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Heavy Rotation: Public Radio's Most Popular Songs of 2022 (So Far)

From left, Leyla McCalla, Saba, and Victoria Legrand of Beach House.
Photo illustration: Abel F. Ros/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images, Brad Barket/Getty Images, Mike Windle/Getty Images; Vanessa Leroy for NPR
From left, Leyla McCalla, Saba, and Victoria Legrand of Beach House.

You know that song that you just can't get out of your head? Well, public radio has those too. Below you'll find some of the songs that music programmers at public radio stations across the country keep spinning over and over this year: nine stations from across the country, one pick per station, in alphabetical order by artist name.

All of this year's picks are available to stream on the Heavy Rotation Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page. As always, you can discover fantastic music programming happening across the country in real time by clicking the links to each station's website.


Beach House, "Once Twice Melody"

On the title track from Beach House's Once Twice Melody, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally open a musical door that instantly welcomes you into their world with pulsing, electronic indie-pop lushness. The song embraces you with a hug of warm light, opening up endless emotional, yet nostalgic possibilities. —Bruce Warren, WXPN 88.5 Philadelphia


Leyla McCalla, "Vini Wè"

Leyla McCalla's new album, Breaking the Thermometer, grew out of a theater project that explores the archives of Radio Haiti, the first radio station in Haiti to broadcast in the Kreyòl language. "Vini We" is a love song. And it's a reminder, according to McCalla, that it's love which offers hope when there seems to be nothing but darkness and struggle. —Elena See, FolkAlley.com


Mitski, "The Only Heartbreaker"

When Mitski reemerged on social media with the announcement of her sixth studio album, Laurel Hell, putting an effective end to her industry hiatus, she didn't disappoint. As one of the record's lead singles, "The Only Heartbreaker" boasts Mitski's signature analysis as the narrator explores the intricacies of a dying flame, but does so with an undeniable gusto that's a marked expansion of her catalog. Ripe with '80s synth-pop sheen, the brooding track has all the makings of a dance hall staple that's just as incisive as it is catchy. —Desiré Moses, WNRN, 91.9 Charlottesville


Robert Glasper, "Black Superhero"

Producer and pianist Robert Glasper teams up with Killer Mike, BJ The Chicago Kid and Big K.R.I.T. on an uplifting anthem that uses a heavy beat and the voices of a gospel choir to reflect upon our current times and the importance of role models in our society. —Brian Burns, WUNC 81.5 Chapel Hill


Saba feat. Krayzie Bone, "Come My Way"

Coming of age hip-hop. Is that a subgenre? Into the lineage of Ghostface Killah's "All That I Got Is You" now arrives "Come My Way" by Saba. Armed with a Krayzie Bone feature, a Stylistics interpolation and reminiscences of growing up on Chicago's West Side, Saba's track is an instant classic. —Ayana Contreras, WBEZ, Vocalo Radio 91.1


Sarah Borges, "Wouldn't Know You"

Boston's Sarah Borges has chugged through two decades of consistent and solid music making. She is especially in the pocket for her latest album Together Alone, produced by Eric Ambel. "Wouldn't Know You" fine-tunes her easy rolling, roots-rock vibe. —Jessie Scott, WMOT Roots Radio 89.5



Spoon, "Wild"

Making Austin, Texas proud once again, Spoon returned with its 10th studio album this year. The second single, "Wild," immediately draws you in with an ear-catching '90s vibe. To many, Spoon continues to be an underrated band, but those of us clued in can't help but listen on repeat. —Misti Mundae, 90.9 The Bridge, MO


The Lumineers, "Where We Are"

Inspired by a car crash, the gentle melody of "Where We Are" is both eerie and delicate — that disconnected feeling is something many of us can relate to. But The Lumineers land on a positive sentiment ('It will be OK'), offering just enough to keep us going. — Kurt Wolff, The Colorado Sound, KJAC 105.5


Toro y Moi, "Postman"

Signed, sealed, delivered — Chaz Bear, we are forever yours. From the deliciously bouncy opening seconds of this funky, feel-good jam, we knew it was a lock to top our list of 2022 favorites. —Marion Hodges, KCRW, 89.9 FM


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