Suggested Listening ’22: Digital News Editor Aaron Payne’s Top 10 Songs of the Year

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It’s that time of year again! WOUB Culture has reached out to a variety of folks involved in various capacities with the music and arts throughout WOUB’s diverse coverage region to inquire: “what have you been listening to this year, my friend?” Find their answers on WOUB Culture all throughout the month of December. 

WOUB Digital News Editor Aaron Payne poses for a portrait
[Joseph Scheller | WOUB]
Aaron Payne is WOUB’s Digital News Editor. He’s been with WOUB Public Media since 2016. This is the year he thinks Spotify really drove his musical tastes. He set parameters for himself for this list that every song had to be released in 2022.


10. “Clouds” – Resavoir

I work other jobs that are more manual labor. Modern jazz and what I call “beep-boop” music really help me lock in. This song and came up a lot in Spotify playlists for those genres and it really stood out when others kind of blended together. The way the instrumentation switches with the groove is probably the reason why.

9. “Therapy pt. 2 (feat. Mac Miller)” – Robert Glasper

This was a late addition to the Top 10 list. Robert Glasper is a pianist largely focused on jazz, but loves to collaborate outside of that genre. His album “Black Radio III” allowed him to work with hip-hop/R&B artists including Killer Mike, H.E.R. and Mac Miller.

Miller died in 2018 after the verse for this song was recorded. The two artists blend very well, in my opinion. Miller was evolving from his earlier work into a more soulful, vulnerable artist. Glasper’s arrangement helps Miller’s words soar over the beat.

8. “Over” – Lucky Daye

Lucky Daye has gained popularity since “Painted” came out in 2019. He’s an interesting kinda cat. Grew up in a church that didn’t allow secular music. So when he struck out on his own, he consumed all the R&B music he missed out on: Stevie Wonder, Same Cooke, Prince. And it really creates a touch of old school mixed with modern in his music.

“Over” channels the crooning of old R&B/soul with modern production that doesn’t push it too far.

7. “Cracker Island” (feat. Thundercat) – Gorillaz

Gorillaz is one of my favorite bands of all time. I fell it has the ability to change styles to keep up with the times without selling out what originally made is stand out to me.

With a new album on the way, there have been five songs put out to promote it as of publishing. The title track “Cracker Island” is my favorite right now. A funky groove made funkier with vocals and bass from Thundercat is a one way ticket to my top 10.

6. “Way of the Triune God” Jubilee Version – Tyler Childers

Tyler Childers released the three disc “Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven?” album this year. Nothing against Disc 1 (Hallelujah) and Disc 3 (Joyful Noise), but the Jubilee Version is my favorite. The additional strings/horns/choir in the arrangements put Tyler in his Goose Creek Symphony bag and I’m here for it.

Triune God really gets what the band is going for. Plus, the footage used in the video comes from Ohio Valley ReSource partner Appalshop’s archives.

5. “Picture in my mind” – PinkPantheress, Sam Gellairty

Coming in at 2:57, this is the longest PinkPantheress song to date (joke).

Sam Gellaitry’s production really gels with PinkPantheress’ soft but powerful vocals for a laid back banger. I like the two artists individually, but I think they bring out the best in each other and hope they work together again.

4. “United in Grief” – Kendrick Lamar

I think Kendrick Lamar came back strong with his album Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. It’s a culmination of his work and style so far. The opening track “United in Grief” hearkens to the 2016 “Untitled Unmastered” release with a driving piano to open over Lamar lyrics that serve as a self reflection on his work and life. The music eventually soars with additional strings and relaxed piano as he crescendos on his introspection.

3. “Cash In Cash Out” – Pharrell Williams, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator

As 21 Savages proclaims in the lyrics “Pharrell made this so it’s a million dollar beat (Straight Up).”

Pharrell Williams produces a bouncy beat and recruits 21 Savage and Tyler, The Creator to deliver memorable lyrics for one of my most played songs of 2022.

The music video is pretty wild too for a time when music videos are starting to become an afterthought.

2. “THE PROWLER” – He Is Legend

He Is Legend is probably my favorite band of all time and not a lot of people seem to know about them.

The elevator pitch is what if Metallica was Southern Gothic. (But its much more than that.)

They put out an album roughly every three years and have been a constant in my life since about 2005.

Their latest entry ENDLESS HALLWAY refines some of the stuff they’ve been trying on the last few albums.

And “THE PROWLER” has everything that makes He Is Legend great: driving rock, vivid lyricism and eventual soaring melodies from lead singer Schuylar Croom.

1. “ABC” (feat. Sophia Black) – Polyphia

I like pop music. I have an appreciation of technical rock. Put them together, though and you might have my favorite genre that I was calling “TechPop.”

Polyphia recruited quite a few artists to help round out the prog rock’s latest album Remember That You Will Die (including guitar legend Steve Vai). But the other collaborations didn’t hit me as uniquely as “ABC” did.

The more technical, Americanized version of what I later discovered was Japanese Rock left me wanting a full album of Sophia Black’s bubblegum pop stylings combined with Polyphia’s progressive rhythms.