Love was an overriding theme in R&B in 2022 — and given what people have been enduring over the last several years, between the pandemic, incessant social and political issues as well as economic uncertainty, it’s not surprising. The various iterations of the emotion were rhythmically and lyrically dissected: from new love, spiritual love, toxic love and love lost to, above all, self-love.
Established and emerging stars alike embraced the oftentimes complicated subject in refreshing and illuminating ways. Songwriter Muni Long staked her claim to a solo career with “Hrs and Hrs,” her sensuous, no-time-limit take on lovemaking. On the other side of the clock — against an infectious two-step track — The Weeknd grappled with being out of time when his lover calls quits on their relationship.
Beyoncé took fans on a liberating course to self-love via the anthem “Break My Soul,” then extolled the exhilarating feeling of falling in love and enjoying life with abandon on “Cuff It.” Rihanna, also marking her long-anticipated musical return, addressed the spiritual power of enduring love on “Lift Me Up.”
Here are R&B’s most memorable songs of 2022: