2022 has been a tremendous and rewarding year for Singaporean artists and fans alike.
With the easing of restrictions, Singaporeans embraced the grand return of large-scale live gigs, including Bandwagon's very own sold-out Subsonic Eye show in May. The first half of the year also saw many local artists releasing new music, from established acts like brb. and Jasmine Sokko to rising stars like bernice.wav and shazza.
From the pummeling punk drums of False Plaintiff to the soulful vocals of JAWN, local music has proven its ever-changing versatility in a variety of genres. Indeed, there is something for everyone.
To celebrate these new releases, the Hear65 editorial team came together to round up the best local tracks of the year so far. Here are our picks in no particular order:
‘boxing with kayla’ - tammie
Let me take this opportunity to plug one of my favourite songs this year, ‘boxing with kayla’. tammie’s vocals are crisp and delicate, and when paired with the song’s atmospheric production, the song just sets me in a euphoric trance. I really dig the consistent boxing metaphor weaved into the entire narrative of the song. It’s very cleverly built and especially effective when the song pulls back during the bridge and she sings, “Glory to the queen of the ring, seems to me that I’ll never win your heart.” We’ve all had a Kayla in our lives; fighting a battle we know we’ll never win. While most of us are left defeated, tammie gets up and writes a masterpiece of a song. Amazing. —Fidel Tan, Writer
‘Onedimension (Nomad Mix)’ - Count Vernon
When I heard ‘Onedimension’ at Count Vernon’s live stream concert from Tonehouse Studios last year, I was gripped by the passion and power it displayed. Count Vernon’s reimagination of the song for their upcoming album exhibits the anthemic potential of the track. With lyrics that stick to you and urge reflection, this is a ‘sure beginning’ that hypes fans up for the act’s projects to come. —Faseeh, Writer
‘Gold’ - bernice.wav
Reminiscent of R&B Soul Gospel music, ‘Gold’ is the song I want to hear playing for the first dance at my wedding (along with a list of 50-something others but that’s besides the point). A passionate and longing-filled love song, led by a down-tempo drum beat and strong pianistic foundation, creates the most conducive soundscape for the classy and romantic ballad that bernice.wav is a genius for dreaming up. —Andrea See, Writer
‘All That Matters’ - aeriqah
“Why am I so tired of myself?”, aeriqah sings as her voice quivers in agony. Her folk-leaning music is always brutally honest, but ‘All That Matters’ is probably the one which resonates with me the most. We’ve all been there: feeling lost, confused, and like there’s no way out. But aeriqah reminds us in the song’s final chorus that maybe trying is all that matters, and that's when a wave of overwhelming solace washes over me. —Fidel Tan, Writer
‘Don’t Wanna Go’ - AE$OP CA$H, Feez., Perk Peitrek, MAJULAH WEEKENDER
That sample, man. It’s stuck in my head since my first listen. AE$OP CA$H brings out a chill series of flows and Feez. croons a beautiful melody, over this groovy swung beat. The lyrics see the two rising stars assert their positions while also reflecting on their journeys and ambitions. The way these three work together makes us wish for another collab! What a vibe. —Faseeh, Writer
‘Evergreen’ - False Plaintiff
This is exactly the sort of sound that I’m anticipating with live performances coming back into action this year. The fervent punk band flavour is somehow accentuated at an offline venue with the speakers bringing the instruments into further audibility that makes my rib cage shake. Truly a sensation I can’t wait to experience once again, and ‘Evergreen’ incites that same thrill and anticipation I have for the revival of live gigs here in Singapore. —Andrea See, Writer
‘modern day titanic’ - Jasmine Sokko
I’ve always liked how Jasmine Sokko stands out with her unapologetically dance-pop sound in a sea of singer-songwriters who lean minimalist and acoustic, but ‘modern day titanic’ might just be my favourite anthem of hers yet. The production is crisp and bouncy, and I also really like the additional little touches like the dial tone sound effect and that glitchy post-chorus hook. —Fidel Tan, Writer
‘Figure Out’ - JAWN feat. JAIE
This song is the stuff of dreams. Intoxicating intro on the keys, wonderful vocal runs and layers, filtered drum grooves, thick synth pads turn this into one of the best R&B/jazz-pop songs I’ve heard this year. —Faseeh, Writer
‘friend friend’ - Akeem Jahat, Chia Kun Loong, Soul Dot
Who knew I needed this multilingual, puppet-featuring, recorder-led rap track on racial harmony? Definitely not me. It takes skill to package a socially advocative message in a manner that isn’t overwhelming or too preach-y (for lack of a better word) and in my opinion, ‘friend friend’ successfully curbed their obstacles with ease. To second the Youtube video comment section, I’m still waiting for a Tamil verse on this! —Andrea See, Writer
‘Pity Party’ - shazza
I’m a sucker for sad bops, so ‘Pity Party’ is right up my alley with how shazza juxtaposes the song’s bouncy chorus with some really introspective and personal lyrics. It reminds me of Em Beihold’s ‘Numb Little Bug’, with how the singer delivers its brutally honest message with an earnest conviction. It’s like a friend letting you in on a little secret and it’s very heartwarming. —Fidel Tan, Writer
‘on & on’ - brb.
The local hitmakers showcase the power of an irresistible chorus in ‘on & on’, that features synth brass and tight drums. The intro section of this song is such a hook too, with its low-passed vocals, keys and that alluring run that crashes into the verse. Tight! —Faseeh, Writer