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The 100 best Irish songs of 2022

The 100 best Irish songs of 2022

2022 Best of | Best albums | Best songs | Irish albums | Irish songs | Best Of Podcasts | Guest lists | Best New Irish artists



Ina Crueler

More a collage of sounds than a traditional single, ‘Ina Crueler’ is a sonic side-step from Ballymun band Bricknasty’s bombastic live band reputation.

The song twists through words about traumatic family relationships with contrasting soulful instrumental passages. “You could say it’s a sulky version of Tupac’s ‘Dear Mama’,” says Fatboy – singer and guitarist.



Different Kind of Holiday

Dublin five-piece Silverbacks released a fine second album, Archive Material this year, and this Talking Heads / Talk Talk slice of punk-funk was my favourite new discovery and one I returned to a lot. Those dry drums really helped, and this song cherrypicks the conventions of the best parts of classic alternative rock.


Robocobra Quartet


‘Heaven’ might be the Belfast jazz-punk band Robocobra Quartet’s most singular and shining example of what they do, with Ryan’s stream of conscious-style vocals set to his own fine drumming and the band’s brass and flute melodies. It’s a song that has a true driving force that builds with rhythmic intensity. It’s from their Living Isn’t Easy album, which also feels features the song at #70.

The band also won album of the year at the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2022.



No Love

Clondalkin “Gaelic Drill” rapper Selló marked his ambition with the release of his debut mixtape Sellótape this year.

‘No Love’ is the apex, a track that brings together low-bass drill, afrobeats, and pop sounds with verses that sound destined to feature on similarly widely-pitched exciting music.


Cormac Begley

Rolling in the Barrel / O’Neill’s March / Tralee Jail

Kerryman Cormac Begley plays a concertina as if he’s finding new sounds it can make, stretching and pushing the air to create new musical shapes.

‘Rolling in the Barrel / O’Neill’s March / Tralee Jail’ and ‘To War (Jig)’, the opening tracks from his album B explore the rhythmic possibilities of the instrument – making its breath an enthralling twisting bass, with a nod to a famous Irish tune.

Buy the album on Bandcamp.


Ye Vagabonds

An Island

Brothers Brían and Diarmuid MacGloinn released their second album Nine Waves on Rough Trade’s folk imprint River Lea this year, and it featured ‘An Island’, a port in a storm resonant kind of song.

An Island was written in a time of isolation. I sat in the same chair day after day with a guitar, looking out the same window. It was one of the first songs I showed to Brían in March 2021 when we got together to write at his place in Wicklow. I was actually kind of nervous. I didn’t know if it would work. He got me to play it a few times then he took the lyric sheet and played the song back to me with his guitar in a big open tuning. It was wild, hearing it in his voice for the first time. It made sense. It’s funny that, even though we were more cut off from each other than ever, our process was the most collaborative it’s ever been.”

Diarmuid MacGloinn



Soft Satellite

Off-kilter bright and dreamy pop music is truly Cork artist Graham Cooney’s bag and ‘Soft Satellite’ was a big daydream hit of the year from Yenkee.

“I like to daydream and think about crazy imagery and ideas to write lyrics, and sometimes a song title can inspire a whole set of lyrics. ‘Soft Satellite’, to me, feels like a metaphor for being an outsider; like someone orbiting a group of people, trying to fit in, but never being strong enough or confident enough to be accepted, and just bouncing off the perimeter back to where you belong”.



The Slump

Razor sharp “weird disco” inspired by James Chance and ESG, Skinner’s ‘The Slump’ is a barrel of new wave and post-punk perfection with a killer bassline, sax, percussion and buzzing angular guitar, that will take you out of a low point.

‘The Slump’ features the Commander Trainwreck EP released on Faction Records.

Declaration Of Interest: I manage Skinner.


Biig Piig


I’m loving the trajectory that Biig Piig has made for herself, taking time to eschew traditional album routes in favour of loosies and a wide ranger of collaborations, leading up to a debut mixtape drop in January.

One thing that is constant from the Irish-born artist, is the quality is always high and ‘Kerosene’ is another fine bop, made with Zach Nahome and Maverick Sabre, who also co-produced ‘Feels Right’, her best song to date.

Biig Piig says ‘Kerosene’ is “about wanting someone to rip my clothes off, and the tension of that relationship…my own hot girl summer anthem, tbh.”


Ahmed, With Love, Curtisy, Rory Sweeney, Kojaque

Men On A Mission (KOJAQUE REMIX)

2022’s great Irish rap posse cut, got a Kojaque verse later in the year after the original dropped in January.


Sorcha Richardson

Shark Eyes

The Irish artist’s second album Smiling Like An Idiot features ‘Shark Eyes’, a track that takes Richardson’s songcraft in a fresh direction with distant strings and atmospheric chords and a wistful nocturnal arrangement, eschewing guitar as a main instrument. Sorcha Richardson has a talent for writing these kinds of introspective late-night anthems.

“Shark Eyes is about being totally infatuated with someone who you know isn’t as interested in you as you are in them. It’s about following your darker and more destructive impulses and allowing yourself to be taken for a bit of a ride, partly out of boredom and curiosity, but also partly out of a lingering hope that maybe this time it will end differently. I think I wrote it as a way of admitting to myself that that relationship would never be anything more than it already was, but I wanted it to still have the sweetness of a love song. Sometimes there’s a real lightness and relief in coming to that realisation about someone and knowing and accepting the limits of your relationship with them.”


Fontaines D.C.

Jackie Down The Line

‘Jackie Down The Line’, reminds me of early Manic Street Preachers, Stone Roses and Nirvana’s In Utero musically. It’s a darker, lower dirge, a deeper sink for the band’s guitar music while retaining the band’s trademark pop smarts, which indicated that Skinty Fia, their third album was going to be a starker and darker proposition.


Moving Still

La Titasil Feeya

Dublin-based producer Moving Still has been making his Arabic electronic music soar for a number of years now. ‘La Titasil Feeya’ is typical of the squelchy electro heat he makes, with added an percussive passage that gives a fresh dimension to this shimmering banger.

The track features on five-track release Kalam Hub from CWPT/Cooking With Palms Trax.

Moving Still had his debut on Boiler Room this year too.


Caleb Kunle

All in Your Head

You know we haven’t been sleeping on the talent that is Caleb Kunle, since he was one of our best new artists of 2020.

Whether it’s the soulful spirit of ‘Could Be Good’, the quietly triumphant ‘Call Me Mad’ or the bittersweet ‘Going Home’, the Nigerian-Irish artist has been super impressive.

Well, step up, as ‘All In Your Head’, produced by London production duo Sunglasses For Jaws (Sinead O’Brien, Miles Kane), which brings the soulful swerve and swing.


Aoife Nessa Frances

Emptiness Follows

‘Emptiness Follows’ Is a foggy slice of psych-folk music Aoife Nessa Frances’ second album Protector. The harp, synths, brass and warm instrumentation throughout really made this stick as a repeater all year.

‘Emptiness Follows’ is about the intimacy and deep emotional connection of friendship. The song captures these moments – the water as the weight of the emotional connection we share, the small details we remember ‘the shape sits beneath your earlobe’. The movement and colour of the music, the harp constantly flowing throughout, are emphasising a profound importance in acknowledging an eternal kind of love. I wanted my voice to be close and up front and vulnerable like Serge Ginsberg’s ‘ Histoire de Melody Nelson’’.


Elaine Howley

To The Test

From the gorgeous album The Distance Between Heart and Mouth from Cork-based artist Elaine Howley on Belfast Touch Sensitive Records, ‘To The Test’ finds a hypnotic pocket of rhythm for Howley to sing over – it’s simultaneously experimental folk, and soul, a unique place to arrive.


Bicep, Clara La San


Belfast duo Bicep dropped a few loosies this year, after their big summer of festivals. ‘Water’ is the one that most ably matches their best work from Isles, with vocals, channelling early Bicep energy along with synths that ape video game sounds.




Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson is one of Ireland’s finest lyric writers, and on her debut CMAT album If My Wife New I’d Be Dead opener distills her entire vibe into an intro song.

‘Nashville’ has country pop smarts musically, with pop culture references to K-pop and Anna Nicole among a song about depression imbued with a devastating pathos of a ruse of moving away to Nashville and leaving everyone behind.

“This sums up the whole album, a song that I wrote because I have really, really been a very depressed person. I was thinking about the fact that during the times of the most depression, just unable to cope with the world, completely struggling, I’m the most craic—I’m so funny, I’m the best, a good-time gal. I listened to a podcast called You’re Wrong About and there was an episode on the study of suicide. One of the hosts talked about a friend of his who planned his death six months in advance. For those six months, he was the best guy, so much fun, so excited about life. He told everybody that he was moving to California and had all of his friends go to a going-away party, and then took his own life. I remember thinking that that is exactly what I would’ve done if I had got to the point. And it was an instinctive thought of, ‘Oh, if that was me, I would’ve said I was moving to Nashville’, because everyone knows I wanted to move to Nashville. It’s a really difficult song to play to people because it makes me very self-aware of how bad I have been and how bad I was for a while.”


Gilla Band

Post Ryan

The closing track from Most Normal, ‘Post Ryan’ is a song from Gilla Band that brings together the best of what they do in terms of sonics and lyrics, with a fresh directness utilising an electro lobotomy pedal and drums inspired by an ’80s classic – ‘I Ran’ by Flock of Seagulls, as Dara Kiely’s discombobulating lyrics hold up a mirror to reflections about perceptions of his personality and character.


The Mary Wallopers

Building Up And Tearing England Down

A highlight from Dundalk trad trio The Mary Wallopers’ self-titled debut album, ‘Building Up And Tearing England Down’, a Dominic Behan song was popularised by The Dubliners, and tells of the hardship of the Irishmen workers who literally built many of England’s buildings after emigrating from Ireland in search of work, working in hazardous and dangerous conditions, thanklessly building a monarch state infrastructure.

The Mary Wallopers’ version slows things down and imbues their version with an emotional heft that feels appropriate for the devastation inflicted on men like them historically, largely forgotten to an industrial past, swept into concrete and stone.

It made me think of modern parallel, the apparent thousands of migrant workers who died in Qatar building the World Cup stadiums, whose cause of deaths and legacies, was to a fleeting flurry of problematic sportwashing.

Nialler9’s Irish Songs of 2022 Playlist

2022 Best of | Best albums | Best songs | Irish albums | Irish songs | Best Of Podcasts | Guest lists | Best New Irish artists

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