fine Line probably edges it for me as an album, it’s still a lot of fun to hang out at Harry’s House.


22. Night Call – Years & Years

Olly’s first album as a solo Year & Year, Night Call doesn’t feel quite as boxfresh as its predecessors but there are moments of pure pop perfection, peppered with singles like Crave that deserved far more attention.


21. Being Funny in a Foreign Language – The 1975

It’s the sound of the group doing what they do best, at their best: huge hooks, clever and insightful lyrics, melodies that are infuriatingly hard to forget… I imagine it’ll be great live.


20. Special – Lizzo

Just a brilliant pop album: big-hearted, witty and radio-ready from start to finish. Everybody’s Gay is brilliant, Special is the stuff of merch slogans, and I Love You Bitch is a midtempo ballad done the quintessentially Lizzo way.


19. Unwanted – Pale Waves

For some reason this passed me by a little bit, whereas their last album really didn’t – but Unwanted is Pale Waves really getting into the swing of things: bigger, bolder and more concise than Who Am I?, and by this point the group really feels like it has its own clear identity.


18. The Loneliest Time – Carly Rae Jepsen

It’s still Carly as you know her, but trying out a few slightly different directions: see the breezy Western Wind, funny Beach House and the gorgeous Bends. Not her best – but when your best is so fucking iconic, even a solid album is fantastic.


17. Circles – LÉON

I feel like I’ve slept on this album too much: I heard it earlier in the year and LOVED it, then totally forgot about it until very recently. The production, the songwriting, the general ~vibe… all stellar. This is an excellent one to just get lost in.


16. Islands – Josef Salvat

Josef is going THROUGH IT on this record, but the result is another stunner. Particularly the second half is just gorgeous: Happy, Changes – Without You, Honey on the Tongue… he just gets it!


15. Life In Plastic – Tom Aspaul

Tom really dove deep into the Y2K vibe for the follow-up to Black Country Disco, and it’s so much fun: gloriously gay, packed with wall-to-wall bangers, and with plenty of depth behind the irresistible, glossy production. Effigy is a real standout.


14. How To Let Go – Sigrid

Singles Mirror, Burning Bridges and It Gets Dark were great indicators of what the album has in store: A Driver Saved My Night is a right toe-tapper, Thank Me Later makes a break-up sound euphoric, and High Note is simply a very well-sung ballad. We must treasure Sigrid!


13. Dawn FM – The Weeknd

Nobody does manpop quite like The Weeknd, and the fluorescent Dawn FM was the first great album of 2022. It feels like he’s covering slightly different ground lyrically compared to his last couple of releases, but the production (much of it still with HRH Max Martin) remains perfection and the highlights (Sacrifice, Gasoline, Less Than Zero) are 11/10s.


12. Tilt – Confidence Man

I got into Confidence Man purely by word of mouth, and while I wasn’t that fussed to begin with, I was soon powerless to resist!! Tilt nails the joy and escapism of the dancefloor, with a bonus dose of fun and ridiculousness.


11. 5SOS5 – 5 Seconds of Summer

The deluxe version (19 tracks!!) is almost overwhelmingly long, but the boys have really entered a more introspective phase (much of this is produced in-house by their own Michael Clifford) and I love it. The highlights are the more wistful, emotionally-charged songs (Take My Hand, Complete Mess, Carousel, Easy For You To Say), but they can still have fun too (Best Friends, Blender).


10. About Last Night… – Mabel

Look, I Love Your Girl is doing a lot of the work here – but About Last Night has plenty of other bangers to make it worth a visit: Animal, Definition, Let Love Go, Overthinking and Let Them Know among them. More please!


9. SOS – SZA

Feels weird to judge this based on only a couple of weeks’ worth of listening, but SOS feels epic already – granted, perhaps not an instant classic in the way of Ctrl, but still a triumph. I like how… almost messy it is?! Like, almost exhaustingly so? She’s so good at laying! it! all! out!, and there’s plenty of variation on this very long album to stop it dragging. Shout-out to F2F!


8. Love Sux – Avril Lavigne

It’s a back-to-basics Avril album, and I mean that in the best possible way. The lyrics are on-the-nose, the songs sound like they’ve been transported from 20 years ago… and yet! I lapped up every single one of the 33 brief minutes. All I Wanted, Bois Lie, Love Sux… Avril doesn’t sound like she’s had this much fun in the studio in years.


7. Hold The Girl – Rina Sawayama

If on the one hand it’s not quite as slap-you-in-the-face as 2020’s Sawayama, on the other it’s a confident pop album that sounds totally mainstream and also fantastically queer. This Hell is one of the singles of the year, Imagining has a real bite, and To Be Alive is a beautiful, sweeping, extremely moving closer. A megastar!!


6. Dirt Femme – Tove Lo

Finally free of major label interference, Dirt Femme proves Tove remains one of our most interesting popstars even when left to her own devices without big budgets. Grapefruit is her most emotionally arresting song yet, Call On Me is a banger of colossal proportions, and No One Dies From Love is the kind of cry-dance gem that she’s always done best.


5. Crash – Charli XCX

It could be her best or worst album depending on which die-hards you talk to – but to this basique pop fan, Crash is a whole lot of fun from top to bottom. Charli was trying to make a big, commercial record with all the trimmings, and she succeeded – the bangers bang, the collabs feel properly exciting, and the more emotional moments hit hard. Shout-out to the 10/10 deluxe edition bonus tracks, too.


4. Midnights – Taylor Swift

Taking Folklore and Evermore’s sensibilities and mixing them with the more introspective moments of Reputation and Lover, Midnights is lacking in !HITS! – but such is Taylor’s fame that she doesn’t need to try in that department anyway (she filled the entire Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 on release week). Some of this takes a few listens to get to grips with (the 3am edition is 20 songs long) but once it’s in, it’s in. Beautiful, heartfelt, immaculate. Now release Hits Different on streaming!


3. The Kick – Foxes

Foxes’ first full album in six years was a glistening, sparkly-eyed masterpiece, if you ask me!! God, it was so good to have her back. From the pounding beats of Sister Ray to the understated beauty of Too Much Colour, The Kick was straightforward electropop at its brightest – Louisa is an ever-likeable presence, and she sure knows her way around a chorus.


2. Renaissance – Beyoncé

My God, what a moment. And this is only Act 1! Renaissance is a rich tapestry of disco/house/dance-inspired music, packed with clever samples that always add to the songs rather than distract from them. It’s clever and important and stunning but it’s also FUN! Beyoncé sounds like she’s having the time of her life, and it’s so brilliant to hear. Every song earns its place; every line, every bar, every second is meticulously thought-out. Visuals now!


1. MUNA – MUNA

Anyone who saw my singles list won’t be surprised by this placement – but MUNA’s third album is truly the record of the year for me, the perfect amalgamation of, and progression from, everything they brought to the table with their first two. Katie Gavin’s songwriting is just gorgeous all the way through; from the determination of What I Want to the introspection of Loose Garment; the horniness of No Idea to the pure queer joy of Silk Chiffon. Their first independent release and their first to actually chart? It’s what they deserve.


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Top 50 singles of 2022

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My 15th year-end singles list! Time is brutal.

This year, I think, has been pretty good for music – and yet! I found this list quite hard. Am I, an extremely online gay man, losing the will to rank things? Surely not!

Anyway, I really enjoyed doing the third annual poll of your favourite songs of the year – now here are mine.

My year-end playlists from 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008 are also all on Spotify, and the 2022 one is here.

Here we go. Albums to follow.


50. Bad Life – Sigrid feat. Bring Me The Horizon

Sigrid’s very good album felt like it didn’t really get the love it deserved – make up for it by indulging in this excellent cheer-up-hun ballad with manly howls from Oliver Sykes.


49. Who’s Gonna Love You Tonight? – Snakehips feat. Tinashe

Tinashe put her name to a few excellent songs this year (my other fave being Scandalous with Gryffin) but the heartfelt vocal on this one just edges it for me.


48. Run – Becky Hill & Galantis

Pass me a blue WKD – after Heartbreak Anthem and Sweet Talker, Galantis teamed up with Becky Hill for a safe-pair-of-hands banger that gave me everything I needed back in deepest, darkest February.


47. Boyfriend – Dove Cameron

Dramatic, dark, delicious… I’m not surprised this became a huge breakout hit for Dove, and I’m excited for more!!


46. Taste So Good (The Cann Song) – VINCINT, Hayley Kiyoko, MNEK, Kesha

Would this be quite as iconic if the context of its release wasn’t so… random? Probably not, but it is, so here we are!


45. Overthinking – Mabel feat. 24k Golden

All she had to do was make I Love Your Girl a single and she’d easily be Top 5 on this (nay every) list – but she didn’t, so No45 with this one will have to do.


44. Ghost of You – Mimi Webb

Accepting that a lot of great popstars these days were born post-2000 isn’t getting any easier to swallow, but goddamn I thought the big ~mainstream Capital-FM-ready popstars didn’t make songs like this anymore.


43. Hot In It – Tiësto feat. Charli XCX

Blink-and-you-miss-it at 2:10, Charli’s brilliantly droll vocal adds a darker edge to what could have been a pretty basique dance hit, and it’s so damn addictive.


42. Adult – Sasha Alex Sloan

‘I used to hope one day I’d be rich, but now I’m happy if I have somewhere to sit.’ These, friends, are what they call relatable lyrics.


41. Kiss It – Tom Aspaul

I tossed and turned over whether to have this one or Listen 2 Nicole – both, at the end of the day, are gay-as-hell Y2K-esque belters with sublime choruses. 10/10.


40. Breathe – Grace Davies

I’ve become obsessed, for some reason, with pointing out when David Sneddon has a writing credit. And here, David Sneddon has a writing credit! But obviously the star of the show is Grace; our ever-reliable Queen of EMOTIONS.


39. THAT GIRL – Bree Runway

Bree released three tracks this year that all deserved to be huge; this one was arguably the biggest serve. World domination must surely be imminent.


38. Let It Die – Ellie Goulding

This year there have been numerous reminders that when Ellie’s great, she’s great. Let It Die makes me very excited for her new album.


37. As It Was – Harry Styles

Did pretty well, this, didn’t it?


36. Slow Song – The Knocks with Dragonette

I can’t imagine anywhere I’d fare worse than at a rollerdisco, but if that wasn’t the case, this would be my first song request.


35. I’m In Love With You – The 1975

I swear ‘the boys’ deliver a song or two like this every single era, but I am very happy to lap it up every single time. An earworm!


34. Sometimes – MUNA

Gonna need a whole ABBAMANIA-style album of sadpop Britney covers, stat.


33. Me, Myself & I – 5 Seconds of Summer

5SOS5 was full of gorgeous songs (shout-out also to Take My Hand) but this was the standout for me. Those falsetto bits over the climax? Oh they just do something to me!


32. Maybe You’re The Problem – Ava Max

How absolutely typical that Ava’s chart performances should start to suffer just as the music becomes immeasurably better?!


31. Treat Me – Chlöe

Manifesting Halle becoming one of the world’s biggest movie stars and Chlöe becoming one of the world’s biggest musicians in 2023. Treat Me was yet another sign that the latter’s upcoming solo debut is going to SLAP.


30. Closer – Saweetie feat. HER

HER’s luscious choruses and the bouncy production really elevate this – and the best thing is, it sounds like another Dr L*ke song without actually being a Dr L*ke song song!


29. 2 Die 4 – Tove Lo

There was a lot of talk about how baffling it is that one of the year’s biggest songs sampled Eiffel 65’s Blue, but a moment also for the fact that one of the best bangers of 2022 utilised Crazy Frog’s 2005 cover of Gershon Kingsley’s Popcorn. Wild! But also extremely Tove Lo.


28. Black Mascara. – Raye

Escapism. could, with all fingers and toes crossed, be the first non-Xmas No1 of 2023, but a shout-out too to Black Mascara; the detached, matter-of-fact delivery of the verses making the scathing lyrics all the more brutal.


27. Summer Really Hurt Us – ALMA

Was there a more perfect way to end the summer months than with a shimmering little bop about how crap it was? I mean I didn’t have a crap summer, I had a great one, but that’s never stopped me having a good angst-a-long before.


26. Don’t Say – Gabrielle Aplin

Her best song since Waking Up Slow; Don’t Say is a euphoric masterstroke that really does sound like the first glimmers of hope after a rough patch. First time I heard those repetitions of ‘I can feel it, I’m getting better’, I could have sobbed!!


25. Catch Me In The Air – Rina Sawayama

Not a million miles away from 2000s-era Kelly Clarkson, and for that it must be treasured and celebrated.


24. Something About Your Love – SG Lewis

SG Lewis could well be en route to becoming an A-list pop super-producer and I for one welcome our new overlord. This was the perfect little summer song.


23. Beg For You – Charli XCX feat. Rina Sawayama

If at first it feels like it wraps up before it really gets going, Beg For You – with its yearning vocals, slick production and well-deployed September sample – soon embeds itself at the front of the brain and refuses to budge for weeks and weeks and weeks.


22. About Damn Time – Lizzo

‘It’s bad-bitch o’clock, yeah, it’s thick-thirty’ – and lo, the idea of Lizzo being a one-era-wonder properly went up in flames.


21. Cardboard Box – Flo

With honourable mentions to Not My Job and Losing You, Cardboard Box soundtracked the most promising girlband launch for years – and with Little Mix now officially on hiatus, we’re in safe hands going into 2023. More, more, more!


20. Kind of Girl – MUNA

The melodies are nice and the production beautiful, but – as is often the case with MUNA – it’s the lyrics that’ll sucker-punch you right in the face: this is a gorgeous ode to evolving – or at least trying to evolve – past being a calamitous emotional wreck, and it’s just perfect.


19. Her – Megan Thee Stallion

One of the simplest choruses of the year, and one of the most impossible to resist.


18. Free – Florence + The Machine

Oh it’s been YEARS since I’ve stanned a Florence track this hard. Her lyricism and vocal stylings marry beautifully with Jack Antonoff’s knob-twiddling, and this song about finding escapism in music is just wonderful.


17. Western Wind – Carly Rae Jepsen

Potentially Carly’s least… hooky lead single so far? And yet, Western Wind is a beaut of a sway-along-able little treat, and frankly – even from the most vocal of pop stans – it deserved more love.


16. Head on Fire – Griff and Sigrid

It sounds exactly how you’d expect a Griff and Sigrid duet to sound, which essentially means it’s really really good.


15. Cupid – Rose Gray

Piano on an uptempo pop-girl electro-banger? Truly the fast-track to my heart.


14. 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready?) – Lizzo

Excellent deployment of 1) call-and-response backing vocals, and 2) brackets in a song title.


13. Nothing Lasts Forever – Dylan

One of my favourite lyrics of the year: ‘You think that we’re falling into love. I’m not. So get off.’


12. No One Dies From Love – Tove Lo

No one gives you a cry-dance quite like Tove Lo, and No One Dies From Love was one helluva way to properly launch her first independent era. An all-time great popstar tbh!!


11. Free Yourself – Jessie Ware

This debuted on one of those absurdly hot heatwave days, and brought me a brief four minutes of respite from wanting to melt down to a sludge.


10. Anti-Hero – Taylor Swift

First time I heard this, I was like, ‘oh, okay.’ Then suddenly I’d played it a billion times. Like most Taylor lead singles, it’s catchy as fuck – but it’s also a deceptively neat encapsulation of what it’s like to lie awake at night and think everything’s a blazing mess because of your own clownery. This one’s for the monsters on the hill!


9. SloMo – Chanel

Would it feel like such a Big Song without those epic performances in Turin? Perhaps not, but SloMo was pretty much all I was listening to for the early months of the summer, and playing it while DJing – seeing a packed room full of gals, gays and theys attempting that dance break – remains an unmatched joy. Not quite Fuego, but pretty damn close.


8. Circles Around This Town – Maren Morris

Post-The Middle, I wanted everyone’s favourite transphobe-battler to go Full Pop, but actually I’m glad she didn’t. Circles… is a glorious little song about never really feeling like you’ve ‘made it’, and it was one of my first favourites of the year when it landed way back in early January.


7. What I Want – MUNA

A huge, huge song about getting out there and living your unabashed best life (‘I want the full effects, I wanna hit it hard’), What I Want is about seizing liberation, refusing to live in shame, and drinking/dancing/shagging to your heart’s content. Where are the remixes?!


6. Call On Me – SG Lewis and Tove Lo

I first heard this on a rainy morning in Liverpool and listened to it more-or-less non-stop all the way back to London. Tove’s latest album may be slightly more low-key than we’re used to, but on this song she just wants to ‘grab your chain dangling from above’ – and it’s an E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S banger that I hope gets more of a push in the next few weeks/months.


5. Hold Me Closer – Cornelia Jakobs

SloMo and Space Man may have been bigger ~moments in performance, but – on record, at least – it’s Hold Me Closer that truly stands out as the best of Eurovision 2022; and one of the most affecting tracks of the year. Keep these angstballads coming, Cornelia my love!


4. Break My Soul – Beyoncé

Easily the song of the summer, and comfortably one of the most euphoric floorfillers of the year, Break My Soul launched the Renaissance era with energy, power and hope. Big Freedia is an exceptional cheerleader, the Robin S sample is sublime, and the fact this *just* missed No1 in the UK will forever be a stain on our history. Release your motherfucking wiggle!


3. This Hell – Rina Sawayama

Her 2020 era brought a whole new wave of fans on board, so in 2022 a lot more eyes and ears were on the Hold The Girl campaign from the word go – and This Hell has huge Lead Single Energy. A masterful queer enormobop with nods to early-2000s Shania Twain, it just doesn’t get any less galvanising, no matter how many times it’s played. Get in line, pass the wine BITCH!


2. Home By Now – MUNA

Listen properly to Home By Now and it might just reduce you to a wailing wreck. An exceptional semi-ballad about looking back on someone who’s no longer in your life – and questioning whether parting ways really was the right thing to do (spoiler, it probably was) – it pairs restrained, low-pitched vocals with a heartbreaking chorus and deceptively buoyant instrumentation. Absolutely devastating.


1. Anything But Me – MUNA

By the end of the first verse (‘you’re gonna say that I’m on my high horse, I think that my horse is regular sized’) I knew this was one of the best songs of the year. But the end of the second verse (‘you’re gonna say I asked for the moon, I…’) I had a very strong feeling it was the best song of the year. How can a parting-of-the-ways song sound so optimistic, so assured, so hopeful, so glistening? Because it’s MUNA, that’s fucking how!!! What a moment, what a triumph, what! a! song! from truly the best band in the world.


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Music

POLL: Top 40 Beyoncé

Let me hear you say heeeey Ms Carter

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The Top 40 Beyoncé poll aired on Sunday, 18 December 2022, with 254 ballots cast.

Voters could back up to 10 songs: one to receive 3pts, three to receive 2pts, and six to receive 1pt.

The Spotify playlist is here, and the full results breakdown is here.

And the Top 40 was:

  1. Crazy In Love
  2. Formation
  3. Love on Top
  4. Deja Vu
  5. Break My Soul
  6. Sweet Dreams
  7. Cuff It
  8. Countdown
  9. Partition
  10. All Night
  11. XO
  12. Alien Superstar
  13. Telephone
  14. End of Time
  15. Halo
  16. Beautiful Liar
  17. Drunk In Love
  18. Irreplaceable
  19. Heated
  20. Baby Boy
  21. Pure / Honey
  22. Green Light
  23. Naughty Girl
  24. Sorry
  25. Hold Up
  26. Run The World (Girls)
  27. Daddy Lessons
  28. Schoolin Life
  29. Blow
  30. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
  31. Freedom
  32. Freakum Dress
  33. Flawless
  34. Listen
  35. Upgrade U
  36. Summer Renaissance
  37. Don’t Hurt Yourself
  38. Get Me Bodied
  39. Ring the Alarm
  40. Best Thing I Never Had

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