Iainsights’ March Top 20

Another month down and I am here to tell you once again what an excellent month it has been for new music! I’ve listened to hundreds of the most promising songs released across the month of March 2022 and boiled it right on down to the 20 best ones I absolutely insist you must listen to.

As ever, I love every single song that features on this list and it absolutely unhinged to me not only that I am talking about Machine Gun Kelly, Michael Bublé and Zendaya all in one breath, but also that I am to rank their perfect works of art against one another! But we all know if I didn’t frame it like this you probably wouldn’t read it so here we are! And hey, I just love getting mad at my bad opinions aeons later when I realise whatever song I thought was maybe the 11th best of that month was in fact the song of the decade!!

March I think has been the strongest release month of the year so far and I really did have to stop myself from putting too much of one particular artist whose perfect pop-punk album came out all over this list. Let’s see what this exact moment in time version of me thought were the best songs from March 2022 then, shall we?

Here’s the Spotify playlist if that’s how you’d rather do this listening experience.

20. Another Man’s Jeans by Ashe

Ashe carved a nice little lane for herself toeing a few different sonic lines, grounded in pop but with elements of indie, folk and country twisting through much of what she does. She’s never been shy of subverting expectations and supplying surprising, slightly *audacious* lyrics and Another Man’s Jeans is no exception when she calls out in the opening verse ‘When it was right, it wasn’t wrong/It wasn’t right very long/But it was good while it was/And it was fun and it was sex’. A song that entices on all levels whilst being genuinely, unapologetically delightful.

19. Next Time by JESSIA

This song was almost a skip the first time it came around: sure, it’s a confident, competent pop vocal, a sort of interesting sad story with some unfiltered honesty and a little bit of swearing baked in, but just it’s a little sleepy, and it really was lacking something in the first two-thirds that you basically give up hope of coming… and then Jessia absolutely brings it in the Olivia-Rodrigo-worthy bridge, seemingly out of nowhere, where she triumphantly turns around and cries ‘I hate your fucking guts’ and you realise you were wrong to underestimate this quite brilliant song.

18. This Is How My Voice Sounds by Ferris & Sylvester

Ferris & Sylvester are one of those music entities that exist very slightly outside of just about every commercial marketplace except as a ‘music pick of the week’ in the Guardian or similar. That is not to say that they aren’t an excellent folk-music duo: perfectly polished, vocally gifted, there’s just something that I think doesn’t quite connect. Maybe there just isn’t a wide market for this kind of music, but I think that if nothing else you deserve to hear Issy Ferris absolutely going for it here.  

17. It Gets Dark by Sigrid

I like Sigrid a lot. Se’s such a unique voice in such a same-sounding pop universe, and she reaches for the stars in every sense on the third single from her upcoming album How To Let Go. It’s always interesting to watch a unique pop star who gets that instant success how they follow it up and I think she’s nailed it on It Gets Dark which has echoes of her hit Strangers whispering through its sonic decisions, but lands as something much different and genuinely exciting. That said, whilst this is good I think Sigrid can do better – here’s hoping she delivers come May 6th.

16. Happy Fucking Birthday by Rhys Lewis

Little men playing pianos just absolutely love to sing and we all just love to listen to it don’t we!! This reminds me a lot of Tor Miller who had a couple of excellent piano-driven ballads back in 2015 that I’m pretty sure nobody remembers but me. Vocally similar to Vance Joy, Lewis he delivers one of this month’s instantly singable songs with that increasingly common 20s panic message where you realise you’re nowhere near doing all the things your younger self thought you’d have done by now.

15. Same Team by Alice Merton

Whilst I am delighted for myself that Alice Merton is yet to sell out her show at the Oran Mor in October and my gamble not to go into my overdraft even further and wait until pay day to get a ticket paid off, I am also shocked and disappointed that everyone hasn’t bought tickets to go and see one of the best pop-rock stars this world has to offer. Once again Merton has delivered a big stomping single, this one about no longer being on the same side as someone, and it absolutely slaps. Get onto it and get down to Oran Mor on October 19th.

14. make up sex (feat. blackbear) by Machine Gun Kelly

You’ll be happy to know that I fully restrained myself from populating half of this playlist with songs from Machine Gun Kelly’s new album because it is so good! As much as the ranking of make up sex is for this song’s own merit and is perfect from the opening ‘screaming when we fuck/screaming when we fight’, this is also a shout out to all the other perfect songs from the king of pop punk’s new era’s latest record, especially but not limited to god save me, drug dealer (feat. lil wayne) and fake love don’t last (feat iann dior). A perfect album, go and listen!!

13. luv starved by GAYLE

Far from being a one-hit pop wonder, Gayle delivered an actually really good little pop EP featuring the brilliant little piano pop ballad that is luv starved. It fits in with the sonic space she introduced us to on abdefu but is catchy in its own right and it is clear that she is just getting started.

12. Remind Me by Tom Grennan

Last March Tom Grennan released his second album and I included a song from it in my monthly roundup at number 11 called If Only, which ended out being my top song by a male artist in 2021 so who knows what will happen to also excellent Remind Me come December 31st? Another high octane banger from Grennan who simply will not stop supplying me with the exact songs I need for my workout mix.

11. Eyes Don’t Lie by Tones and I

I think Toni Watson might be the best singer on the entire planet? That is obviously hyperbole for effect, I’m sure Watson isn’t technically the best singer on the planet, but goddamn can she SING! Her record last year was laden with excellent examples of how strong a vocalist she is and how talented a pop star she is and how much more than Dance Monkey she is and here she is again with another vocally fantastic pop hit, It would be easy enough for her to belt out this entire song, but she saves that grit in her voice for all the right moments on this pleasingly titled song.

10. Bones by Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons may have one of the worst band names in the world, but they really can deliver on the hit front! They really do have the alt-pop/rock market squared away with their funny, catchy little songs and Reynolds’ idiosyncratic vocal is as good as ever on Bones.

09. hate to be you by Lexi Jayde

With the opening thrums of guitar Lexi Jayde lulls you into thinking ‘oh this is a quaint little country-pop song’ and then in the very first verse hits you with ‘Why’d you sleep with my fucking best friend/
And lie to me and your mom?
’. She really goes hard on whoever this song is about, which we have to hope and assume is fully deserved, particularly when she hits the bridge: ‘I’d hate to be so fucking stupid/So selfish, so clueless/To have me and lose it/It’s sad but it’s true’. Utterly savage.

08. sleeping with my friends by GAYLE

As I said above I really liked Gayle’s debut EP, it proved she could do more than just her viral hit and knows her way around a pop song. The real triumph of a study of the human experience for me was sleeping with my friends because of the light acoustic guitar that carries the song and how it balances with the heavier instrumentals in the chorus.  

07. Give Me A Reason by James Bay

I was lucky enough to see James Bay earlier this year when he did a mini acoustic tour which saw him play a bunch of new songs from his upcoming record mixed in with a bunch of his own favourites and deep cuts. Every new song he played was right in that cute-loving-upbeat-angst that he’s built his career around, and it’s unsurprising that he chose Give Me A Reason as the introduction to his latest era as it was by far the catchiest it. Very excited for his record later this year.

06. ay (feat. Lil Wayne) by Machine Gun Kelly

Just because I have a shoutout to the rest of the Machine Gun Kelly album earlier did not mean I was done! Rightfully, I’d have mainstream sellout in its entirety as a body of work at number one, but it is one of those things that just happens to be greater than the sum of its parts. ay! Was just one of its many perfect parts and served as one of the pre-release singles and so is one of the songs I spent the most time with and therefore have the biggest attachment to. It’s short and understated but it’s a really good blend of trap and pop-punk and both MGK and Lil Wayne are great on it.

05. EL PEOR by Cami

After two weeks I have finally googled the translation for the title of Cami’s absolutely banging EL PEOR and it turns out it means ‘worst’ which feels ironic because this song is simply the fucking best. I’ve listened to this so much since it came out and it never feels to energise me; that growl in Cami’s voice is so damn good.

04. I’m Tired by Labrinth + Zendaya

I usually am pretty rigid about the rules for this blog and this song came out on February 28th when it featured on Euphoria, but given how many days I spent singing that little hook melody to myself, mixed with the fact I watched both seasons of the show in the first week of March, I think it deserves to be here. It’s vocally perfect, it was a real moment in the show, but what strikes me most about this song is that Zendaya really could be one of the biggest pop stars on the planet and her decision not to exercise that power is such a huge flex.

03. The Funeral by YUNGBLUD

What I like most about Yungblud, aside from his visual image and his fantastic voice, is that he’s always just a little ahead of the curve. He knew that pop-punk was coming back in a big way and now that it’s properly here he’s already onto the next thing: stadium-ready rock anthems. One part Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself, one part Bruce Springsteen, and three parts Yorkshire goth, The Funeral is an incredible upbeat rush with a delightfully dark story: waiting at your own funeral, waiting for that person to cry that you’d gone, and not a single person turning up. Fun!

02. Personally by Becky Hill

For all her EDM bangers, it’s easy to forget that Dance Pop queen Becky Hill came to us on somehow-still-going reality TV show The Voice UK, but there’s good reason that she made it so far on that show: her vocal is so fucking good. It is so good to hear her singing right in that RnB sweet spot where she made her name early on, not only is it so satisfyingly refined but it is such a damn catchy song. She may be several years into her career but it feels as though Hill is still making her climb to the top and nothing is going to stop her.

01. Higher by Michael Bublé

A couple of months ago I tweeted something to the effect that Michael Bublé has been Mr Christmas for so long that it’s almost bizarre that he had a genuine chart-bothering music career before his foray into festive domination. Well, I think he must have heard me because he came out swinging on the behemoth that is Higher. The way his vocal rises and rises and just seems to gain power as it goes, the way that he has for the second time brought elements of traditional swing and easy listening back into the 21st century, the way this song has been pounding out of my speaker for weeks – I do not know a song that slaps harder than this.

What songs did you like this week?

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