It was a refrain heard throughout the Billboard offices in the first half of 2022: Where are the hits? The slow start for new entries really impacting the Billboard Hot 100 had us all looking left and looking right for the sort of songs we usually take for granted — the kind that slowly (or not-so-slowly) spread to all corners of the culture, connecting every kind of music fan and becoming unavoidable parts of a given year’s experience. With 2021’s biggest singles refusing to go away and this year’s listenership seemingly too spread out to elect new consensus hits to replace the incumbents, it was starting to look like we might go the whole calendar subsisting on nothing but reruns.
Luckily for us, the hits showed: first from some of pop’s biggest returning heroes, then from some artists taking the next step towards stardom, some longtime hitmakers we hadn’t heard from in a bit, and some new names we hope to be hearing a lot more from in the years to come. And of course, it wasn’t just the big songs that enraptured us in 2022; we found plenty of smaller favorites to save to our streaming playlists and inspire our vinyl orders in between those. But the year just wouldn’t have felt complete without those late-arriving, chart-crashing smashes, particularly since we ended up getting a handful who proved more than worthy of their position.
Here are our 100 favorite songs of 2022, a year that once again proved that no matter the time or context, pop music always finds a way. (Songs were considered eligible for the list if they either came out in 2022, were first released as an official single in 2022, or peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2022 — though sorry, Stranger Things heads, we still couldn’t quite justify including “Running Up That Hill” or “Master of Puppets.”)