“I’m in my Reputation era,” I’d find myself saying to anyone who’d listen. A known outlier to Taylor Swift's either happy or heartbroken albums, Reputation is daring, angsty, and an outright baddie—and, dare I say, this was how I chose to live this year, too.
I’ve always been the good girl living life on the safe side. But, as the world opened up, I found myself doing the same. I allowed myself to let go of expectations of love and just enjoy each moment no matter how fleeting, to share parts of myself that I never thought I would so openly give, and to just dive headfirst into experiences without worrying about what’s to come. (Although, fingers crossed, my Lover era comes next—and soon!)
Because I believe nothing can better encapsulate my year than the Reputation album, it made me think: What was the soundtrack of everyone else’s 2022?
2022 – Ceej Frankera
Following never-ending lockdowns, I had high hopes for this year until it began with another surge. When the situation slowly got better throughout the next few months, my mental and physical health seemed to get worse. This song, plus our previous experiences with the pandemic, reminded me that even after life's frustrations, there is hope that things will get better. After starting the year with heartbreak, I didn't think it would end full of love as it is now. —Jyl B.
Slow Song – The Knocks
I started listening to this song in March and haven't gotten tired of it since. It's my reminder to keep my head up and to always believe things will and can get better. This year is the epitome of that. —Marla M.
Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies – Snoh Aalegra
Snoh is one of my favorite artists, but there's something about the songwriting and production of this album that spoke to me this year. A lot of the songs cover topics like turning a new page in love lost and found, achieving balance in chaos, and how there's a silver lining in the mundane. The album as a whole hits close to home and I'm able to relate it to my outlook on life as of late. —Giana G.
Come As You Are – Young K
When Young K released his first solo album in late 2021 right before enlisting in the military, Come As You Are really stuck with me. Both its music video of him doing ordinary chores in his apartment as well as its lyrics are my sources of comfort until now. With restrictions easing and life seemingly going back to normal, I still find myself having awful days. It's this song I look to for warmth when I don't feel my best. —Carmela R.
Midnights (3AM Edition) – Taylor Swift
It goes through so many raw emotions: things we've thought but have been too afraid to say, and feelings we've felt but can't put into words. It's exactly what I needed at the time it came out. —Annina N.
About You – The 1975
About You captures the essence of how it feels to still long for someone post-breakup, which is the biggest (and a kind of unwanted) plot twist I got this year. My partner and I started the year hopeful for our future together and "got married in our heads."
But as the year came close to an end, so did our relationship. And now, the only way for us to still be in each other's lives is through the memories we shared. It's quite unreal yearning for someone who isn't there anymore, but the song makes me believe that just because the relationship ended, it doesn't mean the love died with it. —Kaed P.
Sour – Olivia Rodrigo
When Sour came out in 2021, I didn't like it; it felt too high school for me. But after my ex and I broke up this year, all the seemingly juvenile feelings made sense — singing along to Good 4 U was just so cathartic!
I know we handled our breakup well, but I had so many emotions that didn't seem to make sense. I gave Sour another chance and I realized, as mature as the breakup was, my feelings after it could be considered juvenile and petty — yet valid. —Gabby L.
Justice – Justin Bieber
I’ve always been a huge “Belieber,” but Justice spoke to me differently this year. When I felt my relationship was beyond saving, I slowly learned how I deserved to be treated through someone else. At that time, the songs on this album just made more sense. —Anika R.
The Loneliest Time – Carly Rae Jepsen
On this album, Carly Rae sang about letting yourself believe in and actually getting that healthy yet simple kind of love. That's exactly what I got this year. Gone are the days of romanticizing toxic relationships — it's my Carly Rae era where I chose to surrender my heart and got a love that's nice, easy, and incredibly honest in return. Sometimes I think it's too good to be true, and then I realize it's how love should be. —Carla F.
Love Again – Dua Lipa
I found myself singing this song a lot at the beginning of the year and I'm glad I manifested it for myself. In 2022, I'm in love again. But this time, it feels different: I can be completely vulnerable and 100 percent myself with him. He sees me through the beauty, scars, and tears, and still loves me as I am. —Arisa C.
Emails I Can’t Send – Sabrina Carpenter
I can't say I've experienced a lot of what Sabrina Carpenter sings about, but releasing this "diary" type of album requires a lot of openness, vulnerability, and bravery, which is something I've really been trying to work on this year. And as a writer, I freaking love her songwriting! —Andy E.
Sector 17 – Seventeen
2022 was my year of exploration: I traveled a lot locally and I opened myself up to different kinds of music. I discovered a lot about myself and found favorites in people, places and music. It was because of Seventeen that I reaffirmed my love for going to concerts, which was something I loved to do pre-pandemic. Sector 17 is my favorite album of theirs. I think Seventeen as a whole is reuniting me with things I enjoyed about my pre-pandemic life and I love re-exploring that now. —Andi L.
Fearless – Taylor Swift
Re-listening to Fearless this year made me appreciate Taylor Swift to a new level. Though it's a young album and it's all about young love, it brought me back to who I was before. Through the album, I realized how I've grown throughout the years and now, I'm particularly proud of where I am. —Lucy Q.
Renaissance – Beyoncé
The whole album was an eye-opener for me. It helped me alter how I perceived moments in life where I feel helpless and think that I can't do anything to change my situation. To me, Beyoncé is an empowered woman who empowers others too, and so listening to her album makes me feel confident that I can change the course of my experiences and live life the way I want to. —Penelope D.
I’m Blessed – HONNE and Reuben James
2022 was my year of growth. I moved to a different country, started a new job, and fulfilled my dream of getting my own place. Although the adjustment period wasn't easy, I've been blessed to have such an amazing support system. I'm really happy with where I'm at in life, and I'm grateful for friends and family who've helped me get to where I am today. —Lou F.
You’re On Your Own, Kid – Taylor Swift
This song taught me that I've always been the person who can dictate my own destiny: I'm the only one who can make myself feel sad or happy, or keep moving forward from where I am. The line "You're on your own, kid / you always have been" makes me realize that I have the power to help myself—and this year, I did just that. —Paola V.