The Top 25 New Tracks of 2022 (AKA an Introduction to Willowcore) – by Willow Bosworth

The state of music this year has been one continuously in flux, perhaps for the better. Those who pay close attention to Top 50 charts (i.e., not me) have seen countless Taylor Swift songs sit comfortably in the Top 10, with scant appearances from various other mega-stars. In light of the resulting copy-paste year-end lists, I’ll assure my readers up front that this wrap-up WILL NOT contain any song even remotely resembling Ms. Swift. Instead, I present to you the first publicly-published piece on Willowcore – my own personal genre qualifier. 

But of course, I should take a second to define an otherwise nebulous term. ‘Willowcore’ is a term coined in direct opposition to the increased dependence on genre qualifiers. With huge swathes of listeners grouping around concepts such as ‘indie pop’ and ‘hyperpop’ as the end-all-be-all of musicality, I refuse to assign direct labels to the songs I interact with. Instead I use ‘Willowcore’ as a catch-all for my music taste. You can think of it as encompassing realms of experimentalism in music, flitting mainly between pop, electronic, and r&b. Any more attempts to categorize the following songs are merely aesthetic. Without further ado, here are my picks for the top 25 new tracks of 2022.


  1. Highest Building (feat. Oklou) – Flume, Oklou

Album: Palaces

Label: Future Classic

Released: May 20

Genre: Willowcore (Australian Electropop)

From its opening synths, ‘Highest Building’ cements itself as an earworm. The track already wouldn’t feel out of place in a neon club, but it’s the inclusion of vocals from Oklou that steal the show; turning the song into a force of nature. Add in additional production from Danny L Harle and a writing credit from Casey MQ, and you’re left with a song that sounds like it belongs at a midnight desert rave (perhaps it’s then fitting that Flume first played this song at Coachella). Regardless, ‘Highest Building takes full advantage of its all-star line-up and runs with it.


  1. Atlantis – Himera Fragrance – Promis3, Himera

Album: Atlantis (Himea Fragrance)

Label: Simulated Paradise

Released: October 27

Genre: Willowcore (Deconstructed Club)

While there are many producers who consistently can produce remixes that transform the original work, Himera is one of the few who can fully make a song their own. The original ‘’Atlantis’ is shifted to something heart-pounding by Himera, complete with their now-iconic ‘no drums’ approach to music. True to its name, ‘Atlantis – Himera Fragrance’ reeks of its remixer (in the most positive of ways). With their treasure trove of skillfully placed synth stabs, Himera takes an already good song and turns it into something truly magnificent. The result is a track that feels equally suited for traveling through space as it does for discovering Atlantis.


  1. Ghost in the Machine (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) – SZA, Phoebe Bridgers

Album: SOS

Label: Top Dawg Entertainment, under exclusive license to RCA Records

Released: December 9

Genre: Willowcore (R&B)

For five years, SZA fans have been waiting anxiously for a follow-up to 2017’s acclaimed ‘Ctrl’. Their prayers were finally answered in 2022, with the release of Ctrl (Deluxe) on June 9th… and later again with the release of SOS. With 23 tracks to choose from, it’s hard to whittle down five years of anticipation into a single track, but ultimately, it’s ‘Ghost in the Machine’ that leaves the biggest impact. From deeply layered production to the surprise guest verse from Phoebe Bridgers, this track is a veritable puzzle box of intrigue. Of course it’s SZA’s stunning vocal performance that seals the deal however. Even when she drifts into a tangent about A.I., she maintains an unparalleled degree of control over her voice, and leaves her audience willing to wait another five years to hear more. 


  1. ALL THAT U WANT – Varien, Psylla, girl_irl


Label: Monstercat

Released: September 29

Genre: Willowcore (Filthstep)

The only thing more surprising than a team-up between Varien, Psylla and girl_irl is a Monstercat release catching my attention in the year of our lord 2022. Jokes aside, the second track from a double-single/EP (also featuring Willowcore darling JACKIE EXTREME), ‘ALL THAT U WANT’ shines as a bass-pumping powerhouse. Vocals provided by girl_irl move from fast-paced to sensual, but shine throughout as Varien and Psylla work their respective magic. The three artists, while an admittedly-unusual team-up, work off of each other’s talents with ease, resulting in a deep industrial track just begging to be blasted at top volume.


  1. Woe – Shygirl

Album: Nymph

Label: Because Music Ltd.

Released: September 30

Genre: Willowcore (Grimewave)

As the opener to Shygirl’s debut album after six years of singles and EPs, ‘Woe’ had a massive reputation to uphold from the get-go. The track surpasses all expectations thanks to help from producer Karma Kid and longtime collaborator Sega Bodega, utilizing a drastic beat switch to keep the track dynamic. Even without the beat switch, Shygirl’s vocal capabilities are on full display here, eschewing her typical effortless rapping for a light and airy, yet powerful singing voice. On an album full of tracks moving in every direction, ‘Woe’ is the perfect sampler of what to come, simultaneously gorgeous and deadly.




Label: BAYLI

Released: May 6

Genre: Willowcore (Alternative R&B)

Drawing inspiration from PinkPantheress’s recent revival of jungle, BAYLI’s ‘TELLY BAG’ is a two-minute foray into a chance encounter at the club. BAYLI is in full control here, painting for the listener an image of queer connection gone wrong. It’s this natural storytelling ability that really drives this song home; pairing simple yet effective breaks with BAYLI’s lyrics. The end result is a song that outlasts its two-minute run-time, sticking with the listener long after it ends.


  1. Rowdy – Golin

Album: Rowdy

Label: Golin

Released: October 26

Genre: Willowcore (Glitch Pop)

Golin is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of her work – each release displaying a different side of her intricate production and vocals at work. Despite this, Golin seems to have reached new levels of sheer energy on ‘Rowdy’. The track’s deep production and her rallying vocals lead to a song I can only describe as ‘feral’ in its pure kinesis. The song is equally as fitting for a high-speed chase as it does for a club bender after you’ve killed your ex. Golin has leaned fully into her inner power here, truly pushing this track over edge.


  1. Yoga – Only Fire, Brooke Candy

Album: Yoga

Label: Brooke Candy

Released: October 14

Genre: Willowcore (Escape Room)

The biggest disappointment from ‘Yoga’ is that it’s taken until 2022 for the world to get an Only Fire/Brooke Candy crossover. The two artists bring their trademark raunchiness to the table in a song about – you guessed it – hard sex. It’s sexy, sticky, and absolutely slayful. Brooke Candy gives one of her best performances here, weaving a web of double entendres and metaphors, all the while duetting with the speech-to-text vocals of Only Fire. The best part of the whole thing? The fact that Brooke Candy and the speech-to-text compliment each other’s tones perfectly.


  1. Crumbs – Rebecca Black

Album: Crumbs

Label: Rebecca Black

Released: November 14

Genre: Willowcore (Hyperpop)

The lead single from Rebecca Black’s highly-anticipated first album, ‘Crumbs’ delivers everything it needs to and more. It showcases the dark new persona Black channeled on last year’s ‘Rebecca Black Was Here’, but turned up to eleven. It’s irresistibly catchy, and perfectly produced by Matias Mora, and it only gets better at the deliciously nightmarish breakdown, as the production chops and stutters around Black’s honey-toned vocals. If ‘Crumbs’ is indicative of what’s to come, then we all better hold on tight.


  1. intellectual greed – brakence

Album: hypochondriac

Label: Columbia Records

Released: December 2

Genre: Willowcore (Glitchcore)

As always, brakence is at his best when he’s being introspective to the point of fault, and ‘intellectual greed’ is no exception. The track is jam-packed with off-the-wall chord progressions, lyrics ripped directly from diary pages, and a deep-seated emotional openness that is rarely seen in musicians. But brakence has a poet’s soul, and he channels it in this ode to false confidence. It’s simultaneously raw and guarded, but above all else it’s addictive, just like brakence’s syrupy vocals as he admits his faults directly to the microphone.


  1. Labyrinth – Cryalot

Album: Labyrinth

Label: Cryalot LTD

Released: August 31

Genre: Willowcore (Art Pop)

The joint project of Sarah Perry (of Kero Kero Bonito fame) and experimental producer Jennifer Walton, Cryalot functions both as a retelling of the myth of Icarus, and a commentary on the power of the subconscious mind. ‘Labyrinth’ stands out among the pair’s catalog for its gently-flowing vocals and constantly ebbing production. What starts as a calm piano ballad soon turns to hard-hitting glitchy stabs before evolving into a deliberately corrupted and static climax. The song seems to be desperately trying to escape the very confines of digital media, perfectly encapsulating for the listener a sense of stunning perseverance through total isolation.


  1. Gold Satin Dreamer – Nicole Dollanganger

Album: Gold Satin Dreamer

Label: Nicole Dollanganger

Released: November 4

Genre: Willowcore (Canadian Singer-Songwriter)

Like SZA, Nicole Dollanganger’s been taking her time with a new album, having released ‘Heart Shaped Bed’ in 2018. Released alongside the announcement of ‘MIMA’, Dollanganger’s 2023 album, ‘Gold Satin Dreamer’ is chillingly beautiful in its composition. Dollanganger’s distinctive vocals mix with the dreary ambience of this track’s production, creating something clearly in the same sonic universe as the artist’s previous work, yet completely different from anything she’s ever done. It’s a bold new direction in Dollanganger’s ten-plus year career, and yet it’s a direction that leaves the listener on the edge of their seat, completely transfixed. 


  1. Know My Name – Snow Strippers

Album: The Snow Strippers

Label: Nice Bass Bro

Released: June 30

Genre: Willowcore (Experimental EDM)

It’s one thing for a band to release two albums and an EP in a single year, but it’s wholly another for a band to do so while keeping every track fresh and new. This distinct accomplishment belongs in part to Snow Strippers, a duo dedicated to the simple goal of driving their bass lines as high as they can go. ‘Know My Name’ is the perfect example of this goal in action, combining powerful bass lines, synths and neatly harmonized vocals into a powerful package. ‘Know My Name’ is pure power fantasy, the perfect song for when you need to feel like a villain.





Released: July 22

Genre: Willowcore (Escape Room)

As the world’s first A.I. popstar gears up to release their new album ‘ONYX’, she found the grace in her heart to release ‘BUY ME NOW’ a love-letter to capitalist excess, to the masses. EXTREME, who may or may not be portrayed by an anonymous flesh-and-blood creator, excels at tongue-in-cheek criticism of an increasingly vapid world, and they’re at their most potent here. ‘BUY ME NOW’ utilizes the artist’s vocals and gorgeously hellish production in perfect harmony, evoking an infomercial blaring through a noisy rave. Regardless of your views on capitalism, ‘BUY ME NOW’ stands as a stand-out number that leaves listeners ravenous for more.


  1. 8bitcrush – min.a

Album: i hope i get well soon

Label: Lying in Color / Good Partners

Released: October 18

Genre: Willowcore (Indie R&B)

From the song’s dreamy synth bells to min.a’s perfectly-calculated glitchy accents, ‘8bitcrush’ is a carefully-wrapped package containing a massive amount of emotion in its two-minute runtime. The gentle honesty we’ve come to expect from min.a and her music has found itself on full display as the artist works out her feelings towards a crush in real-time. The song’s carefully pieced production allows min.a to draw listeners into a curated soundscape. It’s altogether something out of a storybook, with just the right amount of distortion and vibrato to make anyone feel warm and fuzzy inside.


  1. Revelation – Lil Texas


Label: TEXCORE / Create Music Group Inc.

Released: April 15

Genre: Willowcore (Hardcore)

Lil Texas is always looking to push the boundaries, from stripping nude at a live set to drastically changing up his formula for his debut album. The muscle-bound cowboy producer has taken his patented ‘Texcore’ brand of Hardcore to new depths with ‘Revelation’, the opener to ‘FASTER’. ‘Revelation’ holds back no punches over its three-minute runtime, instead opting to blast the listener with everything it has. Texas fills the track with hard-hitting drops and even harder-hitting pulses of pure energy. The end product is an electrifying dance banger that’s equal parts demonic and transcendent. 



Album: CAVED1N


Released: January 20

Genre: Willowcore (Shoegaze)

AM/WAS uses different genres like most of us wear clothing, changing up styles with each new release. ‘CAVED1N’ stands as one of their best pieces for it’s gorgeous use of vocals, opting to put the lyrics on the back-burner, allowing vocals to blend into the rest of the tracks instrumentation. The end result is a moody, atmospheric piece that uses looping production to its advantage. ‘CAVED1N’ is as much a track as it is a fully-formed soundscape, albeit one with a fully-formed emotional core. It’s the anxieties of growing up given a voice, condensed into a single, beautifully flowing piece.


  1. Ghosted You – Plasmic

Album: Ghosted You

Label: CandyShop Recordings/Plasmic

Released: October 21

Genre: Willowcore (Electropop)

I had the fortune to hear a demo of this song last year while Plasmic was still putting the finishing touches on their love song to messy relationships, and I can safely say that ‘Ghosted You’ is just as breathtaking as I remembered, if not more. Plasmic’s impeccable ear for retro/electro punk pastiche lends to this track’s bright polish and dark interior. ‘Ghosted You’ is the perfect degree of catchy – not so little that a passive audience would forget it, and just enough that it gets stuck in your head. Its grooving synths perfectly encapsulate the complicated web of emotions brought up in the wake of some good-ol’-fashioned ghosting. The cherry on top? The earrings worn by Plasmic in the cover-art, of course featuring pictures of her exes. 


  1. crush – Planet 1999

Album: crush

Label: PC Music

Released: March 31

Genre: Willowcore (Art Pop)

PC Music’s premiere (and only) band once again blew the conventions of music out of the water with the lead single to their second EP. ‘crush’ is pure bubblegum, an earnest love-song layered over keyboard synths that sound lifted from some long-forgotten indie game. Lead singer caro♡’s vocals are delivered with a slight layer of production, bringing all levels of the song to a sense of total harmony. It’s PC Music at some of its best – subversive, fresh, and familiar all at the same time.


  1. glint – DJH, sv1

Album: voids

Label: dog city

Release: July 15

Genre: Willowcore (Deconstructed Club)

Most of DJH and sv1’s collaborative album ‘voids’ centers around the two artist’s shared talent for spellbinding ambient dance, but ‘glint’ stands out as one of the album’s most adventurous tracks. The thumping bass pulls of the song, combined with sv1’s iconic style of metallic breaks, creates something completely unique. ‘glint’ feels like it’s been lifted straight out of an interstellar book of lullabies, evoking the eternally confounding, yet comforting nature of the universe. Both DJH and sv1, on their own incomparable masters of production, come together to create something tantalizing. It’s a true labor of love, filled to the brim with intricate production.


  1. Royal Blue Walls – Jane Remover

Album: Royal Blue Walls

Label: deadAir

Released: June 27

Genre: Willowcore (Glitchcore)

Even at her young age, Jane Remover is a master of emotion. ‘Royal Blue Walls’ perfectly encapsulates all the complexities brought upon by gender dysphoria, as well as the deep-reaching effects it can bring to familial relationships. Remover, already known for their earnest emotion, bears her soul here, unwilling to show anything less than the total story. It’s a risky move, but it works out in their favor. Their lyrics paired with a trademark production style drawing inspiration from garage punk creates a sonic story that feels heart-wrenchingly intimate. It’s a story further made special by Remover’s vocals, their voice breaking as they progress. It is this raw power that elevates ‘Royal Blue Walls’ to its rightfully-earned impact on the listener.


  1. Full Throttle – That Kid

Album: Full Throttle

Label: That Kid

Released: July 4

Genre: Willowcore (Escape Room)

That Kid, America’s Favorite Twink, is no stranger to pulsing dance pop tracks, with many of his earliest releases compromising a cottage industry of fast verses and faster beats. ‘Full Throttle’ blows them all out of the water, putting That Kid’s full potential on display. Thanks to unparalleled production by torr, the song would already be a stand-out in an already impressive discography, but it’s That Kid’s perfectly syncopated vocals that tie the track together here. Never during the song’s three-minute run-time does he drop his high energy, nor does he ever miss a bar. The end result feels like the final form of pop music – irreverent, yet full of life and vigor; bubbly, yet heart-stopping.


  1. SiiCKLE_ (w/Jennifer Walton) – BABii, Jennifer Walton


Label: Gloo

Released: July 27

Genre: Willowcore (Deconstructed Club)

SCREAMER is full of matches made in heaven, with the majority of its tracks composed of duets or features. Despite this, it’s the stunning collaboration between BABii and Jennifer Walton that takes the cake. BABii is at her ultimate power here, her vocals dripping with icy determination over the intense detail of Walton’s production. The track is laced with poison in the best of ways, each verse feeling more and more embroiled in tightly-held rage, SiiCKLE_ feels like a fight song, not in the cheesy vein of Rachel Platten, but in the pure chaos of revenge. And even still, SiiCKLE_ isn’t just a revenge fantasy – it’s a promise.


  1. Hard Times – Ethel Cain

Album: Preacher’s Daughter

Label: Daughters of Cain Records

Released: May 12

Genre: Willowcore (Modern Dream Pop)

There are few songs I can definitively say have left a deep emotional impact on me upon my first listen and almost all of them are by Ethel Cain. There’s something so deeply moving about ‘Hard Times’, something that puts the listener on the verge of tears. Cain’s all-to-real tale of childhood sexual abuse in ‘Hard Times’ is something that can’t be replicated. Cain’s vocal harmonies on the track, combined with her echoing production, creates something ty, so full of raw emotion that it leaves the listener completely enraptured. For sheer emotional resonance, I doubt many songs could ever come close to ‘Hard Times’.


  1. Lux 3 – Kai Whiston, Iglooghost

Album: Lux 3

Label: Lux Recordings

Released: September 9

Genre: Willowcore (Deconstructed Club)

‘Lux 3’ is beyond words. As a single off of Kai Whiston’s ‘Quiet As Kept, F.O.G.’, it ties into a complex narrative ode to Whiston’s mother, and his deep-set feelings towards her are made abundantly clear in this song. Between the gorgeous synth sweeps and high-flying violin accompaniment, ‘Lux 3’ is a hypnotic end to Whiston’s Lux trilogy, a mainstay of many of his recent albums. And yet, despite all of this contextualization, there is a lack of words to fully describe the intricacies of this track. The emotions conveyed within ‘Lux 3’ may very well be too vast and unknown for our current understanding of the world. Existing in the space between what human language can convey. It’s a track that to me, confirms the inherent complexity of categorization, a song that by simply existing defies the very ideas of how we conceptualize music.

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