Joji, “Glimpse of Us”: So pretty it hurts, which is precisely the point.
Lady Gaga, “Hold My Hand”: No, it can’t hold a Bic lighter to “Shallow,” from “A Star Is Born.” But as experienced against the meta-blockbuster delirium of “Top Gun: Maverick,” Gaga’s thunderous ’80s-style power ballad achieves a kind of popcorn nirvana.
Kendrick Lamar feat. Summer Walker and Ghostface Killah, “Purple Hearts”: Words to live by: “Shut the f— up when you hear love talking.”
Miranda Lambert, “That’s What Makes the Jukebox Play”: A beautifully bummed-out drinking song about beautifully bummed-out drinking songs.
Lizzo, “About Damn Time”: Lizzo has sometimes struggled to create songs worthy of her prodigious star power. This blissful disco-funk banger — set in the narrow window of time between “bad bitch o’clock” and “thick-thirty” — gives her a hook and a groove to work with.
Muni Long, “Hrs & Hrs”: A slow, slinky, D’Angelo-ish R&B jam from a singer finally breaking out on her own after more than a decade of behind-the-scenes songwriting work for the likes of Rihanna and Ariana Grande.
Lucius, “Heartbursts”: Having sung backup for everyone from Brandi Carlile to Ozzy Osbourne to Harry Styles, the women of L.A.’s Lucius drafted Carlile to produce their latest LP, which climaxes with this sparkling ’80s-pop bop.
Megan Thee Stallion and Dua Lipa, “Sweetest Pie”: Why this veritable buffet of sexual metaphors didn’t become the smash it was clearly cooked up to be is one of 2022’s great mysteries.
Mitski, “The Only Heartbreaker”: Mitski scales the peak of pop melodrama in her fashionably ’80s synth-rock jaunt. For an otherwise sobering song about taking the blame to keep romance afloat, “The Only Heartbreaker” hits your body like a shot of vitamin B12.
Muna feat. Phoebe Bridgers, “Silk Chiffon”: Gossamer dream-pop for girls who like girls who might have been profiled in a “Chickfactor” zine circa 1992.