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The 11 Best Songs and Albums of Summer 2022

This summer has seen so many excellent releases from artists across all genres that picking a singular “song of the summer” is as difficult as ever. Early contenders for the top spot came from former One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles with his comeback single “As It Was” and from Lizzo, with her disco-funk track “About Damn Time.” The former featured bright production and a carefree vibe, juxtaposed with the not-so-subtly depressing lyrics, all packed into a bite-size track coming in at just over two minutes and forty seconds. “About Damn Time,” Lizzo’s second and superior single off of Special, was perfect for TikTok, where a dance craze helped make it popular.

And we can’t forget the reigning king of Latin music, Bad Bunny, with his sprawling 23-track album Un Verano Sin Ti rife with summer hits from the infectious “Tití Me Preguntó” to “Me Porto Bonito.” Then there was Beyoncé’s glistening seventh studio album, Renaissance, Traumazine by Megan Thee Stallion, parts of Sabrina Carpenter’s emails I can’t send, and, yes, the TikTok-famous girl group FLO’s fabulous EP, The Lead, whose song “Feature Me” contains Timbaland-esque syncopated beats reminiscent of some of the best girl groups of all time.

Luckily, the sounds of summer don’t have to be distilled to one choice. Below are TIME staffers’ selections of the best songs and albums from summer 2022.

Renaissance, Beyoncé

In recent years, artists have tried their hands at disco-influenced pop records. But they all pale in comparison to Beyoncé’s shimmering salute to sweaty discotechques and bodacious queer spaces. On the musical analysis podcast Pop Pantheon, host DJ Louie XIV spoke with New Yorker staff writer Doreen St. Félix about what stood out to them on this album. “Disco music—real disco music—is tinged with darkness and sadness… it’s one of the things I felt was missing from [Dua Lipa’s] Future Nostalgia,” DJ Louie XIV said. “If pop culture’s current disco revival is personified by [this record], [it’s missing] the sleaze, the darkness, the underbelly.” Aside from making a great record and helping resuscitate disco, Beyoncé showed us she’s still down to experiment, while reviving and highlighting queer icons of yore.—Moises Mendez II

Surrender, Maggie Rogers

As the resident Sad Girl and self-proclaimed Taylor Swift scholar of the group, how could I pick anything other than Maggie Rogers’ new album? Surrender, which had the perhaps unfortunate fate of sharing a release date with Beyoncé, sounds like the backdrop to a coming-of-age movie—it’s explosive and moody and so angry….

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